On a Train of Light to the Stars
By admin on Mar 1, 2011 | In Human Survival
by Michael Blade
The idea that consciousness can be understood, decanted and simulated, is key to the idea of a living thinking feeling mind consciously believing itself to be alive within a computer system, capable of just such a feat.
For if it is impossible to upload a mind and have ?it think therefore it is?, then the future of Transhumanism, as well as that of AI's with consciousness capable of exhibiting sentience, may be in jeopardy.
However the essence called consciousness is elusive, difficult to define and isolate, basically a mystery at this juncture in time. Consciousness is closely tied to perception, the senses through which a mind perceives another elusive concept, which we term reality.
Reality is nearly just as tricky when you throw in the observer, quantum theory, time and parallel universes. How you effect others who are conscious as well in, a possible shared reality, is unknown to me. Not only that, but what about the ideas of free will and determinism?
For a lay person like myself, it is hard to follow these theories, but I will push on through --getting back to my original point, reversing the logical premiss; If it ?is possible? to encapsulate consciousness within a machine, a mechanism designed and built by humans, then all sorts of things may become possible as a result.
I personally lean toward believing anything is feasibly or possible anyway, given some framework of structure in which to work and with some constraints.
Imagine if you will, the ability to upload with super high fidelity neuronal cognitive pathways and memories. Now ask yourself, what travels as fast as light? The simple answer to this is of course Light! So it would seem that if you become light itself, you can transmit to other stars at the very speed of light. Now the distance traveled is just a moment of conscious gap, like going to sleep on a train of light and waking up having arrived at your destination.
Your upload could be transmitted serially and redundantly to the stars to account for any errors in transmission . . . and then you could be instantiated inside a ?body", I use the term loosely, robot, simulation, vat grown biological clone, etc. Your consciousness will all your previous memories and it doesn't matter to you that another copy of you exists entirely in a different space and time. You are simply not the original you! Could you accept that?
So how do we get the receiving stations for you to transmission to out among the stars? Well, we send out "MicroStarships", light-sails attached to small self replicating nano-machines. When they get to the destination star systems, they build out receiver and replication-simulation facilities for your consciousness.
These nano-machine Microstarships would then spread out to other systems and eventually build a transportation network across the stars, then the whole galaxy. Time is not a problem, since we are digital humans now with completely control our consciousness, on-off, rate and fine grain precision. Since we are ageless as an upload, it takes a moment for the next star station to come online in our perception, sleeping thousands of light years in the naps between.
Million year projects are now possible and Posthumanity can never truly go extinct! However on an individual level, there is always a choice. Will we meet aliens among the stars? and Will they be digital like us? Would it be possible for us to mix our consciousness together with theirs? What would be the results? Interesting, I suspect.
It would also be possible to merge our ?human? minds together as well, thinking like collective group minds or even to augment our minds with artificial intelligence (probably something which we will do early on), generated artificial feelings, composites and adaptations of whole new constructed emotions . . . absurd you say, and why forever not? We would rise above the capabilities of limited or basic humans. Is this the god-like future of transhumanity? I would argue it is for some, if it can be imagined, it can eventually be accomplished.
I would argue that transhumanism is the beginnings of just such a journey in the technological self altering evolution of human kind. I believe that the ?how? of Transhumanism will happen in many different ways, resulting in many forms, and that the diversity of humanity is just about ready to happen. Transhumanity will explode outward to the stars, achieving our dreams of star travel and exploration of alien worlds. Consciousness is one of the keys to this technological-trend-and-movement and the sooner we understand it, the sooner more radical forms of Transhumanism can be pursued or at least thought about.
In my opinion Transhumanism will occur, like it or not, good or bad, so decide whether you want that first upgrade now. Some think there will be a war, which I'm hoping we will be able to avoid. It's been termed the "Artillect" war when AI's surpass natural human abilities in intelligence. But what happens if transhumans embrace intellectual-enhancement-augmentation first? Or at the same time? Will the war be averted? Or simply nullified?? And what happens to those who refuse their Transhuman upgrades? Will this improve things or make them much worse? Some how I think maybe both, as in the discovery of nuclear energy.
Can we even imagine what an advanced human life form would be like, biologic, cybernetic, purely digital, existing on multiple levels of being in multiple substrates? Or a global consciousness, a constructed mind for the planet, composed of technology and humans so interconnected, augmented with AI, that "it" achieves a new level of being, bodies cloned and when used up, discarded, grown again, modified, living forever. Reduced violence, shared goals, but at the cost of lost individuality?
Their are many present negatives which need correcting . . . War seems to be in our nature. We are unable to distribute the resources of the planet fairly. We have a population of 6.7 billion people, hopefully it will tapper off sooner rather than later. We have religions that distort minds for their own agendas. We have corporations which rape the planet and wage advertisement campaigns, greedy profit is their only goal. This is not good.
There is massive global climate change and some of us are still in denial of it. Our youth are not educated well, and not taught simply to respect others as in "The Golden Rule" in our schools.
We can destroy ourselves a number of various ways, pollution, plague, atomic war . . . I have to believe humanity is better than this!
Of course these are all negative aspects and there is a beauty to humans as well. I'm aware that we don't want to loose the good things about ourselves, empathy, compassion, fairness, altruism, curiosity, imagination, creativity, humor, to name a few.
You get the point, how do we keep the good, and potentially lesson, not eliminate, the darker sides of humanity. That is not to say I believe that anger, greed, selfishness have no value, but let us just say those qualities of ourselves can be destructive for the large good of all.
You might argue that we should not even try to improve humanity with technology, that is a mistake, leave it alone, you risk messing it up badly. Well yes there is a risk, there was a risk when we came out of the ocean unto land and developed lungs to breath and legs to walk. There was a risk when we came out of the trees into the grassy plains and developed tools to hunt and survive. This is part of our physical genetic, societal and technological evolution.
We must be careful not to loose our humanity in the process, but must also not be to fearful to take the chances, for that is part of what being human means as well.
The links below do not support my opinions above, but do lead to important other links on the concepts discussed, in no particular order.
and one fun video added in...
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