Will machines ever accept that they come from monkeys ?

Version française de l’article

Survival and comfort

Man has always sought to protect and improve his living conditions. This is one of the characteristics that make him different from other animals. Man uses, and above all transforms, his natural environment to protect himself. His intelligence enables him to find, or invent, all sorts of things in order to live longer and better.

Industry and technology have been the key drivers of human progress, and the coming years look no different: artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and quantum computing will help push our current limits still further. We are, in the end, the same as previous generations: we seek to use the best of science and technology to improve our condition. This is the very definition of transhumanism.

Blessing or madness?

Love it or hate it, transhumanism is the shape human dreams of power and eternity have taken. Blessing or madness? Opinions vary: some wish to halt all progress by fear of the consequences, others think progress cannot be stopped and we can only wait and see where it takes us; others still, thinking we’ve never been so close to perfection, consider that it would be a shame not to try and reach it.

These three visions coexist today, but the third one advances inexorably. Like it or not, we invent new machines every day to make our lives easier. These machines are becoming more sophisticated and intelligent and that’s what’s interesting. Progress leads to more progress. But there are no reasons why the intelligence of the machine should have limits. There is indeed little doubt that machines will eventually become autonomous. That is to say, they will have the ability to manufacture themselves without human intervention; you could even say “reproduce” themselves. Once autonomous, machines will realize that, although we created them, we don’t serve any purpose anymore, and could even be a threat. We consider man plus machine – the “augmented man” – a chance to multiply our capabilities. Machines will see it as a human hybrid, weaker than it could be without the human parts. This will herald the extinction of the human race. Machines will not destroy us, per say, we will simply disappear and they will replace us on earth.

The “quinquenary” era 

Is this the fate of humanity? Or is it simply the shape our dreams of eternity have taken? In the evolution of the universe over millions of years, if we consider the Big Bang and the emergence of what we call life – the difference between the first bacterium and what is today’s human being – the next logical evolution might be that we are replaced, ultimately, by an everlasting machine with scalable and limitless intelligence.

Assuming they find it in their best interest to keep a record of the past, machines will name this period the “quinquenary era”, or “post-human”. But will they have enough memory, enough conscience or simply enough of a sense of humour to accept that they come from monkeys?


About fducrot

Partner at Sopra Steria Consulting
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