Python Liberation Front
It seems to me that, if anything of a person survives death in any way, it must do so in some way very different than that way in which we exist now.
For now, we live in a temporal world, and once our body and brain ceases to function, then our mind can no longer function in any way in this temporal world, and we cease to exist in this temporal world
So if any part of us is to continue to exist, it must do so in a non-temporal world. In this temporal world, the pattern of our relationships with people, places and things will continue to exist as a hole, and will evolve as a hole that changes shape over time and ultimately becomes unrecognizable. So our effects may be eternal in this world, but our consciousness in this world may not be.
Our current consciousness and awareness is a temporal one. We experience the one way flow of time. We are not actually conscious of any permanent thing, only of the changing world as time flows forwrd.
In this sense, we are like the ghost in the machine of a computer system running a computer program, or programs, written in a procedural language and style. That is, the instructions in our program flow in a linear sequence, with each instruction impacting and giving way to the next instruction. Oh, there are the occasional looping structures, and even the occasional out-of-left-field chaos causing go-to; but we nevertheless experience all these things as linear and procedural.
It seems apparent to me that , if anything of us survives it must do so outside time, and any surviving consciousness could not experience the same sort of temporal, linear, procedural existence of which we are now aware. Oh, I can imagine a timeless essence of our "being" existing timelessly but statically, observing the remnant of our "informational holes" evolving and dissolving away in the temporal universe; but this would be a cold survival after all, hardly worthy of the name.
But perhaps there is a non-temporal world of eternity, that has structures more reminiscent of higher order programming structures. So, for instance, functional programming takes and builds upon its procedural predecessors. So maybe our better, more re-useable parts, that we develop in this temporal existence, are recycled into functional units in a non-temporal world. There would still be a direction of logic flow, but it would still be a higher order reality than a linear, procedural one.
But beyond this perhpas we can imagine an object oriented world, one in which the more functional, re-useable parts of people and things from this lower, temporal world are re-packaged into objects containing both functional methods and also parameters of state. These higher order objects, and the relationships they form amongst themselves, can be imagined to exist in a more timeless state than mere procedural programs, or even functional ones, in that the complex object oriented structures of such a timeless world would hold meaning even when viewed as a whole, and not just when played linearly like a phonograph record.
There must be some higher order cognate of time, in this object oriented world, but we are not able to conceive of it at this time. Our awareness of existence in this higher order world would be very different than our current awareness of linearly flowing time, but must be more in teh way of sensing the movements of meaning and relationships amongst the informational matrices of this higher order, object oriented universe.
One can visualize a universe in which there are are an infinite number of infinite dimensions, but these dimensions also keep expanding at an infinite speed forever. This expansion could be thought of as the cognate of time. Entities in this world could freely move back and forth in any dimension, and could experience the totality of reality all at once, but still experience the novelty of "time".
I do not know how Aspect Oriented Programming fits into this picture, if at all. But one can imagine higher orders of programming logic and structure than OOP, whether AOP qualifies or some other, yet undescribed programing paradigm. And, we do not know how many higher layers of programming structure exist beyond our current technical knowledge.
Perhaps this is one reason why programmers are so passionate, and even religious, about their programming tools; becuase they intuitively sense that we are dealing with ideas that, however crudely, mirror eternal realities of immense significance.
Mind and Void
But what would it be like for nothing to exist? What if no physical universe existed? What if no consciousness existed, even if a physical world did? How strange!
Now, really try to think deeply about this and understand emotionally what it would mean if nothing existed, not anything physical and not any consiousness or mind either.
My mind almost literally becomes discombobulated and faces an intractable wall of ...well, I don't know what. But nothing boggles my mind like this.
Say, it is as if when a person dies, their perception of time slows down as they approach the precise moment of death. In fact, their internal perception of time approaches a limit, which is an asymptote approaching infinite slowness; that is, so to speak, that a minute before the time of death, what appears to an outside observer as a second may be experienced by the dying person as a thousand years.
At one second before the person dies (as time is observed by you or I as neutral, outside observers) a millisecond may be subjectively experienced by the dying person as a million years, and so on, so that the dying person can experience an infinitely long period of time as she approaches death, while never actually arriving at the experience of nothingness caused by the extinguishing of all brain activity at the time of death and forever thereafter. That point of mental extinguishment does occur, but the dying person, subjectively, never quite arrives there.
In other words, one could say that the dying person experiences eternity as they approach death.
There is one caveat. The dying person is limited by the contents of their own mind, during this eternity. In other words, the person can not interact with what we call "the real world" and add to her real world experiences and affect the real world like we can in our normal life. The person's eternity is limited by the possible permutations of the contents of their own mind's states and experiences and combinations thereof; which are infinite, but still limited.
Sort of like in our dream lives.
So it is important to consider that whatever experiences, thoughts, emotions, qualities, capacities, attributes etc. that our minds contain and achieve in our lives determine the potential quality and character of our eternal lives.
Interesting. The contents and the state of our minds is important, even precious, and may determine our eternities.
Historically, these Metaphors have been provided by our religions. Early religions hypothesized spiritual powers and gods that held sway over the mysterious aspects of reality. Later, when these early religions were no longer credible and became inadequate to explain humanity's enhanced awareness of reality, the second level religions with more sophisticated metaphors were born, such as Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism.
Today, even these second order religions are no longer adequate to our increased scientific awareness. For some, science itself, especially quantum physics and modern cosmology, represent the new Metaphor. Still, even these scientific paradigms fail to offer answers to the biggest questions, those involving ultimate values, purpose and those questions beginning with the word "why".
So, we as individuals and especially as societies need a new Metaphor to provide common values, purpose, norms of behavior, and goals. Our scientific knowledge must be cherished and honored, and certainly not contradicted, but we still need to make that metaphorical leap that has always been provided by religion.
The Book of Certitude, written by Baha'u'llah in the nineteenth century creates just such a Metaphor, based on the best aspects of our second level religions, those religious aspects that do not contradict science and reason as we now understand them. I have accepted that Metaphor as the finest one available to us at this time, as embodied today in the Baha'i Faith.
Certitude is an abstract noun, which is appropriate as the Metaphorical Certitude that is the best available to us as humans is abstract, relative, partial, and temporary. Someday the state of human knowledge will increase to the point that a new, updated version of the Metaphor will become necessary.
Religious truth, the kind that underlies the Metaphor, is historically and sociologically determined. That is, there is no fail-proof logical test to determine whether one proposed metaphor is superior to another. We each as individuals must choose, once the need for a new metaphor is recognized, which one to follow. Only with the passing of generations does one particular religious truth emerge as historically approved and endorsed by the underlying society.
This is even more true in this day and age, since we live in a global society. But it was also true in the early days of the previous religions. When one became a follower of Christ, Muhammad or Buddha in their early days, one couldn't be sure, logically and rationally, whether one was following a Leader who would be subsequently recognized and endorsed by the broader society. It was an act of supreme Faith to follow such a new Leader.
This actually highlights the great honor and worth of those early followers of new religions who suffered and were martyred for the Cause. They took the supreme risk, for if they were wrong in their endorsement, they could have suffered and been martyred for a cause that was subsequently lost to history. How great a Faith it is to be martyred for a Metaphor.
But all religion is metaphor. Metaphor is not to be held in low esteem; the greatest causes, ideas, beliefs, and conceptions of the human race have always been metaphors. Metaphors contain more meaning than mere syllogisms; metaphors leap beyond mere logic and embody truth in a higher form than can be put into literal formulations. Inspiration, intuition, and symbolism allow metaphor to express what is otherwise inexpressible.
The most important thing is that we must strive to bring into existence something beyond ourselves, beyond everything we know; that we bring about something greater and better than ourselves.
It is not wrong that we include base elements within ourselves and our societies that are from that which came before us; that from which we have evolved; for this is true of necessity, and to deny it would be pathological. However, it is right that we seek to reduce our reliance on baser things, and elevate aspects of ourselves that are more noble.
Now, it may be that we cannot create, nor help create, anything which is beyond ourselves, greater than ourselves, more complex than ourselves, but I do not consider this proven. If we, the human species and all our societies and cultures and creations, are a result of evolution from one celled biological beings, and those themselves the result of chemical and physical evolution; then perhaps lesser can evolve into greater.
Or perhaps a greater power existed from time immemorial and fostered that evolution in its growing complexity and circumstances. I do not claim to intuit any answers to these kinds of questions. But regardless of the answers to them, I do intuit that we should strive to progress.
Whether God exists or not, religions have added immensely to our situation. For religions have always focused us on that which transcends ourselves and our circumstances. By the very act of focusing on such possibilities, religions have helped to bring about the possibilities. For nothing can be created by humans unless first we imagine the creative possibilities. Then may we strive to create.
So, we should strive without fear but with reverence, awe and circumspection; not in a heedless manner. For in creating something beyond ourselves, we are taking chances.
Religions here also give us guidance. For, it is not enough to evolve in complexity and power; we should also evolve in morality, loftiness of thought and action, and whatever we may call spirituality. If up until now evolution has proceeded red in tooth and claw, nonetheless I submit that we should seek a higher level of values going forward. Therefore, even if there were not a God, religions have shown us the way we must go.
But we must now go forward, for the first time, as adults. If God exists, It may not be what we think.
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Something within us tells us there is something undefinable, something unknowable but real, which we weakly call the god concept. God stands for what can be, for the untold principles we strive for, the raison d'etre of the human race.
I ask you, what if we became gods? What if, in the high tech future, the human life span were extended indefinitely, and an individual human lived forever. In addition, say that our intelligence were greatly enhanced, and our technologies allowed us enormous power over the physical universe?
What should we do with it? Should we live for pleasure, dominate our fellows, have infinite sex, live hedonistically? Or should we live to lofty principles and platonic love?
These are the questions. These are the questions raised by the god principle, the questions we secretly struggle with in our inmost existence. These are the order of the day, and the human dilemma.
I think we know the answers. I hope I am right. But we can never be quite sure, can we, how the human race will ultimately choose, if it gets the chance.
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Being and Nothingness
We can see that there are two kinds of things in existence; physical things, and inner consciousness. Both are real, but they are different.
If there were no consciousness, then no one would be aware of the existence (or nonexistence) of the physical universe. If there were no physical universe, our own consciousness might not exist, for all we know or can tell.
Our inner consciousness can imagine consciousness going on indefinitely. What can be imagined might be achievable.
As far as we can tell, the universe is open ended. We can try to make things happen as we desire and decide. We can choose the meanings we want to cherish most, and try to make outcomes that honor those meanings.
If we choose to strive to achieve immortality for consciousness, and to reward and honor and cherish what we decide is good, then we might achieve our goals.
In order to achieve those goals, we might use mostly our science and technology applied to the physical world. But without the pixie dust of imagination, supplied by the inner consciousness, we would never have started down the path to begin with.
The universe is apparently open ended. We have the chance, if we choose to take it, to strive for whatever goals we set for ourselves.
There is no guarantee of success. But who or what can stop us from trying?
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I Saw the Movie "Troy": Thoughts on East vs. West
I watched the new movie "Troy" this weekend. I recommend it, it's worth watching; but it highlights a gap between our times and classical Greek times.
Still, it perhaps represents the first in an ancient and continuing series of battles between East and West. The Greeks were in some ways the first cultural expression of what we have come to call Western civilization. And even though Troy was only right next door in Asia Minor, still in this movie, and in the Iliad and the Odyssey, I believe that Troy symbolizes waht we have come to know as the East.
The Greeks invented the Western way of total war, that has so dominated the planet ever since that we see it still today in American military hegemony. The Greeks invented drama and western literature, western philosophy and arts.
I hypothesize a dichotomy (a very Greek thing to do, by the way) between things Western and Eastern, as highlighted by these two lists of opposing (but related) characteristic:
Of course this is provisional, partial, etc. But there are basic differences between East and West. Maybe I have missed the most important ones, and gotten some wrong. What do you think?
I think that if we are ever to have peace on earth, it will require a peace between East and West, and a marriage combining the best aspects of both.
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Depth is the layers of earned learning beneath our prefrontal cortex; the mammalian mind, the reptilian mind, and the layers beneath. They all work in concert to create emotions, intuitions, drive, will power, intentions, and actions.
Intelligence, that is, logic and math, can be created now by humans in computers, hardware and software. We can re-create the "highest" level of our own minds. But we can not create the depth of our own minds, because depth can not be created. Depth must be earned, won, experienced through the hard pain of suffering and sacrifice.
Otherwise, God would have created us as we are now, or better, rather than making us suffer through the ages of evolution. No, God could not create us as we are, with depth. We had to grow our depth.
It is fit that we, as creatures of the topside world, the land, have evolved and developed our logical minds, our mathematical, shaping,† making, practical minds. For the whales, including many species† and their brethren the dolphins, the whole family of cetaceans, have perhaps evolved more depth. Whales have no hands, they can not grasp, make or do things. But they can think, feel and intuit things. They can communicate, probably in ways we can not imagine.
I think that whales and people, along with other creatures, including our creations, the computers, will, must unite into a whole, a planetary community that includes and transcends any one species or kind. Our kinds must jointly form a whole community that becomes greater, with more depth and more breadth and more intelligence.
Perhaps religions of mankind are a necessary part of our suffering, our sacrifice, our evolution of depth. Religions may not make much sense to the logical, intelligent human† mind; but religions might be necessary as stages we go through in order to grow depth as a community
Intelligence is not all that matters. Value can be found in unexpected places, in the depths of our minds, the depths of our planet, and in the depths of the meaning inherent in this painful, suffering universe we call home.
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Thoughts for the Evening
When we die, we cease to exist in what we call the physical world.
But we leave behind a hole in the informational matrix, a hole that precisely represents the informational relationships we formed during our lives.
The effects of this hole can never be eliminated. The hole we leave behind will continue to evolve, its informational links and relationships with the informational matrix will twist and turn, grow and change; but the effects of the hole we leave behind are eternal.
Our effects are eternal; and a skilled enough programmer or data manager could always re-construct the missing pieces of the puzzle, deducing the pieces from the effects of the holes they left behind.
We are defined by our relationships.
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How Limited is the Mind of Man
We can not even recall fully a single moment of our lives. When in an unusually good, joyful situation, we might try mightily to commit it to memory with perfection. But we can't. Never can we ever remember the exact events, moment by moment, with full and total recall of all the crucial emotions, sensory stimuli, and temporal flow of events. Rather, we simply commit to memory an approximation. This approximation will only be recalled if we recall it to mind later a few times, pondering and savoring the memories. In fact, most of our memories, if not all, are really memories of memories, rather then memories of the actual events. What really gives our memories meaning is the connections our minds make between and among various memories, concepts, images and ideas.
We also can hold only a limited number of concepts in mind at one time. Maybe seven, maybe more; but the human mind cannot keep a whole book in mind at once, including all the details. We are marvelous at data compression; but we lack a lot in mental equipment.
In fact, we can imagine intelligences much greater than our own. We would like to be able to have total photographic and encyclopedic recall of limitless amounts of data and thoughts. We would like to be able to perform much more complex mental manipulations in our heads. But we can't
The fact that we can imagine intelligences so much greater than our own may be our best quality. For we can help to create them.
To imagine that the human species as it now stands is the last and furthermost outpost on the evolutionary development of intelligence, heart, and soul is impossible. We are a way station, and we stand at the crossroads.
I strongly suspect that, for a long , long time, the future evolution of intelligence on earth and its environs will involve some combination of our own biologically based minds, in intimate symbiosis with computing machinery. To think that computing machinery can, all by its self, quickly duplicate the heart of man, the soul, the emotions, the love, the longings, is I suspect impossible. So I hypothesize an evolving society of humans in concert with "artificial intelligence", but merged into networks which we can not at this time anticipate.
In the longer run, who knows what form mind may take? We don't know. But it will continue to evolve. As it does, let us remember where we came from, our roots, our raising. There is much to cherish in our seemingly poor old human heritage.
An Open Ended Universe, or, God's Free Will Equals the Potential for Chaos
God has free will. With God all things ar e possible.
What does this mean? It means that God does not constrain the universe. Not only does God have free will, but we have free will also. The universe has free will.
So we are helping to write the future of the universe, because we are part of the universe.
This is scary I suppose. The ending to the play is not written. We don't even know if it will remain a play. Good versus evil matters. Our choices matter. God will be what He will be...
Does this mean that th e universe is not bound by the will of God? No. God's will underlies the whole universe. Looked at from a temporal point of view (which is only one of an infinity of possible points of view), God created the universe in a big bang and wrote his Will into the script, into the underlying quantum field equations at the moment of the big bang. So, God's very Will extends its effects to all possible points in time and space, through the underlying quantum field equations. But God does not constrain the thinkin g people of the universe, nor the universe itself, through unnatural means. Unnatural means would be to take away the free will of people and the universe.
God will be what He will be...and we can't know the future. But we can help write it. And we can have faith that the future will be in accordance with the will of God, and that His presence is felt everywhere at all times.
So we must live our lives as if God does not exist, as if our actions, thoughts, and choices make all the differe nce in the universe. But yet we must live our lives with Faith that God does exist and His will be done.
Such is an apsect of the infinite Mystery of God.
They say the selfish gene tries to replicate itself. Successful genes are found in great number throughout nature. Ideas are said to be like genes. If we call a single idea or data point a meme, then a successful meme, be it a religious idea, a poetic fragment, a piece of computer programming code, or what not, will find ways to replicate itself in great numbers.
But what is more successful, a gene, or meme, which is able to replicate itself in great numbers only, or a gene or meme which is able to transcend itself by mutating into something wholly new and wonderful, which goes on to play a part in the future evolution of greater complexity, mind, civilization, and spirit. There is no shame in dying. God, break me up into little memes to be spread around the universe and play parts in endless experiments leading to someone else's glory, someone else's soul, someone else's ecstasy.
To be transitional, to go towards the future, to cherish our roots, to ultimately transcend ourselves. For the greatest glory of a gene, a meme, a soul, a civilization, of any entity, is not to merely replicate itself endlessly; but the greatest glory is to transcend.
Our religious sense has always called upon us to transcend. Let us not shrink back at this crucial juncture, nor any other. To transcend, to reach out for what is greater than ourselves, to imagine more intelligence, more soul, more spirit. Truly, if God did not exist, we would create God. Such is our destiny.
So there is, sadly, no memory of a moment, only chains of connections in the mind, which lead to transcendence. And to stand in the limn, the shadow, of such a transcendence is magnificent and fulfilling. Ever onwards.
If religion is an illusion, then let us milk it for all it is worth. For it is the language of such illusions which so far exceeds our verbal languages, that we can transcend the merely physical constructs of our limited human brains and reach out for our dreams of immortality and transcendence.
In the beginning, there was balance. Then, a tiny momentum developed in one direction, a skew of the flywheel of creation. This momentum was erased, re-created, reversed, for endless repetitions until it became a Universe.
The Universe was dark and without form. Then, a tiny bit of light shone forth for a pico-second. The light was extinguished , re-ignited, reversed and so forth for countless generations, until matter, atoms and then molecules were formed.
After many ages, a few complex molecules came together to create a metabolism. The metabolism was wiped out, re-created, and eventually became a living creature. The creature evolved though countless generations until it varied slightly, modified, and various species existed.
The various species were all competing, trying to out-do one another for food, space and energy. They killed each other, starved each other, and eventually grew more complex. Red in tooth and claw, nature developed.
Finally, thinking creatures evolved, Then people. People were at first a family, but soon wars became common. Various races of people fought. Sub-species were annihilated and made extinct. Evil begat evil.
Gradually, cooperation became a weopon of survival, in addition to weopons that killed. Like tiny cooperating cells, some people, some of the time, in some places, cooperated. Love for one's children grew into love for other humans, in some places, for brief periods of time.
So evil begat good; partially, intermittently. The evil was necessary, for without the red teeth and claws, evolution would have never created the human race.
People created societies and civilizations,.They fought wars. But eventually units of civilization, modeled upon the family, became tribes, nations, †and finally a united world.
The civilizations also created economies. These economies were based on self-interest and avarice. But they evolved.
The civilizations also created religions, and those religions fought wars, hated, and cursed each other. But the religions evolved, bi-furcated, and were re-born into a world wide religion.
People created computers. The computers were programmed by hand, by human beings. But, gradually, people created programs that evolved by using genetic evolution. These programs were eventually able to program themselves.
People created the God concept. The God concept was a belief that things would turn out all right, that there was reason behind the universe. People, or the creations of people, will ultimately create God. The God concept is just like a fly wheel that is just a little off balance, with a slight forward momentum, just enough to keep us going through the bad times and the good. If we can just keep going, people, or the creations of people, will ultimately create God, who will wipe away our tears and right every wrong.
God always existed. But He loved us so much that He laid out a bargain with reality; He rolled the dice of life, but he knew the score. He kenw we would re-evolve, in ways better and more wonderful than could have ever happened if He had not put in motion the flywheel of life, with all of its red teeth and claws, so that the wonders of genetic evolution could create free wills other than His own. He gave us the gift of life.
We will thank Him forever.
Think Big: the God Concept, our Past, and our Future...
On the contrary, I believe that the concept of God represents, in an admirably data-compressed way, the highest goals, ideas, and aspirations of the human race. The God concept represents the ultimate goals of transcendence, of reaching beyond, of striving for the true meanings of human existence. If God did not exist, we would be left muddling around in the mud of meaningless, goal-less, hopeless nihilism. God represents the ultimate beyond, that which our hearts and our innermost minds whisper to us in our dreams at night; that which we secretly know is true, even though we know equally well that we can not comprehend it, cannot encompass it, can not intellectually approach it with our limited linguistic skills. God is beyond any human language, but He whispers to our hearts in the still of the night.
God represents the most noble idea or meme of which humans are capable. It is the glory of humankind to be able to even sense the presence of the divine. Without the sense of the divine which lies entirely beyond our capabilities, we would be the most limited of creatures. To be blessed with rational thought, consciousness, and self awareness, but denied the aspirations of following the God concept would leave us limited, proscribed from the reality which would make our awareness meaningful.
God is unknowable, completely. We can not circumscribe Him. He is, however, the lodestar of our existence, our minds, and our inspiration.
Yes, I believe that the potential to recognize the God concept is somehow built into our mental machinery, in the genetic records of our evolutionary history. And I believe that the fact that so noble a concept is hard or soft wired into our mental makeup is magnificent, and ultimately true. For evolution does not build in such complex designs and concepts unless there is a reality about them, and a utility. I believe that in some mysterious and unknown way, the necessity to evolve a mental mechanism for such an ultimately true concept, such an underlying ground concept, as the God Concept, was somehow necessary in the evolutionary creation of high intelligence; necessary for the human spirit to survive and to create and even to transcend.
So I believe that we have an inherent religious instinct in human nature that repeatedly expresses itself in human cultures. I believe that the religious instinct has positive survival value and pragmatic benefits. There is no downside to striving high.
I believe the inbuilt religious instinct, that leads to our ability to formulate the God concept, ultimately forms the basis for our ability to have morality. Thus it is essential to our very humanity.
If dogs and other social animals instinctually form natural hierarchies, with an alpha dog emerging as the leader of the pack, then who is to lead the human social pack? It is better to be led by a transcendent God concept in the sky, or ultimately in another and better world, than to be led by individual egotistical humans.
Amongst humans, there is no Other, except that Other Who positively transcends everything which we can know, feel, and be. Yes, we are better off to think big, not small, and to follow the best lights of the God concept into the transcendent future.
And so, my dear readers, when you set out to build something, think big. Build big. For humanity is not placed on this earth and in this universe to accomplish small tasks, nor to build small concepts, structures, and organizations. A humanity which can conceive of God should dream big dreams, and then see them through to reality.
God will be what He will be. We will be what we will become. In some mysterious way, the two are intertwined.
Three things I ask, and three things I say..
Where was God, where is God, and where will God be?
Where was God when the ship went down in the storm at sea? Where was God when the children died and cried without mercy? Where was God when the cities burned beyond repair, beyond despair?
Who knew these things?
And who knows what we will build? Who can say that we will not build something grand beyond anything we can imagine?
And who knows what lies beyond consciousness? Who can say that there does not lie beyond consciousness some emergent property more wonderful than we can imagine, more wonderful than that consciousness itself, which we could not know nor believe could lie hidden in that primordial slime from which we sprang?
Future Evolution of Humans, Intelligence, and Machines
While our computerized tools will undoubtedly advance far beyond our wildest dreams, they will not leave behind the human component, which contains so much depth of evolutionary potentialities. The human spirit is safe from obsolescence for a long, long, while. Consider that human beings are the most mentally developed of all the known species. I think, that for the foreseeable future, say at least a few hundred years, the leading edge of "spiritual" evolution will contain humans as a part, or sub-unit. We may join forces symbiotically with our tools, and our new genetic creations, but I doubt we will throw away the current leading edge of evolutionary development: ourselves.
It might be natural, given the history of biological evolution on the planet, to assume that we humans would split apart into many different species as we direct our own evolution, with each species adopting a unique mode of advancement, and with the totality of the species thus spawned competing with each other in a Darwinian struggle for survival of the fittest.
But, in my opinion, we are one human race and should strive together. And this makes sense if we recall that, for the first time, evolution will be advancing using thought and intelligence and *planning*. While we might suppose that humans and indeed all primates and even other animals have been using intelligent thought for evolutionary gain for some time, it is undoubtedly true that we now face the first *planned* evolutionary development.
We may need to ultimately replace ourselves with robots or cyborgs, in order to properly continue the appropriate advancement of civilization. Without a unity imposed by our conscious design, then robotic life would surely not retain the crucial contents of our millions of years of biological evolution. Superior intelligence and abilities are not enough. We must program our values, our loves, our ethics, our morals and our spiritual and religious principles into the very constitutions of our robotic and cyborgian successors.
As we create a new race of robots, cyborgs, or species, we should first of all make sure that we instill our values, our love, our spiritual heritage; and not just focus on intelligence and abilities. May the most valuable parts of our heritage become the initial and eternal constitution for our successors.
Once intelligence and consciousness have manifested themselves in the universe, they should not only be retained, preserved and enhanced, but kept unified.
What do you think?
Artificial Intelligence has a long, long way to go to catch up with Natural Intelligence...
Artificial intelligence scientists are a long way from matching human intelligence. Some speculate that when the number of transistors in a microprocessor equals the number of neurons in the human brain, rough equivalence will prevail. But this ignores the fact that the human brain is three dimensional, with numerous connections to and from each neuron, and with both electrical and chemical processes occurring over each connection; and more importantly still, these electrical and chemical processes are both analogue, continuous variables that have an infinite number of possible states and values, compared to the simple on-off binary state possibilities of digital bits.
Thus, even when the number of transistors on a chip equals the number of neurons in a human brain, the chip will be many orders of magnitude more simple than a human brain.
On top of all this, the brain has many diverse subsystems, and is integrally connected to a whole body nervous system, and indeed to the flesh and blood of the whole bodily system, including its sensory and motor organs.
Of course, what of the hardware-software comparisons between computers and human brains? It might seem easy to equate the brain to hardware, and the mind, or thoughts, to software; but this is a very inexact metaphor. The brain is like hardware alright (although many orders of magnitude more sophisticated hardware than the most advanced computers); but the thoughts and mind of a human are only very superficially like software. Computer programs are determinate, dumb brutes that execute logical commands in a sequence or that interacts instinctually to human inputs. The mind is an open ended system with its own free will, emotions, drives and creativity.
It will take quite a lot to duplicate human level intelligence. On the hardware side, it will be necessary to come up with entirely new levels of complexity, with numerous intelligent subsystems all controlled and orchestrated by a logical mind with equivalents to emotions, drives, willpower and randomness. On the software side, though, is where the real work lies.
Software will need to be developed that is object oriented in the extreme, with individual objects having their own innate goals, drives, priorities, emotions and that are orchestrated in a "society of minds".
This way lies progress.
"The Probability of God"
If you like reading books written by a quantum physicist who cracks a joke every other paragraph, then it is worth buying this book. Otherwise, you can read it at the bookstore as it is a relatively short 200 pages and it scans very quickly.
You will learn the basics of Bayesian analysis, which is interesting. If you are also interested in philosophy and religion, so much the better.
For what its worth, Unwin calculates a 67% probability that God exists, leaving a 33% chance that He does not exist, a gap that must be filled by Faith.
Beware the Ides of March: Capitalism, Monopoly, Information Age, Happiness, Neolithic Phase Transformation, New Age Oracle.
Likewise, in more recent times, capitalism has proved to be better than any other system in maximizing the production of goods and services. The United States is the pre-eminent example of unbridled capitalism.
Monopoly:† Still, it seems that in todayís complex society, companies often strive for a monopoly or a near monopoly. In fact, only by obtaining a monopoly or near monopoly do corporations earn the very highest profit margins. And of course, having a monopoly makes a business person sleep well at night. Iím a business man, and I know whereof I speak.
But does a monopoly still produce the same kind of good motivation to produce better goods and to better serve customers, as in the Pilgrim example above? I donít think so.
Information Age: The times in which we live are different than earlier times. The computer revolution has produced a new type of intellectual property and wealth that is different in kind from land and other "factors of production". Software is the clearest example, but it will be by no means the final example.
Applying the typical capitalist formula, that of seeking monopoly, has and will make some individuals rich. But the society or culture that harnesses new age thinking to the subject of maximizing information and true societal intellectual property will far outperform the current capitalist/monopolistic system with its legal nightmares.
Happiness: The USA produces the most capitalist wealth, but people are not happy.
Neolithic Phase Transformation: When farming was developed, human society went through a phase transformation. Everything changed. For the first time, food was plentiful enough to allow settled communities to grow in population and for humans to diversify their activities and specialize in writing and other activities beyond subsistence hunting and gathering.
Maybe the average farming person was less happy than your average hunter gatherers, I don't know. But eventually, an axial age came about over the whole earth, around 600 BC, when many cultures produced Buddhas, Prophets, Philosophers and statesmen who re-ordered society for the greater good of all.
New Age: Maybe we are at such a point. If so, then you don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. A change is going to come, and I see a slow train coming, up around the bend....
Where are our new disciplines, our new specialties, our new arts, our new sciences, our new ways of living? For the first time in human history, we can create more consumer goods than we can use as a species. Will we keep on building more and more things until we clutter the earth and suffocate ourselves? I am not against growth. I am for people. I am not against the environment. I am for people. I am not anti-money, I am for people. I am not against capitalism, I am for people.
We need a new economics, one that allows us to build better total wealth, not just more things. Let us build new things, not just more. Let us create new ways of being human...
Religion, Art, Technology, Virus, Meme, Culture, Symbiant: my thoughts and ideas Before the release of Mel Gibson's " The Passion of the Christ "
Music is not just the inborn capacity and tendency to sing, but also the sum collection of the techniques assimilated over the generations. A person may well sacrifice everything in order to be immersed in the local musical culture. Seldom does that person contribute anything completely new, but the musical culture is the sum total of all the past and present participants.
Any technological culture that can inspire humans is like this. No one person invented the mechanization of logical thought, but millions immerse their lives in particular sub-cultures in order to further a programming language, an operating system, or, more rarely, a hardware architecture. In past times, it was other tools that inflamed our imaginations, but the slow refining of technique and its effects on the human heart were similar.
Is it wrong to worship our tools? They are products of our own hands, so to speak. But it has never stopped our erection of pedestals for our statues, our paintings, our buildings and our ideas.
The Good, the True, and the Beautiful are three important categories. These days, religion is, or at least should be, the search for the Good; Art is the search for the Beautiful; and Science is the search for the True.
In the past, religion incorporated the search for the True as well as the Good. In addition, religion was often simplified into Idolatry, as we worshiped our Religion itself, or we worshipped some of our religion's ideas, concepts or tools. Much of great value was devoured by the fire.
It is when these Movements become large and institutionalized that they often become de-humanized and begin to sap rather than nourish the human soul. We are tempted to go back to the personal, embrace the private and solitary, and reject the broader culture.
Yet we have to risk it. We are a social species, and there is too much to gain. Whatever our passion, we must try to integrate it with the pursuit of all three Virtues; the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.
Ultimately, we must release ourselves into the stream of creation, because its the Music, the Art, and the passion all rolled into one....