Sometimes I feel like Starbuck, all harbinger-of-death-like, ranting about the robots/AI taking over and killing us all. If you think about it, it’s almost like we’re really committing mass-suicide, because we know what we’re doing. We’ve seen the movies, read the books, watched the Battlestar…and yet we persist. Stephen Hawking (along with other top scientists) signed an open letter warning us to somehow remain in control of the artificial intelligence we create, but is that even possible? By nature, AI will have the capability to learn on its own; we’ve already proven we’re not the best teachers, and still we persist. We must find ways to make ourselves better, to overcome disease (not necessarily a bad thing) and debilitating injuries, to choose genetically perfect embryos — which has already led to prospective parents opting for one or another gender. We are dangerously close to designer babies, and again, once capabilities are reached, there’s no turning back. What happens when we mix technology and biology?
Because of our shared interest in Outlander — and Caitriona Balfe — the mister recently searched her back catalog and we quickly dove into Bryan Singer’s H+: The Digital Series. The format, ridiculously-short (under 10 minutes) and sometimes frustrating, takes a bit of getting used to (within episodes, you want to stay in the moment longer) but once we got going, there was no turning back (everybody say, “Hmm…”). H+ is powerful, addictive, and more than a little terrifying. The basic premise is of a future where a good deal of humanity has been (by choice) implanted with a direct connection to the internet.
Now, if that sounds like a handy-dandy idea to you, instant-conference and personal calls, reading books or playing games online, the virtual experience capabilities…self-diagnosing defects/disease and self-repairing/healing — while you’re mind is running through the possibilities — you haven’t yet gotten to the screech-sound moment whe viruses and mass-control (either by human or AI) enter your thought process. Go ahead, experience that moment now. Because of course that’s what happens, and of course there are nefarious people/entities that will misuse the technology (not the least of what may pop into your brain is a Trump-controlled government in charge of internet rules), and of course there’s ***SPOILER*** this chilling scene where a group of folks just drops to the ground like so many toy robots whose power was instantaneously cut.
Sean Gunn, aka Gilmore Girls‘ Kirk, is especially good as a man betrayed by technology before most of the rest;
and Balfe’s character is complicated and evolving (it’s great to see her in a completely modern setting and role), and I highly recommend getting lost in this intriguing (free) series, but let’s remember why we’re here (harbinger of death!). H+ may be fictional for now; these things seem far away enough that our inclination is not to worry…so it would be irresponsible of me if I didn’t direct you to this New York Times article about 24 year old Ian Burkhart. You see, a few years back, Ian made a beach dive that entirely changed his life; he hit the ocean floor and broke his neck, leaving Burkhart partially paralyzed, with no feeling in his legs and hands. Lo and behold my friends, the wonder of technology, and it’s hard not to want — to be thrilled by — this type of medical advancement. Burkhart has been outfitted with a chip in his brain that has allowed him to retrain and regain the use of some of his limbs, so-called “limb reanimation.” Ian still has to be physically connected to a computer through an arm sleeve, but the brain chip is helping him retrain the neural connections, using thought to move his arm.
“…the field of neural engineering is advancing quickly. Using brain implants, scientists can decode brain signals and match them to specific movements. Previously, people have learned to guide a cursor on a screen with their thoughts, monkeys have learned to skillfully use a robotic arm through neural signals and scientists have taught monkeys who were partly paralyzed to use an arm with a bypass system.”
Yes, it’s not quite an entire internet being controlled by his own brain and no, it isn’t exactly the same as what’s depicted in H+, but in essence, the process has begun. As any proper harbinger would recognize, whatever tidbits we see in the news, they’re the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Public knowledge is a fraction of what’s happening behind the scenes, and by the time we find out…well, let’s just say someone’s probably already testing an H+ like device, and something other than humans are teaching it to fix itself — to better itself. The future is here. We are all but doomed. (There, I’ve done my job!)
Correlated upside: we probably don’t have to worry about Trump destroying America!
Now, go watch H+ (it’s all on YouTube); it’s a pretty cool series.