“Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.” — Yoda.
Humanity finally burst free of the bonds of that frail blue planet drifting lonely in space.
We’ve spread out towards the stars and colonized the solar system, from settlements orbiting the glittering rings of Saturn, to sprawling cities on the red hills of Mars built by nano insects invisible to the eyes.
Massive robotic ships lower their long elephant trunks and slurp helium and precious gases from the depths of Jupiter. When their big bellies are filled to bursting, they rocket along invisible superhighways, delivering He3 to energy hungry fusion micro-reactors that power the interplanetary economy.
Beyond the rings, deep space mining ships release clouds of drones like baby spiders into the wind and they digest asteroids hurtling in the endless void. The drones fuel an unprecedented building boom on nearly every planet circling the sun, as city after city goes up on barren rocks long hostile to organic life.
The people who immigrated to Mars generations ago don’t need oxygen at all. They’re genengineered to breathe the carbon dioxide saturated sky, though their lungs can switch back and forth between oxygen and CO2 as easily as flipping a light switch.
But it’s not just the air that’s changing. Skyscraper sized machines gouge the red soil, ripping it apart to make an ocean, the largest undertaking ever attempted by mankind.
“Natural born” Martians resist the cataclysmic forces of terraforming and the radical changes it will bring, fearing that the lush rolling red will give way to seas of green and blue.
But no one can deny that the titanic transformation of Mars is the first true Wonder of the space age.
And what an age it is.
The Anthropocene Era
Now the long tendrils of our influence has spread to the stars.
And our influence moves faster than it ever has before.
Everything is accelerated. Culture. Economics. Technology development.
Evolution moves at stomach churning speed.
Entire boom-to-bust cycles happen in months instead of decades. Future shocks that would have Earth civilizations rioting in the streets if they happened once in a decade are now absorbed with ease. Economic crashes hit like mini-tsunamis and recoveries come just as quick.
Beyond the virtual and AR world the physical world has changed radically too.
Only about 1% o the population can drive anything at all, whether cars or ships, because everything from starships to ATVs drive themselves and self repair with redundant, hot swappable parts.
In politics and business, the vast AI backbones that power interplanetary business, governments and DAOs, spin the wheels of commerce with superhuman speed. The decision making of old world business and government happened in slow motion by comparison, as bitter old men horse-traded and argued and demonized their enemies and eventually got some broken law passed.
Politics is no longer nations against nations but planets against planets.
And the people who control the new dynasties and city states make the old emperors and presidents of Earth, squabbling over tiny patches of dirt, look like the Neanderthals they always were, even if they didn’t know it.
More than anything, the people in control know they can’t run the economy alone. They let the machines do it because everything moves at a speed too fast for even augmented minds to handle.
The AIs simply adjust the dials of supply and demand in real time, ratcheting factory production up or down and triggering advertisement freezes to control consumer cravings that won’t get met for months. Then they fire those ads up again as goods come off the production line sizzling hot. The ads are micro-calibrated to every person, surging past their defense mechanisms like tailored drugs surging through the blood brain barrier. The machines know our wants and needs better than we do and give it to us before we even know we want it.
The rise of AI taught us that humans are nothing but another input and output. Words and emotions are the programming language and the machines can program us with ease.
But this is not the Matrix. We are not slaves.
We want them to program us.
We once imagined we were the only masters of our destiny and the sole captain of our ships. Our minds were made up by our own free will.
But we know it’s not true now.
As we untangled the inner mysteries of our minds’ complex electrochemical field we realized we were just another kind of artificial intelligence, one evolved through the great genetic algorithms of the Earth’s biome.
The people alive now look back on us today and wonder how we ever imagined we could shape our own destiny and that we weren’t shaped by the subtle tides of our own invisible programming?
(“More human than human. That’s our motto.” — Tyrell)
But can these people even be called people?
They’re not like us. They feel differently. Think differently. Look differently. They’re as different as we are to Cro-Magnon man.
They’re not human. They’re something more.
The End of Man
The AI alarmists were right to fear that AI would bring about the end of humanity.
But they were wrong about how it happened.
Instead, AI moved inside of us.
Merged with us.
We embraced AI at deeper and deeper levels. It became more intimate than our all time best lover, whispering in our ears, knowing what we want before we want it.
It sprang out of our phones, glasses and smart clothes and into our heads, eyes, arms and legs. Like the long tendrils of rose roots it laced its way around the dendratic forest of our minds and enhanced them to incredible new levels.
Or we could spawn another variation of ourselves just to have someone to talk to and keep us company when someone broke our heart.
And we could even spawn new iterations of our personality in a sandbox to see what kind of changes would make us better or more balanced or more ruthless, more cunning or more caring, or more decent or kind or tender or loving.
We became our own artificial evolution.
Posthuman people think nothing of upgrading themselves the way we used to flip out phones every few years.
(Ghosts in the Shell)
Replacing your arm with a prosthetic that lasts five times as long as a natural one and doubles the tactile sensations is the same as buying a new dress or a pair of jeans.
Swapping out your eyes for ones that see better than 20/10, can see in the dark and show you a rich overlay of meta-information about the world makes perfect sense to someone with a mind upgraded at birth with post-CRISPR gene editing that’s 99.9999% accurate.
Kids are grown like hydroponic plants in the home.
And more and more technology moves deep inside of us, biomonitors that monitor cholesterol and stress, vast arrays attached to our spines that let us backup and snapshot our minds, and tiny swarms of nano machines that constantly clean our arteries and repair damage done by free radicals and hunt down cancer cells before they can spread their deadly genetic payload to other victim cells.
Tech lives inside us because it’s no longer made of poisonous rare Earth metals. It’s true “soft” ware.
We evolved to use the same basic building blocks as Mother Nature.
Our hardware become wetware. We became what we always were:
And it wasn’t just carbon that we could now control with ease. Our powers extended down so much further, to the atomic level.
3D printers evolved to molecular printers, which evolved to atomic printers.
Once we could create things atom by atom, the old scarcity economies of Earth no longer made any sense in the face of near limitless abundance. If you had the right printers and the right supply of the basic building blocks of matter you could print up any object from nothing.
Out of nothing. Into nothing.
Control at the atomic level changed the very idea of medicine. No longer did we interact with disease at the chemical level. We could just snapshot a person’s atomic fingerprint at a point in time and reset them to healthier state.
We could roll back the sands of time on our cells.
That is, if you had the power and money to do it.
The One Becomes the Ten Thousand Things
More than anything the AIs moved us from the random evolution of Mother Nature to directed evolution.
We accelerated evolution like mad conductors in a great symphony.
The AIs can sim through billions of years of evolution in days or months, depending on how many variables we let them process. Even the most powerful intelligent machines can’t process every variable in the known universe, but sometimes a reduced data set is enough.
Because of this hyper-accelerated evolution, posthumans are not a single species. We’re thousands of different species now. With aggressive gene editing and prosthetic and virtual versions of life we’ve shattered into a thousand daughter species.
Intensive new tribes exist. A single genetic tweak gives one group the power over others. Then their power fades as others adapt and counter their advances with new and better advances. Or that dominance fades, proving to be nothing but an experiment gone wrong.
Yet it’s the most balanced posthumans who survive and thrive. They use cutting edge technology but take a conservative approach, not moving too quickly or too slowly.
They work with the AIs, in a co-creative process, true centaurs.
We dance with the AIs and they dance with us.
Creativity is no longer just a singular artist working away like a monk in a cave or a team of creative pros hammering it out on story boards. Scientists don’t experiment with tiny teams, using brute force to try idea after idea, they simulate thousands of years ahead for promising paths first. Toy designers creating the next toy that every kid craves don’t work alone in Geppetto’s workshop. Everything from fashion design to materials science changed as massively parallel genetic algorithms SIMed through millions and then billions of years of evolution to help us.
The AIs even designed better AIs, helping us build better versions of our own neural networks. We miniaturized the already small neuron, pushing it past the 1 to 4 micron scale and packing these artificial dendratic forests onto pebble sized arrays we injected into our bodies and minds.
And all of this accelerated evolution meant only one thing for the Sapiens who once ruled the small blue planet of Earth with ease.
Waves Crashing on the Distant Shores of Time
Regular humans disappeared slowly and the quickly.
At first radical experimental humans, proto-posthumans who hacked their minds and bodies, were beaten back and killed off and jailed by their violent and ignorant Sapien predecessors. When people tweaked their bodies to add gills, or a third arm, they became easy targets of prejudice and police and genocide.
But over time, posthumans got smart.
And soon those posthumans were rising to power all over the world. They were smarter, faster, better looking, more charming. They were hypnotic to regular Sapiens, who struggled to resist their allure.
Slowly the laws changed. Culture changed. What was acceptable changed.
More and more Sapiens altered little things about themselves too. Why let your child face a deadly disease?
If you could take a pill and double your metabolism so you could eat burgers every day and stay thin, why wouldn’t you?
It wasn’t a smooth transition. Evolution never is. It moves in fits and starts. There were backlashes, setback: economic shocks that saw the rise of authoritarians who used the radical changes as scapegoats that led to horrific genocides and brutality.
Early Patternists were death marched into oblivion.
The first attempts to build people that could live longer than everyone else were ironically singled out and slaughtered.
But like all violent movements, the raging storm eventually runs out of fury. And progress moves ahead once more, unfettered.
To the posthumans Sapiens are no smarter than wild horses and just as easily slaughtered if they decide to go mad.
The last Sapiens imagined they could stop the future.
And eventually posthuman beats human.
Nothing can hold back the tides of time.
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