Turning on and Tuning in Higher Intelligence – Introducing The Future “Hi” Website

February 23rd, 2004 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized

skeru

[NOTE: this was the opening salvo post for the new site I founded called Future Hi!, which became a very popular visionary culture blog exploring the farthest frontiers of consciousness, science and technology during the early/mid 2000s . Many great writers and a few luminaries joined the team. We were celebrating the rebirth of psychedelic futurism that was exploding on the playa at Burning Man, and the super promising radially abundant future it still portends. At it’s peak we had over 50,000 daily readers. I made many life time friends through it, and after a few years of pushing the idea envelope, many of us decided to move in new directions, and the site was sold in late 2006 and is now defunct. All of my posts from FutureHi are now here at Enthea.org].

 

One of the primary inspirations behind this new site is that turning on higher intelligence is not only fun and joyous, it is absolutely necessary if we and our intelligent civilization are to survive the coming decades and expand out into the comsos. By higher intelligence I mean the whole enchilada, whatever that is – not just greater intellect, but greater everything – greater emotional sanity, more love, compassion, creativity, inspiration, and most especially the transcendent visionary experience itself and it’s infinite expanse so raved about by psychonauts, shamans and eastern/yogic practitioners. As Dr John Lilly once said, “Science is the Yoga of the West, and Yoga is the Science of the East”. The question then is this:

Is this higher intelligence (i.e. enlightement, satori, samadhi, zen) a product of our evolving brain opening new experiential neurological circuits as materialist might say, OR is there some kind of “objective” higher intelligence in the universe which we are starting to tune into, or both?

For the purposes of this site, it doesn’t matter what the answer is. What matters is that these transcendent states are valid in themselves and what we do with them. Dos it really matter if the true source of these sublime experiences are arbitrary brain states produced by a complex flood of neurotransmitters or something else? As Hans Moravec has repeated often, simulated experience is for all philosophical purposes as real as non-simulated experience. And besides, how could we tell the difference? How do we know we are currently not in some kind of hyper-advanced “matrix” simulation or in the mind of a much greater entity?

My opinion is that, despite your philosophical point of view (materialist, idealist, or something else) the computational-nanotechnological metaphor presents us with a potentially huge increase in intelligence over the coming decades. It is becoming clear in the scientific community that the computational metaphor is the next big thing in science – a paradigm shift as Kuhn describes – a move from a strictly materialist point of view to a more computationalist perspective. Stephen Wolfram, a respected physicist and author of the program Mathematica and the new book A New Kind of Science is one of the spear-headers of this paradigm shift. But it is still only a paradigm, a metaphor, the next metaphor, but certainly not the last. Science is slowly getting one step closer to hyper-intelligence, but hyper-intelligence as I have experienced it, transcends this mere computational perspective. That’s ok, as I think it’s only a matter of time. Strict empiricists such as Hans Moravec and Ray Kurzweil have both written books (I Robot: Mere Machine to Trancendent Mind and The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence) that have clearly taken the computational metaphor to its logical extremes, ending their books with hints of a transcendent “spiritual” reality. You could consider it a sort of digital “enlightenment” unplugged from traditional religious dogma. But they stop just short of clearly acknowledging that. What I am talking about has nothing to do with whether you are an atheist, agnostic or theist, since it’s pure experience itself, whose ultimate reality continues to remain a mystery. Like Godel’s Incompleteness Theorm, we may never know. It’s possible we may discover these “spiritual” realities to be nothing more than brain chemistry. I doubt it, but bven if that’s the case, it does not make these experiences any less valid. In the scheme of our evolution, of our planet, and our long-term survival, making such distinctions is irrelevant. The future of intelligence is an expansion into all of these states and beyond them. The future of intelligence, or contelligence (consciousness + intelligence as Timothy Leary liked to call it), is infinite.

Part of the purpose of this site is to bridge these gaps of understanding. That has been my underlying motivator behind the book I’ve been working on, if I can get the damn thing finished. I’m not worried about the LearyWilsonLilly visionary mysticals, they essentially get it. No, the challenge is transmitting these hyper-dimensional “groove-love” spaces  to the hyper-computational transhumanists who haven’t experience such things (yet). I think communicating this message is paramount, because it is these hyper-computationalist’s who are taking over the reigns of science and technological progress as we approach greater-than-human intelligence and decentralizing bio/nanotechnology. Higher intelligence by definition expands the number of alternative pathways available to us in which to apply solutions to pressing problems, which are only going to get worse unless we wake up and embrace more positive contexts. The sooner this “higher intelligence” is grokked the better our chances of us reaching utopia over oblivion.

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10 Responses

  • Hi Paul,

    Great site you’ve started here (Future Hi). Your pals here at Worldchanging would like to mention you on the homepage.

  • This post made me laugh, a lot, just because. 🙂 See, in circles with my friends, I’m basically the in-betweener. We have a lot of different personalities in my group–a bunch that tend to be very transhumanist, very optimistic, etc–but the commonality among the rest of the troupe is that they’re all very polar, about *everything*. UNIX vs. Mac; Ruby vs. Lisp; cold, calculating and pragmatic problem-solving vs. the intuitive, emotive sort; everyone I hang out with seems to be at the extreme on everything. This is good a lot of the time–it pushes boundaries, and provides logical frameworks on the edge of, some would say, sanity. But I spend most of my time firmly entrenched halfway in between. Macs are better than UNIX–*at this particular thing*. The reverse is also true. Replace Macs and UNIX with Ruby and Lisp, or with calculating and intuitive, and it works the same way.

    Being in the middle means ducking a lot of swings, and it also means stopping a lot. And it also gives you amazing insight into the way people who are on a “side” think–not only the methods, but the advantages and disadvantages of them.

    I think I’m halfway in between on the computational-to-transcendant scale. And I think that’s a fantastically cool place to be. My husband is heavily skewed towards the computational, and doesn’t necessarily see the value of feeling for its own sake. Another friend is heavily skewed towards the emotive, psychic energy, intuitive methods of learning and coping, but doesn’t necessarily see the value of providing any sort of framework in which to work through similar problems; in effect, every problem and pain must be felt afresh to get through it, when simply stepping back and learning computationally from things like cold, hard precedent could save a lot of time wasted on repeated negative experiences and emotions.

    They definitely have things to learn from each other. And I think that they learn *more* when I’m around, because I can speak both of their languages, at least to some extent. I can translate, or filter, some of the emotive (or, dare I say, perhaps, sometimes even the transcendant?) experience into terms that the computationalist can begin to understand, and I can take the massively cool framework for conceptual and computational thought and translate it to the emotive.

    And I think that’s where I’m going, in general. I think that my job, or my call to service, is to be a translator. Which is why I’m so excited about futurehi, in general–I see it as a massively cool vehicle for that kind of connection.

    I apologize for the sentence fragments. Time for bed!

  • Chris says:

    Excellent post Paul. I have been reading for a while, and am astounded that you seem to spout the conversations I want to be having, within yourself. You supply me with a big ‘to read list’, which is good.

  • I cannot, and will not, crush anyone’s futuristic optimism, but many realissues need first be addressed, and computation is impotent to settle this, because quantification is limited by qualitative symmetry snaps; hence, the problem I have with futuristicality. My blog tries to do just that–cut through the grok, and get to the inner sense of the outside world that, unless I am doomed to solipsism, it seems we share in common. Unfortunately, dead men tell no tales. B. W.

  • maak says:

    hi paul and others.

    not to mess up the pansyncretist vibe you’ve got going here, but i think you make some unwarranted generalizations.

    first of all, i am someone who has experienced a handful of variants of the “spiritual-ecstatic love-groove” you describe, in the contexts of meditation sessions, psychoactive chemical use, and simply during periods of extended contemplation.

    while you claim that it doesn’t matter whether these states are a function of “tuning into a higher consciousness” or “merely” an emergent product of certain neurophysiological states, you seem to be working under the assumption that these states of “higher consciousness” all reflect (roughly) the same state (which at least *seems* to speak to a prejudice toward the prior interpretation, that we are “tapping into” something greater than us).

    the states that john lily describes in his books are ketamine-induced states of deep dissociation. this is profoundly different from the kind of state of consciousness induced by DMT (or ayahuasca) or phenethylamines (such as peyote). both of these are in turn quite different from the transcendent awareness induced by prolonged meditation. though all of these mental states can be described as “transcendent” (with respect to one’s experience of space-time, one’s own place in existence, one’s perception of gestalt patterns around oneself, etc.), they’re all quite qualitatively different. i’m skeptical that one can meaningfully generalize across these states, other than through the use of unacceptably vague terminology.

    besides this sort of generalization, i can’t help but be somewhat dismayed by the implicit dichotomy your draw between “cold, logical athiests” and “intuitive, spiritually aware, passionate” types. having experienced states of being clearly transcending my own individuality, i nevertheless remain an atheist (for what is higher consciousness over and above the agglomeration of interconnected lower-order systems? and even if the whole universe has a mind, why call it a god?). and i also like to think of myself as dispassionate and logical, though i’m by no means the mathematical or computational type.

    hm… so what’s my point with all of this? who knows. maybe i’m a little annoyed by all those mayan-calendar-worshipping psytrance party kids i’ve come across in my time… maybe i’m frustrated by starry-eyed utopianism i see among futurists these days. anyhow, in the end i want to say that it’s cool that you’ve put all this effort into constructing a site where these topics can be discussed, and that, though deep down inside i sympathize with many of your visions of the future, i think the truth is much more complicated and interesting that the “eternal cosmic hapiness” scenario you seem to be fixated upon.

    er, sorry if that last part was rude. i’m just trying to foster discussion 🙂

    cheers.

  • Paul says:

    Hi Maak,

    I think you’ve missed animportant point that I’m making here.. There is no doubt that the array of consciousness is wide, varied and diverse. My point here is it doesn’t necessarily matter what the “truth” about these experiences is, it is the deep meaning which they give Can we not say the same about all experience? Where to do we draw the line and make a distinction between one and another? Unlike my atheist friends who generally seem already convinced that all of these states are just products of brain chemistry. I’m trying to point out, that for the sake of my argument it doesn’t matter. Experience itself is the teacher.

    As to the point that you think I’m generalizing about all the different states of consciousness, this is not true, as I am specifically talking about the blissful transcendent states. That is my point. The other more unpleasant states are useful only in as much that they teach us not to go into those states again. Why my friend, would you choose to experience unpleasantness if you didn’t have to? If there is one thing I’ve learned, albeit painfully, is that suffering is optional. When you learn to turn on the pleasure blissful circuits in your brain it provides you with much more useful contexts in which to approach problems. This idea that negative states act as motivators is hogwash. People who rely on negative states to get anything done, will ultimately end up depressed. Ask any counseling psychologist and they will confirm this. Positive motivators are far better in providing the right context to approach problems than negative ones. Optimism is a self-fulfilling prophecy, as is pessimism. So if you want a positive future, then optimism is the place to start.

    As for the “cold logical atheists” I’m referring to a specific group of people in the transhumanist community of which this blog is a part. Many of them have never had a transcendent experience such as yourself. Since you have had a few, this puts you in the minority. And no one here is discounting the deep value of logic and dispassionate awareness. As you may have already guessed, I’m a deeply passionate about computational matters, mathematics and logical systems.

    I am my own person with my own opinions and viewpoints, and I would hope you debate them on their own merit rather than your perceived notion of their tenuous association with related cultural currents (i.e. psytrance kids). I know that the universe is way more complicated than our puny 3lb pieces of gray matter are capable of understanding. I also know that intelligence itself is capable of interpreting the raw signals from that universe in an infinite number of re-configurable ways. My whole point is that the “cosmic-love-groove” context is way more useful than the “everything suck, and we are doomed” context. The future has yet to be created. I suggest we start right now creating the best future possible in every area of our lives and activities.

  • maak says:

    good points, and i apologize for the knee-jerk response.

    i hope you don’t see me as a member of the “we suck; we’re doomed” camp, though. my point was simply that there are a lot of different things we might call ‘blissful, transcendent states’, and even that a demarcation between ‘positive states’ and ‘negative states’ is a little artificial. emotional detachment is a very different thing from unpleasantness (and part of the fun of reaching a transcendent state is the sheer irrelevance of things like passion and pain).

  • Paul says:

    Maak,

    Sorry for the long response, this site has really taken off, and it’s been difficult to keep the momentum going, as it was orginally intended as a group blog. I”m enjoying every minute of it, but it’s also stretched my time contraints to their limits, and made it impossible to respond to everyone, privately and in the comments here.

    My only concern with the dispassionate viewpoint, is we could like those in the “K Hole” forget about our human trip, and simply not care anymore if we survive as a species. I would like to believe that there is something deep inside all of us that is worth saving, whether we remain in human form or not.

  • maak says:

    a good point paul, but consider the following: things like cynicism, nihilism, postmodernism, and other ‘dispassion-inspired’ cultural trends are uniquely modern phenomena. back in the day, you believed what everyone else believed, and you *had* to care because if you didn’t care you would hurt the collective. if you didn’t go along with your community, or didn’t care about what they cared about, you were socially dead. yet nowadays, cultural deviance is incredibly common, and to a large extent, it’s considered acceptable. anti-idealistic worldviews are also more abundant than ever. why is this?

    my hypothesis: the human community is now so large, so interconnected, and so self-organized, that it no longer crucially depends on the existence of any particular consituent individual. long, long ago, the only life forms that existed were single cells. if one of them died, an entire biological lineage died. later, when multicellular life arose, it became entirely common, expected, and indeed necessary that some component cells died for the good of the collective. in multicellular lineages, the life of any one cell is insignificant, because the collective is able to remain stable and healthy in the face of individuall cell death.

    you of all people seem like someone receptive to the idea that the totality of humanity is becoming a more cohesive, unified, self-organized system. i do not hesitate to refer to humanity as a whole as an organism, as is the case with many of the rest of you here, but i think a consequence of this view is that we have to shift our teleological and evaluative frameworks toward the bigger picture. at least from the perspective of the total human organism, the life of the individual is not an extremely significant kind of thing. like i said, you don’t bemoan the death of a brain cell (though perhaps your other brain cells do!), because you and your brain can get along just fine without it.

    likewise, the total human organism seems to be doing perfectly well on its own. as a whole, it certainly cares about its own survival, and while we naturally care about our own individual lives and perspectives, they simply don’t amount to much in the grander scheme of things.

    basically, i think the world is perfectly capable of taking care of itself. it’s a lot bigger, stronger, and wiser than any of us, and it’s still young yet.



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