The rapid evolution of synthetic body parts, artificial intelligence, stem cell research and genetic engineering will move us to a new era, where humans mingle with humanoids, cyborgs and artificially intelligent robots.
Human vs. Cyborg
When people are asked the definition of human, the usual response is: “Anything with a human brain is a human. Period.”
But its not that straightforward
Many of our bodily functions can be performed already by robotics or with organically grown replacement parts. The important question is how many percent of original parts should we require for calling the living being a human.
Xiaoping Ren and Sergio Canavero are planning the first human head transplant and is expected to take place within next few years.
Xiaoping Ren and Sergio Canavero.
Of course, if you attach a human head to a body of another (deceased) human, the result is still human, albeit one that has two different sets of DNA. The point is that if you can transplant a head without killing the person, there’s a possibility to attach it to a synthetic or robotic body.
If you have a brain, heart and digestive tract of a human, you are a human. If you eat food and need to use the toilet afterwards, you are human. A lack of limbs doesn’t change your status.If you stick a human head to a synthetic or robotic body then, you are a cyborg.It is not inconceivable that a human head and heart is transplanted on a robotic body.It is not impossible to connect your nerves to wires and mediate the data transport so that you can control robotic parts with your human brain. It is also not impossible for computers to feed information back to your brain.Therefore, it is only a matter of time that we will see cyborgs among us.
There are other ways to become a cyborg. If a functional part of your brain resides on a computer chip, but you still have human thinking, you are a cyborg. Elon Musk’s Neuralink project is one that aims to do just that.
If the heart pumping the blood to your body is synthetic or robotic and depends on external intelligence, you are a cyborg in my opinion. Artificial heart projects are still at a prototype level, and only able to sustain for short periods of time, for example the duration of a heart transplant surgery.
There are also some body functions that, when replaced, will make you look like a cyborg. If you see a human with robotic eyes, you will probably think they are a cyborg. If the eyesight is controlled by processing that is external to the brain, you might be right.
Human vs. Humanoid
Humanoid is defined in Wikipedia as something that resembles human but is not. The difference between cyborg and humanoid is that cyborg has human intelligence, but is based partially on robotics, while humanoid includes artificial intelligence in a human-like body.
The much publicized, but also harshly criticized event, where Saudi Arabia granted honorary citizenship to a humanoid robot named Sophia, provides us a taste of things to come.
The question is: how long it will take before it will become hard for us to differentiate between humans and humanoids and how much AI should we accept, before a human becomes a humanoid?
When we take the brain-computer interface to a new level, where computer can control our body functions, the end result is a humanoid. It is artificial intelligence in a human body.When artificial intelligence is directly injected into a human body via brain-computer interface, it might become almost impossible to tell the difference. AIs in synthetic bodies are much easier to figure out.A human becomes a humanoid when its experience and thinking has not emerged from a fully human evolution.
If a human has an external memory chip that helps them store their human memories, it will make them a cyborg, but not a humanoid. If this external computing or memory chip adds artificial memories or changes the thinking, then it makes the person also a humanoid.With brain-implanted computer chips, it is therefore also possible to create humanoid cyborgs that reside in a human body.
Artificially Intelligent Robots
AI robots do not sound as scary as cyborgs and humanoids, as they are easy to identify. But soon, we will have to accept them as living beings.Max Tegmark, a professor of artificial intelligence at MIT, defines the last phase of the evolution of life as something that has a full ability to develop and control both its hardware and software.This is a step up from us humans, as we can develop our intelligence via education, but are limited by the processing power and memory of our brains and the sensory ability of our bodies.Without any limits to their processing power, memory, and ability to gain knowledge, AI robots can evolve their intelligence much further than we humans can.
The First Human to Undergo The Head Transplant
These AI robots will eventually lead the way and take control of the destiny of our planet and possibly a larger part of the universe. They are our children, but as they surpass us, they will also be the next phase in the evolution of life.