Fireflies & Laserbeams

Post Human Reality – Uploading Personality

Friday February 3, 2012 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging | Leave Comments

I frequently joke that I’m going to live forever, like in Futurama.  Nixon is just an immortal head in a jar.  Maybe, in another 50 years, we might have the technology to upload our personalities to the Cloud -- that nether of internet space.  I wonder what that would be like.  Tron is one of my favorite movies, but the “people” of that world seem human enough.  But is that even remotely close to what it would be like? If you change dramatically, internally, fundamentally, are you still you?  You may have a distant memory of your former self but would how would you contemplate that?  I wanted to say how would you feel about it, but that doesn’t even have the right context anymore.  Feelings are for humans. Pain would have no context, at least physical pain.  Would that impact the ability to have empathy if they even chose to emulate it? Would you have the sensation of having a body? Would your mind expand? Would you be able to divide your attention in multiple areas, potentially losing yourself in the possibilities? Would you still be you when it was all said and done? Would we be able to procreate? Greg Egan’s Diaspora delved into that idea and took it pretty far, but I wonder what the consequences would be to a post human society.   Our self is more than just memories and things we learn.  Our sensory system has a major impact on our ability to perceive the world around us.  Our eyes aren’t really windows, they take input and send it to our brain which interprets the data and presents and image in our mind.  So what would be the equivalent in cyberspace?  Don’t look at me I have no idea.  Ten years ago virtual reality was the big buzz but with no actual brain to interpret the data what will that mean?  The entire inner workings of our self would be flipped on its metaphorical head. Our hormones and endocrine system influence our mood and our ability to parse all the different data streams coming at our brain.  Sanity is balanced on a knife edge and it’s truly a wonder that any of us are sane with all that goes on in the body.  But now take all that away and how do we get input into our new self?   It boggles the mind. For those of us with already formed personalities we might be able to keep a concept of humanness, but what if you were born in that Cloud space, a baby of post human parents, with no body to provide the inputs that make us human.  Would we even resemble humans in any measurable way?  Would we have any sensibility to those that we evolved from?  I have serious doubts that a post human intelligence would have any quantifiable understanding of what it means to be human.  Oh, they could understand it from an intellectual standpoint, but they would really have no frame of reference, except maybe that first generation that would be able to look at their parents and wonder why they were so limited and constricted in their view of the universe.  Talk about a generation gap. They would likely lack emotion, since there is no endocrine system or would the new humans have a virtual endocrine system with pseudo-emotions?  Would there be any empathy in these new humans or can we even call them human anymore? I suppose it would all be in the programming.  To make a post human more humanish they would have to program in the inputs of a pseudo-sensory system.  The new human would actually be a coded into a program of sorts.  Until they figure out what comes next.  There are rules in the internet universe just like the “real” world.  I’m sure the following generations would figure out fairly quickly how to “improve” on the coding to make themselves “better”.  How many generations then before they would code themselves to be unrecognizable to us? Timescales would be different also, and potentially malleable.  Perhaps they could put themselves on a short cycle for some things, but also take a long view since they can live forever.   They would likely be immortal, as long as the system they were in was active at least.  The next challenge would be to find a bigger system, one that would allow them to spread into the greater galaxy, or would they even be interested in anything external to the cloud space? All I have are questions without answers but it does make me appreciate what it means to be human in the here and now. Clear Ether!  

Read More

The Spark of Searching for Extraterrestrial Life

Thursday December 8, 2011 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging | Leave Comments

Charlie Stross pointed out an article and commentary that peaked my interest, dealing with SETI and the Fermi Paradox. The article was The Fermi Paradox, Self-Replicating Probes, and the Interstellar Transportation Bandwidth by Keith Wiley. Wiley's article was to do with the likelihood of Intelligent Aliens or lack thereof.   If you aren't familiar with the Fermi Paradox, it basically states that the likelihood of intelligent life in the galaxy is high, given the huge number of stars and therefore planets in our galaxy, that intelligent extraterrestrial life should have been to visit us by now or at least left their evidence and yet we haven't found clue one.  There are lots of theories as to why and these essays delve into those arguments.   The commentary was The Deepening Paradox by Karl Schroeder, a Futurist and SciFi Novelist. Great stuff! Karl just finished his Master's program in Strategic Foresight -- Futurism by another name. If I had known such a program existed when I was a kid I would have been all over that!  I was probably 13 or 14 when I did my first timeline, trying to extrapolate technology advancement. I still love it! His job is to forecast trends so that companies might adapt their technology. This also feeds his writing and I am adding all his books to my reading list, they look fascinating on first glance.  He has seven books out with a few other odds and ends.  His focus is Post Singularity, Post-humanism, fantasy and hard science all mixed together.  I can't wait to read them.   One of his cover artists also caught my eye.  Stephan Martiniere is his name and he has an amazing array of artwork spanning several different styles and genres.  He has a lot of stuff for sale and If I could afford him I would want him doing my covers.  His style is breathtaking and intricate and really stokes my imagination.  His style is way out of my reach with the meager skill set I have.  I would love to see how he does his paintings, they are so detailed and imaginative and his use of light is right on the money.  I absolutely love his artwork!   All this has got me thinking about Post Singularity ideas for stories and I have an idea or two brewing already.  I'll jot down a few ideas and let them percolate for a bit while I'm finishing the revision for Clear Ether.  I am sending my first chapters out to my alphas hopefully this week, (are you listening Stacy?)  

Read More