In case the world-colliding, multiverse obliteration in his Avengers saga didn’t tip you off, Jonathan Hickman likes to think big. Now X-Men fans are getting a taste of his far-out imagination through the two, intertwining six-issue series, House of X and Powers of X, the latter of which touches on one particular bonkers idea that some otherwise sensible people in the real world actually buy into.
The final pages of Powers of X #2 bring us to X3, a thousand years in the future, when a cult-like group has beckoned the interstellar, technological hive organisms, the Phalanx, back to Earth. A miniature version of Nimrod cautions a blue-skinned human(?) about “universal predators” looking to pillage resources (which is a whole OTHER discussion), but the “Librarian” remains undaunted. When the Phalanx arrive, the only thing asked for is “ascension.”
Inventor Ray Kurzweil calls it the “singularity,” and he thinks it’ll happen naturally within the next 25 years.
The Phalanx of the ’90s called it “assimilation,” but what we’re talking about here is the merger of man and machine to greatly enhance our own capabilities. When the Phalanx do it, it’s at the cost of individuality. The person’s knowledge lasts forever, even if the person doesn’t.
Kurzweil’s no more afraid of that than Hickman’s characters are. It’s not like we haven’t been enhancing ourselves with cybernetics for a good long time now. Before the advanced prosthetics we’re starting to see were pacemakers, and even hearing aids and eyeglasses could be considered forms of technological augmentation.
But Kurzweil does believe we’ll be able to upload our brains into machines, a HIGHLY dubious claim, making us functionally immortal. And soon! He believes it so much that he takes 100 vitamin pills a day, among other radical, unsubstantiated “life-extension” methods meant to keep him hanging on just long enough to cross that forever finish line in a couple of decades.
Kurzweil’s flimsy justification for this is something he calls the “Law of Accelerating Returns,” akin to the famous “Moore’s Law” on the advancement of computing power, which claims that looking at past and present rates, we’ll experience what would normally be 20,000 years of progress, all in the next century. Of course these are simple observations and not real, physical laws; they can’t actually be used to predict the future. As the late Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and computer scientist Mark Greaves said, “these ‘laws’ will work until they don’t.”
Of course, this also ignores continued biomedical advances. Sequencing the human genome hasn’t led us to the age of “personalized medicine” that some expected, but there are still plenty of good reasons (like CRISPR) to think that modifying our own genetics will make us stronger and better equipped to fend off disease. Like the miracle drugs of Krakoa, genetic modification of plants has already led to some game-changing treatments. What’s the need for nanotech if we can just use the raw materials nature gave us?
Unless you just consider that a half-measure, like the priests of X2, a hundred years in the future. Damn freethinkers.