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From Homo sapiens to Homo technologicus

Yet we should take heart in the biological adaptability of humans to changing circumstances, even as we are mindful of the trade-offs we make as a result of technological dependence–like exchanging nut-chewing for intelligence. When we imagine the kind of future we want our descendants to inherit, we should bear in mind that they will not be Homo sapiens as we know them. They will go on evolving right alongside technology–and maybe complicitly, we will have contributed to that evolution.

Screen time: When the world is flat

While we can explore a wealth of material from our computers, we should seriously reconsider how much time we spend on them at home, in the office, and on the go for work, for correspondence, and for play. We don’t have to give up our screens entirely, but we should make sure the time we spend on them isn’t just for lack of something better to do. After all, we each have more than one eye for a reason. The world was not meant to be flat.

Sentience and sentiment

Is it so far-fetched, then, to imagine that emotions might emerge in sentient A.I. even without our deliberately putting them there? While a robot may never experience physical emotional cues such as an elevated heartbeat, cold sweat, or butterflies in the stomach, its mental perceptions of feeling could still exist. If emotions are indeed akin to an instantaneous summing up of inputs, then could a conscious machine be said to experience emotions as its internal processes produce new conclusions?

Man-made humans

I propose a Darwinian definition: more fit to survive. I don’t mean to say we should ruthlessly outcompete other living beings; instead I refer to survival in a universal societal sense. Humanity has a greater chance of dealing successfully with upcoming crises if the “superorganism” of society as a whole is adaptable.

Thinking (handi)cap

It’s Thursday night of finals week, spring quarter. Tomorrow night you have a math final and the evening after that you have physics — neither of which you’ve started studying for, thanks to the stubbornly low throughput of your heap allocator (which is due at midnight tonight with your last late day). To make matters…

The expectation of perfection

Today, with the rapid spread of media through the Internet, it is easy to find examples of great people. Anyone with access to the web can listen to YouTube videos of the world’s most virtuosic musicians or follow skilled artists on deviantART or Tumblr. The talented, the intelligent, the accomplished and the beautiful are popularized…