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One possible future for humanity [Sep. 2nd, 2008|02:18 am]
Wise Tits
wise_tits
[d_h_belmont]
Don't laugh at me yet... A lot of this was inspired by a fascinating program on PBS, the name of the program, I've forgotten, but certain terms and ideas are definitely borrowed from it.

The internet is probably the most important invention of our time because of the way it's connected the world. So much of our personal lives are now wrapped up in it. This community is one of countless examples. This PBS program came up with a number of ideas, one of them included a "world wide mind", where all minds are connected, which would mean that if you wanted to *know* anything, it could be retrieved from the W.M.M. (pronounced Whim). Suppose that also included the experience of others, too, so all the years spent learning how to do anything could be instantly processed. Imagine how far humanity could go, and imagine with a connection like that, we would all be connected so intimately, I think it would instantly become damn near impossible to try to fight and kill one another anymore. Ideas rapidly bouncing off of other ideas, within a few years of the activiation of this WMM, maybe less, the world would become drastically different. I could see our lives being pushed further and deeper into the virtual world to the point where we become fully interconnected with it. It sounds stupid, like something straight out of bad science fiction writing, but I don't think I've said anything that makes no sense or can't be elaborated or justified so far. I could see this intergration going so deep, we start having virtual children, which would mean that humanity would, depending on how you look at it, evolve into a fully technological species, or go extinct. Either way, I could see some form of artificial intellegence being the next big step in the evolution of man. Now I'm not talking about a big giant virtual world, where everything is just like what it is now, but in some mental holodeck, no no no! With the power of billions of minds slowly integrating into one giant super intellegence, I think we could make quick and rapid evolutions, reaching levels of intellegence and understanding and comprehension that are inpercievable at present. Free of an organic physical form, we would be able to leave Earth and travel across the universe or beyond if we wanted to, growing and learning about things we never would have reached from home. Our brains work because of the environment we live in an how we adapted to it millions of years ago. Despite how smart we think we are, we still act mostly like animals because of eons of conditioning. That conditioning would finally be eliminated and we, if you would still call this super intellegence a "we", would probably transcend those limitations.

Okay, it's late, and the thoughts are probably not coming out as clearly as I want them to. I hope this makes some sense. Maybe I should start at the beginning.

Suppose there is a need (food), and a man, we'll call him Adam, creates a thing to meet that need (a farm). He makes crops, and over several years, he comes up with ideas to improve the crop. Suppose Adam has access to books on farming that have advice on how to improve said crops. He takes some of the best ideas there and they work to his advantage. Now, Adam has internet, and he has millions of articles at his fingertips, and he finds something esoteric from across the world on how to really make the crops grow, and he uses that to his advantage and the crops are even better and he now has a new medium to distribute those goods. With WMM, Adam can now *know* all the experiences of all the farmers in the world (or those who are attached to this mind connection), and from it, he can take the knowledge of the best farmer in the world and match his output. All these minds taking ideas from one another will generate newer and better ideas that will almost instantly be available. With newer and better ideas coming out instantly, flowing out- exploding out like gas from a pressurized tank, it wouldn't be long before you get to really far out ideas. Using all the accumulated knowledge from countless scientists bouncing ideas off of eachother, someone across the globe creates a "pattern replicator", like the food replicators seen on Star Trek, and a doctor, getting ideas from other doctors, biologists, what not, creates a way for humans to act as plants and get energy through photosynthesis. Minds would speak to each other with such harmony, free of the clumsiness of language, spoken and written.

It sounds scary and unpleasant, but I find the idea exciting, because of the heights a mind could reach utilizing the power of billions of minds, and the knowledge from humanity's cream of the crop, and the knowledge from great minds that otherwise would have gone unnoticed, all available and accessible, free for others to amend and improve and augment upon. I think if people found this experience unpleasant, the WMM would instantly collapse, or be reduced to something less significant. I think there would be this moment of extreme shock in some as surely their perceptions on the world, their life, their loved ones, would be drastically altered instantly. I'd think the best ideas for happiness would surface and be utilitzed, and I can't see how there could be disagreements inside this unified brain because all the reasoning and logic for any position would be laid bare for all to process. Everyone's perspectives and bias would be understood by everyone because it now sits in their brain, too.

And I have to wonder if all this knowledge exchange would fill up a brain's memory capacity. I suppose that would be one of the times that new memories would be written into a supercomputer that would house all our personalities and memories and everything else that makes us who we are. When we "die", I think there would be enough information and data on a person to essentially keep something congruent to them around for the life of the supercomputer, something to continue to contribute and add to whatever society would look like at this point. Children would probably start to exist solely in the computer, especially if this computer left Earth and did not arrive at any other Earth like setting. It seems that it would only be a matter of time before the organic side, that which was what we were at the start of WMM, would become obsolete and become extinct, and this unity would continue to evolve, possibly to a state where physical constraints as we know it no longer apply.

I wish the WMM existed now because so much of this idea just WILL NOT convert to words or drawings, partially because it deals with ideas that are supposed to be unlike anything we've ever experienced before... but maybe someone out there is capable making that conversion. Surely one in six billion would get what I'm saying and be literate and have a broad enough vocabulary to make that conversion for me. Heh.

It is three in the morning now. I better end this here.
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Comments:
From: d_h_belmont
2008-09-02 07:11 pm (UTC)
The program on PBS centered around two "people", one was a "holographic" librarian from the 22nd century who was a byproduct of the World Wide Mind, and she extolled the virtues of this Brave New World (rim shot)... the other was Aldous Huxley. I thought they picked on Huxley too much, because he would naturally have an aversion to such a thing and the librarian seemed to shoot down most of his arguments. Perhaps they should have tried harder with writing Huxley.

And since we're on the subject of what could go wrong, and since I already brought up Star Trek The Next Generation, there is always the Borg.

About a year and a half ago, I started writing a story that was based on the WMM and how far it would take humanity that borrowed some themes from Star Trek: The Motion Picture where two realities branched off from one at the exact moment the WWM was brought on-line. In one reality, it worked and humanity evolved into this single being collecting information across the universe. The other, the WWM failed to work for some reason, and civilization continued it's all too humanly pattern of rise and fall, rise and fall...

Several thousands of years later, this intelligence from reality one found a way to step into reality two (actually, I think it might have gone back in time and created reality two by deliberately disrupting its own existence) and began numerous failed attempts to merge with a human being. In the story, much like with the Motion Picture, this super intelligent being with all it's knowledge, somehow lacks that abstract thought, that essence of what makes a human a human. An armada of ships attempt to enter the massive entity (and this explores that idea that the Enterprise's journey through V'Ger wasn't unlike a sperm traveling to an egg. Unlike the Star Trek movie, where this was probably accidental, this idea is deliberate) and slowly, the amount of people trying to destroy this thing is whittled down to one person, which I obnoxiously named Adam, who eventually is merged into this intelligence and gives it what it needs to explore other dimensions and other things not quite rational.

That aside, without saying this type of technology would be good or bad, could you imagine what Huxley or Orwell would have thought our world must be like if we told them ONLY of the technology we had? They probably would have thought we lived in a frightfully dark world. Maybe they'd write something like:

"Tele-screens in every home all connected to a network of computers and people have little eyes sitting atop these screens that watch you and others can watch you with it. The most private information constantly being bounced back and forth across the globe with that looming possibility someone could be eavesdropping at any moment, at any time. Money as we know it doesn't exist as it's all stored on this computer network with little plastic cards with a black stripe on the back. Money is exchanged from place to place, but rarely is it in any physical form you can take with you. In effect, money is mostly an imaginary thing.
One of the most frightful invention is the "cell phone", which works in conjunction with this computer network. It can tell you as well as others exactly where in the world you are standing at, and people, without giving it a second thought, take it everywhere they go. People everywhere walk down the streets seemingly talking into mid-air like schitzophrenics, but are really communicating through a device smaller than a billfold. One could easily hide one of these devices in a breast pocket and record an entire conversation for the world to listen to."

Okay, I'll stop here.
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[User Picture]From: jesuismeursault
2008-09-02 07:37 pm (UTC)
i'm sure neither huxley nor orwell would be on board with such things. i agree that they also would submit that we've already gone too far with all things technological. though i am biting the hand that feeds me (chomping down on it, is more the accurate assessment, as i hypocritically use technology to argue against technology), i'd have to agree with them. i love my internet as much as the next person, but we are so infused with technology that it's going to start becoming difficult to know where it ends and we begin. that sounds stupid, but the internet would have sounded pretty dumb to some people seventy years ago.

also, do you think that humans can ever move beyond their brute animal natures? we are, after all, animals. i guess i am more negative than anything else, but i can't help but think of some person deciding to use a world wide mind as a way to further his/her own interests. greed, jealousy, wrath, a desire for supremacy and power over others--i don't see us moving beyond these things. and, even if some of us were able, there would be the few who could not, and we all know what one bad apple can do...
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From: d_h_belmont
2008-09-02 07:56 pm (UTC)
SAW!!! Loved the first movie, thought the sequels were garbage, will still watch SAW 5 anyway...

There is that aspect of someone using the Whim or something like it for their own personal selfish needs, but as I saw it, this would bypass a lot of those issues. I am going on the assumption that the Whim was created with good intentions and did not get corrupted by the time it came on-line and connected all our brains together like computers to the internet. While I think some people would instantly try to figure out how to create atom bombs or some shit like that, I think everyone around them would realize what he would try to do and stop him. I think our minds, because of the exchange of experiences along with knowledge would probably alter our personalities to such a degree that we'd be almost as one. Whether that would make us bland and boring, or giving us a feeling of peace and nirvana, I don't know.

But to answer your question, at present, no, but I think it's because it's these natures that have, for millions of years, served us. It's only in the recent millenia that it's been a problem we fight with constantly. The animal side doesn't mesh well with the civilized side, and besides, while the technology and culture changes, man doesn't really change. I would imagine something like a connected mind might be the first change to "man" that would make us something separate from animal, whether that be something good or bad, I don't know.
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[User Picture]From: jesuismeursault
2008-09-02 08:27 pm (UTC)
man is a lost cause. we fail at life.
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From: d_h_belmont
2008-09-02 09:16 pm (UTC)
Man is a contradiction.

We're essentially animals, but we don't act much like them. I think this defiance of our natural instincts causes a lot of conflict, but I tend to think it's also in our nature to continue to push beyond nature's boundaries. Perhaps we are in a transitive state between animal and something much more, and this flawed world we live in is simply the awkward transition.

I read half of the Unibomber's manifesto, and he speaks a lot about how our departure from being hunters and gathers have left us depressed and forced us to fill up our time that would have been devoted to staying alive (getting food, shelter, security...) with "Surrogate tasks" that are meaningless, things like painting and oceanography, we attach meaning too so we have something to do. His arguement is compelling, but the heart of his argument is flawed. It implies that primitive man didn't do these surrogate tasks back in those days... WRONG! Cavemen painted on walls! That creativity has been with us just as long as everything else, so there must be the seeds of being something more buried within us among all the primitive crap that fills our brain. I think that's where "Whim" came into my mind as being that which propels us into the "next level". All the "surrogate tasks" we've done over thousands of years eventually leads to this creation which will change man, or give birth to something that succeeds man... so I guess you could think of it as the machines in the Terminator movies, though I don't agree with the idea that a self aware machine would automatically turn on it's creators... maybe this ties into that idea of a religion where the creators are inferior to that which they created?

Hmm... Now I want to watch "The Gods Must Be Crazy" again.
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[User Picture]From: jesuismeursault
2008-09-03 05:13 am (UTC)
number one, of course self-aware machines would turn on us! it's in every movie and every book in the sci-fi genre. haha. actually, i can see why a self-aware machine would find a human to be an unworthy master.

as for man, he is the only animal that is aware of his not fitting into the world around him. he seems at odds with the world and is conscious of this oddity, which is much the cause of his melancholy. everything comes back to existentialism for me. i'm not sure how much a shared common mind would help man with this feeling of not being at home in the world. man does what he does to feel at home; he manipulates his environment, but the environment can never be manipulated in a way that makes man feel like he truly belongs in it. i think something like a world wide mind would only serve to further estrange man from the world, setting him apart as pure mind while the rest of the world is material.
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From: d_h_belmont
2008-09-03 11:30 pm (UTC)
Oh yeah, an artificial intelligence would probably find us, in general, untrustworthy... but if it was that much of an issue, and they had the means, they'd probably leave Earth seeing as they'd probably not have the same fragile bodies that are sensitive to gases and pressure and water and all that fun stuff. The universe could be theirs.

And yeah, the 'mind would push us into a state of pure mind, and out of the world itself, which is one of the reasons I think this mind would leave Earth. We will have outgrown it. We'll go find some other place out there to call home where we fit in, but I think to shed that material existence would give us a sort of nirvana-like peace.

I have to wonder why I keep arguing in favor of this device. I think it's because it's a fun challenge. I see the good in this, and I do see the potential bad. I have such a hard time arguing my point; I think this makes great exercise, but I feel so weird...

Out here...

All...

ALONE...
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[User Picture]From: jesuismeursault
2008-09-04 04:54 am (UTC)
it's almost like you are a part of the world wide mind now! hahaha. i guess not, as you would never feel alone, huh?

the world wide mind is a compelling idea, but also frightening. i can't imagine myself as pure mind, obviously, and the thought of it is somewhat off-putting. the loss of things like friendship, love, and even misery would take away the crowning achievement of the human being: the ability to feel, to suffer, to create. much creation comes directly out of suffering and hardship. you create to make things better. you create to quell the divine madness that nietzsche writes about, the madness that he suffered from himself. i love existentialism so because it speaks to me, but mostly because it was born out of a sincere angst and anxiety at the world around us. i would hate to see something like this fade away.
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From: d_h_belmont
2008-09-04 05:43 am (UTC)
I have my doubts something like this would just magically sprout up overnight, though. I could see the world gravitating toward something that ends up becoming what I describe.

In the PBS program, the WWM was a bit simpler. First, it required some nanotechnology installed into your noggin, and I don't know if it permitted the ability to delve so deeply into other minds. I do believe the part about knowing and really *KNOWING* how to do something because of researching it on the WWM was in there.

I am totally with you on how suffering and hardship brings creativity. I believe the most creative point in my life was also one where I was very depressed and suicidal.

One thing I find funny is the aversion to this unity. Now you and I don't necessarily believe in a heaven, but others here do, I believe, so why wouldn't the idea of coming together and being as one, having total empathy and understanding for one another appeal to them?

But yes, the WWM as I describe it would be the "death" of humanity as we know it, but that's why I titled the post "the future of humanity" as I could see that as where we are heading. I still don't believe that creativity would be lost. I would see each person in the Whim much like brain cells in a... um... brain. But if WWM brought about some unbearable and un-fulfilling existence, I would imagine it would be eliminated or scaled back.

What would a person be like if they were born into the Whim? All their life, they would have such a unique understanding about everyone. Reaching that tender age where young children are like knowledge sponges, think of the things that they could absorb, and then to take that and create new ideas from that. One problem I can't seem to explain is what would happen to a mind that has never had to figure all these things out for themselves? I'd like to think that all the knowledge in the world would be at their disposal so they can start to figure out "higher" things. Now, I would expect something like WWM would change humanity to such a degree, that everything about us, like how we learn, how we think, what we think is important, and what we think is irrelevant, and what we can know but we end up being totally oblivious to, would change drastically. (New programming paramaters, perhaps?)

Let's scale back Whim for a moment. What would happen if a town of 5,000 people suddenly found themselves mentally linked together, able to access all the memories and experiences of anyone in this town? How would the families affected by this treat one another? Would there be arguments at the dinner table ever again? Would our minds melt together like different colored wax in a melting pot? Or would our minds be like a giant mosaic, each mind making up a different colored tile to make up a bigger picture? How would local government work? All the ideas would be there on the table, and it would be a "pure" idea in that the ideas wouldn't have to be turned into words or media (where information would get lost in the conversion), and then others having to put their own interpretation on those words or media (more info. loss due to further conversion). Additionally, the reasoning for every thought would be known, it's almost like the ultimate source citing.

How long would it be until the town become something totally unrecognizable from what it was before Whim came to town? Would the city be a utopia or a dystopia? Heaven or hell? Would people want to visit this town, or would it be abandoned?
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[User Picture]From: jesuismeursault
2008-09-04 06:58 am (UTC)
it certainly is an interesting concept. much like anything else (internet, for example) it has its upsides and downsides. like you said before, the good of the internet far outweighs the bad. if given the idea for the internet a few years before it was available to everyone, i probably would have seen huge problems with it and been uber negative. it's my m.o. i just know that human beings, as flawed as we are, are a certain type of animal, an animal that is of the world but does not feel like he/she belongs in it. this feeling of un-at-homeness (thank heidigger for this, not me, haha) is what allows man/woman to create, to be human. i guess if the emphasis is on not being human at all (transcending the limitations of being human, i mean), then the world wide mind would definitely help us achieve that, but i'm not sure i want to see that happen.
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From: d_h_belmont
2008-09-04 07:19 am (UTC)
" it's my m.o."

-And there's nothing wrong with it, either!

After I made the last post, where I talked about a smaller version of WWM, I got this idea for a story that involves this town apparently being the subject of an experiment involving this mental connection. I was vague on the aspects of this... uh... Town-Wide Mind?... It brings up the question "Is it the people that have this connection or does it have to do with the town?" I decided to go with the latter, where those in the town are subject to the Whim, and I decided to make it where a mind can't get into it until they are an adult. I think this would make for a more interesting way to delve into the idea of WWM... Now I have a nasty tendency to leave my writing and other big creative projects unfinished, so if I manage to make some progress on the story, I'll post it somewhere here if the manager of this community will permit it...

And for those of you playing the home game, I decided to base this town on Sweet Home, Oregon (NOT Alabama, DO NOT make the joke, people, I'm warning you!!!) where my Dad recently moved to. It's the right mixture of this sleepy little town literally in the middle of nowhere that's rapidly becoming a boom town for some reason beyond me, and as a result, you get these surreal haphazard scenes, like big chunks of suburbia being laid down along side country back roads. I've never seen anything like it... then again, I can't claim to have seen much of the world, so that's sort of an invalid statement. Nonetheless, it was still a bit of a disorienting experience to be driving along this backroad, and then all of a sudden, I'm passing this block of cookie cutter homes complete with a cul-de-sac and basketball hoops in the streets and teenagers tossing a football back and forth to each other in the center of it all.

I see this story definitely having this feeling it came right out of the Twilight Zone, and not one of the cheesier episodes like seeing a monster on the wing of the plane, but one of the deeper episodes that Rod Serling deliberately wrote or produced to make a person think about a subject in a new light.

...It's a meeting of our hearts and minds... buried deeply in the forests... of the Twilight Zone...
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[User Picture]From: jesuismeursault
2008-09-04 01:01 pm (UTC)
wasn't that the outer limits? i can't keep them straight in my head. seen them all one too many times.

the story sounds cool. i'd be interested to read it whenever you rustle up a few pages or so. i'm a sucker for science fiction. while reading your explanation of the town, it reminded me of spectre from big fish. something weird was definitely going on in that town. anyway, i digress. story of my life.
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From: d_h_belmont
2008-09-04 08:13 pm (UTC)

I think it was all Twilight Zone

And last night, I had a dream where Mark Twain had something to do with this new story. How the hell does that work, and why was he in my dream to begin with? Maybe I should post this in the "dreams" section. I have no clue where or how Mark Twain entered my mind... although it is kinda funny that my standard pen name is "John Halley".
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