Rapidly-advancing technology could soon put humans completely out of business

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By Sabrina Almeida

Thanks to technology, we can now have almost everything on demand… whether is a ride to a party or your favourite food. In a few years, perhaps even the perfect partner. And if you want yourself or a loved one to live forever, with cryonics and AI that too can be arranged.

Ever-advancing technology promises us a “better, faster and smarter” version of life. However, with our quest for convenience and greater control comes the bigger question whether technology will soon take the “human” out of everything.

Made-to-order partner

Everyone has a wish-list of qualities they would like in their partner. With the development of the RealDoll, many might finally be able to live out their dreams. Harmony, a new sex doll from Abyss Creations in San Marcos, California promises to be that perfect partner that will make you happy in bed too. She talks, tells jokes and remembers things that are important to you. Users can also choose from a range of personality options that include loving, moody and angry via an app for a more “real-life” experience.

Expected to go on sale later this year, there will be two versions of the Barbie-like beauty to suit your pocket. RealDoll clients love the idea of having a partner (with chosen attributes) without the stress of “making mistakes” and relationship management. Many have had negative experiences and others simply don’t want to get into it.

However, the growing trend towards having a life-like doll rather than a human partner brings into question the future of real relationships and need for humans at all.

Robot priests to cleanse your soul

Yes, its true! A robot named BlessU-2 can forgive your sins in five different languages, in a male or female voice. It will even give you a prayer receipt just in case you need to show it at the pearly gates.

A report in the Guardian suggests that in addition to relieving the workload of the clergy in a Protestant church in Hesse and Nassau, Germany, the robot priest is meant to trigger a discussion about the role of technology in the church. I am reminded of the time a man called a priest from my parish wanting to know if he could make a confession over the phone. Both moves seem to emphasize the ritualistic nature of an act that is meant to cleanse and heal your soul. Resurrecting an age-old debate of whether we really need a priest, human or robotic, to give us absolution. Why can’t we confess directly to God? Also signalling that we might not need the clergy at all, given than a robot can now be programmed to fulfill “all” priestly functions,.

Cloning for procreation and preservation

Can’t bear the thought of losing a loved one? Cloning can make sure you never have to experience that kind of grief. Just make sure your pockets run deep enough. A Toronto man, for instance, was willing to spend $80,000 (US dollars) to clone his dead dog Woofie. And he got two dogs Blondie and Woofie Jr. with temperaments similar to the original. The American company responsible claims that the genetic replicates should live as long as the original canine… after which he can simply order another clone I suppose.

Cloning has had its fair share of ethical debates with even secular groups arguing that scientists should not interfere with a natural process. While cloning of specific body parts and tissue offer life-changing options for transplant patients, altering genes to design children to your liking brings a whole litany of issues. With ethical and religious objections being the least of our worries when compared to the unknown consequences of tampering with an evolutionary process.

Immortality is on the cards

Given a chance most of us would like to live forever. But with a small caveat, our bodies must be up to it. If Humai has its way, soon we might be able to cheat death in a whole new body. According to the startup’s CEO Josh Bocanegra, with the necessary advancements you could live forever… well at least your mind can. How? They will freeze your brain,  repair any damage to it and then transfer it into your new artificial body.

What’s the catch? The company expects it will take another 30 years or so. It is also not clear what your new body will be made of. But that’s a minor ripple in the bigger picture of immortality, isn’t it? Then cloning will take over to help your brainwaves control the new body as if it were your own. Simply put, machines will take over when human body ends. Bocanegra says it’s not about fighting death but making it optional.

While the prospects of designing the perfect partner or child, preserving a loved one or cheating death might seem exciting, the reality is that technology is moving faster than human ability to think through not just the ethical questions, but more importantly the scientific repercussions. Which brings one to the scary conclusion that us humans might not be prepared or able to handle what this technology-driven future has in store for us.

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