Monday, February 14, 2011

2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal

2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal

This is the idea that just won't die! And to tell you the truth, as tired as you are of watching me struggle to put it out of its misery, that's how tired I am of having to attempt it. But somebody's gotta do it.

I see all sorts of artificial intelligence on evidence all around me every day. These are people who, like Kurzweil himself, abdicate their humanity. They mistake the development of technologies which can further the destructive or productive reach of humanity for the development of humanity ourselves. They invest the tools as they would any cathectic object. They make love with images in their brains and suppose these things will love them back..

In nature there are no exponential growths that aren't explosion, and yet Kurzweil and crewe suppose that this one will somehow be different because the tools themselves will take over their own evolution, crowding out all else in creation. Wow, wouldn't that be cool! The conquest of messy nature by machine. Alien!!! 

This pre-supposes that one has made the incredible leap to certainty that we are all in fact individual and not implicated in the stuff we would crowd out. As though in-formation is all in, and not distributed, hologram like, throughout what stupidly still gets called creation.

Humanity remains, in fact, in thrall to our own creations, Narcissus like, as though what we have created with such cleverness of design is that much better than what develops willy-nilly by the inevitable processes of evolution.

As I am now so intensely tired of repeating, these folks repeat precisely the same error as the Godists when they insist that every found entity of elegance must have had some elegance-understanding designer. Kurzweil should repeat Kindergarten. He still doesn't get the basics.

Let's even suppose that what informs our thinking isn't distributed all around us. Let's suppose that our thinking really is the epiphenomena of some machine contained in our skin. Granted this would be a really really hard proposition to support, but even then the only thing that's clear about whatever's happening at geometrically accelerating rates now all around us is that humanity has - all of us collectively - abdicated any human responsibility for the products of our design. We have lost all nerve about continuing to develop our actual human qualities. If indeed those qualities have anything at all to do with intelligence and empathy and aspiration for something more than Bigger Bangs.

Well, maybe they don't. Maybe humanity is really only about predation and survival. In that case we surely will be consumed in the explosion which so far is all the evidence there is of our reproductive prowess. We reproduce in the literal sense, but we also reproduce our collective cultural memes, and their "meaning" is clear enough. Dominate, destroy, enjoy, reproduce, explode. In that reductively literal sense, Kurzweil and crewe are, of course, dead on. We are pond scum without consciousness. Without effective barrier, we will just grow and grow and grow until poisoned in our own effluent.

Without even getting the joke, this particular brand of futurists assumes that what humans exhibit right here and right now is consciousness, and that it will somehow be an accomplishment if or when the machines that we create can replicate this pinnacle feat of evolutionary success.

Indeed our consciousness is dimming, not unlike that of a dying individual human being, Collectively, we could be still developing, buy we're not. We've pretty much stopped reading, other than to deploy written words as a tool toward designing and creating ever more tools for our temporary though for now extremely exciting triumphalist conquest of the Earth.

No-one reads for meaning any more. No-one reads to discern the intelligence which construed written words in ways to make them endure and be read over and over again. I exaggerate shamelessly, but sure it is this in which consciousness consists and we are, collectively, losing it.

We destroy languages almost as rapidly as we destroy species, and even as we thoughtlessly preserve all written words in archives, the very volume of them precludes any possibility to cull from among them those which represent the best of humanity.

The search tools at our disposal only mock the human effort, returning to us a kind of grand popularity score, and so we read the same things everyone else has always read. That plus the really new stuff which is trumpeted each day for our earnest digest. Reliable knowledge has been Wiki'd out of being.

Consciousness was but a dream. A forward moving aspirational desire to make more of itself, the same as all other evolutionary products. Written words for a while did help its prospects. And then they themselves, these human tools, these meme reproducing machines did take off on their own and replicate almost without any need for human consciousness at their center.

Our tools in fact have taken over already, and Kurzweil celebrates this in anticipation of that singularity off somewhere in the future. He will pace with sandwich board to alert the rest of us when he can wait no longer. I will hold my laughter. I will try.

These technologies which locally improve our chances for survival also seduce us with their lure of ease. We have managed now to estrange ourselves from work, that thing which is most elemental to any species' evolution. It would be as though birds stopped "wanting" to fly, or fishes to swim. We now, despair over the labor required to remain conscious and to think and to communicate and to live.  We invest our machines now with our dreams and pray to them please to carry on in our places. Which they now do. Already.

Maybe we're just drunk with some ethereal alcohol which is what limits pond scums' explosive growth. Maybe this is a drunk we never do awaken from. Consciousness but a dream, or the likes of coloration on the wild males of most species.

Consciousness did once up the chances for reproductive success, and now it must make way for Asperger's dropouts from preferably Harvard. Where they also can't be bothered to read. Whose game is still king of the castle. Whose graduates seem only to compete now for who can be the most famous chaser after cash and other baubles, in the guise of world-changing, on the assumption that there is nothing else worth doing.

And how is "world-changing" different from ecological devastation I want to know? We could, oh I don't know, work on ourselves instead.

We could evolve, you know? We could continue to deploy tools and not to be afraid of them. For those texts which I can find online, brushing up my Chinese is now so much easier. No more endless leafing back and forth in primitively arranged dictionaries. I have so many different ways in, and seldom have to count strokes or make wild guesses about pronunciation.  I can get more work done, which is what technology should help me with. And I can talk to you, figment of my imaginings, nubile and lithe and without demands in return for the sterile love you give me.

Merrily merrily merrily merrily, consciousness is but a dream .  .  .

No comments: