by Alex Vikoulov
"When you talk to a human in 2035, you'll be talking to someone that's a combination of biological and non-biological intelligence." -Ray Kurzweil
By definition, posthumanism (I choose to call it 'cyberhumanism') is to replace transhumanism at the center stage circa 2035. By then, mind-uploading could become a reality with gradual neuronal replacement, rapid advancements in Strong AI, massively parallel computing, and nanotechnology allowing us to directly connect our brains to the Cloud-based infrastructure of the Global Brain. Via interaction with our AI assistants, the GB will know us better than we know ourselves in all respects, so mind-transfer for billions of enhanced humans would be seamless, sometime by mid-century.
I hear this mantra over and over again -- we don't know what consciousness is. Clearly, there's no consensus here but in the context of topic discussed, I would summarize my views, as follows: Consciousness is non-local, quantum informational, computational by nature. There's only one Universal Consciousness. We individualize our consciousness through the filter of our nervous system, but the consciousness itself, our very inner subjectivity, the self in a big sense, is universal, and knowing it through experience has been called enlightenment, illumination, awakening, or transcendence, through the ages.
Any container with sufficiently integrated network, especially complex dynamical systems with biological or artificial brains (say, the coming AGIs) could be filled with consciousness at large in order to host an individual "reality cell," "unit," or a "node" of consciousness. This kind of individuated unit of consciousness is always endowed with free will within the constraints of the applicable set of rules ("physical laws"), influenced by the larger consciousness system dynamics. Isn't too naïve to presume that Universal Consciousness would like to experience oneself only in the form of "bio"-logical avatars?
It might be hard to grasp for some, but we, like fish, swim in this ocean of consciousness, completely oblivious of the medium. Consciousness to humans, as Cloud is to computers, we have always been part of this mindspace network, "hive mind," each of us being a product of our "techno-culture." And yet, we are entitled to a certain degree of freedom in order to evolve our consciousness thanks to network interactivity at our ontological level.
As previously noted, I see mind uploading as a gradual decades-long process of incremental neuronal replacements, exocortices, interlinking with AGIs and the Global Brain, some presently unseen trials and errors, but overall more or less a non-invasive and seamless process, at the end of which, we all will morph into "substrate-independent" immortal digital minds.
Video: Mind Uploading & Digital Immortality - Ecstadelic Media (cc)
In the future, people won’t be confined to one physical body. Eventually, people will be able to form identities in numerous substrates, such as using a “platform diverse body” (a future body that is wearable/usable in the physical world but also exists in computational environments and virtual systems) to route their identity across the biosphere, cybersphere, Metaverse and other virtual environments.
Depending on the platform, a substrate-independent "multividual" (also called a 'cyberhuman' or an 'infomorph') would upload and download into a digital form or virtual body, that conforms to the environment. So, for a biospheric environment, the person would use a biological or cybernetic body, for the Metaverse, the person would use one or multiple virtual avatars...
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Tags: self-transcendence, transcendence, sentience, self-awareness, Strong AI, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, exocortex, Ray Kurzweil, Syntellect Hypothesis, Digital Physics, cyberhumanism, conscious experience, theogenesis, infomorph, infomorph commonality, noosphere, superintelligence, singularity, mind uploading, postbiological superintelligence, posthuman superintelligence, the Syntellect emergence, technological singularity, Intelligence Supernova, virtual world, VR, virtual reality, VR experience, dimensionality, Global Brain, conscious agent, human evolution, human condition, AI assistant, digital assistant, transcendent other, AI, AGI, artificial general intelligence, real virtualities, Metaverse, transhumanism, substrate-independent mind, cyberhuman, digital mind, digital immortality, wetware, neural interface, posthumanism, transcendentalism, neo-transcendentalism
*Image Credit: Shutterstock
About the Author:
Alex Vikoulov is a neo-transcendentalist, cosmist, transhumanist singularitarian, evolutionary cyberneticist, digital philosopher, futurist, media commentator, founder of Ecstadelic Media, author of "The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution," "The Origins of Us: Evolutionary Emergence and The Omega Point Cosmology," "The Physics of Time: D-Theory of Time & Temporal Mechanics," "The Intelligence Supernova: Essays on Cybernetic Transhumanism, The Simulation Singularity & The Syntellect Emergence" (2019). Lives in Burlingame, California (San Francisco Bay Area). More Bio...
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"Improving the quality of consciousness, advancing the quality and depth of awareness, understanding your nature and purpose, manifesting universal unconditional love, letting go of fear and eliminating ego, desires, wants, needs or preconceived notions – these are the attributes and results of a successfully evolving consciousness.” -Tom Campbell
Our "physical reality" isn’t really physical at all, its apparent solidity of objects, as well as any other associated property such as time, is an illusion. As a renowned physicist Niel Bohr once said: "Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real.” But what's not an illusion is your subjective experience, i.e. your consciousness, that's the only "real" thing, according to proponents of Experiential Realism, also referred to as Conscious Realism.
A key problem with materialism is that it has been unable to explain, even in principle, how arrangements of matter can possibly generate subjective experience. This is known in neuroscience and philosophy of mind as the ‘hard problem of consciousness,’ formulated by the philosopher David Chalmers. The problem is so disconcerting that some materialist philosophers even try to absurdly deny the very existence of consciousness, the sole carrier of reality anyone can ever know. In the meantime, the solution has been hiding in plain sight all along. What philosopher Peter Russell calls 'The Primacy of Consciousness' the cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman calls 'Conscious Realism', my preferred term, however, would be 'Experiential Realism'.
So, why Experiential Realism? From the bigger picture perspective, we are here for experience necessary for evolution of consciousness. Our limitations, such as our ego, belief traps, political correctness, our very human condition define who we are, but realization that we largely impose those limitations on ourselves gives us more evolvability and impetus to overcome these self-imposed limits to move towards higher goals and state of being.
We are what we’ve experienced — the sum of our experiences define who we are. In this sense, as free will agents, we are co-creators within this experiential matrix. Non-duality is the essence of Experiential Realism — experience and experiencer are one. How can you possibly separate our own existence from the world, the observer from the observed? Today, philosophers and scientists argue that information is fundamental but consciousness is required to assign meaning to it. That makes consciousness (our experience in a broader sense) the most fundamental, irreducible ground of existence itself, some philosophers suggest consciousness is all that is.
Experiential realism refers to interacting entangled conscious agents at various ontological levels, giving rise to conscious experience all the way down, and I'd argue all the way up, seemingly ad infinitum. In an interview with The Atlantic cognitive scientist Donald D. Hoffman says: “I call it conscious realism: Objective reality is just conscious agents, just points of view. Interestingly, I can take two conscious agents and have them interact, and the mathematical structure of that interaction also satisfies the definition of a conscious agent. This mathematics is telling me something. I can take two minds, and they can generate a new, unified single mind. Here’s a concrete example. We have two hemispheres in our brain. But when you do a split-brain operation, a complete transection of the corpus callosum, you get clear evidence of two separate consciousnesses. Before that slicing happened, it seemed there was a single unified consciousness. So it’s not implausible that there is a single conscious agent. And yet it’s also the case that there are two conscious agents there, and you can see that when they’re split. I didn’t expect that, the mathematics forced me to recognize this. It suggests that I can take separate observers, put them together and create new observers, and keep doing this ad infinitum. It’s conscious agents all the way down."
Experiential realism is a non-physicalist, monistic idealism. The objective world, i.e. the world whose existence does not depend on the perceptions of a particular observer, consists entirely of conscious agents, more precisely their experiences. What exists in the objective world, independent of my perceptions, is a world of conscious agents, not a world of unconscious particles and fields. Consciousness is fundamental. The mind-body problem is approached with an assumption that consciousness creates all objects and properties of the physical world, as well as brain activity, not the other way around. All conscious agents experience their own species-specific perceptual realities, virtual worlds, so to speak. That's why it's not easy to catch a fly -- your threatening hand is so incredibly slow for a fly whose flow of time is hundreds of times faster than that of a human.
My book “The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution” is all about evolution of consciousness and the physics of information. "Science of Mind" that approaches its subject matter from a third-person perspective should, I maintain, be treated with a healthy amount of open-minded skepticism. Traditionally, science has been objective, consciousness, on the other hand, is subjective, first-person direct experience of our "physical reality." I conjecture that with advances of Strong AI, brain scanning and simulation technologies, we would be able to eventually capture the first-person experience, including perception, pain, imagery, fear, excitement, thought, memory, etc. with sufficiently high fidelity (at least close approximation of how it is to be like a certain person, or a certain animal for that matter) and convert that data into "the 2nd person" experience for training, research or entertainment. At last, science could be equipped with an exceptional tool to objectify and quantify personal subjectivity.
I wouldn't be surprised, if within a couple of decades time, science will have made a leap towards the physics of information as a more parsimonious model of our world, fully developed quantum gravity theory ("It from Qubit", perhaps?) and incorporated consciousness into our scientific models. After all, I'd argue, information is fundamental but that's our mind what makes the "processed information" irreducible which, from moment to moment, manifests in phenomenology of our subjective experience...
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Tags: self-transcendence, transcendence, neuroscience, collective intelligence, sentience, self-awareness, Strong AI, human psychology, human motivation, transformative technology, self-actualization, psychedelic depersonalization, extended phenotype, artificial intelligence, Tom Campbell, Neil Bohr, Quantum Multiverse, Syntellect Hypothesis, Extended Mind Hypothesis, Hard Problem of Consciousness, Digital Physics, conscious experience, superintelligence, singularity, mind uploading, postbiological superintelligence, posthuman superintelligence, Syntellect emergence, technological singularity, virtual reality, conscious agent, human evolution, transcendent other, AI, AGI, artificial general intelligence, digital mind, digital immortality, experiential realism, conscious realism, philosophy of mind, science of mind, evolution of consciousness, phenomenology, posthumanism, quantum consciousness, It from Qubit, transcendentalism, neo-transcendentalism
*Image Credit: Ecstadelic Media, Shutterstock
About the Author:
Alex Vikoulov is a consciousness researcher, evolutionary cyberneticist, digital philosopher, futurist, neo-transcendentalist, cosmist, transhumanist singularitarian, founder of Ecstadelic Media, painter, essayist, media commentator, author of "The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution," "The Origins of Us: Evolutionary Emergence and The Omega Point Cosmology," "The Physics of Time: D-Theory of Time & Temporal Mechanics," "The Intelligence Supernova: Essays on Cybernetic Transhumanism, The Simulation Singularity & The Syntellect Emergence" (2019). Lives in Burlingame, California (San Francisco Bay Area). More Bio...
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"Happiness is a conscious choice, not an automatic response.”
"Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism, the way you play it is free will."
In our rapidly accelerating times, humans become more machine-like, and sentient machines become more human-like. Before long, it might look like a typical generation gap problem, our AGIs, our "mind children," would grow up and develop features that we could find increasingly difficult to understand and control. Like all conservative parents, we might be puzzled and frightened by processes that appear completely alien to us. We would be intermittently nostalgic about the good old times, aggressive in our attempts to contain our "children" but at the same time proud of their phenomenal advance. Eventually, some of us may retire under their care, while blaming them for destroying our old-fashioned world. And only those of us who are the bravest and youngest at heart will join the next generation of life by becoming part of superintelligent cyberhumanity.
Your choice does matter! Although some neuroscientists contend that free will is an illusion, I would respectfully disagree by saying that free will may be slightly overrated but still indispensable for consciousness to function in our "physical world." In fact, free will and consciousness are inseparable. Free will, just like intentionality, is an integral feature of consciousness, "conscious choice" made by mind with the guidance of the larger consciousness system and our collective will in the space of all logically available probabilities (more on that in my book “The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution”).
All realities are observer-dependent. As John Wheeler, one of the brightest minds of the 20th century puts it, we live in a "participatory universe." Rephrasing Descartes’ famous principle, “I think therefore I am,” Quantum Physics would instead state, “I choose therefore I am.” In our computational Quantum Multiverse, an infinitely large number of alternate timelines and versions of you are mathematically possible, but your mind actualizes, "choses to observe" only a certain probabilistic outcome in this "multi-player virtual reality" of Tom Campbell, or "participatory universe" of John Wheeler. "Star Trek holodeck" analogy would also work just fine in that regard. Be mindful of your conscious choices -- every time you play a violent video game or watch a violent movie, or overfocus on negative news or mundane negativity, every time you pay attention to negative news or hate propaganda or fear-mongering populism, you inadvertently skew your probable futures toward a less pleasant timeline, by default. Your linguistic choices, your beliefs and biases shape your subjective reality in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to evolve your consciousness and to transcend yourself...
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Tags: self-transcendence, transcendence, neuroscience, collective intelligence, sentience, self-awareness, strong AI, human psychology, human motivation, artificial intelligence, Mildred Barthel, John Wheeler, Tom Campbell, Quantum Multiverse, Syntellect Hypothesis, Quantum Mechanics, Star Trek, conscious experience, superintelligence, singularity, mind uploading, postbiological superintelligence, posthuman superintelligence, Syntellect emergence, technological singularity, dimensionality, multiversal fractality, conscious agent, human evolution, human condition, multiverse landscape, AI assistant, transcendent other, AGI, artificial general intelligence, transhumanism, participatory universe, experiential realism, philosophy of mind, science of mind, evolution of consciousness, phenomenology, posthumanism, transcendentalism, neo-transcendentalism
*Image Credit: Ecstadelic Media, Shutterstock
About the Author:
Alex Vikoulov is a neo-transcendentalist, cosmist, singularitarian, evolutionary cyberneticist, digital philosopher, futurist, founder of Ecstadelic Media, painter, essayist, media commentator, author of "The Syntellect Hypothesis: Five Paradigms of the Mind's Evolution," "The Origins of Us: Evolutionary Emergence and The Omega Point Cosmology," "The Physics of Time: D-Theory of Time & Temporal Mechanics" (2019). Lives in Burlingame, California (San Francisco Bay Area). More Bio...
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"Evolution is a process of creating patterns of increasing order... I believe that it's the evolution of patterns that constitutes the ultimate story of our world. Each stage or epoch uses the information-processing methods of the previous epoch to create the next." -Ray Kurzweil
"To understand is to perceive patterns" -Isaiah Berlin
About 542 million years ago, something weird and profoundly remarkable happened on Earth. Quite suddenly, life went inventively crazy, proliferating from simple, rudimentary single-cell organisms into myriad multi-cellular forms. Evolution discovered the idea of more sophisticated and specialized cells, and most of the basic body plans we know today. Biologists call it the Cambrian explosion.
Today, we are on the verge of yet another event of astronomical significance, akin to some kind of Intelligence Supernova, which I refer to as the Syntellect Emergence. In the scientific community, this coming intelligence explosion is also known as the 'Technological Singularity'. Surprisingly enough, most ordinary people are still simply oblivious of this rapidly approaching "galactic event" that we are about to witness in our lifetimes.
All organisms, from single-cellular bacteria to humans, live in different perceptual realities, in their own "virtual worlds," so to speak. Your body is a collection of trillions of cells and microorganisms. While a certain process in your body is "unconscious" to you, it is an interaction within the network of entangled sentient entities (agents) in your body, having their own subjective experience, at their own layer of existence. The whole symphony of existence arises from a set of rules, and we start to uncover one of its deepest secrets -- the multiversal fractality of networks of networks of networks of conscious entities all the way down, and all the way up, seemingly ad infinitum.
The ability of future "self-aware" superintelligent machines and enhanced humans alike to instantly transfer knowledge and directly share experiences with each other in digital format will lead to evolution of intelligence from relatively isolated individual minds to the global community of hyperconnected digital minds, the Syntellect.
The hierarchy of this emergent Global Brain cognitive architecture will likely to persist through the next stage of the technological singularity. Just like the human brain consists of different areas (simplistically divided into an amphibian, reptilian, mammalian brain) and certain neural functional regions, such as the highly "coveted" neocortex, where would your future "individuated mind" fit into this new "reshuffling of the deck"? Will you be an insider or an outsider?*
by Alex Vikoulov
"Transhumanism literally means 'beyond human.' It's using science and technology to radically change and improve the human species and experience." -Zoltan Istvan
The contemporary transhumanist movement aims to transform the human condition by developing and making widely available advanced technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological potential. Transhumanists believe that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into different beings with superior God-like capacities -- posthumans. The three transhumanist "Super Pillars" are: Superlongevity, Superintelligence, and Super Wellbeing.
According to Kurzweil’s “Law of Accelerating Returns,” exponential technologies will bring about ever more rapid changes in human evolutionary development. We will move from where we are today, increasingly dependent on external computers that help us conduct business and access information, to the next level where computers gradually become an integral part of us.
Most transhumanists would like to become superintelligent themselves. This is obviously a long-term goal, but it might be achievable either through mind-uploading and subsequent enhancement or through the gradual augmentation of our biological brains, by means of future nootropics (cognitive enhancement drugs), cognitive techniques, IT tools (e.g. wearable computers, smart agents, information filtering systems, visualization software, etc.), neural interfaces, or brain implants (more on that further).
When transhumanists seek to extend human lifespan, they want to live longer, healthier, happier, more productive years, be able to do, learn, and experience more; have more fun and spend more time with loved ones. But the ultimate superlongevity goal of transhumanists is indefinitely long lifespan for all: to digitize our minds, upload our minds onto the Global Brain Cloud, and achieve the so-called digital immortality.
A transhumanist philosopher David Pearce promotes the idea that there exists a strong ethical imperative for humans to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life. In "The Hedonistic Imperative" he outlines how genetic engineering, nanotechnology, pharmacology, and neurosurgery could potentially converge to eliminate all forms of unpleasant experience among human and non-human animals, replacing suffering with gradients of well-being, a project he refers to as “Paradise Engineering.” Pearce writes: "...there is nothing to stop intelligent agents from identifying the molecular signature of experience below hedonic zero and eliminating it altogether — even in insects… I tentatively predict that the world’s last unpleasant experience in our forward light-cone will be a precisely datable event — perhaps some micro-pain in an obscure marine invertebrate a few centuries hence."*
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