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The great enhancement debate
(M, 30)
Vancouver, US
Immortal since Dec 15, 2009
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    Personalized mind models to navigate the complexities of reality
    There are so many ways of metaphorically modeling and understanding the true nature of reality, and I wish more people were aware of the human ability to conceive of such unique models.

    I want to present a fairly brief example of a mind model that I use personally to understand the state of the universe...

    I wrote a post not too long ago about an algorithmic model of reality that I vaguely and randomly pieced together one day which, despite my feeling of triumph in having arrived at such a conclusion so abruptly, found that a lot of like-minded people have drawn similar parallels in one way or another. I was told in a comment that the reason why the universe is so identifiable to computer programming is mostly due to our current understanding in computer simulations and quasi-virtual realities (I think the real VR's are yet to come), or virtual 3D environments that a lot of people immerse themselves into while gaming and whatnot. That's the reason why our universe is so easily analogous to a programming context. In case you haven't read that post of mine I'll reiterate a bit.
    Nature is comprised of algorithms, or patterns that are incorporated into all evolutionary processes whether it be galactic evolution, stellar evolution, or biological evolution. In the end they're all constituents of a grand scheme which is termed as cosmological evolution. Whether implemented by an intelligent, causal agent or not, or whether the universe spawned out of a black hole within a grander universe, it had to have all began with a simple "source code." A simple "something" for more complex "somethings" to arise out of. A code that spontaneously generates increased complexity in every material substance that it interacts with. In the current state of our universe, I'd consider the universal foundations (syntax?), to nature's algorithms to be the four fundamental forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak forces. These fundamental parameters interact with their respective scales of matter to instigate evolutionary processes.
    Since Craig Venter's breakthrough in synthetic life, it became evermore apparent to me that even we humans are simply preprogrammed molecular machines routinely hacking our way through the universe. And by hacking I literally mean finding loopholes and exploiting the basic framework of the universe. Any organism alive today for that matter has successfully found a way to hack the universe and thrive by whatever means possible, and believe me, there are quite a bit of possible ways to live. The molecular compound Deoxyribonucleic acid, in this context, is the source code for the organic life found on Earth. It's also apparent that the universal forces of nature have formed intricate parameters and protocols for the universe's constituents to abide by.
    I've created a synapse to my old post on this matter. It needs refinement however (which will probably never happen) because i'm aware that I've accumulated more knowledge and gained more of an understanding of the concepts pertaining to the post itself since making it publicly viewable

    Now that you've seen but a snippet of the mind model I use to understand things, allow me to continue discussing the relevancies of this specific post...

    I wish that people were more willing to transcend their little subjective experiences and view human civilization and all of our accomplishments at a more omnipotent level of observation. An open-minded approach to life so that they're constantly confronted with contradictions to their natural way of thinking. The benefits of reading absurdist literature like Alice In Wonderland, I guess. I gave a presentation in class today. My topic was on enhancing humans for therapeutic or medicinal purposes. You know, transhumanist stuff. Well, I ended the presentation with some food-for-thought which was meant to really stimulate the minds of my peers, take em' to a higher frequency for just a moment. I wanted to confront their complacent minds with a completely counterintuitive truth. I tried explaining to them that the way most people perceive our place in reality is analogous to the way someone not knowing any better would naturally imagine Earth to reside within the observable, local perimeter of space. I told them about how, when we aim our gaze towards a clear night sky, we see that familiar strip of interstellar gas and clumps of stars known as the Milky Way. A surprisingly large amount of people don't realize that what they're actually looking at is an edge-on view of the center of a spiral galaxy that we are actually deeply embedded within. We're merely gazing upon the center of a grand structure that we actually inhabit. It's not just some far off celestial gas formation that we decided to call the Milky Way for whatever aesthetic reasons. I told my peers that, in truth, we're actually a minuscule constituent of an unimaginably large galaxy. Our parent star is almost perfectly orbiting across the galactic plane, and our planet is practically microscopic in regards to the galaxy as a whole, so it would appear as though we were nestled within no such structure at all. It seems as though we're just floating in a mostly empty, structureless vastness. I then proceeded to tell them that this entire notion is applicable to an individual's experience as a member of the human species. Most people are so deeply indulged in their everyday, human-scale affairs that they fail to see human civilization out of context of their own existence within it. This is understandable. We're embedded so intricately in our scale of existence that we fail to imagine the actual grand structure of the human civilization. The same way that it's counterintuitive, based on visual perception, to understand that our planet is a part of something much larger, much more awe-inspiring than the earth alone: an entire spiral galaxy, thousands of light years across.
    Unfortunately by the end of my presentation I saw that I didn't elicit my intended reaction from the audience. They just looked at me like I was crazy. My friend came up to me after class,

    "Dude, that was deep."
    "Uh, thanks." I replied.

    Even more unfortunate, I ran out of time and didn't even get to connect my analogy with my research topic on human enhancement via technology in general. Prior to my failed conclusion, I had discussed how nanotech, biotech, robotic tech, and genetic manipulation will be a huge part of our lives in the not-so-distant future, profoundly changing what it means to be human. My teacher effectively conveyed her disgust in such a future prospect saying something along the lines of,
    "Ew, I'd never want those things in or on my body" (referring to the applications of nanotech and robotics on human biology)

    "It seems so unnatural!"

    I had anticipated the "yuck factor" before giving my speech, which is why I preemptively devised my conclusion in the first place. It's typical for people to fear technology. Most think of it as something completely separate of a human being. What I was attempting to convey to my peers was that if one were to transcend their own preconceptions of the human race and imaginatively observe the progression of human civilization over the course of our entire existence, one could effectively imagine, in a sort of super sped up time-lapse, as technology, humans, and social infrastructure scale perfectly with each other in their apparent trajectory of increased complexity; their simultaneous evolution. And humans are central to this progressive synergy. As the human cerebral cortex evolved, as did technology and society. Carl Sagan puts it this way:

    "It is the distinction of our species, the seat of our humanity. Civilization is the product of the cerebral cortex."


    If a rock is natural; if water is natural; if a plant is natural; if DNA is a natural compound; if a cell is a product of DNA; if a human is a manifestation of a trillion-cell system; if humans naturally grew a brain and acquired intelligence; if we use our intelligence to create technology; if technology is used to shape human civilization; and if "civilization is the product of the cerebral cortex;" then by all means, technology is a natural occurrence! If it weren't natural, I'd reckon it wouldn't be able to sustain existence in the universe. Somehow, the laws of nature permit the existence of technology; the universe accepts it wholeheartedly. It's gradually augmenting the universe, manipulating it at the atomic scale and human-scale. Eventually it will effect the macrocosmic levels of the cosmos. Technology is a projection of human intelligence, but it also gives back to us in so many ways. We have a symbiotic relationship with technology. Coincidently, everything I've just mentioned pertaining to the natural properties of technology just reminded me of this video by Kevin Kelly:



    That video really had nothing to do with the main point I'm trying to get across. I'll admit I might have gone on a bit of a tangent at some point.... but I'll digress

    The purpose of this post is not to express my desire to superimpose my own mind's model of reality onto everyone else's subjective experience. Nor is my desire to force people to accept emerging technologies as an inevitability. I only wish that more people would take the time to devote some brain power into constructing their own models of reality that will conform nicely to some aspect of their personality, allowing them to explore the elegant truths of reality in a way they are most comfortable and familiar with. Perhaps by simply dropping the barriers of the mind and exposing it to abstract thoughts and contradictions, imagination will reveal to someone new ways of perceiving reality. I suppose that when your mind is free to create abstractions of its own, you'll eventually be able to construct mind models attuned to your subconscious preferences. I believe it's imperative for people to hone the skill of constructing mind models in order to relate abstract concepts to something intimately recognizable to the individual. The default model of reality that modern society shoves at us has majority of all humans conforming to its own idealistic reality, and maybe that's because it's the easiest model for the masses to understand. Rather than empowering the individual, this model is based on producing, regulating, and providing people with flawed institutions , consequently becoming stronger and stronger as more and more people assimilate and become codependent upon it. The corporate, mainstream model is definitely appealing. But Its effects are similar to those of a bright light with a zapping mechanism meant to keep mosquitoes in check. Deceptive indeed.

    I think that today's frustration (and my reasoning for ultimately writing this) is fully attributed to my realization that hardly anyone cares to embrace their humanity these days; no one sees the value in fully utilizing the highly evolved mental capacities that set us apart from any other animal on Earth. I fear that either our indifference or our ignorance regarding the full potential of human imagination and curiosity will be causal factors in the stagnation, or downfall of human civilization.











    Wed, Jun 9, 2010  Permanent link

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    nagash     Wed, Jun 9, 2010  Permanent link
    this presentation, was it on regular grad school or college? I can imagine some of the faces staring at you as you travel from the milky-way to the nanobots hehehe

    TheUndying     Wed, Jun 9, 2010  Permanent link
    It's a junior college English composition class. The presentation itself wasn't actually this elaborate. I had a small window to present in. It's a technical topic of course, but I felt I didn't use any intense terminology or anything. I kept it quite basic. The talk of nanotech and whatnot was pretty linear; the galaxy/human civilization analogy was just an end point that I had intended to re-associate with my actual topic. It didn't come off as bizarre to me at all, even given the fact that the intended association was never made. I don't underestimate the intellectual capacities of most of the people in my classes anyway.

    Aside from the actual presentation, the frustrating thing about it all was knowing that 99% of the people leaving that class for the day won't even think twice about the implications of anything I had said. I mean, am I being egocentric or something in thinking that my topic was SUPER relevant and important to the current state of humanity lol? Seriously though.

    I want people to be aware and curious about the world around them, it needs to happen. And I believe it's possible for ANYONE to devise a personalized model for exploring the intricacies of reality, you know? One just needs to create a framework based off of whatever objective concept their most familiar with. It's like writing a universe-navigating program exclusive to your personal subjective parameters.

    I think this associative mind model can even be extended to education.
    Infinitas     Thu, Jun 10, 2010  Permanent link
    After having a life-changing experience that has opened me up to the ideas of perception, the awe of the universe, etc, I have found that I really try to look at the big picture. And you said to imagine human civilization as a sped up time lapse...I do that all the time. I find that trying to observe the universe as a whole, with an omnipotent, or maybe omniscient, perspective really helps you figure out what may come next. It seems to help guide me...

    I mean, am I being egocentric or something in thinking that my topic was SUPER relevant and important to the current state of humanity lol? Seriously though.


    Hah, I can relate to that. After my life-changing (I used to use the word life-shattering, but that seems to create a negative connotation, and I have grown so so much since..) experience I've found that I am less able to relate to my friends and family. When I do try to convey to them many of the same ideas you tried to convey to your classmates, it just seems like what I said went right over their heads, and they often try to change the subject.

    I find it all to be so incredibly relevant and one of the best things in the world. I'd like to know whether or not this "stuff" I stumbled upon is as important to humanity as I think it is, or if its only something that has meaning for me. But regardless, I think to find the answer to that we would have to find a means to open people to these nontraditional views in order to prove or disprove our "theory." ....I must admit I think the magic mushroom is the ideal tool, but there are many problems associated with it that it could potentially cause even deeper problems in the face of altruistic intentions.
    demind     Thu, Jun 10, 2010  Permanent link
    re Infinitas: Same things. But I'm tryin' to make a mushroom effect with visual forms. Gathering and making unique visual stimulation messages helps to open mind.


    (c)http://zawada.com.au
    (for example)
    nagash     Thu, Jun 10, 2010  Permanent link
    Undying,
    don't worry. you can just leave the inspirational speech to the professionals...

     
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