Published at 08:09 on 29 August 2016
Wishes like this are just plain stupid:
But Lord Rees added that there is also cause for optimism. “Human societies could navigate these threats, achieve a sustainable future, and inaugurate eras of post-human evolution even more marvellous than what’s led to us. The dawn of the Anthropocene epoch would then mark a one-off transformation from a natural world to one where humans jumpstart the transition to electronic (and potentially immortal) entities, that transcend our limitations and eventually spread their influence far beyond the Earth.”
This is the case for a variety of reasons. Here’s a few:
- The more technologically sophisticated a society is, the more it is dependent on specialized knowledge.
- Extreme specialization is a form of repression; our minds evolved to deal with a world in which we performed a variety of tasks. Already, most people are dissatisfied with their jobs, despite having a freedom of choice in a career; this is because the allowed choices simply have no good answer for most.
- A society more dependent on specialization is more difficult to understand and question in toto, thus such societies are more difficult to successfully rebel against. Since revolution is the ultimate guarantor of freedom, such societies are highly unlikely to remain free.
- The possibility of creating transhuman intelligence raises the possibility that those intelligent beings would treat humans the same way humans treat animals: with a range of options between vermin to be exterminated, farm animals to be ruthlessly exploited, or companions to be doted on and controlled like small children.
- It is the rich who could best afford to transform themselves into long-lived or immortal transhumans, thus crystallizing the capitalist class hierarchy into a permanent evolutionary outcome.
- Immortality, while at the first glance appealing, is probably the worst of all possible outcomes, as it raises the spectre of a ruling elite that could last indefinitely. Gone is the presence of death as the great equalizer, from whom even the worst tyrants and plutocrats cannot escape.