Human singularity. Graduation 172. Ramón Palacios

The great advances of humanity in medicine, genetic engineering and biotechnology allow us to have an ever greater life expectancy and better quality.

Specifically, in the field of biotechnology, as technology applied to biological processes, advances are being made so spectacular that they sometimes arouse skepticism in society, due to how incredible it seems a priori; This is what is known as ‘technological singularity’, a hypothesis that suggests that the rapid speed at which technology progresses will cause the intellectual capacity of humans that we have about it to be exceeded, exceeding our own limits of understanding, for which reason control over it will be lost.

Films like ‘The Matrix’, ‘I, robot’ or ‘Terminator’, with ideas as incredibly interesting as they are disturbing.

The physicist, mathematician, engineer and computer scientist John von Neumann introduced, as early as 1948, his concept of ‘universal assemblers’, also called ‘Von Neumann probes’, machines that would be capable of reproducing themselves endlessly, but on scales smaller and smaller, a concept that has currently reached the SETI project for the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, since an advanced civilization should have already deployed this type of probe.

In theory, these probes could replicate in our bodies, cure disease, fix defective cells, or exchange bad tissue for healthy tissue, so again in theory, we could be bodies with interchangeable and fixable parts, until we get even not having an expiration date, that is, not dying.

Currently there are millimeter-scale medical devices for the treatment of cancer and HIV. The invention of Crispr (autovaccines that make it possible to detect virus attacks and defend against them by cutting malignant DNA) and other gene editing techniques have opened the door to true genetic engineering. ‘Bioprinting’ is advancing rapidly, to the point where internal organs can be replaced with printed tissue on demand. Even Google founded the organization Calico Life Sciences LLC in 2013, to investigate cures against aging and how to combat it.

In 2014, Silicon Valley investors and numerous research institutes founded the Palo Alto Longevity Award, to develop life-extending treatments; It should not be a bad business, since billionaires like Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and considered the richest man in the world, contribute huge amounts for its development. Aging is not an irreversible process, argues biochemist Juan Carlos Izpisúa, who led a research team in China that was able to create monkey-human hybrids called ‘chimeras’.

Is Science close to finding the secret of immortality? Controversial question that, since the beginning of time, has been the object of thought and study, and that perhaps is closer to being revealed than we imagine.

image credit

J. Robert Oppenheimer (left) and John von Neumann at the October 1952 dedication of the computer built for the Institute for Advanced Study. Oppenheimer, who was head of the Los Alamos Laboratory during the war, became the institute’s director in 1947.

Human singularity. Graduation 172. Ramón Palacios