Excited About The Future? At 83!

Yes, definitely.  

The future of humankind is beginning to look fascinating.

Pity mine is likely to be a bit short.  Which maddens me. Not the idea of dying, I accept that. But at 83 the realisation is beginning that I will never know how the future, our future, the World’s future turns out.

Since I rather incline to Epicurus’s* ideas. ‘We were built up briefly from the World’s atoms and are recycled back into use’ I wont even be able to look down and watch it.

Oh but I do so hope I am wrong. I really want to know what happens next.

What is the future for us, for people?   Did the Climate change?   Did we solve the plastic problem, get to sustainable energy, accept driverless cars?  

And how did all those unfinished stories end…my grandsons? 

Can’t bear the thought of leaving without knowing!

What is all this about?

Have just finished reading ‘Homo Deus”** and have at last made it into some kind of understanding of that future world. It is the land  of  Gene editing, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data.  Physics and Biology are blending together. Using the enormous power of todays computers we are beginning to understand the evolution of everything, even our social and cultural patterns.  Algorithms, those maths formulas operating by trial and error are working out.

Not that I get the maths of course, but some idea of where it all leads? Definitely? Maybe?  Almost certainly.  Because it has all begun.

Wandering the technology pages of BBC News I realise it is all out there for us to read. Everyday, something new.

We are moving into that future at such speed that I am hoping to at least see some of it.

This week, the first personalised gene therapy on the NHS was announced. Now able  to cure childhood leukaemia.  Found another lovely story from Japan, about Slime Mold! Apparently, it can create the optimumly efficient routes to connect up food sites, routes using least energy and time. And it does it without a central brain or plan.  Computer experts who study logistics, railroads, delivery etc have been learning from it.

Weird to discover that those algorithms are the basis fish and bird swarm patterns: like slime, no leader, no plan, just a behaviour pattern that evolved with trial and error until only those who use it are the survivors.

Us too, in fact all nature,  is based on evolving algorithms.  

We won because our big brains were the super computers of the era. Our Algorithms were able to create supportive social systems, global trade and food supply, and increasingly, worked out how to communicate almost instantly across the whole world. Amazing.

But the computers and their creative algorithms are getting even better than us! For example we in the past learnt to forecast flu epidemics by collecting data from GP’s and analysing it. Good, but slow. Now Google can do it in days using an algorithm which recognises the pattern of symptoms we are mentioning in our social media chat.

Very intriguing is the fact that also from only 100 of our social media likes and searches, an algorithm knows more about us than we ourselves probably do. And can then  feed us news and suggestions that we will also like.  All very comforting.

Do we let algorithms make life easier and easier?  They can!  They do.

We love them. Now we can ask a dating app who might suit us best and be in contact with people from the whole country in no time. Before we had to go to to work, a  pub, or a party!  Search the web for a sofa and you will have sofa choices in your in box for weeks. No trailing round shops.

But are we being put into a comfort cocoon?  We are going to have to think hard about free will arent we?  And about the question of who is in charge of all that data about us.

Thinking through where all this leads is fascinating.

Haven’t got very far with it yet.  Certainly looks as if we are already on the edge of the next evolutionary breakthrough. Us plus our attached  wearable computers, constant data about our health, state of mind , actions feeding in and out. All of us linked to the whole world of computers….one big steadily  evolving organism?  Wow!

I am not alone.  Mr Musk is quoted as getting excited too

Fuelled by massive datasets, skyrocketing computational power, quantum computing, blockchain-enabled patient access, cognitive surplus capabilities and remarkable innovations in AI, the future of human health and longevity is truly worth getting excited about.”

Can I have another 100 years please?


* An early Greek Philosopher whose famous epigram is “ I was not, then I was, now I am not” underlying his recognition that we are made of atoms, so why live in fear of death and the afterlife of revengeful Gods.  Just live and be happy.

** Book by Yuval Noah Harari about the future of humankind once we have in effect become people combind with super computers and AI which none of us control?


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