Excerpt from “Nightmares of the Future: Deconstructing TRANSCENDENCE”

An excerpt from my latest at the Daily Grail, Nightmares of the Future: Deconstructing TRANSCENDENCE:

This theme – fear of extinction, fear of erasure and replacement – is common to everything from Warren Ellis’ newuniversal comic to the Brookings Report…

It’s an existential threat; but it’s psychological, not physical. This isn’t an asteroid about to crash into the Earth or a bomb, poison or plague. This is a mental category about to collapse. The most important of all: what it means to be human. It represents the end of everything they know, everything they are, and it scares the shit out of them. And as any amateur student of human psychology will tell you, fear is a hell of a motivator. The transhuman community and their posthuman leader aren’t killing people, aren’t conquering lands or launching missile strikes, they are quite simply being. But their very existence is frightening enough to the regular, baseline folks. The Neanderthal’s in our tale. Faced with this dilemma, they don’t choose to process their feelings, overcome their initial reaction, interbred and in the process merge cultures, as it now looks certain our hominid cousins did. They fight with certainty and conviction that its the only rational thing to do.

Fear of change, fear of loss of control. The idea that the AI could be running things without them even being aware of it…

The Anthropocene is the idea that the planet we inhabit has been completely reshaped by the activities of human civilisation. That no part of our world has been left unchanged. Most obviously, this is climate change; but it’s more than just a change in weather patterns. It’s things like the concentration of CO2 in sea ice we’ve never set foot on and the addition of “plastiglomerate” to geology – rocks made from plastic melted in fires.

Awesome, right? We changed the world. Humans rule! But what if it went all horribly wrong and completely out of control? (You know, worse than climate chaos even.) Overt and undeniable.

That’s the Gray Goo scenario – nanotechnology unleashed on the world, out-competing natural systems…

Another existential threat. Physical, not metaphysical this time. But where the Neanderthal Dilemma is a negative reaction, classic fear of the other, to a change in progress – the coming of a new race – this is the nightmare of an out-of-control technology. What’s frightening isn’t the destruction of Platonic ideals, but the radical transformation of the earthly plane. The Gray Goo is the sentient ooze of an unknowable posthuman world affecting its own agenda on the Earth.

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