The cyberman option is a radical and presently far-fetched view of the future.
We are bombarded every day with list of environmental issues that seems just to keep growing thanks to world population growth and the strain this puts on natural capital. Everywhere climate change issues make the weather uncertain, land management has increased soil degradation, and food security is no longer certain… and so it goes on.
Most of these issues come about because they involve fundamentals of food and energy use. Humans are, after all, chemical factories that need fuel to function. We all convert energy from our food to keep our bodies working and need energy from external sources to keep us comfortable, mobile and entertained.
The traditional assumption is that these carbohydrate and electrical energy needs will continue to be met from organic sources, hence the importance of agriculture and the pivotal role of fossil fuels. This makes sense given that the industrial revolution that created the conditions for our current lifestyles came about thanks to coal, oil and industrial agriculture.
Except that there are some futurists, especially those who adhere to Moore’s Law [the doubling of the number of transistors in integrated circuits doubles every 18-24 months], who think that this reliance on fossil fuels is an outdated assumption.
They argue that the rate of technological advancement will be fast enough to replace the need for organic sources of food and energy.
Just like our grandfathers could not imagine the ubiquity and power of the smartphone, so it is hard to imagine 50 let alone 100 years into our technological development.
Some of those who can see 100 years of Moore’s Law think the people of the future will effectively be machines for the purposes of mobility, their minds having been downloaded onto chips.
People will not need their organic energy consuming bodies for, given enough computer grunt, all basic functions can be far more reliably delivered via technologies with "mind control'.
Remove the biology and there is no need for water, food, even oxygen. This transhumanist view of the future would have none of the environmental policy issues to do with natural capital because we would no longer need to trade-off environmental values to deliver food.
The natural world could be left to its own devices. And given we know that nature has exceptional capacity to recover from disturbance, a few generations of being left alone would see much of nature recover to former glories.
This robotic future is a weird concept whilst we still reside in our bodies and for many reason is unlikely to come to pass. But the idea is exactly to think outside our current human perspective. Freed from the need to procreate and consume we could let nature alone to do its thing — whatever that might be after several generations of 7 billion+ consumerism by the current incarnation of our species.
Whilst the sensations of reproduction would be easy to replicate this sci-fi world might need some interesting rules around replication of minds. Or perhaps this is another flawed assumption from the biological era. It may even be possible to reprogram our highs, lows and desires.
The cyberman option is bizarre, crazy even. No-one would want to circumvent or destroy the very essence of the human condition.
Except that bizarre and crazy were words used to describe the futurists of the past who thought the flat world was round.
Confused Confucius spurned the monastic life for the world of work, moral conundrums and mobile devices. His sayings, questions and incongruous idioms on the environment and modern life bring delight and bafflement in equal measure... check out more Confused Confucius sayings.
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