The OnLine — Off-life Future of the Human Species
Majid Ali, M.D.
An Article of Dr. Ali’s OnLine–Off-Life Series
What is the future of humankind? If we can avoid a nuclear winter, that is. My most vexing image raised by the question is: Will humans be online and “off-life”?
My father was a session judge in Pakistan – equivalent of a superior court judge in the United States. As a young boy, I spent extended hours in his company. I loved to hear him talk and talk he did. I knew then that he also liked to hear me talk – and God knows I loved to talk. I do not recall any time that we simply sat or walked together in silence for more than some minutes. So we got along fabulously – and still do, twenty-five years or so after he passed.
think d Hten-year-old Pakistinian boy in 1950 have imagined such a happening? How could that boy have imagined this scene: a man in his fifties and his ten-year-old son sitting across a restaurant table and be completely online and off-life for 72 minutes without speaking a word, without making an eye contact. This is what I saw in a New York restaurantt in the fall of 2014.
The question for me is not that the online existence will give people complete control on their bio-data, moment to moment. The real question is: What will people do with data. Wrist bands monitoring all aspects life were not hard to imagine in years past. Now in 2014, they are real. Anybody with sufficient money can but them.
As a pathology resident in 1968, I became fond of suffix “oid,” as lymphoid for lymph-like, carcinoid for cancer-like, myeloid for marrow-like, and nevoid for nevus-like. The suffix was convenient for my professors who seemed comfortable in hiding their discomfort with reality in their pathology work. I recognized this and soon started using it as it was my own invention.
That pathology lingo returns to me as I reflect on what the future seems to hold for online humans. Might they become humanoids living their online lives off-life? Might they some day see images of our contemporary lives as of historical interest—aliens from the past to use a contemporary word? In museums without nostalgia or emotions?
Link for a related article about bedtime technology