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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The Hedonistic Imperative

February 25th, 2003 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on The Hedonistic Imperative)

This manifesto combines far-fetched utopian advocacy with cold-headed social-scientific prediction. The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how nanotechnology and genetic engineering will eliminate aversive experience from the living world.

David Pearce is someone who I have admired and respected for a very long time. Like him I deeply share his passion and desire to enhance, expand and promote human upliftman as far and wide as possible. Only by sustaining blissful states of awareness are we likely to develop constructive pathways out of our currently destructive and fear-based society which is increasingly sowing the seeds of fear, oppression, terrorism and war.

An important point to stress in the discussion to follow is that many dopamine-driven states of euphoria can actually enhance motivated, goal-directed behavior in general. Enhanced dopamine function makes one’s motivation to act stronger, not weaker. Hyper-dopaminergic states tend also to increase the range of activities an organism finds worth pursuing. Outside the pleasure-laboratory, such states of necessity focus on countless different intentional objects. So humanity’s future as envisaged in this manifesto is not, or certainly not just, an eternity spent enraptured on elixirs of super-soma or tanked up on high-octane pleasure-machines. Nor is it plausible that posterity will enjoy only the dullish, opiated sensibility of the heroin addict. Instead, an extraordinarily fertile range of purposeful and productive activities will most likely be pursued. Better still, our descendants, and in principle perhaps even our elderly selves, will have the chance to enjoy modes of experience we primitives cruelly lack. For on offer are sights more majestically beautiful, music more deeply soul-stirring, sex more exquisitely erotic, mystical epiphanies more awe-inspiring, and love more profoundly intense than anything we can now properly comprehend.

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Human Body 2.0

February 17th, 2003 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Human Body 2.0)

“Nanobots will augment and ultimately replace our organs and expand our brain”, says Ray Kurzweil, who will argue at Time magazine’s The Future of Life conference in the LIFESPAN: HOW LONG? HOW FUN? session.

In the coming decades, a radical upgrading of our body’s physical and mental systems, already underway, will use nanobots to augment and ultimately replace our organs. We already know how to prevent most degenerative disease through nutrition and supplementation; this will be a bridge to the emerging biotechnology revolution, which in turn will be a bridge to the nanotechnology revolution. By 2030, reverse-engineering of the human brain will have been completed and nonbiological intelligence will merge with our biological brains.

I’m currently deep in the process of writing my first book on how technologies like nanotechnology will have radical implications on the human condition.  I disagree with Bill Joy’s article that the future doesn’t need us. Quite the contrary, the future is going to need us more that ever. Rather than be replaced by advancing nanotechnology and Artificial Intelligence, these technologies will enhance us. The future is not AI, but IA – Intelligence Augmentation. My first foray into serious writing is daunting, but if for some reason I never complete the book, I will most likely make it available on the net.

[Update: I’ve made some of this book material available here.]

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E-Sheep

November 3rd, 2002 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on E-Sheep)

E-sheep is a website by a fellow named Patrick Sean Farley, who I have never met but, who in the 7 years I have been aware of his work on the web, is like the brother I never had. I discovered his first site called “In Orbit Around The Web” in 1996. The similarities between him and I seem uncanny at times. The site features comix by Sean and his artwork – which is achingly beautiful at times.

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Biosphere

March 11th, 1997 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Biosphere)

There are many notions about what biotechnics might be – everything from creating Closed Ecological Life Support Systems (CELSS’s) such as Biosphere 2 or a fully self-sufficient Space Colony, to more earth-based applications like using native biological processes to accomplish something better than some man-made top-down system.

Scientific and technological trends indicate that our transhuman and post-human futures are becoming more biological, not less:

earthnet1) Our biosphere is the most complex system in the known universe, a product of self-organization and natural selection. Although we haven’t found any others yet, I suspect our universe contains an unlimited number of complex systems equaling or exceeding our own. See the noosphere section for why I think so.

2) Facilitated in large part by a global nervous system called the Internet, our technological and industrial systems are increasingly resembling those of the biosphere. If the biosphere can recycle everything, why can’t we? In order to increase efficiency and reduce costs, industry has been relying on more recycled materials and waste products from other sectors. This burgeoning field known as Industrial Ecology or Industrial Symbiosis is ushering in an entirely new way of doing business – one that is based as much on cooperation as competition. One only has to look at the world of microorganisms to see the tremendous versatility full-cycle systems are capable of.

3) The latest computer hardware and software are also increasingly resembling the biological realm. There is steady progress in developing protein memories, DNA computers and bio-luminescent displays. Software engineers are increasingly incorporating biological metaphors into the creation of more efficient and robust programs. The latest anti-virus programs utilize pseudo-immunological processes that evolve new defenses in response to the latest computer viruses. Below is a an artifical life program running as a java applet. Move your cursor over them and they will try to follow it.

4) Human and some cetacean brains appear the most complex components of Earths biosphere, making them the most densely complexified structures known. Extensive research has revealed that our individual neurons are themselves quite complex, with a plethora of neurotransmitter activity within the syanptic clefts. Pundits have been telling us for years that the future of intelligence lies in silicon, yet silicon’s limits are already being reached. Instead, we’re on the verge of seeing computer architecture transcend the limits of silicon by adopting the more versatile element of its creator, carbon.

dna5) Carbon’s covalent bond structure allows for a greater number of molecular combinations than any other element, maximizing it’s role as a building block for complexity. Discoveries made from biochemistry and nanotechnological research has spectactularly confirmed this. Carbon in the form of diamond, and now surpassed by its fullerene companions, are the hardest, strongest, and most versatile materials known. Its amazing how a single element arranged in one way can be soft and brittle (graphite), and in another extremely strong. Nanotubes as they are now known, are sure to become the building blocks of ultra-minuturized computational machinery and large-scale mega-engineering projects. If there is other molecular-based life in this universe, chances are carbon plays a crucial role. In our quest for building better brains, the underlying hardware will increasingly resemble our wetware and ultimately surpass it – eliminating any previous difference between computer and neural architecture. The implications of such computer-brain symbiosis are startling, because we essentially become conscious software, gaining the ability to fully reprogram oursleves while freely running on increasingly superior hardware. Imagine for starters perfect recall of all knowledge and archived experience, fully customizable reality mediation and creation, complete empathy/telepathy with others, and the ability to choose exactly what state of mind and mood you’re in. Imagine states of ecstatic bliss becoming the norm in which further experience and exploration is pursued. A place where love is realized, not for any moral correctness, but as the most rational choice available. Please see The Hedonistic Imperative for a great treatise on this subject, and stay tuned for what is sure to become the central theme of this site.

None of these developments should comes as a surprise. Life has been experimenting with form and function for nearly 4 billion years. We as a species are only now becoming sufficiently advanced to apply the process to our own needs. From this, we surmise that future technology will becoming more life-like than anything before it. Along with this, our biosphere will reproduce through us, releasing spores throughout the galaxy (see Gaia Sporing). This may be re-assuring for those who thought the future would consist of some mish-mash of metallic robots and super-industrial machinery. I’m optimistic that life in the future will increasingly become more fun, free, and alive than anything we’ve experienced. With the Earth as our womb, and the stars and immortality as our birthright, the biological revolution and its more advanced stage nanotechnology are about to take us on a ride. Are you ready? 🙂

exobio
 

[This page originally appeared on my first web site – Planet P – archived here]

Links and Related Sites:

Artifical Life
Autonomous Agents – Stuart Kauffman
Biocomputation
Bioneering
Boids
Brain-Computer Interfacing
Complexity Online
Extra Solar Visions
Extropy Institute
Gaia Nation
Gaia Sporing
The Hedonistic Imperative
Immortality Systems
Industrial Ecology
Nanotechnology
Organic ArtWorks
Tierra

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