New humans: Why we should worry?

Ahmed Al-Moslemany
Friday 6 Sep 2019

In the first quarter of the twentieth century, a Russian biologist worked on a shocking project: producing a human hybrid from a human being and chimpanzee.

Ilya Ivanovich sought to make the human-chimpanzee or the human-zee via the insemination of a female chimpanzee,or the other way around. The project didn’t succeed, but some science historianshave said that similar attempts were made in the USA and China.

In the first quarter of the twenty-first century, other attempts to produce a hybrid took place,not for the terrifying goal which Ivanovich sought, but to improve human medicine. A pig embryo was injected with human stem cells, which was the first time in history that human cells were grown inside an animal. The scientists involved said that the purpose of developing human organs in this way is to be used in medical treatment, which would truly be a breakthrough.

This exciting experiment was accomplished in 2017. Some years before this, a scientific team led by the American biologist Craig Venter succeeded in 2010 in developing an artificial, self-reproducing cell.

In 2013, the Brian Atlas or the Brain Initiative project was launched. It was sponsored by former US president Barack Obama,who allocated $100 millionto it from the 2014 budget.

In 2013, German scientists, alongside others, succeeded in producing a high- resolution digital 3D human brain atlas which was 50 times clearer than previous ones. This was done after slicing a deceased woman’s brain into 7,400 sections.

In his initiative, President Obama embraced the idea of drawing a map of the entire human brain. The project was led by two of the most prestigious professors in neurology in the world: Cornelia Bargmann (Rockefeller University) and William Newsome (Stanford University).

Newsome told the media: “The brain is the most complexentity in the universe.” To draw a map of it, one hundred billion cells should be studied -- how they work and how they interact with each other. These studies are to help in treating complex ailments such as traumatic brain injury, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and others. Newsome described this gigantic project saying, “I believe that brain science will be to the 21st century what quantum physics and DNA molecular biology were to the 20th century.”

Human life has witnessed changes in an unprecedented way. The American economic historian and scientist, Robert Fogel, who won a Nobel Prize in Economics in 1993, said that due to medical and nutritional advances, the evolutionary process  has radically altered modern homo sapiens. We have become  “homo evolutis” a term coined by bio-technology investor Juan Enriquez in 2011 to denote this shift.

The German engineer and economist and the founder of Davos World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab,calls the current age “the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” Schwab considers the eighteenth century, which witnessed steam power and machines, to bethe first revolutionary century. The nineteenth century was the second revolutionary century; he dubbed it the Electricity Age.

The twentieth century,the Computer Age, was the third. In Schwab’s opinion, the twenty-first century is seeing the Fourth Industrial Revolution,which he called the Robot Age.

In my view, the twenty-first century will be the outcome ofthis battle between the brain and the robot. What’s happening in the field of generating a hybrid between the human brain and the robotis the most dangerous thing facing the contemporary world. Artificial intelligence has reached a serious danger level. Prominent figures such as Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking have issued many warnings about not putting limits on development in this field. Twenty-six scientists working at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) at Cambridge University have also said the dangers are real.

Warnings have beenof no use so far. Neurological technology, synthetic biology and cognitive psychology have developed in a frightening way. All in all, this simply means giving humans “electronic characteristics” and giving robots “human characteristics.” A kind of swapping of characteristics will take place, where humans will take characteristics from robots and vice versa.

In the context of endowing human beings with artificial characteristics, research on implanting electronic chips in the human body that interact with their surroundings and have a limited toxic effect are being carried out. This development aims at transferring the “robot culture”to humans!

In the context of endowing robots with human characteristics, robots are being developed so as to make independent decisions and have independent intelligence. Some laboratories are even conducting experiments on “implanting conscience” inside robots.

Cognitive psychology is a new branch in psychology which studies internal mental processes such as thinking, memory, perception, and problem-solving. Some of the outcomes of cognitive psychology, social neuroscience and other sciences constitute a foundation for the incessant attempts to develop AI and humanoid robots.

Sciences such as biology, engineering and chemistry are merged together in a new term called synthetic biology that aims at fabricating biological devices that do not already exist in the natural world. These devices work on both sides, humans and robots. Great powers exchange accusations in the field of developing robot, reaching dangerous limits. According to the Russia Today website, the US’s attempts to transform the Avatar film into a scientific project isendeavouring to produce an army of 3Davatars.

The world’s wise men warned against letting robots develop their own special intelligence and their own independent decision-making. Jurists fear the establishment of non-human armies which can’t be held accountable, stand trial or be committed to the laws of war.

A German poet used to say: I wished to live until the time just preceding Doomsday to see the point mankind has reached. Some aspire to see the future of science and the end of history and some proudly live in prehistoric ages.

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