The human race has come a very long way in a short amount of time, but what is coming around the corner will change everything we thought we knew about mankind.
Modern medicine and rapidly advancing technology have seen us greatly evolve from the early days of hunter-gatherers, and now the same factors are working toward seeing the introduction of “superhumans” into our society.
At the core of the development is designer bodies using DNA manipulation and human/AI hybrids, both of which were highlighted during the World Government Summit in Dubai.
CHANGING YOUR DNA
Imagine being able to choose if your unborn child will be male or female, their height, weight and even athletic prowess.
Now imagine hacking our memories or making our bodies able to thrive in extreme environments in which survival was previously impossible.
These are both quickly becoming a reality, according to founding director of the Life Sciences Project at Harvard Business School, Juan Enriquez.
Allowing humans to become masters of their DNA is something that can be achieved using a gene editing technique known as CRISPR — a simple yet powerful tool used to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.
“These instruments, like CRISPR, are allowing us to, in real-time, edit life on a grand scale,” Enriquez said, according to Futurism. “We are rewriting the sentences of life to our purposes.”
He said these techniques will soon see us living in a world of “unrandom selection.”
“Instead of letting nature select what lives here, I’m going to select what lives here,” he said. “Science used to be about discovery, now it is about creation.”
The academic said more than being able to create athletes from birth, the technology would greatly increase the amount of lives that could be saved on a daily basis.
“You can make the world’s flu vaccine in a week instead of a year. And by the way, this is no longer theoretical,” Enriquez said.
With the likes of Elon Musk and NASA working toward getting humans to colonize Mars, he said gene editing will play a vital role in this.
“Why would anyone want to do this,” Enriquez asked. “Because, at heart, we are explorers. We have to take control of our own evolution if we want to even think about getting somewhere else.”
Editing our genomes to thrive in extreme environments will be useless if we can’t figure out a way for humans and artificial intelligence to merge.
At least this is the belief of renowned futurist Ian Pearson, who said something needs to be done before Artificial Intelligence becomes “billions of times” smarter than mankind.
“The fact is that AI can go further than humans, it could be billions of times smarter than humans at this point,” he said.
“So we really do need to make sure that we have some means of keeping up. The way to protect against that is to link that AI to your brain so you have the same IQ … as the computer.”
At the same World Government Summit the year prior, Elon Musk also suggested humans and AI need to merge.
“Over time, I think we will probably see a closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence,” Musk said in February 2017.
“It’s mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output.”
Since the comments, Musk has even founded a company called Neuralink, which has been designed to make this a reality.
During his speech, Pearson said he agreed with Musk’s comments and commended the work being done by Neuralink.
“I don’t actually think it’s safe, just like Elon Musk … to develop these superhuman computers until we have a direct link to the human brain,” he said.
Whether it is self-driving taxis or service and hospitality robots, one of the biggest concerns of AI is the risk it will pose to the human workforce.
But the co-founder of Google’s secretive X laboratory believes there is nothing to worry about.
During his address at the summit, Sebastian Thurn said he envisioned a future where humans and AI would merge, turning people into “superhuman workers”.
“AI is a tool and what AI can do really, really well is getting rid of repetitive work,” he said, reported CNBC.
“So, if you are a worker, say a medical doctor or a lawyer who spends day in and day out doing the same thing, then having AI look over your shoulder and learn those skills from you will make you a superhuman, a more powerful person.
“Now, that means that some jobs will go away, very repetitive work, of course. But it will be replaced by created work, so we have to move from a repetitive working society into a creative society where we invent new things.”
This story originally appeared in news.com.au.