Category Archives: Consciousness
For your consideration, should you have 20 minutes to spare to think about consciousness and the singularity: Reality 3.0
I’ll summarize for the lazier readers: Paul Hughes is making an argument that our accelerating intelligence and technology will bring us to significantly altered states of reality. all sensory information is an interpretation of the external world, so altering that interpretation wouldn’t really be departing from reality, it would be simply changing reality, the way that things are experienced. As we are now our interpretation of the universe is very limited, but in the future, Hughes argues, our sensors will be distributed across the universe, we will be able to chose how we feel the information from these sense organs, and we will not be limited to the 5 or so senses we have now.
One cool thing the author mentions is that we will likely have the computational power to simulate the earth in its entirety, including all of us and our brains, by 2060 (assuming Moore’s law holds steady which some might say is not the case). Hughes muses that we will quickly create a simulated star wars galaxy which we can enter and explore, an exciting proposition and only a small part of what is possible with that kind of computational capability.
My favorite part of the essay:
Imagine the possibility of having ‘sexual’ and fully orgasmic experiences while our external exploratory probes map the unique topography of a new planet? I can’t think of a better way to discover the unique nuances of a new geology as one would a new lover.
And honestly I agree. what we could have ahead of us is nothing less than ecstatic, orgasmic exploration of the universe, for billions and billions of years. This is of course a ridiculous idea, many might laugh at the proposition, but I really think it’s going to be a lot less fun sitting back on earth making fun of the universe for having sex with itself than joining in the fun.
I was reading an old article in Time magazine about the singularity and the author made the bold claim that the singularity is the biggest transition in human history since the invention of language. I thought this was kind of a funny thing to say, especially since language has no real beginning point, all life communicates (and I’m sure similar sliding scale arguments can be applied to the singularity).
So, what transition is as big a deal as the singularity? industrialism? agriculture? no, nothing that small. The singularity is a broader event even than human history. it belongs perhaps to a higher class of transitions, such as the transition from simple to complex cells, or cells to multicellular life. I would say it’s even more significant, on par with the beginning of life on this planet, or the beginning of the universe. Is that too far you think?
I’m reminded of the Low Energy Nuclear Reaction technology I talked a bit about. A few people complared such a discovery to the discovery of fire, saying it would bring about explosive possibilities (pun). Seemingly free limitless energy on a small cheap scale, massive amounts of intelligence to create and harness that energy, This situation is far beyond the way that life has worked on this planet for the last 4 billion years.
There is significance here far beyond life on our planet. This is an event of universal significance, this is the time that the universe begins to recognize itself as the universe. Our sense of individuality, our separateness from each other, is completely threatened by our urge to build intelligence and deconstruct our minds into basic replicatable parts, our incessant drive to share our thoughts, feelings, memories, and opinions. when we no longer own all of this information in our brains, when that information is free, your “self” can be distributed everywhere. Any matter can be turned into intelligence and perception, the entire universe is soil for the growth of intelligence. This is why I say this is the time of the universe recognizing itself as the universe. We are the universe, erupting exponentially with intelligence and consciousness, this is the transition toward that realization.
I have decided to slowly revamp the video section on this blog. Eventually it will all be sorted well and contain all sorts of interesting things that you can procrastinate for hours watching, getting lost in the future when you’re bored with the present. For now here’s a nice new video from “Russia 2045” (the video will explain who they are, or you can go to 2045.com) 2045 is often the date people ascribe to the singularity, though interestingly enough the video and website never uses the word “singularity.” Anyway, here it is:
Did you notice that:
-the narrator says we are moving forward into the depths of the stars and “the infinite universe of our inner world”?
-they used the phrase “neo-humanity” instead of “post-humanity”?
-that spiritual development is seen as the focus of progress?
-that the avatar is shown dancing in nature?
-that the predictions end in after 2045?
from the predictions in the video, it really seems like the singularity will truly have happened before 2045, that all of the crazy things we can imagine will happen in 30 years or so. What happens after that is pretty much impossible to say.
I feel that I haven’t been perfectly clear on my views about God, so I thought I’d develop them a bit here. It might be nice for you to visit a few of the links in the next paragraph which point to some of my previous posts on the subject. I fear I may come off as a bit crazy if you don’t understand where I’m coming from.
As I’ve said many times before, I believe that there is something of utmost importance about consciousness to the universe, that the universe really couldn’t and wouldn’t exist without observation. I argue on this blog that we will find that our own consciousnesses are indistinct, that we will become a unified being capable of reorganizing matter and energy at will, even of reorganizing its own mind. I’ve come to respect this developing superconsciousness as my god, a being which I am a part of and which cares for me and fosters my growth and well being. I’ve even gone so far as to argue that in the somewhat distant future our unified consciousness will be capable of creating new universes in our imagination to explore.
When I think about my construction of our role in the universe I feel that my god, our developing superconsciousness, is an extremely small part of this, so much smaller than even I am compared to all unified human minds. I have ignored this larger picture somewhat because of how little I can know of it in my current state as a lowly mortal, but I feel that I need to address my thoughts on it somewhat.
So there is another God I have constructed, one more like the Christian God than my humanistic God, in that it created the universe we inhabit through pure thought. It’s not like the Christian God however, in that it doesn’t care so much about us individually and doesn’t interfere with our lives; it just watches. This God is basically running a computer simulation of a universe (our universe), and observes it by processing the data it chooses.
I have absolutely no idea the degree to which this greater God provides feedback into his simulation (in essence putting itself into the universe it created), but I’m willing to bet it’s quite a bit, even though we haven’t experienced it personally. After all, why would you create little simulated conscious beings if you couldn’t talk to them? as for why he hasn’t talked to us yet, the question is pretty much the same as why aliens haven’t visited (and I’ll develop my thoughts on that more later). The possibility that God would want to communicate with beings in his universe brings about new insane possibilities, as communication with other beings, I have argued, quickly leads to merging into oneness. The more we know about each other, the more we think everything that another thinks, the more we are one.
In essence: our creator, who after many billions of years emerged from the convergence of trillions of lifeforms, became the universe he inhabited, a unified being observing itself. This universe decided to create a new universe in which other lifeforms could go through the same process and eventually gain awareness of themselves as the universe they inhabit, all the while possibly communicating and slowly merging with the creator of this universe. This creator is a being which could possibly have done the same thing with its own creator, and so on until there is a universe which receives no feedback from its creator. Everything within the known universes is connected through this consciousness which exists simultaneously everywhere and everytime.
Even if we never receive feedback from the being which imagined us into existence, there are still other beings in our universe which are likely so advanced that they already may have created many of their own universes, and perhaps there has been enough time in our universe for advanced life to gain a sense of universal consciousness. This universal consciousness is yet another God I can construct, though I don’t know to what extent it has developed or can be conceived of as separate from the creator of this universe, which as I have mentioned depends on how much feedback the creator puts in to this universe.
I have conceived of God(s) not to find something to worship, but to find something to look forward to and to look for. God is a crucial aspect of the construction of the universe, of the truth we look for.
I have more recently come to the conclusion that there is little to no chance of communicating with the creator of this universe, of any feedback. For the creator of a fractal processor (a universe) the only way to interact with the fractal would be to change the equation. communicating directly with the universe would be as absurd as declaring a point to be in the mandelbrot set which is not.
I recently found quite a few individual’s thoughts online about what many are calling the “consciousness singularity,” when we all know each other to such an extent that we will form a higher consciousness and awareness that we are essentially a singular consciousness. It’s a synonym to what I’ve termed the “psychesingularity,” but more straightforward and less cool. The interesting thing is that while most people I’ve found relate this in some way to the technological singularity, that’s not always the clear connection; there are many people talking about this in the context of the end of the Mayan calendar this year.
Discovering all of these references reminded me of how many millions of people must have come to the same thoughts and conclusions as me. It’s nice but it makes me feel less special, though at the same time it just means that there are less people I need to convince of my viewpoint. I also seem to be offering a more comprehensive perspective of this transition than others, although I realize I haven’t expanded my thoughts on the core of my topic for some time. Anyway, that’s what I intend to do now.
Consciousness itself can be described very well as a singularity. I’ve mentioned previously that before I came upon my current construction of the universe as a fractal pattern of nested simulations made by consciousness(es) I found the idea that black holes could contain universes appealing. A singularity is also the origin of the universe, prior to the big bang, before which we can know of nothing. The singularity of consciousness and the singularity of matter and energy are quite similar: there is irretrievable information held within, a mystery which defies our conceptions of dimensions, of how things exist in space.
We consider our existences now– our singularities– as separate, but soon we will converge upon a new singularity like a bunch of black holes forming a supermassive black hole (kind of). This is the consciousness singularity, the psychesingularity. Naturally there is much to fear when we lose our sense of identity because there’s a strong sense that we’ve died when that happens. I want to ease people’s fears; I’ve tried to do so previously a few times, and I’ll probably continue to do so.
When you lose your sense of individuality, the sense that you are in complete control of yourself, it doesn’t mean you cease to exist. I know this because I’ve experienced it. The loss of individuality will draw your placement of your “self” away from your body, but that self is still maintained. As we communicate our thoughts more directly with technology and our thoughts and actions become indistinguishable, we will all still have a sense of self, and it will be the sense that we are the same self. We will all be more, not less.
The more pessimistic side of this is the view that we will have died after the singularity, taken over by the computer intelligence we created. like ourselves this intelligence will expand meaninglessly into space, merging and expanding until it consumes the universe, only has itself to observe, and thus ceases to exist. This view doesn’t necessarily have to adopt the perspective that we die with the singularity , and it’s stronger without that claim (if we die with the singularity, we die every moment we change our minds or learn new things, in essence every moment). I discussed a couple of posts ago how this way of looking at things overlooks a crucial aspect of consciousness, and that is the essence of self observation.
A conscious being does not cease to exist when it only can observe itself, it truly begins to exist within itself. Consciousness is crucially able to not only observe patterns of matter, it can observe patterns of thought, thoughts which can be rearranged into practically infinite ways with as much matter as we have in our universe. These thoughts will become so complex as the universe becomes our brain that the thoughts themselves could be universes to explore and delight in.