Paul Budde's History Archives


It has taken centuries to get more people accepting that humans are not the pinnacle of evolution but are an integral part of it. Post humanists argue that we should see ourselves as being fully integrated with all other forms of life around us. Think of the millions of bacteria that we have in our body; we can ask ourselves how much of us is human and how much of us is bacteria. By eating vegetables and fruit, how much ‘plant’ are we. This is a radical different way of looking at humans.

Post humanism goes further. Now take technology into that equation. We already have pacemakers, bionic ears and eyes, artificial limbs, how much of the humans is ‘human’ and how much is technology. We will see massive technological developments during this century, making the distinction between human and technology even more difficult. Add to this digital technology. We will have ‘digital twins’: our persona in digital formats. Look already at people’s persona on social media. Mind-to-computer downloading is a technology that could happen within the next generation’s lifetime.

At the same time already before the corona pandemic we realised the limitations of AI and machine learning. There will now certainly be a reflection on the social, economic, and technical development from the last 50 years. It will be a good time to perhaps reset some of the policies, strategies, developments. Most certainly there will finally be the recognition that the national good is more important than short term profits.  This will result in a change of focus towards AI in medicine, food and water supplies, energy, emergencies and so on. While there certainly is room for the market to play its role, it is also clear that the government cannot simply withdraw itself from the scene and rely on market forces to get us through the complex issues of our society. This process of reflection and resetting and the funding of technology in the various government sectors could take most of the 2020’s to work through.

I do not expect any major developments in some of the top line technologies such as AI and robots for the next few decades. These technologies will of course be developed further but the results will be more incremental. However, later this century this will have an accumulative effect and will be transformative in many aspects. It is important that we learn from the early developments as this will be useful for generation in decades to come. It is critical that we at the right time make the right decisions to ensure that these developments do benefit our global society.

Posthumanism could assist us in facing the challenges that humanity if facing as I mentioned above. It is highly unlikely that the corona pandemic will be our last disaster.

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