On Transhumanism and The Fermi Paradox

As I wander the blogosphere, lurking, occasionally commenting and most of all, learning, I have discovered that I haven’t written much about one of the topics I perceived to be important to me at the time; Transhumanism.

Transhumanism in the strict meaning of the term is; “an international intellectual and cultural movement supporting the use of new sciences and technologies to enhance human mental and physical abilities and aptitudes, and ameliorate what it regards as undesirable and unnecessary aspects of the human condition, such as stupidity, suffering, disease, aging and involuntary death“, according to Wikipedia. Transhumanism has also been considered an extension of humanism, the inference being that Plato and Socrates would have approved of technology as one means of improving the human condition. And thirdly, transhumanism in many circles is believed to be a necessary step toward becoming posthuman, the pinnacle of human evolution. Often posthumanism and the Technological Singularity are linked together in many discussions. 

My undesirable aspects of the human condition at the time was suffering two heart attacks, debilitating heart disease and involuntary death. It didn’t look good for the ol’ Dadster. Fortunately for me, medical science relating to heart disease has improved to the point in the past thirty years, bypassing clogged or dead blood vessels around the heart is a routine procedure. I was in and out of the hospital in four days. The surgery is still invasive and recovery can be painful, but rehab helped and I was back to work in four months. I can safely say that I qualify for the transhuman club, in fact I consider myself just that.

“But how does that relate to the Fermi Paradox?” you’re probably asking yourself. “Old Dad2059 has finally been sucked up into the tinfoil rubber-room!”

Well, I’ll tell ya.

The Fermi Paradox has been referred to as the “Great Silence“, meaning that in all of the searches for alien civilization radio signals, there’s none to be had. Zero. Ziltch. Nada. At least none that SETI can confirm anyway. Except for the Wow! signal, nothing else has come close yet.

Becoming post-human and corresponding Singularity that enables it might not necessarily be strictly a “human” development, but one that is a natural process for intelligent technological societies. According to George Dvorsky of Sentient Developments, civilizations approaching a technological singularity find a way to “localize” themselves and create their own “universe” to expand or “upload” into:

Why leave the local system when everything can be accomplished at home? Localized existence may hold promise for all the aspirations that an advanced intelligence could conceivably conjure.Specifically, advanced intelligences may engage in computational megaprojects and live virtual reality existences. It would be an existential phase transitioning into virtual space such that interstellar colonization would never emerge as a feasible option or experiment.

“Why leave home”, he says. Why should any rational being endanger themselves by being exposed to cosmic rays, zero gravity and other smelly, canned (beings of your choice) on a mission to apparent suicide? Not when you can create your own world utilizing the immense petabyte/teraflop/googleplex power of a Matrioshka Brain?

George makes a very powerful argument supporting this idea and it makes sense in alot in ways. In fact, you see seeds of that very thing happening now with the advent of Second Life and various computer games with excellent graphics that allow the user to escape into a world of their own choosing. Soon, virtual reality can become indistinguishable from “real” reality. Could this also be contributing to growing apathy among the general population, and not only the youth, about how the nation, or world at large is being run? Isn’t having the world your own way better than struggling with a Universe that doesn’t give a shit about your existance?

Is this the fate of intelligent beings after a Singularity? Escapist Diasporas on a massive scale?

I for one sure don’t know. And this is only one discussion about the Fermi Paradox.

Could we all be emigrants to a Universe where our post-human abilities exceed the gods?

And how many of us “transhumans” are going to be there?

To steal Pogo’s phrase (and abuse it somewhat), “We has met the aliens and they is us”.

George’s Posts on the Fermi Paradox

Also see Nick Bostrum: Are you living in a computer simulation?

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4 responses

  1. Some detractors say that we’re only hoping for some “superior being”, be it man-made, or supernatural to save us from our problems we did to ourselves and should solve ourselves.

    But what if creating AI gods and the choice of living in a created world is a solution. And one that has happened throughout the Cosmos?

    What if we are already living in one?

    Dvorsky doesn’t claim this is the end all, be-all, but given the Great Silence of the Fermi Paradox, a very plausible explanation.

  2. Transhumanism, transvestities, transexuals, transmogrified etc. ..,

    There will be changes in human form in the centuries to come providing we don’t destroy ourselves as a species. The nuclear holocaust countdown clock is getting ever closer to midnight though.

    I’ll simply supply some links concerning neural implants, biochips and other such hybrid technologies between flesh and silicon.

    Things are so screwed up on planet earth right now due to the massive expenditures on the weapons of war facilitated by pols worldwide who seem to care less about the future of our planet that I see little hope for anything good happening for mankind. I’m sure the selfish sob’s that run the planetary casino have a plan for themselves as well as for us and I’m sure their plan for us is not “people friendly”… : |

    http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Shadowlands/6583/implants.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmogrifier

    Carl Nemo **==

  3. Isn’t it nice to live in an era that’s able to keep you alive? I had a heart attack also and managed to get away with a stent rather than bypass. My biggest fear these days is not living long enough for longevity technologies to arrive on the scene (and after that not having enough dollars to afford them…)

    There are several unsatisfactory answers to the Fermi paradox that don’t include disappearing down a black hole (Fred Pohl posited that in his Gateway/Heechee series of novels): there is no one else out there – either permanently or temporarily, our search criteria are screwed up, we’re already in a bubble and don’t know it, we’re the only species that’s insanely stupid enough to look AND announce our presence (which scares everyone else away) or – space is huge, time is long, there is not way to break the FTL barrier and its just a matter of time.

    I have a problem with the desire to turn inwards instead of outwards. Inwards and we have a universe that, no matter how strange or creative things get, at the heart of it lies a human brain. Turning inwards denies us the opportunity to discover truly different minds, ones that can serve as mirrors and really let us get a good look at ourselves. There’s also a security problem. Create your own little universe and something might sneak up behind you. At that point its only a matter of pulling the plug. AND – once in your own little universe, how do you know that its really your creation anymore? No external reference…

  4. Carl: Anything associated with world elites usually don’t bode well for the general population. Alex Jones, my friends The Highwayman and Christopher (From The Left) have mentioned the possibility of a Matrix Trilogy type system set up to control people and give the elites total power through a post-singularity super AI, (TH usually speaks in the terms relating to supernatural causes and that we’re already living in an evil illusion, but basically the same thing in my view as Nick Bostrum’s). To me though, these explanations are extremely anthro-centric and I can’t buy into the carbon/water based lifeform only scenario, even though it’s the only view we have at the moment. The vast size of the Universe has to deny that.

    Steve: Your comment hits the nail on the head because it covers pretty much every hypothesis for the FP. As of now though, the mainstream evidence seems to agree with Dvorsky and Bostrum’s observations. And the evidence I see regarding the increasing popularity of “alternate worlds” and Second Life.

    Your point of security regarding somebody sneaking up the back way to pull the plug is an interesting one and one I never seen given before. The reason for that I suppose is given that a post-singular society utilizing the power of it’s star is either; a) able to cloak itself from the visible Universe, b) doesn’t really disconnect itself totally and is very able to defend itself or c) has already found a way to “ascend” into another Universe to utilize another medium.

    I recall a post in another blog (I can’t remember where now) that suggested we should look for “ascension fossils”, i.e., dark bodies, vacant worlds or large artificial structures that don’t radiate anything at all, just background Universe temperature.

    In order to do that we need very powerful telescopes, or very advanced space probe technology.

    A “catch-22” possibly?

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