Over time, the way people think and perceive the world is subjected to constant change. Since ancient Greece, various thinkers and philosophers have been trying to express their understanding of the world and society through different concepts based on the available means of studying them. In this context, modern human philosophy is greatly influenced by technology and its advance because of the cognition tools it provides. Transhumanism – a philosophical movement that originated in the 20th century – takes the role of such “tools” to the next level (Manzocco 2019). In short, transhumanists encourage the use of technology to change, modify, and ultimately improve human physical and intellectual capabilities (Manzocco 2019). Transhumanism has a wide variety of implications, including the term technological singularity. It implies a point in time when technological advances will become so rapid and impactful that it will be no longer possible to track them (DoUSEEwhatEYEC, 2016). It is hard to predict how exactly the world will look when it passes the point of singularity; however, certain benefits and dangers it brings to society can be guessed with high probability.
Modern technological advances are intertwined with computers, associated machinery, and the internet. According to Manzocco (2019), the future society will undergo ten “mega shifts,” each of which will bring radical societal change. First of all, comes total digitalization: everything that can be transferred to the digital space will be transferred respectively. Digitalization serves as the starting point for the second shift of mobilization and mediazation. At this stage, computing processes become ubiquitous but invisible – the reality will be augmented by the virtual component that includes all everyday items, such as books, tools, movies, or songs. With the provision of external memory, people will be able to store everything in the cloud, even their memories and experiences. The augmentation of reality launches the next shift of reunification and interface revolutions. It implies the information will be made as visual and abstract as possible through the glasses, virtual reality, and holograms. Considering how accessible and autonomic various aspects of human life will become, it will be only logical to suggest their disintermediation. Business, shopping, banking – these and many other services would no longer require human mediation.
At this point, society would recognize the grand transformation it undertook. From being physically separated from the tools and devices, people will come to a continuous connection to them via implants. The implants would not be limited only to human bodies – every item will be able to become intelligent, which is referred to as interdigitation (Manzocco 2019). Intelligization would cause the automation of numerous activities and processes, substituting humans with machines wherever possible. The augmentation of reality will not stop on the second mega shift, slowly evolving into virtualization. For example, the room’s interior will become easily adjustable; the 3-D printers will be able to quickly print the missing objects based on the available printing schematics. In the meantime, computers will be able to anticipate human decisions and monitor their actions. To assist people, computers will take care of most decision-making processes, thus, greatly influencing the ways of people’s lives. Last but not least will come robotization; robots of any kind will be present almost everywhere, with their android counterparts becoming more human-like at an ever-increasing pace.
In general, I see these trends as being positive for the future of society. Undoubtedly, there are specific downsides, such as technological unemployment, fewer real-life interactions, and human de-skilling (Manzocco 2019). In addition, some transhumanists (for example, Raymond Kurzweil) associate singularity with the creation of artificial intelligence (AI) that will be far superior to humans (DoUSEEwhatEYEC, 2016). If humanity can control it, the issue of its own might provoke conflicts (Kania, 2017). If not, it becomes impossible to predict how it is going to treat humanity. Nevertheless, the possibility of super AI creation is still debatable and, thus, not certain. The issue of technological unemployment is not something unknown and can be managed with workforce redistribution. Fewer real-life interactions will be compensated by sophisticated communication technologies, while virtual reality might become so thorough that it will be impossible to distinguish. Finally, delegating certain decisions to computers will allow for more efficient time management, leading to numerous development possibilities.
The world that entered the technological singularity as a whole might be beyond the imaginative human capabilities; nonetheless, its specific features can be logically derived. Society affected by singularity will undergo several radical changes, such as digitalization, mobilization and mediazation, reunification and interface revolution, disintermediation, transformation, interdigitation, automation, virtualization, anticipation, and robotization. Such progress, amplified by the rapid tempo of implementation, does bear specific problems, including work and lifestyle issues. Additionally, it provides the source of possible conflict, either between humans or between humans and machines. However, the former can be considered temporal inconveniences that the proper adjustment can solve. At the same time, the latter remains the “possibility in the possibility,” being too vague to raise reasonable concerns. Therefore, I consider technological progress favorable for society’s development and anticipate the age of technological singularity.
DoUSEEwhatEYEC. (2016). To Be a Transcendent Man.Better Think Again! [Video]. YouTube. Web.
Kania, E. B. (2017). Battlefield singularity. Artificial Intelligence, Military Revolution, and China’s Future Military Power. CNAS.
Manzocco, Roberto. (2019). Transhumanism. Engineering the Human Condition. Springer.