The Digital Human, Digitisation of Humans or humanisation of machine are all projects adopted by large technology firms that seek to twin humans and machine by blending the biological and the digital systems, to be more precise, with Artificial Intelligence from one side and fitting machines with human features, on the other hand to reflect a phase that might overtake the smart machine phase which won’t only operate, at that day, by its independent digital system alone but it will also operate in biodigital twinning with humans.
Before we come to discuss some details of this twinning and its real-life examples, it is crucial to pay attention to the significance of this twinning and its consequences that determine our current and future digital orientations.
The term ‘digital human’ refers to human contact with the digital system, which contains, in some cases, the types of electronic systems and their different sizes that are related to computer systems and their smart algorithms which will be in their advanced stages represented by artificial intelligence which will reflect, at that time, what can be called the human digitalisation.
This will result in the highest utilisation of technology for the service of man even in his complicated biological makeup, I will provide examples of the same in the next paragraphs.
Regarding the humanisation of machine, machine here refers to the term artificial intelligence in general. Artificial intelligence means to equip the machine with human capabilities starting with the capacity to think, analyse, and move (automation) and ending with the machine possessing human feelings and this last goal actualises the required humanisation.
The current scientific advancement has overridden the science fiction phase in creating a realistic industry for the digitisation of humans and humanisation of machine. There are many forms that acquired their scientific nature which is based on the making and realisation of twinning.
Many models of twinning have turned into an undeniable reality some of which are known inside the scientific milieus as Human Immortality Project that attempts to design a digital copy of man through artificial intelligence and digital embodiment such as the metaverse technology that emulate the original biological copy of human beings in terms of speech, including the tone of the voice and the countenance, behaviour, thinking and so on.
This digital copy passes through a training period during which it receives the data of the biological human who is on the process of digital cloning.
This data comprises thoughts, information, way of talking, tone of the voice, important life details and everything else that can be considered as data possessed by that human being. Such a project, and other similar ones, which reflects man or machine twinning emerged from laboratories and became a reality even through with a limited spread thus far.
Up to present, many digital copies have emerged of international personalities proving that twinning is successful despite being incomplete in terms of the spiritual components which give the machine complete human nature. However, this enhances our confidence in science and its abilities when oriented towards realising human interests and enriching the human experience.
Hence, it’s interesting to see personalities putting their scientific and civilisational fingerprint, in case of sufficient data, even by digital being to complement the civilisational march reflecting an advantageous aspect of the digital human project and the humanisation of machine which assumes human role and personality.
Another project with the same scientific nature and more complicated expectations is the brain copying and downloading scientifically known as the Whole Brain Emulation. The project aims at completely copying the human brain and downloading it into a computer. The research is still underway due to the biological complexity of the brain and rigorous computational requirements.
The Human Immortality Project, what I like to call ‘digital human’, is not the only project that comes under the umbrella of twinning and adaptation between man and machine. There is the digital (computational) control of the human brain which functions by connecting microelectronic chips to the brain.
One of the most famous techniques is Elon Musk’s microchip designed by Neuralink, one of Musk’s firms. This technology uses a microchip equipped with complicated sensors that are connected to the human brain, the brain activities are then recorded and analysed by means of artificial intelligence to help humans reactivate impaired organs lost due to blindness or paralysis through digital orders received by the brain which resend them to non-functioning body organs.
The scientists in charge of the project carried out tests on animals some of which were successful and others were not but the results were generally encouraging. However, the technology was not given green light so far for official and expanded usage with humans.
Such a technology which focuses on harmony between machine (digital system and artificial intelligence) and man in such a manner as to present man as linked to a digital system that reflects the targeted image of the digital human.
Such examples related to projects that embrace the twining of man and machine are but a small part of bigger projects that multiplied in quality and quantity with the artificial intelligence revolution and its accelerated progress. Few years ago such projects were considered nothing but research inside narrow scientific labs and were waiting to come out into the wider real world.
One of the most interesting books that dealt with these technologies was authored by the American physicist Michio Kaku titled 'Physics of the future: How science will shape human destiny and our daily lives' by the year 2100.
When it was published in 2011 it was a forward-looking book that uncovers the upcoming scientific technologies and their applications that will impact our lives including those related to man-machine twinning.
At that time many of those projects were dealt with by scientists within the limits of the experiments with only few projects moved on to the practical phase. However it prompts us to feel the extent of the scientific advancement that reveals the depth of the human-machine relationship and the volume of their integration that reflects a bright face that reveals the importance of such changes in our life.
On the other side, it also exposes a dark side that worries the scientists and foreshadows a future that threatens the identity and stability of humans when they become a part and parcel of the digital system and when man becomes hostage to digital system and under the control and dominance of the machine which will, in turn, rise to the artificial human levels by means of the humanisation projects.
Muamar al Toobi
The writer is an Omani academic and researcher