When the average member of society commands the technology to access endless streams of information at their fingertips, we should consider the possibility that the age of human-machine integration may have already begun.
We typically take for granted this superpower we have over our ancestors—allowing us to 100x their productivity. Rather, we've become increasingly reliant on technology. Today, the ability to store, process, and retrieve massive amounts of data in seconds is a basic human right.
As information technology continues to develop, the barrier between brain and information system becomes increasingly transparent. While the idea of human-machine integration may seem unnatural, the idea of information technology augmenting our experience is nothing new. In fact, humans have been developing information technology since they could read and write. This concept of information systems may simply be a natural extension of our human capacity to structure information.
Ancient Sumerians etched information systems into the architecture of Mesopotamia some 5000+ years ago. It's only over the last 50 years that we've made considerable improvements over their methods. Seemingly, in about 1% of the time, we have achieved something like 90% of the efficiency we have today.
The dawn of the information age
Systems prior to the transistor were terribly inefficient. The ENIAC [Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer] was the first programmable Turing complete computer, but it utilized vacuum tubes to send and receive signals.
The transistor took up less space and required much less power than vacuum tubes. Ultimately, we could both reduce cost and size, while increasing the power of computers by several orders of magnitude.
As computers became more accessible, fields like computer science and software engineering grew in parallel. The information systems of today are the culmination of all their progress. Some of these systems are now deeply embedded within the systems and organizations of our society [i.e. the internet].
To this day, the information age is where we remain. And according to Moore's law, there's no end in sight. Our lifetimes will share both the burden of continuous change and the promise of technological revolution.
The speed at which people, technology, and society become fully integrated will only increase with emergent technologies. Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain, which both leverage and act as information technology in their own right, are already creating massive disruption across industries. When human-machine interfaces such as Nueralink one day come to fruition, the barrier between human and machine will cease to exist.
These ideas are no longer science fiction.