I looked at the Dawn of Singularity by Ray Kurzweil, basically a timeline of intelligence evolution, ours and robots. Ours as well since the assumption is that we will be able to increase our intelligence by complementing it with a symbiotic artificial one.
There are several predictions that makes me, and probably many others, uneasy. But the one that stroke me most is something that will happen around 2033:
Mind uploading becomes successful and perfected and humans become software based
The uploading of a mind is unsettling, but if I think about it I see this already happening. I uploaded to Amazon all my digital photos (and as soon as I will find time I will also convert into digital my old paper photos and will upload them too) and some are so old that when I go back I actually rediscover myself and the emotions (revisited) that I felt long time ago.
I remember a few years ago a start up provided a way to voice-annotate photos. You could look at a photo on your computer, click on a point, a face, a dog, an object, an associate to it a voice comment, a music, whatever. That would be an effective way of uploading (part of) a mind. Then consider Facebooks, blogs, tweets... A good portion of our "mind" is already uploaded to the web.
Clearly, Ray's prediction goes a few step further. A real upload of all our "mind" that in turn would seem to be possible to download (although he is not claiming that explicitly) may be in a brand new brain.
However, as much as the uploading upsetting, the idea that in some twenty years time (that's not too many years away, if I am lucky I could even be able to see this) humans will be "software based" is scaring to me.
I have already many devices around me that are software based and although they run very well most of the time it would make me uneasy to know that my heart beats are software based... Will I get an ads prompting the download of a new more effective version of the software making my heart beat? Will my friends see that unfortunately there was a bug in the new version but a patch is now available, too bad for those who downloaded the bugged version?
On the other hand I am already handing my life to the airplane software that is "flying" me around the world. So it is probably just a cultural resistance. May be my heart will be able to run better, and longer, if it were software controlled. May be drugs in the future will actually be apps that could be downloaded to increase, momentarily, performances or sensations... Will cocaine become obsolete by software?
Dark shadows are looming ahead.