What is Psychesingularity?

As I mentioned in the introduction, Psyche is the greek god/word for the mind or soul. “Psychesingularity” therefore means the convergence of minds/souls into a singular entity. I argue in this blog that the most significant aspect of the technological singularity is the convergence of individual human identities into one, the formation of the superconsciousness of the human race. This is where my argument begins.

The human brain is composed of a bunch of neurons. The approximate number is irrelevent, as we can’t comprehend numbers that large anyway. These neurons, using  basic physical laws, send pulses of information to other neurons. I say pulses of information, but the pulses do not contain information so much as they are the information. In terms of computer science, a pulse can be considered “1” and the lack of a pulse “0”. a neuron responds to pulses based on the pattern they exhibit: a quick succession followed by slower pattern, or endless other possibilities.

Conscious experience emerges from these patterns. This is a fact which many cannot accept: instead consciousness, or the “soul” must be something more mysterious, more energy like, or more quantum. From what I have felt about consciousness, this is not the case. Consciousness to me seems to be an accumulation of experience and thoughts. the idea of the “self” is a thought which we carry with us almost constantly, except in rare transcendent moments.

In any case, all of these different experiences that we call consciousness can be boiled down to patterns of information. these patterns of information have become so complex that they process other patterns: our conscious mind is a small part of our brain collecting information from all other parts of the brain, processing it, and feeding information back. in a sense we are a small bit of brain matter which evolved in our species to perform the valuable task of monitoring the many separate systems in the increasingly large human brain. this small bit of processing power was so effective in it’s job and so good at processing information into symbols that it produced a symbol for itself, and began to “think” that it was not only the entire brain, but the entire body.

This sense of individuality is very strong in us, but we have nothing to prove it, nothing that separates the matter that composes our bodies and minds from “others.” As a result, many people over time have come to regard individuality and the self as illusory. While most would not go this far, the loss of individuality is considered the height of religious experience for many people (and the essence of psychedelic experience).

Projects are quickly developing to simulate the human brain. These ventures raise much skepticism in people who believe that we don’t understand the brain nearly as well as we think we do. Skepticism aside, in the near future an accurate brain simulation will exist and with enough tweaking and processing it will match humans in any task. Even before then our computers will outmatch us in individual tasks such as face and voice recognition, driving, organizing, and theorizing.

People are talking about using the upcoming technology of brain simulation to upload their mind. this process could involve the slow process of removing small systems of neurons, simulating them, and routing the output back to the brain. theoretically, no experience would change as the person slowly became a computer. The thing is, replacing your brain with a circuit board doesn’t make you a computer, it affirms what you’ve always been. The same process can (more easily) be applied to the human body, a gradual merger with technology starting with pacemakers and hearing aids and ending up as a robot.

We are struggling to grapple with consciousness and computers. When people debate about what is going on inside a computer, however, they do not use the word “conscious,” they use the word “intelligence,” a distinction which only serves to make us feel less creeped out about our computers. Back in the day, it was thought that when a computer could beat a man at chess, then it would be “intelligent”. when this did happen, we set new standards. one of these is the Turing test, wherein a computer holds a conversation (probably with text) with a person, and if after a certain time the person decides if the computer is human or machine. If it tricks the human, then it’s “intelligent”. The thing about this test is it’s time dependent. A computer could already fool me for a few seconds, but try a life time. Anyway, the point is that many people have trouble accepting that consciousness is a sliding scale, and some people will not accept that computers are conscious until they look in a mirror and see this staring back:

So, if you accept that you are indeed a robot and a computer, what does this mean for you and your psyche? Well, a robot can be mass produced, and computers have no identity. When all of your thought patterns can been reduced to information; transmitted, multiplied, lost, transformed, corrupted, and destroyed, what sense of “you” can be retained?

The singularity will expose our construction of our “selfs” as purely that: a construction, but that does not mean that the construction will therefore collapse, that we will cease to exist; it merely means we will regard ourselves quite differently.

If a neuron sends information based on a set of information it receives, how are we different than neurons? We as a human species constitute a brain, a superconsciousness which will erupt with the technological singularity. through technology and our mastery of information we will experience others’ experiences in completely real ways. Just as a small part of our brain read information from the larger brain and body and believed it was the brain and body, we will experience other’s information so directly (even their thoughts) that we will think we are them. Everyone will think they are everyone else, and so we will be one. This is precisely what is meant by “psychesingularity”.

-Prometheus

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About Prometheus

I write about the coming technological singularity and its implications for our sense of identity, individuality, meaning, and existence. I argue that the most significant aspect of the singularity is the convergence of our consciousnesses into one superconsciousness, and that we should be very happy about this.

Posted on April 27, 2011, in Consciousness, Existence, Technological Singularity, Values and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. You got it! First i agree, secondly psychedelics “affected my thinking” as well. =-)

    Check out my stuff on LifeOS. I don’t mention psychedelics in it at all, but there wouldn’t have been a book without them.

    Reading more of your stuff. Keep up the good work!

  2. Beautifully written. Love the topic you have touched. We seem to think so much alike . I think you should read this write up of mine – http://eenheidd.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/2012-the-end-or-begining/

  3. I like the idea of superconsciousness but I also like the idea of retaining a sense of self with some privacy – perhaps with advanced technological substrates we will be able to create havens where one can escape to if they so wish.

    I wasnt quite sure about the idea of one small part of the brain receiving information from all other parts and having the sense it was the mind and body. Though I am not a biologist I would have thought that all parts of the body interact with each other to produce sensation.

    Cool article anyway!

  4. Hi Prometheus and thanks for your comment on my blog today.
    I have been thinking of one issue in this topic for a while and wonder what you views could be. Let’s say we can upload the complete information that is our brain, our self, on a computer substrate. Or that we can coexist on such a substrate, in a computer environment. Whatever. The question is, once we’re not limited by the boundaries of one single brain, what will then be the boundaries of one individual? Or would the boundaries we irrelevant?
    And as follow-up questions: Could we imagine that the boundaries could be increased arbitrarily? To a kind of super individuals (imagine a world with individuals of all different sizes, like the ecosystem today, from bacteria to humans)? And in that case, is it possible that there’s a most efficient size of the total information of an individual and that larger individuals collapse in their function in certain areas, maybe by statistical laws? I think you get my point.
    Mats

    • Thanks for dropping by!
      yeah, I think it’s somewhat fair to say boundaries will be irrelevant. It’s kind of like how when we drive our car that car becomes our body in a sense, we accommodate our conception of our physical space. the same idea will be more real when we can use brain chips to directly control technology. if we could drive a car just by thinking we would pretty much think we are the car (though we would probably understand by these implications that we don’t really have a firm physical existence). I suppose we could be somewhat infinitely scalable.

      as for efficient sizes for total information, I don’t really know if there is some theoretical maximum efficient way to pack information densely into matter, and I don’t know much about statistics. it’s an interesting question, a bit beyond where I am right now.

  5. Nice topic! I love the idea of uploading the mind into a computer, and it could be the key to immortality.
    The hot question is whether “mind/consciousness/soul” is *physical* or is rather separate from matter.However, if consciousness is an emergent property of interacting neurons (as you wrote and I agree), then I do believe you can have the same in an artificial brain with interacting elements! Thrilling 🙂

  6. Very interesting subject matter. I will need to absorb this and think (on my own ;)) and read some more of your thoughts.

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