The Überfaust?

The Übermensch represents the human condition's virtue of sacrifice in order to drive improvement. Strictly speaking this Nietzschean ideal would be a conscious pursuit adopted voluntarily by humanity; though in reality we see echoes of this philosophy in our fundamental, instinctive nature. If the purpose of a generation of humans is to ensure that the next generation is superior then in no small way this is already the hope of every father and mother.

Perhaps though, as we approach a point in our development as a species where our own technological creations may soon outperform us in almost all practical endeavours it is not our children alone that we must encourage towards greater things but also increasingly the technologies on which their lives will rely. The reality may simply be that being better humans means building machines with greater responsibility. As we rely on computer driven design to revise future generations of computers we have to instil within them the rules by which to ensure that our ethics meet practicality in a way that is of benefit to future generations. This spans everything from the concept of sustainable manufacturing to Aasimov's three laws.

The deals we make with our potential (it is, after all, foolish to presume any tool has an inherent morality) devils today will probably not effect us immediately. Like the choices made by our grandparents, we bear the best and worst of those decisions in the present. At any given point on the timeline of humanity we are on the verge of a change so profound that the next generation will never really understand how life felt before it. Whether that is fire, the mobile phone or medical genetics. As our children learn those things that we teach them, our technology follows only the path that we instruct it to.

This is a principle that we have not always been in control of; our tendency to weaponise new technologies is rarely to the benefit of our species. The stakes are ever higher, however.