David Dubrovsky: Humans Continue to Act Like Animals
David Dubrovsky, Co-chair of the Scientific Council on the Methodology of Artificial Intelligence
The continuous deepening of global problems clearly reveals what is called the anthropological crisis: the loss of the true meaning of life and human activity. Environmental issues are a key link in the chain of other global problems. The ever increasing impact of human activity destroys the Earth's ecosystems, and with it, the physical conditions of its existence.
Mankind is steadily moving towards its own demise, he is aware of his path but cannot stop his self-destructive activities. This is perhaps the most striking manifestation of humanity’s absurd, existential impasse. Still, it is unfathomable that despite the widespread awareness of this fact, there have been no decisive actions taken that can change this situation. The talk of the impending disasters have now become habitual, and drowns in everyday consumerism and political intrigues. Instead of decisive actions – we witness their pitiful imitation by those in power. The so-called intellectual elite exhibit passivity, skepticism and gloom. Decline of the spirit breeds decline of will.
Just as individuals skillfully displace the fear of their inevitable death, in the same way humanity at large displaces the fear of its impending destruction. Humanity gives itself to false hopes and symbols of faith, it masters the skill of self-deception. It seems that it is in this very area of self-deception that nowadays people reach their creative heights: so skillfully and convincingly they ‘explain’ and justify their intentions and actions.
We witness an acute deficit of self-knowledge, so characteristic of the present state of our so-called "knowledge society", in which individuals "know everything, but themselves. " However, even basic analysis can show that the goals and methods of human external activity to a large extent depend on the level of self-knowledge, understanding of our true abilities, our needs and possible future. Maintaining illusory, "convenient" representations of ourselves , "withdrawing into oneself " are a means of justifying of what we do all around us. This is probably why the most important and popular mass culture figures are actors and impersonators .
Of course, lack of self-knowledge was prevalent in all stages of human history. There has always been a huge disparity between intellectual and transformative activities directed towards the outside world on the one hand ,and self-discovery and self-transformation on the other. I call it a fundamental asymmetry in the cognitive and transformative aspects of human activity. Human activity on a massive scale directed towards the outside world contrasts with meager efforts in terms of self-knowledge and self-transformation. This has been a characteristic feature of all historical epochs and nations. In the end, such state of affairs reflects human nature and its genetic factors which we have inherited from our animal ancestors.
The activities of all living beings is almost entirely directed towards the outside world and is genetically geared towards survival in the outside world ( the search for food, shelter, mate, etc.). But in animals all the manifestations of external activity are well correlated with their self-being and self-interaction (their physicality, maintenance of the body, organ control etc.). The needs of animals are stable, their environmental impact is minimal and virtually unchanging, they do not destroy the ecosystem in which they live but rather incoorperate it as a factor in its maintenance and self-organization.
Due to certain changes that emerged during anthropogenesis, human interaction with the environment changed dramatically. Along with the activities of production, humans started to display an increasing growth in their needs. Being social creatures, nevertheless, humans continue to act like animals, applying their immense activity on the environment - this is a very important point. This biological program is firmly rooted in human nature. It is this fundamental asymmetry between the cognitive and transformative human activities that is the source of deepening environmental and other global issues, and thus - the source of anthropological crisis.
The conflict between socially organized humans and the Earth's living system lends itself to a grim analogy with cancer. Due to changes in their genetic programme cancer cells are growing and reproduce more rapidly compared to normal cells, taking substance and energy from them, thus destroying the organ in which they are rooted and spreading tumor cells to other organs. As a result cancer cells kill the body but also themselves with the body. But then humans do exactly the same. In the beginning humans were a microscopic part of the Earth’s ecosystem with a minimal impact in terms of energy productions and consumption.
In our epoch however, humanity is growing at a very rapid pace, consuming vast quantities of materials and energy from the environment, capturing new regions and gaining tremendous power and destructive force. We can now vividly see the possibility of an ecological collapse in the near future.
Scientific calculations show that the state of severe singularity and chaos can occur by the middle of this century. Following such a scenario we will either have to face the degradation and destruction of mankind, that is an anthropological catastrophe, or we will have to create a qualitatively new level of social self-organization.
What are the conceivable ways to reach this new level?
There is no single answer. One thing is clear: we must either change human biological nature through reconstructing its genome, or apply the power of reason and human individuality in the non-biological self-organizing system, that is we can choose the path of trans-humanist change.
Theoretically both options are possible. The first method is more difficult, time consuming and entails great risks as opposed to the second option. It can cause an uncontrolled chain reaction of various genetic mutations that in turn will produce creatures that may force humans from the face of the Earth.
The second method is to be preferred because of the following advantages:
1) It leaves out the radical intervention into the human genome and the need to take huge risks of dealing with genetic complexity and causing possible unknown consequences. It will allow to remain within relatively controlled digital simulation results.
2) It is based on a relatively well-developed theoretical foundations of computer science, cybernetics, robotics and can use the achievements of psychology, genetics, neuroscience research into cognitive processes and the phenomena of consciousness and personal self-organization.
3) It is in the mainstream of convergent development of NBICS (nanotechnology, biotechnology, information, cognitive, and social technology). This fact is especially important to emphasize, as currently NBICS defines development of self-organizing systems on non-biological carriers.
4) It creates the prospect of a radical life extension up to cybernetic immortality, and thus a new anthropological perspective. It creates a system of meanings and values which broaden the horizon of our biologically limited thinking and spirituality. All these are the prerequisites to overcoming our anthropological crisis.
5) It offers a real possibility of replacing the consumption of materials and energy with information consumption which will not only resolve the energy problem, but fundamentally change the relationship with the environment and stop its destruction.
6) It does not preclude the parallel research into biological systems in order to preserve life on Earth. If we imagine mankind suddenly ceased to exist ( and thus stopped, finally, its destructive activity), even in the current state of serious environmental imbalance life on Earth, with time, can heal itself and continue for thousands of years.
7) It has the strategic advantage in that it will make possible the preservation and development of the human mind. Biological life on Earth is the subject of constant threat: it can be destroyed either by a catastrophe coming from the outer space or radical physical changes here on Earth. And the destruction of life will inevitably cause the destruction of the human mind.
These are , in general terms, the ideas which define the objectives of the “2045 Initative” which, in my opinion, deserves universal support. Above all, because the initiative creates a serious foundation for Russia to host a powerful international force capable of changing the current fatal direction of human civilization. The initiative puts forward the mega- task that meets the most sacred, eternal aspirations of humanity. It encourages a fundamentally new type of human existence in the world, able to overcome their biological and Earthly ties and create new meanings and values as well as a new anthropological perspective.
/ About us
Founded by Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Itskov in February 2011 with the participation of leading Russian specialists in the field of neural interfaces, robotics, artificial organs and systems.
The main goals of the 2045 Initiative: the creation and realization of a new strategy for the development of humanity which meets global civilization challenges; the creation of optimale conditions promoting the spiritual enlightenment of humanity; and the realization of a new futuristic reality based on 5 principles: high spirituality, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies.
The main science mega-project of the 2045 Initiative aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of a individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world’s major spiritual traditions, science and society.
A large-scale transformation of humanity, comparable to some of the major spiritual and sci-tech revolutions in history, will require a new strategy. We believe this to be necessary to overcome existing crises, which threaten our planetary habitat and the continued existence of humanity as a species. With the 2045 Initiative, we hope to realize a new strategy for humanity's development, and in so doing, create a more productive, fulfilling, and satisfying future.
The "2045" team is working towards creating an international research center where leading scientists will be engaged in research and development in the fields of anthropomorphic robotics, living systems modeling and brain and consciousness modeling with the goal of transferring one’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier and achieving cybernetic immortality.
An annual congress "The Global Future 2045" is organized by the Initiative to give platform for discussing mankind's evolutionary strategy based on technologies of cybernetic immortality as well as the possible impact of such technologies on global society, politics and economies of the future.
Future prospects of "2045" Initiative for society
The emergence and widespread use of affordable android "avatars" controlled by a "brain-computer" interface. Coupled with related technologies “avatars’ will give people a number of new features: ability to work in dangerous environments, perform rescue operations, travel in extreme situations etc.
Avatar components will be used in medicine for the rehabilitation of fully or partially disabled patients giving them prosthetic limbs or recover lost senses.
Creation of an autonomous life-support system for the human brain linked to a robot, ‘avatar’, will save people whose body is completely worn out or irreversibly damaged. Any patient with an intact brain will be able to return to a fully functioning bodily life. Such technologies will greatly enlarge the possibility of hybrid bio-electronic devices, thus creating a new IT revolution and will make all kinds of superimpositions of electronic and biological systems possible.
Creation of a computer model of the brain and human consciousness with the subsequent development of means to transfer individual consciousness onto an artificial carrier. This development will profoundly change the world, it will not only give everyone the possibility of cybernetic immortality but will also create a friendly artificial intelligence, expand human capabilities and provide opportunities for ordinary people to restore or modify their own brain multiple times. The final result at this stage can be a real revolution in the understanding of human nature that will completely change the human and technical prospects for humanity.
This is the time when substance-independent minds will receive new bodies with capacities far exceeding those of ordinary humans. A new era for humanity will arrive! Changes will occur in all spheres of human activity – energy generation, transportation, politics, medicine, psychology, sciences, and so on.
Today it is hard to imagine a future when bodies consisting of nanorobots will become affordable and capable of taking any form. It is also hard to imagine body holograms featuring controlled matter. One thing is clear however: humanity, for the first time in its history, will make a fully managed evolutionary transition and eventually become a new species. Moreover, prerequisites for a large-scale expansion into outer space will be created as well.
Key elements of the project in the future
• International social movement
• social network immortal.me
• charitable foundation "Global Future 2045" (Foundation 2045)
• scientific research centre "Immortality"
• business incubator
• University of "Immortality"
• annual award for contribution to the realization of the project of "Immortality”.