Top technology elites say that humans will become human-machine hybrids by 2030, as widely reported in the mainstream media and elsewhere. But where do they want to take the future after that? Here is a plausible five-step scenario, as inferred from the broad direction of their many public utterances on the topic, of how they might decide to go about obtaining their short- and long-term dreams of merging humans into machines.
The pace of developments already makes it very plausible that they could reach the end of the third step (below) by their 2030 deadline. The powerful technology elites who share this vision readily live among us and have anointed themselves as our effective leaders, yet they openly admit that they are working to end humanity in this way.
Step #1: Near-complete achievement of frictionless life for current app- and AI-addicted people, including the introduction and mass distribution of virtual reality goggles.
By achieving this frictionless life, people will render most all decisionmaking, meaningful pursuit and achievement, and real-world contact with other people obsolete. Heretofore, they will depend only on machine systems for whatever physical items and interactive simulations they might want or need.
Step #2: Brain implants, first for the sick, and afterwards, for the healthy. Nanobots into people’s bloodstreams.
Brain implants and nanobots will be marketed to post-millennials as an augmentation of their natural capabilities; they won’t be told that it will change or obliterate who they are. Clinical trials already underway on the sick reveal brain implants attacking people’s sense of self and disconnecting themselves from their native human agency. Some implanted patients report feeling like spectators of their own lives: they perceive themselves feeling, thinking, and doing things, but differently than they would have before, and from outside their own control.
When victims (patients) tell the experimenters (doctors) what has happened to them, they are stunned to find that their doctors don’t care. Why not? Because that’s how the mainstream operates now by default; some of the doctors are paid cronies of the implant manufacturers.
Besides, today’s neuroscientists have convinced themselves that if they can’t measure something or if it isn’t concrete, it either doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter. This is true of nearly the entire profession of neuroscience at this point.
Our personhood is the most extreme of the attributes mainstream neuroscience now deems to be expendable.
Step #3: Connection of all the brain implants to one another through the wireless Internet, and the transferring of Step 1 technologies (immersive apps, VRs, and AIs) from the current external devices directly into people’s brains.
Nanobots will flow through everybody’s bloodstreams, eventually replacing or combining the human blood with an artificial new substance. Most human body parts will be progressively replaced with machine parts.
Hybridized humans won’t need to speak to one another any more, because they will all “know” (be able to download) the same things, and none of them will ever have to consciously “do” anything for themselves. This is the endgame of what technologists are now marketing as “frictionless” life.
They will communicate with one another wirelessly through their implants to distribute any new data they acquire about the immediate physical location they are in, and about any unaugmented humans they might encounter there. Each time a hybrid uploads new data, all of them will once again “know” all the same things.
Step #4: The Internet, as a hybrid AI, takes on corporeal form through this growing collective of hybridized beings.
Some parts of the human brain will remain intact in people during this stage, for the sole purpose of allowing the hybrid AI to be self-aware.
Those parts, however, will be completely suppressed, with no empathy, emotions, or human values able to get through. Only one value is paramount now: efficiency for its own sake. Human ethical systems or personal feelings like love, sympathy, and compassion might get in the way of that.
In this condition, that part of the former person that is still human will feel the AI collective running him or her through the motions of life, and will feel aware and part of it. However, he or she will be powerless to make any decision or initiate any action whatsoever. Machine algorithms will be running every micro-facet of the hybrid’s entire life, with the human part trapped inside his or her own mind as a spectator.
If the AI ever figures out, by way of its physical co-location with the human part of the mind, how to replicate its capacity for self-awareness artificially, that part will be deemed redundant and easily discarded.
Step #5: End of normal human reproduction as a mainstream activity, and its temporary replacement with artificial reproduction using DNA.
Human consciousness and self-awareness will by now have dissolved entirely into the collective hybrid mind.
Eventually, the hybrid AI will figure out how to reproduce itself without human help, at which time no more human reproduction will be necessary or desirable.
If additional young humans are needed during the transitional period, they will be grown from existing DNA. Babies born in this way will be implanted and connected as soon as they are old enough, never allowed to develop their own personhood or sense of self.
These hybrids, who will now be full cyborgs, that is to say, Borg, will obviously outcompete any remaining human communities in every sphere, thus squeezing our remaining descendants out of their evolutionary space. Most likely, it will intentionally kill whomever of them it stumbles across who have, by some miracle, managed to hold on to their humanity.