The Verge | People are asking futurists if humans will one day swim as fast as sharks

March 14, 2017

The Verge — March 13, 2017 | Nick Statt

This is a summary. Read original article in full here.

The South by Southwest festival is a place where people come and talk about the future.They imagine what the world will look like when we have human-level artificial intelligence and science fiction grade human augmentation.

Futurist speakers were asked whether they think humans will one day swim as fast as sharks. Humans at their peak can swim 6 miles per hour. A short-fin mako shark, on other hand, can hit top speeds of about 60 mph.

The question was first posed to Will Roper, the director of the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, in a conversation about advanced weaponry and super-soldiers.

It was asked in a different panel discussion with Ray Kurzweil, one of the best known futurists and author of the book The Singularity Is Near.

A common theme in the futurist & trans-humanism movements is that humanity will augment and improve itself:

  • genetically engineered super-humans
  • brain-computer interfaces that make us smarter
  • merged AI & humans
  • the ability to live forever

Roper and Kurzweil were good sports about it. Roper said he wasn’t aware of any active Pentagon research trying to augment humans with fins or gills, but said he’d sign up to be made a faster swimmer. Kurzweil commented about medical devices that help people restore lost limb functions. “I don’t know about the shark application,” he added.

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