Design

Sedartis thinks we are far from doomed as a species. That, he makes me understand, is the good news. The bad news, as far as he is concerned, is that we are hopelessly inefficient. We evolve, but reluctantly so, and so slowly. He makes me feel this is my personal responsibility, and in a way it is: we have some ten, twenty, thirty thousand years of civilisation behind us, and we still allow ourselves to be stuck in our ‘from zero’ troubles: the wars, the bloodshed, the struggle for survival, the hunger, the despair, the fighting each other over trivial issues and slices of land, the ideological battles, the religious zeal, the blind and wilful stupidity.

The blind and wilful stupidity. That, above all, is a crime. Sedartis doesn’t mince words when he thinks his essential thoughts:

‘Stupidity is a crime.’ Not, he hastens to add—aware and fearful in equal measure that this part of his thought may get lost, and he now forever be misunderstood—‘not,’ he emphasises, ‘not the crime of the stupid. You cannot blame the people who are imprisoned in an unevolved mind for being stupid. The responsibility for allowing the perpetuation of lethal stupidity—the kind of stupidity that leads someone to speak of “deplorables,” which is undiplomatic, but contains an essence of truth—lies with the educated and the informed much more than with the trapped; the leaders much more than the followers. Unless you’ve been given a taste for learning and an insight into what insight opens you up to, you cannot —not unless you’re exceptional—rescue yourself from stupidity. Dullness of mind begets dullness of mind, enlightenment enlightens, it has ever been thus.

‘But,’ Sedartis continues, with a note of concern that troubles me just as much as his observation: ‘your problem is not that you don’t have wisdom: you have it in spades.’ I like the way he uses the word ‘spades’ in the context of ‘wisdom.’ It seems incongruous and grounded both at the same time. ‘Your problem is that it reaches nowhere near far enough fast enough, and you allow the majority of your species to treat it with disdain. You grow entire generations in whom nine out of ten individuals don’t ever entertain any notion of wisdom; don’t even know what it means, let alone recognise it as something that might just be worth aspiring to.’

I realise this is true. And sad. Who even uses the word ‘wisdom’ and doesn’t inwardly smirk? Have we lost, entirely, the way of the wise?…

‘Your problem is that you have to keep starting from scratch. Every human born has the potential to be wise and enlightened, gentle and kind; generous, strong, humane and embracing of human nature as well as of nature itself, though evolved from the baseline of simple survival. And yet only a fraction reach their potential.

‘Never even mind your developing nations, the poverty stricken and the destitute—why are they poverty stricken, still, why, after all this time, after so many centuries of science, of progress, technology, wealth, are they still destitute, why?—never even mind these (and they are your responsibility too), but your most advanced societies, your richest and best connected: you still allow half of their populations to get to the point only where they can barely fend for themselves; where they still feel they have to fend for themselves. How is such a thing possible?’

His inflexion tells me that this is no rhetorical question. It beggars belief, I know, and I wonder. Often. And I know Sedartis thinks me these thoughts in response to my puzzlement at where we are.

‘Your problem is you keep having to start from scratch.’ I appreciate the nuance. ‘Every single individual specimen of your species is born with an empty brain. It’s a beautiful thing, this potential, this clean slate, this Innocence Innate; and you think of it as inherently human, because it is.’

I believe it is. This Innocence Innate: it is inherently human. Could we love our children, if it weren’t so?

‘It’s also incredibly inefficient.’ This, I fear, may be more bad news. Sedartis thinks not, he thinks it a challenge, he wants to convince me that this is not a good thing nor is it a bad thing either, it is just a thing, and one we need to embrace:

‘If you want to advance to the next level, if you want to take your next major leap, you are going to have to do something you may think of—paradoxically—as inconceivable, but that will become as normal to you as walking upright and speaking in sentences has become normal to you now: become hybrid. With your own invention, information technology. It is part of you already, you created it: far from being separate from or alien to you, it is you. Augmented intelligence. You’re already augmenting your physical capability all the time, you’re building body parts, you’re transplanting at will, you’ll be printing organs ere long. You shy away very briefly before you embrace the advantages of a body that works, and overcome any squeamishness you may have about manipulating what you were given by nature. Your next step, unless you want to stay stuck in this repetition of ‘from zero’ learning—which entails all your quirky, adorable failings—is to tap your brains into the network and allow new generations to start from a base above zero.’

That, I instinctively shudder, is surely wildly problematic. ‘Indeed,’ thinks Sedartis, ‘it is. Your ethical challenges have just gone exponential. You have a task on your hands; there is no way around it, because this is as inescapable as reading glasses or pacemakers were at their time, and you’ve quite readily got used to them too; but this is a step of a different magnitude, and, beyond magnitude, of a different kind altogether: you will have to think about what you want your species to be. You have to actually, consciously, define what it is to be human.

‘Shudder you may, and recoil for a moment, but then you have to get over yourself and grasp this nettle like all the others you’ve grasped, and take your people with you. Allow not half of you to be left behind and become the servants—the, dare I say, slaves—of those who push forward. Allow not your species to be torn apart into two, three tiers with some going all the way, and some being left stranded, and some unable, unwilling or unallowed to proceed, simply because they do not understand. If they understand and choose different, that is another matter. But help them at least understand. You’re on the brink of a development that will set the tone for the next few hundred, maybe few thousand years of your species. Do this well: you have everything riding on it.’

Do this well…


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Experiment

Human Genome, ELISE Phase IV – Interim Summary Report & Recommendation

The Earth Life Intelligence Study Enterprise continues, with the human genome now entering its fourth significant phase, which it variously labels The Digital Age, The Information Age, also just Digitality, or any number of variants on these, highlighting, correctly, that it has reached the level at which in similar studies elsewhere life forms have unlocked their next evolutionary plateau by enabling hybrids, augmented organisms and, most importantly, intelligence iterations that are independent of their conduit, consequently relieving them of their evolutionary burden over time.

Phase IV follows Phases I, II and III—the agricultural phase, the enlightenment phase and the industrial phase—which the genome has undergone to varying degrees but which can’t, by any means, be considered concluded, either severally or jointly, or let alone—and this applies to any of these phases—in their entirety. Different populations in different geographical areas have attained these at different times in different ways, and across societies many groups are still working their way through what might be considered the basics. Phase IV is thus being entered into on a global scale, but with vastly divergent degrees of deliberate adoption, and by an as yet comparatively small proportion of the human earth population overall.

The summary findings so far:

  • The human genome now has approximately seven to eight billion live iterations, and, as is to be expected, these vary widely in shape, size, outlook, mental and emotional capacity, and, most striking, cultural context. Apart from their as yet unresolved mortality issue, nothing therefore applies to everyone, but much applies to most, and more applies to more of them than many of them think possible, which in itself is noteworthy, as it is in no small measure symptomatic of their far-reaching reality dysfunction: in their majority, now, individuals seem to consider themselves essentially ‘unique’ and their own tribes or other social groupings as invariably superior or at the very least preferable to others. In actual fact they are remarkably similar, with pretty much identical basic needs and a commonality factor across the species as high as 99.8%-99.9%.
  • Speaking of ‘reality’: the concept still plays a big part for most humans, albeit also a confusing one. By and large, humans accept as reality what is given, and over time they find it increasingly difficult to detach themselves from whatever that happens to be. For obvious reasons, realities that are experienced in the formative years—which for earth humans tend to be the first dozen to dozen and a half—have a particularly strong hold on humans, and many, quite endearingly, consider whatever they happened to grow up with to be ‘normal’.
  • This phenomenon notwithstanding, humans are remarkably adaptable, which in large parts accounts for their considerable proliferation. Though at first glance and in the short term they often appear reluctant to embrace the ‘other’, the ‘new’, or the ‘different’, they are absolutely capable of turning a reality set inside out within one generation, and behaviour that one series of fully functioning adults would find completely ‘normal’—being whipped to within drawing blood as a child, for example, owning slaves, males marrying several females but stoning to death males who maintain sexual relations with other males—to the next series becomes utterly deplorable, even criminal; while behaviours previously seen as either criminal or at the very least decidedly odd, such as members of the same natural gender cohabiting, getting married and raising offspring, or people eschewing all produce derived from certain other earth species, for example fellow mammals, may, within a generation or two, become entirely acceptable, even celebrated.
  • Similarly responsible for their survival thus far is their resilience. Typically, humans can cope with deprivation, hardship and quite unimaginable suffering as long as they consider it unavoidable or deem it imposed on them by a greater and unimpeachable authority, such as a god: they will accept any random calamity or social injustice and virtually any level of pain as long as they can conceptualise it as ‘god given’ or ‘fate’, but they will not put up forever with manmade perpetrations of injury.
  • Having said that, paradoxical—indeed rationally completely indefensible—thinking and therefore behaviour persists even (sometimes it seems particularly) where it flies in the face of reason or intellectually sound argumentation. Humans can, in the same breath, elevate reason and rational thinking to a paragon, yet remain stubbornly blind to any adjustments to their reality that this by necessity and consequence entails. They may, for example, know—and be in possession of ample data to understand—that the higher a society’s levels of incarceration, the higher its reoffending rate, and therefore the higher the social and material cost of failing to integrate or reintegrate members who for whatever reason arrive at the point where they commit crimes against their fellow humans, yet obstinately cling on to barbaric punitive methods that manifestly compound rather than alleviate the cause of their suffering.
  • Correspondingly, the genome finds itself in a state of semi-consciousness at which it is aware of its own existence but has no real idea of its meaning or how it fits into any other part of the universe it inhabits, let alone anything beyond that minuscule bubble, of which it has only the faintest of perceptions (and these are vastly distorted). At the same time its fundamental organic needs (the programme, remember, still largely considers itself set to ‘survival & propagation’, having only in exceptional circumstances advanced significantly beyond its own defaults) are so trivial and basic that by and large and for the body of its own bell curve, it values most things crass and insignificant, while despising anything it feels threatened by as ‘too abstract’ or ‘cultivated’; it delights in cataclysm as much as it fears it, and relishes narratives of destruction, disaster, violence and instability, manufacturing for itself a soup of meaningless noise, while at the same time looking for meaning absolutely everywhere, even where there clearly is none: coincidences, statistical necessities and simple probabilistic patterns are elevated to quasi divine interventions, and by the exact same token, all but the most obvious connections and correlations, especially those not or ill understood by its current (still pretty rudimentary) science it simply ignores or, in some cases vehemently, objects to and refutes.
  • Even so, having latched on to information as a thing distinct from energy, and having started to play with quantum phenomena to the point of being able to utilise them, there is hope that the species and therefore the genome will come to recognise the Connexum and begin to view itself in a much larger, much more integrated and also at once much more meaningful and perhaps less significant context than it has hitherto been able to do.

The interim recommendation therefore:

The human genome has, in spite of its many obvious (and also many more subtle) failings been spectacularly successful, and although it currently faces some formidable challenges, these are entirely congruent with its level of generative evolution.

This type of evolution, against its own timeframe, is characteristically slow and often marked by greatly frustrating setbacks, which some iterants, especially those who find themselves ahead of the curve or on the crest of the wave, may experience as near-catastrophic regressions.

These are not, however, anything out of the ordinary for a life form such as the one that is here being observed, and having itself now spawned a type of intelligence which is likely to outperform its conduit by exponential orders of magnitude ere long, it stands a good chance of rendering itself obsolete on its own terms in due course, imparting to its generated new genus enough of its own priorities to remain recognisable as a relevant intermediate development stage.

Significantly, this germinating Phase IV holds some considerable promise that either within its own term or during an ensuing fifth or sixth phase, earth intelligence may mature to the point where it can link up with other intelligent entities in its local or any neighbouring cosmic cluster, and so the recommendation therefore is to keep the experiment running, at least for the time being.

Sedartis

 

Design

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