Cyborgs, Slaves, and Superfluous Humans

Within the next 200 years, humans will have become so merged with technology that [some of us will] have evolved into “God-like cyborgs”, according to Yuval Noah Harari . . .

. . . Many researchers believe that we’ve already started down the path towards a cyborg future; after all, many of us already rely on bionic ears and eyes, insulin pump technology and prosthetics to help us survive. And with researchers recently learning how to send people’s thoughts across the web, subconsciously control bionic limbs and use liquid metal to heal severed nerves, it’s not hard to imagine how we could continue to use technology to supplement our vulnerable human bodies further.

… – our future as a species is now inextricably linked with the technology we’ve created. For better or for worse. __ Fiona MacDonald

We have looked at Yuval Noah Harari before. In a fascinating and provocative interview with Daniel Kahneman, the historian Harari discusses his belief that at the same time that human technology is “making death optional,” most humans are becoming superfluous to the future.

We have been programmed by the media to believe that the days of slavery are past, and that the only slaves we will have in the future will be robotic slaves. But that is only a blind form of wishful thinking, on the part of the mainstream.

Slavery is as old as the human species, and continues to be practised widely in multiple human cultures to this day.

Slavery has been rife throughout all of ancient history. Most, if not all, ancient civilizations practiced this institution and it is described (and defended) in early writings of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Egyptians. It was also practiced by early societies in central America and Africa. __ http://africanhistory.about.com/od/slavery/a/IslamRoleSlavery01.htm

Not all superfluous humans will be slaves. Some of them will be confined within walled encampments, given a plentiful supply of drugs (including contraceptives in food and drink), and the type of mass entertainments typically used by ruling classes to amuse and occupy the attention of the feeble-minded.

And yet, even conventionally bright people will find themselves in a race with technology. More and more skilled workers and low to medium-level professionals and executives will find themselves unnecessary — superfluous. Many of these will not be content to be drugged into oblivion, or doomed to a “gentle” demographic extinction by the more wealthy and powerful classes.

For the brighter and cleverer members of the middle classes, a more technologically advanced form of slavery will be required. In exchange for enhanced abilities, better health, reproduction rights, and longer life, many intelligent persons of the middle class will volunteer to be pioneers of the cyborg and genetic engineering cadre. This “new middle class” of cyborgs and the genetically altered will be indentured to the wealthy and powerful, but they will also be the “brain workers,” the soldiers, the teachers, the majority of scientists and technologists, the guardians, the virtual reality maintenance workers and systems operators, and the explorer classes.

Young and attractive native humans may be bought and kept as personal slaves for the amusement of the rich and powerful. Others will be utilised as sex workers and companions for the indentured cyborg classes. Some will be used for less admirable purposes, such as beyond – kinky sex, gladiatorial entertainments and ultra-high risk reality extravaganzas. Others of the native class will be maintained as sheltered breeding populations for unanticipated contingencies.

Augmented humans of the indentured classes will oversee the exploitation of outerspace resources, and the building of outerspace colonies — with the assistance of robotic and remotely-guided machines. They will harvest the wealth of the land and sea, and the sea bottoms and deep underground — using their automated helpers. They will oversee the confinement and slow elimination of most of the hopelessly superfluous, those who could not be made “useful” by even the most advanced prostheses or genetic / pharmacologic / nanotech augmentation. Select breeding groups of these least capable populations will be kept for experimentation of various types, and as donors of tissues, blood, and even organs (for the scaffolding).

Governments will be largely councils of family members of the wealthy cabals. The already-blurry lines between organised crime, the super-rich, and powerful governments, will be erased entirely. Social and wealth mobility will be greatly curtailed, although not completely eliminated. Some of the brighter and more opportunistic augmented indentured class will find ways to reach more rarefied levels of the nominally “free.” The lure of eventual freedom has always driven indentured slaves to greater exertion and productivity.

This society would last for a few hundred years, perhaps, until a mixed coalition of disaffected persons and machines either overthrew the central Earth government, or built defensible outposts off-planet.

From there, the future evolution of humans would grow increasingly divergent, increasingly radical.

Does the above sketch represent “the future of humans?” No, merely one of many possible futures. Not the worst possible, and not the best possible, by any means.

Just keep in mind that human sciences and technologies are advancing much too quickly for even the best scientists and technologists to understand — much less master — all the developments and their ramifications for the future.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst. While you are watching to see how things turn out, you might consider the option of helping to build networked communities of Dangerous Children.

More about Harari’s cyborg predictions here (via science of singularity).

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2 Responses to Cyborgs, Slaves, and Superfluous Humans

  1. bob sykes says:

    With the White and East Asian populations entering a collapse phase, what makes you think high technology will continue. Do you think Africans and Latin Americans have the intellectual capacity to replace Whites and East Asians? The fact that we no longer have a manned space program or that new antibiotics are rare should be a hint of things to come.

    • alfin2101 says:

      Yes, a decline in advanced technology development is a possibility, given the ongoing dysgenic decline into global Idiocracy. The premise behind the above article is that technology breakthroughs will occur more quickly than anticipated, and that the rapid growth in low-IQ populations can be attenuated using advanced — but humane — technologies.

      Many different human futures are possible, depending upon a number of contingencies and competing systems of constraint propagation.

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