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Consciousness is not a phenomenon of the observable universe. It is that which makes the universe observable. Consciousness is the physical manifestation of God within us!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The pessimist's top ten!

Dear Readers:

Just so ya don't get too happy and optimistic on this fine Saturday morning, I ran across a 'Top Ten' list on the 'Gizmodo' site that should drive you back into the depths of despair!

10 predictions about the future that will scare the hell out of you!

1. Virtually anyone will be able to create their own pandemic

 The fear is that a rogue state, terrorist group, or a malign individual might create their own virus and unleash it. Natural selection is good at creating nasty and highly prolific viruses, but imagine what intentional design could concoct.

2. People who transfer their minds to computers are actually killing themselves.

 This is what’s known as the “continuity of consciousness” problem. Sure, we may eventually be able to cut, copy, and paste the essence of a person’s personality and memories to a digital substrate, but transferring the seat of consciousness itself may be an untenable proposition. Mind uploading will likely require destructive atomic-scale scanning of the brain. It would be similar to the way teleportation is done in Star Trek. Indeed, one of the dirty little secrets of this sci-fi show is that the person being teleported is actually killed each time it happens, replaced by an exact duplicate who’s none the wiser. Mind transfers could be similar, where the original brain is destroyed, replaced by a digital being who’s convinced they’re still the original—but it would be a delusion.

3. Authoritarianism will make a comeback

The threats to national security will have to be severe to instigate these changes, but history has precedents. Following the September 11 attacks and the subsequent mailings of anthrax spores, the US government enacted the Homeland Security Act. This legislation was criticized for being too severe and reactionary, but it’s a perfect example of what happens when a nation feels under threat. Now imagine what would happen if another 9/11-type event happened, but one involving hundreds of thousands of deaths, or even millions. 

4. Privacy will become a thing of the past.

We are rapidly approaching the era of ubiquitous surveillance, a time when virtually every aspect of our lives will be monitored. Privacy as we know it will cease to exist, supplanted by Big Brother’s eyes and ears.  

5. Robots will find it easy to manipulate us

 Long before artificial intelligences become truly conscious or self-aware, they’ll be programmed by humans and corporations to seem that way. We’ll be tricked into thinking they have minds of their own, leaving us vulnerable to all manner of manipulation and persuasion. Such is the near future envisaged by futurist and sci-fi novelist David Brin. He refers to these insidious machine minds as HIERS, or Human-Interaction Empathetic Robots. 

6. The effects of climate change will be irreversible.

Climate models show that even if carbon dioxide levels came to a sudden halt, the levels of this greenhouse gas in Earth’s atmosphere will continue to warm our planet for hundreds of years. Our oceans will slowly release the CO2 it has been steadily absorbing, and our atmosphere may not return to pre-industrial levels for many centuries. As a recent assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change stated, “A large fraction of climate change is largely irreversible on human time scales.”

7. The antibiotic era will end.

An increasing number of diseases are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Eventually, we could make the unhappy transition to a “post-antibiotic era,” a time when even the most routine infections could threaten our lives. 

8. Getting robots to kill humans will be disturbingly routine.

These systems, known as LAWS (Lethal Autonomous Weapons), are under development, and it’ll only be a matter of time before they’re tacked onto pre-existing weapons, including powerful munitions and nuclear warheads. These robotic weapons are supposed to reduce human casualties and make war more humane, but experts fear these futuristic killing machines could be prone to accidents and even escape human control. (Don't believe me: Just look at the Terminator movies!)

 9. We’ll lose all the satellites.

Few people today are aware of the risks posed by the partial or total loss of our satellite fleet, a catastrophe that could be instigated by a Kessler Syndrome (as portrayed in the film Gravity), a massive geomagnetic solar storm, or through a space war. Without satellites, our ability to communicate would diminish dramatically. GPS would be completely wiped out, along with those systems dependent upon it. Space-based synchronization would grind to a halt, affecting everything from the financial sector to the electrical grid.

10. We’ll never make contact with aliens.

We take it for granted that eventually—whether it be next week or sometime during the next millennia—we’ll make contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence. Trouble is, it’ll likely never happen. That’s because there’s no one out there transmitting signals for us to intercept, and no one’s traveling between stars in search of new places to conquer. The ongoing Great Silence isn’t just a trivial observation. Our galaxy is ancient, so we should have made contact with aliens by now. Signs of ET, from radio signal leakage through to mega scale engineering projects, should be virtually everywhere. Yet we see nothing.  The fact that we haven’t had an alien meet-and-greet could be read as a dire warning for our future. Perhaps there’s a technological barrier that can’t be surmounted, such as artificial super-intelligence or weaponized nanotechnology. Alternately, aliens might be paranoid and xenophobic, playing it safe in case the neighbors are hostile. Alternately, intelligent life may choose to explore the infinite realms of cyberspace instead of the cold, dead cosmos. Either way, zipping around the galaxy in spaceships doesn’t appear to be an option.