Thought — 2 Min Read

Our Future

by Case Greenfield, May 8, 2022

Thought – 2 Min Read

Our Future

by Case Greenfield

May 8, 2022

Let me explain wat I mean with a “futuristic, trans-humanistic interpretation of reality in our age of revolutionary science and disruptive technologies”.

Earlier, I have said, that with my art I try to find a way to merge the realities, that we create to shape ourselves, into a futuristic, trans-humanistic interpretation of reality in our age of revolutionary science and disruptive technologies.

Now, it is time to explain what I mean with “futuristic, trans-humanistic interpretation of reality in our age of revolutionary science and disruptive technologies”.

We live in confusing times. The fundamental reason is that with science and technology we have given ourselves the means to change the world we live in rapidly and profoundly. It had a preamble of thousands of years, but especially in the last two to four hundred years, the exponential acceleration has become very tangible.

Today, things are changing much faster than is comfortable for our brain. These changes create uncertainty. And uncertainty creates stress. Our daily efforts to cope with the changes cause tons of stress: the well-positioned are stressed because they continuously toil to keep up with their peers, the poorly positioned are stressed because they frustratingly see they are loosing the ‘rat race’ without being able to do anything about it.

Science and technology have created entirely new realities, such as the digital reality, that create totally new forms to interact with the world and each other and totally new ways to succeed. New skills are needed, that many of us don’t have. Digital skills, but also skills like dealing with complexity and finding out the new rules of the game, at all. And there is much more to come. Artificial intelligence and human enhancement will change us dramatically, while there are so many more scientific and technical developments coming.

The problem is, our brains are no longer sufficient to deal with the new, self-created reality. But human beings are resourceful. We will develop tools to deal with it. The term is ‘augmentation’. We will add tools to our brains to be able to deal with the new reality. It is called ‘human enhancement’. Is it good or bad? I don’t know. Should we want it? I don’t know. Will it happen? I’m sure. It is already happening. Maybe the most well-known example today is probably Mr. Elon Musk’s company Neuralink, but there are many, many more.

Unfortunately, I see a big split coming between the well-positioned and the poorly positioned. The well-positioned (the rich) tend to be well-educated, high-IQ and smart – or should I say wise – individuals. They flock together and produce more and even higher educated, higher-IQ, smarter, wiser new individuals. The poorly positioned (the poor) tend to be low-educated, low-IQ, less smart, less wise, similarly producing low-educated, low-IQ, not so smart, not so wise offspring. This may become the new big divide, the Big Split. No longer will it be white vs. black, man vs. woman, etc, it will be high-IQ vs. low-IQ, or maybe better, the wisely behaving vs. the unwisely behaving. And that … is a big problem, because “the unwise” will not accept their poor position (and “the wise” will smoothly justify protecting their interests at the cost of the others, hence, deepen the divide while they should have taken responsibility for narrowing it; see The Grey Area). There is a very illustrative movie that shows a – in my opinion – not so unlikely scenario: Elysium. Another possible excessive example is described in Douglas Rushkoff’s book ‘Survival of The Richest‘.

The following is highly speculative, of course, but it is not unrealistic either to think that in time, based on human enhancement, the well-positioned will evolve into a new human species, the successor of Homo Sapiens. It believe this is what Yuval Hariri indirectly implied with Homo Deus, the ‘god-human’. To be perfectly honest, I believe it could well happen at some point in time. It is the logical consequence; to me, it seems sort-of inevitable. A big question, of course, then, is whether the poorly positioned will also share in those benefits.

The problem with all of our brilliant scientific discoveries and technological applications is that there are always two ways to apply them: a good way and a bad way. Eg. you can use nuclear fusion to make electricity for your house, but you can also make a bomb with it. This dilemma is as old as the first bat or hand axe created by cavemen, it is as old as the use of the knife or the sword. The new problem, however, with modern technology is the scale and ease at which they can be exploited … for good and for bad. With the push on one button, an evil dictator can destroy large parts of our planet; we are causing global warming, killing our planet; propaganda and fake news drive entire populations crazy, etc. With one sword, a person can/could only kill, let’s say, ten or so people, one at a time; with a nuclear bomb, one person can kill thousands in one time. (See eg. recent article: ‘We are now living in a totally new era — Henry Kissinger‘, FT subscription required)

The problem with modern technology is the scale and ease at which they can be exploited … for good AND for bad.

Stated simply, the risks of the bad way of using modern technologies have outweighed the usefulness of the good ways of using it. You only need one fool to do it, and disaster strikes. Statistically, this has become a very risky game.

The problem lies in our brain. The brain is simply not capable of dealing with these responsibilities. Today, we see it in the current war. A leader decides to try to take a shortcut by not investing in developing their national economy, but rather self-enrich and create a dictatorial regime, dreaming of lost glory and how to restore it in a quick and easy way. And when it turns out not to work, they get angry and start bombing the wise who decided to pursue a more productive road … just because they can, because they have the tools (ic. weapons).

And this is just one example. There are many more. There will be many more. So … we need a better brain. It is who we are.

The possibilities of modern technologies have outgrown the capability of our brain to deal responsibly with it.

So, now there are two choices. Either we stop and become very careful and restrictive in developing and applying scientific discoveries and technological applications, or we start dealing with our tech tools wisely. The first, I’m afraid, is not going to happen. So, to cut things short, I think we must rapidly upgrade our brains to be able to wisely deal with the complex world we created ourselves. Homo Sapiens 2.0 or Homo Deus.

That to me is the futuristic, trans-humanistic interpretation of reality in our age of revolutionary science and disruptive technologies.

So, what has it got to do with art? The interpretation of this emerging reality! Art, my art, should be able to bridge the mental gap between our daily reality and this new dawning reality, so that slowly we can feel comfortable with this new perspective.

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