By Daniel Taylor
Fred Charles Ikle, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy under President Reagan, wrote Annihilation from Within in 2006. As a CFR member, Ikle played a major role in U.S. foreign policy.
Yesterday, an article from CNBC highlighted comments from leading futurists and businessmen at the recent “World Government Seminar” in Dubai. The leading topic was the idea that humans will need to merge with computers in order to keep up with the rapid development of artificial intelligence.
As many economists and trend watchers have pointed out, gaping societal divides will inevitably ensue with the further development of artificial intelligence and robotics. The political divides of the future could be between “naturals” – those who refuse to merge their minds and bodies with machines – and “ESI’s” – individuals who have enhanced themselves with technology.
In a 2008 paper published by the U.S. Army War College, Dr. Barton Kunstler predicts that humans who choose not to “upgrade” will have to compete with ESI’s (Enhanced Singular Individuals) in the workplace.
These upgraded humans “…capable of outsized mental and physical performance, will have a major impact on the practice of leadership, a major factor in determining whether a society succeeds or fails.”
Fred Charles Ikle, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy under President Reagan, wrote Annihilation from Within in 2006. As a CFR member, Ikle played a major role in U.S. foreign policy. In his book, Ikle writes,
“The prospect is that in the decades ahead, biotechnology – together with other sciences – may fundamentally change the human species and thus pose an elemental threat to democracy, the world order, and indeed to all civilizations.”
Ikle sees the most profound change coming from brain-machine interfaces.
“In my judgment, the greatest, most profound transformation of the human condition will not derive from the prolongation of life, or from the anxiously debated – and probably vastly overrated – possibilities of human cloning and “designer babies.” Instead, I see an effective synthesis of the computer with living human brains as the agent that will lead to a truly revolutionary upheaval for the human race.”
These interfaces could spark a new arms race between superpowers to create an advanced combine of augmented humans. “As night follows day” Ikle writes, “scientists will build such a bridge between computer-based artificial intelligence and brain science.”
Ikle states that it is likely that the most ruthless nation will win this race because advancements in brain-computer interfaces would require “intrusive experiments on living human brains.”
In 2007, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense released a report titled DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme 2007-2036. The report anticipated the rise of these interfaces through “implantable information chips”. The report states,
“By 2035, an implantable information chip could be developed and wired directly to the user’s brain. Information and entertainment choices would be accessible through cognition and might include synthetic sensory perception beamed direct to the user’s senses. Wider related ICT developments might include the invention of synthetic telepathy, including mind-to-mind or telepathic dialogue. This type of development would have obvious military and security, as well as control, legal and ethical, implications.”