Internet of things and bodies, artificially intelligent robotics and 5G – transhumanism in bloom
Historical experience shows that some changes happen faster than the reactions to them. This applies especially to the technological corner. It is no different in the case of transhumanism, which is advancing before our eyes. Homo Cyberneticus is a master of his limitations or a slave of the technological corporations? The case is not so simple at all, and despite its technical nature, a lot of theory and considerations.
Cybernetics and robotics
Robotics technology is a combination of various types of research in the field of electrical engineering, mechanics and computer science, which ultimately aims to create robots that facilitate human functioning or help them in areas beyond human competence.
Cybernetics, on the other hand, is a set of sciences about transmitting and directing information to control systems in humans, society and machines. Sounds familiar? These fields are intertwined with each other, but also with our lives, providing us with ever newer and bolder solutions.
From factory machines, to prostheses and implants, to Elon Musk implanting sensory chips in the brains of pigs. Today, robots fly into space, play games with us and even have sex with us. The progress of digitization and automation is slowly blurring the lines between what is human and what is digital. Although why machines should not be human? After all, since according to religious beliefs we are part of divine matter, why shouldn’t a robot as our child’s creation belong to human matter, which it implicitly serves?? The thread of religion is not irrelevant here, given that transhumanism is seen by many as a cult.
Due to the blurring of the boundaries between worlds, it is worth looking at whether something is human or not is still the idea of perception located at the level of abstraction. Abstraction, idea, feelings are usually attributed to the spiritual/intellectual element that we have and this is what separates us from the machines whose operation is based on computing power that determines the operation of the system and algorithms.
Transhumanism, or a step closer to Robocop
The concept of transhumanism is an intellectual, cultural, and political movement that identifies science and technology as essential to overcoming human weaknesses and limitations. However, we mostly associate it with cyborgs known from science fiction, like the now famous Robocop. What is this film about? – A police officer dies in the line of duty. He is brought back to life as a cyborg tasked with fighting crime.- reads the description on filmweb.
Although transhumanism is actually a broader concept than cyborg humans, the plot of the film shows two important issues happening on a human-machine level.People and their lives are the first plane. The use of technology in the service of saving lives or improving human conditions through bodily intervention can produce raptures of reverie and awe at the possibilities of technology.
On the other hand, where there are opportunities, there are also threats, where there is good, there must also be evil, and even if we accept that dualism is an overrated concept and everything is a matter of subjectivity, we cannot take away others’ freedom of perception (which Big Tech is working on by algorithmizing access to information and closing us in information bubbles). The story of a police officer with enhanced abilities, able to help people and, above all, a man who survived thanks to technology, is intertwined here with the story of a huge and powerful corporation.
In the latest version from 2014, we are dealing with OmniCorp, the equivalent of our bigtech, which messes with our lives and wants to drain as much control out of them as possible, because that gives power, and power gives profits. All Robocops is a vision of corruption, the media’s influence on our opinions, and a picture of how tech giants exert pressure on our daily lives. Another thing that sounds familiar, right?
Artificial intelligence smarter than biology?
Intelligence is like life – it’s hard to define what it really is. We intuitively feel what it could be, but measuring it ourselves is at least debatable. Scientists have long since debunked IQ tests as indicators of human intelligence. Although yes, they have delineated it as a form to test certain functional practices of our brain, which explains much of the nuance of human races and their presumed racial purpose. The concept that places black people as workers, white people as artisans, and yellow people as technological deities fails to take into account the cultural and socio-demographic contexts involved.
Returning to the question of whether it is possible to determine whether an artificial equivalent of intelligence is smarter than us? This question by its very logic contains an error. Artificial intelligence is just different, but inaccessible to the human brain, which is unable to analyze on the same level as it. I won’t put a period here, however. I remember when I read an MIT Technology Review article on E. coli and what computing power does one teaspoon of these bacteria have that has more memory in its DNA than the entire internet! Blockchain technology, which is, with the current state of hardware, able to be hacked by the computing power of half of the internet – with a teaspoon of bacteria, it wouldn’t be able to do it! The conclusion that follows is that artificial intelligence is able to perform computations that are so massive because its chips are geared for just that activity. At a time when people are recording much more, which does not allow them to reach the level of machines specialized in this, although only in this narrow range, and also it does not apply to everyone.
In general, as the Ask Physics website points out, the human brain has a hundred billion neurons, and scientists can’t even tame an E colony. coli, or to examine the workings of a worm’s brain, which has only 302 neurons, hence the popular saying: “if the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would then be so stupid that we wouldn’t understand it anyway”. In all seriousness, it can be said that each of these intelligence carriers has its limitations, both biological and machine, but in no way machines are smarter than us, they just have specialized algorithms that are not equal in power to our brain anyway.
IoT, IoB, or IoE – the Internet of Everything!
The internet of things is no longer a technological novelty. In some households, smart systems have a strong reputation for improving the lives of their users – as long as they work.
There has been a craze for the internet and the craze for bodies has not been forgotten either. It turns out that the one reigns supreme on both these conjunctures. The internet of bodies is the next leap in smart matter. These are highly technologically advanced devices that, by being placed on or inside the body, are able to simultaneously generate streams of data about our behavior, our physiology, and even our DNA.
These technologies are expected to improve the functioning of our bodies. Lenses implanted in the eye and equipped with a camera can improve vision. Although Artur Kurasiński also saw an application for them in MR technologies. From lenses, we can also highlight smart contact lenses that measure blood glucose levels without puncturing. The IoB also includes a cochlear implant with a built-in processor that restores hearing, or electronic tablets with Bluetooth technology that monitor medication dosages and vital functions. Opponents of technology see the greatest danger in this, but more on that later.
The role of 5G in the transhumanist process
5G is a new version of higher bandwidth networking that will revolutionize the technology services market. Its use, according to specialists, should help improve security systems, production and logistics processes, support the operation of modern equipment and leverage the operation of Smart Cities, which are based on the Internet of Things.
– New mission-critical applications such as autonomous vehicles, smart cities and patient health monitoring will make network reliability essential to protecting people and the economy. Meanwhile, the exponential increase in traffic and connected devices will greatly increase the field of potential attacks and their scale – said Gunter Reiss, vice president of A10 Networks.
Introduction of a network with such a capacity may accelerate transhumanist aspirations, the only question is whether they will push us towards utopia or dystopia, or maybe nowhere? In the end, „transhumanists do not believe in human dignity or God!”
Transhumanists, or the sect?
– There is no place for human freedom and dignity in transhumanist anthropology. Free will is supposed to be merely an illusion and an invention of philosophers, and human dignity is dismissed as illegitimate species chauvinism. Transhumanist thinking is quintessentially Enlightenment thinking. This is a vision in which man controls everything around him, nature, and also himself – his own life and health. In a sense, this concept is quasi-religious in nature, as it is based on the tenets of Darwinism and the belief that it is man’s duty to control the processes of evolution, a point made, for example, by Julian Huxley, one of the first proponents of transhumanism, who explicitly called this trend a new form of faith – we read in the lede of the Jagiellonian Club article. According to Dr. Marta Soniewicka – The common denominator for the multitude of understandings of transhumanist concepts is to understand them through the process of transcending, not the nature of man, because its existence is often rejected by transhumanists, but rather the human condition – says.
Will Homo Cyberneticus be a free man??
Freedom, another issue of psychological and philosophical nature. What determines freedom? Freedom of self-determination, freedom of thought, freedom towards the ideas we want to follow? We ask ourselves if humans connected to technology will be free, but aren’t we already that way? We are slaves to the systems in which we live. A man without a phone, can be compared to a man without a hand, and even this comparison would be risky, in favor of the phone unfortunately. The phone is an extension of our communication, finances, our command center for operational business and private relations, a window on the world and at the same time a micro-prison.
Technology gives us many opportunities, but we don’t have total control over it. Natalia Hatalska even wrote that it partly dictates our conditions (technology of course, not Ms Natalia). Back to the hand, technology could solve the problem of its absence. We already have advanced capabilities in transplantation and implantation of organs, both living and artificial.
It is therefore worth looking at technology as a friend, not an enemy. Pure mutualism that pursues human convenience and the development of technology itself. Although it takes away a lot of opportunities, it gives a lot of benefits in return, especially to people like Dr. Scott-Morgan. Komputer Świat wrote an article about how an exoskeleton helped a paralyzed man get back on his feet. His brain has been connected to a computer, and his paralyzed face has been replaced by a hyper-realistic avatar that expresses emotions during a conversation. This is done using a speech synthesizer, which works thanks to artificial intelligence that learns the way the doctor himself expresses. A number of operations have also modified his digestive system so that he is not dependent on anyone for food or toilet use. Isn’t it beautiful that a person gets a second chance thanks to technology? The problem is not in it – although for such a statement, some circles would consider the writer of these words a believer in the cult of the absence of human nature – the perceived and obvious problem here is in the lack of regulation and control over how it is used.
This is overshadowed by Big Tech, which under the guise of caring about our needs, is tricking us into becoming dependent on its media and inventions. The Zuckerberg affair, Amazon’s disrespectful treatment of employees, or Musk and Gates bending reality. Yes, big corporations will always have slip-ups, but their actions are aimed directly at their own profits, not our welfare or well-being.
Should governments react? Should. Regulations and legislation should clearly specify the purpose and use of technology. They should not limit its growth. Political systems, however, do not keep up with the pace of development, as seen, for example, in the case of micromobility, which in the case of e-scooters became so burdensome that in Poland after almost two years the relevant legislation was introduced, when the scooters were already doing very well. The European Union is trying to enforce privacy policies, at a time when almost all corporations supplying people with goods and services have been operating on the current model for many years. Chips in tablets are giving libertarians sleepless nights, but it’s not without reason that it’s a topic to look into. Sensitive data about us, in the wrong hands can cause everyone problems and reasons for manipulation.
In conclusion, it doesn’t matter if we are robots one day, just how it will be done and who will be responsible for the process. It could be jokingly stated, lest it turn out that we will wake up with our hand in the night. Only that the potty will be full of grease, and instead of a hand we will have a mechanical feeder, controlled by impulses of a never-sleeping brain, which would be charged by solar panels – located on the scales of hair. Who knows, maybe someday proverbs and folk sayings will sound completely different in a robotic version, and reCaptcha won’t ask us to indicate that we’re not robots!
Finally, I want to make it clear that transhumanism has both many benefits and risks, and it should be a matter of the present to take a close look at these aspects, especially as the metaversum and the challenges of new technological addictions loom on the horizon.