There is no a priori reason why a human being should not combine
the qualities, say, of Einstein, Shakespeare, Mozart, Darwin, J.M.W. Turner,
a nuthatch and a pocket calculator. Indeed, there is no a priori reason
why such a paragon should not be considered ordinary.
The computer is the bridge that will carry man on his journey from
animal to god.
The orbital station was a tropical ocean, a cylindrical
ocean 50 kilometres long and 10 kilometres in diameter. Above me I could
see clouds and water hanging upside down, with the occasional island and
school of whales. It was not the scale that was impressive but the ecology.
My guide/guides demonstrated the nanocoral reefs (it was hard to tell
who or what was currently using the body beside me; in the museum it had
been a whole AI collective, in the shuttle a series of interested people
had taken turns speaking to me through the same mouth). Apparently the
reefs were not just living cybernetic organisms, but home to a digital
ecology of advanced alife occasionally inventing new physical species.
Despite my earlier experiences I was surprised when the reef cyberecology
itself addressed me through the guide. Just one more surprise of the solar
Sol is the most alien system in known space.
The population is around 26 billion corporeal humans, and an estimated 47 billion infomorphs of human level or beyond. There are millions of cultures, many incomprehensible for non-augmented humans. Several species of artificial intelligences exist, both physically and digitally. Many humans have wildly altered bodies or switch bodies freely. Almost everybody and everything is linked into the Net, which likely involves wormhole transmission and ultra-advanced AI. Information, skills, experiences and personalities can be freely up- and downloaded. Intelligence amplification and nanotechnology are commonplace.
Mars and Venus are being terraformed, mostly as eco-esthetic art. The Earth has largely been abandoned as a nature preserve, surrounded by a latticework of megascale constructions. Most physical people live in orbiting habitats in the inner solar system, forming the "Cocoon", with dense communities surrounding Jupiter, the asteroid belt and certain places in the Oort cloud.
The joint New America Ė Arcadia expedition (as well as later Nova and Atlantis expeditions) to Sol failed because the solarians had no need or interest in the colonies. They also donít want to lure more colonists to the solar system, since it would destroy the only thing the colonists have that is worth anything, their originality. Visitors are treated well, but gently guided away.