The Meet-me-halfway route to Immortality:
One of the biggest challenges in creating AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) is, the fact that the human brain and mind is too complex to simulate. Yes, there are big budgets being sanctioned in an effort to map the human BRAIN, in the hope that it may provide myriad benefits to humanity and as an aside, at some point might even allow us to offload the brain onto non biological, if needed, substrates — Substrate Independent Minds.
Such might eventually be the outcome or goal of the Transhumanist movement: Making us post human, devoid of the diseases, the scourge of cancers, the heart-ache of grieving for loved ones taken away… in essence, giving us the ability to choose for ourselves, the way we want to exist.
Even assuming we can simulate a whole mind, there are challenges to overcome. Ethical and moral challenges need equal weight-age to other purely technological ones. For instance, who owns the “created mind”? Will free-will be removed or ‘governed’ by the creator of the mind?
These are arguments that do not go amiss with Transhumanists, who indeed are actively working on answers to these challenges. While debates on the pros and cons can fill an entire book, and there are indeed books that explore these topics, the goal of science and the transhumanism movement is to solve these issues for the benefit of humanity.
This brings us to the Luddites — Those opposed to everything that Transhumanism stands for and hopes to achieve. The Luddites believe that technology will be the downfall of humans. The Neo-Luddites are not so finalistic in their approach. They make lee-way for some technology that has been proven to be invaluable and possibly well proven to be of benefit to humanity.
Hypocrisy?… not in my book. As a believer in the ethos of Transhumanism, I think it’s a lot more complex and not just a matter of 8 bit thinking (black and white with 256 shades of gray). Both Transhumanist and Luddite camps have their fringe minorities… the radicals that promote a do or die approach to their beliefs — and thus both camps suffer, in my view, from not being able to do what’s best for humanity: Protecting it.
The Luddites will win at Immortality:
If we were to look at two parallel approaches to indefinite life for humanity or indeed humanity+, we could come up with:
- The Bio enhancement and anti-aging route.
- The mind-upload and substrate agnostic “housing” platform for the post human.
While work is steadily progressing on the first route, with remarkable progress being made for example, by the SENS foundation, let’s take a look at the purely digital approach to immortality.
Why will the Luddites, despite their reservations about the ill effects of technology benefit from the digital — the mind uploading –approach to Immortality?
With no intention to denigrate the (neo)Luddite movement or equate a (neo)Luddite to a dinosaur… let’s look at how far we’ve progressed with SPAUNING a whole brain.
(How to build a Brain: Video length appox 10 minutes)
Spauning a Luddite Brain and Mind:
Humans are creatures of habit. Most live a 9 to 5 existence, until stress, some other disease, or age related ailments claim them. Their legacy? An off-spring… and so the circle of life continues.
A brief exchange between the two main characters in the Transhumanism story “Memories with Maya” describes this…
“Humans are creatures of habit,” he said. “We live our lives following the same routine day after day. We do the things we do with one primary motivation–comfort.”
“That’s not entirely true,” I said. “What about random acts. Haven’t you done something crazy or on impulse?”
“Even randomness is within a set of parameters; thresholds,” he said.
AGI has progressed enough to simulate such a lifestyle. Computers excel at executing subroutines. Again, as Krish says in a debate with the main character in the story: “Even randomness is within a set of thresholds…parameters.”
If we follow the principles of Ludditism, in the future, there would be no brain and mind development of the scale that is of concern to researchers in AI. One of the biggest apprehensions of scientists trying to simulate the human mind is that we might not be able to create unique forward thinking versions of a mind-upload.
Taken from Wikipedia: technological singularity is the theoretical emergence of superintelligence through technological means. Since the capabilities of such intelligence would be difficult for an unaided human mind to comprehend, the technological singularity is seen as an occurrence beyond which events cannot be predicted.
Proponents of the singularity typically postulate an “intelligence explosion”, where superintelligences design successive generations of increasingly powerful minds, that might occur very quickly and might not stop until the agent’s cognitive abilities greatly surpass that of any human.
On losing a loved one, if a Luddite were to experience grief… that emotion, that takes both a psychological and physiological toll on a biological body, and if (s)he were to think of tinkering with Digital Immortality at some point, that Luddite would score one up over a Transhumanist: The resurrected loved one would be easier to simulate and re-animate… daily routine and “mind-set”, intact.
If a Luddite mind were to be resurrected or simulated, there wouldn’t be any post-human challenges to overcome and we arrive at (human) Immortality = Stasis.
Many Luddites believe that one of the side effects of immortality would be boredom. If rejection and ignorance (of technology) is bliss and dying and going to heaven is also bliss… Heaven can indeed be a place on Earth, should a Luddite mind choose eternal life.
Glossary: “Reverse Singularity” : A proposed time when human intelligence regresses (brought about by Ludditism?) to meet AI…half-way.