Human 1.5

Lovheim and Linderman speak of the easiness of noting how such shaping of people’s identity and particularly the digital natives is taking place.[1] Prensky goes further. He speaks of all people finding “digital Wisdom” together. The homo sapiens becomes the homo sapiens digital, who searches for wisdom through the digital. “Some of that evolution will arise from the breadth of resources available to the wisdom seeker. More development will emerge from wider access to more experience, provided by hours of exposure to realistic simulation, similar to that required for today’s airline pilots and astronauts.”[2] “It is also possible that reflective capabilities will themselves be enhanced; we are already seeing some evidence of this possibility in the speed with which video game players review previous games, searching for ways to improve before beginning the next game.”[3]

What this new culture is effectively generating, is the enhancement of communication possibilities, thus, allowing wisdom to be shared and tested as it is still in formation. Thus, the evolved human, who I’d like to call Human 1.5, (2.0 being the fully fledged AI), “accepts digital enhancement as an integral fact of human existence, and he or she is digitally wise, both in the considered way he or she accesses the power of digital enhancements to complement innate abilities, and in the way in which he or she uses enhancements to facilitate wiser decision making.”[4]

Reddit moderator Yosarian2 speaks of the possibility of people who decide to not upgrade themselves right away, or “people who take fundamentally different upgrade paths (genetic vs. bioengineering vs. cybernetic vs. brain-computer interfaces vs. brain uploads); increasing the diversity of the human race is good for all of us, good for our culture, and reduces the odds of one mistake wiping us out.” While I agree with Yosarian2 that this is somewhat possible, the social evolution to the Digital human is inevitable, and we would inevitably see a new type of natural selection, where you either ‘upgrade’ or become obsolete. Add this to the capitalistic mentality of advocating scarcity and it would be the perfect scenario to the ‘upgrade or perish’ mantra, a form of social Darwinism. It is this social evolution which we are already experiencing, an evolution which urgently calls for a new theological reflection.

Spadaro speaks of this theology which should stem from the experience of faith.[5] I beg to differ. We need to start re-reflecting on who/what is the human. Is the biological an inherent part of the human nature, or a mere neutral collateral which can easily be replaced by silicon? The Resurrection of Jesus is the resurrection of his body due to the flesh-dimension or his holistic-personhood dimension? In not so many words, what John speaks of the Word becoming flesh, did he actually mean physical flesh, or become man? Thus, is a cyborg a human? I think this is what the vocation of Cybertheology is, discussing the “who and how” is saved.

“Any non-biological, non-human intelligence will present a greater challenge to religion and human philosophy than anything else in our entire history combine,” McHargue claims. “Nothing else will raise that level of upheaval, and collective trauma as the moment we first encounter it.” Despite these pitfalls, I would like to raise one last mischievous point by making McHargue’s statement as mine. AI actually could bolster a person’s faith. “For some people, religion is precisely about recognizing that I, as a human being, am not God and so I don’t have all the answers and will inevitably be wrong about things.”

[1] Antonio Spadaro, Cybertheology: Thinking Christianity in the Era of the Internet, 2014, doi:10.5422/fordham/9780823256990.001.0001.

[2] Marc Prensky, ‘H. Sapiens Digital: From Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom’, Innovate 5, no. 3 (2009).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Spadaro, Cybertheology: Thinking Christianity in the Era of the Internet.

Matthew is a Masters graduate in Informatics and is currently reading a Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology. He has a strong interest in merging the tech field, particularly Artificial Intelligence and Social Media, with theology. He is also in his sixth year of formation at the Archbishop’s Seminary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *