You wake up one morning in a bed made out of twine and sheep wool. You look to your left and notice the kitchen is no less than two feet from your bed. You step out of your wooden home to a picturesque view of rolling hills, apple tree orchards, and a creek running nearby. You scan the horizon for anyone to talk to and you see smoke off in the distance. You know that you are too lazy to go see what is causing the smoke, so you run back into your home to grab your iPhone. As you get inside, you look for the phone on your nightstand and cannot find it. You then look for your iPad, laptop, and your smartwatch and they are nowhere to be found. Frustrated you run back outside and start yelling for someone, only to be greeted by a cow asking for some food. Frustrated again, you start walking toward the smoke. As you are walking, you can only think about how inconvenient it is for you to have to walk this far. Twenty-five minutes later, you come to another house. Eager, you run to it and start to bang on the door to talk to someone. A family of four comes running from all directions to greet you. Immediately, you start to explain that you woke up in the wrong house and you are missing your phone, iPad, etc. You explain that there is no way for you to get hold of your friends and family. The father steps in and tells you, “Son, I don’t reckon what you talk’n bout’, this be talk of the devil.” He grabs his gun and points it at you. You try to calm him down and explain to him that you are able to talk to your mom through something that looks like a small chalkboard and you can even see her face. He cocks his gun. Nervous, you try to calm him down by explaining to him that you can talk to a chain around your wrist and a lady will send a message to someone else without you writing anything. You smile because it makes complete sense, but to the father he is convinced that you are possessed. The son steps in and says, “Dad, this man is a ‘god’!” Dad ultimately doesn’t buy it and starts to shoot at you.
Imagine with me that this happened to you today. A boy runs up to you and tries to tell you that his internal chip seem to be broken and he is not able to access his P802.11az. Confused, you unlock your iPhone. He sees the phone and says, “I thought those were all destroyed after they found they gave you cancer.” You drop your phone. He then goes on to tell you that, “I was in New York and I was supposed to be in Japan in five minutes, but I ended up here.” You then come to the conclusion that the man broke out of the psychiatric facility and proceed to pick your phone up and call the police.
So how far can I be from the truth? There are reports that telepathy is in the works for the future of communication, but how likely and how willing is everyone to jump on that bandwagon. What about VR or holograms for your next meeting? How convenient would it be to have the next board meeting at your kitchen table? These are all in the works and are expected to make an impact in the way we communicate. It is true that even though we grow further apart, we are brought ever closer because of these technological advancements. But, I do not want to talk about these, because they are not so much the future. They exist and are already being used. What I want to talk about is a world where there is a convergence of tech and body and how this would impact our way of communicating.
Ray Kurzweil wrote, “In this new world, there will be no clear distinction between human and machine, real reality and virtual reality. We will be able to assume different bodies and take on a range of personae at will.” What he is referring to is the singularity, or a time, where technology will surpass the human. A place where our mind is uploaded to the net and, with just a thought, you can jump to the next available body in El Paso, Texas to meet your parents for dinner. Or, maybe you were too busy to meet your parents for dinner, so you arrange a virtual dinner instead. What I am talking about is real and technology is advancing at a level that surpasses our evolutionary background. This is a matter of when and not “if”. This is not sci-fi or the base story for Transcendence; it is being tested as I write this. Take for example Facebook. Mark Zuckerber wrote in one of his latest townhall Q&A’s
“In order to do this really well, our goal is to build AI systems that are better than humans at our primary senses: vision, listening, etc.
For vision, we’re building systems that can recognize everything that’s in an image or a video. This includes people, objects, scenes, etc. These systems need to understand the context of the images and videos as well as whatever is in them.
For listening and language, we’re focusing on translating speech to text, text between any languages, and also being able to answer any natural language question you ask.”
He also mentioned, “One day, I believe we’ll be able to send full rich thoughts to each other directly using technology. You’ll just be able to think of something and your friends will immediately be able to experience it too if you’d like.”
Even though, Ray Kurzweil projected this to happen by 2045, I would say that we are progressing far more rapidly than he is anticipating. I would say that within the next 20 years (2035) we will have the option to perform a brain emulation to an artificial neural network where we can wait for technology to be able to reproduce our bodies for reintegration, all the while living a virtual reality.
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