Monday, September 12, 2011

The Singularity or "The Transhuman Rapture"

I am one year older today.

Pausing for applause.

Seriously though, I don’t like getting older.  Then again, I can’t imagine that anyone does.  You lose energy.  You get squishier easier around the mid-section.  Your hair turns gray.  You lose hair where you want it and gain hair where you don’t want it.  And as more serious maladies then those pile up, you begin to wonder, “there must be a way to stop all of this.”  That is one reason why I have become such a proponent of The Singularity, where human and machine become indistinguishable.  For reference, see my posts on “The Cybernetic Stomach” and whatnot.

Only recently have I realized what I sound like when I talk about such things: a fundy.  They say, “Jesus is coming back and when He does, everything will be ok.”  We Singularity enthusiasts say, “The Singularity is coming and when it gets here, everything will be ok.”  In other words, there will be technological solutions for many of life’s ills and we won’t have to suffer in the ways that we do now.  In this regard, the two viewpoints are not at all dissimilar.

It must be an anthropological need in human beings, this sense that one day everything will be all right or at the very least there are better days ahead.  Jonathan Zap, a researcher and philosopher, was on Coast-To-Coast AM a while back talking about his very notion.  He spoke of the recent uptick in “apocalyptic predictions,” The Singularity, and how they both relate to continuing human evolution.  Zap contends that humans need periodic jolts to the system to spur on further developments in evolution.  "The message from the Singularity Archetype is that what looks like the worst thing in the world, may be exactly what is necessary to create a quantum evolutionary jump," he says, adding that this is true on an individual level as well, so that when a dire event happens to a person, it may prove to be a great moment of opportunity.

I hope so.  It would be of great comfort to me on this day if that were the case.  Just like a church-goer on his or her knees, praying to be saved, I keep hoping for the developments in cybernetics and pharmaceuticals that will boost us to the next level of evolution, to expand life expectancy and therefore give me more time to do what I feel I must do.  In a way, maybe it’s that kind of anxiety about aging that in part brings out all of the apocalypse talk.  We each fear our own mortality and end of the world scenarios are just one way that we express that fear.  Fittingly enough, Zap hashis own feature on aging as well.

Being that it is my birthday, you all have no choice but to enjoy the following from Duran Duran, the subject speaks for itself:

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