Monday, May 30, 2011

THE FUEL IN THE SINGULARITY ENGINE: FEEDBACK LOOPS




          Kurzweil tackles the issue of singularity state and our migration towards it largely from the perspective of technology in his The Singularity is Near (the magnum opus for all “true believers.”) Rifkin, on the other hand, argues, without perhaps even realizing he’s doing so, for Singularity bread on increased human interactivity.  He details the nature of that New World Order in The European Dream, and The Empathic Civilization, citing terms like “the politics of empathy.”  


          Needless to say, they’re both right. Singularity will be brought forth through the mating of nexgen technologies with nexgen human consciousness.  These two forces shall be co-arising, moreover, and entirely interdependent on one another.  I want to be perfectly clear here:  One will not happen without the other.  Should it, Singularity will not be self-sustaining, but self-annihilating.

                But the real crux of the matter is heightened feedback.  We currently do not get enough feedback from our fellow humans or from the physical environment to sustain Singularity State – which can only be sustained by continuous and ongoing evolution in feedback mechanisms.  In fact, the “post-exponential rate of growth” cited by Kurzweil is less a symptom of Moore’s law as applied to computer chips and more a symptom of ongoing improvement in the feedback loops.  The better and higher the quality of the feedback, and the more of it there is, the more we are able to sustain Singularity State.

 
                From this, it follows that step one is to build out the web, not just “the smart grid” as techies understand it, and not just “the web of life” as Fritjof Capra understands it (blending a Rifkin-like focus on expanded human consciousness with expanded eco-consciousness).  It will require both.  

                Enter the Age of Ubiquitous Computing.  An age in which we are simply enmeshed in webs within webs of interactivity – and feedback mechanisms that evolve one another in complex ecosystems – all designed to help each and every one of us “get over ourselves” in the Zen sense of the term. 

                
              It will not be enough to talk to the refrigerator, saying something like, “Did you remember to order the milk, honey?  We were out last time I checked.”  Nor will it be enough to endure the condescending response, “Unlike, you, Dave, I have perfect memory, and instantaneous communication with all points globally.  It just so happens, I didn’t order the dairy milk, you so enjoy, but the soy milk, I know you need.  Because I’m monitoring that chip in your brain, and per our dialogue, it seems your testosterone is up, clouding your thinking, and leading to short temper.  Ergo, the soy milk, to help increase the estrogen in your body and balance you out. But since I know you’re not much on the taste, I went with the Silk brand, unsweetened, of course, because your brain chip and I are also worried about your waistline. I think it’s time we start watching our carbs, don’t you agree?”

                To wit, Dave takes a bat to the fridge, triggering the following response: “Per my titanium shielding, Dave, such outbursts will get you nowhere, other than to point up my argument, of course, that we really need to recalibrate your testosterone levels.  That said, a few more swings of the bat against my fa├žade should help your waistline.  You could use some more exercise.  So have at it.”

                Many chip makers are merely looking forward to the day when the fridge knows to order the milk on its own, without being told, automatically, as soon as the milk starts spoiling in the fridge, or the carton is depleted.  But it won’t stop there.  The fact is, that that level of feedback simply won’t do. Nor will the far more exaggerated version I detailed above.  Tomorrow, environmental feedback must be greater than what it is today, or we collapse out of Singularity State.  Period.  

So what is a person to do with this “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” dilemma? Moving too fast for words, and for comfort.  Not fast enough to sustain “The Best of All Possible Worlds” – as Leibniz would have it – for trust me, Singularity is the best of all possible worlds – because it alone can allow for any and all worlds to coexist peaceably (a subject for another later.)  Only from within Singularity will you not have to subject yourself to someone else’s take on the future, or nearly as bad, a “compromised” consensus take on the future, averaging together everyone’s likes and dislikes just well enough to piss off and alienate everyone. Only from within Singularity do you get to choose.


                First of all, to survive Singularity, indeed to thrive from within it, we have to think of ecosystems – not just isolated islands of intelligence, with a smart – and smart alecky fridge, and similar upstarts, the talking toaster, the meddling microwave, the sultry sun-tanning booth, the tempestuous toilet, the beckoning broom, the austere amplifier, the cagey can of tuna.  We must give every item in our smart-homes a personality of their own. And we must key them not just to one another, but to ourselves – with one ultimate aim – that’s right, for those of you not suffering from short term memory loss, of helping us to get over ourselves.  Because if we become stuck on who we are, we cease to evolve – far less evolve at ever-faster rates – a death knell to the Singularity state of mind.

  
                But as it turns out, we only get stressed when the pace of evolution outstrips our capacity for coping.  That’s where continuous feedback loops come in; and why they themselves must keep evolving. Gurdjeff tried to procure Zen masters the only way they could be procured at the time, in a Big Brother reality tv show kind of way, by locking them up under one roof, making sure they couldn’t escape one another, and then dialing up the pressure.  As I’ve discussed elsewhere (namely in “The Right Stuff”) in the absence of this pressure cooker atmosphere the human mind will sink into a lower energy state. There won’t be enough available energy for self-transcendence.  In fact, in that lower energy state, habits of mind reassert themselves, by now grown self-destructive, reinforcing our mis-fit with our environment instead of our right-fit.

                But there are not enough Gurdjief’s to go around. And even if there were, no human is going to babysit you the livelong day.  And if you’re lucky enough to have a team (in fact, teams within teams nested within the corporate organizational structure) of people all focused on your getting over yourself for the greater corporate good – as is becoming the case throughout the corporate world (see my post “The Corporate Brain on Steroids”on http://thetelcomstrategist.blogspot.com), this too is less than ideal. Because you have to go home.  You’re not under 24/7 surveillance and pressure. The heightened interactivity stops the instant you step out the door.


                But what if it never stopped? What if it was 24/7?  For that you need the world of Ubiquitous Computing.  You need, upon arriving at home, to find a constellation of artificial intelligences all ready to continue the work that started at work.  

                Will we have more artificial friends than human friends, soon enough?  No doubt. But that’s hardly the point. As all our friends – if they are to be friends – if they are to have any value add at all – will have to be playing the same game with us, and we with them – of assisting one another to “get over ourselves.”  Maintaining the trans-human state – defined as this ability to stand in the fire like the Phoenix without burning, and with continually renewing ourselves… this, ever-better feedback loops, and they alone, can procure. 

                Meditation alone won’t do it.  The best meditators in the world wouldn’t survive five minutes of Singularity.  We cannot do it in isolation.  We are forever more entirely interdependent on one another.  

                Does this mean feeling like we’re being poked and prodded all the time?  Does it mean a constant state of discomfiture?  I believe feeling at un-ease with getting over ourselves, merely signals sinking into a lower energy state of ego-attachment.  From the higher energy state that hyper-feedback environments permit, dis-ease along with un-ease melts away.  In its place is a state of endless joy.  Of ubiquitous laughter.  For that is our primal state.  That is in essence who we truly are.  Once the tarnish has been removed – the buildup of traumatic life events that left us scarred, that left us fixated on notions about ourselves that have long outgrown their usefulness – the truth comes out. And the truth is that the God-self requires no maintenance.  For I AM THAT I AM.  The lies we keep telling ourselves, on the other hand, with nothing other to show for it but various states of depression, dis-ease, and feeling stuck in our lives – that requires all kinds of daily hygiene.  As the tendency is for such silliness to burn off that close to the burning sun of our true natures.  But the mind will simply keep creating more debilitating illusions to cocoon itself in if you are not constantly reminded of who you are. This is why the future can only be co-created.  That is why Singularity is required to ignite and sustain the trans-human state of consciousness.  

                Note, this is leading without a center.  No one is any more important than any other.  Some “higher forms of consciousness” may indeed serve as “nodes” in the network, helping to catalyze reactions in those around them like the suns to their own solar systems.  But this too is but a transient state.  For we are each a sun in someone else’s universe.  That is how it is. That is how it must be.

                So, is there a natural sequence of events that can be ascertained from within this renaissance, defined by the co-arising of artificial and biological lifeforms?  Such a notion would appear on the surface of things to be an oxymoron.  Because within Singularity State, time itself is no more.  Everything happens at once.  Time gives way to an eternal present.  It must be so as we shift our center from ego-based consciousness to one that lives outside of time – the Witness state.  


                On the other hand, it may be more helpful to think of Singularity as a peculiar kind of Rubik’s cube.  There are infinite configurations of this cube.  And it is “solved” the more jumbled the cube is – the more “out of alignment” it appears to be.  Each one of those squares on each face of the cube is an alternate reality that is sustained with relation to all the others.  At first we may enter each one of those alternate realities solely through video games and the like. But eventually reality and the virtual world start to mix.  Until we are each of us living in a world entirely of our own.  And yet, we are each capable of entering the unique worlds we each inhabit by a kind of enhanced telepathy via nexgen technology’s ability to enhance feedback between our minds.  


This is how we come to have a reality in which “everything happens at once” and yet “everything is as it always was.”  We can perceive not just time occurring, but we can move in and out of any timeline we desire, some moving faster than others.  The eternal present is built up of innumerable alternate realities.  

In this way Singularity is the gateway to the multiverse.  Initially it is only “in a manner of speaking.”  But over time, the power of mind generated from within Singularity – of a global consciousness continually evolving itself at ever faster rates – creates sufficient mind power to alter the underlying physics.  

Singularity State – as an amalgamation of human and technological consciousness literally migrates into a world between worlds, into a space where all physical laws break down, into true Singularity proper, as physicists understand it.  

                This may in turn explain why “there’s no one out there.”  It may explain Seti’s inability to find much by way of extra-terrestrial lifeforms of orders of consciousness equal to or greater than our own. It is highly likely that sufficiently advanced civilizations cannot long avoid migrating into Singularity State – as much of a phenomenon of physics as it is of social evolution.  So they “blip” out of space-time as we know it.  

                At the same time, this “best of all possible worlds” that is, in effect, the gateway to the multiverse – there is no other way to reach THE ALL, except by way of Singularity; to collapse out of Singularity is to settle for one or another of innumerable alternate realities instead of having access to them all – does offer an explanation for those “strange sightings” over various parts of the globe of ETs and their accompanying craft.  

If Singularity is the gateway to the multiverse – then it would also grant access to space travel into any and all alternate realities – by any and all means imaginable. Whether this in turn creates new timelines – ones in which aliens visit, versus ones in which they do not – is a matter for another article.  For our purposes, as God has both a “becoming” and a “being” aspect – I am comfortable with the idea that the multiverse too is evolving, co-arising, with ever more alternate futures to offer up.  

                We’ve come far from our initial ruminations. As mind-blowing as many of these concepts are, the most salient point to take away is none of it is possible without ever-evolving feedback loops and mechanisms.  Singularity is sustained by feedback loops that aren’t passive, but that learn from us, from one another, and co-create the multiverse with us.  Our own brain creates ideas through innumerable feedback loops we are embedded in within the natural world – long before we bring increased intelligence to everything, every speck of sand.  

                So, don’t strain your brain on how Singularity will come about; the details of it, the what comes first, on its mind-blowing nature.  On its innumerable paradoxes – not the least of which is that the most unsustainable future of all – turns out to be the one sustainable future.  

Concentrate solely on creating better feedback loops, ecosystems full of them, and let the rest take care of itself.  At that point, the universe becomes self-organizing, and self-accelerating into the heart of Singularity.

                But what will be the initial impulse to create better feedback loops, you say?  What else, but mounting crises globally?  Crises in the supply chain from farm to our dining tables such that we can’t tell the difference between organic and chemically contaminated foods due to mislabeling.  You can bet electronic sensors are being created for every step in that supply chain to squeeze out any doubt about a food’s origin or its quality, because in the absence of that, we go the path of Rome, and permit our citizens to succumb to lead poisoning, until, also reminiscent of Beluga whales, our heavy-metal toxicity is so great, no medical explanation can be given for how we function, and why we aren’t dead; for we have become mobile landfills.

                A failure of trust in the global economic order will drive a new age of hyper-trust with these electronic intermediaries to keep us all honest.  

Concerned the car salesman is trying to snooker you?  The car itself will tell you what it’s made of via dialoguing with any number of its onboard computers – by way perhaps of your cell phone, or that chip in your brain. All of the participants in said dialogue, moreover, will in turn be connected to the internet, the global mind, possibly then grown fully sentient in its own right.   But even an unconscious internet will be damned daunting in the above scenario as intel flies from all corners of the globe to help you make the most informed decision you can make on that car purchase.  

                 
            A world forever at the brink due to ever more crises, but that never quite falls into the abyss, will require ever more self-correcting mechanisms in real time, ever-more solutions to problems well ahead of unupgraded human nervous systems to procure.  From where the solution to this madness? Except by way of the smart grid – by then built out to cover virtually every grain of sand – and by way of the endless feedback loops within feedback loops that allow infinite problems to be solved in real time. And what could describe this state, honestly?  What but entry into the fractal mind of God, which we are now building from the ground up.  

                So let’s not wear ourselves out chasing after ever more crises than any sovereign can handle, than any smartly connected wi-fi region can handle, than even massive trading blocs like The European Union can handle.  Just design the better feedback mechanisms that allow God’s mind to interpenetrate the physical realm. And leave to God what is God’s to oversee. 

THE RIGHT STUFF


     
          Tom Wolfe used the expression “The Right Stuff” to describe the necessary ingredients that went into procuring an astronaut during the early days of the space program.  That expression may find broader appeal today than ever.  Where once before, precious few professions demanded such degrees of excellence; today, you’d be hard pressed to find a chimney sweep, or a Starbuck’s vender, who can get by with less.  
  

          It’s not just that consumers have gotten more demanding, being unduly pressed for time themselves.  Harried, and stressed past their limits, they are all too happy to vent on the first person who gives them any less than their mother did. And God forbid the door-to-door salesman not have the diffusing skills of a lion tamer the next time he rings a doorbell on someone looking to enjoy some quality time at home at long last only to find it intruded upon by unwanted solicitors.  

Nor is it just that workers have had to do the jobs of ever more coworkers that have been laid off.  The age of multi-tasking went right along with the age of “lean and mean,” the age of downsizing, the age of outsourcing, the age of automation – “I really need to replace that guy with a machine that won’t keep asking for a raise” – the age of “if we can’t figure out how to do it for less, the competition will – be they here, or in some far away land no longer so far away courtesy of the internet.”  So while we used to mumble, “Maybe if they hired enough help around here I wouldn’t have to do ten things at once!”  We keep such thoughts to ourselves, anymore, in lieu of an Orwellian reality now so oppressive not even Orwell could have dreamed it up.  We are all just one paycheck away from the streets, and, from the looks of it, that’s the next paycheck.

Employers confess there’s “a sweet spot” that’s hard to find.  Push people too hard, and you burn them out too soon, and high employee turnover nullifies all that expensive training.  What’s more, if it takes six months or two years or longer to procure the ideal worker in the given profession, doesn’t do to burn them out before they’ve even hit their prime.  Mind you, zeroing in on that “sweet spot” is like locking on to a target on a charging rhino.  Because (and here I’m mixing my metaphors) if the pressure doesn’t stay dialed up to the limit of what the individual can bear, the second you ease up, they fall into a lower energy state.  They slip into ruts, find they can do things with far less attentiveness, running on autopilot.  It’s basic chemistry.  For those of you who remember: an “s” “d” or “p” orbital – just how far and fast the electrons are spinning around the nucleus of an atom – has to do with how much energy piping through the system.  The instant there’s less, the electrons sink into a lower energy state that is less frenetic.  Do we as humans have equally discrete “quantum states of consciousness” that are not incremental but drastically separated from one another that can only be found under such duress?  If so, it bodes well for sadists, or your typical employer.

Piaget argued for such discrete states of consciousness. Much as chaos theorists and quantum dynamical systems theorists argue today, he insisted that incremental change will suffice so long as the human brain’s wiring can handle the added throughput.  However, overwhelm the individual, and he has one of two choices, crack (I do wonder what the stats are on sanitariums these days), or, transcend himself (“get over” himself, spoken in the vernacular).  Basically the brain grows more neurons, finds ways to wire them together better, secretes more sophisticated brain chemicals, all in the name of superior information processing and decision making.  Actually, no one really knows how this is done.  But necessity, the mother of invention, waits not on philosophical or scientific approval, or even common sense.    

So the good news is…


You need a job from hell in order to entice the Zen master to arise in you; or, for those who aren’t enamored by all things Eastern: to force Clark Kent into Superman mode. Even better if:  The world is in chaos. In ruin even.  With Armageddon writ large.  The more crises the better.  Thankfully, the daily news aims to please here.  There has to be, in Pema Chodron’s words, a sense of no escape so we can begin to appreciate “The Wisdom of No Escape.”  

The more the individual is kept off balance, the longer he is unable to cope at his existing functioning level, the more he has no choice but to “take it up a notch.”  In fact in our age of continuous improvement we have all sorts of expressions to describe the requisite “get over yourself” psychology:  “think out of the box;” “take it to the limit;” “pull it out of your ass (a personal favorite);” “Winners find ways to win;” “can’t touch this;” (ok, that may have some other meanings that don’t serve my purpose). 

The world as a “pressure cooker” provides the impetus for the shift in the global mindset – that really big phase shift to an entirely discrete and higher order of integral consciousness – for everyone. 

We can thank NAFTA.  We can blame “the global economy” and “free trade” for knocking down the protectionist walls that formerly nation states enjoyed.  We can pay homage to the fact that one percent of the best and brightest of the Chinese – is greater than our entire population in the U.S.!  We can thank the collective stupidity and lack of consciousness of the human race that pushed us to the edge of self-annihilation as a species – in so many splendorous forms – from global warming to ritual genocides carried out on a daily basis.    But the signs are there that the pressure is on – and mounting daily.  

And thank God for that.  Otherwise we couldn’t procure the greatest age of them all – the one that subsumes all the others – The Age of Zen Masters.  Or, if you are unapologetically occidental:  The Age of Superheroes.  

Once the pressure has forged us from common steal into a Samurai blade, what then?  Moreover, what will be the signs that we have been transformed?  What is the meaning of having The Right Stuff in today’s world?  

Primarily, it means no longer being stuck.  We cease to be identified with a laundry list of personality quirks and labels:  “I’m so dumb;” “I’ll never be able to do that;” “I just don’t like working under pressure;” “I’m really into Beamers.”  To be ego-identified means to hold some limiting self concept about ourselves in our minds from moment to moment.  Never mind the inconsistencies that crop up, which we consistently fail to recognize.  Namely that the self-concept is never entirely the same from one situation to another, one social context to another.  Whatever the context, you can bet we’ll have some sense of ourselves and our roles to play in it.  

But in a pressure cooker environment, any self-image you would care to procure – no matter how self-empowering or, conversely, self-debilitating – is likely to be burnt off in no time at all.  Like the Phoenix standing in the fire, you must learn how to rebuild yourself constantly.  

And as the heat is dialed up on the stove, taking the pressure forever higher, guess what, only one solution ultimately works: the recognition that you are God-stuff.  You are without limits.  You are a perpetual arising. You are whatever you need to be in the moment, no more, no less.  And you are whatever the job before you demands of you.  Whatever your world needs you to be.

Now some caution is needed here.  You can take on the role of a chameleon without entertaining any real change in your being.  Some of the most talented actors I know are also some of the most fucked up people I know.  They love to get into character to escape themselves and get outside of their own heads – because it’s such a hell hole.   And that’s why they become such talented actors.  Be forewarned: This psychology will not work in a pressure cooker world that will clean you of your dross psychic matter clear down to your soul.    

But from a clearer light, one of the rules of the game is:  “All the world is a stage.”  You simply act or take on whatever role you need to in order to thrive within the given social context slash job environment.  You do so not out of some historical attachment to roles you’ve played in the past.  Nor do you do it out of trying to find whichever traits from a list of traits you’re attached to that best fits the situation, best allows you to cope, while downplaying the others, all the while being attached to the list itself.   These are Ego-based solutions; and they simply will not work.

You don’t act what the situation requires in order to “sell out” or “sell your soul” – forgetting to use the light of your inner truth to guide you, becoming no more than a reflection of what others expect you to be.  Because the instant you do that you lose all intrinsic value. Only your uniqueness is marketable.  

But how can you hold on to your uniqueness without holding on to some sense of what sets you apart from others?  The trick is not to hold on.  I’ve heard it said that who we are is a function of memory, the unique patterns and associations we create up inside our heads from all the data points we’ve been exposed to, the books we’ve read, the movies we’ve seen, the meetings with remarkable men we’ve had, all that has left a trace in our psyches which we then data mine as only we can, using algorithms we’ve created as adaptive strategies…   All this is fine as it goes for describing the phenomenon at the level of brain matter.  In a reductionist, materialistic manner.  But from where does that integral force arise? That ability to synthesize and make meaning of things; to integrate information from desperate fields of endeavor, and entirely disconnected thoughts and ideas.  

It is the Witness state that is the eye of the tornado.  Once we are no longer ego-identified, we shift our center to this amorphous shapeless consciousness that is without limits.  That is calm, centered, and unflappable.  And our mental activity revolves around it. And because it does, our thinking gets clearer, more efficient, more empowered, less twisted, and deformed, and limited, as a sign that we have been purified of ego-identification.  We don’t give up our egos, we just cease to be identified with them.  We are the god-stuff inhabiting the vessel; driving the spaceship.  And now that we are identified with that God stuff, our ability to transform the vessel in keeping with "the transformer" is accelerated.  So we escape the old fashioned "ghost in the machine" argument. There ceases to be any discontinuity between redeemer and redeemed.

Without finding this center; thought cannot be purified.  Creativity cannot be fully released.  Is it all or nothing?  Of course not; for we are both becoming and being, forever lost in that yin yang duality.  But through meditative practice we can train ourselves to self-correct and seek out the Witness state.  

The beauty of it is, all this is so much easier in a pressure cooker world that will not allow you to stray far from center.  So the Chinese were right with their I Ching – times of crises are also times of opportunity. 
  
What has all this got to do with Singularity?  Welcome to Singularity, son. You’re in it.  You’re living it now.  And that “pressure cooker” world – is the back draft of the Singularity engines firing up. But fear not being consumed in the jet exhaust.  For you are the engine of creation out of which Singularity arises.  You are:  The Phoenix Rising. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

FORGET DARPA’S 100 YEAR PLAN. I CAN DO IT IN 20.



     First of all, you have to love their sense of urgency.  We’ve been told by scientific analysts far and wide that the sky is falling.  At any time, we can be done in by a magnetic shift in the Earth’s poles (for which we are apparently overdue), an encroaching ice age (for which we are also apparently well overdue), a volcanic eruption in Yellowstone that can take out two thirds of the U.S. (you guessed it, overdue for that one also), an asteroid impact from space (already happened at least twice that we know of, wiping out life on the planet as we know it both times), a sun inconveniently going supernova a little too close for comfort (what are the odds in a sky full of them?) Then there’s the matter of our own sun coughing up a little too much debris our way by way of solar flares (last one wiped out much of the satellite grid for a while, next one could really fuck with your longevity.)  Mind you, not that we need this or any of the hundred and one other surefire planet killers to go down as predicted.  Mother Nature, as it turns out, is the least of our problems.

 
Stir man into the mix, and you get a much sharper focus on the “living on borrowed time” concept.  I.e. global warming leads to mass desertification and massive diebacks thanks to lack of water and food.  Foregoing genocides by politically corrupt leaders, there are the bozos walking around with suitcase nukes.  Then there are the pandemics that can barely be contained based off casual indifference to this much global travel, with humans being the excellent vectors they are for transporting exotic tropical bugs that kill by the cagillions.   Now that we’re encroaching ever further into pristine habitats that formerly never saw man, bugs that used to be confined to animals, are now piggybacking directly onto humans.  Lyme tick disease is one such opportunist; already a household word.  

I won’t tire you with all the other doomsday scenarios, as that’s the job of the mainstream news media.  God forbid bloggers should jump on board the “fear promulgation” wagon.  

One thing of which we are all certain:  We can’t possibly survive another day.  And, wait for it… we’re living in an age without prayer. So we can’t even call on God to save us.  We killed him off a long time ago; he was the first to perish amidst the human madness.  

But fear not, the solution is near.  We, Americans at least, are ready with the answers.  We will tune out to WWF, and other TV delights at the rate of 7 hours a day, more for our kids.  And the void tv fails to fill, we will fill with video games, and other forms of escapist media.  In short, we’re too checked out to care.  

Enter DARPA, which is looking for a “credible” alternative to putting all our eggs in one basket – sometime in the next 100 years.  I really would prefer we took this issue as a species a bit more seriously.  However, I’ll take what I can get, even this anemic response to a 5 alarm fire that amounts to a five year old aiming his wee-wee at the burning Empire State building, entirely confident this will suffice to rescue it from oblivion.  

                So, since DARPA is asking for someone to rescue us – even if it’s not on my timescale – here comes Dayton to the rescue… 


Dayton’s 100 Year Plan:

First of all, let’s stage this.  We need some intermediary goals, that once accomplished, will speed the way to the cosmos.  Trying to bypass these milestones, moreover, will only slow our ability to reach escape velocity as a species from Planet Earth.  This is one of those times, where to go straight ahead, it’s actually faster to go around the world a couple times first.  It’s counter-intuitive.  But welcome to life in the 21st Century, where sanity just doesn’t cut it.

First and foremost, we need to throw some fire starter on the well ballyhooed Singularity idea.  In my version of it, there is a Cambrian explosion of artificial lifeforms running in parallel with a deliberate man-made explosion of biological lifeforms (to replenish the biodiversity we’ve pretty much wiped out with our typical lack of forethought.)  

Why, do you ask, in a world already overpopulated with humans, would we want to go and create an explosion of lifeforms?  Well, therein lies the problem.  Humans can’t be held in check unless they are part of a complex web of checks and balances, part of a lager ecosystem.  But the old fashioned eco-systems (which we’ve largely destroyed) won’t cut it.  There isn’t enough feedback in the system.  And God knows we need more of that, because it appears that without it, humans can’t keep from tripping over themselves.

Here’s the salient point:  Ecosystems, if set up correctly, are remarkably robust and self-correcting. And, designed properly, can absorb just about any shocks to the system. The “group mind” of the collective – the consciousness of the ecosystem itself – can manifest whatever new lifeforms on the fly are needed to cope with whatever changes to the environment that are beyond its control, in those few instances where it cannot outright control the environment itself – ecosystems being the best tool we know of for doing this.

Now put yourself in the positions of those vulnerable astronauts in outerspace.  Imagine they were part of a robust ecosystem of lifeforms able to respond with just this level of flexibility and plasticity – well beyond the range of the human mind and nervous system to respond.  True, by the way, were that human system upgraded with nanotech, gene-enhancing cocktails, and all the rest (presumably to better resist radiation, food and water scarcity, oxygen deprivation, and any of innumerable space hazards that could befall them before being righted.)  The best and brightest of us, even networked with one another, wouldn’t stand a chance of lasting a hundred years in space. We would certainly have the odds well stacked against us flying through space in a spaceship that couldn’t fix itself. 

Now, imagine instead that the human mind weren’t the limiting factor.  I know it’s humbling for you egomaniacs out there who are convinced every problem can be tackled in the way the cabal of 12 megabrains, locked in a closed scientific fortification, were able to come up with the atom bomb. But as it turns out, it’s far easier to destroy life than to sustain it.  

Now, imagine instead of our souped-up astronaut, who still remains remarkably fragile because his ability to adapt is limited outside of an ecosystem that can assist him in ways he can’t imagine, a human embedded within webs within still larger webs of living, conscious support systems.  
   
How would I design this ecosystem?  First of all, I’d bring Mother on line, the sentient version of the Internet.  A self-conscious disseminated uber-mind wired into every part of the ship, and connected to each of our artificial and biological lifeforms – which are many, courtesy of Dayton’s Cambrian explosion in a jar.  

Now, just as with people, if Mother isn’t checked, you’ve got problems aplenty also. The Terminator film series explored just some of the downsides of bringing an uber-consciousness on line and then disconnecting it from reality.  But if Mother was herself embedded in a sufficiently complex ecosystem of artificial and biological life, it would be hard for her to “kill herself” as there would be no way of knowing where she ended, and each of us began. Courtesy of nano, she would have access to each of our minds.  Could upgrade us on the fly pending the output of all those mad machinations only an uber-mind could construct in the batting of an eye.  
 
Her “eyes and ears” would go far beyond her upgraded human minions, however. Every kind of robot, from the anthropomorphic humanoid ones, to the ones that look like a walking toaster, would fill up this ecosystem, each designed to do tasks it is uniquely suited to.  Each able to not only repair itself, but morph into something else as needed should the system encounter environmental changes for which it is no longer prepared.  

Because every lifeform is connected to every other lifeform in feedback loops that go well beyond anything possible today, each lifeform is uniquely accommodating to one another, moreover.  Meaning, one changes, they all change.  Interestingly enough, this can be accomplished prior to the age of nano.  I.e. chip implants already allow handicapped individuals to walk, to navigate the internet, even to communicate with one another (a pair of British scientists, husband and wife, have chips implanted in their forearms that translate their thoughts into radio waves before transmitting them.)  And this is not a moot point, because the whole point is to get us off the planet in record time.  So having to wait for the nano age to arrive, delays things, perhaps beyond DARPA’s 100 year horizon, thought this much is doubtful.

Using supercomputing to speed and even automate innovation, moreover, accelerates the learning curve.  Which is why I say, we let Singularity take hold.  We can’t fight it, or even slow it, if Kurzweil is correct.  But all out surrender can’t hurt either.  The sooner we get human politics out of the way, and “get religion” the sooner we can be on with creating these impregnable ecosystems that can migrate through space shock-proofed against any and all contingencies that no amount of NASA or outsourced human scientists working in teams could ever predict.   

Imagine if you will, not a single ship, but a fleet of ships, all built in space with self-replicating, and more to the point, self-evolving robots, in record time.  Imagine that each of these ships is sentient… In other words, Mother has decentralized herself across the fleet.  And on each ship is a Noah’s ark of artificial and biological life forms.  But unlike archipelagoes, which would be dangerously isolated from one another, numerous bots exist connecting the ships via a type of commerce of exchange, repairing one another, dialoguing and exchanging information, affecting the mutation and adaptations of each of the other lifeforms.  

There is still enough isolation to contain any contagion or virus from within that might spread untowardly, or from a spaceborn parasite (or other assailant) that might encroach from without.

Now all this complexity just magnifies the difficulty of getting humans off-world by 10 to the Nth power.  But for Mother, for self-arising, self-organizing ecosystems existing within Singularity State, it’s all a walk in the park.  There is that much mindpower to go around.  And the system is paradoxically more stable because of the ongoing Cambrian explosion of life – that in Singularity, never quite settles down; never quite comes to a stop.  Otherwise the Singularity wave collapses back into ordinary spacetime, where it is then vulnerable to the familiar nemeses that exist there.

This is a salient point that bears repeating.  The Singularity Wave keeps life outside of traditional spacetime, protecting it from any and all vagaries of the material world.  And how does it do this exactly?

It does it by having such awesome mindpower it literally overrides local physics.  At some point, escape velocity from spacetime is reached when “evolution” happens so fast that time has not had time to happen. Already we see analogues of this in quantum computing, where the only explanation we can come up for how quantum computers can solve in a flash what would take traditional computers billions of years to solve – is that they’re thinking across any and all parallel universes in tandem, accessing the multiverse, in short. They are literally plugged into the Godhead, the fractal, N-dimensional mind of God that is the computer we know as the multi-verse.  Though, another possible explanation, even more daunting, suggests itself.  These quantum computers could be accessing what the Buddhists call the Divine Ground directly. Pulling out of the void what they need for instantaneous solutions to formerly intractable problems. 

And I would hope the reader does appreciate the benefits of being able to solve any problem in real time when you’re in deep space and microseconds means the difference between life and death.  

So, circling back to my earlier point of how counterintuitive all this is, how to go straight ahead you have to go around the world a couple times first to speed the transit between points A and B… perhaps the meaning of that statement is coming into focus now.  

The Singularity Wave alone can conquer space.  I know this is a crushing setback to humanists, who rather like the Star Trek Series, and other such romantic notions of unupgraded humans exploring uncharted space, perhaps with some humanoid sidekicks, and some alien friends thrown into the mix – who, of course, we will encounter in our voyages, and who will befriend us.  Or Arthur C. Clarke’s rather sexy idea of artificial-gravity ships just so we don’t have to worry about humans not surviving Earth for long – for which they are so uniquely adapted that the instant we take them off of Terra, they begin to die.  And slowing, even reversing the deleterious effects has so far stymied our best scientific minds.  No, people, get these romantic notions out of your head.  If we were to do these time capsules, they would only be sustainable from within the Singularity Wave. In other words, it would take Mother, and her lavishly supple and complex mesh of artificial and biological lifeforms within her webs within webs of life to sustain it.  Man, left alone to do it, would just be up against too many odds.  We’re already facing such damning odds for survival on Earth. Why would we want to compound them as we move into space to colonize the stars? Have we learned nothing about stacking the deck in our favor?  

That said, for you devil advocates out there, who would argue that it is only by being severely stressed do we get over ourselves, in a Piaget-like manner…  Only then do we go from incremental evolution to drastic paradigm shifts when incremental changes won’t cut it anymore, and so we’re forced to rebuild our brains from the ground up… You would have a point.  But here’s a better point: the Singularity Wave already has you beat for putting man up against those kinds of pressures, and keeping him in the hot seat to drive accelerated evolution. What, you think you could invent such pressures yourself without Mother and her sophisticated interconnected ecosystems to maintain those pressures and augment them over time?  

So, how long will it take to get the Singularity Wave going, and then hand over the project to “the collective” – to the explosion of Cambrian lifeforms needed to both kickstart and sustain the Singularity Wave?  Kurzweil and the like put it at somewhere between 2030 and 2040, just 20 to 30 years out, not a 100.  So Darpa is being far too conservative.  Moreover, once the Singularity wave has begun, time collapses entirely, and what would take human ingenuity – even networked together – eons to achieve, happens overnight.  

But you will notice the paradox.  It takes a Cambrian explosion of both artificial and biological life to both create and sustain Singularity, so where will this come from, if not from within Singularity itself? 

How does an uber-entity that is born outside of spacetime arise from within spacetime? 

I think Rupert Sheldrake had the best insight here.  With deference to his ideas, those of you familiar with my writings will recall my popcorn analogy from elsewhere.  Let me ease into it from another tangent this time…

The reason any of us exists in spacetime owes to Ego-identification.  As we evolve our consciousness, however, we migrate from the human to the transhuman state of consciousness, wherein our identification shifts from a false sense of self (the hallmark of Ego-identification) to the Witness State (where we come to see ourselves as one and inseparable with God; pure consciousness, with an “I” that is no longer circumscribed by limits of any kind.)  It is this shift, undertaken by a few initially, against all odds, that primes the pump, that clears the way for the rest of us, making it easier by quantum measures to shift identification ourselves. Historically it took Zen masters to make these kinds of leaps with their minds.  And they were few and far between.  Today, we refer to the latest generation of kids as “Indigo” kids – a surefire admission that more and more folks are coming online with these aptitudes and propensities already in place.  So, much as with popcorn in a microwave, the early poppers are slow to arrive.  And for the longest time, kernels pop in a lackadaisical manner, with no clue that things are actually accelerating in the background, until that final burst of popcorn kernels at the very end – at the very point where as a species we hit critical mass and so co-evolve together at lightning speed.

Moreover, Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization, and The European Dream, all but lay down the infrastructure for how the rest of us can make this leap into hyperspace with our minds courtesy of what he refers to as “the politics of empathy.”  Having experienced the transformative effects of this myself, I can attest to the fact that we are all beginning to affect one another in life-transforming ways; we are all beginning to help one another get over ourselves in real time what once took lifetimes to achieve.


So, yes, miracles are becoming a matter of course.  The impossible has become the only doable thing.  And the Singularity Wave is already upon us. Though, if Rifkin is correct, it is being initiated from within the European Union, and we humble Americans are left with little to do but “catch the wave.”  

Could we reach escape velocity from Earth today to spread throughout the heavens tomorrow, in such a self-assured and protected-against-all-odds kind of way?  Well, time is an illusion. So as long as we’re caught up in that illusion, the answer will remain resoundingly, “No.”  Will Kurzweil be right?  Will it take until 2030 at the very least for enough humans to shift from ego-identification into the transhuman state to ignite the Singularity Wave for the entire planet?  

I’m not so sure.  His solution suggests that the igniters will, in fact, be AI.  But Rifkin has made it clear that interlinked human consciousness can by itself generate enough mindpower to enter Singularity state.  One thing is certain, technological innovation alone will not do it.  It will require marrying higher consciousness with next generation technologies that exist for no other purpose than to continue to bootstrap consciousness to ever higher levels as part of the Singularity reaction.  So it may be a matter of asking which came first, the chicken or the egg.  

And as to whether it will take until 2030 or not, well, that depends on how many people get religion by then, or not. Or possibly on how many people read this article and are sufficiently moved to enlightenment at a single stroke. :) 
  
Well, the good news is, I’m not the only voice in the darkness.  

Continue to seek out the light. 


And remember, while it is counter-intuitive in the extreme, it is not until we are all caught up in the Singularity Wave that any of us is safe.  Whether here at home, or out there – far in the depths of space.