The next billion dollar industry will not be a service or product – it will be upgrading humans, an expert has revealed. It has been suggested that humans will have access to technology that will allow them to ‘upgrade themselves into gods’.
Bestselling author Yuval Noah Harari has also warned that because not everyone will be able to experience the upgrade, due to costs, there will be a divide that could spark ‘old racist ideologies’ – but this time, differences will be ‘engineered and manufactured’.
‘The greatest industry of the 21st century will probably be to upgrade human beings,’ Harari, who explores bleak future of humanity and ‘the rise of the useless class’ in his novel Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow, told Jeremy Olshan with MarketWatch.
Humans have been running on the same hardware and software for some 200,000 years, leaving us to be the ultimate project – and that is where Harari’s prediction comes into play.
“When we think about the future we generally think about a world in which people who are identical to us in every important way enjoy better technology: laser guns, intelligent robots, and spaceships that travel at the speed of light. Yet the revolutionary potential of future technologies is to change Homo sapiens itself, including our bodies and our minds, and not merely our vehicles and weapons.The most amazing thing about the future won’t be the spaceships, but the beings flying them. Humans are going to upgrade themselves into gods. That is, humans will acquire abilities that in the past were considered divine, such as eternal youth, mind reading, and the ability to engineer life.”Harari shared on his website.
And although these ideas may sound far fetched or something from a science fiction film, tech giants of the world are already working towards making it a reality. Google has a division that focuses solely ‘overcoming death’, Harari noted. But, just because an upgrade boom is predicted, it doesn’t mean everyone will experience it.
Just as advancing from a flip phone to an iPhone was costly, so will becoming a more advanced being. The improvements are believed to ‘lead to greater income inequality than ever before,’ Harari said and the economic inequality could actually be deemed biological inequality. The divide may also bring back old world racists ideologists, but instead of it being because of biological reasons, it will be for things that have been engineered or manufactured.
Harari also believes that the advances beings will have less things to do during the day, as a majority of the tasks will be done by robots and artificial intelligence – leaving them to play computer games and spend their lives immersed in virtual reality. In addition to human beings upgrading, Harari also foresees a world where humankind may become ‘eternally useless’ due to the increasing capabilities of AI.
The historian and lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem likens the fate of humans to that of the doomed protagonist in the fable of the boy who cried wolf, according to The Guardian. While humans have long predicted that machines will take over much of our society, many such forecasts have not yet come true.
But in the end, like the wolf, Harari says AI will finally come to achieve what many have feared. The resulting shift could leave humans both jobless and aimless, The Guardian explains.
“As the self-made gods of planet earth, which projects should we undertake, and how will we protect this fragile planet and humankind itself from our own destructive powers?” Homo Deus questions.
These ‘destructive powers’ have already begun to take hold, according to Harari. AI have begun to outperform humans in many areas, and there’s no guarantee we will be able to keep up as this continues.
“Children alive today will face the consequences, Most of what people learn in school or in college will probably be irrelevant by the time they are 40 or 50. If they want to continue to have a job, and to understand the world, and be relevant to what is happening, people will have to reinvent themselves again and again and faster and faster.” Harari told The Guardian.
As humans become functionally ‘useless’ in comparison, we may no longer have value in the eyes of political and economic systems. This could in turn result in humans losing their sense of purpose. In a post-work world, human emotions may be controlled by drugs and virtual reality rather than real-life experiences, The Guardian explains. To prevent this dreary outcome, the author suggests humans take the issue very seriously.
Rather than leaving the fate of AI solely to the discussions of scientists, Harari tells The Guardian it should become a part of the political agenda as well, to broaden the vision of what could happen and help to ‘decide the future course of humankind.’