Boy, are we headed for trials and troubles! And I’m not talking about the economy (at least not in this post), I’m talking about what we do with our “GRIN”.
GRIN here refers to genetics, robotics, information technology and nanotechnology. They are the four fields of scientific inquiry and development that seem to a number of writers as having enormous potential for either great or disastrous outcomes. Three books, “The Singularity: When Humans Transcend Biology”, “Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies — and What It Means to Be Human”, and “Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution”, explore some of the exciting yet sobering implications of the developments that seem just ahead.
Ray Kurzwiel, in ‘The Singularity’, speculates that in the near future, advances in GRIN will have produced such fantastic enhancements in humans that they will be capable of way more than the Six Million Dollar Man ever was. Meanwhile, “computers” will have been made so lifelike that it will be impossible to tell the difference between a bionic human and a humanized machine.
Joel Garreau looks in ‘Radical Evolution’ at four possible outcome scenarios – what he calls Heaven, Hell, Prevail and Muddling Through.
Francis Fukuyama, in ‘Our Posthuman Future’, focuses primarily on the genome studies, and argues from a deep concern about the consequences of tampering with the genome, that the world should cooperate in regulating the field. He says that there are sound nonreligious reasons to put limits on biotechnology, and that such limits can be enforced.
And in searching for information on the topic, I came across a few things that are really ‘cool’, like this: ‘Whole Genome Sequencing To Cost Only $1,000 By End Of 2009′, and Artificial Retina Brings Sight Back to the Blind’, and Amateurs Are Trying Genetic Engineering At Home’. Those are headlines of articles on the Singularity Hub website (http://singularityhub.com). And, I also liked ‘Intelligent Cars Prone to Road Rage‘ on ‘Future Update: Humorous Headlines From Tomorrow’ (http://futureupdate.wordpress.com).
It’s fun to speculate about the future and the changes innovators will bring into our lives, but there are some pretty serious implications to it all. The thing that interests me most about all of this though, is that scientists generally assume that the only thing that stands between man and animals is our big brains. If that’s true, then it is perfectly logical to assume that we will be able to develop super-humans and super-human machines. It’s just a matter of intelligence, right?
But what if the difference is something else? What if there is a spiritual essence in the human mind that produces the ability to experience emotions, to think creatively and to wonder about its place in the cosmos?
There is something non-physical, you know. Scientists generally don’t want to talk about it, except maybe in derisive and dismissive tones. Yet the evidence is all around us. There are those spiders that somehow know how to construct webs, swarms of bees that somehow know how to build honeycombs, and salmon that somehow know they need to make that journey to spawn. Scientists call it instinct. But they can’t explain it; what it is or where it comes from. The don’t really think it comes from the brains of spiders or the swarms or the fish.
The version of the future I would like to see includes serious consideration of the idea that man did not create himself, and that the overwhelming evidence for intelligent design cries out for intelligent consideration. People like me have been referred to as “ID-iots” by some in the scientific community. I don’t care what they call me, but I would like to know what they think of this: Ignorance is a simple lack of information. Stupidity is a stubborn refusal to acquire it. And insanity is closing the mind to the knowledge that would make the difference.