I talked to Erin about Valentin, but she didn’t seem really interested. We all know there are cases of regression; these abnormalities are common knowledge today, although they’ve occurred to a certain degree since the beginning of humanity. They seem to be quite exponential, too: The more evolved we are, the more we regress to a primitive state. Going back to the source, it’s called. It’s an inborn condition that consists in having a more primitive state of mental evolution. Intellect is rather a continuum, the product of many factors which could be summarized in the environment plus genetic predisposition; therefore there are many degrees of regression, and, as long as it doesn’t affect the individual’s ability to live, we avoid psychotropic treatment. Society-wise this process is undesirable, of course, but eugenics draws the line at it because we simply don’t know enough about it to consider it a useless atavism to be genetically uprooted.
Intellects have evolved exponentially and quite homogeneously in the period known as the intellectual leap: from the beginning of the twenty-third century until the end of the thirtieth century. Today, our intellects differ significantly from those of people from before the leap. The assimilation of computers in intellectual processes led us towards highly analytical thinking. Data can be easily called to mind, but interpretation remains human. Cognitive philosophy became extremely important to fully comprehend our new role in the world. Our physicality became almost irrelevant to society, but our minds took on new relevance. There was a long period of uncertainty because we understood that the same potential for evolution and construction could easily turn into devolution and destruction. The philosophical battle between existentialism, nihilism and relativism was gruesome, but it gave birth to a universal morality which was necessary to get out of the standstill society had fallen into by the middle of the twenty-second century. By the beginning of the twenty-third century, the global society had reached a consensus on good and evil, as well as on the requirements for a paradigm shift. Ethics became a fully-fledged science. Since then, the paradigm has been revised several times, but pragmatic ethics has enjoyed global consensus, the same as the theories of evolution and relativity since they were born. Society had come up with undebunkable universals, from which the fabric of reality started to be woven.
I must also clarify our current concept of society, because I’ve been using this term negligently, without accounting for a possible misunderstanding. Since universal morality took hold, society is equivalent to the individual. We allow for exceptions, but there is a standard for the sound evolution of the mind and a happy life. The current consensus is that regression is not a healthy variety, but a deviation that needs to be addressed. But, even if we wanted to, our state-of-the-art gene therapy can’t prevent regression since the advances in neuroscience and psychology still haven’t pinpointed the genetic components of regression. There’s not one single gene for regression, but its matrix differs from patient to patient. Basically, regression is just an umbrella term for “failed intellectual development,” which is common at the current intellectual level. Therefore, the current practice is to treat it as a variety, the same we treat homosexuality, that is, simply allowing it to exist. This is because, when there’s uncertainty about the course of action, we apply an old method: The benefit of the doubt. That is, we allow for something that’s seemingly wrong just in case it’s the next step in our evolutionary state or in case it might give us the key to it. In practice, this means that regression is not treated at all, but it’s allowed to unfold or be cured naturally. Eighty percent of patients just snap out of it and go back to a normal state after some months or maybe years, and the rest of them lead lives of variable seclusion for their own benefit because they can’t properly adapt to society.
However, the standard for defining the common good is merely mathematical. Most of us develop without regressions, but if in the future, people started to regress more frequently, then regression would become the standard and it would be deemed good for society. The common good nowadays does not mean an ideal system to be applied and followed; it simply means the good of the majority. Also, regression patients aren’t forced to comply with their isolation. Some of them have a very active social life, but due to the laws of positive discrimination, on certain occasions, they need to make sure that other people know about their condition to avoid misunderstandings. There is a specific list of rules of interaction for them, which is too long to enlist here, but, for instance, they don’t qualify to use the meeting app and if they want to apply for a job, their condition comes to light. Generally, a simple label -Regression- on their social media profile does the trick. They are also given compulsory psychiatric help to check their progress and learn about them and their condition. For most of them, it’s just a hiccup in their lives, which goes on normally otherwise. A little isolation always helps them recover faster and fit into society again.
Erin didn’t talk to Valentin, so I understand she isn’t interested. I can’t properly convey to her the sensations I had while talking to him. She’s rather interested in knowing why I’m so interested, but she wouldn’t give it a second thought if I stopped talking about it. I’m not an authority in any area, which is irrelevant, because I could access any relevant information in a matter of milliseconds and add it organically to my words. But I’m writing a novel here, so I’m trying to dispense with Cyber help and only talk about things I’m well acquainted with. Nowadays, however, we’re not so naive; we all know everything there is to know about the world, and new information is constantly uploaded and sorted on the net to which we’re connected all the time. There’s no misinformation because our algorithms don’t allow for it. Everything is extrapolated a trillion times with previous information before it enters the net. Doing otherwise would be very detrimental to intellectual development.
Let me give you a glimpse of where biomechatronics stands nowadays and the evolution of superintelligence. It’s important to better explain regression. Cyborgs are a mere science-fictional construct; they never happened in reality, because the technological level never caught up with the human level of injudiciousness. By the time cyborgs were technically possible, humanity knew better. Electronic prostheses are used in medicine, but there aren’t electronic human enhancements, except for cyber memory, which I’ll comment on later. No one wants to add artificiality to their biological bodies. We’ve learned that nature is inimitable. Everything we do to replace it will fall short. We’ve learned to naturally unlock the power of the brain, but we’ve also learned that intelligence is just a tool for happiness, so we must respect nature’s pace. Our bodies and minds evolve simultaneously, and we can’t rush the process. There’s no way of guessing where exactly nature is heading, so if we rush it, we may end up in a dead-end alley, basically extinguishing humanity.
This doesn’t mean we don’t make good use of electromechanics. We’re surrounded by all kinds of microscopical devices and nanorobots. We’ve harnessed nature, but we’ve given free rein to the only wild card in nature: our brains. Furthermore, we’ve managed to control every single factor in nature; even extraterrestrial factors, such as meteors, viruses and bacteria. Solar flares, global warming and glacial ages, tectonic movements, volcanoes and every single possible threat to humanity are under control. I’ll talk more about it in a chapter dedicated to the reasons behind the colonization of Mars, which started already in your age and was successful by the end of the twenty-second century. It was later recolonized, but more of it later.
Artificial intelligence goes hand in hand with natural intelligence. However, the trend towards humanization of machines simply stopped, because humanity just took a huge leap forward and robotics couldn’t catch on. Machines excel at calculation and precision, and humans at decision-making, so the division of labor was simply adopted here. Trying to imitate humanity is not banned, of course, but it’s relegated to the arts because the attempts to create androids with human mental capacities are merely futile. Nanotechnology simply took the lead in human enhancement, and we’ve become the best versions of ourselves. The accent is put on the evolution of our minds, however, and not on commercial purposes. Therefore, no monstrosities were performed in pursuit of science. The aesthetic value of biodiversity was at last taken to heart, so people wouldn’t give up their natural beauty; the beauty with which nature had endowed them and which made them unique.
Aging and the accumulation of cellular damage have also been reversed. Body rejuvenation has surpassed the longevity escape velocity, which means that life expectancy has dramatically increased. We could basically live forever, were it not for the brain, which is hardwired into mortality. In practice, this means that today, we have one-hundred-and-forty-year-old people who look like thirty-year-olds, dying from strokes. Brain damage is almost exclusively the only kind of death we have. Men tend to die younger, around a hundred and thirty on average, while the average lifespan of a woman is one hundred and fifty years. The second kind of death is euthanasia, that is, suicide due to psychic apathy to life. We have some immortals, though. The oldest person on Earth is currently a two-hundred-and-ten-year-old man. People are labeled immortals after passing the threshold of one hundred eighty years. They make up two percent of the global population, and they are an inspiration to others. However, no one can tell for sure what we live for and what’s the ultimate end of life, and that’s why regression is such a fascinating phenomenon to me because I believe it allows us to see into our future through our past.