Here at DesignDiverso we really like to imagine what the future will look like and may bring in terms of innovation.
This time is worth taking a look at the past though before delving into the future. Depending on whom you ask rather near or remote future.
By observing and studying adaptation and evolutions throughout history from the early paleozoic era is possible to determine few patterns and above all, that nature and life required millions of years to adapt and survive the several (5) mass extinctions events that occurred throughout time.
The interesting part is how long such life forms took to evolve in comparison to us humans and the number of deadly hurdles they had managed to survive in order to get where they are today.
Let’s break down the periods and eras.
This image helps visually with history of life on earth:
Proteozoic (Gaboniota) 2.1 billion years ago
Cambrian – 541 million years to 485 million years
Ordovician – 485 million years to approximately 443 million years ago
Silurian – from 443 to 416 million years ago
Devonian – from 416 million years to 359 million years ago
Mesozoic marine revolution – 251mya
Permian triassic extinction event, 250mya and just like that 95% of life on earth was gone, wiped off, also known as the great dying. As of how it happened this is still puzzling researchers worldwide.
Paleozoic extinctions. Give it another few hundred million years and there we are again, 65 million years ago with the last of the five mass extinctions events known as the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction.
“Why did some of Earth’s earliest complex organisms start to grow larger?”
A study published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution may provide an answer to this question, suggesting that organisms grew bigger to spread their offspring as far as possible, rather than to compete for resources as was previously thought.
Researchers found that the most successful organisms in Earth’s oceans half a billion years ago were those that were capable of spreading their offspring the furthest.
The very first organisms on Earth were simple and microscopic. But during the Ediacaran Period (635 to 541 million years ago), a wonderful variety of larger, more complex lifeforms first began to emerge.
In the study, the scientists studied a type of organism known as “rangeomorphs” which grew up to two meters tall and resembled ferns. Despite their similarities to plants, these may actually have been some of the first animals ever to exist.
But determining where Ediacaran organisms fit on the tree of life has proven challenging. Some scientists have expressed doubt as to whether many of them can even be classed as animals.
Ediacaran organisms don’t appear to have mouths or organs, and they are not thought to have been capable of moving, instead absorbing nutrients from the water around them. Most of the larger examples are quite distinct from later life-forms.
Over time, many of these Ediacaran organisms grew taller and their body shapes diversified, with some growing stem-like structures to support themselves.
In many environments, such as forests, there is intense competition for resources such as sunlight, so taller trees and plants tend to have an advantage. The research team, led by Emily Mitchell from the University of Cambridge, wondered whether a similar mechanism was driving growth in Ediacaran lifeforms.
We wanted to know whether there were similar drivers for organisms during the Ediacaran period
Mitchell from Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences, said in a statement. “Did life on Earth get big as a result of competition?”
For the study, the team examined fossils from Mistaken Point in Newfoundland, Canada—a globally significant fossil site which contains numerous specimens from the Ediacaran Period.
Previous studies have hypothesized that an increased organism size was driven by competition for nutrients at different water depths in the Ediacaran oceans. However, the new study shows that a lack of nutrients may not have been an issue.
The oceans at the time were very rich in nutrients, so there wasn’t much competition for resources, and predators did not yet exist, Mitchell, said. So, there must have been another reason why life forms got so big during this period.
Because Ediacaran organism could not move, they are generally preserved where they lived, something which is beneficial to researchers because it enables them to analyze whole populations from the fossil record.
The team’s analysis showed that there was no correlation between the height of organisms and competition for food. They found that organisms did not live at different water levels to avoid competing for resources—a phenomenon known as tiering.
“If they were competing for food, then we would expect to find that the organisms with stems were highly tiered,” said Charlotte Kenchington, co-author of the study from Memorial University of Newfoundland. “But we found the opposite: The organisms without stems were actually more tiered than those with stems, so the stems probably served another function.”
The researchers suggest that one likely function of these stems would have been to enable the greater dispersion of offspring. Rangeomorphs, for example, spread their offspring by expelling small structures known as propagules. They found that the tallest organisms were surrounded by the most offspring, suggesting that this trait led to a greater chance of colonizing an area.
We cannot assume and conclude that 600 millions year ago only sponges existed, we simply can’t. Not so wise and accurate to even claim that these organisms were simply doing nothing. It’s just not true. Even assuming that neural systems came along much later it’d be extremely naive to ignore all the evolution that led to a radical transformation of life as we know it.
THE WIZARD HAT
Besides the sheer facts analyzed in this article, we should be asking ourselves, how do we intend to fast forward our own evolution as humans and rely on a human made device for the survival of human beings. This sounds preposterous to me.
Assuming the Neuralink project will “succeed” in creating the so-called device or interface, shouldn’t we perhaps first focus on how to resolve issues that affect our society to this day such as racism, discrimination, financial inequality before actually plug our brains directly into the net?
It’s been already acknowledged and proved by various sources that human brain is negatively affected by screen time especially in children. Tweet this
Multiple studies have concluded already as I’m writing this post that the results of brain mutation are out of hand, cannot be controlled. It makes it extremely challenging for grown people who have been overly exposed to mobile devices, computers etc.. to have normal feelings and naturally express their emotions as humans.
So do we simply want to ignore these facts, and let us be turned into machines by some kind of device? Aren’t current devices already addictive enough?
Perhaps the solutions to slowing down aren’t working and maybe is true we don’t have enough time to tackle AI, (besides rapidly deteriorating climate and environment conditions) regulate it and implement some international framework for it, though we definitely can’t rely on something that goes so blatantly against nature and humanity as a whole.
The problem with humans is that we didn’t evolve as much as brachiopods in the Mesozoic, we simply didn’t have yet the time to do that, it is also not sure that we will ever do, we live in an era of great technological advancement, however all in all, that is what is evolving, not us as organisms, not the brain in and on itself. Its a very deceiving concept to believe in.
If for a moment we stopped and thought about it, what would we really be able to accomplish nowadays without our artificial extensions and prosthetics? The machines that have made our life “simpler” to an extent, that improved our work, created new economies, new businesses.
Ok, technology didn’t just evolve in terms of computers though you can catch my drift.
I totally agree and second Elon Musk statement, when he mentions “think about all that we have achieved, accomplished” though cannot be on the same page with him when his solution to this problem that is AI on one side, potential climate catastrophes on the other, resorts on linking our brains to the net, or flying us to Mars.
Both solutions are overstepping on our own capability to affect our decisions and become who we want to be, or maybe in the bleakest of options to end with dignity.
Neuralink as mentioned by Tim on his article aims at redefining what humans will be, precluding by design any other alternative, as scary as it might be.
It’s great that for instance, Space X came along with their constant drive to explore Mars and alien beings there. I don’t deny the charm of all the discoveries that have been made and what we could still learn from the red planet, however believing is a chance to survive a mass extinction, not quite.
Nothing will ever change whether our brains are one with the net, able to harness AI or we colonize Mars. The greatest changes have been, are, and will always be coming from within ourselves. At the cost of sounding cheesy or trivial.
It’s so much easier nowadays to rely on our artificial companions for answers, to look at technology for saving our lives though, believing this is our hope for the future seems a little far-fetched to me.
We have the issue of time working against us, at speed never seen before on this planet, it’s true, it makes us all falter, confused at best.
However if not by natural design waiting for us to evolve as organisms, we should be trying to find the solutions to our current problems within ourselves. This sounds to me like the much wiser and likely to have positive outcomes option to make a future possible for all.
Shall we hand all our chances of survival as species over to a few elected “smarter” people?
Someone named Steve Jobs once said:
“Everything around you that you call life was made by people no smarter than you, and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use”
Somehow we are right now owned (most of us) by multinationals lobbies and the issue is mostly financial. What are the chances that linking our brains to the internet will manage to solve this issue, if the ones controlling the devices are a bunch of the “chosen few”? They somehow represent that very same entitled people.
The issues at hand goes way beyond this statement:
If we can just use engineering to get neurons to talk to computers, we’ll have done our job, and machine learning can do much of the rest. Which then, ironically, will teach us about the brain.
– Tim’s blog
The biggest unknown in this equation is by far that, humans are not machines, they will never ever act all the same and all make the same decisions based on AI, or whatever inputs they’ll get, it’s a really huge naivety to even hinder our brains and conscious thoughts with such assumptions or conclusions.
Even assuming the engineering is successful at putting this great wizard hat together as they like to call it, would each and one of us will be spontaneously linking to it? It’s not like just finding yourself in an isolated or remote area with bad service and not having 4G on you device, causing comms problems with your workmates..
It’s a whole new ball game, it means being on a separate, opposed level from everyone else’s, it’s like being summoned by a machine brain molding device.
It’s not plausible I believe to compare it with eye laser technology:
And after learning all about chips in the brain, I agree—and when Americans eventually learn about it, I think they’ll change their minds. History supports this prediction. People were super timid about Lasik eye surgery when it first became a thing—20 years ago, 20,000 people a year had the procedure done. Then everyone got used to it and now 2,000,000 people a year get laser eye surgery. Similar story with pacemakers. And defibrillators. And organ transplants—which people at first considered a freakish Frankenstein-esque concept. Brain implants will probably be the same story.
– Tim’s blog.
Are you guys for real? Change their minds LOL..
And when you actually mention basically that we are “in the early stages of a virtual and augmented reality revolution that will wrap the magic around our eyes and ears and bring our whole being into the digital world.
You don’t need to be a futurist to see where this is going. Magic has worked its way from industrial facilities to our homes to our hands and soon it’ll be around our heads. And then it’ll take the next natural step. The magic is heading into our brains.”
OK agreed until “You don’t need to be a futurist to see where this is going.”
Technology is never been and never will be magic, too many times people have thought of it this way. Blurring the line between the real and artificial world, thinking that just about anything is now expected by technology.
To me as I’m one of those fools, you guys are all probably there thinking how limited am I or people like me, the few that are left. I’m personally believing that real magic is already within ourselves, that we don’t need a brain implant to learn more in less time, or even the split of a second for the matter. We don’t need to be super smart, or superhumans, because what makes us who we are is our awareness, the feeling that is translated by our emotional capability to adapt and put ourselves in other people shoes.
The real magic happens more to empaths and I agree is a league on their own.
That’s the magic right there. How do you let a brain to machine linkage in charge of all this?
Magic is living our lives touched by others in ways 99% of us don’t even believe possible, walk in someone else shoes is a popular catchphrase and buzz words that in the accessibility and user experience design circles has become quite trendy in the last few years. However, who is really able to go beyond the trendiness of catchy phrases and truly feel what another human is going through just by being naturally close to them?
Some more left-brain-focused people are often so much better off, because they don’t even come close in their lifetime of what’s it like to be someone who feels it all to a deeper level.
Don’t get me wrong we need both approaches and understandings, obviously tech-focused people have the knowledge and know-how to develop the technology further, which is of utmost importance.
By all means, we are not all the same (far from me to generalize here) and even some more tech-oriented individuals can be “sometimes” more emotionally involved or connected.
Though that usually gets overshadowed by ambition, the drive for discovering something new in tech which in most cases is not necessarily benefitting humanity as a whole but the individuals pocket behind the project.
Now take all the self-proclaimed smartest tech gurus kind of guys on the planet, and go on figure that out, no, seriously be my guest 😉 Maybe we still don’t know everything about our brains and how they work, though we know enough to determine that most of us use just a very small part of it. Not to mention that the more someone focus their brain on e.g. solving mathematical problems the more your brain will develop and be prone to a certain way of processing information, thinking and reasoning.
Emotions are the quintessential example of a concept that words are poorly-equipped to accurately describe. If ten people say, “I’m sad,” it actually means ten different things. In the Wizard Era, we’ll probably learn pretty quickly that the specific emotions people feel are as unique to people as their appearance or sense of humor. This could work as communication—when one person communicates just what they’re feeling, the other person would be able to access the feeling in their own emotional centers. Obvious implications for a future of heightened empathy. But emotional communication could also be used for things like entertainment, where a movie, say, could also project out to the audience—directly into their limbic systems—certain feelings it wants the audience to feel as they watch. This is already what the film score does—another hack—and now it could be done directly.
Thank you for remembering to even mention “emotions” toward the very end of your long post, and allowing it to take up few lines compared to the rest of the superhuman achievements of the wizard hat. Too bad that this is where the nickel finally drops, is there a way that seriously a brain implant linked over the net from brain to brain is able to replace and enhance the way we feel about things?
Maybe in some sci-fi movie, watched one the other day pretty cool and entertaining starring Ewan Mgregor…
It’s cool in the movies, though would you want to see that in real life? For real?!
Obviously, that would happen in a much more deranged and a lot less romantic way, actually, doubt anyone in their sound mind would wish to become so miserably enslaved.
In the end it all comes down to one fundamental issue in my humble opinion which is Control. Whoever gets to control all these super brains wins, much like what’s happening now with products, markets, multinationals etc.
So, do tell please what would change for the 99% of us?
Of course the elite and solely them will be more and more powerful, as is always been.
The only timeframe in history where people were mistakingly and deceptively thinking they’d have a chance at something different was maybe the long gone 60’s, well, we all know how that turned out.
Just more divide, richer gets richer at the expense of the poor. It was so in the dark ages, it is so in 2019.
Only now, we have technology helping super-rich fanatics and elitists rob people of the most fundamental and basic human rights, what a delight!
Holy shit computers can be hacked. In the last item I was thinking about bad guys using hacking to steal information from my brain. But brain interfaces can also put information in. Meaning a clever hacker might be able to change your thoughts or your vote or your identity or make you want to do something terrible you normally wouldn’t ever consider. And you wouldn’t know it ever happened. You could feel strongly about voting for a candidate and a little part of you would wonder if someone manipulated your thoughts so you’d feel that way. The darkest possible scenario would be an ISIS-type organization actually influencing millions of people to join their cause by altering their thoughts. This is definitely the scariest paragraph in this post. Let’s get out of here.
– Tim’s blog
Hey, in a way that is already happening, do you watch the news?
However not quite though, by far the scariest thing I can imagine is another brain messing with my brain over the net, because it’s simply horrific and just immoral. Of course you and your team of super-smart, super-rich, super good, superhuman guys have already reached 100K shares combined for that post alone, and my post will be probably be read thoroughly by a bunch of crazy enough people that’s it, that is the issue right there. 😉 (Slight smirk of irony here)
I strongly believe in technology as I’ve embraced it in my own professional path, in my own life and encourage others to do it too. There’s technology and there is technology though.
There is the tech that makes our lives better by helping blind people (partially) regain sight, or deaf regain hearing, or perhaps help disabled walk again. Helping us cure mental disorders.
Provide better services designed to help us all.
Let there be light then, these are truly mind-blowing things we could only dream of happening, just a couple of decades ago.
However is it the natural evolution to have AR or VR technology implanted in our brains?
Not by a long shot I’d say.
We’re already a cyborg, we already have superpowers, and we already spend a huge part of our lives in the digital world. And when you think of it like that, you realize how obvious it is to want to upgrade the medium that connects us to that world. This is the change Elon believes is actually happening when the magic goes into our brains:
You’re already digitally superhuman. The thing that would change is the interface—having a high-bandwidth interface to your digital enhancements. The thing is that today, the interface all necks down to this tiny straw, which is, particularly in terms of output, it’s like poking things with your meat sticks, or using words—either speaking or tapping things with fingers. And in fact, output has gone backwards. It used to be, in your most frequent form, output would be ten-finger typing. Now, it’s like, two-thumb typing. That’s crazy slow communication. We should be able to improve that by many orders of magnitude with a direct neural interface.
– Tim’s blog
Are we really thinking a brain implant will have the similar impact on our brains of a smartphone? Let’s take a closer look at what the side-effect of longer-term usage in teenagers and children are already today addicted to those kinds of meat sticks poked devices.
Now imagine all that destruction of the actual brain cells, and multiple it for 1.000.000.000.000.000 or for an indefinite number of times. Get the concept?
Also need to add here that I’m currently using a computer whether desktop or device at least 7 hours a day to carry out my tasks and work to-dos, though I don’t feel like being interconnected to it 24/7 via a superglued implant inside my brain is something I’d enjoy, would you?
One thing to keep in mind 🙂 as we think about all of this is that none of it will take you by surprise. You won’t go from having nothing in your brain to a digital tertiary layer in your head, just like people didn’t go from the Apple IIGS to using Tinder overnight. The Wizard Era will come gradually, and by the time the shift actually begins to happen, we’ll all be very used to the technology, and it’ll seem normal.
Again comparing some rather “meaningless” software to an implant in our brains, doesn’t seem so appropriate…
So people gaining monopolistic control of AI is its own problem—and one that OpenAI is hoping to solve. But it’s a problem that may pale in comparison to the prospect of AI being uncontrollable
Yes exactly, which is the worst-case scenario though let’s pour our wealth into it because of course, not the “trolls” but the elite billionaires out there, can’t really come up with a better ring to rule us all.
So it’s not over until is over, we haven’t failed as we haven’t completely annihilated ourselves, though we tried during the two world wars in the past.
Maybe harder to accomplish, yes, might be taking more effort as humans, though I believe that developing a society that is more aware is still viable. It “just” only takes to join forces and work together like never before.
So what should be fast-forwarded instead of learning how machines work, how machines are programmed and how we can all turn into machines?
Perhaps the way we educate our children, a massive unanimous reform devoid of useless trappings.
Can we use and take advantage of our technological skills and means, absolutely we must, by all means. As I always keep saying since 20 years or so certain (good) technology is our only hope. We just need to really start using it to propel us into the future instead of driving us on the brink of extinction.
There’s nothing that can prepare us to face a life-altering event as human beings, the same applies to our species as a whole.
We can take courses or workshops, survive wars, be the strongest most invincible, infallible humans to ever walk on earth, yet we cannot be prepared to face the death of someone close to us. Rest be assured, death comes in different shapes and sizes, not just the very definitive physical death.
We don’t have enough time before the, AI horsemen of the apocalypse will be unleashed? Let’s make it count then.
We don’t have enough time before a natural disaster will reshape the earth as we know it, same as above.
We don’t have enough time before we as humans destroy ourselves, same as above.
Personally don’t think we have other chances, realistic ones at least. Do you?
Again in order to overcome our own problems, we should be relying on our own innate perseverance, resilience and ability to change, evolve, get better within ourselves, without waiting for machines or artificial intelligence to either destroy or rescue us.
As we simply skimmed through history and all the extinctions events, we must consider that not all the organisms and life forms went extinct because of major natural disruption events, many were decimated by their incapability to evolve, transform and adapt to predators behaviors later in the Mesozoic.
It’s also important to notice that it took millions of years for these changes that affected all life on earth to take place.
Food for thought, I’m hoping?