Published in Proceedings of InterSymp-2002: The 14th International Conference on Systems Research, Informatics and Cybernetics: Baden-Baden, Germany, July 29, 2002. 19 pages. RESU77.
Publisher's website: http://www.iias.edu
This paper attempts to explore the behavioral characteristics of human beings from a point of view that is not based on inter-human comparisons, but on an examination of the intrinsic physical, biological, intellectual, emotional, and social characteristics of this species. It is argued that the experience-based nature of the human cognitive system greatly reduces our ability to adapt to changes in our environment, exploit opportunities, and create new knowledge. A fundamental biological survival instinct drives the human being to seek a level of certainty and security that is irreconcilable with a continuously changing and largely unpredictable environment. The symptoms of this distinctly human struggle manifest themselves in a strong resistance to change and an emotional aversion to experimentation and risk taking.
The author postulates that the merging of biology and technology will allow the human species to accelerate progress along its evolutionary path in preparation for a series of emerging environmental challenges. These challenges are most likely to be related to rapid world population growth in the context of finite natural resources. It is argued that the merging of biology with technology may be a prerequisite for providing human beings with the necessary intellectual capabilities to both mitigate the abuse and maximize the use of planet Earth.
This paper focuses on the need for technology to supplement and enhance the intellectual capabilities of human beings, and not on the technological prospects themselves. The latter can be found in the literature (Kurzweil 1999, Brockman 2002, Kelly 1994, Brooks 2002, Richards 2002).