When science-fiction authors, Hollywood, technologists, and futurists describe the future, there’s usually a presumption that we’ll have gone beyond our human constraints. Maybe we’ll be genetically enhanced, or perhaps we’ll stick computer implants in our heads – maybe we’ll have artificial intelligence that goes well beyond us, and be building artificial brains that put us to shame. Ray Kurzweil and his Singularity Institute push this sort of view strongly, and have an almost religious following.
I think this is the wrong vision of the future, and many of my pieces “buzz kill” these ideas. See here and here.
But I came to realize that I also have a positive vision of where we’re headed. To understand what’s coming, we need to comprehend how we came to be the way we are today, so radically different from our Homo sapiens ancestors. We’re Human 2.0 today, and the step from (genetically practically identical) 1.0 to 2.0 came via nature-harnessing, namely via the ideas I have put forth in (chapter 4 of) The Vision Revolution and in Harnessed.
We should expect that Human 3.0 in the future will come via the cultural-evolution-for-the-brain mechanisms that have already given us literacy, language and the arts.
The first time I got concrete about this was in 2011 when I wrote a piece forSeed Magazine making this point – it was called “Human, version 3.0,” and it got a virus-load of attention.
It was then that I realized a novel was in order, for I needed a venue to put forth a more specific illustration of what Human 3.0 might be like. Pointing to the current wavefront of technology and anticipating what they might become in a thousand years is, well, dodgy and lame (although in the Seed piece I do a little of that at the end). I needed to be able to paint a fuller picture of an example future, one where our descendants are seemingly radically beyond us, but are in actuality pulling from the same old wellspring of biological brilliance evolution already has endowed us with. …it’s just being harnessed in fantastically clever new ways.
Human 3.0, the novel, was born. Returned from the earth-covered ruins of the ancient City at six years old, Tye Ilan entered society deeply and permanently handicapped – he lacked language. But something in the City had infected him, and now a new generation as well, and as the world grappled with these new beings, able to wield music to move the world around them, Tye found himself buffeted into the center of the struggle for what comes next, after humans.