Technology and the death of humanity

I have looked at a few of these posts regarding technology and fear and so far not in one does anyone mention that the fear associated with technology might be because when something new comes about whatever it replaced dies out and becomes a shadow of its former self via obsolescence, a technological Darwinism if you will.

Looking back at history we see this over and over again, the bow and arrow eventually loses out to gunpowder, the wooden warships of the previous centuries rendered useless by the advent of new steel and iron ships, propeller plans replaced with jet engines the list goes on. With this in mind does it not serve to reason that given our current technological growth that humanity will eventually be in the same boat?

Looking through popular Science Fiction two of the biggest examples of this are the Matrix obviously from the movie of the same name, and Skynet from the Terminator franchise. In both instances technology has grown to a point where humans are no longer relevant and have therefore essentially died out, with the survivors being used in the case of Terminator as organic slave labour and as fuel in the matrix.

To me it is a curious idea to think about that technology will be the death of the human race not through an apocalyptic even but through the slow process of obsolescence, because after all are we not in some way a biological tech upgrade to our ancestors?

4 thoughts on “Technology and the death of humanity”

  1. I think its really interesting your idea that the fear of new technology might have some origin in the fact that new technology replaces whatever previous technology came before it. Applied to AI this seems to make total sense. And even now respected scientists like Stephen Hawking are warning about AI potentially being the end to mankind. While I agree that the potential is there for us to become replaced completely by AI, I would argue that we’ve already been replaced by being converted into cyborgs, and that maybe rather than being replaced entirely, it might be more likely that mankind might merge with technology. To me it seems like it’s only a matter of time before we begin to incorporate technologies that more closely represents those found in SF, even now Google Glass isn’t very far off from achieving this. However, I also think that major innovations in technology that are similar to those found in SF will be (and are being) met with much more resistance than what we have previously created. While prosthetics already exist which will allow the once blind to see again, I would think it’s very possible that these same prosthetics, or a similar technology might one day be available to anyone, and allow them so see in higher definition than we can see naturally, see a wider spectrum of light than we can see naturally etc. In a way, it seems to me that our total conversion into cyborgs seems inevitable. As a species we have always used technology to create more adapted bodies, and it seems that the progression of technology and its eventual incorporation into our bodies is unstoppable.

  2. I agree with your theory, new technology will render humans obsolete but perhaps not in the way you might imagine it but maybe in the sense of a utopia, a perfect world. In ‘The Terminator’ it shows us a universe same as our own but humans have reached the point of obsolete. What if in our universe the same thing occurs but the robots do not reach the point of intelligence where they exceed their creators, where the world is run by computers and humans can enjoy the world for whatever it may be at the time.

  3. I think the idea of technology as the ‘death’ of humanity only goes as far as one’s definition of humanity goes. The bow and arrow are not so much removed, as displaced by gunpowder and the gun, they are on the same continuum, they occupy the same space for the same function. This could be said to for technology’s impact on humanity, on the human. Although what may come next may be wholly different in form and/or function, it still possesses an inherent function of humanity in that is serves the same role, becomes humanity. Ray Kurzweil has written several books on an incredibly optomistic idea of the future, what he calls the “Singularity:” a moment in time when both technology and biology become entwined so deeply that they become an entirely new synthesis. His arguements are lofty and sometimes a bit too “stretchy”, if you know what I mean, but the point is hard to ignore. Also, I think being a cyborg would be pretty sweet, honestly. I want robot arms.

  4. I agree. I think that people have a genuine fear of the unknown and, in a lot of ways, technology falls into the category of the unknown. We do rely on technology a fair amount in our daily lives so when something breaks down, it is almost as though a limb is missing. If technology does, indeed, take over and drives humanity into extinction, what will happen if it suddenly stops working? Will it be taken over by something else and become extinct as well? It’s something to think about.

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