Human race achiving escape velocity..

I can’t shake the feeling that computers might correct the tendancy of large groups of people to behave irrationally and without the interests of humanity in mind, by helping to erase the border between ‘us’ and ‘them’, and teaching us that we all have more in common than we have apart.

One of the things computers have taught me is that sexuality is not evil, and we’re all fighting the same battles, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of but hurting other people.

It was a little distressing for me to find out that most of the things I was taught as a child were fiction, even when they were presented as fact. Helped lead me towards a deeper state of sanity, however.. a understanding that I can never know the truth of things that I haven’t witnessed myself – that, in fact, I can’t even neccesarily know the truth of things I *have* experienced myself, since my memory could fail or be altered in a number of interesting ways – some of them biochemical, and some of them based on cues from the outside enviornment.

One of the questions that I’ve struggled with is ‘Who created Sheer?’. The answer, and it’s actually rather obvious once you think about it from a computer geek’s point of view, is ‘I created myself’.

I was gifted with a body, and with education, and with problems to solve that helped me become aware of myself as a information processing entity and helped me understand conditional logic, boolean logic.. and the fiction that life is as simple as boolean logic. This is, as Live observed, not a black and white world. Digital computers have a very hard time coming up with new ideas, or even understanding the analog world that humans dance in. Someday someone will build a neural net out of microcontrollers with analog busses and a analog traffic management protocol – and it may show the emergant behavior that we describe as ‘waking up’. The side effects of this could be fascinating – if we can keep fear from causing us to declare war on it as soon as it shows signs of life. I would love to write a peice of software that acted as a distributed net client that ran on hundreds of thousands of computers, and used the random noise that could be detected with the sound cards of those computers as a source of random data to feed into a information processing net that was designed like a neural network. Could be rather a lot of fun – could be interesting to see if it would begin to show signs of self-awareness. Could provide the end of centuries-old debates, too.

I suppose there are some that would say that for man to create self-aware life would be blasphemy. I don’t think so – I think we’re supposed to create. Certainly if there are higher energy systems (i.e. gods?) watching us, they’d be quite capable of stopping us if we did something we weren’t supposed to do. Christian types can’t have it both ways – either God is a highly powerful entity, capable of stopping us if we get into trouble – or s/he/it’s not watching. I tend to hope that someone is keeping a eye on humanity, and will keep us from killing ourselves off – but that may just be wishful thinking. It feels true, though.

In some sense, the internet may act as a living entity of its own, although if so we as humans may not be able to see it.. (it may not even be aware of us, any more than we are aware of the activities of individual neurons in our brain) – it’s certainly being fed signals from enough sources, and enough types of signals, that it could begin to show signs of life.

The problem is I have a hard time seeing a digital system waking up – the very nature of our existance is analog (mathematicians might say ‘irrational’, which is sort of comic). The shape of the universe is suggested to be analog (witness the trouble our digital systems have in representing pi, for example)

I wonder if there are any irrational primes? One could take this set of ideas into entirely new dimensions.

One also has to wonder: Does the act of hypothesizing affect the experiment? Shrodinger seems to feel that the act of observing affects the observed – if a tree falls in a forest with no one to hear it, it might or might not have actually fallen. I don’t know that I understand this, but it does lend credence to Drachen’s theory that reality is just a agreed-upon formality. Certainly out there in the ‘real world’ there are a number of other worlds – the business world, the artist world, the partier world, the dream world, and the ideal world that each of us would like to construct..

I don’t know. But it does seem likely that as far as becoming the Sheer I am, I created myself. I was gifted with a wonderful computer system – the one that’s between my ears – redundant, self-repairing, and given the ability to recognize patterns and see beauty in patterns. And I grew from there, in suprising directions.

I can not exist without affecting other life forms. Non-interference isn’t something I can reasonably achive. I can try not to interfere in negative ways – but even that gets tricky. Design a new technology, and there will be good and bad effects from it. Try and design a technology that can live peacefully with Earth and the systems and sentients aboard her, and you’ve got a truly difficult problem on your hands.

I look forward to the day when we all read on our computer screens, and no more trees are being chopped down.. and new trees are being encouraged to grow. I think that humanity is close to escape velocity.. that point at which we start improving the world around us rather than damaging it, that point at which we can develop technologies to keep ourselves alive even if the sun goes out – or goes nova – or a asteroid wings it’s way inward to nail us. But at the moment, we’re frighteningly vulnerable. We could die off in any number of ways – none of them pleasent. We could kill ourselves through damaging the climate control systems of Earth – be killed by a asteroid or a supervolcano.. it boggles the mind. I refuse to worry about these things though.. we just have to keep climbing, and hope we make it. We can’t rewind, we’ve gone so far.. interactivity is waking up the radio star that is Earth. How long before another planet depends on us for its energy? It seems that we may crack the fusion nut, and once we’ve done that – and built scoopships to gather more hydrogen – we *are* a star! Maybe we’re only emitting at radio frequencies, rather than ‘light’ – but that’s okay. Not all stars are created equal.

Let’s make the jump! Who knows, once we learn not to fight, and that with enough knowledge and enough creativity there’s room enough for everybody (it’s a big universe!), what other sentient entities we might find – and how large, complex, and beautiful they might be?

2 Responses to “Human race achiving escape velocity..”

  1. bakeme Says:

    Schrodinger was talking about the quantum world, the world of sub-atomic particles. it is only at that microscopic size level that observation affects the world. everything is, of course, composed of sub-atomic particles, so in a sense regular everyday objects are subject to this strange business, but the weirdness does not manifest at the macroscopic level. it all averages out into plain old reality once you get big enough for us to see it.

  2. jcurious Says:

    “One of the things computers have taught me is that sexuality is not evil, and we’re all fighting the same battles, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of but hurting other people.”

    The internet is not the same thing to all people, the battles we fight are not all the same, and for some people discovery of the internet enabled them to harm people or be harmed by others in ways not possible or not as easy before they got online – sexualy or otherwise.

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