The next Big Thing: simulation of mind or replacement of body?

Efficient simulation of mind will win the technological race with efficient replacement of body

Space transportation, teleportation, human resettlement into a better body – all these things are both too primitive and too complicated. They are going to disturb the fundamental laws of physics for the sake of meat delivery.

We may be able to teleport a couple of quantum bits up to one meter’s distance. We may improve or even replace the body with a better one or we may recode DNA to extend lifespan up to ten-fold, as has been done with the nematode. All this may and will be done. No doubt, we will manage our physical body better and better. But it is still the banal physical body, the subject of death. No matter how you operate the subject of death, this is a dead end.

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The Artificial Leg patent, 1860. National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC (photo by author)

There is another point. The level of technologies, which is sufficient to transport, teleport, or replace the body, will also be sufficient to do much more essential things. What looks more achievable is the transfer of human personality to the Net, which requires no body. Moreover, this trend is already highly supported by different sorts of demands. Human-like bots are very useful in many areas, and a huge number of programmers compete in producing better human simulations – for commercial, transportation, military purposes, and just for fun. Unlike very expensive body research, whether it focuses on body improvement, replacement, or transportation, programming of bots is more than affordable.

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President Barack Obama shakes the prosthetic hand of Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Petr. Associated Press photo, 2011.

Autopilots already exist and will evolve to better substitute human pilots. Unmanned drones will be more and more self-dependent to perform actions faster and farther. Stock market algorithms make their own decisions, helping brokers to trade; they run markets so fast and self-sufficiently that the problem arises of how to control them. A silicon chess-player has already beaten a human chess-player and, people say, buried this ancient mind game. AI is still a sci-fi being, except for the fact it sits in every car and tells a driver when to turn, replacing a passenger with a map. Of course, it will start turning independent at some point in the near future.

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Everybody now has their own artificial personage on social media. Being us, our social media representatives differ from us. They are better than us – they look better, speak better, have better meals, travel better. They are as smart and good-looking as we would want (and be able) to see ourselves. Our personages on social media live our better lives.

Their eagerness to substitute us with better abilities has to end up at a new level. Every social media platform evolves its best possible environment to facilitate better interaction of users. A better organization of personal profiles has to be a part of this plan. Profiles already live their own lives: they inform us, they inform others. Soon, plausible algorithms that act instead of the host will have to appear. It is convenient: while we are walking, working, or sleeping, they can be flirting, chatting, arguing, and making friends on behalf of us, acting exactly as we would do (as our improved version would do). Returning online, we will just check with whom we are now friends and what we have said on buzzing topics. The host of the profile will be replaced with the ghost of the profile.

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This line of evolution has to lead to self-learning algorithms designed to substitute a human entirely. What if they succeed? Next generation algorithms will start to advertise and sell to our substitutes, i.e. to each other. Finally, they no doubt have to organize their own civilization. Becoming smart enough, they will come to the question: what are people for them?

A real AI can grow from an algorithm that is designed to substitute people and will succeed, at the end of the day (at the End of Days).

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Human practices of body improvement have been ongoing for thousands of years. This does not only have to do with stone axes or rockets but also with prosthetic teeth or legs, or tattoos. The pivotal moment occurred with the substitution of human abilities shifting from the physical to the electrical and then to the digital environment. It is the mind, not the body, that can and will be substituted from now on. Such substitution becomes copying, but improved and improving copying.

The next evolutionary step will relate not to any sort of body replacement but to the re-placement of mind. We will give life to a new creature that will be created in the image and likeness not of our body but our mind (or psyche – whatever you prefer). This being will not be biological, of course; therefore it will be body-free and light-speed fast in its thoughts and actions. It will gain access to all knowledge that we have carefully been accumulating. It will face the question: what are we for to it.

In conclusion, here is the essence of Singularity. The human is a self-evolving divine preform, a larva of the next god, which was laid by the god previous.

Andrey Miroshnichenko

Author of Human as media. The emancipation of authorship – available on Amazon

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Categories: Augmented reality, Immersive experience, Media ecology, Singularity and Transhumanism

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