Choose Your Future: Superhuman, or Superfluous Human?

“Relatively small changes in genes, hormones and neurons,” he points out, “were enough to transform Homo erectus — who could produce nothing more impressive than flint knives — into Homo sapiens, who produce spaceships and computers.” Why should we assume that Sapiens are the end of the evolutionary line? __ Yuval Noah Harari

Passing the Threshold
Becoming Gods?

Achieving Superhumanity

“Homo Deus,” or god-like humans, will soon be coming to cities near you, according to author and historian Yuval Noah Harari. By making a few small adjustments in gene expression, adding a few machine augments, and making some changes in dietary input and exercise training we can move ever closer to a superhuman, god-like state of existence.

Having subdued famine, pestilence and war, Harari argues, we can now train our sights on higher objectives. Eternal happiness. Everlasting life. “In seeking bliss and immortality,” he writes, “humans are in fact trying to upgrade themselves into gods.”

… A small, breakaway republic of superhumans and techno-elites will eventually split off from the rest of humanity. Those who acquire the skills and proprietary algorithms to re-engineer brains, bodies and minds — the main products of the 21st century, Harari suspects — will become gods; those who don’t will be rendered economically useless and die off. __ NYT Review of Homo Deus

As Always, Some Will be Left Behind

Hinging on Technology

It seems that not everyone can ride the train to godhood. Large numbers of humans will not even be able to reach the loading platform — the lower threshold for becoming proto-superhumans and demigods. For those unfortunate masses who cannot reach the starting line, a precarious future awaits.

In the 21st century we might witness the creation of a massive new unworking class: people devoid of any economic, political or even artistic value, who contribute nothing to the prosperity, power and glory of society. This “useless class” will not merely be unemployed — it will be unemployable.

… As algorithms push humans out of the job market, wealth and power might become concentrated in the hands of the tiny elite that owns the all-powerful algorithms, creating unprecedented social and political inequality.

… The coming technological bonanza will probably make it feasible to feed and support people even without any effort from their side. But what will keep them occupied and content? One answer might be drugs and computer games. Unnecessary people might spend increasing amounts of time within 3D virtual-reality worlds that would provide them with far more excitement and emotional engagement than the drab reality outside. __ Rise of the Useless

A future of virtual reality 3D immersive role-playing, complete with full body haptic sensations? All the drugs and virtual playtime you could want? To an average unemployed drop-out, it may sound pretty good. But if viewed from a god-like height, it probably sounds like a safe and affordable form of confinement and pacification for hopeless underachievers. But today’s hopeless underachiever is a different kettle of fish than the “superfluous people” that Harari is talking about.

Who are these “superfluous people” of the future that will ultimately be displaced by machine intelligences? Physicians, attorneys, top level executives, government decision makers, engineers, journalists, designers and innovators, manufacturers and industrialists, and workers in any other formerly human field of enterprise that had not already been replaced by earlier generations of technology. It sounds as if the boundary lines between god-like human and superfluous human may shift significantly upward over the next century.

Compare Today’s “Superhumans” to Those of Tomorrow

For an example of a modern superhuman, we might look at American football superstar Tom Brady, who after earning 5 superbowl rings is looking to play at least 7 more seasons past the age of 40. Brady follows a special diet, adheres to a strict training regimen, and undergoes frequent attitude boosts. He obviously has good genes for mind and body, and works hard to make the best of them.

Or take the US Navy Seals, bane of bin Laden and other nefarious villains who blight the planet Earth. What makes them so special? Again, they start with good genes, add lots of aggression and ambition, a solid training routine, and electromagnetic brain stimulation. Yes, you read correctly. At least some US Navy Seals are using Halo transcranial brain stimulating devices to augment their training.

The elements testing the technology include Naval Special Warfare Development Group, the unit known more popularly as SEAL Team Six. Other teams are also conducting tests, Salata said. He declined to confirm how many operators are participating in the testing, or to cite specific findings to date. But there have been positive outcomes so far, he said.

“Early results show promising signs,” he said. “Based on this, we are encouraged to continue and are moving forward with our studies.” __ Source

We know that many elite level managers and decision makers in government, research, and Fortune 500 companies utilise brain-boosting drugs and chemicals to allow them to perform at higher levels, for more hours in the day.

But the tweaks used by elite athletes, elite military units, and high level decision makers will be small change compared with the alterations that will be applied to elite humans on their way to becoming gods. The difference will not be merely quantitative. The new elites will be something entirely unprecedented. And this coming tsunami of the gods may represent the investment opportunity of a lifetime.

Investors searching for the next transformative technology destined to turn a bunch of Ivy League dropouts into billionaires, and half the market into a loose slot machine, need only look in the mirror.

“The greatest industry of the 21st century will probably be to upgrade human beings,” historian Yuval Harari, author of the fascinating new book “Homo Deus,” told MarketWatch. __ Marketwatch

Or perhaps not, if a successful investment means that half the people you care about — and possibly you yourself — will be rendered obsolete by the transformation unleashed.

It All Depends Upon How this Magic Carpet is Rolled Out

Country Income Groups

People in affluent nations will be affected more profoundly by the coming transformation to superfluity — or godhood, whatever the case may be — than most of the world’s billions.

Most humans on Earth are kept occupied by the mundane problems of their own existences. Getting enough food to eat, keeping a roof over their heads, finding effective medical treatments for illnesses and traumas, getting access to a useful education for their children, then scraping together enough cash to buy a few extras — or setting aside a tiny nest egg for the future.

Cities of the third world are becoming mega-cities and mega-slums, as people move from the countryside into the cities looking for work and excitement. Slavery is likely to experience a resurgence, as opportunistic vendors satisfy the tastes of those who prefer old fashioned pleasures — and for those businesses who are more comfortable managing a human workforce than one of robots.
More on the slavery of the future

But if elites work quickly, they can turn most of these burgeoning 3rd world megaslums into safe, happy camps of contented superfluity in short order. The alternative could well be an eruption of violent religious fanaticism, or bloody leftist revolution and civil war.

The Picture in Rich Countries is Somewhat Different

In more affluent nations, today’s superfluous people are likely to be on the government dole, with access to advanced medical care, all the education they can stomach, and many “necessities” that would be considered luxuries in most of the world. But for now, they must exist without the benefit of 3D virtual reality games with full body teledildonic haptics, and they do not get unlimited supplies of free, safe euphoric drugs such as the superfluous people of tomorrow will expect to be given.

The average IQ of today’s superfluous persons measures less than 90 points, whereas in the future anyone with an IQ less than 200 might be considered superfluous. In today’s world IQ is only on of the factors that determines whether a person can join the elite. Likewise in the future, IQ will be but one factor that separates the gods from the superfluous.

To satisfy the very intelligent and clever members of the superfluous future, the drugs will have to be good and the virtual reality must be convincing. But if the superfluous life is too inviting, only a vanishing few humans will ever strive for godhood.

For the bright and clever elites of today who will be among the superfluous people of tomorrow, it is particularly important that the magic carpet of transformation be rolled out slowly. If you put a frog in a pot of cold water, for example, and heat it very slowly to a boil, the frog may not understand what is happening to it in time to hop out of the pot.

Hope for the best. Prepare for the worst.

Remember: Dangerous Children (and Dangerous Communities) can engage and disengage with high tech society at will. This type of broad, multi-level competence is rare in modern times. And it will be even rarer in the age of the gods vs. the superfluous. Buckle up.

This entry was posted in Demographics, Future, IQ, Islam's Bloody Borders, Machine Intelligence, Megacities, Slums, Superfluous Humans and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Choose Your Future: Superhuman, or Superfluous Human?

  1. David Pearce says:

    Sorry for contacting via comments but is there someone I can get in touch with about correcting some links to a few of my sites on the older Al Fin blogs? Thanks!!

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