Our next evolution (part 3) : Brave New World.

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“As long as man has roamed this world, we’ve sought and invented new means to augment our minds and bodies. Evolution is painstakingly slow, but in our DNA is writ of imagination and the will to be smarter, better, faster, stronger. Man has learned to define its own evolution by building. And the most elemental of the things we build are our tools.” from the article ‘We Are What We Use’ – Ryan Block

Man’s long standing relationship with technology has been an attempt to transform not only our lives but ourselves, our very being. We  envied the birds so we built machines to help us fly to break the speed barrier and to enter the void of space,

The human body is a remarkable work of natural engineering. But for all its grace and sophistication like all things, it decays with time and through the trials and tribulations of life, it can be broken. With a mix of medical and technological advancements, a great change is coming.

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Human enhancement refers to any attempt to temporarily or permanently overcome the current limitations of the human body through natural or artificial means. The term is sometimes applied to the use of technological means to select or alter human characteristics and capacities, whether or not the alteration results in characteristics and capacities that lie beyond the existing human range.

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Human Augmentation is already here, and the future of what is possible with human body is almost limitless.

As it happens, most of us have been alive to witness the single greatest revolution and expansion of individual capabilities man has ever known. Not even twenty years ago it was still unclear the role technology would play in our personal lives — or if it would play one at all. After all, the “personal” in your personal computer was in reference to the fact that it didn’t need to be housed in a university’s mainframe complex. Otherwise there was simply nothing personal or individual about it. Everything has changed, and is continue to change in the most subtle of ways.

Transhumanism

We are becoming something more..

At some point within our life time it is theorized that we will cause our next evolutionary leap.

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the current reality

future potential

Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

On the other hand, what Transhumanism heralds is the point at which the current model of humanity becomes obsolete.

This Brave new world poses problems.

However, with this leap will come problems and that is of those we leave behind. Unfortunately access to technology is always been a case of wealth disparity. For those who are in the working class section of society, these technologies will be a barrier to entry into our new society. These technological augmentations will make those on the upper strata of society physically faster, stronger, smarter and more mentally agile. This would lead to an ever greater stratification of wealth as these advantages will make it so those who can not afford these augmentations can not compete with those who do.

Even in today’s world, technology is already creating a gap and that gap is growing. Those who have access to computers at a young age surrounded by the wares and devices are granted an edge in today’s tech and I.T focused world.

Into the great unknown.

Humans are physiologically well-adapted to life on Earth. Consequently, space-flight has many negative effects on the body. The most significant adverse effects of long-term weightlessness are muscle atrophy and deterioration of the skeleton (space-flight osteopenia). Other significant effects include a slowing of cardiovascular system functions, decreased production of red blood cells, balance disorders, and a weakening of the immune system. Lesser symptoms include fluid redistribution (causing the “moon-face” appearance typical in pictures of astronauts experiencing weightlessness), loss of body mass, nasal congestion, sleep disturbance, and excess flatulence. Most of these effects begin to reverse quickly upon return to Earth.

The engineering problems associated with leaving Earth and developing space propulsion systems have been examined for over a century, and millions of man-hours of research have been spent on them.

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one can only hope…

What Transhumanism does give us a species is the ability to venture deeper into the deepest recesses of space. The vast distances of our cosmos have not only limited our aspirations in terms of speed, but its effects on our current fragile bodies. A new kind of human will however have the capacity to endure the immense distances and gruelling void of interstellar  travel. Our newly designed bodies will have nothing to fear from the bone degredating effects of zero-gravity or the harmful radiation of nearby stars. This could be a great step in our final frontier.

The Human Revolution.

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For the first time in our history we will be the force driving our own evolution, we have become more connected in our lives as the power and the ubiquity of internet has freed us from the binds of information restrictions . We have used the net to connect to our external tools and made the net and all its machinations a part of us. And finally in the logical next step, we change our bodies to better incorporate these technologies. There will be obstacles and gulfs to bridge, but this progress can bring us endless possibilities.

We can change positively, what it means to be Human. 

 This series of blogs was inspired by Deus EX: Human Revolution by Eidos Montreal (check it out if you get the chance).
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  As you can see from our stories, we believe positive evolution is the progress of global culture, environmental awareness and action, collective intelligence, disruptive policy, innovative technology, life-saving science, conflict resolution and above all, kindness.
 
If you are inspired by the stories you read here, we urge you to click on the peace button and donate some change to a charity of your choice.
Let’s accelerate the positive progress of people kind.

Our next evolution (part 2) : the rise of the SMART Screen Society.

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here comes the new pope, quick lets blind him!

In my last post I talked about our renaissance with information (part 1,Voices from the ether), how everything was now at within reach, global news, events. Life today is lived through the myriad of screens that surround us. From Smartphones to tablets, we are now connected wherever we go, wherever we are.

According to go-gulf

– Out of the 5 billion mobile phone users in the world, 1.08 billion are smartphone users

-More than 91.4 million smartphones users are from the U.S -Smartphone platform Android has the higher market share of 46.9%

-89% of smartphone users use their smart phones throughout the day

-92% of smartphone users use their smartphones to send text messages to other phones. Whereas, 84% of users use their smartphones for browsing the internet.

In his article ‘The Man-Machine Merger‘, Ray Kurzweil asks; ‘Is all of this connectivity helping us to evolve into a more intelligent species, as some futurists speculate, or is this actually hurting us’?

“Never have we had greater access to knowledge than we do right now—limitless information just a few clicks away, the line between man and machine increasingly blurred. We tether our brains to our mobile devices, relying on them to tell us when we’re hungry, where we should go for cocktails, what driving route we should take, and what we should buy our significant others for their birthdays?”

The truth is, we are all ‘jacked in’

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at least learning kung fu will be a breeze

Our mobile and tablet devices now connect us all the time to the (web), the smartest thinking machine we have ever conceived, using social media, search history, interests and hobbies it can translate patterns in our browsing using metrics to allow for a predictive estimation of our behaviours.

A Revolution of the Mind.

Your laptop, tablet, and cellphone are, as Steve Jobs once put it, “bicycles for your mind.” In her BBC article ‘Screen use is bad for brain development, scientist claims‘, Zoe Kleinman discusses the conflicting impacts of our connected screen-based society. The theory of brain plasticity states the human brain’s ability to evolve to adapt to its surroundings. It is largely held to be scientifically credible – and also fairly ubiquitous. “The whole way that we learn anything is through our brain changing and adapting to our surroundings,” “If I read a book it will change my brain, if I go to work it will change it.”

cellphones-and-egyptian-demonstrators-celebratingIt’s the question of whether, in the case of computing devices, the change is likely to be for the better or worse that is dividing opinion.
We no longer learn facts, we go to Google to retrieve them. As these technologies begin to change our minds, soon they will change our bodies.
Smart devices that are always connected can’t be stopped, the best and smartest minds of our generation (Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zukerberg, Sir Tim Bernard Lee, Bjarne Stroustrupetc)  have and will continue to spend their lives thinking of ways of making it stronger, smarter and more self-sufficient. Our dependence on it will force us to protect it, and we will turn on anyone who threatens it, while maintaining the illusion that it is our choice, that we are in control.
Ryan Block says ‘We Are What We Use‘, As we become increasingly engrossed in our tools, we’re only just beginning to learn how our newly augmented lives will work within society, and our society will almost certainly spend the next decade or two adapting 
There will be no ‘rise of the machines’
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we will not rely on machines to do EVERYTHING for us. After we have adapted to the shifting sands as our technology, we will evolve. A new kind of people will emerge, all the while ‘watched over by the machines of love and grace’

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 As you can see from our stories, we believe positive evolution is the progress of global culture, environmental awareness and action, collective intelligence, disruptive policy, innovative technology, life-saving science, conflict resolution and above all, kindness.
 
If you are inspired by the stories you read here, we urge you to click on the peace button and donate some change to a charity of your choice.
 
Let’s accelerate the positive progress of people kind.

our next evolution (part 1): voices from the ether

computerbrainWe are living in very interesting times, that are fraught with uncertainties and upheavals. Is the human psyche designed to handle the amount of change the world now undergoes with the mere passing of a handful of years?

I was born into a world you could view with contemporary eyes as ‘innocent’: this was a world without mobile phones and the very inception of the home pc. Today we comfortably talk to our phones and ask it where to go to get the best rhubarb sandwiches within walking distance and the phone politely draws you a map. 

StarTrekWallpaper51024THIS WAS THE STUFF OF SCIENCE FICTION in my formative years.

My next 3 entries will look at our technological advancements and the continued penetration of disruptive technologies, and ask the question: Is the assimilation of machines a part of our positive evolution?

This first post will look at the information age (the rise of connectivity). The second will look at the rise of the ‘SMART’ (the ubiquity of SMART technology). And the third will look at the future, the fork in the road that could lead to a more prosperous human revolution.

The topics I will be covering are massive and to say I will be covering them is an over-statement. There is so much material theorizing about theses subjects and a vast cornucopia of studies I wont be able to penetrate in a mere blog. What I will do is look at the importance of technology and it changing roles in humanity’s evolution.

Now, there have been a myriad of films, books and games that have dealt with our precarious relationship with technology, mostly ending in a heavy-metal showdown.

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hey I just met you, and this is crazy…

The mid 90s to the early 00s were defined by the global revolution of connectivity – it made information free. A tool which is not merely for the elite, it is for everyone. For the first time ever, the world had its first interactive, receptive, ever-learning, exponentially-omniscient system of communication, a true bastion of democracy.

It is connecting us all in ways never before imagined, creating markets and economies where previously not thought of.

The increasing ubiquity of its presence is beginning to change us in ways we did not expect. From social media to the societal make up we see around us. You see, it’s in your head, right now, this internet thing. Rewiring it, changing the way your eyes and ears interact with your brain, making you consume, store, process information differently.

In 2012 Bernard Keane wrote in his article ‘How the internet rewires the circuits of our public space — and you’ about how the internet is changing Australian society and its very cerebral make up. He says: “And if it’s not rewiring your head, it’s changing your society, changing your social relations, changing your job. It’s changing the economy, and changing politics, redistributing power.”

“That’s what media do and have always done — print, the telegraph, radio, TV: they rewire humans inside their heads and in how they relate to each other, except the internet is doing it on a far bigger scale and more quickly than any previous medium.”

Back in in the early 00s when the net was starting to really hit its stride, I remember coming across a set of ads that really asked the question if our dalliance with an all pervasive network of information was a good thing or a bad thing;

…the jury is still out.

“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”  — Marshall McLuhan, 1964

According to Royal Pingdom in 2012;

  • 85,962 – Number of monthly posts by Facebook Pages in Brazil, making it the most active country on Facebook.
  • 1 billion – Number of monthly active users on Facebook, passed in October.
  • 47% – Percentage of Facebook users that are female.
  • 40.5 years – Average age of a Facebook user.
  • 2.7 billion – Number of likes on Facebook every day.
  • 24.3% – Share of the top 10,000 websites that have Facebook integration.
  • 200 million – Monthly active users on Twitter, passed in December.

We have become the creators of content. Media is no longer a one-way system. This is emphasised by the sharp decline in newspaper and libraries and the emergence of eCommerce has drastically shifted the landscape of retail purchase beyond recognition.

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What does this mean for the human evolution?

An immense political tool for change.

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A connected always on-line world. ensures that not only ideas are shared they are dissected, it ensures that they are challenged. It is a place for the human imagination to grow unfettered by the confines of society or religion, a place not governed by the constraints of morality or conservative ideals,  a place where all views are taken into account, even those which may be against popular liberal views.

Social media played a major role in the political upheaval of the Arab Spring in 2011. In doing this, technology and its embryonic union with the internet has shown  it has the power to tap into the ‘General Human Consciousness’ and generate change.

Screen-Shot-2013-02-21-at-10.04.40-AM The revolution may not be televised, but it will be face-booked, twittered, and tumblred.

So great is the impact of the internet on our lives, that the U.N has proposed the adoption of access to the web as a fundamental human right on par with access to food, water and life. “[It’s] an empowering thing for humanity to be connected at high speed and without borders,” says Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

The implications of the net on human evolution is still to be determined, as it is an ever evolving, continuously expanding phenomenon that will have even greater impacts on our development intellectually, physically and environmentally in years to come.

The assimilation of technology, not just as external devices (phones and tablets) but as part and parcel of the sacred person, is surely the next logical step in our evolution.

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Watch this space.

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