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 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.
This is so Easy! I can just have this guy explain it. It’s quite long, so perhaps save it for a time when you need to procrastinate for 42 minutes. It’s great though, I promise, and this guy presents everything so much better than I ever could. I wish I could get my hands on the pictures he used in his presentation.
The main message is our values will not survive this transition. I’m not sure I completely agree with him on that, but like I said, he’s got great pictures to back himself up (even if they are frustratingly one-off in the video).