Thinking and the Dawn of Homo Cyber — continued]
dawn of a new species
Today we find ourselves on a planet whose
biosphere is undergoing such severe stress that its species
extinction rate is greater than has been seen for millions
of years. We may have already exceeded the maximum number
of humans this planet can comfortably support, yet our numbers
continue to increase. Before too many more years, something
must change. That much is clear. Things are not looking very
bright for the human species. However, the end of the human
species does not necessarily spell the end of life on this
planet. In fact, the eclipse of the human species in its
present form may signal the beginning of a new epoch for
consciousness in this corner of the universe.
Historically, large-scale ecological
crises climax with the appearance of new species that have
higher cognitive abilities than had existed before the crises.
The worst mass extinction we know of was followed by the rise
of mammals. The extinction that eliminated the dinosaurs was
followed by the rise of primates. What then might we expect
at the end of our current period of rapid species extinction?
I think it is extremely egotistical to
think that the current version of Homo sapiens is the
end of the story of the evolution of sentient beings. If you
believe that then you don’t have a very high opinion of consciousness.
Surely it can rise to higher levels, even when constricted
to operating in biology.
It is my belief that when the dust clears,
and our biosphere once again achieves equilibrium, we will
see a new species of primate walking the planet. That species
is what I call Homo cyber. Part human, part information,
and a full-fledged psychedelic thinker, these cyberdelic beings
will be as different from you and me as we are today from
It is very important to understand, however, that you
have the opportunity to take part in the genesis of this new
species. For the first time in known history, a new species
is coming into being through an act of self-selection.
Each week now brings with it some new
technological or scientific advance of major proportions.
Before the first 25 years of this century are over, we will
have experienced technological progress comparable to the
combination of all of the advances made in the 20th
Century. This is so because not only is scientific and technological
progress advancing on an upward exponential curve, the rate
of change has also become exponential. What this means
is that between now and the year 2100 we will experience the
equivalent of 20,000 years of scientific and technological
progress. It is impossible for us to even begin to comprehend
what the world will be like in 99 years. Even imagining the
next 25 years is next to impossible.
Consider that at the beginning of the
20th Century there were no automobiles, airplanes,
telephones, televisions, or Internet. Even the best science
fiction writers in 1901 did not accurately describe the world
in which we now live. At our current double exponential rate
of change, the equivalent of all the technological advances
of the last century are going to take place by 2025. Seen
from that perspective, providing every child, woman, and man
on the planet with a wireless Internet connection seems a
trivial problem. As we now seem to be heading in that exact
direction, we should consider what it will mean when those
wireless devices are implanted directly into our brains. Already,
there are researchers in several countries successfully “wet-wiring”
elementary computing devices directly into human brains. This
is no longer the realm of science fiction. If you are even
an occasional viewer of Star Trek, I suspect the first
thing this scenario brings to mind is the Borg.(6)
In case you missed it, the Borg were part humanoid and part
wireless computer. Their computers, of course, were all connected
to a master machine, which eliminated the free will of the
individual Borg. It is this fate that Homo cyber, as
it creates itself, seeks to escape.
I do not think that our evolution into
some form of Borg is inevitable. I believe we have a choice
in the matter, now that consciousness has become a proactive
participant in the processes of evolution. People who are
aware of this new course of evolution have the rare opportunity
to actually metamorphose into a new species. As I said, Homo
cyber is a being that is part human, part information,
and also a psychedelic thinker. This new branch of Homo
sapiens is destined to take information processing to
its next level.
In essence, human bodies already are
the most complex information-processing machines around. From
the DNA in our cells through the chemical signaling of neurons
in our brains, our bodies are constantly processing information.
It should be no surprise, therefore, to see evolution providing
even more information-processing capabilities through the
augmentation of our bodies with technology. That we will soon
be seeing wearable computers, which have wireless connections
to the Net, is clear. What is not so clear is how these devices
are going to alter our species-consciousness. As these devices
become ever smaller and more intimately interfaced with our
brains, the more clearly will Homo cyber be defined.
If ever there was a time when psychedelic
thinking is needed, it is now. As we stand here, poised to
enter the Information Age, we are also witnessing the birth
of a new life form. Part human, part machine, this new being
will process information on a significantly higher plane than
the one on which most humans now operate. It is going to take
new ways of thinking and massive amounts of information processing
for us to stem the current tide of ecological devastation
that is convulsing our biosphere today. One strategy to save
the Earth’s biosphere may be to evolve as many of these new
meta-humans as quickly as possible.