Futurist predicts humans will soon merge with technology in our species' biggest revolution yet, and claims our ancestors 'would think we are already gods'
- Futurist Yuval Noah Harari said the line between humans and tech are blurred
- The convergence of tech and humans may be the biggest revolution, he said
- Already technologists are looking for ways to make tech seamless with biology
- The benefits could be vast, but so could the consequences says Harari
According to one futurist, the next frontier for human innovation is the body itself.
In a talk at Fast Company's European Innovation Festival, historian and international bestselling author, Yuval Noah Harari, said that the human body is on a crash course with technology.
'It’s increasingly hard to tell where I end and where the computer begins,' Harari said, as reported by Fast Company.
'In the future, it is likely that the smartphone will not be separated from you at all,' Harari said.
'It may be embedded in your body or brain, constantly scanning your biometric data and your emotions.'
Merging humans with technology, Harari said, would represent the biggest revolution humankind has ever known.
As technology has grown and expanded, human bodies have remained mostly static he notes.
'If we told our ancestors in the Stone Age about our lives today, they would think we are already Gods,' Harari said. 'But the truth is that even though we have developed more sophisticated tools, we are the same animals.'
Though Harari's ideas may sound outlandish, some of technology's leaders have already begun to home in on connecting the human brain with machines.
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's neauralink has received tens of millions of dollars in funding to research a viable brain to computer interface that Musk hopes could improve memory or restore limb functionality in the disabled.
Likewise, the U.S. Department of Defense's advanced researche arm, DARPA, is funding research that could give a future generation of soldiers the power to control machines and weapons with their minds.
HUMAN BRAIN WILL CONNECT TO COMPUTERS 'WITHIN DECADES'
In a new paper published in the Frontiers in Neuroscience, researchers embarked on an international collaboration that predicts groundbreaking developments in the world of 'Human Brain/Cloud Interface's' within the next several decades.
Using a combination of nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and other more traditional computing, researchers say humans will be able to seamlessly connect their brains to a cloud of computer(s) to glean information from the internet in real-time.
According to Robert Freitas Jr., senior author of the research, a fleet of nanobots embedded in our brains would act as liaisons to humans' minds and supercomputers, to enable 'matrix style' downloading of information.
'These devices would navigate the human vasculature, cross the blood-brain barrier, and precisely autoposition themselves among, or even within brain cells,' explains Freitas.
'They would then wirelessly transmit encoded information to and from a cloud-based supercomputer network for real-time brain-state monitoring and data extraction.'
The interfaces wouldn't just stop at linking humans and computers, say researchers. A network of brains could also help form what they call a 'global superbrain' that would allow for collective thought.
Integrating humans and machines could not only make humans better, but in the not-so-distant future could also be an imperative for the species as we look outward from our own planet toward colonizing space -- an idea made more enticing as the specter of climate change rises.
'Not even the toughest bacteria on earth can survive on Mars,' said Harari. 'Homo sapiens cannot colonize other planets or galaxies.'
Of course, there's a distinct possibility that even with greatly improved human abilities that things could go awry.
Harari says that its possible that technology affecting our minds and bodies could have unintended consequences - much like the fossil-fuel-run machines that continue to exacerbate a climate disaster.
Integrating humans and machines could not only make humans better, but in the not-so-distant future could also be an imperative for the species.
In a race to improve intelligence, other more benevolent characteristics of humanity, like compassion or justice, may get left behind.
Human engineering of other species biology has already had similarly unintended effects according to Harari, who points to cows in particular.
While today's cows are more productive and docile, Harari said, 'domesticated cows are less agile, less curious than their wild ancestors.'
Ultimately Harari said the outcome of improving human biology with technology will be affected by where innovators priorities lie, which is why he has taken particular interest in dialogue with today's tech moguls like Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, whose platform 'captures and hijack human attention,' according to him.
'This is the basis of their business model. [It is hard for them] to now say this is a bad idea. What will their shareholders think about that? With the best intentions, they are now captivated by the machines they have created. They are trapped,' said Harari according to Fast Company.