Human upgrade

August 31, 2020

The next step in human evolution has just been unveiled by that boundary-pushing, cavalier-like entrepreneur, Elon Musk.

The brain-hacking device demonstrated this week in Gertrude the pig puts us one step closer to merging man and machine. The brain chip sends wireless signals when neural activity is detected from the snout when sniffing.[1]

Neuralink, the new start-up from Musk, has applied for human trials next year!

Musk’s ambition is to create “superhuman cognition”, allowing people with neurological conditions to control phones or computers with their mind. But, more ambitiously, he wants to merge humans with technology to combat artificial intelligence that could destroy the human race. I’m starting to get flashbacks to Matrix!

However, this is where many had been predicting we were headed, including best-selling author Yuval Noah Harari. This is the point he makes in his captivating book Homo Deus (God-man). He shares tomorrow’s history today by suggesting, “we should therefore use technology in order to create Homo deus – a much superior human model”.[2] He goes on to predict the emergence of new techno-religions “promising salvation through algorithms and genes”.

But in this ever-increasingly complex and unstable world, could there be another way to salvation?

I was reminded of another way to human transformation during the recent UK’s 75th anniversary celebrations of the surrender of Japan, ending World War ll. On the day of that surrender, the famous US General Douglas MacArthur gave a speech: “Men since the beginning of time have sought peace…Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war”, ending the speech with a solution: “It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh”.

Throughout the ages, the human race has seen the need for its own upgrade. So is this techno-upgrade to a superhuman just another reincarnation of old ideas spoken of by sages and prophets from past centuries?

Some would say, yes. And many of those would point to the Christian message as an embodiment of this evolutionary need.

The Christian story tells us that humans were created with the potential to communicate with something beyond the material. Even more so, we have the potential to become more than the material, transcending the limitations of our flawed character, sickness, suffering and even death. One biblical writer says this about our body, “it is sown in weakness but raised in power. It a sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body”.[3] We just need an implant – an upgrade – to get there.

This upgrade is a spiritual one. The kind of upgrade suggested by MacArthur. No AI needed. If you want to know more about this upgrade, then we would be happy to hear from you.

Richard Fowler

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

[2] Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Hariri, published 2016. Page 409-410.
[3] The Bible, 1 Corinthians 15:43-44.

Spiritual workout

March 30, 2020

“Many people in their teens wonder about these big questions – what’s the meaning of life, what are we doing here – then somewhere in their 20s, they seem to say, ‘I’ll just get married. I’ll just have kids. I’ll get back to that later’. But they never do. For me, it kept boiling”. [1] Yuval Harari

During the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve noticed we are taking one lockdown rule very seriously: our rationing of one-days’ dose of a good, old cardiovascular workout, also known as exercise.

I’ve even been getting mine in. A brisk walk round my local park where I was witness to myriad forms of exercise along with creative ways to use park apparatus. And the exercise binge hasn’t stopped there. After 6 days of lockdown, social media has spawned numerous examples of how to keep fit. From the comeback of the 81 years’ young Green Goddess, to self-styled Instagram isolation games, we are a nation that’s staying fighting fit in this crisis.

But is there another type of exercise we can take advantage of in these times of isolation?

I once read an old adage that went something like this: “Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way because it promises life both for the present and for the future”.[2] What do you think this means?

For me, I wonder whether it means something like what Harari was getting at in the above statement? Harari is a best-selling intellectual with books such as Homo Deus: a brief history of tomorrow where he delves into the most existential questions of our time. There is something familiar to what he asked; maybe at some point in our lives we’ve all flirted with these questions. Because why are we here, anyway?

But like Harari suggests, we may have got a little out of shape when it comes to the big questions – the spiritual questions – of life? In these times when we have something we seldom have – time – is it time to get on the transcendental treadmill again? Maybe do a little more soul-searching as to what all this life stuff is about? The second week of lockdown could be that time when we do some ‘existential exercise’. What do you think?

I  won’t patronise you by telling you where to start the search – maybe you already have an inkling, some place you’ve gone to before. But I would be interested to hear what you find.

If you want to share your thoughts and questions, I would be happy to hear from you at the below email address. And I’d be happy to share my journey – a journey where I didn’t get married or have kids (yet) but instead set out to find the answers to Harari’s questions.

Richard Fowler

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

[2] The Bible, 1 Timothy 4:8 (GNT)