Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bananas . . . In Space

Are you ready for bananas? I said, are you ready for bananas?! The Singularity. In a book I’m reading called The Singularity is Near, I’m discovering a topic that has kept my eyes open and staring long after I’ve turned out the lights for bed, a topic that is being taken seriously by some seriously rich people (e.g., the U.S. government, via its proxy the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the billionaire co-founders of Google and PayPal).

The Singularity theorizes the next phase in human evolution as a technological one, where nanotechnology (molecular machines) will seamlessly integrate with human biology, ending illness, aging, and even death. The implications of such a thing are forehead-smackingly profound. Not only will people be able to shed their mortal . . . obligations, such as eating, sleeping, jump kicking, and pooping, but technology could eliminate the need for our very eyes. Sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, sensation, could become unrecognizable as we understand it and a universe of perception that humanity cannot even begin to conceive of yet could flower for our transcendental insight.

The whole theory is grounded in the advent of artificial intelligence (predicted by some around mid-century and something that Google appears to be silently working on as the rumored “Google Brain”), whose process computation, which exceeds what the limited connections human neurons are capable of by trillions of times, will be complemented by reason. If AIs don’t go terminator on us, we’ll need them to “think” through the potential dangers of nanotech, such as the immediate cancer that nano particles have caused in lab animals. At best, we’ll integrate our biology with the AIs’ exponentially advancing technology and impress human intelligence at a molecular level to all matter and energy until it permeates the entire universe. Biological humanity will be over and we and/or our progeny will reign as a new and immortal . . . entity, moving freely throughout the universe and eventually between theorized multi-dimensions to escape even the eventual end of the universe. Fascinating. I’m simplifying, of course, and the worst case (barring annihilation by a superior intelligence or the self-replicating “grey goo” of nanobots sliming over all matter on Earth and beyond) is based on our current model of society: the rich have and the poor have not. If the Singularity is inaccessible to regular folk, there will be a small class of immortal gods and then the rest of us mortal apes who won’t have a hope in the world of understanding them before we die out, but I suppose humans will, at least, have realized their egomaniacal dream of ubiquity and as a species, we will have survived. I’m banking on people being less douchy after achieving enlightenment.

All this may sound wildly spacey but that’s ‘cause you’re probably looking at the future from a linear perspective, based on what may be perceived as slow progression. But from a logarithmic view, a sight my brain is almost completely blind to, humanity’s current technological pace has been exponential as it nears the event horizon where advancement will have accelerated with such momentum and autonomy that we won’t even be controlling it any longer. Whether the timeframe author Ray Kurzweil has predicted is accurate or not (he expects to be living for another 1000 years or so (he also intends to resurrect his dead father based on the information stored in the author’s DNA, the information stored in his own brain, as well as the information stored in a garage full of his father’s personal possessions (and yes, he nearly lost a little credibility for me with his weird daddy issues))), this is the future of humanity, should we live long enough to see it happen.

I haven’t quite figured out the implications of what consequence distributed and immortal intelligences will be for what I’ve come to consider plausible reincarnation, but I’m thinking on it.

In closing, I recognize that I sound like a space cadet and would like to point out that crazy people do not realize that they are out of touch, so I’m good. Anyway, it beats the shit out of television.


Thought on it, and if I hadn’t already lost you, here’s where I likely will. After describing the topic of The Singularity is Near to a coworker, he slowly walked away in deep thought only to slowly return hours later with that same far-away look. The very basic question he presented was one I had considered as well but without a need for accountability (and for fear of a brain vessel popping in my head) had conveniently put it aside: With an unfathomable amount of habitable planets in the universe, wouldn’t a civilization have already reached a singularity of its own? Yes, and this is where that line of thinking awakened me this morning. If a civilization in this long history of the universe had reached ubiquitous and (excuse the seeming redundancy) universal intelligence, it seems to me that we, their probable direct or indirect creation, would be encoded with the DNA potential of unlocking the pearly gates of their perfection and joining them in omniscience. Still, I haven’t factored in reincarnation because while it seems related, I don’t know how it fits. Perhaps the proverbial soul is simply that permeating intelligence that our Singularity is pulling toward and reincarnation is a mere willingness to rejoin the flesh for the very Buddhist-Bodhisattva purpose of helping others reach Nirvana. It’s all connected, people.

Second-to-lastly, I assure you that my recent completion of the series Battlestar Galactica is entirely coincidental to this techno-mysticism I’ve clearly become interested in.

Lastly, I wonder if you made it through this entire post.

For reals lastly, here’s the Wiki article on nanotechnology if you’re interested and here’s the New York Times piece that first introduced me to the subject of the Singularity. It’s long but it’s a good read.


Josh said...

Is it telling that the first thing I thought on reading this was the Caprica Series on the ScyFy Network?

Because thats what happens there essentially. Also, cylons bro.

thats it.

Julie Buz. said...



I'd really like to watch Battlestar Galactica now.

C. Andres Alderete said...

Sigh. We're not talking about Battlestar Galactica, people.

Pearl said...

I find it frightening, myself. I enjoy jump kicking and pooping. The idea that I could be GUIDED -- well, I've fought that my whole life.


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