No one who has ever attempted to hone their craft as a writer ever benefited from merely having praise heaped onto them constantly. In fact, there are some studies showing that those who take criticism well show better job performance in the workplace. Altogether, we can either choose to allow criticism to hinder or us, or as I have found in my own experience with writing as a profession, the challenge of criticism can afford us the ability to sharpen our argument and skill.
Earlier this morning, I received such a critique from someone who had listened to my recent appearance on The Russell Scott Show. Russell and I had an enjoyable conversation, and I recommend that others check out the interview as well, which I’ve linked in the window above. However, the critical viewpoint, posted by one of the users on the Godlike Productions Forum, actually provided a great opportunity to delve into the realm of technological singularity, and controversial subjects that include whether the Internet may eventually become “conscious”, in addition to the synthetic nature of reality.
I am not particularly a “proponent” of things like transhumanism or technological singularity. Instead, I merely feel that a strong case can be made that a link exists between the study of such things, and the growing body of knowledge pertaining to things like UFOs (which, perhaps at times like this, have come to be less interesting to me than the scientific potentials existent elsewhere… though I’ll never forsake the UFO subject like so many of the self-proclaimed “heady thinkers” out there). Below, in addition to encapsulating portions of that argument, I’ve also linked to a few articles and videos that help to further articulate the point that a case can be made for such things as consciousness emerging from the internet, in addition to what some liken to being a “synthetic” reality similar to that espoused in the Matrix films.
Also, you can view the original thread by clicking here.
I appreciate the critique you’ve given, since no one who hopes to present a decent argument will ever improve their ability to communicate that if they don’t receive criticism from time to time. I’ll hope to address a few of those issues here, if I can.
I think that when I describe myself as a “skeptic,” this confuses folks from time to time. Hence, I’ll take a look at the first idea you’ve expressed: that “Micah Hanks to me, seems to be a little undecided when it comes to his own beliefs.”
Beliefs, to me, are concepts or expressions that we accept with certainty, because we are able to justify those things with facts. When it comes to studying future technologies, synthetic aspects of our reality, and yes, UFO phenomenon, we are virtually pummeled with an entire host of uncertainties. Hence, I feel that the greatest issue we face, perhaps, is that so many people tend to gravitate toward ideas that have no verifiable, scientific basis (for example, that UFOs must be “extraterrestrial,” based simply on the fact that we apparently have no better explanation for their presence). What I try to avoid, with my research, is leaping to conclusions of any kind, whether based on presuppositions, or even the accepted norms of others. And therefore, when I discuss things like UFOs, transhumanism, and any potential connections between the two, I do find sometimes that people misinterpret the careful distance I place between myself and these subjects as being “non-committal,” or even “undecided,” as you have espoused. I’m quite clear about my own “beliefs,” but perhaps the things Russell and I discussed are, to put it fairly, things I remain, at times, undecided about, simply because it would do them no justice in a practical sense for me to leap to unfounded, pseudoscientific conclusions.
Next, we’ll look at the Internet as a form of consciousness: again, this is only a theory I propose, although I do present plenty of expert opinions on this in my book, The UFO Singularity, rather than merely rambling on about it as an opinion of my own. Instead, I only acknowledge it as a possibility. For more on this subject (and from a source I find to be far more well versed in the technical studies of futurism, transhumanism, and technological singularity), I recommend Ben Goertzel Ph.D.’s article, “When the Net Becomes Conscious”:
The Multiverse According to Ben: When the Net Becomes Conscious
Also, the interview below with neuroscientist Christof Koch takes a reasonable, informed approach to the question of whether a variety of “consciousness” could ever emerge from within the Internet:
The Nature of Consciousness: How the Internet could Learn to Feel
You had mentioned, “Transhumanism to me is something that would prove his internet as a consciousness theory completely false.” However, I would respectfully argue that a label we give to a particular branch of thought (“transhumanism,” in this case) cannot by itself “prove” or “disprove” anything. To define it concisely, transhumanism is “an international intellectual and cultural movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to eliminate aging and to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.” Many leading transhumanist proponents (including my associate Dr. Goertzel, mentioned above) feel strongly that the study of artificial intelligence (A.I.) is key in the furtherance of such technologies that would “enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.” Within the very broad scope of how an artificial variety of intelligence might come into being, Goertzel, and several others, have questioned whether the Internet itself may hold a few answers as we ponder our way along that line of thought. And yes, it is an idea I’ve put forth more than once in the past, though I’m not married to it. 😉
“It’s a good thing I wasn’t sipping on a cup of coffee when the idea that the Universe is a grand computer design or simulation was brought up in the show. It could’ve cost me a computer.” As a fellow lover of coffee, I’d recommend not doing that! A friend recently dumped coffee all over his MacBook Pro in such a fashion, and we spent hours trying to dry everything out (fortunately, we got it running again). And if coffee destroyed your computer, we’d be unable to share ideas and discourse like this! 🙂
But that said, I should steer this discussion in the direction of the research of Dr. Sylvester James Gates, Jr, who espouses that within the studies of string theory and supersymmetry, we find evidence of mathematical coding that is equivalent to the kinds of programming used in modern computer science. For a cursory explanation of this principle, you may view Dr. Gates speaking about this at an event hosted by Neil Degrass Tyson in the video below:
There is indeed some justification for aspects of our known universe being “simulated,” but again… I don’t mean to seem “undecided” on the matter when I point out that the science behind it is merely a theory… it does happen to be fairly well articulated, however.
And despite being labeled here as “some hack looking for followers” (hey, maybe it’s a fair subjective assessment in some capacities, at least), I must state yet again that, while as a journalist I choose to study transhumanism, artificial intelligence, and the science underlying technological singularity and similar related subjects, I try to do so in a way that draws from scientific models and theories, rather than recoiling and trusting solely my intuition on the matter. And to borrow your own justification here, “our ability to change, feel emotion, and create our own opinions” could one day be the very same fundamental elements that lead to the creation of intelligent machines that may be able to do the same.
Will it be good, or bad, respective to the existence (as we know it today) of human life on planet Earth? Who knows… but for the time being, it is an important subject to address, and I thank you for the opportunity (in good fun and humility, of course) to clarify my “ramblings” here for everyone.
Again, I do feel that it’s even potentially dangerous to so blindly welcome ideas like “technological singularity” by launching ourselves at them full throttle. There are far too many possibilities existent here, and notions which could be more than simply disturbing in terms of how they might change life on Earth as we know it today. Nonetheless, I maintain that while opinons on the matter will remain wide and varied, we cannot deny the presence of scientifically justified arguments (a few of which I present here) that, in their totality, express to us one fundamental truth: the universe we think we know is hardly what we’re really dealing with.by