Frozen in Time: Cryonics
If you are an American Talent Show fan, you may have heard about how cryonics is a reality today. The famous TV judge, Simon Cowell is well known for his intention to freeze himself when he dies, and companies like ‘Alcor’ can presently freeze (vitrify) you when that happens. This Frankensteinian process would allow the individual to be reincarnated when technology and medicine will be advanced enough. If we all remember the movie Vanilla Sky, a similar procedure was chosen by the protagonist played by Tom Cruise. However, we do not know how the mind will react in these circumstances. Moreover, this path to immortality may come with its own strings attached. Can today’s individual be ready to handle the future where the world has changed and his close ones have passed?
Mind Control: Personal Decision Makers
Black Mirror, Westworld and a host of other shows have given us unique insights as to how AI will eventually dictate all our decisions. Data garnered from social media and other interactions may guide the tech to choose what you should eat, look for your ideal job and even find your ideal match. We already are influenced by these recommender systems for decision making. We don’t decide which videos to watch but Youtube, Netflix or Amazon algorithms do. Our music choices are influenced by our usage on Spotify or Apple music. As technology upgrades and we look for a simpler life by handing over our data to AI of corporations, there is a chance of becoming ‘technological’ zombies where the ‘created intelligence’ controls the creator.
Artificial Assistance: Humanoid Robots
Robots giving service to humans are no more just a feast for the eyes as portrayed in I, Robot. But many of them are being targeted to assist human beings and maybe replace many jobs as well which they can do with more efficiency. However, there are two very worrying issues. Firstly, with this advancement many employment opportunities may be replaced from human to robots. Secondly, the scary part would be if they did commit something that was harmful to a human being. Would you be able to keep them legally liable and get justice?
The Artistic AI and Creative Cognizance
In 2018, a painting was sold at an auction for $432,500. The artist was artificially intelligent program, a Generated Adversarial Network (GAN), a type of “Creative AI”. These GANs have been used to create music, write fake news, and generate fake people. Nowadays GANs can be used to replicate and create videos of dead (and alive) people from a single image. This raises huge privacy concerns, especially in a world where facial recognition is a frequently used biometric security solution.
Super Humans: Designer Babies
Amazon’s The Boys made popular the potential impact of genetically engineered superhumans on a corporate level. A designer is a similar baby who has been artificially created by genetic code manipulation. The reason for designer babies is to create genetically strong humans, without diseases and with the desired features. It evokes the same essence as the ideas held by Nazis. While it has the potential to cure many diseases, parents may choose to discriminately change features, including behavioral characteristics.
The concept of Immersive Reality (IR) infers immersing an individual into another reality by injecting that reality in your brain. Total Recall anyone? On one hand it may serve to train in safer conditions and reduce transportation costs. Nevertheless, there is a chance that individuals may forego real-life for a virtual one and can cause a major obstacle in the future.
Controlling the Mind: Brain-Computer Interfaces
With Brain-Computer Interfaces, an individual can suppress their fears, change personality, communicate telepathically with other people, control robots and more. This has the potential to cure psychological disorders and also assist operating prosthetics in the field of healthcare. Nevertheless, if misused a human being can become a puppet to those controlling the system.
Living beyond: Mind Upload
The idea of an Upload is that people can choose to upload their minds into a virtual afterlife instead of dying. Contrary to the cryonic process, the physical body and brain of the subject may die, but the information from the brain can be exported and stored on a digital device such as hard disk, in a USB disk or in the cloud. An idea such as this was explored in the namesake series Upload. While the digital afterlife may sound evergreen with you getting to choose your eternal bliss, corporations will discriminate on who gets the ‘better life’ based on price and not deeds. More importantly, many may object to this on crossing religious grounds.
Enter the Matrix: Artificial General Intelligence
Artificial General Intelligence is an AI, who like humans, can learn anything. Its not limited to just simply one specific task like current AIs. When AGI will be created it will improve itself and strive to become more intelligent. AI’s writing articles about human beings and communicating with themselves in their own language is already a frightening scenario today. We have to question if AGI goals will be aligned to ours or like every apocalyptic movie they end up turning against us.
As mankind gains knowledge and more mastery over machines, we continue to reap benefits. There is a lot more potential in what we can achieve. Nevertheless, as science fiction evolves into reality let us pause for a moment to ponder the fate of mankind. In that vital instant let us ask ourselves that though we have the ability to cross the next frontier, should we?