Sunday, March 22, 2009

Integration of life and technology

Life and technology are thought of as discrete but they are starting to converge (a detailed explanation is here) and could continue to become increasingly integrated, unified as is sought with the physical laws. Life sciences have evolved from being an art to a science to now an engineering problem. Life is complex but finite and it is quite possible that all biological processes, human and otherwise, will be understood and managed, including disease and death. All matter, including life, could be designed to spec in the future; the aims of synthetic biology, building genetically-precise organisms from the bottom up, programmable matter and molecular nanotechnology are early examples. In the future, form factor and embodiment could be temporary and determined by purpose.

The above graphic represents the evolution of human and machine intelligence. Given the faster pace of technology advancement, a crossover point, sometimes called the technological singularity is inevitable. Futurist Ray Kurzweil expects this point of machine intelligence surpassing [current] human intelligence in 2029. The two curves could merge (the Human’ line above), with humans reengineering themselves into technology that can learn and evolve as fast as information technology. In actuality, there may be many forms of biological life integrating with technology and more ‘human’ diversity than has ever existed.

Future of intelligence
It is not clear that there is anything special or inherently undesignable or unreplicable about intelligence. Intelligence may be nothing more than the manipulation of patterns of information, and presumably could be substrate agnostic and executor agnostic.

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