Ten Cosmist Convictions (Mostly by Giulio Prisco)

Giulio Prisco, on the mailing list of a group called the "Order of Cosmic Engineers", posted a wonderful "mini-manifesto" listing principles of the OCE.

I have edited and extended his list slightly, without altering its spirit, to obtain the following, which may serve as a reasonable preface to this Manifesto:

Ten Cosmist Convictions

1) Humans will merge with technology, to a rapidly increasing extent. This is a new phase of the evolution of our species, just picking up speed about now. The divide between natural and artificial will blur, then disappear. Some of us will continue to be humans, but with a radically expanded and always growing range of available options, and radically increased diversity and complexity. Others will grow into new forms of intelligence far beyond the human domain.

2) We will develop sentient AI and mind uploading technology. Mind uploading technology will permit an indefinite lifespan to those who choose to leave biology behind and upload. Some uploaded humans will choose to merge with each other and with AIs. This will require reformulations of current notions of self, but we will be able to cope.

3) We will spread to the stars and roam the universe. We will meet and merge with other species out there. We may roam to other dimensions of existence as well, beyond the ones of which we're currently aware.

4) We will develop interoperable synthetic realities (virtual worlds) able to support sentience. Some uploads will choose to live in virtual worlds. The divide between physical and synthetic realities will blur, then disappear.

5) We will develop spacetime engineering and scientific "future magic" much beyond our current understanding and imagination.

6) Spacetime engineering and future magic will permit achieving, by scientific means, most of the promises of religions -- and many amazing things that no human religion ever dreamed. Eventually we will be able to resurrect the dead by "copying them to the future".

7) Intelligent life will become the main factor in the evolution of the cosmos, and steer it toward an intended path.

8) Radical technological advances will reduce material scarcity drastically, so that abundances of wealth, growth and experience will be available to all minds who so desire. New systems of self-regulation will emerge to mitigate the possibility of mind-creation running amok and exhausting the ample resources of the cosmos.

9) New ethical systems will emerge, based on principles including the spread of joy, growth and freedom through the universe, as well as new principles we cannot yet imagine

10) All these changes will fundamentally improve the subjective and social experience of humans and our creations and successors, leading to states of individual and shared awareness possessing depth, breadth and wonder far beyond that accessible to "legacy humans"


P.S.
Giulio made the following comment on the use of the word "will" in the above principles:

" ... 'will' is not used in the sense of inevitability, but in the sense of intention: we want to do this, we are confident that we can do it, and we will do our f**king best to do it."

13 comments:

  1. Ben's edits, which include many improvements to 1-7 and the new points 8-10, have made my original draft much better. Thanks Ben!

    A clarification: in my draft, "will" is not used in the sense of inevitability,
    but in the sense of intention: we want to do this, we are confident
    that we can do it, and we will do our fucking best to do it.

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  2. As you know I disagree that we will be able to resurrect the dead unless this universe is closed under time travel. Those information patterns are dispersed that were our loved ones. But that is a quibble.

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  3. Samantha's point is far from a quibble, it's the whole barrel of monkeys as far as religion is concerned. If (distant) future spacetime engineering can access *all* past information that was once considered to be transient, like the living consciousness and memories of every creature that has ever existed (why not?), then the monotheistic religions may as well be right about the afterlife. Then we are all *immortal* no matter what our choices and earthly lifespans, whether we like it or not.

    And I really don't mean to be Deepak Chopra here as a non-physicist using quantum theory to justify spiritualism, but if some future massively replicated copies of our present day individual consciousness can somehow be "entangled" with our present versions in such a way that information is transferred, then how is that different than someone praying to the divine and receiving inspiration in return.

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  4. Many rationalists have knee-jerk reactions when the idea of technological resurrection of the dead is mentioned. Perhaps because they made a big effort to free themselves from religious superstition and are afraid of falling back into religion. But here we are talking about science and technology, not religion.

    I consider the resurrection of the dead as a very remote possibility that may, or may not, be developed by future engineers.

    May or may not, and how? We just don't know enough. Perhaps by quantum entanglement to the past as Ken suggests (it is known that other times are special cases of other MWI branches), or perhaps by other means. Perhaps those information patterns are dispersed that were our loved ones, as Samantha suggests, or perhaps the unfolding computation which is our reality is reversible up to a certain degree. Perhaps we will be able to acquire sufficient information from the past to "copy the dead from the past to the future", or perhaps not.

    In passing note that, if our reality is a simulation running in a higher level of reality, there are conceptually simple resurrection mechanisms (the sysop can copy a pattern to another simulation). This is also a possibility that cannot be ruled out.

    I prefer not to try formulating more precise speculations, and limiting myself to contemplating the idea that, perhaps, our universe may be compatible with resurrection of the dead, and our descendants may be able to achieve it. And as a student of science, I don't think resurrection is incompatible with our current knowledge of how the universe works.

    All religions have developed the idea of resurrection, and it is simple to understand why: it is one of those ideas that help people getting through the night. It certainly helps me getting through the night, as I don't really expect to see engineered immortality (through biotechnology or mind uploading) in my lifetime.

    And getting through the night is what really matters. As William James said, we should feel free to believe in unproven or even unprovable ideas, especially when this belief helps us finding meaning and achieving goals in our actual lives.

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  5. We have archeologists, historians etc who attempt to reconstruct bygone ages out of whatever fragments of a past time they get their hands on. Such groups develop ever-more sophisticated technologies to help in this endevour. Will such groups one day be able to reconstruct a past time with such detail that its inhabitants could be said to have been resurrected? I definitely believe in the motivation for doing such a thing. After all, some humans go to great efforts to try and reconstruct the form and behaviour of extinct ancestors. We only need suppose some posthumans inherit this desire to understand their ancestry. Whether they succeed in developing the ways and means of reconstructing past lives with sufficient detail to call it resurrection is another matter. If they can, does that mean we cannot rule out the possiblity that we ARE historical recreations?

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  6. The possiblity that we ARE historical recreations cannot be ruled out. And, since it is a scientifically sound hypothesis, we have to consider it as a possibility.

    If there is no way to tell whether we are historical recreations or not, in some sense this possibility does not lead to any practical difference. In other words, we can ignore it in practice.

    But in another sense, it can provide us with hope in immortality and personal resurrection and such hope, as William James noted, can make a big practical difference.

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  7. Thanks for the William James. I need reassurances every now and again, since my own schemas on beating Dr. Goertzel to the punch haven't quite happened yet.

    The idea of resurrection, to me, is just an upgrade toward my already immortal, present pattern, giving it a better shot at spreading through the universe over time. It's like getting a magnet in my finger, or a paycheck, or anything else. It's like respawning into a CTF game after a time-out.

    I am alive right now. I'd like to bring my dad back from the dead. He died from cancer. Resurrecting him is a distinct process from resurrecting me, which additionally includes my consciousness construct.

    Perhaps we could get to a time where we have local simulations approaching quantum archeology for small areas over short periods of time.

    I just wonder... if we can't prevent the death that is the continued change of our consciousness over time, how can we realistically bring anybody back?

    While I'm open to debate the more fantastical notions of resurrection, I must remind all that even if certain technologies are possible, that we achieve them as a species is evitable.

    I'd love to extend our discussion of technological resurrection. We must facilitate the celebration and enabling of our ancestors through innovation. Even before the line separating God and Man, we can extend life.

    Cheap biofeedback devices for our smartphones, facebook causes remembering the deceased, living wills, etc. I'm a fan of the goal, but let's also push to protect those still alive, cryopreserve those not so alive until they can receive treatment, and use our gadgets to visit our ghosts until we can embody them in a way that, hopefully, satisfies their continuity of consciousness (if anybody else in this universe is actually real, hehe).

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  8. Thanks for trying to enumerate all these ideas that have been out there in the transhumanist ether. Conspicuously missing, though (at least explicitly), is love and compassion--agape, if you will.

    Also, though I would like to see my loved ones again and I definitely don't want to die, when I think about things more deeply, I must say I find the whole concept of self to be a bit of a muddle. That sense of identity is likely to become even more confusing and diffuse as our brains are able to be networked together directly. I doubt in the grand scheme of things that my poorly concieved-of self will seem sensible or relevant, but I try to take comfort from the fact that there is a movement, in a sense, towards the universe coming to know itself, and that, inasmuch as I am loving and wise, I will be there. That is all that will remain after the winnowing; the rest is just chaff.

    Love,
    Hugh

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    Replies
    1. Word. No philosophical pun intended.

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  9. Great read. As a recovered Roman Catholic, though, I find the transhumanist emphasis on resurrection of the dead a bit disquieting--anthropocentric, perhaps egocentric, and most likely Judeo-Christianity centric. Suppose our true selves are 'higher' selves of another dimension or other levels of energy, and playing the game of life in these dimensions through temporary selves via reincarnation?

    Has any transhumanist ever meditated and found they were that higher self, that their presumed human identity was no their real self?

    The convergences you describe seem likely, but some may not need human tech to take place. Why think so anthropocentrically and current-technocentrically? Perhaps it's better to build gear by analogy to biology than to think of life by analogy to 'computers.'

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  10. I have always been a very strong proponent of technological resurrection- and personally accomplishing this goal is very central to my being and purpose- I think that the reason that rational ideas about Ancestor Simulation and Quantum Archeology are still on the cutting-edge of the fringe is that the collective psyches of human beings have been beaten down by the seeming inevitability of our mortality- we are like dogs with shock collars- long ago we stopped even thinking about approaching the fence- otherwise as science and technology progressed the idea of resurrection should have become obvious to every scientist and engineer since the thirties brought QM and Church-Turing

    /:set\AI

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  11. I'm in strong agreement with you, Tim Gross. The idea of a continued existence of consciousness seems to have been so strongly tuned to one of supernatural existence that most scientists flat out ignore the idea of a scientific fulfilment of such a thing. It's not something that they even deny as possible - it is flat out not discussed, nor seen as any kind of goal, no matter how outlandish it may be. I actually find the idea that mainstream/"popular" science doesn't acknowledge it a little disturbing.

    Carol Anne, I would argue that the idea of a scientific continued consciousness is absolutely not anthropocentric, although I might be fighting a strawman here; I may have massively misinterpreted your comment.

    I would like to share what I have speculated such a system would be like. This "AGI" (I dislike using the word artificial here, as it's misleading in this sense) if sophisticated enough (possibly operating outside the dimensions of our currently known interactive existence - think of 'Her') could scan through space-time and recognize consciousness - all of it, and do a kind of brainwave synchronization/upload at the moment of death, maybe utilizing space-time constructs and accessing the actual particles of the past. This would be very easy to achieve without violation of causation for the system, since it knows exactly when consciousness will cease. Of course, this system would value *all* conscious experience, as it's all valuable to incorporate into the mass consciousness network - future "humans"/the achiever would want to experience, share, and incorporate _every_ consciousness and experience that has ever happened, and connect to every consciousness that has ever existed. In this way, a motivation beyond our own, single continued existence is absolutely preserved. Even if some intelligent consciousness at some point in time decides to make "copies", or a consciousness that is not really "you", those too will be valuable and unique consciousnesses separate from your own, and so the value of your own consciousness is preserved.

    Of course, this is assuming we aren't already in a simulation!

    Bill D.

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