|| Life in the twenty-first century may be
very different from what it is like today. The power of computers will increase
tremendously. Since the definition of life is not absolute and unchangeable, life itself
Today's calculators calculate square
roots in a fraction of time compared to ENIAC, one of the first computers. ENIAC was built
in the 1940's, cost a fortune and was as big as a house. New technologies to increase
capacity even more are already on their way. Copper allows ten times finer structures in
microprocessors than today's used aluminum. Memory based on biological molecules has even
bigger advantages. In fifty years, shoes and light bulbs will have the power of today's
super-computers, if the latter are not replaced by energy-saving diodes.
This tremendous power will hopefully be used to make
electronics easier to use. A keyboard and the computer mouse will be gone. Small digital
cameras will analyze facial expressions and gestures. Microphones will listen to what
people say and find out their emotions in how they say it. All these devices will be
networked, sharing information to understand people better. Even new forms of interfaces
might come up between humans and electronics. Input and output might go directly into the
brain, bypassing eyes and ears, mouth and hands. Direct connections between neurons and
transistors are already possible on a laboratory basis.
In the end, no difference if one interacts with a
computer or a human may be or even if computers interact with one another. Then, the
definition of life has to be rewritten: Computers will be as much alive as humans. And in
a society where all information is shared, no real individuals exist. Like cells in the
human body, humans and computers will join together to form one individual. An example for
that would be the Borg community in Star Trek.
All this may look very scary to the reader -- it
certainly scares the author. On the other hand, mankind developed computers. They are like
children; and always when children are around, things change. Children change their
parents -- some spiders even eat them
-- but that is evolution. Cells joined
together hundreds of millions of years ago; Columbus sailed over the Atlantic. It is
always a risk, but it is worth taking it.
The author believes that nothing of the above will come
true. By the year 2050, the most intelligent life forms on earth will be mushrooms or
something like that. Humans will have nuked each other with atomic bombs, and radiation
will have destroyed every life form that we would consider intelligent. But that is all
right, too. When an asteroid crashed on the earth millions of years ago, dinosaurs were
wiped out. Without that change, human life, which we consider more intelligent that
dinosaurs, would have never developed.