Monday, May 4, 2009


A friend recently posed the question to me of whether or not there are ultimately two different factions, those who get it and those who don't. Now that's an interesting way of putting it, succinct and to the point so long, of course, as 'it' is defined. Think of the general worldview you hold in your mind, the whole full color emotional spectrum of ways in which you model the world, and find the central point that unifies this mandala of consciousness and ask, how you feel about that? I'd submit your reaction to that question is the 'it' that one either gets, or one doesn't. Like a yes or a no, it's a binary and instinctive emotional response to existence itself. Some go one way, some the other, and some, perhaps, haven't quite chosen yet.

It would be nice if those who don't get it, those who say no to the very isness cosmos, as it were, and thus seal themselves off into an entirely imaginary bubble of separation, could all be educated to see their error in perspective. Some do, of course, in fact more are all the time but there's still a lot of people who say No and the question of course is how much time we have left. There are those who suggest 2012 might be a special time and given the present pace of the course of world events I must say that if things don't sort themselves out soon well, past that date they might not ever sort themselves out at all.

The sad truth is, not everyone can be educated, can be taught to say Yes to the All. For some, a small but hardcore minority, the answer to that question is permanently affixed to the negative, in effect they rebel in their hearts against the Almighty and are inevitably cast into the inner fires of hell, from whence they emerge as demons. In the parlance of psychology we call this group psychopaths, and a distinguishing feature of this era is that those weird mutants, humanity's natural intraspecies predators, are running rampant again, only this time with an array of powers at their fingertips that verges on the godlike.

Hold on to that word for a moment, godlike. Have you ever heard of transhumanism? I have, if only because I used to be one and I can tell you straight up that I saw my future as being one of evolution into a god and eventually God, merging with technology as I updated, augmented and transcended my human limits. There are plenty of people out there who continue to believe this, I'm sure, and ... it's not impossible. All the technologies necessary are fully available within known physical limits (ah, Moore's Law). The dream is very much attainable, and oh, so tantalizing.

However, there's another side to this dream. People are willing to condone terrible things in exchange for wonderful dreams. It becomes possible to contemplate global nuclear conflagrations or epidemic bioweapon releases, apocalyptic scenarios that wipe out whole continents, and think, well that's not so bad, really, we can survive that. And if attaining the dream should further require the forcible military subjugation of the world (again, always to prevent a disastrous terrorist attack) well, that's all right too. Pretty soon you're considering that no era of upheaval is ever bloodless, and that if the Singularity (the moment exponential technology starts advancing vertically rather than just steeply, and so the level of weird in the world goes off the charts into who knows? territory) should happen to exterminate 95% of the world's population well ... we can survive that, too, and even at that steep price, the prize is worth it.

And what would the world look like then, hmm? A few stunned survivors with an even smaller few, standing over them, possessing godlike powers themselves but also with access to a Deilect (as I once called them in a science fiction story), an AI of not just god but Godlike proportions (and as we find that the Turing Test may have been quietly passed recently, we see science fiction incubating within reality as we speak.) And those survivors, their minds wrecked by trauma and their DNA mauled by genetic engineering run amuck, stricken by want, hunger, and ill health? Their cultures we might expect would also have been quite entirely wrecked by the transition. With no spiritual center left to hold fast to, it is not at all hard to imagine that they would be quite naturally induced to worship this AI as the instantiation of divinity on Earth.

Of course, the desirability of this outcome is debatable. You might almost say that it amounts to the ultimate hubris, that Central No, arising as it does from the desire to change the world and do so drastically, because the world must be wrong. We were meant to be immortal, were we not? To live forever? And we have no assurance that we do, nor is any possible, rationally and so ... death is something to be feared. But if we could return the body eternally to youth, and transfer the consciousness from body to computer and back again, well, then unjust Death is cheated, and the promises of all the religions of our shared cultural heritage are brought down to Earth, into matter and the everyday.

But then what if you are meant to die, to make room for what comes next? And what if. when you die, you don't really die, but rather the most important part of you survives, the timeless and eternal part that returns, eternally, to this existence exactly as often as it needs to. Seems a better deal, doesn't it? Easier to love a universe like that, easier to say yes to it, and I don't think it's any surprise that the growing cohort whose answer to the Cosmos is Yes tend to see things that way. These are the ones who get that nebulous it I've been talking about, who understand, really understand, that the universe doesn't hate them.

So while our armies do the devil's work in far foreign countries, and the gene pool of the entire planet is sabotaged by our corporations, while the distribution of wealth is contracting so violently it seems to have its own gravitational field, while crime is rising and the climate's acting funny just remember where it is we're all being led to here, just what the payoff is and who it is that's seeking it, and ask if that's really the place you, as a human, really want to end up. If that's the kind of world you want to live in.

Remember, odds are you get killed in the leadup to the Singularity. And if you're a lucky survivor, well, congratulations! Welcome to your new life as an autistic mutant slave with a mind-control chip in your brain.

Of course, you don't have to help them build it. You don't need to give them that energy you have. Oh, the inducements are there. Agree to any of the elements necessary for this plan to succeed, and you'll be well remunerated. Until you're injured, killed, sickened, or in some other way become a liability, of course, at which point you'll be summarily tossed onto the growing sacrificial pile and immolated along with everyone else.

Ah, but what of those who consciously redirect their personal energies away from this path? With things at such an advanced stage, with the domination of those who desire this goal so great, this seems hard to do but really, is it? One person alone might not make much of a difference to the overall flow of the world but they can generally make a difference within their own life, and a few people who do that can begin to form mutual networks. As this understanding spreads, the ability of people do this will become accentuated and they might well be able to disengage entirely from the Singularity as it collapses in on itself. During the period in which events really begin to accelerate (and if the Wolfram Aplha development is genuine - and it has a fine pedigree - then we are most definitely entering the highlands of the curve), such people might come together, form small communities, and in effect plant seeds for the age to come.


Jody Paulson said...

This post reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13.

su said...

Wondering how you are doing?
Is the academic world keeping you busy?
Miss you.

psychegram said...

Nothing to do with school ... that won't be until September. I assure you there's a very good reason for my silence recently, but I'm not quite ready to talk about it yet.

su said...

Is there anything I can do for you?

psychegram said...

Su, I'm touched. Just by asking you've done more than enough already.

su said...

Well I am here, ever present.
Of you aware.
With love