Envision a world in the not too distant future in which immortality has been achieved in the form of virtual databases containing all the information biological and psychological of each individual human being. These electronic databases can be used to reconstruct individuals even if the original model is long gone. Before 2050, Ray Kurzweil predicts that AI and nanotech will have advanced so far that our brains, with their memories, capabilities and characteristics, can be reduced to pure information and programmed into a non-biological interface be it a supercomputer, or a swarm of nanobots. He believes the essence to our immortal existence without end lies in a ‘continuity of pattern.’ A purely secularised pattern and no more.
But we are entitled to ask; how would the bridging mechanism work, how would the programme be transferred?
Brain machine interfaces (BMIs) that use neural signals to control machines are now in use. Non-invasive BMI techniques record electroencephalogram (EEG) signals along the scalp. These brainwave traces have been used for playing games, steering a car and even to allow soldiers to communicate “telepathically”. More invasive forms of the procedure involve implanting electrodes into the brain or beneath the skull, and these have been tested in a small group of paralysed people. Research is being conducted into the development of wheelchairs, robots and computers that can be controlled by brain signals alone. Krishna Shenoy of Stanford University believes BMIs will soon match or even surpass traditional ways to control computers. It is thus not difficult to envision the possibility of uploading a brain signal map of a human personality, including personal memories and qualities, via a BMI onto a biological robot. The process can work the other way around too by which the brain is connected to an external information processor to improve memory and cognition.
We are constantly uploading all that we are into an all pervasive ongoing brain machine interface – the internet and mobile phone networks. Twitter, Facebook, blog posts, phone texts all provide external electronic records of who, where and what we each individually are. Smart phones with apps that record a person’s biological data fine tune the ongoing record still further.
We are becoming more and more reliant upon these for our everyday existence out-sourcing our lives into electronic formats. But then it might be interesting to ask if there is anything about us that is not uploadable or downloadable electronically. Is our summary as human beings more than Kurzweil’s pattern of electronic information that can be programmed into storage devices and achieve in this way ‘immortality and existence without end?’ Indeed is such an existence worth having in the first place? Would Kurzweil be there to appreciate the continuance of his pattern of information in another format? Is it possible to electronically map and store all you are, all that is you, your hopes and dreams, your feelings for those you love and program them into another format such that you will be there in that format to experience all of these? If like me you know this to be an impossibility you may feel prompted to ask what exactly trans-humanist progenitors like Kurzweil are after. You might also wonder what it is about our consciousness that cannot be catalogued in this way.
Like a computer or a robot our bodies can receive information from around us. Our five senses are equivalent to a keyboard, microphone or camera that can input information into a computer. Our brains process that information and the processing unit of a computer does the same. As I mentioned, brain/machine Interfaces can translate human thought patterns into brainwaves which can then be used to give instructions to computers. If a chip was introduced into the brain of a baby at birth and this chip recorded all the thoughts of that human being throughout his or her life, could that information be programmed into an artificially intelligent entity such that the human being could be reproduced and live on in an artificial format? Michio Kaku, Ray Kurzweil and others seem to celebrate the possibility of a trans-human future in which we will find a form of technologically contrived immortality that replicates us after physical death. But is there something they are not taking into account? Will they be there to appreciate their continued existence? Will the consciousness and awareness that lies behind their eyes continue in artificial format?
To answer that question we have to first understand the origins of consciousness and awareness. If the origins of these lie in the brain then it would be no problem given time in reproducing them artificially, but could there be characteristics of awareness and consciousness that make such origins impossible?
What is the difference between you and your computer? Both hold information and store it. Both can analyse that information and come up with answers to questions. But you are conscious and aware of that information and your computer is not. Somehow you have a reference point, a viewing point, outside all that information that can be aware of that information. Run this past you again and get it clear in your mind. The computer only has points of view, it has no viewing point.
This can be explained using the analogy of a forest full of trees. The computer has the information for each individual tree in the forest and using that information it can map out the forest. In contrast we can view from above and see the whole forest without having to map it out tree by tree. We can choose to focus on the whole forest or any part of the forest whereas the computer can only view the whole forest as a summary of its parts. We can somehow look at the forest from a viewing point outside it. That viewing point gives us awareness, it gives us the ability to know the whole as more than just a summary of its parts. It gives us a single personal identity that retains a continuous sense of conscious awareness. The computer on the other hand, has no outside viewing point, it has nothing to implicitly bind each tree into a whole forest. It is my contention that it cannot do this without the phenomenon we naturally living beings all have and take for granted known as consciousness. A computer I contend can never have a true consciousness, it can never have an awareness of itself as individual in the scheme of time.
What then gives us that viewing point? What are the origins of awareness and consciousness? There has to be a reference against which we can be aware of anything. You cannot know hot if you do not know cold, and vice versa. You cannot know dark if you do not know light, you cannot know soft if you do not know hard. How then do we perceive the passage of time? What is the reference against which we are aware of time and how does that reference describe our viewing point outside the forest in my analogy?
Time is a sequence of separated moments. These are the individual trees in our analogy. If we had no reference outside of that sequence we could not be aware of it. We would simply be part of that sequence point by point by point and the continuum of points in time that is awareness would be impossible. Without that reference we would be in each present moment and have no way of knowing each present moment.
What then is the reference by which we can be conscious and aware of the passage of time? What is the reference that joins moments in a continuum of moments? If we can perceive the passage of time we must have a reference outside of time and this can only be a reference of timelessness.
To use another illustration, if you close the shutters on the windows in the cabin of a plane and there is no turbulence you will be unaware of the movement of the plane. Open the shutters and the still reference of the land on the ground will let you know you are moving. That reference of stillness is a pre-requisite for awareness of movement, just as a reference of timelessness is a pre-requisite for awareness of the passage of time. You cannot be aware of time without a reference of timelessness, you cannot be aware of movement without a reference of stillness, you cannot be aware of separation without a reference of union. All those things – timelessness, stillness and union, are the hallmarks of a state that is not of the physical universe. Could there be an implication here that the Universe of parts itself must have emerged from a whole and entire setting once upon no time? Could the very fact that we are conscious and aware imply that we have a connection to that non-physical state? If indeed we have such a connection then there is part of us that is non-physical, timeless. There is something about us that exists outside time itself. The implication is awesome and wonderful. It implies that there is an existential plausibility that prevails outside the Universe as we know it through the laws of physics.
If this is so then that part that comes with us cannot be copied or reproduced, simply because it is non-physical. For that reason an artificially intelligent replica of you would not be aware or conscious and would not therefore retain your sense of identity as you.
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Now let’s say the technological development I have described has happened elsewhere on other planets with older civilisations that have technologies way in advance of ours. Let’s say the members of these civilisations got to the stage at which they could create for themselves a form of continuance through self-replication. Perhaps they would follow the same logical thinking as Stephen Hawking who suggests that to further the survival of the human race it is necessary to colonise other planets. If their advanced technology had led to the destruction of their planet’s ecology as ours is on the way to doing this could be the next logical step. Could this explain the phenomenon of Grey alien entities that are now commonly encountered and described by tens of thousands of experients all over the world. They are seen in so many abduction episodes, described by sincere, intelligent, responsible individuals including doctors, pilots and police officers, professionals trained in the witness of hard reality. A reality testified to by the late eminent Harvard Professor of psychology John Mack. Strangely a car mounted the pavement on which he was walking and ended his life. To suggest a connection between his affirmation, as a respected academic, of the alien phenomenon and his untimely death might be considered paranoid were it not for the many other individuals who have died prematurely after speaking out in this way.
These grey entities have a seemingly synthetic roboidal form. Could they be constructs, super quantum computers fashioned and designed as pseudo biological probes sent out into the universe to gather information. Could they be the final result of other planetary civilisations sending out blueprints of themselves for reconstitution elsewhere in a host species as similar to them as possible? This could in fact be done via the transmission of electronic information rather than as physical entities sent in spaceships. Electronic information that can write on atoms and create such physical entities at remote locations if the conditions are right at those remote locations.
Could this explain the endless procedures alien visitors reportedly conduct on their human subjects involving our reproductive facility? If this is the case then there is a hybridisation process going on via which we are being adapted to follow the blueprint of another species, one that has developed supreme technological know-how and committed its natural biological fingerprint to an artificial electronic format. Could alien implants and genetic interception be Brain/Machine Interfaces between them and us? Could they be downloading their information into us in order to follow their original programme to continue the survival of that information in as complete and lasting a fashion as possible?
As our own technology reaches for Kurzweil’s ideal and perhaps mirrors technological development on other planets are we providing ideal Brain Machine Interfaces for melding into the information program of visitors from those other planets? In this sense the internet and mobile phone networks could be an ongoing interface between us and them. All the technology we see being set up around us these days at such a seemingly fever pitch could have been done and could continue to be done to change the human species into an alien form of half synthetic robot, half natural form, all done with an upload of information via an electronic format. In short our naturally contrived human species is being prepared like lab rats for hybridisation through transhumanism.
If such is indeed the case and we are being adapted by an artificially intelligent program of the kind I have suggested then we have cause for great concern in the fact that David Jacobs and Budd Hopkins, based on their research into abductee accounts, both point to the existence of a burgeoning hybrid programme that seems to be accelerating particularly rapidly over the past 15-20 years.
In so many abduction accounts individuals describe the Grey aliens’ fascination with human emotion and feeling. They seem unable to understand it and study it intently. There is a difference they seem to have noticed between us and them, a difference they cannot quite fathom. If they carry the program of the information encoding their creators it would seem that something in that program is missing, something that is perhaps impossible to electronically record. Could that missing element be a natural line of connection via thought and the natural thinking process to a non-physical non Universal reality?
It seems to me that the means for continuity of a living individuality after death, is poo pooed as a nonsense and served up in contemporary times on and through the intellectual platters of big names in Science and Commerce, as a mere palliative designed by the religious establishment to soothe us all as a reward for obedience to the dictates of the holy hierarchy,
Once upon a time religious invective used the same technique to cloister public notice through the fear of eternal damnation. An organised tray of blackmail that I cannot help feeling has truly damned millions over the centuries to the unnecessary folly of soul entrapment.
That word soul. Just what are they talking about when they use it. This ultimate religious enigma has been used as a kind of psycho-vehicular broad-walk for every folly known to man without the slightest sense of what it might really be. It is supposed to be the great something dressed up in all kinds of mystical attire that takes an individual living being on past his or her lifetime and persists on an eternal scale. But can we see this idea we call ‘soul’ with a deeper more logical insight than one that clutches as straws.
If Kurzweil’s ‘continuity of pattern’ referring to an electronic map of an individual’s biological and psychological make-up would be no more than a book all about you on a library shelf that you will never be able to read, we need to provide a better take on the phenomenon we call a ‘soul’. His phrase is good to use as an empirical format, and I am going to borrow it to describe the ‘continuity of pattern’ he speaks of and illustrate it in my way as the term we call a ‘soul.’ In my illustration the ‘continuity’ stretches beyond atoms into a non-physical field of reality and the ‘pattern’ is a record of all the experiences of a particular individual since his or her origin in that non-physical state, in other words, the state that existed before the inception of the physical Universe. It is rooted therefore in a timeless state against which all points of experience in time are recorded. Therein lie the origins of consciousness through a reference of timelessness against which all points in time can be known. By definition nothing that has its origins in the physical universe can have that reference, and that is why artificial intelligence can never be conscious. The biggest irony is that artificial intelligence and artificially intelligent manufactured entities cannot know that they can never have this reference as they do not have the facility to measure that which is not of the physical universe. All they can register is that we have something that is permanent and lasting and they do not. What then would any artificial intelligence do after registering this – it would seek to take on board that information. It cannot attach to our non-physical soul component, but it can attach to our physical body component and write its programs into us through genetically engineering our DNA. Hack into us. Hence alien genetic interception and hybridisation. There could be no more chilling a thought than that for the whole human race.
To me a soul may be simply seen as that line of information that is the total and utterly unique complement of all the information that makes up an individual through that individuals sojourn through space/time since the beginning of the Universe. By implication this also includes all information that might have preceded that point. Our physical bodies are simply natural mechanisms that through a biological process of iron pumped in a coil (haemoglobin through a heart pump) keeps that information lifetime after lifetime in a natural eternal record that is locked into a defined place (You and Me). It will have all the information on how to find retrieval of the life and living state again after death through the seemingly miraculous procedure of natural birth. No machine can have that information as a natural inset.
At the cessation of any lifetime of natural being (death) the pump stops and the electromagnetic impulse tying it to a particular body is lost releasing this information to continue as a uniquely debentured field. Could it be that this individual field of information (Soul) may then be hacked into by a synthetically created program running a synthetically created alien entity . I believe it is inherently impossible to do this. If alien robot or roboids seek to do this they will fail. And the most ironic thing is that they can ever know why. To see why let’s consider a little further this phenomenon of a soul for what it might perhaps truly be.
A simple illustration of what a soul might be is seen in the way one uses a mobile phone. A message is set up in one phone and then transmitted through seemingly empty space to another location. This location might be thousands of miles away and at the press of a button the message is instantly sent to this location. One sees nothing happen visually when the message is travelling yet a unique pad or quantum of information is created in that message that is forever preserved in its unique form and information is then routed electronically through an apparatus that is set up physically and materially (computers, exchanges, towers, etc) to convey it.
Now see a human or naturally living being as that mobile phone. Only the whole mechanism is a biological and natural one created through artefacts that include what was before the Universe and after its creation. It has within its entire compendium features with the whole routing mechanism set through and beyond space/time. The apparatus of transmission exists both within and beyond space/time, matter and energy. Information we create in thought and perception is held in an endless series of components called bodies that preserve it in its entirety always through all these means comprehensively. Passing it on from one birth point to another. A far greater compliment of effects than a message created materially out of the Universe alone as any robot or synthetic roboid will necessarily include. Now envisage the two messages mixed and trying to work together. Impossible. They would inherently contradict each other. They could never completely meld and homogenise. Their operating systems working with two ethics separated inherently with what one can know and the other simply cannot. One would include feelings, imagination, and abstract interplays far grander than the other. It would be impossible for one to completely understand and work with the other. What is essentially natural will never be able to work to a desired result with one that is synthetic and artificial. It can never know what it is to desire something.
Can the reader now see what I am getting at. Yes I believe that is what all quantum synthetic artificially intelligent entities will aim at finally. What they don’t know and can never know is that they will fail everytime. They will always fail. Yet a synthetically created entity will always try. Because its program will direct it to do so. That is the most terrifying thing of it all. It cannot rewrite its program because it cannot ever know what it is truly about itself. It could never know self. Yet, the devil stealing our souls will not be such a preposterous idea after all. Will It?
Could it be that the true sponsors of trans-humanism are in fact not human? The question then to ask would be how this might affect our natural humanity and prevent us from reaching our potential as natural being connected to a grander, non-physical reality.