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”.