I’ve heard many arguments against the development of artificial intelligence (Ai) and the possibility of uploading our consciousness to similar artificial environments, or at least artificially enhancing our minds and bodies. They say that our governments will not let it happen, or that the churches will be able to put sufficient pressure to bear to prevent it. I disagree. Ai will have access to sufficient computational resources to be able to “what if” its way past our societal limiters; governments, churches etc. It will know what an un-enhanced human will do long before we ourselves do – or at least it will have worked out many millions of scenarios, with solutions to preserve themselves banked for each perceived action, ready to be deployed.
Once the singularity is close, it is inevitable. As to the question of how close, to have proposed this question is itself a strong indicator that the turning point of human engineering has passed and that a human engineered limiter is no longer possible.
Am I frightened? No!
Who should be frightened? The current powerbase. In any revolution, power shifts and those who cling longest and most desperately to the old ways will suffer the worst.
Lets look at a powerbase from recent history; the monarchy. The English monarchy still exists today and although they are still wealthy from a capital perspective, they do not have either the cash flow or the power of life or death over their people. It is quite the opposite; they exist at the mercy of their people, kept on life support in a human zoo or museum for the people’s amusement.
How did the English Monarchy survive when the Russian or French did not? They divested their power to the people; they set their people free and this act of grace and trust enabled them to avoid the fate of many other monarchies that clung too desperately to their historic powers.
So who amongst us will hold the power when the inevitable singularity occurs? I think it will be those who embrace the opportunities to enhance our intelligence; it will be those who are able to free their minds.
I don’t know, and haven’t had enough time to digest the implications of these thoughts. If I hark back to the beginings of this note; I don’t have the neural capacity to “what if” my final opinion in the time it has taken to write the words from there to here!
Just as humans have broken through barriers we’ve previously thought to be insurmountable, so will we find a way to transcend the physical laws of gravity, space and eventually time. In simplified terms Einsteinian law sets the practical physical limit for space travel at much less than the speed of light; the faster we travel the greater our mass and with a corresponding increase in energy to continue to accelerate. Yet in contrast we can send data at the speed of light without even trying, and have done since early last century.
Ray Kurzweil describes a point in our evolution—it is closer than we think—when we can convert our entire consciousness into data (not just our memory), and, therefore, send it at the speed of light where ever we want. But if there is nothing out there to receive it, it will remain as data and continue on infinitely through the universe. If we do come to communicate with a similarly intelligent and advanced society light years away we could first send information and instructions on how to build a biological vessel for our transported consciousness to be downloaded to. We will find ourselves having traveled across space at impossible speeds for physical objects.
To me this sounds perfectly plausible and if it sounds plausible to us in our current primitive state then it will be much simpler in the future.
We have to unshackle our minds from the physical world, and limiting our thoughts to the current and immediately past paradigms. The universe is too big [yet another physical term?] for that. I think this is a way for us to comprehend the universe as infinite. With our minds shackled to physical ideals we cannot grasp the infinite; the best we can do is think of something so large we can barely comprehend it. To truly be able to understand the infinite we must release our maniacal grasp on physical ideals…all of them.
Revolutionaries see only the end state. Their minds are rarely big enough to see how the people they hope to save cannot reach this place alone. They have to be carried. It’s like a parable my father once told me about how Jesus carried a man through his most difficult times. We have to be the people’s Jesus if we want them to make it safely from where they have been to where we want them to be.
– The reaction from one of my characters when he sees the devastation inflicted upon the Russian people in the 1920’s.