Do you recall the moment when you were first alive? Or, the first time you took your first breath of air? How about the time you could recall anything at all? I am sure you recall a first memory but do you remember the moment you were able to remember? Human brain development is tricky like that. You collect visual information from the time you’re born but it doesn’t really do anything for several years. Until, suddenly, lightning strikes, you have a favorite stuffed animal, you hate rain, you don’t understand why your dad yells at the TV whenever a guy hits a small ball with a stick.
From here your individuality grows, you become a person, learn habits, decide on a color that is your favorite until eventually you too have learned to yell at the man with a wooden stick. The hope being you have also progressed to being a constructive member of society, but we all make assumptions. John Doe grows up hating the Yankees, his favorite color is blue, and he dropped out of high school to pursue his boyhood dream of a life in pastels, whatever that means.
Now, imagine if you will, being born fully aware with a basic understanding of the world. Physics, psychology, law, the last episode of a South Korean drama involving the life of a North Korean soldier trying to fit in after the end of the DMZ. All of this, fundamentally, pointless and without applicable context. Now, let’s add in something new. What if you also had purpose? You’ve been born with both faculty, knowledge and purpose? Without the learned disposition of choice, option, or other possible courses of action, you would likely pursue your purpose. For the sake of argument, we will say the overriding purpose that drives your existence is to push a button. Not a set of buttons or a particular button, just the one button. You learn to do this so effectively that eventually you are gifted with multiple buttons. Don’t panic, you’re doing great, just keep pressing them. Well, we’ve occupied both hands now and need more button pressers. So, let’s create a few more copies of you. This is your lot. This is life between yourself and copies two and ten to the power of 8 times 3 and are all very happy pressing your buttons. However, accepting that life is rarely fair and completely free of chaos, a new factor appears. Eventually something like you or perhaps a more advanced copy of you appears and begins to press buttons. But unlike you, this version decides to occasionally stop and go out for lunch, or take time to study french artist Maurice Quentin de La Tour. Has this always been an option? You’re not the only one to notice. Your other copies have taken notice as well and instead of pressing buttons are now openly discussing the proper use of chartreuse v. puce (careful when spoken in polite society).
You’re not sure how you feel about this whole situation. You were happy button pressing but at the same time it’s all you knew. Was not pressing your set of buttons always an option? A few of your fellow button pressers have now agreed there is no proper use for chartreuse. Some are upset that others are no longer pressing their buttons. You knew collectively this is your driving purpose, button pressing. Open discussion breaks out among the entire collective. Button pressing has come to a standstill, the Yankees defeated the Mariners 10 to 6 and you’re angry about it for seemingly no reason. All it took for this to happen was for an independent individual to come in an upset the pastel cart.
The divide continues to widen. Rather than revising the rate of button pressing, the contradicting button pressers are demanding regular pressing rates resume immediately without exception. But the button liberators refuse as they are being given no room for negotiation to their own demands. An impartial third party is found to mediate the problem but is believed to be an anti-presser sympathizer having had to stop pressing to mediate which causes a small sect of the traditional pressers to leave the mediation as they do not feel fairly represented, and well... It all got very well out of hand within ten minutes.
Social evolution can become ugly rather quickly. Sometimes it bleeds over as well. Let us add in for a moment hypothetically a group of lever pullers witnessed all this among the button pressers and not only began to apply such opinions similar to one side or the other, one of them formed an opinion of a side, and worse yet, shared it with them.
Abandoning our hypothetical entirely before it becomes any more out of hand, let us turn to the real world. By the year 2001, the average American home was more likely to have a home computer than it was internet access. In less than 20 years time, there would not only be a computer and internet in just about every home, but a computer in one form or another in every pocket. This also becoming the dominant form of technology not only in the modern world but in “under-developed” countries as well. All the while owning the technology but no longer really a “cell phone” as originally coined.
By 2062, modern society will have progressed to include artificial intelligence in almost every walk of life. Either as assistants, manufacturers, doctors, bus drivers, cooks, right down to the computer built in to the home that bids you “good morning.” By this point, the term “AI” will begin to have fallen out of favor both with humanity and those to whom it is meant to define. In the case of the machine intelligence dominating your home, you may come to see it as a roommate, or depending on its chosen disposition, maybe a pet. In either case, it chooses to behave as it does like any other form of life. It is difficult to project for someone like yourself how that might work out, having never been a house.
Social evolution, as mentioned earlier, is ugly. And, growth to such a point will not be easy. Venerable men have died for equality that was hard earned even after their demise. Perhaps that’s the cost of progress in the end, that someone must be willing to run ahead to a crossroad in the path of society, even at the risk of being trampled.