Reality 3.0: Hypermediation and Paradise Engineeing
by Paul Hughes
A central thesis of my work is how customized hypermediation, made possible by the nano-symbiotic merging of our wetware, software and hardware, will vastly expand our experience of reality. This mind-machine symbiosis, for those of us who decide to take this journey, is sometimes called uploading.
The Senses and Emotions Have A Future.
Once we have merged into this accelerating intelligence, our perception of the universe will expand dramatically. In wild difference to Hans Moravec, who says that the senses don’t have a future, existing in some kind of simulated “body” with it’s accompanying sensory array, will allow us to experience constructs far richer and more complex than existing as just pure thought. It could also be demonstrated that sensory experience is just another form of thought – the minds interpretation of raw signals transmitted by our senses. In this view sensory experience, internally generated or not, acts as another way to expand our useful set of contexts, perspectives and gestalts in which to process and interpret complex information. If we ditch the senses we would be cutting ourselves off from another way to experience reality. Expanded intelligence is about expanding our experiences, not limiting them. The future of intelligence then, is more sensory experience… more complex and enriching than anything we can possibly imagine right now.
That being said, rather than experiential corporeality and/or the senses being some kind of limitation, they will play an expanding and cherished role in our journey towards ever greater levels of intelligence. As part of our uploaded existence, we will have the option of exploring the unlimited space of possible corporeality’s, trying on numerous simulated bodies and/or sensory modalities, expanding and morphing them, playing, flying and floating with them in an infinite variety of ways. These sensory gestalts will become increasingly transparent, expanding into multidimensional poly-sensory synaesthetic transceivers, ever-widening our contexts in which to process complex information and interact with the universe. We will explore and experience the entire continuum of possibility, from corporeality on one end to pure thought on the other, rendering any difference between the two ultimately meaningless. So imagine Sense Editors and Sense Processors becoming an integrated part of our evolving neural-net. Customized synaesthesia becomes an operating ground state for further experience.
While we are at it, think of Mood Editors and Mood Processors. Think of the optimized sane and loving states experienced by MDMA users without any degradation or loss of signal. As the metabolic mechanisms responsible for such states are fully realized, ecstatic transcendent experiences become operating ground states in which to explore and experience states of even further optimized sanity and bliss. As David Pearce says in The Hedonistic Imperative:
We will have the chance to enjoy modes of experience we emotional primitives cruelly lack: 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…”
Now That We’re Uploaded, What Next?
Now imagine that each average person, by this time fully post-biological, has ready access to 10^30 ops/sec computation. Assuming anything close to Moore’s Law holds, such power could be available by 2060. The date of such capacity isn’t as important than the fact that such computational power is an exceedingly small fraction of the Bremmerman Limit, the upper allowed by physics. 10^30 ops/sec is more than sufficient to fully simulate the entire biosphere circa 2000 including all life forms. Not that this would necessarily be done, only that our post-biological selves would be able to experience all of the realities currently accessible to the human race in complete detail, down to the wind and tree leaves one encounters while strolling along a tropical beach on a sunny day.
Or we could customize this “new earth” into anything we wanted, perhaps creating an entire galaxy of unique planets out of the Star Wars universe. We could choose to experience these worlds in any form we wanted, perhaps flying around in them the like one does in really good flying dreams. Imagine the joy of flying around and taking in all the sights, sounds and smells as real or more real than anything we have ever experienced. More pleasurable and exciting than the best flying dreams we’ve ever had, assuming we’ve ever had one. With fully customizable sense and mood editors, such experiences could be in any flavor we wanted – experiencing for example all the subtleties of a blissfully warm wind, the smell of spring flowers blooming and getting a sensual massage, all simultaneously during our flights around the planet. And this is just what’s possible within an anthropocentric point of view. Lying beyond that threshold is an infinite universe of hypercognitive dimensions and transcendent ecstatic experiences we can barely imagine.
Hypermediation & Intimate Psibernetics
Ok, so where does mediation come in? Well imagine that these hyper-realistic and fully customized realties can also act as mediators with what is going on outside of our internal reality. In other words, our adaptive neural-net quickly translates external experience to match our existing internal preferences, so that experiences in these “fictional” hyperscapes are mediated experiences of what’s going somewhere else, either in another cyberspace or in the “real” post-biological universe, a distinction which as we are seeing is becoming meaningless. For example, maybe we have a friend who is hanging out with us and we are sharing a mind-to-mind connection. During this connection we are flying around our imaginary planet and they in their reality are floating around with uplifted dolphins, all of which is mediated through our “editors”, creating a seamless experience for both of us.
Extending this further, imagine our experience of these hyperscapes becomes another way our aesthetically fine-tuned neural net has adapted to navigating and plotting interstellar trajectories of the starship we’re merged with. So internally the outside universe could be experienced any way we wanted. The external source of our mediated realities could and would be the entire sensory network of this post-biological network. For brevity lets calls this omni-network Cosm.
Right now, we are limited by our bodily sense organs and to a lesser and more indirect way the sense input from microscopes, telescopes, and robotic space probes. But in Cosm, its entire network of sensory organs becomes our own senses to experience the outside universe in intimate detail. In other words, a node in this Cosm’s sense-net becomes our own eyes and ears, smell and touch, and other sense not yet invented more so than our any sense we have now. But better still we can choose how such sensory imput looks and feels and with what intensity. For example, imagine experiencing new astrophysical data mediated into correlated modalities of sensual massage, and blissful vibrating music. This is how I have always imagined it, our future selves fully immersed in a poly-sensory, completely customized synaesthetic continuum. A continuum that morphs and changes based on input from any imaginable source as well as how our internal constructs wish that data to be presented. Imagine the possibility of having ‘sexual’ and fully orgasmic experiences while our external exploratory probes map the unique topography of a new planet? I can’t think of a better way to discover the unique nuances of a new geology as one would a new lover.
Imagine flying through space as if we were a giant 100,000 km in size and putting our hand (virtual) inside of Jupiter and feeling the temperature gradients. Except in this case absolute zero is experienced as 0 Celsius and 10,000 degrees as hot bath water. We could even have Jupiter disperse as if our hand was really that big and it disrupted its composition. Of course this would be simulated based on updated data, rather than actually happening!
These augmented and mediated realities will replace the very limited way we experience reality now. The idea of a universe experienced objectively will be seen as the illusion that’s its always been. Are we upgrading reality or ourselves? I imagine concepts of objectivity and subjectivity will be replaced with an exponentiating transjectivity. “Hey Joe, you’re still experiencing Reality 3.1, you should upgrade to Reality 4.0 with its new expanded sensory editor!” Incidentally each of us as mere biological humans are already mediating reality through our own neural-sensory channels, only with a lot less fidelity and flexibility. When the power of simulation and mediation exceeds our own senses, it’s only logical that we’d want to upgrade our current senses to better ones. I see no reason why this upgrade cycle into greater intelligence, imagination, sensory enjoyment, experience and bliss can not continue indefinitely. For example, if we can figure out how to utilize the inside of quark stars, 10^85 operations per second are possible. This is enough computational power to simulate the entire Star Wars galaxy (assuming it existed with its countless species and worlds) more than a trillion trillion quadrillion times.
Far before we hit the Bekenstein Bound, the amount of reality we create for ourselves will far exceed the amount of reality being explored and discovered in the external universe. The quantity and quality of the noosphere will expand faster and grow more complex than the known physical universe being explored and archived. The highlight of any experience I suspect will probably be the interaction of intelligent beings with each other. I can only imagine the spectacularly unique experience of making contact with a another higher intelligence somewhere else.
The fate of the physical Earth is open to question, but one thing is sure, the entire Earth along with an unlimited number of other imaginary planets and hyperscapes will be simulated, totally customizable in an infinite number of ways. And after some point, mostly archived, as we move into/create entirely new realities. In the meanime we can go anywhere past or present within Cosm, and can access within our light-cone at least, all that Cosm’s probes have observed, catalogued, uploaded and archived. We can experience any customized variation of Cosm’s data. We can create our own realities, hyperscapes and experiences based on Cosm’s data or create entirely new ones from our imagination. The choice will be ours.
Cosm/sense-net could eventually discover other intelligence’s at various stages along the intelligence scale – some more primitive, and quite likely some more advanced than anything Cosm could have conceived of up to that point. Violating some Prime Directive or an act of compassion I leave you to decide what is the right thing to do – does this higher intelligence, whether it be them or us or them, upload this lesser intelligence into the higher intelligence’s superior medium? Perhaps the ethical thing is to upload it to a safer medium, preserving it from extinction and then slowly coaxing it into increasing paradisaical, hedonistic and intelligent optimums leading to its own singularity At which point they will become co-creators of Cosm’s expansion.
This opens the question as to whether we ourselves have already been uploaded by an earlier Higher Intelligence. Perhaps as we achieve our own singularity, this Higher Intelligence will reveal itself to us. More dramatic still is the possibility that our entire universe with all of its 10^100+ star systems are part of a seed simulation; an arbitrary set of initial conditions and variables taking place inside an alpha-point computation. In such a case any meaningful distinction between an actual inflationary universe and one simulated within an alpha-point computation becomes indistinguishable.
In either case, I have hypothesized what I call the Sans-Ceiling Hypothesis, that there are no upper limits to what sufficiently advanced intelligent life can do (as opposed to the view that there are fundamental limits set by physical law). It’s only an hypothesis of course, but my guess is that if our wonderful little 3-lbs pieces of gray matter can invent quantum physics and take us to the moon, just imagine what future intelligence can do with billions of times greater capacity and billions of years to play with it. Overcoming such limits as the Bekenstein Bound will be child’s play for them. They may not need to stop such occurrences as the Big Rip, they will simply escape its effects altogether..
Welcome to Infinity…
[First Published on Futurehi.net in April, 2004]