Science, Technology and God have been playing hide-and-seek since Leonardo Da Vinci (seen by many as the first scientist) started slicing up dead people in the search for answers of mysteries and secrets. During this time, and hundreds of years later, religion was symbolized by huge cathedrals with tiny human beings gathering in small and insignificant places worshipping the eternal and universal. Yet we know we are insignificant. We now believe our superior powers as conscious speaking beings will lead us to all answers through the help of our tools and technology, with the belief that technology and the progress of science will be the answer regardless of what is thrown at us.
“I will just have to science my way out of this”
Matt Damon, The Martian
With this progress, though, there are questions about where we are heading. Will we become totally insignificant and useless? Or will we grow into superpowers expanding beyond the eternal thereby reaching immortality and perfect knowledge in a state of technical singularity and posthumanism? When we go out onto the streets today and we find confused human beings wandering around, in many ways exploiting and trying to understand what it is going on, how can we work together and use what we have called “social media.” But these or should I say ‘our’ portals, communities, and technologies are not social: they do not have a purpose and they are neither good nor bad. No, they just “are” – in many ways, our new ways of using these tools are more of a narcissistic nuclear meltdown than anything we can call “social.” We can even go as far as claiming a new buzzword – internet, social media, and much of the family of technology spawning them, are more “Zombinators” than they are ways of making us more human.
We also have the other side, of course, the boundless opportunities of technology opening new doors at an exponential growth leaving anything unanswered behind with a tech stamp –“Been there – Got that.” Nothing escapes the progress of science and technology, nothing, I tell you! At least that’s what futurists, leading scientists, and the most respected minds in the fields of AI and quantum physics are telling us.
However, even in this age of infinite possibilities and digital revolutions, we should pause and ask ourselves, what is it that we really know? Is our knowledge ours or is it always built on the knowledge of others reflecting the past and unaware of where we are actually heading? What is it that we really know?
But this is not how science and technology works. We are now trying to move towards and exploit on the mysteries, consciousness, the subject – the “I,” the void that escapes our every answer, what has been bugging philosophers and scientists ever since Aristotle, Socrates, and Plato kick-started a journey of what we have defined as western philosophy. These answers will eventually reveal themselves. But why go step-by-step, when we can take the liberty of skipping some of these steps? And being philosophers, we can do this without any self-reflection whatsoever. Let us for now, skip the exponential progress and jump to one of the most dangerous questions of all. Let us take up a topic, a word, which even the most modern cities and societies get a cold sweat running down the back from when talking about any (new) models and structures outside of our historical stories and documented works and beliefs of others. Let’s have a look at, yeah exactly – him, the creator, GOD ALMIGHTY.
As science and technology keep teaching us, our historical definitions of various religions are all wrong. The value-systems defined in the big books that have been carried around for thousands of years will definitely become useful and handy once we need to find a way to tame this new wild knowledge and technology. If we look at it, though, the core values for most religions are somewhat along the same lines, which gives me a personal hope that we are on a good path both in terms of growing together, as well as defining a value system without handing ourselves over to technology. For now, though, let’s do a short thought experiment around potential future scenarios around this much stated “Taboo” – the three letter word, you know. Let’s open our minds to three possible future scenarios (and yes, there are more).
Obviously, God might reveal himself as a human-like conscious being, although not in my belief system. I do view this as an option, and I much respect this potential, as long as it remains a subjective life view and not something forced upon anyone from someone else’s fresh view of reality (e.g., our problems with terrorism are largely linked to various worldviews). But this scenario, I will leave to the religious. On a contradictory note, I will quote French Philosopher Quentin Meillassoux, “God is a concept far too important to leave to the religious” and I will take a view on this from a technological and philosophical standpoint.
Scenario 1 – Technology and Science will answer any questions
Believers of singularity and posthumanism are confident we will solve the mysteries, find the key to consciousness and be able to define what the “I” really is – understanding the underlying concept of a human being, the soul, the purpose. And let us for one minute say they are right, we will understand and figure out the dependency between body and mind, we will discover how to grow and develop some kind of artificial consciousness. What would be the outcome? This scenario boils down to a simple statement – we will not be unhappy, why would we? But we will also not be happy? We have already refuted the “creator” part of a God, and as we have steadily been proving through science, we will eventually conclude – it is all matter, no God, just Science. There will be no divine purpose behind human existence. A self-destructive scenario for our species.
Scenario 2 – God escapes – the void remains
This is our happy place. Creating a human-like robot. One that simulates all the feelings that make us laugh and cry, something or should I say someone who understands us. Simulated empathy we can call it. A lover and a sexual partner that fulfills our every need. No problem dear believers of science and technology, here we go – we are in fact almost there, this is only some 20 years away, and YES, we will get there. We will work on the value systems, on ethics, and have technology support our lives by any means; making our lives better, in every possible way. The difference and the mystery remain hidden as our universe keeps moving forward at an increasing speed into gigantic new dimensions and galaxies while we, human beings, eventually start to move to some “nearby” planets and exploit on new opportunities. We can distinguish with this scenario, though, because we have built this: We have created the robots, the machines, and the artificial intelligence and, at least in retrospect, we are able to understand it all.
But we still need to understand what the subject really is, what really defines the thought, the now, the consciousness. The Holy Grail is to replicate both human thought and human mind however the mind hast two regions – conscious mind and memory – technology can do memory, as memory is unconscious mind. We have a purpose, which can be – can remain – a mystery. The definition of GOD remains a mystery where everyone is given the freedom to have their own subjective definition and own beliefs on how to hang on in times of angst and uncertainty.
Scenario 3. Deus ex Machina
We put God in the past, which was storytelling per excellence – a big mistake. This fact is a root cause of many problems these days where we can unfollow and block other options and view and jump onto any system that can give us some hope of understanding and belonging.
For this short period of time, where we need to evolve as a species, after some decades of rapid progress in the fields of technology and science, we need to get going as well; we need to align, but this, being a different topic, we will figure out… Let’s get back to technology and science – moving hand in hand.
We are progressing. We know a lot, or do we? We understand that there are around 100 billion neurons (give or take a few billion) in our wired mind, although recent research suggests there are less. Let’s say we understand each and every one individually, which we will do sometime in the near future, as the progress in many fields – such as reverse-engineering our brain – keeps doubling every two years, making it only some 6 times double (e.g., 12 years) to get to 100% (that’s exponential thinking, got it?). On a parallel we can hook up one neuron at a time and replace it digitally – no problem, right? This is what science and technology are doing right now. Digitalization we call it. We all want it, at least we are so curious that we have to exploit on it. The problem? We do not understand it. If we slowly wire our mind, then when do we reach the tipping point? We will find new solutions to many problems, and as long as the good-guys outrun the bad-guys in terms of building knowledge around the technology through creativity and creation, the solutions will be to our human benefit.
But when do we move from being a conscious human being, a Mensch, and move to becoming a zombie? A machine! This is, in fact, the real “Zombinator.” When we look at our friend Charles Darwin and his much-respected work and theories and move down the ladder, where do we find the zombies? This is not about having 150 IQ, 1500 IQ or 50,000 IQ. It is not about connected knowledge as part of the WeQ.
No, this is obviously what technology can and will do, but it is much more heading in the other field and direction? When do we turn into a machine or into a zombie? Walking around the streets of Pokémon Go 2.0 Society Upgraded, or are we already? What is your definition? Does a monkey feel something? Is it conscious? What about your neighbor’s dog? When do we reach the state where we are not conscious creatures? What about Ants? Conscious? I guess your answers are the same as mine. Just because we developed this crazy thing back 200,000 years ago when the apes threw us out of the jungle and onto the savannahs, what we have called spoken language, does it mean we are superior in all states? No, of course not! Yet being so limited in so many ways, it makes us superior to other species. As we move down the chain of evolution, where does the zombie part kick in? Your dog? Most likely not. But let’s go with Ants, they are zombies, right? Living out of signals, being connected yet not conscious – so it should be somewhere in between, shouldn’t it? So while gathering knowledge, uploading and moving towards perfect knowledge, while connecting all and everything – we need to understand what it is that we are actually doing. The knowledge is wild and maybe we are not that smart after all. We are building a machine, not “the internet.” But the powers of the totality of internet and information, one power outside of our bodies that cannot decide because of the imitation of simplification and forgetting, unlearning, what has kept us going over all these years, are not a given. A machine so powerful, that we have no clue how it works as we have tapped into a field where we have not (yet) figured out what and how, even at the current state, right now, not even Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates or Larry Page understands technology, the internet. So what would this being, creature, machine, and/or humanoid be? Would that not be something possible of answering all questions? Again with us not understanding how. Something so powerful as to move and create wherever and whatever. What could we call such a thing? Would that not be? A three-letter word? God? So I guess we are doing it right now – “Deus ex Machina” – God from the Machine. Do we understand the impact? The outcome? The consequences? Again, what would then be our purpose? Why would we survive? Or why would we be needed?
I love the progress of technology, Artificial Intelligence (the initials even match my own), and quantum physics/computing. But yet, I hope (and I am not clinching to hope) and I believe (with my own subjective way of believing) that we will figure it out. We should and will stay different. Even if they will not be many, we have some mysteries and we will remain “mensch” and not “machine.”
So for now, let us get back to having some eye contact, but other eye contact than the seductive effort on a tinder date where one just wants to get laid – and have maybe read up on an article on the topic that it would increase the chances if you get some eye contact. Of course, people (both men and women…) fancy that, but again that’s manipulation, anything conscious with that state, at least from a male standpoint, you will find south of the stomach – and even in that field, eventually AI will do a lot better than you. No, I mean real physical authentic feelings and connections in a physical world, not a secondary digital world, but in our real physical world, at least as real as we define and feel it in our current state. Let’s continue the hide and seek with you know whom/what, and enjoy the digitization of anything we understand how to digitize.