The evolving human condition

Human technological civilization existed on the planet for ten thousand years, and has had an effect strong enough all around for this period to be called the Antropocene by Nobel Prize winning chemist Paul Krutzen. It is not exactly clear how people lived twenty or thirty thousand years ago, with idealistic views about communal sharing of food contrasting with others based on a bloody in teeth and claw view of nature.

When agriculture was invented, the surplus of food produced started the demographic explosion, and enabled the differentiation of roles in society, beyond those imposed by gender alone. There is almost universal consensus on how for a long time this change represented a worsening of the living conditions of most of the humans.

It has been a long journey, until we’ve been able to fully leverage the knowledge that was being acquired, and until the more complex but more useful methods of collecting, and sharing knowledge themselves have been learned, and applied.

For many people it used to appear that the process somehow might have reached an apex, that we stopped finding new challenges, or needing new knowledge. Famously even those who should have known better, like Thomas Kelvin on physics, or Hilbert on mathematics, from time to time declared that Humanity was more or less done. More recently, it has become more difficult to make that claim: philosophically due to Gödel opening up endless scientific paths; economically due to so many people needing help; existentially due to our radically expanding astronomical horizons; and foremost because of the undeniable acceleration of technological applications, and their more and more visible impact on the daily lives of billions of people.

So what is going to happen? How will Humanity change? How will humans change, to adapt to a world that is shaped by their technological creations? Can we muster the collective courage, and preserve our acquired freedoms, or extend them even further, while this change bring us to unexplored territories needing radically new adaptations, and definitions of what is to be human?

Humanity+ (humanity plus, or H+), the world transhumanist association, a non-profit action tank, is dedicated to proactively explore the space of possible answers to these, and other questions. Without pollyannaishly naive optimism, but with a rational, non-zero sum technological cost/benefit analysis, unclouded by dogmatic prescriptions, the organization is bound to provoke. Provoke thought, hopefully action, explore policy, and opportunity in shaping what Humanity has the opportunity to become, and understanding what level of strength, dedication, and determination is going to be required to make sure that this spectrum of opportunities is fully explored, and the most fruitful ones are chosen, and implemented by all those who are ready to shape the future.

You can also become a member in Humanity+, and support its activities!

The next major event is in less than a month: H+ Summit – The Rise Of The Citizen Scientist is going to feature 50 outstanding speakers, and up to 500 attendees at the Harvard University Science Center in Cambridge, MA, on June 12-13. I’ll be there, and you should too: grab a ticket for H+ Summit at 20% discount (50% if you are a student)!

Ray Kurzweil is speaking about his forthcoming book “How The Mind Works, And How To Build One”, with all new supporting materials. Stephen Wolfram is going to talk about “Computation And The Future Of The Human Condition”. There’ll be robots (!), dogs (!?), a Transhumorist, and it is so sure, lots, and lots of fun…

Even the tag cloud of the topics of the conference is the coolest collection of mind-bending memes:

Full disclosure: I have been recently elected Chairman of Humanity+, and am helping Executive Director, and Summit Chair Alex Lightman with the organization of the H+ Summit conference.

5 thoughts on “The evolving human condition”

  1. Pingback: What medical condition makes a person sensitive to heat? | global warming statistics

  2. Nice Post… Looks like you spiffed up your site too… Looks good! As for me, I'm holding out for H++ myself. 🙂 I imagine it'll be more Pacific Rimish, right? 🙂

  3. My favorite way of looking at Gödel's incompleteness theorem is an epistemological interpretation. If you didn't have that result, then the foundational structure of mathematics could be finite, and one could assume that the richness of results, theorems that could be derived from it would be finite as well. The incompleteness theorem tells you that no coherent formal structure will be a closed system where you can think of everything, prove everything. You will always find statements, theorems expressed from the system of axioms forming the mathematica structure, that are unprovable whether true, or false. And what should you then do? Rather then weep, for me, that is the 'heureka' moment, when, if you actually are intrigued by what you found, there is a uniquely human moment of mathematical freedom: you can take the statement that stumped your formal system, and *decide* that you want it to be *true*, and *assume* it as an additional axiom. Or go the other way, and assume that it is false, and go the other way. In both cases you are extending your formal system in a new direction, opening up an entirely new sets of theorems to be proven. And once again you are guaranteed by the incompleteness theorem to be walking along a path which is endless, and you'll find additional anchors to extend it.

    With any scientific field being based on mathematics, these results translate into the scientific phenomena, and their explanations themselves being unbounded, not just because we will “never be able to explain everything”, or “never observe the full variety of nature”. Science is unbounded because of the Incompleteness Theorem. And it is a good thing! It is desirable to live in a Universe where the richness of what we observe, study, and try to understand keep giving us novel, unanticipated knowledge in an unbounded fashion.

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