2015 was the year of democratization of transhumanism.
Even if the public is not yet aware about this philosophy, in 2015 saw a number of players to assert themselves as adherents to this school of thought, and began to explain.
For now, those companies apply to evangelize and train IT professionals.
Remember, transhumanism is a movement to promote a upgraded man, strapped with implants, assisted by an AI (artificial intelligence) more intelligent than humans, and in fact, almost immortal.
At first, when I give this definition, my interlocutors take me for a fool, much less take for fools also adherents to this movement.
You have to know two things :
Transhumanism is structured around three main technological areas:
- Improved AI. The goal is to obtain a sufficiently advanced AI to compete and surpass a human being. The aim of this IA will support flawless in treating ever increasing flow of information that is sent to us as a human being. I also include in this category the research related to robotics.
- The improved cognitive and motor abilities of human beings. There is talk of including implants.
- Research into cognitive mechanisms, essential component to the success of the two points mentioned above.
The second point you have to know is the Singularity.
Singularity is roughly when our human « birth » capacities will not allow us to follow over the flow of information and we will need to update us, to « stay in the game. » It is then that we will not have a choice: we need to use an IA.
If you work on Microsoft cloud technologies, you know quite what I am referring. This reflection: « I go three weeks on vacation, and I’m completely overwhelmed. » I have heard during 2015. It is on. So we trusted the predictive models (= AI) FaceBook and others to show us a summary of information of interest.
For us, MVPs of Azure Technologies, Office 365, … The Singularity is very close.
For the rest of the world, this situation will happen, more or less, in the next five years.
I will first explain why, in my opinion, you should keep an eye on the evolution of these skills, and the transhumanist philosophy related to it. Then we will see how Microsoft is in this new environment, the precursor of tomorrow’s market.
Why must transhumanists take seriously?
Just because they give themselves the means to achieve their ends. It started with a frantic lobbying under President Clinton, very attached to what the United States is still in the race, and do not ever exceed technologically speaking.
The result of this lobbying was a hyper legislative framework, that even George Bush failed to destroy despite his opposition to the genome research. Its various wars have even led to the development of exoskeletons by the US military. There are also a number of works on prosthetics (legs, arms, hands) that are revolutionizing the market and the lives of amputees. We plugged directly these prostheses on the nervous system …
Grants have therefore poured in torrents for this type of project, until these start-ups and labs see these actors other than the US state help. This brings us to the second question of this post:
Who are the main financiers and sponsors of transhumanism in the world?
Frankly, the first answer that we give to this question, it’s Google.
Mountain View is very different from other GAFAM in that its founders call themselves clearly as transhumanists. For them, the ultimate search engine is an AI that will bring you perfect information, directly into the brain. They want both to overcome the prehistoric interfaces such as the keyboard and the screen and provide a service that will increase the current Google for Lycos in its first month (yes, everyone remembers Lycos 😉 )
In the process, they also want to conquer death.
That is why they have recently reorganized with Alphabet. Before, when you invest in Google, you will not know if your money was invested in the classical part « search engine and digital marketing » or hyper innovative part of the Google X secret laboratory « Kill Death », « Developing IA able to overcome the human being « , » Submitting Brain Backup ».
This mistrust generated the screw institutional investors and disappointment for those who wanted to invest in start-up related to Google X. This new arrangement allows them to fund activities both differentiated way, and makes the message clearer for their investors.
This shows how much they take in developing these projects. Ray Kurzweil, a sort of prophet of the World Transhumanism, has also been hired by Google. Mountain View finance the Singularity University, bought with millions of dollars of start-ups interested from near and far to the IA, the field of longer lives, and they invest.
They do not primarily do that for trade opportunities: the two Google founders do it for Humanity. They are convinced. These are surely endless investments with very long-term opportunities. But they do. They have the resources and they have the political capacity: no one will bother them with the conservative ethics.
For my part, I have no doubt that they succeed in the next twenty years to make brains backup, and we release an IA handily passing the Turing test, and exceed us largely through self improvement .
Google is one of the main reasons why you can not, as a professional of new technologies, ignore what happens in « transhumanie ». These are people with means, ideas and few limits.
And the others ? Who among the GAFAM engages the transhumanist track?
Apple, as usual, kept it secret. But the latest version of Mac OS X contains highly effective predictive models and driven, which means they work directly or indirectly to an AI. It is the same for Siri. The iPhone is also an eminently transhumanist device: it can be likened to an implant.
Facebook will release on Q1 2016 Oculus Rift, a device capable of generating a virtual reality. A new interface, more powerful than a screen. For trying, I guarantee that this is not just a gimmick: the applications are incredibly numerous and will revolutionize a number of our customs.
Facebook is also working on predictive models to its social network, and therefore, without a doubt, on an IA. They have all the data needed to understand the life of a human being.
On Amazon, I do not know exactly where they stand. But critics of religious transhumanists also regularly screaming at them. As rightly says my beautiful mother, « there’s no smoke without fire. » They probably have something in the kitchen: the use of drones for delivery indicates that they are also working on a powerful AI to manage their future UAV fleets.
I also would like to quote IBM, which carries a titanic work on AI and predictive analytics. IBM is not part of GAFAM but sells its technology to each other.
Which brings us to Microsoft. The last of GAFAM.
I can lie down more than other Microsoft simply because I know them better.
First, I have never heard a Microsoft representative say openly transhumanist. If such a stance surely leave indifferent to the USA, it would cause an outcry on the old continent. Question of cultural approach.
The Europeans think that technological innovation destroys jobs, and thus mistrust them like the plague. In this distrust, so we find all sorts of arguments to oppose to transhumanists, « they want to play God, » « They want to destroy humans by turning them into machines », « if they get their way, two classes of people exist: the human and the original post. «
Americans see technological change in the solution to almost all of their problems.
Microsoft has therefore probably not want to create controversy where they can avoid it; I can quite understand.
They participate, to my mind, much to the transhumanist transformation of our world through a number of products, which are their flagship products today:
Office 365 and Azure
Through the update cycle of these products, they bring us closer to the Singularity. As I mentioned above, it had never happened to be dropped after three weeks of leave. Since 2015, it takes me at least two weeks to get back to level. And even when I work, technology watch now continues as innovations emerge every day. Power between BI, SharePoint, Office 365, Azure PaaS, IaaS Azure, …
So I let FaceBook and other meta engines prepare condensed what I missed. These condensed are made via predictive models, so the AI. And these RNs are going to be more and more powerful over time; they can aggregate, analyze and qualify more data than a year ago, and the quality of the results provided also increases with the continuous improvement of these algorithms.
Azure is also involved in the provision of Machine Learning Azure product, a kind of model of a prehistoric « IA as a Service ». But I will discuss at greater length in the detailed Cortana Analytics section below.
More than a product as such, it is actually a result gathering Microsoft products related to the data. We’ll talk Azure Data Factory, Machine Learning, of PowerApps, and many other applications present in Azure.
The goal is to retrieve Cortana Analytics all possible data on your business, store and analyze them and then deliver it to stakeholders of your business (you, your B2B or B2C customers, your employees, other programs … ) via any vector: targeted reporting, voice interaction interfaces, flat or dynamic data … This is exactly what Google wants to do; except that Microsoft offers to do it with the data of your business and that Google offers to do this with all data on the Internet.
In this, Cortana Analytics prepares us to the Singularity: too much data to process for you? Let the predictive models you only transmit important data, and take 90% of the decisions « routine ».
And predictive models will feed your reactions to their decisions, so that their next move is even closer to what you expect. Once our cognitive schemas have been defined (and they probably are already), depending on our age, our culture, our gender … They will take the decision to which we expect, we did not need ask them; simply because we have not simply humanly time to make these decisions.
We’re already there. But this will develop.
The Xbox is a great evangelistic vector masses regarding transhumanist ideas.
First, it puts in the heart of twenty million homes a tool that continues to trivialize advanced technologies. Especially seen with Kinect. Who would have accepted ten years ago to have three cameras can interpret your movements in the middle of his living room? Today, nobody is asking.
In a more anecdotal (but not that much) the games available on the Xbox also trivialize the transhumanist message. If you play the last Call of Duty: Black Ops II, you hear about voluntary amputees, which aims to get more powerful aids ask that their original members.
And those amputees who are the heroes you play! The wicked are those who are opposed to such developments. This game is a block buster. I have no doubt that we will find this type of diagram « good & evil Conservative = human = post » in a number of other games.
After the professionals we are, Microsoft will have to convince players.
I cite these glasses augmented reality, it’s just that I consider them as a test for Microsoft. A test that aims to position itself in the market for non-medical implants. A product to follow.
Ray Kurzweil said there would be no rupture of technology, large or sudden revolution transhumanist evening: this will be done by touch. At Microsoft, this is called the « weekly update ».
They advance in small steps, never stopping until we get to a point where we can no longer follow. We then use predictive models « as a service » to make some decisions, and then more and more.
As I wrote at the beginning of this post: we MVP and other professionals to keep us informed, we begin to feel the effects in everyday life. This was never the case before.
I like to think that in a more or less near future, we will Backuper us to create our world in Minecraft (recently acquired by Microsoft, and that becomes a reference in the presentation of Hololens).
All this leaves me to believe that there is a clear transhumanist strategy at Microsoft. It does not yet apply to all products, we do not speak of human post, we do not claim a movement or another. But seen from my window, analysis of imposed pace of updates on key products, sustainable market positioning predictive models, implants, gaming, search engine are not sure of the purpose Long term the Redmond: prepare for the future without frontal confrontation with Google.
Roughly Microsoft’s strategy may be summarized as follows: let Google find how Backuper a brain, and suggest as Azure medium for storing and secure backup; and to live these human consciences in their infrastructure.
Congratulations ! If you have made a choice to a become professional of Microsoft Azure technology, you ensure a job for the next 2500 years 😉