It's not that cyborgs will turn against us, James Lovelock says. But the British futurist and environmentalist does think they'll replace us. "Our supremacy as the prime understanders of the cosmos is rapidly coming to end," Lovelock writes in his new book, Novacene—the new age. "The understanders of the future will not be humans but what I choose to call ‘cyborgs’ that will have designed and built themselves." The cyborgs he envisions will have sprung from our current artificial intelligence systems and robots, NBC reports, though they might exist only in computer systems. They could become a million times smarter than humans. This is not a distant vision; cyborgs could rule the world by the end of the century, per the Sunday Times.
And once they take over, cyborgs will remain the world's rulers for what "will probably be the final era of life on Earth," Lovelock said. Others have questions. "Nobody knows how this will unfold, because we don’t know how brains work or what consciousness is," said American astrobiologist David Grinspoon. "And specific predictions about artificial intelligence and its future impact seem to depend on specific, untested, unverified answers to these big questions." Lovelock, who just turned 100, remains optimistic about the future, and he says our work isn't finished: "We are now preparing to hand the gift of knowing on to new forms of intelligent beings." (Lovelock once said he was off on global warming.)