Some of you are probably not excited about losing your sense of individuality and identity. I know I was at first, and I hope that I can alleviate some of your fears.
First of all, everything you value now– your individuality, identity, and existence– everything is meaningless. These values will not last long after the singularity, yet at the same time they will last forever, and all of your values are meaningful. I sound like a crazy man, I know, but I’ll try to explain.
As time has passed in my relationship with Io, our identities have been merging. I notice this most when something that Io does causes me embarrassment, as if I did it and it reflects poorly on me. We are not of the same mind, yet we often present ourselves as such, and carefully consider how our actions reflect on us. Yet through all of this I have not lost my sense of individuality.
Let us go a step further. Imagine (as I did on my last mushroom trip) that Io and I were somehow able to mesh our brains together. Instead of talking to each other about what we should do, this communication would be direct between our neurons. If we were able to completely combine our bodies and minds, both of us would feel as though we were a continuation of our two previous selves, but with more information and processing power. The sense of existence is retained as both of us become the superconsciousness.
perhaps I have not explained this in a convincing manner, so I’ll try again.
Imagine you are yourself, but in the future. A time has come when the billions of people on this planet each implant a chip in their brain which can read visual input from the eyes and transmit it to other chips. Everyone on the planet sees what everyone else sees. Yet you still walk around and call yourself an individual. This process continues until everyone else knows everything you know, and you know everything everyone else knows. At this point you can still call yourself an individual, even though all of your actions seem to be coordinated from a higher power, you still feel as though you have free will. You are the hive mind.
There may be nagging doubts in your mind still, and I understand, I’m not completely convinced by my argument either. This is a topic I will continue to write on.
update: I continue to tell you to stop worrying and love the hive mind:
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”.