Our Special Role in the Cosmos

Technology extends our thought, our reach, our vision, helps us transcend our boundaries. I think that's a message everybody can get behind. 

I attended the Singularity University executive program.  They had a special session in L.A., so we got to see all the latest cutting-edge biotech, nanotech, AI stuff.  I remember seeing the demo of the Google self-driving cars.  Did you see the commercial with the blind man and he was being driven around?  I mean, unbelievable.  I think they said that a million people a year die in auto-related accidents.  That will end.  I mean, those self-driving cars have been driving 200,000 miles already or more with zero accidents.  I mean, unbelievable. 


I’m interested, also, in the revolutions in the brain-machine interfaces.  You know, increasingly being able to communicate with these extensions of our cognition at the speed of thought, just by thinking -- not even having to do physical action -- so that's very exciting.  

Exoskeletons -- people don't like this word, but we already have them.  Our automobiles are exoskeletons.  Our airplanes are exoskeletons.  I mean, these are essentially suits we put on and they extend our reach.  The more biologically inspired exoskeletons are helping people that can't walk, walk again.  I saw a demonstration of two people in a wheelchair using these exoskeletons to stand up.

This very viscerally conveys how technology extends our thought, our reach, our vision, helps us transcend our boundaries. I think that's a message everybody can get behind.  We’re all interested in transcending our boundaries.  It’s the one thing mankind has always done from the moment we left the caves and then civilizations and then going to the moon.  When somebody says it’s impossible, that's when we say, "Okay, lets go ahead and do it."  And it’s romantic.  It makes me feel like we have a very special role to play here in the cosmos.  You know, we may be small but we are mighty.  You know, as Sophocles says, “Manifold the wonders.  Nothing towers more wondrous than man.”  That's kind of how I feel.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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