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The Disrupted Generation

Change in the direction of humanity is inevitable. Whether Transhuman or Posthuman, we are unlikely to be the humans of recent history in the immediate future that lies ahead. The disruption to “normal” human life is profound in implication and consequence. From communication to life changing technologies the fabric of human existence is being fundamentally disrupted and re-engineered.

In an era where the developing wisdom encourages continuous challenge of the status quo how do the disrupted generation, shaped by the value systems of the past, adapt to this ever-changing world. The “deer caught in the headlights” analogy perhaps understates the many challenges facing humans shaped by societal norms of the recent past. Technological progression represents the proverbial oncoming truck of change that threatens to ride roughshod over those of us rooted to the spot unable to adapt.

Value systems centered around life and death, religious moral and philosophical frameworks, pro-creation, family values and capitalism are being inevitably challenged. Global political systems are showing many signs of frailty through the Arab Spring, rise of populism, anti-establishment sentiment and the fragmentation of globalism. These symptoms would appear to represent society grappling with the disruptions to the status quo unfolding around us.

With value systems of the future framed by extended longevity, human-technology integration, space colonization, artificial super intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, universal basic income, and interconnectedness the value systems of the past will become largely defunct. Expected casualties are likely to include current religious doctrines, the capitalist system, accepted norms on the inevitability of death, education systems, employment practices, monetary systems, family, and social systems. In short just about everything will be disrupted and subject to re-invention.

This level of change from accepted norms will undoubtedly face unprecedented resistance and an extended period of turbulence is expected in this transitional twilight as an increasingly interconnected humanity reacts to these life changes. This would be consistent with accepted human reactions to change, of shock, resistance and defensive retreat prior to acceptance and adaptation to the changes. Studies suggest that only approximately one quarter of us actively engage and welcome change, whilst the remainder either go with the flow or resist. To prevent a protracted transitional period of uncertainty and unrest it is therefore imperative that the change agents pursue a cohesive strategy of disruptive evolution.

During this disruptive transition period, how do the affected generations adapt and promulgate a successful transition to a different vision of the future? From the older segments of the population, who are perhaps more fashioned by convention, to the increasingly progressive younger age bracket, embracing change will be required for “survival”. This survival is in itself being disrupted on many levels – is it merely the survival of the individual, or of the species as we know it. And what is survival?

Consider the current generation of humanity as the last bastions of mortality perhaps, faced with the prospect that the immediate future generation, indeed some of the younger current humans, are the forerunners of the first Immortals. Immortality is a strong word that invokes and attracts debate and often distraction. It is simply the opposite of mortal and most of the disruptive technologies with respect to human life extension are indeed trying to address the issues associated with ageing and mortality and effectively break the cycle of life and death.

But is the human populace ready for radical progression through transhumanism? A simple survey was developed to gauge the readiness and/or willingness of those surveyed (broad USA cross section, n=200) for/towards transhumanism.

The survey entitled “Human Progressive Survey” was conducted with the PollfishTM application and the full results and demographics of those surveyed can be viewed via:

https://disruptiveevolution.000webhostapp.com/ (Human Progressive Test button) or

https://www.pollfish.com/dashboard/results/272160/1152277235

The results of survey responses (for all participants) are summarized in the graphs below (including a few demographic qualification questions):

Responses to the individual questions in the survey highlight some interesting points:

Approximately one-third of respondents support transhuman principles with a further one-third undecided.

Greater than half of respondents support radical life extension yet the majority believe human mortality to be part of the normal cycle of life and death

The majority of respondents expect the technological Singularity to occur in the 20-40-year time frame but are largely unconvinced that transhuman forms will develop in the interim

Evolution of humans to transhuman forms will be for the select few

Artificial Intelligence development is viewed cautiously with approximately two-thirds of respondents believing it should be done carefully, yet nearly half believe it will not surpass human intellect.

The overwhelming majority of participants viewed human poverty, hunger and the environment as the important issues facing humanity

These results suggest that transhuman principles are moderately accepted and understood within the surveyed group.

This is perhaps a reflection of a prevalent attitude supporting life extension but stopping short of stepping outside the norms with respect to mortality.

It is interesting to note that the majority of those surveyed actually expect the technological Singularity to occur. In the transitionary period, there is uncertainty whether transhuman forms will develop through physical and intellectual augmentation in tandem with CRISPR gene-editing techniques.

The surfeit of media discussion on Artificial Intelligence and the views of prominent futurists such as Musk and Hawkings seem to have imparted a very cautious view of Artificial Intelligence development. Whilst the respondents are cautious overall only 22% believed we should not pursue AI at all. Expectations on the level of intelligence AI will reach are however guarded – when asked when AI will surpass human intellect 40% answered never. The remaining 60% believed this would happen within 10 to 30 years.

Though the majority of respondents support space colonization by humans or our transhuman counterparts it is interesting to note that the remaining 40% of respondents did not support any form of space colonization.

Half of respondents believe that should transhuman progression occur it will not be for the entire human population but rather for select individuals based on status – age, wealth, intelligence or race.

This result suggests that the majority of respondents are more focused on our immediate environment and concerns rather than more future based activities such as Artificial Intelligence, CRISPR gene-editing or space colonization.

Human Progressive Index

To evaluate the “progressiveness” of the survey group a binary scoring system (+score for more progressive answers, -score for less progressive answers and nil scores for non-committal answers) was developed for individual responses to arrive at a total score or index where an index of minus one represents the least progressive and plus one the most progressive.

The results for various demographic groupings are presented below in simple frequency histograms (note all populations normalized to n=200).

The entire survey population shows a marked regressive bias distribution indicating the overall population is non-progressive in terms of transforming the species through progressive technology, transhuman development and space colonization. To isolate the more progressive subsets within the population surveyed different age brackets and male: female subsets were analyzed.

Considering two selected age brackets (25-34yrs and 45-54yrs) against the overall population highlights the importance of age to the progressive index distribution. Clearly the younger 25-34yrs age bracket is more progressive than the overall population while the older 45-54yrs age bracket is more regressive.

Comparing the male and female subsets of the population reveal some interesting differences.

Clearly the female subset of the population is markedly regressive when compared to the more progressive distribution for the male subset. This raises some interesting questions as to why the female subset appears less progressive – fear of change, lower risk tolerance, other priorities, more social concerns may be some of the factors at play.

Taking the more progressive 25-34 yrs age bracket it is interesting to compare the male:female subsets within this age group.

The results are quite startling showing almost diametrically opposed populations – a markedly regressive female 25-34yr subset versus a markedly progressive male counterpart. Exploring the reasons behind these differences is outside the scope of this article however it is hoped that these results will encourage discussion and further research into these dynamics.