Artificial Intelligence (AI) Rewriting Genetic Codes and Defying Death: Will This be Humanity’s Pinnacle or Nadir?

Experts are warning nearly in unison voice that within a short period of a mere few decades or sooner, labour of all collars (blue collar and white) will be reduced to unemployable “useless class” as there would be literally zero demand for their services.

July 19, 2019, 2:31 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL 13 NO 01 ,July 19 –01 Aug., 2019 (Sharwan 03, 2076) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

Hinduism promises that human beings can achieve anything they want - but do humans know what they truly want? Humans seem to have concluded that what they really want in life is comfort, pleasure, and happiness – however fleeting and frivolous as they may be. In these pursuits, humans have invented, refined and further advanced machines and their applications without adequate focus on their unintended side effects. In their unfinished search for more and more happiness, human beings have been continuously upgrading their inventions from the steam engine (during the first industrial revolution) to electricity (second industrial revolution), to internet (third industrial revolution), and now to the artificial intelligence during the fourth industrial revolution (IR4) enabling machines to perform nearly everything better, cheaper, faster and safer than human beings.

Experts are warning nearly in unison voice that within a short period of a mere few decades or sooner, labour of all collars (blue collar and white) will be reduced to unemployable “useless class” as there would be literally zero demand for their services. They will be expensive at any costs. Future job vacancies may even come with a tag, “humans need not apply”. Just a handful tech giants (like Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google (FANG), Baidu, Alibaba and Tencents (BAT)) are likely to be the big economic winners creating pathological inequality in income distribution between them and the rest in the global society. Meanwhile flagship enterprise of tech-giants like Google is aiming to defeat death and grant the minority super-rich-humans eternal youth as reflected in the launching of its sub-company called Calico in 2013 whose stated objective is “to solve death”. A genome-editing tool known as CRISPR now enables complete rewriting of genetic codes and can alter human DNA structures altogether. A relentless war against death seems to be inevitable. There are some experts who believe that humans could indeed overcome death by 2200, while others say 2100. Indeed, over the years, death is already being defied on an installation basis. In that sense, the future is already here – only in different degree in different places. Silicon Valley superstar and Pay Pal co-founder Peter Thiel shamelessly proclaims that “(income) equality is out and immortality is in” – just a matter of time.

For humanity, whether to celebrate such achievements (rewriting of genetic codes and attempted victory over death etc) as pinnacle praising the power of the modern technological developments, or to lament the economic miseries of the masses resulting from the winner-take-all gain distribution system as nadir leading to a world devoid of ethics, aesthetics, morality, and compassion, would remain an unresolved puzzle. Whether there would be a rise of realization that the market is not just invisible but also blind left to itself, and hence scientific research and discoveries ought to be regulated, monitored and guided, and that the financial and other benefits emanating from technologies need fair distribution system for maintaining social stability and rescuing humanity, remains yet another unsolved puzzle.

If such understanding and realization is not forthcoming, and if human greed continues to be the Capitalism’s sole driving force behind technological advancements, will humanity ultimately resort to spiritualism, introspection, and meditation for finding inner peace, life’s larger meaning, and discovering transcendental contentment? Whether such yearning would come not only from the hopeless and helpless masses, but also from some (not all) superrich class as well would remain as yet another mystical question.

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OL 13 NO 05 ,Sep.27 –17 Oct., 2019(Ashoj 10, 2076) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-7

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