For a long time since my childhood, I have always pictured Armageddon as a once for all supernatural event that will be initiated by God Himself to usher in the end of days. However, growing in understanding, in the face of happenings around us and the reality of a rapidly evolving world, second thoughts have begun to creep in as regards my earlier stand. Coupled with this, is the general understanding of God as a merciful and loving omniscient being. Hence, the initial idea of a supernaturally induced cataclysmic event in the very first instance seemed to negate the core conception of God, irrespective of religious affiliation. With recent developments on a global scale and the mutation of ideals and principles in the global social order, I am afraid to admit that humanity may be the instigator of its own extinction, made more obvious due to the lack of a corresponding evolution in moral consciousness of humanity.
Among the array of possible vistas that can exterminate human civilization within the twinkle of an eye, science and technology holds a conspicuous place. Science and technology are the defining blocs of modern civilization. Everything that has made our age quite unique and sophisticated than our predecessors is due to the advancements in both spheres of human endeavour. However, there is a grim aspect to this accelerated advancement that calls for urgent concern. Scientists, scholars and scientific analysts have made sinisterprophecies about the scientific future of the human race for a while now. The like of Kevin Kelly, a digital scientific writer easily comes to mind. It would also be a little mind boggling that intellectuals such as Frederich Nietzche, the acclaimed Existential atheist of the 19th Century, had also predicted this fact in his popular book “Thus Says Zarathustra” where he made it known that science for the time being serves the needs of humanity, but referred to it as a growing monster that would someday consume it. These predictions and some other more are well known to many. Notwithstanding, my interest in this issue was once more aroused when I had the privilege to read Dan Brown’s most recent novel “Origin”.
A fictional character, Edmond Kirsch, portrayed as a scientific genius, was able to predict the future of humanity using quantum computer simulations, following the Darwinian model of the evolution of species and he arrived at a basic conclusion – Homosapiens will someday relinquish its position as the dominant species on earth and will be absorbed (not annihilated) by the newest entrant, which is not merely a specie, but a Kingdom in its own right – “Technium” (Technology). According to the taxonomic hierarchy of living things, there are six Kingdoms in which every living thing can be grouped. These include: Animalia, Plantae, Protista, Eubacteria, Archaebacteria and Fungi. Technium will be the only Kingdom that consists of non-living things created by Homosapiens, but will end up dominating it.
In application to reality, the advancements in the field of science and technology are happening at a rate comparable to the speed of light. New scientific and technological discoveries are made on a daily basis, to the extent that even recent scientific tools and discoveries are made obsolete with the speed at which they came into existence. Kirsch concluded that the Technium Kingdom will continue to evolve and mutate until it dominates and eventually absorbs Homosapiens. Succinctly put, humanity will become part of the evolutionary process of the Technium. He also paints an optimistic future for humanity where Technium will enhance human capabilities and open new horizons for humanity which are yet to be imagined; a future where energy crisis, food insecurity and polluted environment will become things of the past and the world will be a better place to live in. This ideology is itself the dream of a group of scientists referred to as “Transhumanists” known with the code (H+), who strongly believe that Artificial Intelligence and Synthetic Intelligence are the future of humanity and just like the Darwinian evolutionary process, the future of humanity will be determined by those who are able to integrate artificial intelligence into their modes of existence, while those who do not will become the non-teleological species that will fade into obscurity.
While it is such an inspiring way to envision the future, one truth readily dawned on me and that is the fact that humanity’s moral consciousness is failing to evolve at the speed of light with which its knowledge of science is evolving. If there’s any motion of humanity’s moral consciousness at all, it is a depreciation and not growth. If we are to picture a future where humanity will blend well with technological advancement, we need the ideological apparatus and moral paradigm to drive such a promising future. Unfortunately, such is gravely lacking, except a moral re-awakening happens overnight. Examples of humanity’s moral decadence and irresponsibility abound everywhere for all to see. The lack of will power to protect the environment and continuous degradation of the earth with sophisticated machines and tools which have led to a seemingly irreversible process of the depletion of the ozone layer and culminated in global warming and the continuous expenditure of resources by technologically capable nations in building decapitating weapons of mass destruction, especially the nuclear weapon that is capable of exterminating the whole of humanity in minutes are grim examples. These phenomena themselves are potential instigators of cataclysmic events that could lead to an Armageddon; a process which seems to have begun already.Recently, in the month of August this year, the United Nations, through scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), declared “Code Red” for humanity, stating that the world is likely to hit 1.5 Celsius limit within 20 years due to uncontrolled human activities affecting the climate irrevocably. The burning of coal and fossil fuel hold a central place among these activities, leading to a whirl wind of environmental disasters exemplified in the constant wildfires, hurricanes, floods and others which the world is now experiencing on a more regular basis than ever before.
The problem seems to start with science itself which continues to claim that it is neutral to issues of morality and it is the use of its inventions that can be judged moral. This in itself is a foundational problem. Science and technology has to become morally conscious and responsible. If scientific and technological innovations are always patented with serious warnings about the moral implications of using such products contrary to their intended purposes, with serious warnings of punishment or prosecution if such occur, I think there will be some sanity in the midst of our present cacophony of moral disorder.
A future likened to what was projected in the movie ‘Terminator’, where machines annihilated the human race and enslaved humanity, may not be far from us if we do not embracethe moral questions that advancements in science and technology continue to pose. I refrain from assuming the position of a prophet of doom, but we cannot just leave the scientific community to keep doing what they do without somemoral standard and level of caution and control for the betterment of the future. We must note that morality and our ability to follow some ideal is part of the distinctive features of homosapiens; it is part of the things that make us intelligent beings. The moment we cast our moral bloc into the flames, we are eventually getting closer to the animal kingdom. A future void of control and restraint will only usher us back to the era ofthe figurative Hobbesian “State of nature”. A social structure many would never pray to experience.