Each year, on the anniversary of the formation of this group, he poses a question to them. They answer in a brief essay and he compiles those into a book. Last year's question was this:
Potential child molesters and rapists could be found out before the crime was ever committed.
Suicide rates would probably go down but our psych-ward populations would sky rocket. Mental illness wouldn't be able to hide any more. Would the ability to clearly read someone's thoughts help us diagnose and cure mental illness? Will we be able to deduct what makes a person tick and what is ticking off-kilter and will we develop the ability to "fix" it? If we can't cure them, will we just detect that someone isn't "right" and lock them away before they have the ability to act on their illness?
Interesting to contemplate.
Another idea presented several times is the great advancement in Artificial Intelligence and robotics... to a terrifying degree. It has been speculated that we will come so far in this advancement that the current debate of same-sex marriage will be a minor conflict of the past as people fall in love with, and petition for the right to marry their robotic companions.... What hope is there for human companionship when you can create a loved one, made to order, who is not just precisely to your specifications, but has the technology to grow with you? How many generations until humanity breeds itself out?
Follow me for a second. Initially, the people who don't create themselves a perfect spouse will have at least one of three reasons; financial, ethical, or moral. As the practice becomes more common, ethics and morals will change. I see that in a relatively short period of time the only people who wouldn't do this would be those who can't afford to, or those who don't for religious reasons. As time goes by, as with anything else, it will be less expensive to buy the technology. I hate to generalize here, but eventually it will get to the point that the people who can't afford to do so, will be the sub-par people. Meaning, those without the intellect or the drive to do well for themselves economically. Those will be our breeders. As time goes by, how long will it be before we as humans see that what we have created is better than what God did with us? How long until God becomes inferior and obsolete?
If you think the job market sucks now, think about what will happen when our "perfect" spouses assume a human life to enable a better, more authentic, connection with their spouse. Who would hire an inferior human when they have the ability to hire a "perfect" applicant?
When we have the means to create ourselves the perfect spouse, what about then creating the perfect child? Would it be considered immoral to create a robot that is the perfect 7 year old, which can just be turned off when you have to go to work? or programmed to not need a babysitter? Could you keep it 7years old forever? When you no longer want to be a parent can you just recycle it? What if we develop the technology to allow these "children" to grow chronologically? How long would it be until we have a robot race and no more, or very few, humans?
Taking that prior thought a little further. If we grow "perfect" children chronologically, and develop them to leave the nest and strike out on their own, give them a synthetic love, will they be required to tell future companions that they are not human? I'm, in a way, drawing a comparison to those who go through gender-reassignment and the debate of moral obligation(?) in telling future companions. Some think that morally that information should be shared. Some strongly disagree. (I very much see both sides of that debate..) But what if we're talking about not having to tell someone that you're a real person? Will we eventually get to the point when the concept of a "real person" is changed forever?
What happens when we become the endangered species? The Earth will become a happier, healthier place... I suppose it would be karma. With our technology, we have killed off so many species. It's a bitter funny, but our intellect might be the end of us.