Transhumanism, Utility Fog and Rules of Uplift

Mac Tonnies sez;

I have a confession to make: I am a “transhuman ufologist.”

So far as I know, this is the first time the term has appeared on the Web, so I’ve yet to see if it has any staying power. But the idea, at least, is simple enough: I see absolutely no contradiction between the “hard” technological realities of the Kurzweilian Singularitarian crowd and the speculation of informed UFO researchers.

We transhuman ufologists are a witheringly small bunch; although I’ve come across provocative discussions about nanotechnology and machine intelligence within the more intelligent corridors of ufology, committed transhumanists approach the subject of UFOs and the “paranormal” with pronounced disdain. The very definition of “skeptic,” for instance, is summarily forgotten; among the more strident and vocal proponents of transhumanism, the very prospect of extraterrestrial visitation via UFO is considered naïve fantasy good for little more than placating true believers with elusive promises of galactic altruism. Certainly, they argue, we’re better off parroting the so-called Fermi Paradox. (link)

I have at one time or another speculated an advanced civilization that has gone through its own ‘Singularity’ event would use utility fog nanotech to present itself to primitive beings at various stages of its development by utilizing current cultural beliefs and mores.

This is a variation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Sentinal/Black Monolith/Bracewell probe method of contact via direct intervention and uplift. In 2001: A Space Odyssey, the apes at the beginning of the movie were ‘tweaked’ by the Monolith to be more aggressive and imaginative so they could survive the harsh environment of Africa. After that it left until humans dug up another Monolith on the Moon millions of years later, triggering it to send a message to another in orbit around Jupiter (Saturn in the novel). The idea here being that Mankind was ready for another ‘tweaking’ (Bowman into the Starchild).

In the ‘utility fog’ scenario, the probes didn’t leave, they stuck around to influence humanity during different stages of our development, possibly being the sources of demons, angels, gods, elves, dwarfs, fairies, sprites, other ‘magical’ creatures and of course aliens and UFOs. The idea here being the intelligence as represented by the nanoprobes is prepping the human race for eventual ‘contact’ with it.

I don’t know. My beef with this idea isn’t with Mac, but with the ‘utility fog’ itself if this is the case.  It hasn’t been very good or wise at preparing us. It’s like locking a two year old child in a room with a one-way observation window, giving him/her a book about life in the Universe, providing meals on occasion, expounding ‘proclaimations’ via loudspeaker and releasing the person when grown expecting them to behave intelligently. Oh yeah, the person has ‘free will’ to either obey ‘God’ and society, or be punished if they break the rules. And most people still aren’t able to tell the difference between aliens or demons, even if one came up and bit them in the arse! (Or stuck a probe up there anyways!) Some mentors! They put people in jail for that now-a-days!

Of course being alien nano-probes, they could be hardly sympathetic and altruistic to creatures they would consider lab animals. I would counter by saying that if such vast artificial intelligence(s) take it upon themselves to ‘uplift’ pre-sentient creatures, there must be rules and/or code of ethics to follow concerning such projects, as proscribed in David Brin’s Uplift novels. If the rule/laws are broken, the offending race/intelligence is punished. The most severe punishments go to beings who start uplift projects and then abandon them.

There’s no proof of course nanoprobe ‘utility fog’ intelligences are responsible for the UFO or related phenomena, or that we’ve been uplifted. Then again, Mac gives a very compelling thesis why UFO/alien sightings are perceived differently by the diverse peoples/cultures of Earth in prehistory and historically.

But if there’s such a thing as a Galactic Child Protective Services agency, our utility fog teachers should be thrown into the Milky Way crow-bar hotel for gross negligence!

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5 responses

  1. Mac is currently writing on the SETI.com blog also (in addition to his other writing projects): http://www.seti.com/

    The subject of transhumanism has popped up frequently lately, this time with connection to space exploration: http://www.centauri-dreams.org/?p=1771

    Whether you adhere to the Singularity hypothesis or not, check out these posts.

  2. Dad2059 —

    I recall Richard Dolan suggested recently that the “greys” that are reported with UFO encounters are actually servants of some kind of artificial intelligence — that the “craft” are technological beings, and the greys are acting under their direction.

    This was an interesting, and almost SF-nal notion, and I respect Dolan’s work quite a bit. Though I tend to think (as we’ve communicated about privately) that the UFO phenomenon is more complex than any ETH scenario, even a “souped up” one like this. I’m not saying that UFO phenomenon cannot be the result of nanotechnology or some transhuman (“transalien”?) scenario. But I tend to feel that we’re dealing with something that plays on archetypes in the collective unconscious, and that this is more some aspect of greater consciousness (which we are a part) than some ETH activity.

  3. I think what Mac says here is almost the same, the super-intelligent ‘utility fog’ is somehow able to read our minds and play on the same archetypes you speak of.

    But if pre-historical myths/legends and written history is any guide, there has been more ‘manipulation’ than ‘education’ going on.

  4. Hi dad2059 et. al. …

    The Ultimate Nanobprobe; ie., IT…

    Maybe this super-intelligence everyone references is extant in every living creature from the smallest virion to the blue whale from not only the cellular level, but from the sub-atomic, atomic and molecular components of the cells on up to the complete creature not only giving form to it, but also their animus.

    It’s intelligent in the sense that it is not only supporting each and every living entity thoughout both the known and unknown universe, but it’s totally self aware of it’s surroundings from the most distant Quasar to the smallest virion on earth and elsewhere, then further on down into the sub-atomic realm and possibly beyond, but it’s total, absolute, and is prescient in the now, both everywhere and anywhere; ie., throughout the time/space continuum, even on to the other side of the unknown to us; ie., the black holes, possibly the sewerage sumps for an infinite number of universes that are interconnected via holes similar to that found in Swiss cheese.

    What’s interesting is this entity is not only totally aware of everything in totality, but it’s constantly trying to improve on species specific issues relative to their interactivity between other species and their environment etc. Again these are real time, moment to moment constructs totally in the “NOW” and forever. It’s all good though, from dying stars to dying creatures, to the birth of stars to the birth of creatures on many worlds and many universes both now and and to come.

    For evolution to explain all the incredible complexities of living creatures from their bio-mechanical, chemical and almost what could be classed as perfection relative in form and function and their functional interaction relative to their eco-systems is not enough. Evolution seems be the mechanism, but rest assured there is an entity; ie., IT, that’s working in the now, realtime to allow this process to work.

    To simply allow for the passage of time and for trial and error relative to bioform design efficacy to work out almost an infinite number of design permutatons relative to the perfection of a creature is nonsense. IT is making the right design choices because that’s what it does infinitely well. IT always makes the right choice concerning biofrom design relative to every aspect of its creation and interactivity with other creatures and the biome.

    It’s not digital in nature, but beautifully adaptive and “chaotic” with creations both new and worlds destroyed moving in the NOW relative to IT ; ie., as viewed through a kaleidecope.

    Creation and its moment to moment maintenance is not into any cheap contrivances relying on digital techniques etc.!? Digital techniques are simply a recently discovered methods for quantizing the analog world, but it’s still only a copy due to sampling issues and quantizing noise. It’s for computational convenience, but has no place in evolution or devolution of the universe or creatures that dwell within. The Universe and all of Creation is the master copy in the here and now…!

    For instance, from my background, my age etc. I love analog meters, gauges, etc., but find little kinship with digital controls and readouts from wrist watches to temperature or pressure gauges which by the way are never used where the maintenance of life and limb ar at stake. Aircraft, surface ships, subs and a host of modern era devices are still loaded with very expensive; ie., well made, highly dependable analog gauge instruments for certain functions.

    Rest assured when it comes to measuring time as a function of atomic clocks, calibration, frequency readouts, satellite navigation etc., digital has its place and is truly an improvement for fine accuracy. But when the power fails and the lights go to emergency levels, there’s nothing like a good, dependable analog gauge. : )

    This aforementioned “super-intelligence” and all encompassing creative force is involved with me typing this very article at this moment along with the pulsing thought fields in my brain that support my comments.

    IT doesn’t have to read my mind; it’s the very essence “of” my mind at this moment in time. It’s also supporting every aspect of my physical biochemical beingness. Rest assured we are not running on auto-pilot. We as its spawn of creation are one with IT and IT with us moment to moment and in the NOW…!

    Whether this entity is friendly or not is simply a cognitive tag unique to human vocabulary and thought constructs, but is meaningless to this all-encompassing entity specific process. Whether I or we live or die is mute to this entity. We are for now, but will be not for now either sooner or later. No big deal to IT…!

    There are times when that which we perceive to be as bad, is in the greater order of things as good or vice versa, but means nothing to IT, that which sapient earthmen have called their god, gods etc. throughout history. IT will do quite well with or without earthmen because this creative process and its maintenance thereof has been around for a long time; ie., long before we arose on earth and will so long after we are gone as species.

    We do have brains and “seemingly” free will, but we need to start using them for our collective betterment and rest assured IT will give us the support we need to accomplish our goals albeit for good or bad. : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  5. That’s pretty much what Dan Brenton suggested above Carl, that we are part of a larger “consciousness” that is able to impinge itself upon our collective cultural archetypes.

    I don’t know whether it’s the cause of the ‘communications’ we humans have received over the millenia via angels, demons, pixies, elves, fairies, greys, UFOs, etc., but this or an artificial super-intelligence doing the same to us are interesting concepts to be sure.

    Science fiction author Karl Schroeder proposed an interesting theory in his novel Permanence; http://www.kschroeder.com/my-books/permanence.

    It’s an interesting take on the Fermi Paradox and the evolution of intelligence.

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