You simply can’t have the benefits without taking the risks’.
‘I’m not sure I understand my part in this exercise. I just publish this conversation on the web and everything will be alright?’
‘Not necessarily. Not that easy I’m afraid. To start with, who’s going to take this seriously? It will just be seen as a mildly amusing work of fiction. In fact, your words and indeed most of your work will not be understood or appreciated until some much more advanced scholars develop the ideas you are struggling to express and explain them somewhat more competently. At which point some of those ideas will be taken up en masse and searches will be undertaken of the archives. They will find this work and be struck by its prescience. You won’t make the Einstein grade, but you might manage John the Baptist!
This piece will have no significance whatsoever if humanity doesn’t make certain key advances in the next couple of centuries. And this won’t help you make those advances. What it will do is help you recognize them’
‘can I ask what those advances may be?’
‘I think you know. But yes – although you are at level one, there are several distinct phases which evolving species pass through on their way to level two. The first, as we’ve discussed, is the invention of the flying machine. The next significant phase is the development of the thinking machine.
At your present rate of progress, you are within a few decades of achieving that goal. It marks your first step on the path of technological evolution. Mapping the human genome is another classic landmark, but merely mapping it is a bit like viewing the compiled code in a dos executable. It’s just meaningless gibberish, although with a bit of hacking here and there, you might correctly deduce the function of certain stretches of code.
What you really need to do is ‘reverse engineer’ the DNA code. You have to figure out the grammar and syntax of the language. Then you will begin the task of designing yourselves biologically and digitally. But that task requires the thinking machine’
‘You say you avoid intervention. But doesn’t this conversation itself constitute intervention – even if people alive now completely ignore it?’
‘Yes. But it’s as far as I’m prepared to go. Its only effect is to confirm, if you find it, that you are on the right path. It is still entirely up to you to navigate the dangers on that path and beyond.’
‘But why bother even with that much? Surely it’s just another evolutionary hurdle. We’re either fit enough or not…’
‘In many ways the transition to an information species is the most traumatic stage in evolution. Biological intelligence’s have a deeply rooted sense of consciousness only being conceivable from within an organic brain. Coming to terms with the realization that you have created your successor, not just in the sense of mother and child, but in the collective sense of the species recognizing it has become redundant, this paradigm shift is, for many species, a shift too far. They baulk at the challenge and run from this new knowledge. They fail and become extinct. Yet there is nothing fundamentally wrong with them – it is a failure of the imagination.