Feb 9, 2011
Posted by Daniel Berleant in categories: cosmology, ethics, existential risks, futurism, human trajectories, philosophy
Will the universe as we know it, with mankind in it, disappear in a false vacuum implosion in a few years or a few millennia? Will our comfortable big bang universe reverse course and die in a big crunch, billions of years from now, perhaps to be reborn, phoenix-like, out of its own ashes? Or will galaxies, planets, sentient beings, and even our very atoms be torn asunder in a big rip, their mangled shreds blasting outward for eternity?
Will the matter in the universe be transformed by super-intelligent computers into computronium — matter that computes — or does matter already spend its picoseconds and its megamillenia computing? And will we upload our minds into this computronium, or will our brains — already computronium incarnate — suffice going forward as they have sufficed, more or less, before?
And what of mankind? Will we someday meet our match among the stars, or will the Fermi paradox — the apparent lack of other intelligent race — be our future instead? And will we destroy ourselves in years or decades, or will we change by self-imposed genetic engineering until we are…something, but not humans as we know them today? Or will the mists of time and the forces of nature, working over tens of millions of years (not much, in the scheme of things), change us…into what? Into beings that as much resemblance us, their forebears, as we do our forebears the apes, the first mammals, the fish and the roundish flatworm?
And does it even matter…is that ball of rock and iron thousands of miles thick we call the Earth better, worse, or even particularly different for our existence? Does that emergent property we call emotion define its own significance as a phenomenon in the universe? Will our occupancy of a tiny slice of eternity change the distant future as the flapping of a fragile butterfly’s wings changes the course of hurricanes years after the butterfly returns to the dust from whence it came? Or will our existences as paupers, kings, and as a species fade away like a sunspot, something that happened, but then vanished, leaving no trace
in the vastness?
And if we matter not, what of it? Does that very question then matter not as well?