A recent article in the Boston Globe contains predictions by Nick Bostrum (a Transhumanist philosopher at the Institute for the Future of Humanity) and Martin Rees (the Astronomer Royal) concerning the prospects for the survival of our species.
Both Rees and Bostrum see problems ahead. Rees puts the prospects for the survival of humanity at 50 50 while Bostrum conjectures that the chances of survival are 25 per cent. Rees and Bostrum are united in their view that Darwinian (biological) evolution will be overtaken by technological changes which will allow humans to evolve faster by, for example the implantation of brain to computer interface chips and the utilisation of genetic engineering. Consequently assuming the human race does survive the people of the future will be very different from those who inhabit our planet today.
Bostrum is concerned that if new technologies are misused we could lose those traits which are most precious and which make us human. For instance he perceives a possibility that if human minds are uploaded into a giant computer the uploaded persons could lose their individuality and become part of an anonomous artificial intelligence. Again he sees the potential for a future society to snuff out friendship in the name of efficiency. Bostrum believes that we can, potentially avoid such possibilities by using drugs which would make individuals behave more ethically thereby ensuring that the Transhumans of the future retain those traits, such as friendship and individuality which we cherish.
For the article please visit http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2011/05/01/what_will_happen_to_us/?page=full.