[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 Leary–Wilson–Lilly 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.