I recently interviewed KurzweilAI’s Giulio Prisco for my podcast The Eternities. The below is a short piece I posted on Disinfo.com about the interview, which has stimulated some debate there. Listen to the interview.
Pascal’s Wager demonstrated a certain rationality to a belief in god. The seventeenth century philosopher, Pascal, argued that if one believes, yet god does not exist, nothing is lost in death. But, if god exists, the reward is eternal happiness.
For the transhumanist thinker, Giulio Prisco, if god doesn’t exist, he believes we will create him. Or her. Or, more accurately, perhaps – them. Prisco’s reasoning results not so much in a wager as an expectation.
Speaking to The Eternities podcast, he said, “Richard Dawkins … the atheist mastermind … writes in The God Delusion [that he] finds it very plausible in the universe that there may be very powerful beings like gods. He thinks these beings are a product of natural evolution like ourselves. That’s exactly what I think myself. I don’t place any artificial limits on the achievements that will be possible to intelligent life in the future. And I do think that some of our descendants, perhaps in a few thousand years, will be so advanced … that we could only call them gods.”
Prisco is no mere kook or sci-fi fantasist but a physicist, computer scientist and ex-senior manager at the European Space Agency. Currently he is the Transhumanism Editor for KurzweilAI.net and is a director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. His uncompromising and ultra-optimistic “third way” philosophy combines the traditional aims of religion – existential meaning, eternal life, transcendence – with the ever-advancing means of science.
While the field of archaeology may figuratively bring the past to life for its exponents, the predicted future discipline of quantum archaeology, Prisco believes, may literally do so, and for all lifeforms that have ever lived. Though, he also acknowledges, we may already be living in a simulated reality, run by advanced god-like beings, our immortality already guaranteed.
He said, “There are people who think of … some information store which is already being filled by the natural physical processes that happen in space-time. There are some people who base the reincarnation idea on that. It’s not something that I can rule entirely out. If that does not happen spontaneously … let’s engineer resurrection and the afterlife. If there is no god, let’s build a god, or let’s become gods. And let’s make the universe a better place.”