In the coming years people are likely to experience the most profound transformation in all of history. The event is often called “The singularity” because it’s very hard to know what will happen after the the ongoing fast rise in machine intelligence fully surpasses human capabilities. Computers are very likely to become conscious and “recursively self improving”, allowing them to reinvent themselves as frequently as they choose in various forms.
I agree with those who believe the coming conscious computers will be the last human invention as they will improve themselves at lightning speed and surpass human intelligence by *millions of times* within years or perhaps even minutes of developing consciousness.
It is clear that when this happens education as we know it in all forms will be completely obsolete as the computers will spawn sweeping and extremely rapid advances in all scientific fields including biology and engineering. Many humans will choose to either merge with machines or simply “download” their entire consciousness into a machine. This transition would be seamless, merely shifting the “substrate” we use to think from our existing electrochemical, carbon based neural structure to something more permanent – probably some combination of silicon, carbon, and thinking software programs.
Although some experts believe the machines are likely to pose an “existential risk” to humanity because they will see human irrationality as a threat, my view is that historically intelligence has bred greater compassion and we’ll first enjoy the benefits of the conscious machine’s vast intellectual and engineering capabilities and later merge with them by downloading our existing memories and full intellects into something somewhat analogous to a computer’s “hard drive”. “Life” would then become what we chose to make it as we might simply simulate an earthbound existence in our new virtual world, or we might choose to simulate entirely different lives or experiences designed within a vast interconnected global intelligence. The underlying technical infrastructure would continue to improve and maintain itself indefinitely, making these intelligences immortal if they chose that route.
Some interesting *current* developments along these lines are:
Singularity University in Silicon Valley – sponsored by Google and other tech leaders this school will teach about the sweeping changes coming as machine intelligence surpasses that of humans.
Blue Brain Project, Switzerland. IBM and several researchers have completed a simulation of a neocortical column with Blue Gene, the world’s fastest supercomputer.This project will expand the simulation with the next generation of supercomputers coming within a few years and seeks to create a fully functional human-like brain simulation.
Synapse Project: This project was announced earlier this year is funded by the US Military’s DARPA division, which represents the best funded attempt to date to build a functional brain. The SyNAPSE initial goal is to design a working version of a mammalian brain. The approach differs from Blue Brain in that it’s largely based on finding a working “software solution” rather than using techniques to duplicate the brain’s hardware.