Cyborg apocalypse in 2045

Human beings are innately religious, so when they reject traditional religions they replace them with new ones.  Often, they project their religious sensibilities onto other areas of life, such as politics or psychology or medicine, turning them into means of salvation or apocalypse.

Today, many people fear, love, and trust technology.  I have heard of the “singularity”–that time when computers will allegedly attain consciousness–proclaimed as a means of finding eternal life, when we can all download out minds into our computers and live forever.  Now a book is warning about a singularity apocalypse, when computers start to consider human beings–who will by then be cyborgs–to be the equivalent of dangerous insects. [Read more...]

Non-biological bodies & digital immortality

The director of engineering at Google, Ray Kurzweil–who has written a couple of books on these subjects– told a conference that in about 30 years, we will be able to download our minds into the internet to achieve “digital immortality.”  We will also be able to dispense with our physical bodies in favor of “non-biological bodies.”

Think of these goals as the promises of a new religion for our day.  Note the gnosticism, that ancient but always recurring heresy that denigrates the body and the material creation.  No families would be needed, since there would be no need for reproduction.  This would seem to herald the end of sex, though perhaps it would simply be the next step in internet pornography replacing sex.  (Though what would be the locus of desire without bodies?)  Getting rid of biological bodies, of course, would mean killing them, so this opens the door to mass murders, but that would be all right since people’s “minds”–which is the only part that counts–would be downloaded into Google’s servers.  Not much privacy there, but we could access everyone else’s minds, which would be the new version of human relationships, replacing such retro concepts as love and community.

What else?  (After the jump, details from Kurzweil’s sermon to the futurist conference.) [Read more...]

The Singularity will give you everlasting life

A new religion is born.  The concept of the “singularity” used to be a dream of technology, the notion that exponentially-growing computing power would reach a point at which machines would become more intelligent than human beings.  But now the hypothetical Singularity is being invested with religious significance:  It will give you eternal life.

The Singularity, promised by futurist Ray Kurzweil, has accelerated interest in an entirely new field known as Transhumanism, giving hope to deep-pocketed Baby Boomers that they will be able to live forever. Watching Kurzweil’s fascinating documentary film – Transcendent Man (now finally available on Netflix) – you can get a glimpse of what is possible due to the accelerating pace of technological change in fields ranging from genetics to nanotechnology. At some point, the line between “man” and “machine” blurs, as intelligence increases exponentially.

The concept of the Singularity is singularly fascinating since it confirms so much of what appears to be happening around us. Next-generation technologies appear on schedule, seemingly every few months, and popular culture is full of examples of Baby Boomers who are healthier and living longer than ever before. The cultural zeitgeist is right, too: The Baby Boomers are the first generation that is receptive to, rather than threatened by, the pace of technological change.

Perhaps not surprisingly, themes from the Singularity are finding their way from the world of science and technology into the cultural mainstream. At the World Science Festival in New York City, for example, one of the major themes at the event was human longevity and the possibility that we can reverse the human aging process. Just two months ago, at the first-ever Transhumanism Meets Design conference, held at the Parsons School in New York City, speakers joined in from fields such as neuroscience and artificial intelligence to discuss the impact of technology on human potential.

How will all this play out? Will the Singularity be as elusive as the Fountain of Youth? Will we ever see the day when FDA-approved ads for bio-engineered pills promise us the ability to live forever?

via The men and women who want to live forever – Ideas@Innovations – The Washington Post.

The religion of transhumanism!  Doesn’t it resonate with our times?  A religion based solely upon technology–which can already do so many signs and wonders–and that will make no moral demands and require no spiritual beliefs.  Its notion that flesh will become obsolete and its trust in the virtual realm tie in nicely to our gnostic tradition.  Prediction:  Watch for attempts to Christianize the Singularity, as well as attempts to transhumanize the church.

Time’s Person of the Year 2045

I’ve been posting on the Singularity hypothesis and have already alluded to this big story in Time Magazine.  It’s worth reading as perhaps a foretaste of an emerging secular religion, one that will solve all of our problems and bring us everlasting life.  A sample:

So if computers are getting so much faster, so incredibly fast, there might conceivably come a moment when they are capable of something comparable to human intelligence. Artificial intelligence. All that horsepower could be put in the service of emulating whatever it is our brains are doing when they create consciousness — not just doing arithmetic very quickly or composing piano music but also driving cars, writing books, making ethical decisions, appreciating fancy paintings, making witty observations at cocktail parties.

If you can swallow that idea, and [Raymond] Kurzweil and a lot of other very smart people can, then all bets are off. From that point on, there’s no reason to think computers would stop getting more powerful. They would keep on developing until they were far more intelligent than we are. Their rate of development would also continue to increase, because they would take over their own development from their slower-thinking human creators. Imagine a computer scientist that was itself a super-intelligent computer. It would work incredibly quickly. It could draw on huge amounts of data effortlessly. It wouldn’t even take breaks to play Farmville.

Probably. It’s impossible to predict the behavior of these smarter-than-human intelligences with which (with whom?) we might one day share the planet, because if you could, you’d be as smart as they would be. But there are a lot of theories about it. Maybe we’ll merge with them to become super-intelligent cyborgs, using computers to extend our intellectual abilities the same way that cars and planes extend our physical abilities. Maybe the artificial intelligences will help us treat the effects of old age and prolong our life spans indefinitely. Maybe we’ll scan our consciousnesses into computers and live inside them as software, forever, virtually. Maybe the computers will turn on humanity and annihilate us. The one thing all these theories have in common is the transformation of our species into something that is no longer recognizable as such to humanity circa 2011. This transformation has a name: the Singularity.

The difficult thing to keep sight of when you’re talking about the Singularity is that even though it sounds like science fiction, it isn’t, no more than a weather forecast is science fiction. It’s not a fringe idea; it’s a serious hypothesis about the future of life on Earth. There’s an intellectual gag reflex that kicks in anytime you try to swallow an idea that involves super-intelligent immortal cyborgs, but suppress it if you can, because while the Singularity appears to be, on the face of it, preposterous, it’s an idea that rewards sober, careful evaluation.

via Singularity: Kurzweil on 2045, When Humans, Machines Merge — Printout — TIME.

And the date this will come to pass, according to the prophets, is 2045.

Killer asteroid may interfere with Singularity

Wouldn’t that just be humanity’s luck?  An asteroid hits earth and wipes out the human race just 9 years before the Singularity comes to pass and we all would have been made immortal.

From AOL News:

Not to alarm you, but Russian scientists estimate Earth will be hit by an asteroid on April 13, 2036. Should we start packing our bags now? And where would we go?

In 2004, NASA suggested the possibility that the asteroid called Apophis, bigger than two football fields, might collide with our planet in 2029. Further computations changed their minds about that prediction.

And now, Russian figures give us a new date for a possible encounter with the giant rock from space.

“Technically, they’re correct — there is a chance in 2036″ that Apophis will hit Earth, Donald Yeomans, head of NASA’s Near Earth Object Program, told the Life’s Little Mysteries website.

But Yeomans added that the odds of this happening are only 1 in 250,000.

Last month, Leonid Sokolov of Russia’s St. Petersburg State University announced that “Apophis will approach Earth at a distance of 37,000 to 38,000 kilometers on April 13, 2029. Its likely collision with Earth may occur on April 13, 2036.” . . .

The Russian researchers theorize that the nearly 1,000-foot-diameter Apophis might pass through an area in space called a gravitational keyhole in its 2029 pass of Earth. This keyhole might alter the asteroid’s course and aim it for a more direct hit of our home planet.

Yeomans explains that NASA isn’t concerned about Apophis coming too close to us in 2029.

“We’ve already ruled out the possibility of it hitting at that time,” he said. “On the other hand, if it goes through what we call a keyhole during that close Earth encounter … then it will indeed be perturbed just right so that it will come back and smack Earth on April 13, 2036.”

via Russian Scientists Say Asteroid on Collision Course With Earth.

Then read  Time Magazine: 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal

We are going to have to run a whole gauntlet of apocalypses.  First comes Rev. Camping’s prediction that the Rapture will happen on May 21 of this year (just three months left!).  The Mayans predicted that the world will end in 2012.  Then we have April 13, 2036 for the Asteroid.  And 2045 for the Singularity.  At least it’s not just Christians or semi-Christians who are making these kinds of predictions now.

We’ll be a cell of a greater organism

What some people expect will happen, from a review of another book:

In “Why the West Rules, For Now,” his excellent and amusing survey of the last 70,000 years or so of human history, Ian Morris discusses an event we can look forward to in 2045: the Singularity, “effectively merging carbon-and-silicon based intelligence into a single global consciousness. . . . We will transcend biology, evolving into a new, merged being as far ahead of homo sapiens as a contemporary human is of the individual cells that merge to create his or her body.”

via Sherry Turkle’s meditation on technology, “Alone Together”.

And all of us cells will be united, by, what, Facebook?

This, of course, is basically the premise of Gaia worship, which says that we already are all just cells of the organism Earth.  It also makes a great worldview for totalitarianism.

The union of the human and the machine is a goal transhumanism.  As Timothy Leary was dying of cancer, he dreamed of someday being able to download his consciousness into the internet, giving him everlasting life.  If everybody does that, we could dispense with our bodies altogether and all be one.

Is this the beginning of a new religion?  Does anyone know how seriously people, especially in the tech world, are taking this?  The Singularity.  Coming in 2045.   Put that date on your calendar.


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