Scenario #1: Mainstream humanity will probably continue its current dysgenics program well

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Scenario #1: Mainstream humanity will probably continue its current dysgenics program well into the future, as further medical advances make it possible to retain and concentrate what would otherwise be detrimental mutations in the gene pool. The availability of contraception and progressive social programs can be expected to select most strongly for irresponsibility and whatever mental traits minimize one's ability to function as an economically productive member of society. Intelligence, motivation, and creativity will probably continue to be selected against and, perhaps just temporarilly, society may become stratified into a working class that must work increasing hours in an incresingly taxed and inefficient economy and an underclass that produces the vast majority of offspring in a subsidized but nonetheless dismal lifestyle dominated by poverty, violence, crime, and increasing overcrowding. It is possible that some country or other political unit may adopt a program of incentives to counteract this, encouraging those with desirable physical and mental qualities to reproduce, but this is likely to be quite short-lived, as the remainder of the world will doubtlessly be outraged at such an unconscionable program and will apply economic and political sanctions and/or simply exterminate them. Computer researchers and developers will continue to select for more powerful, capable, and "intelligent" computers and software; as their complexity and sophistication increase, more and more of the task of designing newer and more powerful hardware and software will be done by the machines themselves and, in conjunction with increasing factory automation, they may eventually be able to "reproduce" and evolve largely on their own. Around this time, humans and computers may begin to trade positions as humans become tools for the computers, at least until such time as machine intelligence and capability advance to the point where humans and other biological lifeforms become obsolete. Scenario #2: With the continuing decline of intelligence and education in the general population and with the increasing economic hardships imposed by expanding tax rates and governmental regulation and restrictions on economic activity, people turn in increasing numbers to organized religion. As in past millenia, the religions most adept at slaughtering or absorbing adherents of other religions will be the most successful. With its good/evil reversion, glorification of violence against competing philosophies, denigration of individual judgment and responsibility, patriarchal authoritarian command structure, suppression of natural desires (with sublimation into approved acts of destruction and oppression), and proven ability to claim the ritual trappings of subdued cultures as its own, it is likely that christianity and its derivatives will be among the most successful. As religions gain secular power and nations are converted into theocracies, it is likely that religious leaders will avail themselves of the knowlege of genetics and evolution even if they simultaneously reject it and punish its teaching; decisions regarding marriage and offspring may be taken over by the religious bureaucracy and "undesirables" may be sterilized or simply executed. People will then be bred for obedience to authority and combat ability; eventually, different breeds of people will evolve--soldiers, workers, administrators, etc., each specialized to the task intended for them by the religious "hive." Speciation may eventually occur, though with so many factions, each believing that "god is on their side" it is not unlikely that, before enough time has elapsed, one or more will decide to use nuclear weaponry to eliminate the infidels in the rest of the world, counting on their deity's personal intervention to save them from suffering the fate they intend to bring on to everyone else. If this occurs, it may result in the extinction of humans, leaving the field open for life-forms that survive the results of all-out nuclear war to vie for the new 'dominant species' title. Scenario #3: Advancing technology greatly expands the lifestyle options available to humanity. Several human subgroups with very distinct lifestyles, mores, and cultures appear, each derived from various radical subcultures. Some groups may decide to turn themselves into hybrid organisms, combining computing and mechanical elements with their organic bodies; to do this optimally, they may cease to use internal reproduction and rely exclusively on in vitro fertilization and gestation which might greatly decrease their genetic exchange with other human subspecies. A subspecies consisting entirely of women who reproduce parthenogenically is likely to appear, as are groups of people who use biotechnology to edit and modify the genetic makeup of their offspring as desired, picking and choosing genes from various human and animal sources with the occasional wholly synthetic gene, many of these groups feeling no particular need to stick all that closely to the traditional human phenotype. A few elitist groups may spring up, relying on selective breeding and some genetic surgery (largely to repair damaged genes) to maximize a set of desired mental and physical qualities within their group. All of these groups will be likely to spring from stock that is already above average in intelligence, creativity, focus, and motivation; initially, they will probably all be faced with prejudice and hatred from "mainstream" humanity and some of those that are more localized may be wiped out completely through violence. Eventually, however, these diverse groups will have the ability to become the dominant cultural and political forces, at which point they will compete primarilly with each other and "mainstream" humanity will be a large but relatively unimportant "minority" group formed largely but not exclusively of an impoverished underclass. These subspecies who were birthed from technology will seek solutions from technology and will likely begin to migrate to places beyond the earth-- some to permanent bases on other planets which they may try to terraform, but most to self-sustaining gigantic "space stations" with the capability of collecting raw materials, processing them, and using them to expand and to build other stations. Some of the largest may be capable of interstellar flight and may embark on centuries-long voyages of exploration, hoping to expand human knowlege and perhaps to discover other planets that could be made suitable for human life. Others will populate the sea floor, create vast artificial islands, or build huge structures underground. Some of the more ambitious groups using genetic engineering and/or cybernetics to modify the human phenotype may set about to modify both other planets and humans to be suitable for each other and greatly modified biomechanical human derivatives may end up populating Mars, the gas giants, the moons, and even interplanetary space itself. Meanwhile, thanks to improving entertainment technology and automation, it may become politically and economically viable to replace systems of financial support for the poor with the option of moving into a small but comfortable box in which one will be nourished and subjected to continuous full-sensory entertainment for the remainder of one's existence. Increasing numbers of people will opt for this and, once settled in this lifestyle, will be unlikely to produce offspring, reversing the selection pressure for irresponsibility and indolence. With the cultural and political centers of the various human offshoots mostly located off-planet, "mainstream" humanity may re-emerge as an influential economic and political force and may "specialize" in being generalists as the far smaller human offshoots become increasingly specialized in their forms and abilities. Humanity, now several distinct and mutually infertile species, moves towards greater cooperation and interaction, increasing human happiness and prosperity as diverse skills and viewpoints are combined to everyone's benefit. Scenario #4: Genetic engineers create modified insects with greatly increased intelligence. Everything goes well until a group of these insects ends up watching a weekend-long MST3K marathon featuring "Them," "Day of the Tarantula," "The Hephaestus Plague," "The Cockroach that ate Cincinnati," and numerous other classic 50's horror films and, after thinking it over, decide to eat everybody and establish themselves as the dominant species. Scenario #5: In a stunning upset, Dan Quayle is elected President in 1996; the entire human race evacuates the earth in protest, and ring-tailed lemurs build a new civilization that returning human explorers, millenia later, describe as "cute." Trygve ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Organization: Nyx, Public Access Unix at U. of Denver Math/CS dept. From: gbloom@nyx.cs.du.edu (Gregory Bloom) Message-ID: <1992Dec27.025046.27077@mnemosyne.cs.du.edu> Newsgroups: alt.consciousness,talk.origins,talk.religion.misc The important point to consider in asking 'what next?' is that evolution has made the jump from an externally directed program (lightning, disease, predation, warfare, etc.) to an internally directed one. Intelligence is no longer the by-product of haphazard forces - it is now a desirable product. As we develop the tools for manipulating the matter which is used in the expression of intelligence, we amplify the ability of intelligence to shape itself into whatever it desires. Homo Sapiens is merely the most recent ripple on the expanding wavefront of intelligence. We can see many examples of how we are already increasing intelligence. First, of course, we have computers. These are nothing less than intelligence amplifiers. Humans who augment their intelligence with the use of computers are able to solve problems of unimaginable complexity in comparison to their un-enhanced friends. (Okay, so most of them just play 'Tetris'...) Modern communications technology is also a form of intelligence amplifier. Humans now have a far vaster exposure to the world than, say, our great-granparents. I expect this greater exposure translates into a greater ability to solve arbitrary problems. So to answer 'what next?' we can easily extend these trends - people will, without direct modification, become smarter and better informed. We will have more computers, more facts (effectively better memory). Soon, the average person will be able to say 'how did the quadratic formula go?' and instantly hear the answer whispered in their ear. As we refine our control over the matter that expresses the 'intelligence wave-function' (tm), we will probably come up with things like smart-baby kits, that allow small modifications to the DNA of sperm or ova to provide parents to be with slightly smarter, prettier, stronger babies. On a simpler level, it is easy to imagine positive feedback stimulation to the pleasure centers of the brain whenever we get into a desirable mental state - i.e. we can tune our brains to stay in creative-analytic mode for all 16 waking hours a day. I strongly suspect this, more than any other difference, accounts for why folks like Einstein do what they do - it simply feels good! (We should be able to do this right now!) Machine intelligence will, of course, continue to increase exponentially. It is a misnomer to describe this as being somehow separate and distinct from human intelligence, however. Machine intelligence is an extension of human intelligence, just as human intelligence is an extension of intelligence as a whole. Humans will not be replaced. We will simply continue the process of transforming ourselves until it is likely that current humans will not recognize the result. Gregory Bloom gbloom@nyx.cs.du.edu

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