In this new world there will be not so much the haves and have-nots, but the ‘chipped’ and the ‘chip-nots,’ the former whose knowledge and intelligence are equal to the sum of all known knowledge and intelligence, while the latter will be represented by Homo sapiens I as he is presently classified, a dwarf species compared to his ‘chipped’ counterpart.
The chip or the device is likely to be modeled after the inter-cortical brain interface (presently in a developmental state) or BMI (brain-machine interface) which allows, for example, paralytics to control a computer mouse or to write an email via brain impulses by simply thinking the activity or task to be performed. So if I am one of the chipped and am travelling in a foreign country, I merely have to think a thought that I wish to be translated and it will be instantly available, and my speech, the combined physical gestures that generate it, will respond accordingly.
In respect to the sum of knowledge that is currently available to the individual, the challenge – a work in progress — is to overcome the access lag, the time required to retrieve and process the information.
As Musk correctly points out, we are already exponentially wiser with our fingers on the computer, our portal to the Internet (the summa of all knowledge). He reminds us that it wasn’t so long ago we had to retrieve and then open a dictionary and shuffle through the pages to find the meaning of a word. An operation that once took about a minute can now be executed in seconds by punching in the word under a Google search. With an intermediate BMI interface, or a chip implant, we’ll soon be able to think the question and answer in a single movement. At some future point in time, the operation will be reduced to synaptic time, and we will have become irreversibly dependent on the chip-extension of ourselves now wholly integral and integrated with the cortex.
In this brave new world, newborns, who are routinely vaccinated at birth, will be fitted with a cortical chip that can be externally updated as required. They will be classified as Homo sapiens II. As to all the others, like today’s have-nots, who comprise the chip-nots, they will be classified as Homo sapiens I. If present world migration patterns are determined by wealth and opportunity, in the chipped world emigrational flows will chase the chip producers and the medical specialists who execute the transplant. Cybernated communities will be the future points of light to which humanity will be drawn since prosperity will be a function of having overcome the ponderous time interval between information request and delivery.
So it’s a red herring to suggest that humans will be taken over or peripheralized by AI. Human beings, as fully-fledged cybernated entities, will be AIs, and sufficiently distinct from intelligence-challenged Homo sapiens I to merit an updated taxonomic entry (Homo sapiens II).
Technology genius-guru Marshal McLuhan (1911-80) understood that all mechanical extensions of our selves result in physical atrophy of the body part that has been extended or replaced. With the invention of outer wear, body hair disappears; students raised on calculators are unable to perform the basic operations of multiplication. Therefore, should we expect the human brain to atrophy as the chip takes over central command, especially if thinking, planning and judgment become peripheral to survival? Or will the brain, through its intimate (quasi-conjugal) relationship with the chip, enjoy an unprecedented increase of its capabilities?
However mistaken is Musk in his prediction that human intelligence will be able to leak its essence into a mechanical intelligence, he has opened up a necessary realm of inquiry that directly implicates the future of the species. For this alone, he deserves a place at the table at the highest levels of government and a full dispensation (carte blanche) from the scientific community. Dismissing him as a charlatan or sophist does incalculable disservice to his deep reservoir of thought-provoking ideas and the conversations they arouse as well as to those illustrious giants (visionaries) who possess that exceptionally rare gift of vision (always a hit and miss proposition) and prescience, the sina qua non of invention and discovery, the bedrock upon which civilizations survive and thrive.