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What will be the last truly human element to disappear?

I can't find any other way to start this column than by sharing a question that is being heard more and more frequently, but to which little attention is paid and which, in my opinion, continues to be ignored by most people: which truly human element will be the last one to disappear? And what is that element?

There is little doubt that in the next few decades (and probably even in the next few years) humanity as we know it will disappear, either because there will be no more humans, or because humans will come under the control of superhuman intelligences, or some partial combination of those. and other scenarios.

And this is neither science fiction nor an unfounded concern.

In her recent book The Battle for Your Brain, Dr. Nita Farahany states that advances in neuroscience and neurotechnology, while potentially of great benefit in curing or remedying brain diseases, are likely to become a threat to privacy of our thoughts.

In fact, according to Farahany, we are on the threshold of the disappearance of cognitive freedom, since in a short time all our thoughts will be "universally controlled" by new technologies, so that in a matter of years everything we think will be known by artificial intelligence and, therefore, we will no longer have self-determination.

And this is not a science fiction book, but a warning issued by the highest global authority on ethical and legal issues of emerging technologies. (Farahany is a professor at the Duke University School of Law.)

At the same time, a report published last February by the Pew Research Center indicates that there is "general agreement" among a large group of experts consulted by that organization about the fact that by 2035 humans will have lost our ability to make decisions on their own. our account, that is, our personal autonomy will have disappeared.

That same year, experts said, artificial intelligence will reach such a level that it will make its own decisions without intervention and with little chance that humans can participate in those decisions.

In other words, within a decade humans will neither be in control of our lives, nor will we be able to control the technology that we are now creating. Or, to put it technically, the technology "will have become opaque even to its creators."

While all this is brewing, there is a possibility, according to Ray Kurzweil, that in 2030 two incredible events will coincide (and not coincidentally): the technological singularity (artificial intelligence greatly surpassing human intelligence) and human immortality (achieved thanks to technological advances). (Kurzweil, 75, is a American computer scientist, author, inventor, and futurist.)

So, what options do we humans have to continue being human? What exists within us that makes us truly human and that nothing and no one can take it from us? Which element manifest to the fullest what it truly mean to be a human being?

Paradoxically, technology cannot answer those questions, but it can prevent us from thinking about them.


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