"Biological Intelligence is a Fleeting Phase in the Evolution of the Universe"
- Speculation from The Daily Galaxy.
This is not a few theme in science fiction. My old copy of Simak's Cosmic
Engineers about long-living robot civilization was from a short story in
What is the earliest story you know of that has robots exploring the stars?
(Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change)
Sent: 2/10/2013 6:18:28 P.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: The Daily Galaxy: News from Planet Earth & Beyond
_The Daily Galaxy: News from Planet Earth & Beyond_
_"Biological Intelligence is a Fleeting Phase in the Evolution of the
Universe" (Weekend Feature)_
Posted: 10 Feb 2013 09:25 AM PST
The species that you and all other living human beings on this planet
belong to is Homo sapiens. During a time of dramatic climate change 200,000
years ago,Homo sapiens (modern humans) evolved in Africa. Is the human species
entering another evolutionary inflection point?
Paul Davies, a British-born theoretical physicist, cosmologist,
astrobiologist and Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science
and Co-Director of the Cosmology Initiative at _Arizona State University_
3.4211111111,-111.931666667 (Arizona%20State%20University)&t=h) , says in
his new book The Eerie Silence that any aliens exploring the universe will
be AI-empowered machines. Not only are machines better able to endure
extended exposure to the conditions of space, but they have the potential to
develop intelligence far beyond the capacity of the human brain.
"I think it very likely – in fact inevitable – that biological
intelligence is only a transitory phenomenon, a fleeting phase in the evolution of
the universe," Davies writes. "If we ever encounter extraterrestrial
intelligence, I believe it is overwhelmingly likely to be post-biological in
Before the year 2020, scientists are expected to launch intelligent space
robots that will venture out to explore the universe for us.
"Robotic exploration probably will always be the trail blazer for human
exploration of far space," says Wolfgang Fink, physicist and researcher at
Caltech. "We haven't yet landed a human being on Mars but we have a robot
there now. In that sense, it's much easier to send a robotic explorer. When
you can take the human out of the loop, that is becoming very exciting."
As the growing global population continues to increase the burden on the
Earth’s natural resources, senior curator at the _Smithsonian National Air
and Space Museum_
(http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=38.888333,-77.02&spn=0.01,0.01&q=38.888333,-77.02 (National%20Air%20and%20Space%20Museum)&t=h) , Roger
Launius, thinks that we'll have to alter human biology to prepare to
In the September issue of Endeavour, Launius takes a look at the
historical debate surrounding human colonization of the solar system. Experiments
have shown that certain life forms can survive in space. Recently, British
scientists found that bacteria living on rocks taken from Britain's Beer
village were able to survive 553 days in space, on the exterior of the
_International Space Station (ISS)_
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Space_Station) . The microbes returned to Earth alive, proving they could
withstand the harsh environment.
Humans, on the other hand, are unable to survive beyond about a minute and
a half in space without significant technological assistance. Other than
some quick trips to the moon and the ISS, astronauts haven’t spent too much
time too far away from Earth. Scientists don’t know enough yet about the
dangers of long-distance space travel on human biological systems. A one-way
trip to Mars, for example, would take approximately six months. That means
astronauts will be in deep space for more than a year with potentially
Launius, who calls himself a cyborg for using medical equipment to enhance
his own life, says the difficult question is knowing where to draw the
line in transforming human biological systems to adapt to space. Credit:
“If it's about exploration, we're doing that very effectively with robots,”
Launius said. “If it's about humans going somewhere, then I think the
only purpose for it is to get off this planet and become a multi-planetary
_Stephen Hawking_ (http://www.hawking.org.uk/) agrees: "I believe that
the long-term future of the human race must be in space," Hawking told the
Big Think website in August. "It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster
on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or
million. The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket, or on one
If humans are to colonize other planets, Launius said it could well
require the "next state of human evolution" to create a separate human presence
where families will live and die on that planet. In other words, it wouldn't
really be _Homo sapien sapiens_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human) that
would be living in the colonies, it could be cyborgs—a living organism with
a mixture of organic and electromechanical parts—or in simpler terms, part
human, part machine.
"There are cyborgs walking about us," Launius said. "There are individuals
who have been technologically enhanced with things such as pacemakers and
cochlea ear implants that allow those people to have fuller lives. I would
not be alive without technological advances."
The possibility of using cyborgs for space travel has been the subject of
research for at least half a century. A seminal article published in 1960
by _Manfred Clynes_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manfred_Clynes) and
_Nathan Kline_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_S._Kline) titled “_Cyborgs_
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyborg) and Space” changed the debate, saying
that there was a better alternative to recreating the Earth’s environment
in space, the predominant thinking during that time. The two scientists
compared that approach to “a fish taking a small quantity of water along with
him to live on land.” They felt that humans should be willing to partially
adapt to the environment to which they would be traveling.
“Altering man’s bodily functions to meet the requirements of
extraterrestrial environments would be more logical than providing an earthly
environment for him in space,” Clynes and Kline wrote.
“It does raise profound ethical, moral and perhaps even religious
questions that haven't been seriously addressed,” Launius said. “We have a ways to
go before that happens.”
Some experts such as medical ethicist Grant Gillett believe that the
danger is that we might end up producing a psychopath because we don't quite
understand the nature of cyborgs.
NASA, writes Lauris, still isn’t focusing much research on how to improve
human biological systems for space exploration. Instead, its Human Research
Program is focused on risk reduction: risks of fatigue, inadequate
nutrition, health problems and radiation. While financial and ethical concerns may
have held back cyborg research, Launius believes that society may have to
engage in the cyborg debate again when space programs get closer to
launching long-term deep space exploration missions.
“If our objective is to become space-faring people, it's probably going to
force you to reconsider how to reengineer humans,’ Launius said.
The Daily Galaxy via via _astrobio.net_ (http://www.astrobio.net/)
_"Discovery of Alien Life in Next 10 Years" --One of Five 'X Factors' According to
(http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2012/12/advanced-et-civilizations-may-be-impossible-to-detect-holiday-weekend-feature.html) _Advanced ET
Civilizations May Be Impossible to Detect (Holiday Weekend Feature)_
or-several.html) _"Beyond Drake's Equation" --New Insights into the Search
for Extraterrestrial Civilizations (Weekend Feature)_
(http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/02/08/where-is-evolution-taking-us/) _Where is Evolution Taking Us?_
(http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-01/the-human-race-will-come-to-an-end) _The Human Race Will Come To An End. What's Next?_
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