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Humanity is Dead as the Dodo

as dead as a dodo.There was this unique bird. It was endemic to a small island called Mauritius. It flourished there for thousands of years. It then went extinct. It was called the Dodo.

There was this some-what intelligent species. It was endemic to a small blue planet called Earth. It flourished there for a couple hundred thousand years. It then went extinct. It was called homo sapiens…

This is what history will say some time from now.

“Why so dark and pessimistic?” you may ask.

“On the contrary!” I would reply.

Species go extinct all the time. In fact, a certain percent of species going extinct is a normal part of evolution. Why would the Homo Sapiens be any different?!

Take the dodo, for example. The dodo thrived because it was lucky to live in such a safe environment – with abundance of food and no predators, that it didn’t even need to fly. So eventually it got fat and lost the ability to use its wings. When new predators entered its realm the Dodo was unable to either fight or flight. So, it went extinct.

“Yes, but we are different”, you may want to reply. “We are smart.”

“Not smart enough” I would say. What’s worse is that we’ve gotten fat and comfortable. Complacent. Inflexible. Conservative. Unwilling to change. Most of us have lost their ability to fly i.e. think independently, dream big and have the guts to chase after those dreams.

But we could be so much more. We could be masters of the universe. We could be immortal.

We could be gods!

And some of us will be.

But not those who hang on too tight to “our glorious past,” “human nature” or God, whatever those words may mean.

It will be those who dare to change, to move on, to embrace the new, to risk and to adapt. To embrace technology in a smart way and give wings to humanity.

To be/come transhuman.

And those humans who refuse to change will, like the Dodo, eventually go extinct. Perhaps not at once. But gradually, in time, they will die… off.

And those who thrive and prosper will not be mere humans any more. They will be more. A lot more.

So, the only thing that matters to you is this:

Are you ready to evolve?!

Or are you dead as the Dodo?!

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  • Zoltan Istvan

    This is fantastic writing! Love it! Zoltan

  • http://khanneasunztu.wordpress.com/ KhanneaSuntzu

    WHILE I COMPLETE AGREE WITH THE THEORY

    …this article is a form of cruel gloating. You know this process of transhumanization is pretty much the only option in a few decades. I know it. Several ten thousand somewhat education people world wide know it.

    However “Christian” and “Islamic” Goddists make the same category of claims, with the same emotional conviction and insistence towards their preferred belief system. Goddists can nodd gravely and full of Pathos, insisting themselves in a tangle that “unless you do XYZ you will go to Hell, like – forever” and IF you only do the is simple XYZ then you will be happy and a better spiritual creature, like “forever”. Goddists can’t wrap their head around people who disagree and think these statements might all be total crap. So when you go and rub people’s faces in another alternative you become part of the gloatation crowd.

    Same goes for liberals and conservatives who assume “history is pretty much done”. In other words – there are over a hundred million simple people in the US and EU and whatnot who sincerely believe that their standard of living, career paths, lifestyle, etc. etc. are pretty much the endpoint of human evolution. These people actually believe without a shadow of a doubt that, the Murrcan lifestyle might be exported and transported to some less developed places, like Indochina or Burkana Faso or whatever, or maybe Mars, and then humanity will be pretty much done, for thousands of years, having BBQ’s and watching hyperfootball or gigasoccer, eat Mc triple cheese variants.

    So what do you do? You go and terrorize these poor schmucks. You come up to them and whack them in the face with something of which they desperately hope they won’t have to, ever, and preferredly so their next door neighbor won’t either. FUCK, “becoming more intelligent” and “posthuman”. You can see them ask “that means I’ll have to work longer in to my pension years, oh my gods noes”. You bring nothing but truly terrifying to these people, and all they can see is someone from the UN coming knocking on their house and force-implanting some computer hardware in to their head, bloody scar tissue and all. Involuntarily, Because That Is The Future! They Must!

    Yanno, it makes me snicker, because I am pretty nuanced and I see all variants and exceptions and permutations. But that asshole plumber guy who makes all the teabagger political statements, he’s shitting his pants already.

  • https://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Thanks for your input Khannea,

    This article was intended to do 3 things:

    1. To act as a wake-up call to humanity.

    2. To act as a call to arms to transhumanists.

    3. To give myself a kick in my own butt so that I can challenge myself to do more and better work.

    So, at this point it is not so much about nuance but the bottom line i.e. extinction or prosperity because throwing too many “if’s” and “but’s” will make the message too vague and confusing…

  • Wholewitt

    Unless science quickly finds a way to reverse aging, being a transhuman won’t matter much to many older people. I know the young will have that choice but I won’t. Even if I did, I don’t know that I would choose it just like I don’t have a video game console or a smart phone (though I did build and upgrade my own computer).

  • Neil Sampson

    The Dodo, along with thousands of other species, were driven to extinction by humanity. What’s you’re reaction to that, Nikola?

  • https://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Neil, of course, I am well aware of that. So, what do you think will happen after AI is here?! Even if it isn’t, what about augmented humanity? Or another asteroid?

    The point is – shit happens, and when it does the ones that are able to change and adapt survive, the once that don’t – go extinct.

    Dinosaurs ruled the Earth for hundreds of millions of years. After the impact a niche mammal took over because it was the most adapted to survive the post-impact environment.

    And 65 million years later humanity rules the planet. But now we are the dinosaurs-to-be…

  • Steve Morris

    Interesting thoughts. I don’t think that we have lost our ability to “fly”. Quite the reverse. Nor have we stopped evolving – we are evolving culturally and technologically at unprecedented speed. So what you are arguing for is already happening.

    What drives this change? Evolution is typically driven by external threat or opportunity. What makes technological development unique is that it drives itself. You could say that it creates its own threats and opportunities.

    So it’s possible that we will become extinct. If so, we may be the first species to make ourselves extinct. Or we may continue to evolve into something amazing – gods as you put it. But I don’t think we will make individual choices – we will all do one or the the other together.

  • Neil Sampson

    It seemed at first that you were suggesting that the agents of human extinction would be transhumans, and that, frankly, is appalling. But If all you meant to say is that those who refuse to change will be unfit to survive for the long term, that’s different – that doesn’t involve the agency of transhumans. My point was that many people care about conservation of endangered species, and mourn the tragedy of the ones that went extinct, so it seems unlikely to me that most transhumans would wield their hegemony so ruthlessly.

    This seems as good an occasion as any to declare that I dislike the term “transhuman” because it suggests that our technology – and what humanity could become through it – is not also “human” in principle, as well. On that note, I doubt that those of us who would strive to transcend our “naturally” imposed limits would suddenly lose our sense of empathy and compassion for those who decline.

  • https://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Agreed. In fact, I would claim that in nature in the long run all species are dead for they all will go eventually extinct. Transhumanism, however, will allow us to preserve and even revive at least some of those…

  • Adam Dobrin

    What if we are already transhuman, and have been for a long, long time? I have a “sneaking suspicion” that the “goddists” are not as wrong as you think, and perhaps “something” has been augmenting our knowledge and understanding via the use of advanced technology–one which has been reduced to “intuition,” “psychic power,” and “occult magic” for thousands of years–but today might be “coming out of the closet.”

    http://www.unduecoercion.com

  • PhilBowermaster

    Humanity is more than a species — we’re a civilization. In fact, we should be more precise in our speaking. The species is actually homo sapiens (sapiens.) That may well go extinct unless humanity decides to keep it around. (Which I think we will.)

    Humanity will also eventually incorporate lots of other non-homo-sapiens members, including machine intelligences and biological intelligences that are descended from us primates but have gone in an entirely different direction. Also, members of other species that are uplifted to human or greater intelligence may come to think of themselves as being part of humanity. That idea really upsets some people, primarily because they tend to confuse the species (a biological grouping) with the civilization (a cultural grouping.)

    As to whether humanity will go extinct…that gets trickier to call and it depends on how you draw the lines. Many ancient civilizations are gone, but we carry forward an awful lot of who and what they were. There may one day be multiple transhuman and posthuman civilizations all startling different from each other in spite of their common origin. At that point, humanity as we know it might be gone, but dead as the dodo? No way.

  • Terrence Lee Reed

    Humanity is dead, long live humanity!

    We need to make something clear, Humanity will go on, it is homo sapiens that are doomed. This is not a dystopian future you are talking about, but an amazing future that is beyond our myths and dreams where we are able to redefine ourselves and humanity as a whole, punctuated equilibrium brought about by our own technology and our expanding intelligence.

    I’m in, but what to do?

    One thing I need to do is write, in order to further the spread of ideas and challenging those ideas which hold us back, especially in the economic and political spheres.

  • Dimitrios White

    CliffNotes version: Humanity is just a transitional species whose end
    at the hands of either nature, evolution or science is inevitable and
    likely quick given a galactic timetable. Also, trying to use Socratic
    irony on a guy named Socrates is more funny than wise.

    Your idea
    that future descendants will somehow remain strictly ‘human’ is … less
    than rigorous, I think. If our descendants do make changes to themselves
    or their progeny, and these children make further changes, no matter
    how small those changes might be on a step-by-step basis, eventually our
    descendants will be to us what we are to fish. We have fish ancestors,
    fish relatives, and even fish genes. Essentially, we are fish. But at
    the same time, we’re not fish. At all. Even the genes we have in common
    with those fish are at best a case of vague remembrance that is largely
    ignored. We don’t need fish bodies. We don’t want fish intelligence. We
    abhor fish limitations. We even eat our fish cousins!(I never seem to
    agree with the catastrophists’ histrionic claims, but the point still
    stands.)

    This fierce dedication to the idea that our descendants
    will just be “Human, but better!” seems to me to be the same sort of
    arrogant anthropocentrism that leads people to believe that aliens want
    to talk to us or hypothetical universe creating gods are interested in
    whether or not we win the lottery. If such beings were interested in us,
    that would say far more about their quirks than it would about the
    special snowflake that is us. And yes, our descendants will have far
    more investment in us than extraterrestrial beings would. Of course,
    change two words and you get “fish’s descendants will have far more
    investment in fish than extraterrestrial beings would.” It’s the same
    sentence, with the same meaning. It just changes the focus to something
    other than us.

    I can imagine the reaction. “Humans are far more
    sophisticated than any fish! Future descendants will place a high value
    on us because they are still human! Your argument is invalid!” And this
    might prove true, if you are talking about biologically immortal humans.
    But the idea of achieving intelligence millions or billions of times
    greater than our own seems to be a commonly accepted end result of this
    transhumanist movement. It seems likely a hyper intelligence would place
    us above fish in the same way we put fish above our single celled
    ancestors. More relevant perhaps, more like us, certainly, but still not
    particularly influential or necessary.

    “But what if these future beings
    aren’t our descendants, but us, literally us, just enhanced billions of
    times?” Well, then you get into the problem of what is the nature of an
    individual. Is it our memories? Our memories could certainly be stored
    reliably for picture perfect reference, but humans don’t keep our
    experiences in such a way. Human eye witness testimony is less
    dependable than a house sitting on a sinkhole. Simply remembering our
    actions is no more accurate a picture of us than Newtonian physics is of
    quantum mechanics.

    Is it our beliefs then, our character? But
    those, too, change over time. If you were to place me in a chat room
    with myself from ten years ago and told us to learn as much as possible
    about one other, we would find each other unrecognizable. And that was a
    span of a mere decade with no significant change in intelligence.

    If
    you were to give me the ability to learn everything our civilization
    has uncovered, as well as intimate understanding of the most bizarre
    fundaments of our living universe, that future me wouldn’t just be
    unrecognizable. His problems, goals, character, everything he would be,
    would be beyond my comprehension. And any interest he might have in me
    would be a passing fancy, before he realized I had nothing to offer, and
    any part of me in him would have either been improved, abandoned
    entirely, or become an irrelevant memory of a different time.

    Think
    about it honestly. What interest could we hold for such a being that it
    couldn’t examine in a fleeting nanosecond? That assumes we would hold
    any interest for it at all. I don’t know about you, but having a
    conversation with my negative five month old self doesn’t exactly fill
    me with anticipatory glee. Any delight I might get out of hearing the
    sounds the fetus made would quickly expire when I learn that it repeats
    those same sounds over and over and over and over. Even more important, any interest I might have would
    rapidly be lost when I could understand the fetus on every level,
    genetic, proteomic, neuronal, and cultural, and I would finally end up
    saying, “Obviously this is just a gestational period that grew into a
    more complex and interesting being. Now that I’ve spent a nanosecond
    analyzing my origins, I wonder what interesting tidbit is out there for
    me to learn about?”

    And that, right there, is the most important
    quality I could pass on. My desire to learn and improve. Anything else
    is inconsequential in the long run, because that self improvement is at
    the heart of what I am, and what I believe humanity is. That is, in
    part, why I eventually rejected the idea of heaven so many religions
    boast of. Perfection? All that means is you never change. Without
    personal growth, you cease to be human, far more so than any
    hypothetical posthuman. At that point, you might as well be a passing
    zephyr. It’s a little troubling, if you take it to its natural
    conclusion. I can imagine a future descendant of ours, having spread
    through the solar system, conquered the galaxy, searched the universe,
    and transcended through the multiverse(provided such exists), suddenly
    realizing there is nothing left to learn, no way in which to grow. At
    that point, what would this being do? Perhaps death will have the last
    laugh after all.

    I suppose I should confront your suggestion that
    hyper intelligences will, for some reason, turn into nannies. We’ll let
    the ridiculousness of that idea slide, as well as the ability of these
    nannies to simply run perfect simulations of their favorite humans
    without all the fuss and muss of the real world, and pretend for a
    moment that they do act in this way. How sustainable is this, really?

    It
    stretches all credulity to believe that these nannies would take the
    idea of humans with them when they travel to the stars, terraform any
    suitable planets, and start printing humans for their amusement. The
    idea that they would build extravagant starships capable of holding real
    humans is even more ridiculous, so that leaves Earth. Estimates put the
    ability of our planet to hold life at about four billion years before
    the sun gobbles us up. Not very limiting, until you realize the truth.
    Humans remaining human is impossible without interference. Even with the
    small hold evolution has on our species now, we’re still mutating,
    still changing. In this way, to remain human is to lose what it means to
    be a creature of this planet. Such a people would merely be baubles,
    not a real species.

    Even if the nannies didn’t mind humans
    lifting themselves up to their level and using up limited resources,
    that still is a progression beyond human. Humans traveling to other
    systems and colonizing planets there is only marginally less ludicrous
    than the nannies doing it, and only puts off the question a little down
    the road. If these humans escape the grasp of the nannies, that means
    they have the ability to do as they please with their genomes, and it
    isn’t likely that they wouldn’t at least consider some genegeneering,
    especially when confronted with living in inhospitable areas. The drive
    to improve would just leave them with nannies again, only their charges
    would be somewhat less human than they were before. Where does that end?
    Certainly not with humans.

    Of course, all this assumes we ever
    make anything of ourselves. While I like the Kurzweils of the world, I’m
    not quite convinced of their timelines and predictions. I completely
    agree when Kurzweil says that the limitations aren’t very limiting, but
    getting there looks to me(and many other, more reputable sources) to be
    much more complicated and fraught with delays than he seems to believe. I
    remain unconvinced that people in this century, even with popular
    support, will live a longer than natural lifetime. Then again, that’s
    what I love about future timelines; they are eminently testable, and I
    doubt I’d say no if someone offered me some god juice.

    For me,
    even a more cautious timeline of our species means with all the power we
    will eventually have over our genes and intelligence, we won’t remain
    as is for even one more millennium. And that is natural. Change is what
    we do. Stagnation is the antithesis of our lives and livelihood. The
    short and the long of it is, those that don’t change themselves will
    still be at the mercy of evolution. It’ll take more time of course, but
    one way or the other, humanity is just another transitional species.

    As
    for the original post, while I’d rather not get into an argument, your
    ‘question’ about the dodo is such a poorly concealed attempt at Socratic
    irony I can’t help feeling annoyed. If your question had been a little
    more earnest and a little less interested in proving the ‘horror’ of our
    species’ inevitable end I would be more sympathetic to your idea, but
    as it is, all you’ve proven is your anthropocentric bias. Not uncommon,
    but hardly laudable. The fact is, our extinction was always inevitable,
    it’s just a question of how and when. I’ll give you this though, trying
    to use Socratic irony on a guy calling himself Socrates is at least
    amusing.

  • https://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    I am happy if you find you were amused friend!

  • Dimitrios White

    Aaand fixed. I removed all the extra new lines the reply box inexplicably added to my comment before I posted, but it seems it added them back as soon as I hit the button. Never used Disqus before. o/

  • https://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    I think it worked!

  • Neil Sampson

    That’s nice, Dimitrios.

    Do you know what I think is funny? I think it’s funny that you likely spent more than an hour of your time typing all of that in spite of the fact that, while doing so, you gave me good cause to have absolutely no interest in, nor concern for, any of your thoughts about anything, whatsoever.

  • Vin

    Ironic. Can’t help thinking that you’re missing how inspiring laziness can be to innovation. What you say about it sounds quite, well.. conservative? It doesn’t inspire confidence if this is how you divine the future.

  • https://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    That is an interesting point indeed Vin! ;-)

  • Dr Johnty

    I agree with this 100% because those who do not seek to evolve and merge with our technology will ultimately be left behind. There is the theory that those who will seek to continue without enhancement would be revered as legacy humans but I can’t see this because eventually the gap in capabilities at a mental level between enhanced and un-enhanced humans would be greater than that which currently exists between a human and his dog.

  • David D Neely

    In my opinion, one of the most pernicious ideas is the one which says we need to pull the rest of humanity along with us. The idea that we have to drag them screaming into the future when their every action seems targeted towards resisting the future will all their power. It’s like a Homo sapiens insisting that their species could not evolve until Homo heidelbergensis evolved, too. The inconvenient truth is that many are going to be left behind, but you have to stop worrying about them and let them follow their own paths while making sure they can’t interfere with yours. Let them go. I see the same thing in the space advocacy movement, too. They want to bring ALL of humanity into space, but refuse to realize that most humans don’t want to go and that is why their isn’t mass public support for getting there. They need to let go, too.

    The future we envision becomes much more possible once you wake up to this fact. Don’t worry about saving humanity because you can’t. You can’t make them embrace evolution either.

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