Saturday, July 18, 2009

Human 2.0

Lately there has been an intersection of my interest in genetics and my spiritual beliefs. I have been reading the book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief by Dr. Francis Collins, Obama's choice to head the NIH, a pioneering medical geneticist who once headed the Human Genome Project. He adapted his title for his book from President Clinton's remarks announcing completion of the first phase of the project in 2000: "Today we are learning the language in which God created life."

Talking to fellow scientists and then fellow believers, Dr. Collins insists that "science is not threatened by God; it is enhanced" and "God is most certainly not threatened by science; He made it all possible."

Check out this interview where Dr. Collins tongue-in-cheek tries to convince Stephen that evolution is God's plan for giving upgrades on the Colbert Report:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Francis Collins
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The idea that humans are evolving into a new iteration, designed by God, which I will call Human 2.0, is intriguing. Imagine if we could download our thoughts and digitize our consciousness. Ewen Callaway in the New Scientist asks Did hyperactivity evolve as a survival aid for nomads? I have a theory that the seeming epidemic of ADHD and hyperactivity among young people is actually our species evolving to adapt to the technological wave that is about to crash over humankind. This new generation is particularly suited to new technological tools and you see a marked shift between previous generations in social media ability and adoption.

Ray Kurzweil PhD invented the first optical character recognition (OCR) software for transforming the written word into data, the first print-to-speech software for the blind, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, and many electronic instruments. He has overcome Type II Diabetes and a disposition to heart disease which killed his father. His book Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever co-written with homeopathic medical doctor Terry Grossman gives a great overview of medical research related to the process of aging and age-related diseases.

Human machine interfaces are making great strides. A monkey has successfully fed itself with fluid, well-controlled movements of a human-like robotic arm by using only signals from its brain, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine report in the journal Nature. We can eventually replace almost every body part. As our technology advances the human lifespan will increasae dramatically. Someday we may see a complete merging of technology and human consciousness.

In his TED Talk below Kurzweil explains in abundant, grounded detail why, by the 2020s, we will have reverse-engineered the human brain and nanobots will be operating your consciousness.

Obviously many of his predictions have not come to fruition yet; however, there is little doubt of the direction we are heading and Dr. Kurzwell is correct in the inevitability of the eventual merging of biological processes with technological innovation. And I choose to believe that Dr. Collins is also correct that this is all a plan of the Intelligent Designer.

The possibilities boggle the mind...