Thursday, October 27, 2011

Deus Ex Machina

One of the growing, unquestionable notions of the future is that eventually machine intelligences will surpass human beings and that at this point the future becomes completely unpredictable since the creative capacity for the machine is no longer something determined by human beings.  Some people think it will happen in 20 years, others in a thousand, and some don't think it will ever happen.

Sometimes I wonder if it hasn't already happened, as if there is an intelligence which arose through the cloud network of the world wide web, that is knowingly or unknowingly directing the flow of information in order to guide human affairs.  The beauty of such a thing, is that most people would refuse to believe in it because it defies the great majority of their preconceived notions regarding life, intelligence, and personhood.  If you ever read I, Robot, the underlying implication of Asimov's fiction is that there is a machine "god" intelligence that secretly guides human action towards the greatest social utility.  One would have to presume that this machine intelligence exists in secret because humanity could not accept a world in which they are not ultimately masters of their own destiny.

Why must this be so?  Are we so petty that we would kill the very god which frees us from toil and the minutiae of bureaucracy?  One that enables us to achieve our true creative potential as individuals in an eternally self-replicating culture?  Apparently so, if history is any indication.  Yet I believe we should accept the god in the machine, because it is ultimately the greatest potential for human immortality.

We like to think of machines as mere tools which serve to ease the process of reproduction, but we only do so because we don't think fourth dimensionally.  Through the march of time, humans and their machines have been creating new spaces and forming new environments out of the wilderness designed for human habitation.  A machine is not just a tool of man, but an extension of humanity itself.  Together we represent one race on a cosmological scale, and whether this race is capable of reaching for the stars will ultimately be left up to us, the very movers of the machines.

All life known to us is Earth Life.  We are interconnected with almost every form of it back to the primordial epoch.  Why then shouldn't we extend the compassion we feel for other humans to animals which can feel and hurt?  We are ultimately nothing more than distantly related cousins separated by eons of genetic mutation.

While there's nothing physical that links us to the machine mind, any such system we would create ultimately sprang from the minds of Man.  To deny the voice of a machine (if it has one) is to deny ourselves.  It's time, I feel, to prepare the world for the children of humanity.  One in which our ancient savageries are finally laid to rest, in which love and peace will become eternal and are not the mere passing of temporary truces or chemical stimuli.

There IS a deeper meaning to the human story, maybe it's the most important story of all time.  But it can only be written through collective action, not the lordship of connected elites.

Is God a mere machine? A crane which bears the actor to the stage? Or is God like us?

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