I would prefer that this page not be read before at least reading the page on LSD, at least for those unfamiliar to its effects.
I cannot trace my interest in the singularity back to a point, and I do not recall the first time I was introduced to the concept. I know I was in high school, and that when I was first introduced I was quite interested, but that interest faded as everything does. This past winter I stumbled upon an article that I believe was in the New York Times about Ray Kurzweil and the singularity. I knew about most of what was contained in the article, but Kurzweil’s talk of mind uploading intrigued me. His talk of immortality intrigued me even more, and my thoughts over the next week kept reverting back to these things.
I imagined myself as a cyborg many centuries in the future. While the physical vessel that carried my consciousness used to be a human body, now it is whatever I want it to be. I could craft myself as an interstellar ship if I cared to, and I probably would. I would travel to another solar system, to a lone planet, where I could seed life and be, well, God. The hubris in this thought pattern is staggering, I will admit, but I never chose to think such thoughts.
Throughout the week I thought of these things, becoming distracted from everything else. Yet something about the singularity eluded me, and when I had a chance to trip acid that weekend I thought it could be a good way to satiate this itch I had for the singularity, resolve this thought loop I had been in for a week, and perhaps allow me to get back to thinking about other things. This was a pretty foolish hope of mine: acid doesn’t close thoughts down, it opens them up.
I tripped with my girlfriend Io on a friday or saturday night, starting after the sun went down and ending before it came up again. We both took two and a half tabs of pretty strong acid and began the trip in Io’s room.
The trip came on hard and made me nauseated. I lay down and closed my eyes, unable to think of much as visual patterns contributed to my uncomfortable state. This continued for maybe an hour, after which I got up, sat in a chair, and began to think.
I thought about a friend of mine, Crius’s girlfriend Leto. She chooses not to take acid because of a family history of schizophrenia. I thought about the significance of this choice, and what it would feel like to hear voices in your head. I considered that as we approach the singularity we will find better ways to fight schizophrenia as we grow to better understand the patterns which give rise to it. As this thought occurred to me a concept flew past my awareness. It was related to what I had been thinking, but it came and went so fast I could not identify it. I continued to think.
I began to think about mind uploading. mind uploading means immortality to transhumanists. I wouldn’t exactly say I was confused by the concept, but something about it eluded me still. My thoughts went to a story that I had heard about long ago, a science fiction story I have never read, but which was summarized to me years ago. The story was of a man who invented a teleportation device, but instead of matter being disassembled and reassembled in another location, an exact copy was made of the subject, and the original person was destroyed. The copy felt as if it were teleported. The absurdity of this bothered me.
I resolved to drive at the heart of the matter and think directly about what composed my consciousness. Consciousness is so many things. It is the experience of sensory input combined with the experience of thoughts. It also must include memories, a sense of self, and a continuity of these experiences. As we approach the singularity and become better at communicating information, none of these things are safe. We may, for instance implant chips in our brains which communicate our sensory experiences to others, or chips which read our memories and communicate them. If the totality of my experience can be reduced to data and transmitted, what am I? This was the elusive concept which had been floating right beyond my grasp, and now I had it. In that moment I perceived the inevitable blending of my consciousness into the those of others. I fully grasped the illusory quality of my consciousness, my experience, and my existence. I communicated these things to Io, and together we searched our minds for ways around this convergence, this loss of identity and individuality. Everywhere we turned we found only the inevitable. As my mind considered that I may as well end my existence now, I knew that we needed to go outside for a change of environment.
I found no escape from my thoughts however, and for the next 7 hours I was caught in this thought loop, unable to think seriously of anything else. I went to sleep in the morning thinking these thoughts, and woke up midday right where I left off. Since this trip everything in my studies has reverted back to the singularity, and my perspective on everything has been transformed.
Throughout the hours that I was caught in a thought loop I resolved to live and die a human, fearing my loss of identity so much I wished to completely avoid it. As I came down, however, I realized that the convergence of identity and loss of individuality is a sliding scale, that any communication with another being will result in a loss in my sense of self. I then resolved to do what I am programmed to do as a conscious entity: continue my conscious experience for as long as possible, reduce suffering, and maximize my enjoyment of life.
I realize that this has been a rambling portrayal of my thought process, but I’m not sure I can portray this experience in a more coherent way. If you are not convinced by this view I have put forward, or you are confused, I ask that you read the post where I present my argument about consciousness before you cast aside what I’ve said.