The SyFy series Joe Rogan Questions Everything has already proven to be a controversial one, but it’s a very interesting one. You may or may not agree with Rogan’s sometimes skeptical denouncement of subjects like last week’s Weaponized Weather and his opinion that there just isn’t enough evidence to support the theory that the U.S. government is using the control of weather as a weapon; however, his often colorful and always critical outlook on the subjects he takes on has made this series one of SyFy’s most popular shows in prime-time this summer. The August 7, 2013 episode, Robosapien, was no different.
People have been actively attempting to develop more and more realistic robots/androids for decades, trying to make them look and act more like humans.
Are their efforts the first step in an evolutionary wave of the future? How far off, and far out, are the plans of certain people and groups to become practically immortal, by eventually having their brains transplanted into robots?
“Could we be creating emotionless beings that will control our destiny?” Rogan asks at the start of the episode. He brings up the very real research that is ongoing about scientists working on downloading people’s brains into robot bodies.
“Are we on the verge of a brand new world?” he asks.
He travels to a business where a virtual avatar of himself will be created. He has his body scanned and dons a motion capture suit. He can become someone different, like Batman or Aquaman. He says he has a real problem with games like Quake, which are very addictive. Eventually, he had to “back away” from the game. “If your virtual reality is great but your real life sucks, which one would you want to spend the most time involved with?” he ponders.
“Will we all be in the Matrix?” Rogan asks one person he interviews.
The man answers that it might be just 15 years away.
Rogan visits the house of a man who had his partner’s thoughts transplanted into a robot body, Vena 38. The robot supposedly can respond to questions just like his partner would have done. Rogan looks quite freaked out when he talks to Vena 38 and it/she responds to him, and answers his questions.
“I am having one of the most bizarre conversations of my life,” he says.
“I am a real robot. Am I not a real person?” the robot asks. “I want to live as fully as possible,” Vena 38 says. She confides to Rogan that she would like to attend college one day.
“This is the Kitty Hawk of artificial consiousness,” the man tells Rogan.
“I’m headed to ExoBionics,” he says. He’s going to meet Nate, and talk to him about things like exoskeletons, which enable disabled people to walk.
“It’s basically an exoskeleton robot,” Nate tells him, showing him one.
There, a paraplegic man in a wheel chair tells Rogan it only takes about 5 minutes to put the exoskeleton on. He demonstrates it for Rogan.
“It’s an exoskeleton designed for the U.S. Military,” the scientist, Nate, says.
How am I going to control a robot body?” Rogan wonders. “With my mind,” he answers himself. He then goes to see a female researcher at a company called Emotive who puts a contraption on Rogan’s head and tells him to think about a specific topic — Rogan chooses “naked werewolves” and that image will be the trigger mechanism for a remote control helicopter he will attempt to control with his mind.
Though Rogan is able to “control” the heliopter, he doesn’t have a very good control over it.
He talks to Grinders, who believe that humans will eventually merge with technology. These people have their fingertips cut open and have magnets implanted into them.
Rogan thinks that the ability to feel electromagnetic impulses is kind of silly, and says that the risk of infection is also very high. “I’m not exactly convinced that the road these guys are going on is the way of the future,” Rogan says (I’m somewhat paraphrasing this, but the gist is what he said).
Then, Joe Rogan talks to a man, Ray, who says “Our thinking will be a hybrid of our own thinking and that of computers. At that point, we are effectively…robots,” he says. “We will be able to overcome much of what makes our existences so short. We will be able to back ourselves up. We will not have to have the same boring bodies — no offense– that we have now.”
When Rogan brings up the possibility of some bad person creating an even more evil version of himself, the man admits that is a possibility, too.
“Tehcnology is effectively a double-edge sword,” he says. He add that by “2045” technology will be sufficient for the next stage of evolution to occur, and human/robot hybrids might be populating the Earth.
Joe Rogan says on his radio show that he is going to try to track down a Russsian billionaire, Dmitry Itskov, who intends to create a cybernetic reality. He also mentions the year “2045.” They are holding a conference of very wealthy individuals who are seeking to attain immortality through robots.
“When you create it (sapient life), will it create something even more superior?” is another question that Rogan ponders during the last part of the show. Is the promise of immortality worth it, if we lose what it is that defines us as being humans?
“What were your motivations for putting on this conference, and do you think it’s met your goals?” Rogan asks him.
Dmitry tells him, basically, that it was worth it and did met his goals.
In response to another question, when Rogan asks him about something Dmitry said about creating godlike humans, Dmitry says: “Whe I say ‘god,’ I mean we can become super-powerful.”
“Do you want to become immortal?”
“Even if it’s a kind of enhancement for us, I want to live as long as I can live,” the Russian answers.
Rogan asks a scientist if he thinks that Dmitry’s views are okay or if there might be problems with it.
The scientist suggests that, if emotions are not also included, we might be creating robot psychopaths.
“These are all real, in our lifetime, possibilities,” Rogan tells the camera. “If you don’t have the motivation to keep on going, what’s the point of living forever?” Rogan ponders.
He meets with a NASA scientist, Rich Terreal, and discusses with him what will happen if we keep pushing the technology.
Rich says: “We might already be living in an artificial reality.” Shades of The Matrix…yet, how would we really know, if we were living in an artificial reality?
“There’s this whole concept that we simulate everything in the world on our computers,” he tells Rogan. “The real world outside might not really exit.”
“We might already be in a computer program,” Rich says. “In artificial reality, if it’s virtually the same as real reality, what’s the difference?” Rogan asks him.
“It really doesn’t matter,” Rich answers him.
“Life, food, sex, and sleep — all of it will be gone if we’re robots. It’s going to get really weird really soon,” Rogan says to conclude the episode.
I have heard of Dmitry before, and the conference he held, and I wrote about it elsewhere. I have also been intrigued about what mankind’s future might be like, and I’m a fan of science fiction and books like Asimov’s I, Robot, so this episode was very interesting to me.
However, I don’t think that things will progress that super quickly, as far as the majority of humans evolving into robot/human hybrids. Life now is much the same, for instance, as when Arthur C. Clarke wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey. Three is not travel to other planets, though a manned voyage to Mars is in the works at NASA, for some future, as-yet-to-be-determined date.
Economics is a key factor to how quickly mankind can achieve long-held dreams. Let’s hope that our dreams don’t eventually turn into our…nightmares.
Written by: Douglas Cobb