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ebb101
Posted: Sunday, January 10, 2016 5:51:28 AM
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I agree with most of what Jim says here, but I think he's over-generalizing the Transhumanism field. While there are atheists and rigid materialists, but there is actually a movement that looks at knowledge and technology as another means for transcendence.
Read people like Ben Goertzel -- http://multiverseaccordingtoben.blogspot.com/
And join Turing Church on Facebook -- https://www.facebook.com/groups/turingchurch/
Read some of the work of Giulio Prisco, the founder of that forum.
The broadside on Kurzweil is a little over the top, too. Kurzweil is a materialist, but he, himself, speaks of the universe waking up.
Finally, the notion of death being somehow necessary to transcendence is off base, in my opinion. Death fills the human condition with existential dread and leads to many of the vicious belief systems and notions of God as some type of mad dictator, passing out keys to the kingdom based on arbitrary rules and how many infidels the believer can kill. I doubt that offering an extended lifespan will lead to people sitting around buffet lines, in fact, it could just as easily lead to exploring the infinite nature of soul and consciousness.
I am looking forward to reading Jim's book -- and passing this along to build bridges and hopefully encouraging Jim to have a nuanced, balanced chapter about transhumanism and the Singularity. Because there is more to unite, than divide.
jim
Posted: Monday, January 18, 2016 2:05:19 PM

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Hi ebb101,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback - it is greatly appreciated. I knew when I wrote the blog that it would be provocative, especially my opinion of Kurzweil and his position.

First of all, I realize that many people who are fans of simulation theory are also fans of singularity theory and Kurzweil. I will certainly acknowledge that I am not aware of all aspects and offshoots of the transhumanism movement; however, everything that I read in that area has an underlying assumption of materialism/strict atheism/determinism/objective realism (an admittedly cursory overview of the links and individuals that you mention don’t appear to change that). I have been consistent (since my book was published) in my assertion that the singularity will not occur in 2045 (or ever) as predicted. That said, I see the inevitable evolution of human capabilities, including mental ones, due to integration of technological enhancements and this is the part of transhumanism that I believe has plenty of validity and room for discussion. The part of transhumanism that I take issue with is the immortality concept.

The singularity is a fun and exciting topic to think about, but I believe that it is obsolete thinking, similar to the SETI enthusiasts who still cling to the idea that we will be able to discover ETs via their radio waves. Anyone who is really paying attention to the results of recent quantum experiments has to recognize that objective reality is untenable, which fundamentally destroys the underlying foundation of the Singularity. Instead, there is a new model, which the transhumanists have not integrated into their thinking. Your feedback definitely makes me want to include a larger treatment of transhumanism and the singularity in my upcoming book. For that, I thank you. I do fear that with each new topic that I take on in the book, it will postpone its release. I need to keep it, and my time, concise and focused, but I agree that the singularity concept needs to be addressed. Perhaps I will be able to cover it in greater detail in a blog post as well.

I stand by my issue with Kurzweil. I acknowledge his contributions to technology and to the popularization of the Singularity and Transhumanism movement. However, I think the reputation is overblown in proportion to the value of these contributions. As one small example, the entire idea of the technological singularity can be traced back to Stanislaw Ulam in 1958. It was well developed by Frank Tipler in his 1994 book “the Physics of Immortality” long before Kurzweil jumped on the bandwagon. At that time, he was still writing about AI. Claiming that his 77 supplements reverses aging is ludicrous. And basing a philosophy on the foundation of the unproven existence of a deterministic universe is just a point of view that belies a huge mass of evidence to the contrary. So, no, I am not impressed. His assertion of "the universe waking up" is just a rehash of Tipler - "humans/machines expanding into the universe"

Your thoughts about death are interesting. My comments about the buffet line were meant to be humorous - I have yet to determine if such humor hits the mark anywhere other than in my own mind, lol. However, I do TEND to believe in a reincarnation model. Core to that model is the idea of continuous improvement of your consciousness or soul. I don’t say anything about “transcendence”, although I do have some ideas on the topic, I have not published them yet. However, the cycle of reincarnation is necessary for the evolution of the soul. Stopping it by machine-like immortality may allow for a continued albeit much slower evolution during this one life, I believe that it runs counter to the entire construct of ATTI (all that there is). ATTI is NOT the physical universe that we think we see. It is a bigger grander concept. Physical immortality could be likened to, in an MMORPG, for example, taking all of the damage that has been done to your avatar and continue to muddle through the game with a compromised position, rather than start the game over with a new set of knowledge that helps you develop your position faster.

Would love to hear your and other people’s further thinking on this! :)
ebb101
Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2016 3:03:44 AM
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I think we are much closer in agreement.
As you point out, the Singularity, in my opinion, is Spirituality 101, but it's still a wonderful opening point to engage materialists. Speaking of materialists, Kurzweil suffers from a lack of imagination -- or courage -- that is endemic among materialists, but to call him a snake oil salesman, I think it disingenuous. I think he believes what he writes and has done a lot to broaden scientific acceptance of some weird ideas. Anyone who does that should be accepted.

Here are some links on the Transhumanists I mention that you might want to use in your book. These folks tend to see technology as almost a spiritual rite to engage transcendence and should be differentiated from the other transhumanists in your book.

http://wp.goertzel.org/psi/
http://multiverseaccordingtoben.blogspot.com/2015/03/paranormal-phenomena-nonlocal-mind-and.html
http://www.amazon.com/Evidence-Psi-Thirteen-Empirical-Research/dp/0786478284

You should really join the Turing Church page on Facebook, if not to participate, then just to get updates on some of these articles, which are fascinating.

http://turingchurch.com/2015/11/28/the-quest-for-akashic-physics/
http://turingchurch.com/2013/12/27/the-light-of-other-days-by-arthur-c-clarke-and-stephen-baxter/

I thought sections of this little book weaves technology and transcendence together nicely, as well.
http://www.amazon.com/Enlighten-Up-simple-every-f-cking-thing-ebook/dp/B00UL6BZWK



jim
Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2016 10:31:47 AM

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fair point about the snake oil reference. i'll make a change to the blog. thanks.
"Bot"-tee-licious
Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 6:13:08 AM
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According to Robert Anton Wilson's "Eightfold Model of Human Consciousness" (see here), we have in this Periodic Table of Evolution, Circuit VII - "neurogenetic consciousness" or immortality.

Not to say this is definitive (and I'm not too sure about this myself), but, in his own words he did actually say: "belief is the death of intelligence".

However, it is worth noting, what the writer James Altucher had to say about belief systems:

Quote:
So yes, have beliefs, but never get stuck in them. There's no set of facts that are actually true and universally definitive (dusting off my "Godel, Escher, Bach"). As long as you have new beliefs you'll never get stuck. Make sure you have new beliefs everyday, in fact, and you'll get more intelligent every day.


Wise words, don't you think?!

jim
Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 10:49:19 AM

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Absolutely. Thanks for adding that, Bot. Words can so limiting. The use of "belief" can be hard and definitive (as in "I am certain that...") or soft and qualified (as in "at this moment, I tend to believe that..."). I try to approach things from a scientific standpoint. Given a preponderance of evidence supporting THIS hypothesis vs. THAT one, I TEND to believe THIS one. If the evidence shifts, so will my understanding and tendency to believe.

How do you feel about "knowing"? Can anybody truly "know"? I proposed early in my first book that there is little if anything that we can truly be certain of. Maybe our awareness and that's it? But people who have had spiritual experiences, NDEs, and such, claim to have a newfound knowing about reality.
ebb101
Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 11:23:51 AM
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I think knowing -- in the ontological big picture sense -- is possible. Knowing -- in the epistemological sense -- is a fractal fun house mirror quest that will continually show and twist your current beliefs.

I have to add -- I'm really excited about the new book.
EKUMA1981
Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 3:01:55 PM
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Materialists are a huge problem with their narrow-minded thinking and attitudes. and unfortunately, materialists seem to dominate these fields. AI, futurism, computer science, they really do rule these subjects. And projects like The Human Brain Project and OpenWorm are run by materialists too. It's very frustrating. It would be nice to see more of a mixture of individuals involved in these projects.

The only way I can see things changing is if something like The Phenomena Project is a success and it changes the current scientific paradigm. It does appear to have huge potential this endeavour and the Phenomena team do seem to be gathering evidence of paranormal phenomena at an alarming rate.

Problem is mainstream science will probably just brush it aside and debunk it all. People like Chris French already are deliberately ignoring this pioneering project. I know, because I've spoken with him.
"Bot"-tee-licious
Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 3:43:47 PM
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I totally agree with you jim. Though I do feel we have our limitations and can't possibly know everything there is to know about the ultimate nature of reality. We can only move from one paradigm to the next, where a new paradigm may solve puzzles better than the old one does. The old paradigm is overthrown in favour of a new one and this ultimately drives the forward direction of science.

Take, for example, the possibility that LIGO doesn't find any evidence of gravitational waves. It will be a problem for physics which maintains that gravitational waves should exist if general relativity is reliable. If they don't find them it would require the rethinking of black holes. A scientific revolution may ensue, with a transitioning from the classical to the quantum view of physics ....... ad infinitum.......

I give LIGO until the end of 2016. If they don't find any evidence of gravitational waves they need to move on.
"Bot"-tee-licious
Posted: Sunday, February 07, 2016 4:18:13 AM
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I'd just like to add that the LIGO experiment hunts for gravitational waves that are different from those sought by BICEP2. The gravitational waves LIGO is looking for are thought to arise every so often in the modern universe around us. BICEP2, on the other hand, targets primordial gravitational waves born in the very early universe, which by all accounts, still remain elusive.

Gravitational waves do not 'prove' the Big Bang (see No. 4 here), and so the VR concept of the Universe remains intact.
"Bot"-tee-licious
Posted: Sunday, February 14, 2016 4:32:15 AM
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Terence McKenna- The Secret of Enlightenment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PijB9-4CM14

The World is made of language (or code). Information is primary. Cultures are like Operating Systems, etc.

From this we may conclude that people's different belief systems are just a clash of mutually exclusive Operating Systems?!?
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