(Published in Asian Connections, Feb 15, 2013)
Ever wondered why we wonder? It’s one of those things in the evolution equation that’s pushed us as far as we’ve come. It’s what separates us from lions and sharks. It’s what makes us the greatest species on this planet – the fact that we wonder.
Pushing aside the maddeningly fast decrease of IQ in modern first-world countries today, even the basic things we do every day holds the magnificent evolution we’ve gone through together. You wake up to the sound of your alarm clock: ever wondered what makes it ring? How many wires and circuits are in it? How batteries make it tick? How that little blinking number display maps the course of time itself? Of course, you can find all the answers in a single Google session, but that’s not my point – it’s the fact that we even ask these questions that has made us what we are. And Google! Google is the largest search engine in the digital interface. Wrap your head around those words for a sec: Search engine. Digital. Interface. Internet.
Wrapped? Good. Now think about how we discovered fire and carved tools out of rock. If your head doesn’t hurt while comprehending the vastness of our development, either you’re Ender Wiggin or you can’t read. We’ve come from the first spear to the first nanobot through the ages, and how? Because we think. Not because of electricity; not physics, not God, not hunger, not the fundamental laws of the universe – it’s that slimy ball of grey stuff in our skulls.
I’ve been reading up on possible predictions made for the near – and far – future. Apparently, at some point, we’ll be able to harness antimatter energy, giving us a propulsion system that can reach, and maybe surpass the speed of light. Can you comprehend that right now? In fact, given Einstein’s and Hawking’s laws, it shouldn’t even be possible with our current understanding of physics. Keyword: current.
That was just an example of what we can achieve if we keep thinking – and we will. Our great grandchildren will know things at the age of eight which would take us weeks to learn in high school today. That’s the speed of thought; that’s the power of your noggin. Granted, most people don’t use it today anyway, but – let’s avoid that for now.
But think about this: how far, and how long, can we keep thinking? For how many more millenniums will be develop? Is there a limit somewhere, a limit to how advanced we can possibly be? Is Moore’s Law really legit? I, for one, don’t believe that we’ll advance to a point where we can’t continue any further. Hypothetically, if humans could keep building on their knowledge for thousands, perhaps millions of years, we’d probably be unraveling the mind of God by 200,000 AD. That’s just an estimated guess; it’s how far, in my opinion, we can go with innovation. The next frontier after science could be the possibility of God; it’s just my guess, calm yourselves, atheists.
But let’s say we get there. Let’s say we get so advanced that we can do anything our concept of “God” can do. Let’s say we answer every single question we’ve asked about the universe since the beginning of time; then what? What’s the next frontier, after God? The multiverse? Perhaps. Whatever it is, it remains to be said whether we should go into it, if we could. When you start to think about it, how much can we possibly advance before we – I dunno – get bored of it? If we achieve Godlike status in the multiverse, what if we’re satisfied? Satisfaction is the end of creativity. And since creative thinking fuels innovation, fuels our species’ constant existence even today – perhaps satisfaction could be our death warrant. Perhaps we’d just stop evolving if we reached a pinnacle – maybe we would just remain, a stagnant, unchanging species, too powerful to die out, too knowledgeable to have curiosity. If that’s the case, then our own tool of evolution – our thinking – could be our demise. Ever heard the phrase “you’re thinking too much”? Yeah. So have I.