The future is quickly becoming now, and we have better be sure we are ready for it. Just two years ago, I would have said any concept such as a space nation, even the precursors to one, was a century and more off at best. Yet here we are, well on the road to forging the first one ever... Progress is amazing, but it can be frightening, too. To anyone who is involved with or follows the world of academia, it is obvious enormous changes to our way of life and society as a whole are coming swiftly to fruition.
We are likely on the cusp of wonders. Things such as true nuclear fusion reactors and even immortality are within our grasp. Medical science is leaping forward, as is robotics, artificial intelligence, and computer science. Modern miracles are on the way, and as great as that is, such advances can be dangerous, too. We will need to evolve our understanding of ourselves and redefine many parameters in which society functions today to use our advancing technology responsibly.
With the advances in robotics expected to be made in the very near future, our entire economic structure will need restructured. Robots are expected to take more and more jobs out of the manual labor sectors as the years pass. The majority of the jobs common folk have will be obliterated. Also, with the advances rapidly coming in artificial intelligence and computer science, many higher level professions requiring degrees for humans will also be threatened. The result is a mass extinction of careers and an enormous rise in unemployment. Only those whom own large companies and the systems now performing the duties humans once completed will make any real fortune. Of course an economy cannot work this way. If the common folk are out of the workforce and no longer earning an income, they cannot buy the products and services provided by those companies that replaced said workers with robots or A.I. Governments will no longer collect as much tax revenue and even more workers will lose their jobs as a result. We will quickly need to redefine how an economy can function in such a paradigm and begin implementing systems an policies now to smoothly transit over to whatever form that new economy will take.
Even assuming we master a new economic system, other changes threaten our current view of how society works. There exists a movement called transhumanism, of which I proudly am apart of, that promotes the easing of human suffering and the betterment of our quality of life by using technology to exceed our biological limits. When used in a moral way, these technologies will work wonders. The trick is defining "moral." Many will stand by the belief we should never augment or tamper with our natural selves, others will claim we have been doing so already for centuries and this is just another step on a ladder we as a species began to climb millennia ago when the first human began to light fires at will. Our moral code will need better defined on an international level as well as the way we define once-concrete terms such as "identity," "human," and "mind." It is increasingly more evident we as a species will gain the ability to more successfully integrate with our machines as the years go by. If a person has nearly all of his or her limbs and/or organs replaced or augmented by machinery or artificial substitutes, can they still be considered human? What if a person has a significant portion of his or her DNA altered for whatever reason? Are they still human? What is the percentage of either a person can achieve before that term no longer applies? As we better understand the hardware and software of the human brain, we will inevitably gain an increasing ability to alter that system. If we eventually gain the ability to upload our consciousness to a digital substrate, many more questions will need answered. What exactly is an identity at that point? When a person can make any number of copies of himself or herself, which is the "real" individual? If just one of these entities commits a crime, whom is charged? If memories can be transferred, altered, or deleted at will, this poses serious issues to our current criminal justice model. If a person commits a murder and deletes the memory of having done so, is he or she still guilty? At that point a seemingly innocent person, from their perspective, will be tried and sentenced. If this person transferred the memory to another before deleting theirs, is the other person guilty? If I were to copy my mind to a computer and the biological me still lived, to whom has claim over my identity? Who is the real me? Are we all merely our collective brain data, or are we the physical composition of our bodies? If the former is true, any new copy has equal claim to the identity of the original entity. If the latter is true, a clone is as much you as you are, even if the two possess differing memories. Also, that would mean if enough of your physical composition were changed, either by DNA editing or cybernetic enhancement, you could no longer be considered you.
Advanced in human longevity are occurring every year. There are many experts, such as Michio Kaku and Aubrey de Grey who believe we are within fifty years of biological immortality. If this is achieved, many other things will need to be addressed. Who is allowed access to this technology? Only the rich? Only those with enough political power? Any law determining this is in essence defining who is allowed to live and who must die. Even if all were granted equal access to this technology, many things will need solved. With greatly enhanced longevity comes the problems of population, finite resources, retirement, and more. Earth can only contain so many people, even if we maxed out how efficiently we manage our resources. We would either have to expand into space or limit our population growth sharply. I suspect both will be needed,. Many details will need to be hashed out to sustain a society of which has members that may live indefinitely.
I do not point these things out to spell out any doomsday scenario's or to induce panic. We have every opportunity now to foresee these issues and work on them before they even arise. Nations that have been formed and operating for centuries will have great difficulty switching from their existing systems to a new one that addresses these radical changes. Asgardia, being a brand-new thing, can address these things now, and better be prepare to slowly transit into the new world as such is needed. We should continually evaluate how our science and engineering today will likely affect our future, using the best data possible, to begin implementing policies and plans that will ease transitioning into those futures as easily and painlessly as possible.
To all who read this blog entry, thank you for you time and I hope you enjoyed whatever insights you may have gotten from these words. If you liked what you read and wish to elect a leader mindful of these things, please visit my candidate page below.