No, I don't mean World War 3 or a meteor hit, instead it's the evolution of the race into a substantially different critter that will make humans obsolete. It isn't a Darwinian, survival of the fittest type of evolution I'm talking about, although that will undoubtably play its part, but instead we will guide this change by our own hands, through genetics and bio-electro-mechanical augmentation. We will be consciously evolving ourselves. And so, let's coin the term "Convolution"- conscious evolution. (OK, the noun is already in use by the mathematical world, but it sort of works with its more common usage.)
Yes, the physical human body is extremely complex, but we've got our machines (computers) working for us now. How many years before we figure out the genetics, the neuro-computational methods of the brain, the bio-chemical processes, etc. of our finite systems? As the rate of our technical progress continues to grow exponentially, we will first master the workings of the old soft machines and then move on to improve and augment them by whatever means that seem beneficial and then, keep them running indefinitely.
We can only imagine in what ways this development will go. One might assume that these new humans (NuMans, TransHumans ?) will develop too, at exponential rates, in a multitude of different competing directions. Marketplace Darwinism will probably direct the development. (I personally would welcome a red warning light to replace pain's function. Wings anyone?) Let's hope there will be a universal mandate to eliminate those aggression genes, which presently keep humans wanting to prey upon one another and to wipe out each other's tribes. We don't want to get too "Borgy". (Republicans may choose to disagree here !)
Of course, none of these ideas are unique or new. Man-made man has been a hot science fiction topic since "Frankenstein". Perhaps "Brave New World" comes closer to what we're talking about here. Anyway, countless others have explored where we might go, from various angles, but there is one key question, the one that most interests me, that should soon be answered empirically: Is there a spirit, soul or other-dimensional aspect that rides ontop of this here human machine? . Can machines dream, cry or appreciate art? Does Data have a soul?
The Creator or Creative Force, if it exists, should get those lightning bolts ready, because otherwise its most intelligent species on planet Earth is about to make a quantum leap into the next phase of their physical development.
-Anders Transhumanist Resources
-The Transhuman Web Alliance
-Lyrics to the song "Let's Convolve" by Sinehead Doug. (.mp3 coming soon)