Futurism

The Future Will See Augmented Humans, Not AI Dominion

In Brief


The age of AI and cybernetics may transform the human species, and many have fears about what it will leave of humanity. Bionic woman Viktoria Modesta, however, sees the potential of symbiosis with machines differently.

Artificial Intelligence, Human Concerns

If there’s one overarching fear that many smart, well-informed humans share about artificial intelligence (AI), it’s that it holds the intimidating potential to leave humans in the dust. According to Elon Musk, the AI era could quite possibly cause the end of humanity. One of Musk’s most famous answers to this threat is his unconventional neural lace concept, which would allow its human users to “achieve symbiosis with machines.”

Types of AI: From Reactive to Self-Aware [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Musk co-founded the non-profit organization OpenAI to cope with the potential threats posed by AI. The organization is working on the neural lace project, but is also developing various other AI technologies, all in a transparent, open-access way. More recently, Musk has warned the United Nations about the dangers of automated weapons, as an extension of his concerns about AI more generally.

Musk isn’t alone in his concerns; Stephen Hawking also thinks AI has the potential to destroy humanity. Hawking has called for an international regulatory body to govern the development and use of AI — before it is too late.

In contrast, numerous other experts, most working in AI, disagree with these dire predictions. Mark Zuckerberg has recently gone on record saying that he is disappointed in AI’s naysayers. Other experts agree, finding an unwelcome distraction in the warnings of Musk. Now, a real-life bionic woman has entered the debate about AI, offering a perspective that is as fresh as it is unique.

Real-Life Bionic Woman

Singer-songwriter Viktoria Modesta is among the first bionic artists in the world, so she has a different take on living in symbiosis with machines. Born in the Soviet Union, Russia, in 1988, an accident at the time of her birth left her with a serious defect in her left leg. As a result, her childhood was a painful one, which multiple reconstructive surgeries did nothing to relieve. When she reached adulthood she was inspired to take charge of her destiny and body, and at age 20 as a Londoner she chose to undergo a voluntary below the knee amputation of her left leg.

Image Credit: Viktoria Modesta
The surgery was nothing less than transformative for Modesta as an artist and human. She rose to fame as a musician, and a model, and her unique, ever-changing prostheses figure into her work as part of her performances. When Modesta considers the future and the “age of AI,” she sees something quite different: “I think that, rather that the future being about artificial intelligence, it is going to be more about extended intelligence.” To her, humans will ultimately be an integral part of the equation in the future; the human element will never be totally removed.
Instead, we are traveling toward that symbiosis that Musk is thinking about — although she doesn’t see it as a negative. Instead, she sees the symbiosis humans and machines can achieve together as an augmented humanity, a new stage of human evolution, in some sense: “The future is not just about science or technology, it’s about trying to develop the whole human experience together.”If we envision a future where AI and the human mind are locked in synergistic embrace, working towards creative achievement, then it’s harder to dread what’s coming. And while there’s no way to know for certain what’s coming, we can rely on one thing, as Modesta notes: “it is going to be very different than what people think.”

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