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Intelligent Machines For A Dying World

By James Donahue

Hans Moravec is a name may grow in recognition as continued warfare, industrial and human pollution, savaging of natural resources and consequential weather changes plunge the world into looming death throes. Moravec and his colleagues at the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University appear to be imagining the transhumanization of people into machines that can carry on in an environment too extreme to support life as we know it.

Moravec, a futurist known for his work on robotics and artificial intelligence, has written several books on this subject. His book, Mind Children, published in 1988, examines the impact of Moore’s Law in advancing computer technology and the probability of the reality of artificial intelligence. His second book, Robot: Mere Machines to Transcendent Mind, published in 1998, examines evolving robotic intelligence and its implications.

Moravec hasn’t just been sitting behind a desk somewhere thinking about these things. In 2003 he and Scott Friedman founded Seegrid Corporation, dedicated to the research and development of robotic perception, navigation and commercial use.

The concept of transhumanism is not confined to Moravec’s brain. Other researchers and thinkers like Ray Kurzweil, a computer programmer, inventor and engineer, are on the same track. Kurzweil proposed in his book, The Singularity Is Near, a computer program that will copy a person’s entire brain and then upload it into an improved robotic body. He perceives humans reaching a state where both man and machine become blended into a single unit.

There appears to be an international scientific interest in finding ways to use science and technology to improve human mental and physical abilities either through mechanical or genetic engineering. The goal includes the elimination of disabilities, suffering, disease, aging and even death.

The radical concept of placing the human mind in self replicating machines capable of surviving long explorations into space, without having to bring a life support system of food, water and air from Earth, has not evaded these future dreamers. Yet thinking of such achievements and actually accomplishing them are two different things.

As we have proclaimed in past articles, it is our opinion that there is a god particle within each of us, and that we each may be the creators of our own universes. And if we can do this, there is no limits to the things we can achieve. All we have to do is have the idea and the drive to want to make it come true.

Our question at this juncture, however, is whether we really wish to go in this direction in the future. We exist in what originally was a perfect living environment. It has been threatened by our own foolishness and the greed of certain industrial, business and political leaders that lead us down this dark path of commercialism and a failing capitalistic system.

It seems as if the best and most logical path for humanity to follow would be that of seeking a green environment, striving to protect and heal the Mother Earth, and to strive to remain on this planet as long as possible.

Because we have waited so long to take action, or to even admit to ourselves that a problem exists, we are all faced with extreme sacrifice to make the healing of our planet possible. As we see it, however, depending on the work of people like Moravec, Kurzweil and other transhumanist thinkers to find a way to magically transport our spirits from these magnificent bodies into machines for mere survival in an ugly super heated and airless environment is a long-shot at best.

And who wants to live in a machine that cannot benefit from the taste of fine foods, a walk in the forest, or the touch of a loved one? While we may still be aware, it cannot describe being alive.