probably 6,000 years ago in the present day Iraq when humans first started to
store knowledge outside their brains in any meaningful way. Sumerian cuneiform
was written on wet clay tablets and then baked with fire. Before that all human
wisdom, experiences, stories and myths were mainly transferred by the word of
mouth, person to person. This new invention made it possible for us to speak
beyond the bounds of time and space. Other writing systems of the day like Egyptian
Hieroglyphs and Chinese Pictographs also used materials at hand. These were either
etched on stone or written on animal hides and tree barks (papyrus, bamboo).
Then in the 2nd century A.D. paper was invented in China.
Transmission of knowledge became much simpler with that as paper was quite
easier to produce and transport. Next breakthrough came in 1440 AD Germany. The
foundations of our modern era rest upon the mass production of books through
Gutenberg’s printing press.
creation of World Wide Web in 1990 is considered fourth such great leap forward
in human history. Availability of knowledge at the touch of a button is
hallmark of this era. This
transformation is barely 25 years old and the next revolution is already on the
horizon. Some experts believe that the
coming convergence of our mobile and social data with AI and big data
technologies will evolve us into Homo digitas. Humans, who will heavily rely
upon digital networks and augmented intelligence through wearable and implanted
devices. Others envision a future in which human intellectual and physical
capacities will be greatly enhanced using novel technologies. They prefer the term of
Transhumans for that. After all, we are already using Cochlear implants to
restore hearing to the deaf, retinal implants to restore sight, heart pacemakers;
technology laced functional limbs and artificial joints. Gamers are using tDCS
(transcranial direct current stimulation) to score higher. Students are using
memory enhancing drugs to concentrate better. Experiments to decode brainwaves
into recognizable visual fields have already been done.
forward to the future and neural interfaces, targeted gene editing and brain
implants are not unthinkable. Most of us would feel anxiety and alarm towards
such outlandish visions and would prefer to remain natural and unaltered. But
the temptations of perfect memory recall, seamless access to the internet and
instant mastery of skills would be too hard to ignore for some. Newer
generations would be much more comfortable with tomorrow’s technologies. Most
of our education is about memorizing basic facts. Actual learning and
creativity comes much later. Imagine what can be achieved if we can skip that
first part and jump straight into ingenuity and originality.
Intelligence programs are also becoming smarter with each passing year. Today’s
personal digital assistants like Cortana, Siri and Echo are going to evolve into
Iron man's JARVIS like partners. Ordinary human beings would be having hard time
functioning in that kind of world. Perhaps future belongs to the super smart
machines and hybrids human or post humans. Perhaps such developments would be
deemed too dangerous for the fear of hostile AI and dystopian future. Complete ban on such technologies is also
possible. We clearly don’t know about these things at this point in
time. Future is in the flux and it will take a course that our collective
wisdom would decide for us.