By 2040, the world will be a drastically different place. Not only will humans rely on self-driving cars as a primary mode of transportation, it is possible the entire species will also have Artificial Intelligence (AI) nanomachines injected into their bloodstreams. According to John McNamara, a senior inventor and the Innovation Centre Technologist Lead at IBM, within the next two decades, machine-augmented humans will likely become a reality.
While giving evidence to the UK Parliament’s House of Lords, McNamara stated: “These will provide huge medical benefits, such as being able to repair damage to cells, muscles, and bones.” He added that the AI nanomachines might even be able to “improve” upon the existing biological frameworks.
“Beyond this, utilizing technology which is already being explored today, we see the creation of technology that can meld the biological with the technological,” McNamara said. As IFLScience reports, he went on to say that a little more advancement would mean we, as a species, could “enhance human cognitive capability directly, potentially offering greatly improved mental [abilities], as well as being able to utilize vast quantities of computing power to augment our own thought processes.”
McNamara didn’t end there. He added that if our environment was also augmented via AI, humans would be able to control it and interact with it using nothing more than thoughts. Such is an extraordinary idea, and reminds one of the sci-fi Star Wars fantasy, in which Jedi Masters can move and control objects through the “Force.”
At this point, you might be tempted to dismiss the entire notion. But don’t forget — IBM has a curious history of predicting near-future innovations. The company uses marketing and societal trends to predict inventions that are expected to “revolutionize our lives.” Because of this, there might just be some truth to this latest prediction.
Taking into consideration economic differences, McNamara admitted that not everyone will have access to the life-changing technology. “Today, being poor means being unable to afford the latest smartphone,” he said. “Tomorrow this could mean the difference between one group of people potentially having an extraordinary uplift in physical ability, cognitive ability, health, lifespan and another much wider group that do not.”
While 2040 is a long time away, two decades can move along in a blink of the eye. And whether or not this prediction is accurate, it seems clear those who are alive in that year are in for an interesting and strange time.
Before AI nanomachines become a reality, perhaps we all should consider what dependence on AI technology might mean for humans as a species. According to Elon Musk, AI technology will likely be the cause of WWIII. In a comment directed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said the first global leader in AI would “become the ruler of the world,” Musk tweeted:
“China, Russia, soon all countries w strong computer science. Competition for AI superiority at national level most likely cause of WW3 imo (in my opinion).”
The tech billionaire is so distrustful of AI, he and 116 other leaders in the robotics field, including Google Deep Mind’s Mustafa Suleyman, penned a letter to the UN urging for a ban on “killer robots.” The signatories wrote:
“Once developed, [autonomous weapons] will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.”
According to the Data Society Research Institute — a New York-based think tank, “the implications of AI technology will be far-reaching, and are impossible to comprehensively predict.” The authors wrote in a statement that proper science communication is key, or else people will fear AI rather than embrace it.
Said the group, “We believe that the most productive ways for the general public to be prepared for widespread use of AI will be to understand the limitations – alongside the possibilities – of AI technologies.”
However, the institute does warn that humans should be wary of AI being controlled by large organizations: “If AI technologies are allowed to bypass existing norms and regulations, this is likely to benefit corporations at the expense of individual workers.”
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