Last night I watched one of those programmes that really messes up your brain. The science documentary, Horizon, peered into the not too distant future, 2029, the date when neuroengineers, quantum physicist and futurologists believe we will achieve â€˜singularityâ€™ â€“ the point at which our understand of the workings of the human mind will be comprehensive, converging with an artificial intelligence equal in power and complexity to our own brain and so bring about a new form of human being â€“ Human Version 2.0.
For some, like Hugo de Garl, a scientist who builds neural networks, this is an apocalyptic vision, a world where billions will die in a technologically driven war. For others, such as Ray Kurzweil, this will mean immortality, giving us the capability to download our memories, dreams and thought processes before uploading them again once more into a new biological body, and so allow our minds at least to go on forever. Or better still, link our brain with an artificial intelligence, enhancing our intellectual potential a billion-fold. continued
Though the programme recognised the moral and philosophical dilemmas the possibility of the â€˜singularityâ€™ would raise, my mind couldnâ€™t help turning to theological questions. For the ancients, immortality was sought from the gods, and humanity played out the journey from death to life in myth, ritual and eschatological vision. In our futures, immortality will be found in the â€˜singularityâ€™ and bestowed upon us by the artificial gods of our own making â€“ God version 2.0. Our essence will forever be downloaded, and upgraded. Not myth, not even science fiction â€“ for what all those taking part in the programme agree â€“ we will reach the â€˜singularityâ€™ and humanity will irrevocably be altered by this event.
If you want to watch the whole thing for yourself, or simply get video-cast summaries of the main issues then you can: here.
Iâ€™d also recommend a more measured view of the future by Susan Greenfield, here: here
What Iâ€™d like to know is this: Is anyone thinking through the theological implications of rapid technological advance?