Much of what Rees reveals is what we've been hearing for awhile ... due to the overcrowding and over heating of the earth, technology will become an important part of our "survival", and it will have profound ramifications on humankind; most importantly, in the sphere of agriculture, biotech, and robotics. Because our ecology is threatened, and our "footprint" is too big, scientists and futurists tell us that something must be done to save the planet. So, it all comes down to this realization: We can now control the weather, the development of viruses, and robotic systems; all of which have the potential to affect how -- and if -- we live.
Perhaps one of the most chilling statements that Sir Martin made was this: "And there are downsides to the huge advances in biotech, despite the bright prospects these offer for medicine and agriculture. There were reports last month that Chinese researchers had been gene-editing human embryos using a new technique called CRISPR, raising controversial ethical issues about “designer babies”. But more disquieting are the experiments at the University of Wisconsin and in the Netherlands that show it’s surprisingly easy to make an influenza virus more virulent and transmissible. Last October, the US federal government decided to cease funding these so-called “gain of function” experiments."
Rees pointed out that such "experiments" are hotly debated among his colleagues, with some wanting to stay one step ahead of natural mutations, while others are concerned about the danger and the risks associated with such scary science. "What would happen, for instance, if an ebola virus were modified to be transmissible through the air? And they worried that the risk of failure to contain the pathogens within the lab is too high to justify the knowledge gained." I'm glad someone is being clear-sighted!
But I found it especially frightening when he discussed the dangers that will come from millions of people having the capability to misuse biotech, and who might have access to biomedical labs, just as millions can misuse cybertech today. "Not all those with “bio” expertise will be balanced and rational. My worst nightmare is an “eco-fanatic”, empowered by the biohacking expertise that may be routine by 2050 [when 2 billion people will occupy the planet], and who thinks that “Gaia” can only be saved if the human population is reduced. The global village will have its village idiots, and they will have global range."
Sir Martin also joins the chorus of voices such as physicist Stephen Hawking and Tesla Motors CEO and product architect, Elon Musk, who all warn of the dangers of the rapid ascent of artificial intelligence (AI). "We’re witnessing a momentous speed-up in artificial intelligence (AI) – in the power of machines to learn, communicate and interact with us. Computers don’t learn like we do: they use “brute force” methods... Experts disagree on how long it will take before machines achieve general-purpose human level intelligence. Some say 25 years. Others say “never”. The median guess in a recent survey was about 50 years... And there is disagreement about the route towards human-level intelligence. Some think we should emulate nature and reverse-engineer the human brain. Others say that’s a misguided approach – like designing a flying machine by copying how birds flap their wings. But it’s clear that once a threshold is crossed, there will be an intelligence explosion."
All these summations bring the question of ethics and responsibility to the forefront. But when has that ever stopped mankind's sinful nature? From the Garden of Eden, to Nimrod's Tower of Babel, to the Third Reich's "experiments", to Ray Kurzweil's plans to transcend biology by merging our brains with computers -- the purpose of all these evil designs is to assume the role of God in our own lives. Is it in our future "to lose our individuality and evolve into a common consciousness" with computers and robots; in essence, to spiritually "go over to the other side"?
What I found so compelling about Sir Martin's discourse is that he is the Astronomer Royal, the head of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich (a position in existence since 1675) and the official scientific advisor to the British government -- and, I could go into all the conspiratorial implications that this suggests, but that is a different topic for a different day. Nevertheless, sometimes it is best to listen to what those in prestigious positions have to say; and he appears to be warning us to pay attention and be on the alert for what is going to be inevitable in our near future.
As the chief expert on the stars and the heavens, so to speak, Rees has a particular viewpoint that I think we should heed. In the matter of human/computer integration, listen to what he says: "Let me briefly deploy an astronomical perspective and speculate about the really far future – the post-human era. There are chemical and metabolic limits to the size and processing power of organic brains. Maybe humans are close to these limits already. But there are no such constraints on silicon-based computers (still less, perhaps, quantum computers): for these, the potential for further development could be as dramatic as the evolution from monocellular organisms to humans. So, by any definition of “thinking”, the amount and intensity that’s done by organic human-type brains will, in the far future, be utterly swamped by the cerebrations of AI. Moreover, the Earth’s biosphere in which organic life has symbiotically evolved is not a constraint for advanced AI. Indeed, it is far from optimal – interplanetary and interstellar space will be the preferred arena where robotic fabricators will have the grandest scope for construction, and where non-biological “brains” may develop insights as far beyond our imaginings as string theory is for a mouse... So, in the far future, it won’t be the minds of humans, but those of machines, that will most fully understand the cosmos – and it will be the actions of autonomous machines that will most drastically change our world, and perhaps what lies beyond." Does anyone else think that this is simply Satan's 21st century plan to recreate the Tower of Babel and help man gain access to the Heavenly realm and God's throne room?
Can you see how far our human pride has taken us? Do you really think God is going to let man -- whom He created -- usurp His creation of the Universe? And if we are really that close to crossing the line into altering the organic make-up (the God-formed structure) of our brains, how long before God decides we've gone far enough, and it's time to pull the plug? We know that God allows all things for His Glory. Because of the speed with which these technological events are happening -- and the determination that their "creators" are exhibiting -- His Glory is soon going to fill the earth! I can hardly wait!!
Isaiah 44: 9, 20: All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame... a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”