Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Cognitive High Ground Is Love.

(Finding the cognitive high ground with love)

"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.”

(Aldous Huxley)

I’m an Instructor at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station just west of Phoenix Arizona where we tap into the nucleus of the atom to provide an energy source a million times more concentrated than that of previous sources.  We convert nuclear energy to electrical energy to power the south west. 30 years ago I helped design the operator training program and now I implement the program by teaching nuclear physics, thermodynamics, systems and reactor operation. This training program has grown in recognition as the very best in the world indicated by our reactor operator class through-put, nuclear safety record, and actual power plant capacity factor.

Tapping into nuclear power in such a way that an individual can control gigawatts by hand is a good example of transhumanism. It puts us up the Kardashev Scale which is a method of measuring a civilization's level of technological advancement, based on the amount of energy in the universe a civilization is able to utilize. The top of the scale would be a civilization that is capable of manipulating the basic structure of space and time. 

Transhumanism is conscious evolution without bounds. We gain control of our evolution and improve the human condition through developing and creating widely available technologies. We study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as the ethics of using such technologies. I came up with a useful analogy for transhumanism that puts it into a universal perspective: Transhumanism is a vast social river fed by the headwaters of the past. This river slowly moves to a better future. We are like water molecules in this river. While the old river progresses slowly, there is rapid chaos at the microscopic scale. Water molecules randomly jitter about unconsciously at 2200 meters per second in every direction creating a drag. Transhumanists are a tiny minority in this chaotic noise who sense a direction of flow and desire to quicken the pace. Can you imagine the hyper-evolution and the flow experience of aligning our efforts?

A transhumanist in hope and faith:

Synthesis About twenty years ago I recognized a very potent synthesis in how science, technology and spirituality can be reconciled by the perennial philosophy. The perennial philosophy is a common outlook on life that there is much more to discover and become. The pioneers among us consciously evolve in understanding and creative powers with the aim of sustaining a life worth living, indefinitely. In 2001, as a reaction to this realization, and because I am a child of the western world, I formulated a type of Christian Transhumanism and opened my beliefs to discussion and sharing through my internet websites.  The websites allowed the information to reach a global audience and in 2014, I co-founded the Christian Transhumanist Association.

The Continuum of Understanding

Managing Risk  As a Nuclear Instructor I appreciate the need to build a strong continuum of understanding as we create and interface complex technical systems in order to minimize risk and maximize benefits. Advancing the continuum of understanding requires cognitive work: each individual undergoes a process of sensing data, converting data to useful information, making connections and building a knowledge base from that information. The end product is enhanced creative power. With this creative power we act with wisdom to improve the human condition.

Providing Reactor Startup Training
Engaged thinking teams greatly reduce risk of any critical task. In the technical world there is so much data that it is not practical to have humans consider all of it, particularly if they must be experts in one or more fields. But, In a good team a Cognitive Collective emerges as a communicating group that can recognize a pattern in cases where no single one was able to see a pattern. If you know something share it. Care enough to act. If the cognitive collective is efficient and sustained understanding increases in a potentially exponential fashion. You may recognize this as the cloud, or the Global Brain.

In practice I find peace (keeping a cool head) very important because it helps minimize the noise inherent in communication; it allows unwavering attention, which establishes a clear unambiguous connection. Also there needs to be forgiveness, because at the heart of the process there are errors; symbols, words, and feelings are ordered into meaning imperfectly and so a type of “forgiveness” is important to the process. Forgiveness establishes error correction by exhausting misunderstanding and disorder. A person who does not forgive is encumbered by a heavy baggage of memories of the wrong.

Of course this is the soft side of basic information and communications theory. You could apply the process to computers, the internet, telecommunications, social networking, sensory and kinesthetic enhancement, and international diplomacy. We are actually coming together, living better, and becoming more conscious of the world because of growth in what I call the love process.

The Love Process has the power of life behind it: The current definition of life is: a characteristic distinguishing physical entities having signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not. Nobel Laureate Murry Gell-Mann describes a life form as an Information Gathering and Using System (IGUS). An IGUS is a sufficiently self-aware being that collects information, stores it, processes it, uses it, and then, via a feedback mechanism, attempts to improve the usage of the information. This sets up a strange loop: The better you are at “IGUS” or the more intelligent you are, the more likely you will live to transhumanize another day.

As corny as it may sound, there is reason to believe that we will converge on universal love, even as we compete. It’s the winning strategy in the game of life.

In a cambrian-type intelligence explosion the survival of the fittest contest will be won by the ones who gain the cognitive high ground. In that race you must be very efficient, not retaining the least bit of ignorance or baggage. The most efficient way to learn the world, is by loving the world. And that leads to the substrate independent perennial philosophy:

"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.”  

The above quote and what follows are from Aldous Huxley's book The Perennial Philosophy: “Where there is no disinterested love there is only biased self-love, and consequently only a partial and distorted knowledge both of the self and of the world of things, lives, minds and spirit outside the self. The lust-dieted subordinates the laws of Nature and the spirit to his own cravings. The result is that “he does not feel” and therefore makes himself incapable of knowledge. His ignorance is ultimately voluntary; if he cannot see, it is because “he will not see.” Such voluntary ignorance inevitably has its negative reward. Nemesis follows hubris— sometimes in a spectacular way, as when the self-blinded man (Macbeth, Othello, Lear) falls into the trap which his own ambition or possessiveness or petulant vanity has prepared for him; sometimes in a less obvious way, as in the cases where power, prosperity and reputation endure to the end but at the cost of an ever-increasing imperviousness to grace and enlightenment, an ever completer inability to escape, now or hereafter, from the stifling prison of selfness and separateness." 

"Though it cost all you have, get understanding." Jeremiah 2:14

Paying Attention What might we do to increase our capacity to love? 
  • Personally increase your connections, attention capacity and working memory in every transhuman way. 
  • Collectively improve the health of the attention economy which can be measured in the types of advances we make in communication, education, and research.
  • Good information should be readily available to all not behind paywalls. 
A wise society would recognize the components of the attention economy and help it grow. Google is successful because it connects people to the world better than anyone else. Because of our transhuman tendencies, there is much more opportunity for entrepreneurs like Google to empower the free world. Companies are fusing digital technologies with evolving neuroscience principals to achieve improvements in human performance in fundamentally new ways.

We are naturally transhuman and progress is certain to continue. It is the “Groove” and the meaning of our lives, to learn, to order, to create, and to make things better for the next generation. With our robust communication systems we have grown connected to each other, and to the vast amount of information we have collected over the ages. We are free to pick which of this we pay attention to. Once data is "mined" and worked into information it can be sold. Corporations and Nations attempt to monopolize information but information will be free. It leaks and dissipates in accordance with the second law of thermodynamics. (Examples: Edward Snowden, Wikileaks, Cyber-espionage, your neighbors)

Today we have a situation where there is a vast amount of information available but a limited supply of attention. Businesses are essentially competing for our attention. Webster defines attention as “the giving of one’s mind to something". Giving your mind to something is no small thing. Attached to your mind is your spirit and your resources. When we concentrate on something, social capital is endowed upon it. This makes your attention precious. It is better than money. What you pay attention to is yours to decide. What do you get for paying attention? You receive an experience. The lasting value and worth of the experience is measured in potential for your growth. A rich experience is called a flow experience. This is what to look for:

In The Flow Experience there is;
  • a clear goal,
  • concentration on the task at hand, worries and concerns are suspended,
  • immediate feedback, you know instantly how well you are doing,
  • a sense of growth and of being part of some greater thing,
  • a feeling that time seems to pass faster,
  • expansion of self through the experience.
The highest quality of attention is love. Love is expressed when you give your full attention, your time, and your focus to someone or something. Here is the fundamental connection between science spirituality and the meaning of life; Love is a mode of understanding. It is uniting. It is spiritual. To know something is to love it and to love something is to know it.

Overcomers There is a very powerful transhumanist message woven in the bible from beginning to end. It is sometimes called the cultural mandate. God calls for mankind to gain control of larger and larger domains. It starts in the first words spoken to mankind,  Genesis 1:28: "Bless you...Subdue the world". And, later in the New Testament John 16:33 Jesus says “Take heart, because I have overcome the world” . Then again in Revelations  3:21 near the end of times he says 'He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne". We overcome the world with love. It is the most important commandment. "Love God with all your heart soul and strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself. Do this and you will live."  

And there you have it!  A clear goal as anticipated by the Catholic priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in his Omega Point theory, we are now consciously evolving (overcoming) at an accelerated rate to divinity. Humanity has acquired the ability to choose what the species Homo sapiens becomes and we are calling it transhumanism. Let’s take Chardin's directed evolution, or transhumanism to the limit: Over the ages a natural trend of growing in understanding and creative powers will yield a supernatural looking state of being. The very most optimistic outcome for life, the supreme state of being, is to become eternally self-sustaining and universally creative. That is what God is. This eternal state of being is shared. Do not let anyone talk you out of that. 'He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne". This state of being promises everyone an eternal healthy life. We stay interested and engaged. We create and we diminish hardships forever. 

Logos means word, speech, and to reason. It became a technical term in philosophy for a principle of order and knowledge. All the world comes about through Logos. Jesus is this Logos and says we are the Son of God (logos) if we do God's will; "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother". (Mark 3:35). What does the bible say about connecting to, and understanding the word? Read "Word" in the bible as data that becomes information as you digest it. And seeds are ideas. 
  • "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men." (John 1)
  • "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." (Matthew 4:4)
In the old testament seed was reproductive genetic information for growing a population. For Jesus in the New Testament seed becomes food for thought and deeds: growing understanding and creative powers.

  • "But he that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, and understands it; which also bears fruit, and brings forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matthew 13:23)
  • "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covers it with a vessel, or puts it under a bed; but sets it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seems to have." (Luke 8:11)
  • "And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knows not how. For the earth brings forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear. But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest is come." (Mark 4:26)
  • "Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof." (Matt 13:31)
  • "He that sows the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."
Cognitive Science The mind is a process that is sustained by word. It is configured for love. Think about the cognitive sciences today; We study every detail of how we come to understand and act. And we strive to improve on every step of the process. We have sensor evolution, knowledge management and sense making algorithms even wisdom algorithms in artificial intelligence. This all points to an integrated information theory which is a framework intended to understand and explain the nature of consciousness. It was developed by psychiatrist and neuroscientist Giulio TononiHe links consciousness to connection of information in a system. That connection is measurable. The more integrated the system is, the more synergy it has, the more conscious it is. The latest theory of consciousness is precisely expressed in the language of mathematics using notions from information theory such as entropy. Given a particular brain, with its neurons and axons, dendrites and synapses, one can, in principle, accurately compute the extent to which this brain is integrated and so the level of consciousness. From this calculation, the theory derives a single number. Measured in bits, this number denotes the size of the conscious repertoire associated with any network of causally interacting parts. Think of number as the synergy of the system. The more integrated the system is, the more synergy it has, the more conscious it is. This system can be established in a brain, a silicon based computer, electromagnetic fields in space-time, a society...or across all such systems at once. There is obviously much room to grow in understanding AND creative powers. This growth is the heart of Christian Transhumanism.

When the universe is seen as logos we can dismiss the notion of a ghost in the machine not because there is no ghost but because there is no machine. Physicist John Wheeler and many others say the physical universe is a gigantic information processing system. Every particle, field of force, even space-time itself is ultimately manifested to us through information. This is called the participatory universe where observers are central to the nature of physical reality and matter is ultimately relegated to mind. Frank tippler of Tulane University in New Orleans sees intelligence spreading throughout the cosmos participating more and more in the workings of nature until it becomes nature. We gain universally creative powers. It is not by steam-punk mechanical latches and springs, love will lead us to a refined and subtle Planck-scale engineering of space-time for an eternally self-sustaining homeostasis. Christianity is reality spanning all of space-time, beginning to end. A relativistic block-time view and a participatory universe is required to fully understand it.

Trinity Cosmology 
There is life at the top of the Kardashev Scale, life capable of manipulating the basic structure of space and time. It must be a rapid ascent to this state of being due to the fact that there are no alien civilizations... that we can sense, and here on earth many transhumanists anticipate an intelligence explosion in the near future.  Vernor Vinge states that this explosion happens when an intelligent agent analyzes the processes that produces its intelligence and improves upon them. This process repeats in a positive feedback loop – each successive stage is more intelligent (and creative) than the last and thus more able to increase in intelligence (and creative powers). Once the positive feedback starts to play a role, it will lead to a very dramatic leap in capability very quickly. Technological progress drops into the characteristic timescale of transistors rather than human neurons, and the ascent rapidly surges upward and creates super-intelligence: a mind orders of magnitude more powerful, and creative, than we can know. This hyper-evolution, this intelligence explosion leads to a technological singularity and I believe, a physical one, meaning "the big bang" that started the whole thing. It's the critical point of understanding, where life achieves an eternally self-sustaining state of being. I Am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end become one, an eternal strange loop. In Christian speak we are currently in the “Body of Christ” of the world notated above as “The Son”. The Holy Spirit is the dynamics and the connecting principle driving the evolution of matter and life (The Love Process). There is nothing outside this. You connect or you are out. This is a participatory universe. Your actions in this world are necessary, they stand eternally written in the process. In this way the trinity and the meaning of life are no longer a mystery. 

The mythical Tower of Babel fell because it was not built with love and understanding.


  1. Interesting. I have often said that the best future is one of Infinite Abundance, Infinite Intelligence and Infinite Love. It is not often understood that the last is utterly needed to get the other two. Increasing technology brings us the means to cornucopia. But scarcity thinking and thus lots of fear and competition thinking is an evolution instilled habit that it is difficult to break. I think a transhumanist spirituality may be the best bet for overcoming this. If we do not overcome it then we will put up intellectual property fences all over the Global and eventually Universal Mind and impoverish and massively oppress ourselves instead of transcending all want.

  2. Thank you for this interesting and inspiring post James.