02 Jul

Are You Ready?

In our next few blog posts, we will be examining some emerging technologies. Check back with us in a few weeks for the next installment and thanks for reading!

Technology is advancing at a rate that it is impossible to keep up with it all. Some of the things that are happening are awe inspiring and some of them are super scary. We have self driving cars that, if utilized correctly, could result in dramatically reduced traffic congestion and also very reduced deadly traffic accidents. Mind uploading wants to take your mind (memories, personality, consciousness) and upload them to a server/network (non-organic). Let’s look at some of the arguments for and against these two emerging technologies.

Self Driving Cars
While Google isn’t the only company that’s working on this, they are the most well known. Some of the others are GM, Volvo and BMW just to name a few. Freightliner has started testing on self driving trucks in Nevada. Google has been permitted to test self driving cars on populated city streets and everyone from celebrities to politicians have had a chance to experience the cars firsthand. Imagine getting into your car, already cooled or warmed depending on the weather, selecting your destination by either a preset or by using a map application and then doing nothing more than allowing your car to drive you to work. Simple. Think back to the “Johnny Cab” in Total Recall only without the “Johnny”. If Google has it’s way, we will no longer be using humans as the main component of transportation. In the U.S., the push to create V2V (vehicle to vehicle) software is gaining traction within even the largest of automobile manufacterers. By 2017, many manufacterers hope to have software installed in their vehicles that all but stops deadly accidents by allowing the cars to “talk” to one another. Where does this leave pilots, truck drivers, taxi drivers or delivery drivers? More than likely, it leaves them looking for new jobs.

Mind Uploading
If self driving cars don’t make you feel like you are living in the future, mind uploading will. Literally the stuff that even science fiction strays far from, mind uploading is playing God on a level that humans have never even considered. Mind uploading makes cloning look like childs play. My first experience with the idea of mind uploading was the movie “The Lawnmower Man”. It was a very forward thinking movie for its time and I have never looked back on wanting to be able to upload my mind like Jeff Fahey did. The power that comes with such a move would be undeniable. The most recent movie to show this type of overwhelming power is the movie Trancendence with Johnny Depp. The main complication with the organic brain is being able to download the information fast enough and the capacity to do so (storage). With a neural, non-organic network, capacity, space, storage and download speed would be a problem of the past. We would be limited only by the size of the pipes and the amount of energy we had at our disposal. There are so many ethical questions that remain unanswered such as – will there be a backup of my mind. If so, does that backup sync with my active “production” self, which would mean that there are actually two of me. If this is the case, and my backup decides that he is the active production (as I know I would) and gets out to the free web, what would happen? Will there be laws governing my uploaded mind. If so, what if my backup commits a crime? These and other question of morality and ethics are far from being answered as we are still working on just being able to actually perform a whole brain emulation. So far, we have succeeded in whole brain emulation with worms. We need to completely map the human brain before we can begin human trials. Many transhumanists believe that mind uploading is the only way we will survive artificial intelligence. Until then, doctors in France are preparing to perform the first ever whole human head transplant. This will take place in 2017 and already has a human volunteer. Other than those who work on A.I., transhumanists are some of the most hated and vilified of all scientists. People react differently to massive change, and this change will change the course of humanity forever. How the world will handle this change remains to be seen.

Whether you embrace technology or you shy from it until it meets your needs, eventually you will not be able to avoid it. Technology is invasive and emotionless and warrants respect. No one is saying you have to buy a car that drives you around or that you have to upload your mind in order to live forever, but why not?

 

 

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20 May

Technological Balance

I think too much. I sit and think about things that may have happened and may happen still. I wonder how things from way back when compare to the things that are happening today. I remember riding around in my parents 1983 Mercury Capri hatchback. We called it the pregnant pinto later on, but in it’s brand new state, it was a beautiful car. It was the first car that my parents were able to buy brand new. My Mom drove it off the lot and when recounting the story later on, would tell anyone listening that they had to go and get oil for the car within 2 miles. The way they knew they needed oil was the display. At the bottom of the dash where the dash met the console, there was an outline of a car. On this car were multiple lights. If the light lit up, it meant there was a problem. It would tell you when you were low on gas, oil, overheating etc. Looking back now, I can see how rudimentary it was, but back then, I thought I was in a spaceship. WOW! The fact that every light on the display was just for looks didn’t matter to me. The gas light never went off. If you hit a bump too hard, all the lights would come on. When we finally retired the car, I remember feeling bad. It had been the worst car in the world. It broke down on us constantly and in the worst situations, but it taught me how to fix something on the fly, how to not completely trust technology and how to let go of the old and embrace the new.

Sitting here in my office at 3am, I wonder if it has always been this way. I have some friends that, to this day, still refuse to use a cell phone. I look at them and think “Why”?! Why not just embrace the change for what it is. Change. It is going to make your life easier, better, faster, stronger etc. It will help you in so many ways when you compare it to how many ways it can harm you. If you go to a farm today, farmers aren’t rolling around in tractors from 1940. No! They are using very up to date tractors that have air conditioning, auxillary outlets for their cell phones and gps tracking. Once you tend a field one time, log it, you can basically sit back and let the tractor do all the work. The amazing advances in technology aren’t lost on the one profession that you may think would be the main ones to shun it. And they’re happy! Happier than their fathers were tending fields in 100 degree weather in an open tractor. Skill is still needed, sure, but the skillset is different than of yesteryear. Do they trust technology? To a point! The main thing is to be able to do without technology if needed. We need balance. My friends who refuse to use a cell phones don’t have balance, even though they believe themselves to have more balance than the rest of the cell phone using world. They refuse to work with the world. For whatever reason, they still want the world to live in a darker, harder time. Their reasons are varied – too much radiation, too much time spent indoors, neighbors don’t communicate any longer etc. The reasons are almost always a front for their fear. They fear trusting something that has let them down in the past, because they wanted to trust it completely and it failed them. I get it. I understand their reasoning, wrong as it may be. To quote Sylvester Stallone from “Over the Top” – “The world meets nobody halfway!”. All I can say is hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Know how to fix a car that doesn’t have a computer chip inside of it should the satellites come falling down, but own a nicer, newer car because…why not? Have a cell phone. You never know when you may save a life with it, if not your very own. Also know first aid. Balance! Technology in harmony with old school know how. With this balance, we have nothing to fear!

 

 

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