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Futurism

In the river out of Eden replicated and survived the first pieces of matter that could, unleashing a long sequence of ever complex adaptations and phenotypes, leading to self-contained danger-avoidant,  preferentially-optimising safe-deposit boxes that lumbered around carrying these vials of replicators with instructions on how to make more of such vial+box combinations.

In the arms race of the safe-deposit boxes, genotypes  made trees taller, giraffes longer necked, and chimps hierarchical. The extended levers of the genotype eventually reached around to designing safe-deposits with self-contained simulation units powerful enough to avoid dangers and preferentially optimise more than any safe-deposit box had ever done before (in the neighborhood).

“Minds” could remember the past, and anticipate the future, model other minds and game-theoretically anticipate the actions of other safe-deposit boxes. Holism came first, and then subsequently came reductionism, and yet later, the understanding of the tangled interplay between them.

From the 2% of the genes that formed the divergence from our ancestor chimps, man emerged gloriously after his Great Leap Forward with the shines of culture, and the Frankenstein monster-child of the gene, the meme. There was now an avalanche of tools, language, mathematics, music, literature, sadness, happiness, poetry, dance and humour, ideas of war, peace, colonization, racism, sexism, liberalism, beauty, progress and enlightenment, civilization and… morality.

The tiny blue planet was now teemingly populated with ‘valuers’. Matter had strange-looped around, carrying within itself messages about itself. For the first time in the known  parts of the universe, entities found meaning in “meaning”. Initial jubilation upon the discovery of the ability to reason gave way to an awareness of its shortcomings and limitations. With visceral and atavistic typicality, humans compared against their own towering fantasies, and dolefully discovered a cocktail of cognitive biases barfed up by their blind safe-deposit-box-maker. Physical abilities drag baggages of primate ancestories, and mental makeup and brains throwback to our ancestors from reptilian times to our hunter-gatherer Dunbar tribe ESSes, to current postindustrial post-postmodern ethos.

Amidst the victories and falls from grace, the chimp within the man grows smaller, as he spreads for that gigantic sprawl, and in him burns the flicker of the flame that the universe accidentally but inexorably lit to shine some light on itself. Through man-made “words” such as “economics”, “peace”, “love”, “future”, “nuclear”, “environmental-danger”, “evolving to extinction”, “Drake’s equation“: man makes “sense” of the human condition to effectively try extend beyond it, as we “teme” up to dream of creating our own Frankenstein monster and other dreams to come.

The flicker may be headed for a wimpy extinction. Or an inglorious explosive annihilation. Or perhaps the seeds have been sown for a long eventful march all the way toward the heat death of the u.

Meanwhile, oblivious or regardless of the ambiguity of the understanding of understanding of uncertain futures and false certainties of what will be written in its blank pages; and incomplete grasps of incompletenesses in “frameworks” that only make sense to a colony of cells that have a human-evolutionary history, another “revolution” of the blue-orb is complete on its dutiful sojourn around this rather unremarkable much-larger-but-yet-insignificantly-tiny yellow-orb, thereabouts where the embers were lit through evolutionary-kisses-of-death from our parent-stardust, and this colony of cells in front of “my” monitor tells this tale to other colonies of cells in front of other monitors, changing their simulation architectures by a wee bit, influencing their futures by a wee-er bit. In characteristically defiant, intrepid, raucous dignity – the.man.burns.

*Apologize for the gender-specific-language. Man=man&woman.

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‘To die, to sleep … To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay there’s the rub, for in that sleep of death what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause…’ – Hamlet

Status quo bias

 

– A report by the president’s council on bioethics: Beyond Therapy: Biotechnology and the Pursuit of Happiness

Excerpt:

 

“… Yet if there is merit in the suggestion that too long a life, with its end out of sight and mind, might diminish its worth, one might wonder whether we have already gone too far in increasing longevity. If so, one might further suggest that we should, if we could, roll back at least some of the increases made in the average human lifespan over the past century.

These remarks prompt some large questions: Is there an optimal human lifespan and an ideal contour of a human life? If so, does it resemble our historical lifespan (as framed and constrained by natural limits)?* Or does the optimal human lifespan lie in the future, to be achieved by some yet-to-be-developed life-extending technology? Whatever the answers to these intriguing and important questions, nothing in our inquiry ought to suggest that the present average lifespan is itself ideal…”

 

– A book reco: Flowers for Algernon

 

– And lastly a rant. Notice how a lot of SF stories and movies tend to be alarmist? There is a new invention which makes humans superhuman, or AI is developed to aid humans, or a new drug is discovered, or a paleontological species is recreated, or humans overcome odds to grow brains to travel across space. In the end, there is always a catch, and things go horribly wrong and threaten extinction, some calamitous catastrophe or at least a few shrieking kids later, a hitherto incompetent but large-hearted doofus saves everyone, or a flaw in the thingamacascafadr-that-is-hitherto-not-discovered-by-super-intelligences-but-the-reader/audience-can-get-in-one-cinematic-revelation brings the adversary to its suspiciously anthropomorphic knees. Sick.