February 29, 2012
As unsuspecting citizens of the developed world ponder how best to survive the current economic crisis, humanity is actually facing another, far more serious, threat.
In the near future, humanity will either regress back to the murky depths of the Middle Ages, or it will march onwards and upwards towards a new and previously unthinkable reality.
This idea was the theme of the Global Future 2045 Congress, a recent gathering in Moscow to discuss the future direction of civilization.
Summit speakers voting on a resolution draft to be submitted to the United Nations:
Lazar Puhalo, Lowell Gustafson, Barry Rodrigue, Eric Chaisson, Vital Sounouvou and others.
Source: Global Future 2045 /
The idea of choosing the right path is the subject of many Russian fairy tales.
At a certain point in the story, the hero inevitably
ends up at a crossroads, and faces a choice such as: If you go right
you’ll lose your horse, if you go left you’ll lose your head, carry
straight on and you’ll marry a princess and live happily ever after.
The severity of the situation was lucidly expressed at the Global Future 2045 Congress by Vitaly Dunin-Barkovskiy, a physicist and founder of the Russian Brain Reverse Engineering Project:
Why should human society - you and me - rethink the way we live our lives?
According to independent studies carried out by scientists and analysts from a range of disciplines, by the middle of the 21st Century, and maybe even sooner, civilization on planet Earth will go through a massive paradigm shift, and human life will change forever.
No one knows exactly what form this shift will take, but
some aspects are beginning to become clear.
Technological singularity is a hypothetical moment in time
when technological progress reaches the point of no return - when
the pace of technological invention skyrockets to the extent that
humans no longer have any control over what happens. In essence,
this would mean the emergence of intelligent, self-replicating
machines that operate without human input.
A few scientists - including Kurzweil -
will happen in 2045. Others foresee it
occurring even earlier - around 2030. The consensus is that it won’t
be long in coming.
For those who think this is all a bit far-fetched, Kurzweil points out the following facts and figures in the history of global communication:
Back in 1982, when Raymond Kurzweil wrote that the
Internet would soon develop into a vast worldwide network with the
number of users doubling each year, his ideas were also considered
This seems like the logical next step - the inevitable leap forward in the development of machines should result in a series of improvements to the human mechanism.
Alexander Frolov, a biologist, thinks cybernetic devices will soon be fused to the human body as a matter of course:
The next stage is the creation of an artificial body or an avatar, and this may soon be within the bounds of possibility.
Frolov thinks that, providing scientists receive
sufficient funding, we can expect to see these new developments
within the next few years. For example, some societies could employ
anthropomorphic robots that function as nurses or nannies.
As noted by the Russian writer and futurist Maksim Kalashnikov, the whole technological armory we take for granted today was actually developed in the late 1960s - early 1970s when the two main systems of government - capitalist and socialist - came head to head in a battle for technological superiority. It was thanks to this powerful stimulus that all the outlandish scientific ideas of the time actually came to fruition.
For example, the lunar program took only nine years from when the
original idea was conceived, to the actual lunar landing in 1969.
But of course all these
developments have their downsides. Kalashnikov lists them as: a fall
in the quality of education, social autism, illogical thought
processes, the death of reading culture and deindustrialization.
Once all this has happened, it’s only a small step before the society slips back into the middle ages.
If the proportion
of people like this comes to encompass 50 percent of the Earth’s
population, then a new “middle ages” are almost guaranteed.
This could spur an army of scientists and into
action, who would further develop research and education.
Kalashnikov pointed out, if today someone were to invent a cure for
tooth decay, this would kill the whole dental profession. Another
expert cited the example of some Finnish scientists, who developed
an incredible 3D printer, capable of producing metal components,
only to find that the market isn’t ready for it.
Wouldn’t it be better to spend this money on creating something completely new, an investment in an innovative project that could potentially provide a foundation for the development and renewal of mankind? And a project like this could only ever be created by the combined efforts of scientists from all over the world.
One of the people at the conference, test pilot Sergei Zhukov, illustrated this point using NASA as an example: