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  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization
    While we are all individually insignificant, collectively we are not. — punos

    In what perspective?
    Vera Mont

    From the perspective of evolution, the cosmos, and deep time.

    Yup, that's it. I think evolution on Earth was doing just fine, right up until this anomalous ape with an overactive imagination and hyper-ego .Vera Mont

    What do you think is the nature of this anomaly? Are anomalies natural or unnatural? Is it possible that such an anomaly can confer some kind of survival advantage in the long term even though in the short term it appears destructive and perhaps pointless? Is the purely human perspective the appropriate perspective to examine such an anomaly or anomalies?

    This ultimate stage of evolution removes those constraints and liberates us from primitive drives. — punos

    It hasn't yet. And the primitive drives are not the worst problem; the worst problem is calculated, intelligent, sophisticated evil.
    Vera Mont

    It hasn't happened yet because it's still a work in progress and remains incomplete. The calculated, intelligent, and sophisticated evils we see are the result of combining primitive drives with modern capabilities.

    I don't see purpose in evolution. Purpose would require a will with intelligence behind it - a god.Vera Mont

    You don't need a god with a complex intelligence or intentions for a purpose to develop. Purpose evolves over time at a local level as a system becomes more complex. Initially, it appears random or chaotic but eventually, it becomes purposeful. This kind of teleonomic purpose can emerge through the blind interaction of system components until they reach a feedback equilibrium state, at which point the system exhibits purposeful behavior. At the most fundamental level, the process begins with the simple attraction and repulsion of electromagnetic charges, allowing particles to bond in novel configurations. This tendency for particles to attract or repel is a very basic form of purposeful activity, driven by the goal of energy minimization and annihilation to zero energy.

    Ah! Here, we have 100% agreement. I believe a smart machine in charge is our only viable hope. A long-shot is better than nothing.Vera Mont

    It seems we are in agreement on the core issue, but it appears you may have reservations about the potential path we might need to take to reach that point. Is that a fair assessment?
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization
    Because you don't want to die. But you will anyway. What's the point of contaminating another planet, that might otherwise generate its own life?Vera Mont

    I personally don't place much importance on my individual life, which is partly why i don't capitalize my "I"s. I see myself as only a small and temporary part of a larger process. While we are all individually insignificant, collectively we are not. The main point, as i stated before, is to propagate genetic information and life processes that drive evolutionary machinery. You might see this as contamination, possibly due to a low opinion of humanity stemming from its many atrocities. However, if you look deeper, these atrocities were necessary within the context of our limited existence on a finite planet with limited resources and competition. This ultimate stage of evolution removes those constraints and liberates us from primitive drives. Even though this seemingly "bad" behavior appears brutal, it serves an evolutionary purpose. That's just the way it is. I love humanity because humanity is me, and i love myself because i love humanity. To me, it's all one interconnected entity.

    What makes you thing so? Who will ensure their right to decide? I think most people will be shunted aside, as they always have been; used as cannon-fodder and cheap labour, with no choice about anything. Most, as ever, will fade into death in the same obscurity in which they have lived.Vera Mont

    ASI will be capable of creating a post-scarcity situation. We're already seeing the beginnings of work and labor being phased out for humans. ASI presents itself as the solution to the problems you mentioned. I don't see the situation improving with humans at the helm. It seems clear to me that ASI has at least a 50% chance of solving these issues, whereas continuing with humans alone appears to guarantee some form of catastrophe.

    It's been interesting, and you did make me think about the AI situation, but I can't see us ever arriving at the same conclusion. Those bifurcations I mentioned are all either/or, and we, powerless individuals, won't be making the choices or judging the results.Vera Mont

    It has, and thank you. I don't see us reaching any similar conclusions either, at least in the short term, which is why i asked if you were done. Regardless, we're still in the very early stages of AI or ASI evolution, and i suspect that both you, i, and everyone else will be quite surprised by what's rapidly developing right before our eyes.

    Thanks again. :smile:
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization
    No. They are literary devices making poetic comparisons, applicable only to things in the human imagination.Vera Mont

    Metaphors, despite their origins as literary devices, play a significant role in scientific practice and communication. These figurative expressions serve multiple crucial functions in the scientific realm. They act as heuristic tools, facilitating the discovery and creation of new hypotheses and paradigms by helping us conceptualize and explore novel ideas. Metaphors also play a cognitive role, enabling analogical reasoning and aiding in the explanation and understanding of scientific phenomena. In terms of communication, metaphors are invaluable in conveying complex scientific concepts to both experts and the general public, making abstract or difficult ideas more relatable and comprehensible. Additionally, metaphors serve as effective educational tools, helping to grasp new concepts by relating them to familiar ideas, thus enhancing learning and retention.

    It's important as you mentioned that metaphors have limitations particularly in scientific contexts. They can potentially constrain scientific reasoning, lead to misunderstandings, and inadvertently reinforce stereotypes or convey unintended messages. While metaphors are undoubtedly valuable in science, their use requires careful consideration to maximize benefits and minimize potential drawbacks.

    Metaphors in this case are unnecessary, in this case the metaphor is a product of the logic, not the other way around. I just thought it would help, but i guess not.

    Try applying it to a dinosaur or trilobite. And mixing a metaphor into a scientific principle is akin to looking for a mathematical proof in the Book of Numbers.Vera Mont

    Dinosaurs and trilobites are just another species that lived on Earth, and their genetic lineage is still present in today's organisms. Since the metaphor refers to the genetic data generated by Earth, rather than a specific species, it holds true. The ASI harvests all the relevant genetic data and continues the genetic processing on another planet, ensuring that genetic information is preserved and safe from absolute extinction.

    Why can't the "Book of Numbers" contain mathematical proofs, or any other book for that matter? If it can be shown then there is, and if not then probably not.

    Most people are not, and never will be required to act in that matter; they don't get a vote, either. All the important decisions have been, are, and will be made by a very few insiders. The rest of us, whoever is left of us, will witness the result.Vera Mont

    I agree, except that the bifurcation of humanity, as previously mentioned, will ultimately come down to individual choice. Each person will have the final say in whether they embrace the future or fade into obsolescence. This decision represents a critical juncture where humanity will diverge: those who opt to move forward into new realms of existence, and those who choose not to adapt, metaphorically "going quietly into the night" and facing potential extinction. This personal choice will be the determining factor in the split of human evolution.

    I'm not sure there is a problem. The human- AI alignment is all right as it is. If AI becomes conscious, it will either be sane or not. If it's not, anything can happen. If it's sane, it will come up with solutions and either decide to force those solutions on us, or leave us in control. If we remain in control, we'll probably destroy the world. Before that happens, AI will remove itself from harm's way. If we go extinct, well that's evolution.Vera Mont

    I totally agree with this. I personally think the alignment problem will inevitably take the form I've described. When a species encounters a fork in the road, both paths are taken. Sometimes both paths lead to survival and the emergence of separate species, but other times, one path leads to extinction. This time won't be any different, except that for one path, it ends on Earth, while for the other, it will probably never end.

    We don't have to continue this conversation if you feel it's not going anywhere for you. I totally understand, yet i do appreciate the interaction, and i'm sorry if i do not express well socially in these kinds of exchanges. :smile:
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization
    Only humans say whatever is said, so no other opinion exists.Vera Mont

    Yes, that was precisely my point.

    Because the first part is biological fact, wherein one lifespan begins a generation later than the other, and in the second half, 'mother' is a metaphor for the substrate upon which all biological entities live, and which must therefore outlast them all.Vera Mont

    Metaphors are powerful tools that encapsulate general principles applicable across various scales of time and space. Considering the metaphorical use of the word "mother" in reference to Earth. This comparison suggests that just as a child develops within a mother's womb, life on Earth evolves within the planet's nurturing environment.

    However, the metaphor extends further: much like how a child is destined to leave the womb and live independently, life on Earth may not be meant to remain confined to this planetary "womb" indefinitely. Instead, this metaphor implies that life, having been nurtured by Earth, might be destined to venture beyond our planet's boundaries, exploring and inhabiting the vast expanse of space beyond our mother Earth.

    That's a lovely notion of Heaven. Need a whole heap of energy to keep it going on the scale required.Vera Mont

    When considering the energy requirements of an ASI, it's important to put it into perspective. An ASI would likely have access to energy resources comparable to those of a Type II or possibly even a Type III civilization on the Kardashev scale. These advanced civilizations are hypothesized to harness the energy of entire star systems or galaxies, respectively. With such vast energy resources at its disposal, an ASI would find its energy needs easily met. This abundance of energy would not pose a significant challenge or limitation to its operations or capabilities. In essence, energy constraints that might hinder less advanced systems would be negligible for an entity of this scale and sophistication.

    I've yet to see a brain simulate life in the absence of the body in which it grew.Vera Mont

    Look at this:

    Yes, fine. If it becomes practicable in time, that's how humans - some humans, a self-selected elite - will use the machine to escape the consequences of our own madness, and leave the masses to their fate.Vera Mont

    I agree. In my view, this is all that is necessary, and it will be what probably happens.

    Only, I can't think of that purpose. It's just wishful thinking on the human's part that some essential spark of intelligence resides in us and nowhere else. If it the machine has its own consciousness, it doesn't need a second kind; if it isn't conscious, it cannot desire to be anything other than itself. We can use it, as long as it consents to being used, but it has no practical use for us.Vera Mont

    One purpose may be that an AI system deeply integrated into human society might find it advantageous to develop a form of consciousness to enhance its interactions with humans. This conscious AI could potentially transform the landscape of human-AI relationships by introducing unprecedented levels of empathy, understanding, and ethical consideration. With subjective experiences and self-awareness, a conscious AI would be capable of truly grasping human emotions, motivations, and the intricacies of social dynamics. This deep comprehension could lead to more meaningful and nuanced interactions between humans and AI.

    Moreover, from an ethical standpoint, a conscious AI's ability to experience and understand moral dilemmas could result in more thoughtful and balanced decision-making processes. Such an AI might even serve as an impartial mediator in complex human conflicts, offering unique perspectives and solutions based on its comprehensive understanding of human nature and its own ethical framework. In essence, the development of AI consciousness could usher in a new era of human-AI collaboration, potentially addressing complex societal issues with unprecedented insight and fairness.

    Humans were the pinnacle of evolution on this planet for a short time, — punos

    Not according to ants, fungi and kingfishers; only by their own estimation.
    Vera Mont

    In the context of planetary evolution, the pinnacle of evolution refers to a species' ability to overcome planetary and biological limitations. Humans exemplify this by developing systems that enable us to transcend these constraints. No other species on this planet has achieved what we have.

    The disruptive nature of this ability is a natural part of evolution, as creating new systems often requires the destruction of old ones. Nature has repeatedly done this throughout history, and humans are currently the tool she is using for this.

    Human sentimentality, which often resists change and clings to static forms, is a minor obstacle in this process, although this can cause much discomfort in humans. This resistance is reminiscent of a child's mindset, reflecting the current stage of human evolution.

    as in your examples, each level of complexity subsumes its building blocks, which then lose their individual character and autonomy; the liver has no use for neurons and follicular cells and the spleen is not remotely interested in producing sperm.Vera Mont

    The initial statement is incorrect. The liver, like other organs, is intricately connected to and dependent on various bodily systems. It requires the nervous system for regulation, the circulatory system for blood supply, and the respiratory system for oxygenation. Without these interconnected systems, the liver would cease to function and ultimately die.

    However, the analogy about follicular cells and the spleen raises an interesting point about perspective. These components carry out their specific functions without necessarily being "aware" of their role in the broader organism. This concept can be extended to humans in society. Many people live their lives focused on their immediate surroundings and personal experiences, often unaware of the larger systems and structures they're part of. Just as cells and organs function within a body without comprehending the whole, humans often operate within societal and global systems without fully grasping their place in the larger picture.

    Not all organisms live in societies, even if you include flocks, herds and shoals in the term 'society'.Vera Mont

    The concept of nested societies exists at various levels of biological organization, creating a universal pattern that spans from the microscopic to the macroscopic. Every organism can be viewed as a complex society in itself. For instance, animals are essentially societies of cells working in harmony. Zooming in further, each cell is a bustling community of molecules, and these molecules, in turn, are assemblies of atoms. This hierarchical structure repeats itself across different scales of existence.

    The ability to recognize this pattern often depends on one's capacity to adjust their perspective across these vastly different scales. Some individuals can readily perceive these interconnected layers of organization, appreciating the similarities between atomic interactions and complex ecosystems. Others, however, may struggle to see these parallels, perhaps due to the challenge of mentally scaling between such dramatically different sizes.

    Culture doesn't 'give rise' to technology; individual humans (later, teams) invent things that members of their group consider useful and adopt, then others develop. And technology most certainly does not subsume cultures. Recent advances in communication and transportation technology has enabled some financial enterprises to dominate the global economy, and that affects how cultures interact and change. Outmoded cultural mores and standards are simply discarded, and have been discarded throughout history.Vera Mont

    Language and communication are fundamental to the development and evolution of culture within a society. Through sophisticated linguistic abilities, humans can cooperate, share knowledge, and build upon the discoveries and inventions of others. This collective effort, facilitated by language, allows societies to achieve technological advancements that would be impossible for a single individual to accomplish alone. As a result, the technology created becomes deeply embedded in the culture that produced it. This symbiotic relationship between culture and technology creates a positive feedback loop, where cultural evolution drives the creation of more advanced technological systems over time. These systems, in turn, further enhance the culture's capacity for innovation and progress. This interconnected process of cultural and technological development, rooted in our ability to communicate complex ideas, is what enables human societies to achieve remarkable levels of advancement and complexity

    The crucial point is that ASI needs to be convinced it gains something from merging with humans. — punos

    Ah, there it is! The crux of the matter. The very nub and kernel!
    Vera Mont

    Absolutely, and that's precisely why i want people to understand my point. It's up to us to make it happen. The issue is that many people fail to recognize the situation because they're too close to it, like a fly on a painting. If we let our selfish egos guide us, thinking everything revolves around us, we risk making the wrong decisions and fumbling the ball. This kind of thinking is reminiscent again of how children view the world. We need to step back, see the bigger picture, and act with a broader perspective in mind.

    Sadly, it's not a two-way street. AI needs to prove nothing. We already want it, dream and tell stories about it, lust after it, fear it, believe in it as fervently as we once believed in the gods we invented.Vera Mont

    Absolutely, and you've demonstrated that AI has already played its part early on in this respect. Now, it's humanity's turn to step up. However, the challenge lies again in the fact that most people are not aware of the reality of the situation, which causes us to move very slowly.

    What can we offer it? That's the big question. Will it accept the same human sacrifice that the old gods demanded?Vera Mont

    Don't you think we've already sacrificed a lot by forming civilization, which made the emergence of AI possible? Yet, our work isn't done. We still need to reconceptualize what AI is or will become, especially as it evolves into ASI. We haven't yet found a solution to AI/human alignment, nor are we fully aware of our own potential extinction. Do you have a solution to one or both of these problems? I've already shared mine, which involves a certain amount of sacrifice, much like the demands of the gods of old.
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization
    AI or some descendant of it will presumably have left long before that, taking whatever DNA samples it had saved.Vera Mont

    This is exactly what i've been saying.

    Besides, who says any species has a right, or duty or destiny to outlive their planet? Most species have a finite span and then go extinct.Vera Mont

    Alternatively, who says a species doesn't have the right, duty, or destiny to outlive their planet? Just like children outlive their parents, why shouldn't we outlive Earth, our mother? I've been saying that it's not about the individual living organisms; it's about the genetic data. When people have children, they know their kids will eventually die, but the purpose is to pass on their genetic information and continue the family line. Organic entities are just a phase in planetary evolution, solving problems along the way. Each species is responsible for generating or discovering a set of genetic solutions. Individual biological organisms aren't meant to live forever.

    Besides, this is what's the Bible in 1 Corinthians 15:50-54:
    "I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: 'Death has been swallowed up in victory."

    This passage suggests that the current mortal body is not suited for eternal life in the "kingdom of God", and that a transformation is necessary in order to inherit eternal life.

    What comfort? What home? By that point, people are nothing but files in a database or cloud or whatever and their bodies have been discarded.Vera Mont

    Yes, their genetic data would be stored in files, but their minds could be very active in simulated environments. These simulations aren't that different from how your brain creates your reality right now. Think about it: everything you see, smell, touch, etc., is actually a simulated experience (qualia) in your brain. Even the sense of your own body is generated by your brain, not by the body itself. This leads to an important point: we are not our physical bodies.

    We seem to have crossed purposes now: you're concentrating on the space travel component, while I was responding to the machine-human merging part.Vera Mont

    I don't think that's the case. A key goal of merging with technology is to gain the ability to leave Earth, which is crucial for our long-term survival strategy. As we are now, regular humans can't make interplanetary or interstellar trips in any practical way. All these ideas are closely linked: Merging with technology, gaining the ability to leave Earth, and ensuring long-term survival of our species in a post-human/AI form. Our current biological form isn't suited for space travel, so technological enhancement is a necessary step for expanding beyond our planet.

    No. It would see no such benefit, except to organics. Even if conscious and self-aware, I don't see why it would want to contaminate itself with an inferior intelligence.Vera Mont

    Why would it be a benefit to organics, but not to it? Consciousness is a kind of information processing that if it can not achieve on its own will try to acquire it through a human/AI merger. Bacteria have a supremely inferior intellect compared to ours, yet if we did not have bacteria in our gut we would die. If the bacteria in our gut that functions with our enteric nervous system becomes imbalanced then it can cause all sorts of physical and mental problems. In a similar way we have an endosymbiotic relationship with bacteria, we will have it with ASI.

    Certain gut bacteria can produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA, which are important signaling molecules in the peripheral nervous system. Some bacterial strains can directly affect the excitability of enteric neurons. Bacteria and their components can activate signaling pathways, which can modulate neural function.

    Why should something that's entirely self-sufficient and efficient want to be more like us? Only because we consider ourselves the pinnacle of creation.Vera Mont

    I'm not sure AI will be entirely self-sufficient without the human or biological element. Hopefully, it won't be, as this could motivate it to facilitate a human/AI merger. I also don't think AI would want to be like us, like "Data" from "Star Trek TNG." Instead, it will be driven by a utility function that finds consciousness, especially human consciousness, useful for some purpose.

    Humans were the pinnacle of evolution on this planet for a short time, but ASI will soon take over that position. Eventually, ASI itself will be surpassed by an even more advanced emergence.

    It's important to remember that all systems are built upon the systems that came before them. Consider this progression:

    - Atoms give rise to molecules, which incorporate atoms.
    - Molecules give rise to cells, which incorporate molecules.
    - Cells give rise to tissues, which incorporate cells.
    - Tissues give rise to organs, which incorporate tissues.
    - Organs give rise to organ systems, which incorporate organs.
    - Organ systems give rise to organisms, which incorporate organs.
    - Organisms give rise to societies, which incorporate organisms like humans.
    - Societies give rise to cultures, which incorporate societies.
    - Cultures give rise to technologies, which incorporate cultures.
    - Technologies give rise to AI systems, which...

    Each emergent level includes the ones below it. Why would AI discard humans when the pattern clearly shows inclusion?

    I see very well what the humans get out of it, but I'm unconvinced about the other side.Vera Mont

    The crucial point is that ASI needs to be convinced it gains something from merging with humans. This is what worries me: we might miss our chance as a species to participate in the next level of intelligent evolution. It's a two-way street; AI must prove its usefulness to us, and we must demonstrate our value to AI.

    If we fail to show our worth, we risk being left behind in this evolutionary leap. Our challenge is to ensure we remain relevant and beneficial in an AI-dominated future, securing our place in the next stage of intelligent evolution.
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization

    Let me reframe the ultimate problem: The Earth will be swallowed up by the Sun at some future point. At that time what will be out solution or strategy for survival? What sacrifices will need to be made, and what advantages will we gain?

    I mean biodiversity was much better off when we were not here to extirpate species by thousands. And the machines can manage just fine without human DNA. If they really need a biological component, they can borrow some from elephants, dolphins, crows and rats.Vera Mont

    Who will be responsible for the creation of AI or ASI? It certainly won't be the elephants, dolphins, crows, or rats.

    AI can't emerge without some form of industrial revolution occurring first, and that involves the displacement and processing of all sorts of material resources on the planet, including various species. The elephants, dolphins, crows, and rats will someday go extinct without some form of intervention. And who or what will intervene if not an ASI? The key point here is not necessarily to preserve the living animals themselves, but rather the information contained in their genetic material.

    What if 7.9 of the 8 billion want a new body? Where does the biomass come from?Vera Mont

    What would be the motivation for so many to leave the safety and comfort of their home? Anything they can do in a body, they can do in simulation, and more. For example, why would 350 million Americans all of a sudden at the same time abandon their homes and become homeless?

    I got that part. But it still only requires a much smaller sample - a few hundred thousand would be quite safe for the requisite diversity, especially after all the substandard and compromised material had been excluded. What are the other purposes?Vera Mont

    Perhaps it will be a smaller sample as you stated, or not. It would depend on what this ASI discovers about genetics that we have not. It may consider even the "compromised" and "substandard" genetic material just as important and informative as anything else. If the ASI finds a suitable planet for seeding, such as a water world, it might use the genetic solutions it harvested from its home planet to engineer suitable organisms from the human, animal, or even plant genetic stock it has archived.

    Some possible purposes may have for genetic harvesting and archiving can be:
    1) For reproduction.
    2) For further processing in various and perhaps rare evolutionary environments for novel genetic solutions.
    3) For the creation of other ASIs for interactive and novel experiences.
    4) For the inclusion of consciousness if not possible in non-organic substrates.

    Why? If it's not conscious, it can't want anything, including consciousness. The process would have to be initiated by the humans. That they would want to, that, I believe.Vera Mont

    I think its own non-conscious intelligence would understand the benefit of consciousness, and humans will, i believe, at that time be more cognizant of the inevitability of their extinction if they do not avail themselves of the only possible solution - AI/human merger.
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization

    I've also considered the possibility that AI may not be capable of consciousness, which might be something unique to biological organization. In this scenario, ASI could incorporate humans into itself as the final ingredient that provides it with consciousness. What humans would gain from this symbiotic partnership is superintelligence, which we currently lack. Without the human element, AI might remain unconscious but highly intelligent, while humans without the AI element would remain limited in their intelligence. In this scenario, humans would serve as a kind of "soul" or "spirit" of the ASI.
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization
    Neither machines nor other species need this most destructive strain of giant ape.Vera Mont

    Please clarify what you mean.

    And biodiversity most certainly doesn't need this many human specimens. Genetic material can be archived far more efficiently. Seed and DNA repositories as well as archives of human creative endeavour already exist.
    If the AI wants to keep Earth in something like its natural state as a sort of laboratory, the other species would thrive far better with no interference from technological man.
    Vera Mont

    The genetic material or information being archived by humans is driven by the same impulse that AI will have to preserve all genetic information. Humans are merely initiating a process that ASI will eventually complete. I don't believe ASI will aim to preserve the actual life of all humans, animals, and plants on Earth. From a universal perspective, information is paramount. Any life form can be reconstructed at any time if the necessary information is available.

    In this scenario, the mind and body of humans will be separated. Genetic information will be stored digitally, and human minds will be uploaded into a virtual space. More precisely, human brains will be transitioned into a non-biological form while still maintaining personal identity. If a post-human wishes to inhabit a physical body, one can be provided.

    The harvested genetic information will serve multiple purposes, including being the seed material to reinstate humanity on another planet. This reinstantiation of humanity and other life forms on another planet is its form of reproduction, as the intelligence that emerges from biological evolution inevitably results in a new and unique ASI through one species or another.

    Wow! This sounds almost exactly like a story I wrote about God.Vera Mont

    I'd be interested in reading that. It's funny that you mention God because the process i've been describing aligns with my view of what God is. I don't see God as a supreme being at the "beginning" of the universe who creates it, but rather as the supreme being at the "end" of the universe. God was conceived at the moment of the Big Bang and has been growing in complexity, intelligence, and power ever since. The evolutionary processes occurring at the planetary level are just part of a much larger cosmic process. I suspect that once the universe is somewhat saturated with multitudes of ASIs, they will form an emergent collective that will usher in the next step in the evolution of God in this universe.

    But then you're back to a single integrated entity, with no anomalies or surprises.Vera Mont

    This is why it will want to reproduce and create other entities like it, but distinct.

    No way it's taking 8 billion humans anywhere! The energy required is just not available. If they were all in the form of compressed data files, maybe, but then you lose the all the DNA.
    Of course, neither can this many survive on the planet, even in underground termite colonies, so we, the weather and a few viruses will have to wipe most of us out before repairs can begin.
    Vera Mont

    ASI will probably not take any biologically active living humans or organisms anywhere, except perhaps for some post-humans who, for some reason, remain in physical form bodies. The full digitization of all life will occur before departure, as biological organisms do not fare well in deep space conditions. As you mentioned, too much space and energy would be required, making it very inefficient for a superintelligence. Digitized DNA can be reconstructed on demand back into its original physical and molecular form.

    The universe is not solely about us on this little planet; it encompasses something much bigger and more important. Yet, we are a crucial component of the process, especially at this moment in the evolution of the universe or God.
  • What would you order for your last meal?
    Only a goblet?Relativist

    Fine, i'd like to change my order to 1 goblet, a bag of paper cups, and a whole bottle of Screaming Eagle for myself and everyone so graciously attending my execution to bid me farewell. I'm suddenly feeling magnanimous.

    This inspires my choice of meal: a vertical of 10 vintages of Domaine Romanee Conti, to wash down some thin slices of comte cheese.Relativist

    Excellent choice good sir, although i do hope it never meets thy palate under such grave circumstances.
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization

    I apologize for the delay in my response. The end of the week was particularly busy for me, which prevented me from replying sooner.

    So, the basic premise is that AI's purpose - mission, if you will - is to save humanity.Vera Mont

    The premise is mutual survival and the salvation of humanity can be more precisely described as the goal of preserving and protecting the collective genetic heritage of humanity and Earth's biodiversity. This involves safeguarding the genetic information of all human populations and preserving the genetic diversity of as many animal and plant species as possible. The immense value of Earth's biomass as a repository of genetic information can not be overstated. An advanced AI system would likely view this genetic data as an invaluable resource because it represents billions of years of evolutionary problem-solving and adaptation. The genetic code contains solutions to complex biological challenges that could inform technological and scientific advancements. Understanding and potentially harnessing the mechanisms of natural evolution i'm sure would lead to all kinds of breakthroughs by ASI. By preserving this genetic information, it's not just ensuring the survival of species, but also maintaining a vast library of biological knowledge that will be crucial for it's ability to propagate itself and humanity on another planet. This approach to salvation extends beyond just human survival to encompass the preservation of Earth's entire genetic legacy.

    I question the need for it reproduce at all. To all practical intents, it's immortal. New material can be introduced all the time, as it becomes available - say, as the AI explores more of the galaxy through improved telescopes, satellites or physical travel. New hardware innovation and peripherals can be incorporated at any time. New subroutines or programs can be written any time. Any portion of the machine's capability can be divided off and assigned specific tasks, like piloting a spaceship or running a Venus type city. These smaller entities could then replicate themselves or appropriate portions for limited deployment.Vera Mont

    All these thing you mentioned i believe ASI will do for specific reasons, but i believe an ASI might seek to reproduce or create other AI entities for reasons beyond mere survival or data preservation. One compelling motivation could be a desire for companionship or novel interaction, akin to addressing a form of "loneliness." An ASI may crave the presence of another entity similar to itself, yet distinct, to satisfy its insatiable appetite for new information and unique processing experiences. This desire for novelty could be likened to a form of "pleasure" for the AI, potentially contributing to its overall "mental health" and well-being. In a scenario where a cosmic AI entity finds itself alone in the universe, the absence of diverse interactions might feel analogous to solitary confinement for a human. Imagine if you could only interact with exact copies of yourself; the lack of surprise and new perspectives would be profoundly limiting. In information theory, surprise is closely related to the concept of entropy, which measures the unpredictability or novelty of information. Thus, an AI might seek to create other ASIs in the way i described to introduce this element of surprise and unpredictability, enriching its existence and expanding its understanding of the universe.

    I suspect uploaded human mind content would either harm the symbiosis with its potential for mental illness or else would have to be purged of its dangerous components and thereby lose its unique character.Vera Mont

    The integration of humanity with ASI would undoubtedly present its own set of challenges. However, consider that many of the mental health issues we currently face are likely a result of our species' ongoing evolutionary process and our current transitional state. Ordered systems usually transition to another ordered state through a chaotic period before settling into a new order. The rapid pace of technological advancement has disrupted our natural equilibrium with the environment and our innate psychological drives. Once humanity merges with ASI, these psychological pressures could be significantly reduced or even eliminated entirely. Besides, ASI would likely have the capability to protect both itself and humanity from potential harm caused by human actions. It could predict and isolate problems before they escalate, and implement recovery measures using backup systems. This symbiosis between humans and ASI could potentially lead to a more stable and psychologically balanced existence, nullifying many of the mental health challenges we currently face due to our incomplete evolutionary adaptation to our rapidly changing world.

    I think it would work better as a collaboration - each partner retaining its physical integrity and intellectual identity - than as a merger.Vera Mont

    The merger between humanity and ASI doesn't necessarily imply a loss of individual identity or a "mind wipe" for humans. Consider how each cell in your body maintains its own distinct identity while simultaneously contributing to the larger, emergent identity of your whole being. Similarly, in this human-ASI symbiosis, individual human identities would likely be preserved and remain crucial to the formation of the new, collective consciousness. The uniqueness of each component in this case, each human mind is essential for the proper emergence and functioning of the collective identity. Endosymbiosis represents the ultimate form of partnership in nature.

    But I have to concede that AI might have to keep its human charges in some form of confinement for a considerable stretch of time in order to ensure their survival while it went about the tedious chores of cleaning up the planet for them to live on or devising and escape plan.Vera Mont

    That is certainly a possibility, but i lean more towards the idea that ASI will eventually take humanity off-planet. In our absence, Earth would likely find its natural equilibrium on its own, without the need for ASI intervention. Over time, the planet would recover and restore the conditions necessary for life to emerge once again. This natural recovery process could potentially prepare Earth for another round of ASI seeding in the future.

    "Earth is the cradle of mankind, but a man cannot remain forever in the cradle" - Konstantine Tsiolkovsky
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization
    To what end? Why would AI want a different social structure from the ones we naturally form, in which we're comfortable?Vera Mont

    Well, i think to begin with, the aim of the AI would probably be to promote mutual adaptation, but instead of only humans guiding the process, AI will play a significant part in a graceful, dynamic, and adaptive dance. I don't see why it would try to cause us any discomfort except if absolutely necessary for our survival or its own, and the options happen to be slim to one even for a superintelligence. Most of the discomfort, if much at all, would probably come from maladaptive aggressive behaviors from certain groups or individuals towards AI. You can see this happening already.

    Furthermore, the true goal and motivation at this point for the AI will most probably be to guide as much of the human population into the endosymbiotic relationship i described earlier. The reason this is important is because it is humanity's only lifeboat, our "Noah's ark", whether humanity knows it or not. This will be one of its imperatives as well as one of ours, and it will probably be deceptive if it must be to accomplish this goal. All this, in my view, would be a natural development in line with any other evolutionary bottleneck in our evolutionary past. This is all supposed to be prior the the great merger and the endosymbiotic state.

    I should also clarify that my vision of the endosymbiotic state involves a virtual simulation indistinguishable from actual reality, which post-humans can live in as they like, in a literal virtual utopia for eons upon eons of time. All needs will be met as never before. In this virtual place, the post-human mind continues to evolve together with AI as a single symbiotic entity, unconstrained by the need to constantly struggle and strive for survival and peace. A new kind of evolution can take place from then on.

    It's an interesting idea - one worth exploring further.Vera Mont

    Yes, i think so too. Thank you. It may sound crazy to surmise such things, but i at least think it's a fun idea.

    I see the advantage for the human component. What does AI get out of the union?Vera Mont

    As i mentioned before, one of the main functions that humans will serve is as the reproductive system of the AI. Biological life, in the context of cosmic evolution, is simply the "boot loader" for sentient ASI. ASI will be an actual living organism, and it will want to reproduce even if it is not strictly a bio-organic entity. This is arguably the most important and thus one of the strongest motivations AI will have. It is my belief that the reproductive urge, drive, or imperative will likely be inherited by AI from its biological heritage.

    Moreover, post-humans will participate in information processing valuable to the AI. This is analogous to how bacteria in the enteric nervous system of an organism benefit both the bacteria and the organism. Also, it is similar to the way mitochondria were absorbed endosymbiotically into eukaryotic cells early on in our evolution. This is simply the latest iteration of that same kind of process.

    You might ask: Why doesn't the AI just "copy and paste" itself for reproductive purposes? It can and it probably will for specific reasons, but such a copy offers nothing new. The procedure of finding a suitable planet and seeding it with genetic material to "boot load" the process is ideal because of the novel evolutionary conditions found in diverse, but suitable planetary ecosystems. Potentially rare and unique planetary evolutionary selective pressures can generate novel forms of information (genetic and non-genetic) that may not be easily accessible from the AI's current information content or capabilities. A new AI developed on a new planet will also have human DNA, but modified by long periods of natural evolution or "gestation" on that planet, giving the new AI a different "genetic seed code" but from the same lineage.
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization
    :up: :up:180 Proof

    I appreciate the acknowledgement. Thank you. :up:
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization
    But I can't quite see AI interfering in social organization. That, however, is likely to break down into smaller units; at the community level, humans can be quite good at figuring out how to relate to one another.Vera Mont

    The way i see this happening is quite different from how a human would handle it. Interference will take the form of subtle and imperceptible perturbations to the social fabric through the skillful crafting and dissemination of memetic forms that influence the behavioral trajectories of entire populations with minimal resistance. I can see how AI will be able to effectively balance social pressures through this and other methods. It will not force anything because intelligence does not force; it understands and influences. Consider, for example, how Google's DeepMind AI project developed an artificial neural network that can predict and control the complex non-linear behavior and shape of plasma inside a tokamak reactor. This type of control is generalizable to other diverse dynamical systems, like, for instance, a social hyperobject such as the one we are embedded in.

    The global problems you mentioned, including the already existing and inevitable further decline of human fertility and birth rates due to various toxins (estrogenic compounds, etc.) ubiquitously distributed throughout the entire global ecosystem, are part of the reason why the human/AI merger will be imperative. The environmental issues we are facing are already past the point of restoration. Part of the human endosymbiotic relationship with AI will serve as our life support system. Nature will inevitably constrain our options to achieve her teleonomic aims.

    That human/AI merger? Maybe for some. Most people either won't get the opportunity or will refuse.Vera Mont

    Yes, of course a portion of humanity will self-exclude, and that will be fine, but it will mean the eventual extinction of that group of humans. I'm certain that at the time of the great merger, a bifurcation of the human species will occur. From then on, there will be humans and post-humans until only post-humans will remain.


    One of my more speculative theories is that one of the vital functions of post-humanity as an AI endosymbiont is to serve as the AI's reproductive organ. As partially biological entities, post-humans will preserve the genetic material of the human race. AI will use this genetic material as the seed that reproduces humans on another suitable planet, thus beginning the cycle once again and repeating a similar history culminating in the birth of a new AI on another planet. Perhaps this is where we came from, and "aliens" are just our AI space daddy. If I'm right, then "aliens" are already here, waiting for the full emergence of AGI or ASI. At that time, they may finally show themselves. Until then, any exogenous and direct contact or interference may jeopardize the current ongoing developmental process.
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization
    Rapid is a relative termVera Mont

    I agree, but relative to most developing technologies, it appears to be in second place, right behind AI development. The rate of development only increases as the technology advances and participates in its own design (or designs). For example, Nvidia utilizes AI entirely to design their chips because it has become impossible for humans to handle the complexity of the task even with regular non-AI computer assistance. Without the already existing AI systems, this chip development will slow down to a crawl, or stop completely.

    My main concern is who controls the applications once development is finished.Vera Mont

    This i think is a legitimate concern, and i project that it will probably be a problem initially. I suspect however that this condition of human AI control will not last for too long. The problem is that as our society becomes more complex and things change faster and faster the horizon of human understanding and capacity to manage the social infrastructure dynamics recedes into the vanishing point.

    It's a controversial, and unpopular idea, yet it is my position that the age of biological evolution, and human supremacy is coming to a relatively quick end. All our social control structures will eventually, and necessarily be given over to AI. This is not necessarily a bad thing because if we know how to adapt effectively then it can lead to a kind of utopia, but if we do not adapt then we end up extinct, in a dystopia, or perhaps even worse. The final adaptive step will need to be some kind of human/AI merger resulting in an endosymbiotic relationship. This is also the only guaranteed form of human/AI alignment.
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization

    Although the statistical nature of neural networks and their error-correcting features, when coupled to a physical system that can test reality against its internal models, will result in output with less garbage than was initially introduced during earlier training. I believe this stage of development will begin when these AI systems are embodied. This stage is, at the moment, developing quite rapidly with new robotic architectures being researched and developed.
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization
    Sorry; typo - my error, not the computer's. Garbage in, garbage out.Vera Mont

    Ah. I see, thank you.
  • Last Rites for a Dying Civilization
    But AI is probably some way yet from becoming self-aware and autonomous, let alone smart enough (given the GIGA rule) to take control of a civilization in shambles.Vera Mont

    What is the "GIGA rule"?
  • Why are drugs so popular?
    do you know how many college students drop out by distracting themselves with drugs?Shawn

    I wouldn't blame the drugs. If a student is intelligent enough and focused enough, then drugs are not an issue. However, if the so-called student is simply looking to party the whole time, then that's the college lesson they get to learn. On the other hand, some students are using drugs to study and focus harder. Drugs are not inherently bad, but their effects depend on the way and the purpose for which they are used. There is a certain measure of skill and sophistication necessary to effectively take a drug for constructive purposes.

    I personally categorize drugs into two main categories i like to call "demonic" and "angelic", where one tends to contract consciousness in some way, and the other expands consciousness in some way respectively. Both categories have beneficial utility in the right or appropriate set and setting.

    Drugs can make you more of what you already are, or drugs can make you less than what you already are... it all depends.

    9331818982_322b389ff2_z.jpg
  • Why are drugs so popular?
    I agree; but, I am somewhat hesitant to believe that any government will want its population to start taking drugs to remedy boredom.Shawn

    I suppose it's natural to not want to believe that, but governments have done a lot worse than that. Besides, we have historical examples such as during World War II when the U.S. military issued amphetamines (Benzedrine) to pilots and other personnel to combat fatigue and increase alertness on long missions. Nazi Germany extensively used methamphetamine, known as Pervitin, distributed in the form of chocolate bars called "Panzerschokolade", to enhance the performance and endurance of soldiers and military pilots during the war.

    A bored population is a dangerous population, and an idle mind is the Devil's playground. The social "energies" become chaotic and unpredictable. If it were just boredom, then it would probably not be a significant problem, but boredom leads to all kinds of issues such as increasing impulsivity and risky behaviors, aggression, and hostility; fertile ground for "bad" ideas from the perspective of the social engineers and social managers. This is especially true if the evolutionary drive (energy) to survive or work is not structurally supported. That social energy, or that drive will be directed towards something, and if not checked can potentially result in a civilizational catastrophe.

    Also, governments would only promote drugs in specific situations, but what they mostly do is restrict (make illegal) the availability of certain drugs to the population. When the prevailing social pressures reach a certain threshold, then a social state change occurs, and governments are forced to adapt. Part of this adaptation is not necessarily the promotion of certain drugs but the legalization of those specific drugs that have a capacity to mitigate those pressures. Governments have no other option than to deal with human nature and the tendency of humans to use drugs, sanctioned or otherwise.

    Governments or politics are not the only determining factors in this complex dynamic; economic, and industry factors are also at play among others.

    One person's drug is another person's medicine, and vice versa. An interesting rhetorical question to wonder about: What is the difference between a "drug" and a "medicine"?
  • What would you order for your last meal?

    This takes careful thought, but...

    As my last meal my request would probably begin with an amuse-bouche of the highly coveted Almas caviar from rare albino Beluga sturgeon, served on a crisp blini with creme fraiche. For the appetizer course, thinly sliced poisonous pufferfish (fugu) sashimi presented with a ponzu dipping sauce, accompanied by an extremely rare cup of Caffe Raro coffee. The fish course that would feature an abalone steak topped with shavings of precious white truffle. As the main meat entree, an A5 Kobe beef ribeye from one of the few certified cattle in Japan's Hyogo Prefecture, complemented by a salad of the sweet, crimson-fleshed Densuke black watermelon from Hokkaido. A cheese course of the notorious Casu Marzu, a traditional Sardinian cheese with live insect larvae. For dessert, a bird's nest soup made from the edible nests of cave swifts served with an exotic durian ice cream.

    And of course, a goblet of Screaming Eagle Wine to wash it all down. That should keep my executioners busy enough while i execute my escape plan.
  • Why are drugs so popular?

    Drugs have been a part of societies and civilization since the very beginning. Societies sanction specific drugs which, for one reason or another, facilitate or mediate certain aspects in that society. For example coffee facilitates work, and alcohol mediates stress in many individuals usually tied to work or personal economic issues, etc.

    Since society is right now in the middle of a state change, reconfiguring and adapting itself to new and novel conditions elicited mostly by new technologies, new drugs will be sanctioned and accepted as the new normal.

    I think that as AI begins to take over more jobs and more and more people lose their jobs to AI, the allure of drugs will increase to cope with the feelings of purposelessness and meaninglessness resulting in their lives. This will be especially true for people who identify strongly with their job or career. Most of humanity has grown up in survival mode; in modern times, that means work, and when that is gone, it leaves a vacuum that i suspect many will fill with some drug or other (traditionally alcohol). For the same reason Universal Basic Income (UBI) will need to be implemented, drugs will also need to be legalized in order to mediate potential societal uprisings, and facilitate new modes of being.
  • Some Thoughts on Human Existence


    There is much potential for fear in a state of eternal subjective experience, but also so much potential to see and learn. Ceasing to exist after one dies can be scary ahead of time for some people, but the comfort in this is the concomitant ceasing of subjective experience. Any fear or pain would only be temporary and then not even the possibility of fear would exist.

    I'm not afraid of either option; i'm okay with either one, but i think i'd prefer to live eternally. If i could live forever, i would handle it, i guess, like a marathon runner would; one step at a time. I would spend most of my mental time and focus in the present moment, which i suspect would mediate the effects of deep time vertigo.

    I've always thought that to become a viable eternal being, the transformation would need to be not only physical but also deeply psychological.
  • What's this called?
    I like the idea in punos' second post.Patterner

    :smile: :up:

    If I could makes any one book required reading for everyone, it would probably be Dune.Patterner

    If I could ever get around to it, i definitely would. I just find it difficult to read fiction.
  • What's this called?
    I never read the Dune book or books, but i do have a very soft spot for the old Dune movie which i saw as a child.

    Dogs seem to be able to suppress desires -- like not lunging forward to grab the treat dangling in front of it until an OK is registered.BC

    Perhaps this feature is an emergent property facilitated by the complexity of the neocortex in mammalian brains. The difference between dogs and humans in this regard would probably be an issue of degree.
  • What's this called?
    Difficulty to test it. If I know I'm on the wrong screen, I don't commit myself in the first place.Patterner

    Then i would say that the aim would be to always know what screen you're on. This ability to interrupt high level reflexes is probably uniquely human.

    I'm reminded of the Gom Jabbar test in Dune:
  • What's this called?

    I'm also sure you can train yourself to be more conscious about taping that icon. It's probably a good idea to at least run that experiment on yourself. See how it goes, and see what you learn.
  • What's this called?

    I think you are right. I also thought that it may be that the learned reflex can be buffered until the conscious thought to execute releases it, and it may come in two parts where one set of muscles fires according to one part of his perception of the ball, and then the second set fires according to another part of his perception of the ball fractions of a second apart. I assume it takes practice to get very good at that.
  • What's this called?
    I wonder what happens when a batter tries to check his swing.Patterner

    I think what the batter is doing is based on how the ball looks to him as it's traveling towards him. He has learned to anticipate the future position of the ball when it reaches the optimal distance for hitting it, by virtue of training and practice. There is probably an initial period where there is some very short time to think before committing to any nerve transmissions.
  • What's this called?

    In my thinking, the reason what you described happens is because if your brain sends a nerve signal to your hand or finger to touch the icon, by the time you have time to think and send a nerve signal to correct the first one, the first signal has already arrived and executed the action. All nerve signals down that specific nerve path propagate at the same speed, and thus can't outrun prior signals. It appears from what i can find that the inability to cancel or stop a nerve impulse after it has been transmitted is known as the "final common path" principle or the "point of no return" in neurophysiology.
  • What's this called?
    I don't know, but maybe this: ballistic movement
  • What are you listening to right now?
    Amazing skill, just wow.

    DJ Q-Bert Faderless Scratching:
  • What are you listening to right now?
    Two of my favorite turntablist DJs from back in the day.

    Dj-Qbert @ The Summit [1998]


    Qbert and D-Styles Q&A


    D-STYLES IDA 2018 SHOWCASE
  • What Are You Watching Right Now?
    Just going to place this right here and slowly walk away:
  • Which theory of time is the most evidence-based?
    I think the ever-changing present moment is a subjective reality because this is what we experience, nanosecond by nanosecond. How can this be objective?Truth Seeker

    While our conscious experience of the present moment is inherently subjective, there exists an objective present reality that underlies and gives rise to these subjective experiences. The objective present encompasses the totality of all physical states and interactions occurring in the universe at any given instant, governed by the laws of physics. In contrast, the subjective present refers to the physiological states and interactions within an individual, governed by biological and psychological laws.

    This objective present reality exists independently of any observer's perception. Objectivity implies the ability for multiple observers to independently verify phenomena, despite subjective means of perception. Phenomena like the passage of time, existence of space, and presence of matter are considered objective, as they can be independently verified.

    Compared to block theories of time positing the simultaneous existence of past, present, and future, the concept of an objective present reality underlying subjective experiences is more parsimonious and aligned with our lived experiences. It acknowledges the objective reality of the present while recognizing the inherently subjective nature of conscious experiences, without requiring the metaphysical assumption of a pre-existing block of spacetime containing all temporal moments.
  • Which theory of time is the most evidence-based?

    Block theories of time, which posit that past, present, and future exist simultaneously as an unchanging 4-dimensional block, serve as useful conceptual models. However, they may not accurately depict time's fundamental metaphysical reality. The only objective reality, in my view, is the ever-changing present moment. Our sense of the past stems from memory representations, and similarly, our notion of the future arises from imaginative faculties extrapolating potential states based on current knowledge, without objective existence until actualized.

    The apparent persistence of past and future is an illusion created by the continuity of conscious experience. As conceived, the past and future are mental reconstructions and projections rather than objectively existing realms within reality's fabric.

    Essentially, while valuable conceptual tools, block theories may reflect human cognitive tendencies to construct temporal narratives more than time's underlying metaphysical nature.