Artificial Intelligence – Our Brave New Future?


According to futurist Ray Kurzweil, we humans will before mid-century experience the grand dawn of artificial intelligence (AI), an intelligence superior to the most advanced human beings. He says we can also expect nanotech implants that will regulate every aspect of our physical and mental functioning, ushering in an era of human-robot hybrids. And, most boldly, Kurzweil claims homo sapiens is hardly more than a generation removed from technology-enhanced immortality.
In the late 1960s, Kurzweil was a bored or perhaps driven young genius who cut his university classes to produce ‘artificial music’ by wedding a synthesizer to the day’s computer. He has gained fame as an advanced software engineer, inventor and Google research scientist. He was recently beatified in TIME magazine’s golden future promotion piece, 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal, and is today an icon of the ‘all-things-high-tech-are-holy-and-good-for-you’ crowd.
In brief, what Kurzweil and the global technocrats promise us is a higher amperage version of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World: a painless, stress- free life of unlimited pleasures, unencumbered by the dysfunctions of the traditional family unit and freeing us to roam endlessly in the unfolding Disneyesque cyber world of tomorrow.
Reengineering human software
If all of this doesn’t quite resonate for you now, worry not! The masters of the coming technocracy have plans to biochemically reengineer you into a happy camper! Those stubborn regressive elements in your psychology and physiology (Kurzweil refers to them as the human genome’s ‘outdated biological software’) will be digitally-clinically reconfigured or erased. Click, click, poof!
And no, this is no longer just Hollywood dystopia. TIME’s ‘techno intelligentsia’ are deadly serious, and as the magazine’s extensive coverage of Kurzweil’s work demonstrates (just google ‘TIME Kurzweil’), they are pushing forward their agenda in myriad ways. So, let us ask, what could possibly go amiss? After all, modern life on this third rock from the Sun is so terribly problematical. Why not join the worshipers of high technocracy and embrace their bold future?
Well, you need not become a Luddite or join an Amish commune to be concerned.
Salvation from the laboratory
Let us a glance at the intellectual and moral foundations this Kurzweilianism is built upon, starting with a field already waist deep in oh-so-modern, biochemical engineering: Big Agriculture. So what have the multinational bioengineers sewn on our farm fields and delivered to our supermarket shelves? The magic of ‘genetically modified organisms,’ or GMOs, trumpeted by Big Ag as the panacea for human malnutrition and mass starvation.
Unfortunately, au contraire, GMOs are invading and aggressively crowding out natural plant forms, killing off bees and other essential organisms and, as major scientific studies have now shown, sickening people by degrading digestive and endocrine functioning and even altering the human genome. A few more decades of this and Ray and his techie friends won’t have a human species to install with any of their shiny new implants.
Or what of the current high-tech world of modern medicine, wedded as it is to Big Pharma and the biomechanical, drugs-drugs-and-more-drugs approach to healing of the human organism? A careful look at the incidence of cancers, diabetes and the whole range of degenerative diseases, approaching epidemic levels in our society, reveals another realm of dismal failure by the wizards in the white frocks and their test tube laboratories. So you can be forgiven if you’re feeling some reservations about Ray’s forthcoming implant labs.
The techno intelligentsia are of late looking creepy on other fronts as well. Thanks to courageous whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, the wider world has gotten a chilling peek into the dark recesses of high-tech run truly wild: the National Security Agency (NSA) and its off-budget multi-billion dollar global digital spiderweb, which is intercepting, processing and storing gargantuan quantities of human telecommunication. While our political masters assure us that it is all just benign oversight of the citizenry and “you ain’t got nothin’ to fear unless you’re a bad guy,” I wonder if there is anyone who has actually studied political science and human history naïve enough to swallow that one. After all, history is littered with accounts of dictators using their state’s investigative apparatus to crush dissent and dissenters.
In one of TIME magazine’s fluff pieces about Kurzweil’s life we hear about his skipping classes to work on his inventions. I’m guessing but could the classes Ray missed have included Pol Sci and Hist 101?
Pssss, Ray. There’s a bigger issue here…
Predictably, there is an elephantine issue neither Mr. Genius Kurzweil nor TIME’s promotional journalism ever raise. Exactly who or what sorcerer’s apprentice will be at the locus of control as these AI brain implants and human genome ‘adjustments’ get implemented on a mass scale?
At present, the techno intelligentsia can have but one response and, my friends, to say that we are in pigs and lipstick territory is putting it mildly. All of these coming wonders will be manufactured, fine-tuned, installed and operated by the very same fascist power structure that has infiltrated our food, our medicine and our everyday human communication: the likes of Big Ag, Big Pharma and the NSA.
The essential issue is not what sophisticated wizardry can we look forward to in the coming few years. Nobody alive in the last half century can doubt that lots of genuine as well as more problematic human enhancements and assorted phantasmagoria await us.
Rather, as we utterly relinquish every vestige of individual self-determination in the dawning Age of High Tech, the really essential question is: Exactly what foreseeable system of benign, limited and responsive governance will exercise these hidden powers over Life itself? Until you and I and every other thinking moral person on Planet Earth have this answered to our satisfaction, we must bring to heel the technocrats. While time and intelligence remain on our side.

The author is an American expatriate living with his family on the outskirts of a small town in Southern Norway. He writes about trends in health and government, and promotes local, community-oriented, self- sufficient lifestyles.