The Vision

Man and Cyber

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright December 2014

This Vision of 2050 is inspired in part by reading Ray Kurzweil's "The Singularity is Near". In this he describes that the growth in computer processing power is proceeding exponentially and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The result: In roughly 2050 it will grow so large that we can't envision what it means: This is The Singularity that the book is about.

I agree with Kurzweil that cyber intelligence (my term for Artificial Intelligence) will become real, and I agree that the advanced parts will become unintelligible to humans. But I'm an optimist. I believe there will still be humans, and there will be parts of cyber intelligence/cyber space that humans can meaningfully interact with. My analogy is that cyber and humans will develop a relation similar to that of humans and cows. (I write about that here.) My vision is that humans will continue to exist, and the cyber will not appear to become oppressive overlords in human eyes -- any more than humans appear to be oppressive overlords in cows' eyes. Instead, the relation will be much more subtle, and much more human comfortable. In human eyes the cyber will be capricious rather than appearing to be dedicated to oppressing humans. They will be much more like ancient Greek Gods.

Because of this appearance, human emotion will be to treat them this way. This means some people will worship them, and offer sacrifices to them, and blame natural and social disasters on "the cyber gods being angry". This new form of religion will offer a lot of competition to existing religious formats where God is providing answers to both personal questions and why various current events are happening.

Cyber and automation

The worlds of manufacturing and service are going to get more and more automated. This means that cyber will be handling these activities and few humans will be necessary.

An example of the change that this will bring is driverless cars. I envision that as driverless cars become ubiquitous, the role of cars in our society will change dramatically. These days car ownership and the ability to drive a car are sources of pride. When driverless cars become the norm, who will bother to learn to drive? And if you aren't going to learn to drive, why bother with owning a car? In sum, cars will become taxis, and getting in one to go from place to place will be taken for granted. Just like a few people continue to own and ride horses today, a few people will continue to own and drive cars, but they will be hobbyists, not mainstream people or activities.

One surprise outcome of this change in man-car relation is the Fast and Furious movies. These 2010's movies have the same relation between man and car that the 1950's Westerns had between man and horse.

One of the big challenges of foreseeing the 2050's is what people will be doing in place of "jobs" like Big Business manufacturing and service work and running the transportation networks.

Cyber and innovation

The areas where humans and cyber will interact creatively the longest are those where innovation and reacting to surprises remain important. Cyber handles routine well. As more and more human activities become routines that cyber can handle, these will get taken over by cyber. First chess playing and then playing Jeopardy is an example of this kind of cyber advancing.

Humans who get good analytically-based educations will help innovate new ways of making and servicing things, and help invent totally new kinds of products to be produced. They will also lead research in science frontiers.

Another area where humans will dominate is disaster recovery -- when the things cyber normally handle get all messed up, and a lot of play-by-ear is called for, humans will come up with innovative answers more quickly than cyber can.


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