What kind of “Brave New World” do you expect to . . . enjoy, over the next fifty years (I won’t be around to share it with you) ? Will it include Blade Runners, replicants, androids, mutants – and perhaps the colonization of Earth by extraterrestrials ? Will it see the realization of Elon Musk’s projects for landing us on Mars and for one-hour city-to-city travel anywhere on the planet in his BFR (“Big Fucking Rocket”) ? Will futurologists be proven right about our domination by Artificial Intelligence ?
Lawrence Alexandre is a brilliant futurologist and transhumanist, who happens to be a urologist and surgeon with multiple degrees in other domains from three of France’s most prestigious Universities. His most recent book, “La Guerre des Intelligences”, spells out the result of his research into what we can expect, in this 21st century, from Artificial Intelligence (A I). His predictions include computers capable of self-consciousness, feelings and an understanding of their own reasoning. The revolution we call NBIC (Nanotechnologies, Biotechnologies, “Informatics” and Cognitive Sciences) will permit, he is not alone in saying, the modification of the human brain, making it a veritable cyborg organ. Some foresee the moment when the intelligence of machines will be superior to that of human beings – as early as 2029 ! (The well-known results of certain man-machine games of chess may be the foretaste – or forewarning – of our submission to A I).
The author suggests that it is not too early to protect ourselves from such a fate, and calls for international cooperation in ensuring that the human body does not become a machine. He is afraid that if the A I revolution is allowed to be used to preprogram the physical and intellectual capacities of individuals, we could end up living in a predictable world that, ultimately, would be not only frightening but devastatingly . . . boring ! We must, he writes, preserve chance and the hap-hazard.
It would appear that the world of tomorrow could indeed be full of wonders, to enhance our human condition, our way of life if not our joie de vivre – or a dystopia full of murderous machines become our masters. “God” will, as usual – for obvious reasons – have nothing to do with it. The choice is ours. Or, more exactly, yours. “Stop the world; I want to get off” ? Not at all. I would have liked to be around when the fun (?) begins. But I am not Woody Allen (my age), who, asked about death, said he was expecting God to make an exception in his case.