A recent post by Sarah Knapton of the Telegraph examines the prediction by Yuval Noah Harari that in 200 years human beings will achieve immortality and the ability to self-improve by mechanical enhancement. Essentially, people will become real-life (pardon the irony) cyborgs.
The future is really a construct of the present. It’s limited by current circumstance and really a reflection of where we already are. So if we’re imagining a future where we all become half-machine, half-man the real question is what do we value—not in 200 years—but right now?
We want three things: ways to make our lives easier, ways to feel good, and ways to improve on ourselves. This last one is multi-faceted: We want to look better, we want to live longer and with less physical pain or limitations, we want to improve on natural abilities, we want to improve our intelligence.
The prevailing force behind most of what Americans do is based on these private desires. There may be a lot of people who want to live in a better society, who want to end poverty, solve climate change, and create equality for minorities and women worldwide, but everyone wants to be a better version of himself.
The reality of Harari’s cyborgs assumes a future world where we’ve addressed environmental stability and international and domestic tension (or at least keep them at bay, as we’ve done to this point). These problems require people to think beyond their private needs; after all, you can’t make scientific advances in a state of warfare and chaos.