New applications of biotech, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) mean that our hybrid humanity is about to expand exponentially in a way that is already changing what it means to be human. Today’s technologists are focused hard on simplifying human-machine interfaces – different types of “dashboards” which use our five human senses and recognize human gestures so that our humanity interacts seamlessly with AI of various kinds. These interfaces will increasingly be embedded in our bodies and minds as new levels of interactivity with technology, which will inevitably change the experience of being human and the power of humanity, continue to emerge.
The principle of humanity must, therefore, keep pace with the ethical evolution of humanity (the species) and needs to expand its purpose and behaviour towards non-human life. This currently includes all animal and vegetative life. But, in future, it is increasingly also likely to include non-human machines like robots and AI which may develop their own levels of consciousness, feelings and rights as they increasingly merge with humanity – the species and its ethics – in hybrid forms. Here time is pressing. We may have little time to work out what it means to apply humane behaviour within non-human machines and towards non-human machines.