Yet of all the projects currently under development, the most revolutionary is the attempt to devise a direct two-way brain-computer interface that will allow computers to read the electrical signals of a human brain, simultaneously transmitting signals that the brain can read in turn. What if such interfaces are used to directly link a brain to the Internet, or to directly link several brains to each other, thereby creating a sort of Inter-brain-net? What might happen to human memory, human consciousness and human identity if the brain has direct access to a collective memory bank? In such a situation, one cyborg could, for example, retrieve the memories of another – not hear about them, not read about them in an autobiography, not imagine them, but directly remember them as if they were his own. Or her own. What happens to concepts such as the self and gender identity when minds become collective? How could you know thyself or follow your dream if the dream is not in your mind but in some collective reservoir of aspirations?
Such a cyborg would no longer be human, or even organic. It would be something completely different. It would be so fundamentally another kind of being that we cannot even grasp the philosophical, psychological or political implications.
The way you tell it is that we’re at a point of inflection: that we’re on the cusp of perhaps the greatest change for the human race ever?
“Probably, yes. I mean the one thing that has remained constant in history was humans themselves. Homo sapiens, you and me, we are basically the same as people 10,000 years ago. The next revolution will change that.”
The “next revolution”, as Harari sees it, the latest in a line that began with the cognitive revolution and takes in the agricultural revolution and the scientific revolution, is what is happening in the biotech field, in artificial intelligence.
“When people talk about merging with computers to create cyborgs, it’s not some prophecy about the year 2200. It’s happening right now. More and more of our reality exists within computers or through them.”
But this is only the start of it. For the first time in history, “we will see real changes in humans themselves – in their biology, in their physical and cognitive abilities”. And while we have enough imagination to invent new technologies, we are unable to foresee their consequences.
“It was the same with the agricultural revolution about 10,000 years ago. Nobody sat down and had a vision: ‘This is what agriculture is going to be for humankind and for the rest of the planet.’ It was an incremental process, step by step, taking centuries, even thousands of years, which nobody really understood and nobody could foresee the consequences.”
[the Posthuman Revolution will be like the Agricultural Revolution? OK http://m1k3y.tumblr.com/post/122146219689/excerpt-from-uplifting-civilisation-2-the]
Read more "the endless immensity of the sea"
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“But wait – what is Dark Extropianism anyway, m1k3y?”
Short version: clone Ray Kurzweil, feed this clone only LSD-laced Soylent for a year. Initiate this clone into a secret eternal mystic order – which totally isn’t an asteroid death cult – then sit him on a mountain top with a stack of cyberpunk novels, spy craft manuals, esoteric texts, crackly recordings of Terence McKenna lectures, high resolution astrobiology conference videos, legitimately acquired ecological academic papers, printouts of rewilding pamphlets, de-extinction manifestos and a never-ending background soundtrack of witch haus and dark ambient musics. Behind him the whole time sits a resurrected Mammoth. And the whole thing is rendered in that western anime Korra/Ang universe style. How’s that for a scatter map to project onto?
Read more "On using modified extremophiles to seed new worlds"
Synthetic biology has the potential to make organisms more resistant to radiation or temperature extremes,” she said. “You can mix and match genes and do all sorts of things that if you were breeding [organisms] would take forever.”
These modified extremophiles can shed light on a variety of astrobiological questions, including whether or not a planet is potentially habitable. “Say we find a planet, and it has a certain pH, temperature, and radiation regime,” Rothschild told me.
“That’s where we take up the challenge and go into the lab,” she continued. “We’ll say, ‘All right, let’s start with this one that can live at low pH and high temperature. Can we add the radiation resistance?’ Then, we can go back to the astronomers and say [habitability] is not impossible, because we just made something in the lab like that last week.
Read more "Wormhole Engineering For Beginniners"
Specifically, they suggested that wormholes are each pairs of black holes that are entangled with one another.
Entangled black holes could be generated in a number of ways. For instance, a pair of black holes could in principle be made simultaneously, and these would automatically be entangled. Alternatively, radiation given off by a black hole could be captured and then collapsed into a black hole, and the resulting black hole would be entangled with the black hole that supplied the ingredients for it.
Maldacena and Susskind not only suggested that wormholes are entangled black holes, but they argued that entanglement in general was linked to wormholes. They conjectured that entangled particles such as electrons and photons were connected by extraordinarily tiny wormholes.
Jensen and Karch found that if one imagined entangled pairs in a universe with four dimensions, they behaved in the same way as wormholes in a universe with an extra fifth dimension. Essentially, they discovered that entanglement and wormholes may be one and the same.
“Entangled pairs were the holographic images of a system with a wormhole,” Jensen said. Independent research from theoretical physicist Julian Sonner at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology supports this finding.
The ability to create unifying myths (used here as powerful, defining stories, not fictions) is our most powerful, distinguishing characteristic as a species.
Harari consigns all those myths to the realm of fiction — not only religions but the whole enterprise of humanistic, rights-based liberalism: “There are no gods in the universe, no nations, no money, no human rights, no laws, and no justice outside the common imagination of human beings.” With a kind of courageous consistency, he argues that the life sciences reveal sapiens as nothing more than a bundle of neurons, blood and bile. And that, he concedes, destroys the whole basis for ethics, law and democracy.
Harari shrugs where he should shudder. It is not a minor thing to assert that the main evolutionary advantage of sapiens — their capacity to produce meaning — is a cruel and pointless joke. There is at least one other alternative: that the best of our stories are not frauds but hints, and that the whole unlikely story has led sapiens to a justified belief in their own dignity and purpose.
In this case, the myths produced by Homo sapiens would be not the lies we tell ourselves but the truths we dimly perceive.