Daily Archives: August 28th, 2007

Will the Singularity be a Techno-Rapture?

The Rapture – Wikipedia definition: “In conservative Christian eschatology, the Rapture is the name given to an event in which Jesus Christ descends from Heaven, accompanied by the spirits of all the saints of God, both from the pre-incarnation period these saints are transported from the Earth to meet the Lord and be rejoined with their corresponding spirits in the air. Immediately after this, all Christians alive on the earth are simultaneously transported to meet the Lord and those who have preceded them in the air. All are transformed into immortal bodies like Jesus’ body, often referred to as the “resurrection body“.

Techno-Rapture – Singularity, The. The Techno-Rapture. A black hole in the Extropian worldview whose gravity is so intense that no light can be shed on what lies beyond it.

Singularity – The postulated point or short period in our future when our self-guided evolutionary development accelerates enormously (powered by nanotechnology, neuroscience, AI, and perhaps uploading) so that nothing beyond that time can reliably be conceived.

The concept of a technological Singularity hasn’t yet reached mainstream thought, but it is gaining momentum every time a new break-through comes about in computer science, usually in the form of faster computing speeds via optical or quantum chips. The robotic sciences, especially in Japan contributes when a discovery is made on how a robotic brain “learns” like a little child makes the vision of a Singularity that much closer. Any gain in orthopedics on how artificial appendages are made to “mimic” the real thing contributes and projects in virtual reality such as Second Life and Google Earth (and Space) add their share too.

But will any advancement in these studies produce an artificial intelligence capable of passing a Turing Test, have “consciousness” or “soul” for lack of a better word?

If there is to be a Singularity or Techno-Rapture, I believe it will have to be through a fusion of humanity and machine, cyborg in other words. Only with a human “consciousness” that can be used as a base have a chance to be enhanced by artificial means to achieve hyper-awareness. Already our collective memories are being enhanced by means such as Internet search engines like Google, Yahoo, Ask, Lycos and what have you. Networked computers along with their larger hard-drives store more information than ever before. Imagine what you could do if you wore an input device like a pair of glasses (Charles Stross’s Manfred Mancx in Accelerando), a hearing aid, or a chip implanted into a stroke patient or a parapelegic? I know there’s times I wish I could readily access the InnerTubes quickly through a neural link or store something important like a business, doctor’s or any other kind of appointment in a medium other than my old unreliable grey matter.

A techno-rapture could occur if millions of users neural linked on the Web enhanced their intelligence to the point where a “hive-mind” would be formed and the resulting intelligence would evolve itself, create it’s own “Universe”, leave Earth en masse and entered said new “reality”.

Would that be a “Rapture” and the created Universe “Heaven”?

Of course there are many detracters and naysayers to this scenario. And the protests would not be without merit. Many can picture abuses by governments, corporations, individuals with fortunes and any combination thereof when dealing with this technology, especially the brain chip technologies. What government wouldn’t want brain chip controlled armies, corporations staffed by willing slaves working for nothing and a CEO controlling a senior VP working for a competitor? Not to mention the very idea of forming a “hive-mind” is an abomination to people who strongly believe in individual personal “sovereignty”. It is the classical battle of the old Industrial Revolution, “free enterprise”(individualism) vs. “communism”(hive-mind). Some would argue in fact the latter is already happening. I myself have argued that issue.

In the final analysis, a rapture in any sense or interpretation of the term boils down to a belief system of some sort. Either you believe in the classical literal spiritual uplifting to a higher plain of existence, or the Information Age Singularity way of enlightenment.

Maybe both are needed.