December 11, 2012

Plastic fantastic humanity

We humans are plastic. In case you're not familiar with this use of the term "plastic", it means malleable, changeable, fluid. We bend to circumstances, and change to accommodate them. This is why we won't be residing in flesh bodies much longer.

We can be anything. If a human mind was put it into an android or robot body, the mind would soon think of the new body as its own. And by "soon", I mean within minutes. The new body's abilities would be our abilities. Humans adapt. It's what we do. This change is going to happen, and what makes this possible is our amazing plasticity.

Let's do an experiment that extends the body. (This isn't my own creation; I read it somewhere.) Hold a pen or pencil in your hand, and run the tip over a surface such as a nubby fabric. You can feel it through the pencil, which has become an extension of your sensory apparatus. Try it on a few surfaces. Isn't it amazing that so much information comes to you from this process? We are plastic. We bend to circumstance. We can be anything.

We sense this when we drive. If you've ever hit a concrete wall or a tree with your car, you probably said "Ouch!" or some similar expletive. The reason this happens is that when we're driving, we extend our being throughout the car. That's you out there, not the front bumper.

We can't remain in our biological bodies. They're subject to ill health and they eventually wear down and stop functioning -- the ultimate indignity. We will pass on to other shores, whether machine-like or virtual. We will change and we will grow. And in the end, we will become something entirely different.

I write about these changes in my novels. Why? Because they're coming and we have to start thinking about what this means for humanity. Alas, no one thinks about the future anymore. But that's a post for a different day.

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