Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In God and Technology We Trust

Where is the American Spirit? The Space Race is over. Our unrivaled military invades overmatched third world countries chasing bands of terrorists. Other countries are taking the industrial and technological lead. The economic recession reveals there is no safe place to put money. There is talk all over the world that America is in decline and will eventually collapse like all the empires in the past. Without a vision a people will perish, says Proverbs. Why? Howard Bloom says it well; "Because a vision of a goal, a destination, a promised land, a view of a destiny that can uplift all of human kind, opens a vast reserve of energies. Not the energies that come from solar panels, wind farms, nuclear plants, coal, or oil. The energies of the human spirit. The energies of your spirit and mine. It is a matter of Biology". We are weak without inspiration.

A crisis is looming packed with danger and opportunity. A new race is on akin to the nuclear era and the space race. The new race is for the cognitive high ground where intelligence will rule all aspects of life. Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Mathematician Vernor Vinge predicts that superhuman intelligences, however created, will be able to enhance their own minds faster than the humans that created them. "When greater-than-human intelligence drives progress," Vinge writes, "that progress will be much more rapid." This feedback loop of self-improving intelligence, he predicts, will cause large amounts of technological progress within a short period.

Early signs of the crisis are emerging today. The Internet security company McAfee stated in their 2007 annual report that approximately 120 countries have been developing ways to use the Internet as a weapon and target financial markets, government computer systems and utilities. In activities reminiscent of the Cold War, which caused countries to engage in clandestine activities, intelligence agencies are routinely testing networks looking for weaknesses. These techniques for probing weaknesses in the internet and global networks are growing more sophisticated every year.

Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Avert Labs, was quoted as saying "Cybercrime is now a global issue. It has evolved significantly and is no longer just a threat to industry and individuals but increasingly to national security." They predicted that future attacks will be even more sophisticated. "Attacks have progressed from initial curiosity probes to well-funded and well-organized operations for political, military, economic and technical espionage,"

The danger will come suddenly but so will opportunities. The Lifeboat Foundation explains; "An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense "intuitive linear" view. So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate). The "returns", such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There's even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity; technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light."

We need a leader to rally us to a goal of conscious evolution as Kennedy did with the space race in the sixties. Here is an excerpt from JFKs Moon Speech; "If we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take. Now it is time to take longer strides-time for a great new American enterprise-time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth." 50 YEARS LATER... manned space flight is suffering from lack of tangible returns on investment. It seems space is no place for flesh and blood. But can and we will evolve.

How should we evolve? Yes we can evolve consciously..It seems that Mind Space is the new land of opportunity. How would Christians treat this Transhuman opportunity? In the way of the Holy Spirit, I want to understand you and to share your experience. I want to fully apprehend the world. And, I want to be all that I can be. No one on earth today has the capacity to do this perfectly, but we have the potential. What hope do we have of ever understanding each other with the limited time we have? Or what hope do we have of ever understanding the infinite, extra dimensions, or timelessness if our minds are just not able to grasp these concepts? We are living in a time when it is becoming more and more apparent that technologies are converging on the wish of the Holy Spirit. Christian Transhumanists would use transformative technologies in the way of the Holy Spirit. They look at love this way: Technically, love can be seen as the process of connecting. The product of the love process is understanding. If the process is efficient and sustained, understanding increases exponentially. Peace allows unwavering attention so that the love process can establish a clear connection. At the heart of the process; symbols, words, and feelings are ordered into meaning. Forgiveness is important to spiritual growth because it establishes an exhaust for misunderstanding and disorder. Put this all together and you have The Perfect State of Mind.

In the Christian Transhumanist's view, the cognitive high ground could be no other than Christ. His love is the winning strategy. Where ignorance is a disconnection that weakens and love empowers because it provides the highest form of understanding. Could this be God's Plan? If it is, America would be in the best position to gain the high ground because of its curious mix of God and Technology. In God and Technology we trust.

9 comments:

  1. You fail to address the most fundamental question regarding the intersection of Transhumanism and Christianity. Transhumanism is based on rational thought (the idea that humans should use their technology to improve themselves beyond the boundaries of human biological limits), while Christianity is based on irrational faith (that some omnipotent being is concerned the the most minute aspects of individual lives, and has set up a system of rewards and punishments for those who obey a set of rules that are not only self-contradictory, but impossible to verify as inherently desirable through observation and deduction).

    How do you propose to reconcile the two?

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  2. Science and christianity actually originate from the same philosophical system; Greek Philosophy. Christianity is the religion of the Logos. It is faith in the in the Creator Spirit, from which comes everything that exists, according to Pope Benedict the XVI. Church Fathers see humanity becoming full participators in this through Christ. In the process of theosis, the messiah leads us up to heavenly participation in the creation. Now, secular Transhumanist think of becoming "Posthuman" creators. According to leading Transhumanists like Oxford Philosopher Nick Bostrom, we are most likely living in a world created by super-intelligent Posthumans who will use advanced super-computers to run ancestor-simulations. Posthumans eventually learn to create their own virtual space-time like we would set up an aquarium today. Science supports this possibility. Many physicists believe our universe and the matter in which we are made is at its deepest level, information. Logos is at the heart of physics, just as information is at the heart of a computer. Some go so far as to conclude intelligence controls the information-processing system we call the universe.
    So christianity is fundamental to rational thought and reality.

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  3. How do you know that "His Love" is the winning strategy? Is it an unquestioned matter of faith? If not exactly what would such love consist of and why exactly is this the win?

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  4. Tracking back origins of two different systems seems like a transparent attempt to claim some of the esteem one is held in for the other. I have no patience for what some claimed High Church authority has decreed. Show me a sound argument rather than quoting such sources. The rest of your argument strongly implies that what you call "God" is a very advanced posthuman intelligence, nothing more or less. Do you agree with that?

    Your final concluding sentence does not follow in the slightest. You will have to do much better than this.

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  5. About Love: Love is important to Christianity, just as connectivity is important to Transhumanism. Aldous Huxley makes the connection beautifully in his book the Perennial Philosophy. Huxley says; "We can only love what we know, and we can never know completely what we do not love. Love is a mode of knowledge, and when the love is sufficiently disinterested and sufficiently intense, the knowledge becomes unitive knowledge and so takes on the quality of infallibility." A techie would say. For this I need a fast processor with a noiseless fast connection. I need large bandwidth, and many gigabytes of stable memory. This is the geeks holy grail. God bless them. In a spiritual sense the pure attention of selfless love provides this flow-of-word-to-understanding.
    Christian Transhumanists would use transformative technologies in the way of the Holy Spirit. They look at love this way: Technically, love can be seen as the process of connecting. The product of the love process is understanding. If the process is efficient and sustained, understanding increases exponentially. Peace allows unwavering attention so that the love process can establish a clear connection. At the heart of the process; symbols, words, and feelings are ordered into meaning. Forgiveness is important to spiritual growth because it establishes an exhaust for misunderstanding and disorder. Put this all together and you have The Perfect State of Mind.

    A broader understanding of love can unite secular and religious social capital upon the same ambition. When these great efforts converge you can expect accelerating returns. The win is the cognitive high ground and universal creative capactity that comes with it.

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  6. Remember, Jesus called himself the son of man. Yes he is post human and this does not diminish him...Tracking back origins of two different systems is a way of converging them. That is is going to happen as we grow in understanding and start the process of reconciliation. Looking back to the first century is a good place to start.
    Irenaeus of Lyons The early anti-Gnostic theologian called salvation recapitulation. He was pointing to Ephesians 1.10 which speaks of all things in heaven and earth being gathered up in Christ." "It means that the development which was broken in Adam is resumed by Christ and fulfilled in him. In Christ the new mankind has started. That which mankind was to become... However, not only mankind but the whole cosmos finds its fulfillment in Christ." The great theologian Paul Tillich calls this idea "The profound doctrine of a transcendent humanism, a humanism which says that Christ is the fulfillment of essential man, of the Adamic nature." "And we can become fully human through participation in this full humanity which has appeared in Christ. This includes eternal life, and similitude with God with respect to participation in infinity." Then Tillich says, "I am always surprised how much better the theology of the ancient church was than the popular theology which developed in the nineteenth century, how much profounder and more adequate to the paradox of Christianity, without becoming irrationalistic, nonsensical, or absurd." We got lost Samantha, but recent developments are making it clear where we are to go.
    The sentence you don’t think follows in the slightest is refering to the fact that the vast majority of philosophers and scientists and theologians believe the world is knowable or rational. Then remember the Nicean Creed : I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. (rational and knowable)

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  7. The Pope is just stating fact Samantha. In Christology, the conception that the Christ is the Logos, the Greek for "word", "wisdom" or "reason" has been important in establishing the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus Christ and his position as God the Son in the Trinity as set forth in the Creed.
    The conception derives from the opening of the Gospel of John: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Philo wrote; “the Logos of the living God is the bond of everything, holding all things together and binding all the parts, and prevents them from being dissolved and separated”

    Then add to that revelations in cutting edge pyhsics, that the world down to subatomic particles is essentially information, then you can see Christianity, and Transhumanism (which professes to be rational and science based) must converge. Look up digital physics and then christian logos on wikipedia.

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  8. James, the concept of Logos is pure mysticism. That you got your mysticism right doesn't say that there is any truth to it at all. It is a closed system asserting these things. To say Christ is the same as reason and wisdom is pretty strange given the many many examples of great reasoning and wisdom that are not from Christians. It is empty dogma. Quoting tho Gospels, when you know if you are a scholar that the entire Bible was cobbled together by the Church from a lots of older writings and what we have was fought over (bloodily at times) and is as political and tuned to cement Church power as it is inspired - likely much more so. So what exactly do you think is gained by quoting scripture or other believers to those of us who disagree that there is any rational basis for your position?

    The informational model of physics in no way supports your plain dogmatic assertion that somehow this Jesus person is Christ which is the information of the entire universe. This is pure mysticism.

    I have no more time for this nonsense. If it please you to believe these things then I am happy for you. But if you want a future fit spirituality you have to do much better than this. What of other faiths btw? Vedanta and other Eastern religious philosophies are much deeper intellectually and wiser imho than Christian theology. But I would suppose you would tell them they have to be Christian if they really want to be both transhumanist and spiritual.

    Frankly the depth of your theology and thinking seems quite shallow to me.

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  9. Thanks Samantha (really) for your time and consideration. It is funny that you call this topic shallow :) I can take this deeper. I don't think you have been able to put together Logos and Digital Physics. SCIENCE IS SAYING MATTER IS A MTYH. They are saying it is mystical in a sense that it is derived from an external reality. The award winning scientist John Archibald Wheeler has this to say about our deepest level of reality ; " It is not unreasonable to imagine that information sits at the core of physics, just as it sits at the core of a computer. It from bit. —every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself—derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely from answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits. 'It from bit' symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom—an immaterial source.
    Now, Have you heard of Max Tegmark at the Dept. of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology? In order for science to continue on in physics he explores the physics implications of the External Reality Hypothesis (ERH) that there exists an external physical reality completely independent of us humans. And he argues that with a sufficiently broad definition of mathematics, it implies the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH) that our physical world is an abstract mathematical structure. Get that? Absract.
    Here is more on external realities; Have you heard of Oxford Philosopher Nick Bostrom and his simulation argument? Here is what he says about the theological implications of a posthuman creator; "the posthumans running a simulation are like gods in relation to the people inhabiting the simulation: the posthumans created the world we see; they are of superior intelligence; they are ‘omnipotent’ in the sense that they can interfere in the workings of our world even in ways that violate its physical laws; and they are ‘omniscient’ in the sense that they can monitor everything that happens. "
    More on external realities and logos/information based realities From Eric Steinhart "For the idea that our universe is a software process running on some deeper computational substrate, see Hans Moravec, Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1988); Frank Tipler, The Physics of Immortality (New York: Anchor, 1995); Ed Fredkin, ‘An Introduction to Digital Philosophy,’ International Journal of Theoretical Physics 42 (2003): 189–247. We already have computers that approximately simulate our whole universe. For example, the Millennium Simulation simulated the evolution of our whole universe from the Big Bang to the far future at the level of galactic detail. See V. Springel, et al., ‘Simulations of the Formation, Evolution and Clustering of Galaxies and Quasars,’ Nature 435 (2005): 629–636. It is easy to imagine more precise simulations – simulations that run our whole universe at the level of stars; molecules; atoms; particles. Many writers have argued that our universe is only finitely complex. See Ed Fredkin, ‘Digital Mechanics: An Informational Process Based on Reversible Universal Cellular Automata,’ in: H. Gutowitz, (ed.) Cellular Automata: Theory and Experiment (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1991): 254–270; David Finkelstein, ‘Finite Physics,’ in: R. Herken (ed.) The Universal Turing Machine: A Half-Century Survey (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1995): 323–347; Anton Zeilinger, ‘A Foundational Principle for Quantum Mechanics,’ Foundations of Physics 29 (1999): 631–643. Specifically, Lloyd calculates that our universe so far has run only 10120 operations involving 10120 bits. See Seth Lloyd, ‘Computational Capacity of the Universe,’ Physical Review Letters 88 (2002): 237901–5. These are finite numbers. If our universe is only finitely complex, then it can easily be running as a virtual machine on some deeper computer."
    The bible chronicles how we are awakening to this idea. And Christian Transhumanism is about how we will implement the idea.

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