In my grandparent’s age, an education was everything. When my parents were born, encyclopaedias were owned by most well-off families and often referenced. When I was at university the internet was only starting to become publicly accessible. Information was and always will be more the most valuable commodity available to an individual.
Now we have reached a truly cybernetic age, where the collective knowledge of a hundred generations of humans, all experts in their fields at the time, is available to all. We no longer have to know, we only have to look. In the age of connectivity our brains process, filter and assess, but our memory comes on hardware, provided by software. This will reshape the world if we let it. We replace severed limbs with prosthetics, we augment our bodies with devices to correct poor eyesight and faulty insulin production. We can print new bones and grow new organs. With all this talk of singularity, we have overlooked the quiet merger of man and technology that has already reshaped our species.
I have a concern, a worry, a niggling question I can’t answer.
If we do ever contact an intergalactic species, how are we going to pass their Turing test? How do we display that we are sentient, aware in our own right, rather than just biochemical machines programmed to replicate? There isn’t a single human act I can think of that isn’t replicated by creatures we wouldn’t consider intelligent. Maybe that’s why we’ve been left alone, maybe we’re the galactic equivalent of Army Ants.
“Now that’s a particularly nasty species down there, better not land, it might get up in the landing gear.”
I’m tempted to say that music might save us. But if whatever we meet doesn’t use air vibrations as a means of communication, we are so screwed.
Comments more than welcome…
Now there’s a short story, the first meeting with an alien race, and the Muzak being piped in before the conference as a trance like-effect on the delegation. They become addicted, and humans become the aural-drug pushers to the galaxy. Chill to Bach, trip on AC/DC, overdose to Dub-Step.
Speaking of short stories, never forget They’re Made of Meat, by Terry Bisson.