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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Honda's Hydrogen Cars Only Three to Four Years Away

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The Sunday Times announces:
Hydrogen fuel cell cars could be on the road much earlier than the decade or more so far predicted. Honda has confirmed it plans a production model “in three to four years”.

The car will be based on the FCX Concept, unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show last year.

The car uses hydrogen to generate electricity that powers a motor.

Obviously this kind of development could have earthshaking implications for the entire global energy industry, especially if it were coupled with a completely clean and incredibly cheap source of electrical power. Workable fuel-cell-powered cars are a tremendous step forward... and they also represent a kind of technology I often discuss on this site -- not the technologies of human enhancement, but the technologies that enhanced people might develop in a cascade of breakthroughs revolutionary in their implications. A revolution that could easily go on forever.

The point is not just the awesome potential human augmentation has for human evolution. My point is that anyone with even a relatively modest level of enhanced intelligence -- at near-genius, genius or greater levels -- would easily be able to lay their hands on the simple, basic technologies, cultural forms and other critical underpinnings of our civilization and mold them to their will.

This fact represents both an opportunity and a risk. The opportunity is for enhanced individuals to do very well for themselves while also doing great things for the world. The risk is for a rogue "transhuman" or "superhuman" to take up such forces for self-centered reasons or even for goals they view as beyond approach. How many fanatics, after all, even those of high intelligence, necessarily see the terrible flaws in their philosophies? How many people who have tried to become the dominant force in their industry or political world been keenly aware of all those who had to be crushed on that journey?

Now imagine someone who is not restrained by meaningful limits on their power or by a need for the approval of their fellows. The potential for destruction is staggering. Especially if we end up in a world with only one or a handful of enhanced intelligences -- or if all of these exceptional minds belong to the same organization and are, perhaps, molded by the same extremist ideology.

The longer human augmentation remains the plaything of a limited subculture, the greater the risk that a single wealthy, resourceful visionary or extremist group may take up the quest and render all of our opinions moot.

Soc, Tech
Future Imperative

12 Comments:

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