What will I focus on?
Because twenty minutes for a complete documentary on a fairly complicated subject matter isn’t very long, I’ve decided to focus on one aspect of this – I’ll explore how three great overlapping revolutions in science could be drawing us closer to the Singularity:
1) GENETICS (biotechnology) – How scientists are looking at ways of reprograming the human body away from disease and ageing – Today: certain genes in mice switched off so they are living 20% longer.
2) NANOTECHNOLOGY – In the next 25 years it’s thought we’ll have blood cell sized devices that can travel around the body and keep us healthy from the inside, that go inside the brain and interact with neurons and allow us to merge with non-biological intelligence – Today: used in drug delivery systems and to manufacture replacement body parts.
3) ROBOTICS – refers to artificial intelligence. Possibly the most signigficant revolution of all. By 2029, it’s predicted that machines will be able to match human intelligence, and soon after go beyond it. Scientists are already claiming there’s nothing in our bodies and brains that we won’t be able to recreate in a lab, or, in fact, enhance. In the near future we will be faced with a philosophical question: what does it mean to be human? Today: Professor Henry Markram, director of the Blue Brain Project – which aims to reverse engineer the human brain down to the molecular level – told the BBC that a functional human brain could be built within the next 10 years. The article was published in 2009. This year Markram’s project won a €500m grant from the EU.
So the question that will need answering is:
could the Singularity happen? The answer to that is: yes.
Exploring the three fields of science I outlined earlier, I’ll aim to explain how . I’ll ask my interview subjects how far down the path to the Singularity we are; what precursor technologies would we see, do they exist today? How quickly are we moving towards it?
To sum up, I’ll ask perhaps the biggest question of all: if and when the Singularity does happen, what will the consequences be for humanity? What place will we have in a world in which our primacy as a species can only be guaranteed if we merge with our creations?
And if the outlook is bleak, should we continue researching and developing such technologies? Is this race to develop human-level artificial general intelligence the Manhattan Project of our age? Should we tread lightly?