Is this the last century of humanity as we know it? It won’t be a World War or famine what will cause the eventual destruction of the human species.
According to Seth Shostak Senior Astronomer and Director of SETI research, humanity as we know it, will disappear later this century as a result of technological and scientific advances, these are developments that – over the long term – will dwarf such quotidian concerns as politics, war, or economics.
According to Shostak, during the twenty-first century, “three big things that are not necessarily bad will take place.” The first major event in the words of the director of SETI is that people will understand biology at the molecular level. As a result, “humanity will be able to cure all diseases, and this will give way to an era of designer babies.”
In his article, Shostak wrote:
“To begin with, we’re finally going to understand biology at a molecular level. DNA’s double helix was discovered a mere six decades ago, and now – for hardly more than a kilobuck – you can sequence the genome of your Yorkie or yourself.”
He also believes that humans will expand into space, relieving the overcrowding of our planet. The famous astronomer wrote: “We need more resources – both acreage and raw materials – unless we’re happy to condemn our descendants to a limited lifestyle and unlimited war. You may worry about running out of oil, but that’s not the resource that should really make you antsy. We’re going to eat through the easily recoverable reserves of stuff like copper, zinc, and the platinum group metals in a matter of decades.”
Finally, before 2100, Shostak predicts that humanity will develop generalized artificial intelligence (GAI), allowing machines to perform work normally people do, something that will change our lives forever. Shostak believes that in the near future, powerful machines will coexist with humans and computers won’t only be playing games like chess or jeopardy, but will be capable of doing the thinking required for any white-collar job, including all the ones at the top.
Shostak writes: “Such machines won’t necessarily be large. A synapse in your brain is a few thousand nanometers in size. A transistor on a chip is hundreds of times smaller. The hardware necessary for human-level smarts – even today – could fit in an iPad.”
According to the SETI director, the process of putting large people in off-Earth colonies will eventually lead to a kind of speciation. (Speciation is the evolutionary process by which new reproductively isolated biological kinds, species, arise.) Shostak argues that off-Earth colonies have a physical environment different than Earth and according to historic data, the social environment will also be special
“Re-engineering our children will transform our species even faster. We can eventually produce offspring that is as different from us as dogs are from gray wolves. The haphazard, bottom-up alterations to our species occasioned by Darwinian evolution will yield to the directed improvements of future engineers,” wrote Shostak.
Times change quickly and the human species is destined for change. We are a species eager to learn, explore and evolve.
“The people of the 11th century might be disconcerted by today’s technology, but they would have no trouble recognizing us. However, it’s unlikely we would recognize humans a millennium hence.”