The question for the week from the Seed overlords is:
“Will the ‘human’ race be around in 100 years?”
This is basically a Singularity question, and as such, I think it’s kind of silly. But then, I think the whole Singularity thing is sort of silly– as a literary device, it makes for some good SF, but as serious prognostication about the future, I think it’s crap.
Razib lays out the basic logic of the options: 1) Nerd Jesus arrives and spirits us all away in a cloud of nanobots, 2) We’re all gonna diiiieeee!!!, and 3) We muddle along more or less as always. PZ is more pessimistic, and also offers a concise argument against biological “transcendence” (“Four or five generations for a population as large as ours just isn’t enough time for major transformations”) . My own take is below the fold.
I’m going to go for Door Number Three, on both lists of possibilities. Basically, I think we’ll continue to muddle along more or less as usual. There’ll be crises along the way, and there’ll be technological advances, but I think the disasters some people see in the future won’t be quite as bad as predicted, and the transformative technologies won’t pan out in quite the way that modern futurists expect.
So, a hundred years from now, I expect things will look more or less the way they do now, on a very coarse scale. There will be rich nations and poor nations, there will be arguments over whether the rich have too much, while the poor have far too little, there will be occasional wars and occasional famines and occasional plagues, but civilization as a whole will take the hits and keep going without a total collapse into barbarism.
Which nations are rich and which are poor is likely to shift a little bit (though I wouldn’t look for a complete reversal to put Sudan on top of the international power structure– I’m thinking more of India and China as global powers, and the US as, well, the modern UK), but I don’t expect there to be any total catastrophe that will wipe out the species.
And as for the idea that technological developments will render our descendants unrecognizable to us, I just don’t buy it. As PZ said, there’s no biological way for a population of six billion to be taken out in five generations, and the idea that other technologies would do the job also strikes me as incredibly improbable. In the next hundred years, we’re not only going to figure out how to implant supercomputers in the human brain, but also do six billion procedures to provide those computers to every man, woman, and child now alive? I don’t think so.
There’ll be humans around in 2106, and they’ll look and act pretty much like the humans of today. And they’ll be busily speculating on the ways that the humans of 2206 will be completely alien due to their advanced technology.