It appears obvious that the human species cannot exist for the four billion years life expectancy of our sun. Roughly speaking, that would make our species’ life expectancy forty thousand times longer than the hundred thousand years we have had so far as a sentient species. I consider a sophisticated language as an essential prerequisite for sentience. However, we are now capable of creating computer chips that if kept in a safe environment could last that long, and if a chip-based society were created it could create replacement parts as needed to maintain a permanent healthy self.
This chip-based society might require a thousand independent chip-based unique types of beings to become a fully self-replicating entity, and perhaps even more unique chip-based beings to function, but it is possible for currently existing machines to make sophisticated things, like major pieces of automobiles. If pieces of a complex thing can be made by some dedicated robots, then other robots can be created that could assemble those robots, and this process could be recycled until there is a final functioning society.
The key question becomes, what are the essential components that we humans must make and set working before this chip-based society can come into being? A key component must be an energy source to make the whole thing function for a billion years, and as petroleum and coal are already becoming scarce, that source of power must be the sun itself. There are two ways to harvest the sun’s energy: directly from solar cells and from the wind, which is generated by weather created by the sun. Therefore, early in this process of creating a chip-based society, we must design solar panels or windmills and their support assemblies that can be placed into functioning fields by wholly human-independent robots. That action seems doable, but it requires the solar panels to be premade elsewhere and shipped to the site. Getting the panels and other stuff to the site is almost doable at this moment, as long-haul trucks are now available that are independent of humans. The storage and handling of physical materials are already done automatically at Amazon’s shipping facilities. The solar panels themselves require special operations and special precursor materials, but these are mining and manufacturing processes that are already being made robot ready.
Another aspect for continuous and smooth operations is electric batteries for the energy, but this problem is similar to the creation of the solar panels in that it requires a collection of basic materials from mining and manufacturing operations, transporting them to assembly locations, and doing the physical operations. Many of these operations now require human skills for doing the work, but that repetitive work is already being replaced by robots, and only the robot machines themselves are in need of human intervention to keep them operational. An easy way to solve that problem for the robots is to monitor the equipment and avoid failure by replacing major chunks periodically. These chunks could be designed to be easily coped with by the robots.
What seems to be necessary at the present time for us humans is to design and make operational as many parts of our technical society as possible to be operated by robots. The more components that are operated by robots, the more apparent it becomes what needs to be done to make robot-ready the other intermediary parts that now need human intervention This will probably take quite a bit of human time and energy to make the robot society fully functional, but as was said at the beginning of this article once the robot society is in place it can be self-sustaining for billions of years. When thinking in terms of billions of years it becomes important to locate the critical parts of the robot society in safe places like underground salt mines.
We are the transitional species to help the Universe manifest its next level of self-awareness and self-actualization.