AN APRIL FOOL IN THE UNCANNY VALLEY
On April fool’s day 2012 The Ground Zero show celebrated 17 years of paranormal and intriguing news and Forteana. I had a small get together with friends and supporters of the show. While sipping coffee and eating chocolate cake there were a few people at the gathering that had very interesting things to say about the future.
I was having great discussions about remote viewing, Psionic warfare and discussions about genetic tinkering and if DNA bases and genome tracking were all part of the plot to eliminate people. However there was one particular point that rarely is brought up and that is the tracking of genetic codes and DNA databases have been established for the sole purpose of creating a doppelganger to replace you. A very paranoid view and is probably more hideous to think about than just being killed off for some sustainability cause.
As the discussion took a turn towards a future depicted in the movie Blade runner and David Brin’s Kiln people, I was made aware of two April Fools jokes that were making the rounds. The jokes weren’t simple pranks but well thought out stories that are so outrageous and yet so possible you wonder if they truly are jokes.
One was a national Public radio report about children having to go through a DNA test just to enter a private Kindergarten in New York, The report gives a convincing account of how New York parents have been applying to preschools even before their youngsters are born and how an Upper West Side school is giving parents the advantage of finding out if their kids even qualify or if they are actually have genetic traits that indicate that they are smart enough for early computer programming and Mandarin Chinese immersion. The school mentioned is the Porsafillo Preschool Academy, where all applicants must now submit a DNA analysis of their children.
The story is an April fool’s prank, but very convincing and bordering on the possibility of predictive programming. There was another story that was told as well. It is the story that Steve Jobs hadn’t really died at all, but rather had figured out how to upload himself into the Mac OS so his consciousness could live on and that he still guides the Apple Computer company from beyond the grave submitting data using a special program..
While there are people saying that the story is too outrageous to believe, it may be a bit alarming to realize that it the possibility of this happening is soon within reach.
At the recent Global Future 2045 International Congress held in Moscow, Dmitry Itskov told attendees how he plans to create immortality, His first project is create a robot controlled by the human brain, then he actually will transplant a human brain into a human like robot, and then by replacing the surgical transplant with a method for simply uploading a person’s consciousness into a surrogate robot. He thinks he can get beyond the first phase--to transplanting a working brain into a robot--in just ten years, putting him on course to achieve his ultimate goal--human consciousness completely disembodied and placed within a holographic host--within 30 years time.
This means that there is a good possibility that within the next 30 years, many people alive today may not have to let their consciousness leave the earth upon death,
Now before you laugh and say “impossible” you may want to become aware that creating a robot controlled by a human brain--is already well within reach. In fact, DARPA is already working on it via a program called “Avatar” (like the movie). The Pentagon hopes to create a brain-machine interface that will allow soldiers to control upright walking human surrogate machines remotely with their minds.
Last February NASA had listed the purpose of Discovery STS 133 mission. On its official site it mentioned that the mission was in fact the 133rd space shuttle flight and the 35th shuttle mission to the International Space Station, Discovery delivered the Express Logistics Carrier 4 and critical spare components to the Station. It also carried something else to the station. A dexterous robot called Robonaut 2 or R2 for short. The droid has a wheeled base called “the Centaur’ for roving purposes, however on the ISS the droid was fully capable in tests of showing its strength.
There are plans to give the R2 units legs and then use them a for a future mission to the Moon called “Project M” or The “Morpheus project. “
The project proposed would only take 1000 days from go ahead. The thing that is absolutely remarkable is that not only will a robot step on to lunar soil, but it will also put mankind in the uncanny valley and beyond.
The uncanny valley hypothesis holds that when robots and other facsimiles of humans look and act like actual humans, it causes a response of revulsion among human observers. As the future moves forward we will find that machines can take on human forms that are uncharacteristically real. Once humans move beyond their repulsion of “life like machines” they reach a point of empathy. As our fears of man and technology diminish we begin to see evolution steer towards Transhumanism .
A loose definition of Transhumanism is a point in evolution where man becomes something that is beyond human. Transhumanists see the human body as something that can be improved through science and technology. They also see technology as a means to where we can overcome suffering, aging, loneliness, and involuntary death. Transhumanist thinkers predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman.” The symbol for Transhuman is H+ or “Enhanced Human.”
An H+ sperm cell has already been created artificially. it can be used in humans and made from human stem cells it was created outside of the human body in a laboratory. The sperm cells are made from a small sliver of skin.
It raises the possibility of babies being born entirely through artificial means, and even the macabre scenario of long-dead men 'fathering' children from beyond the grave.
This means that we are at a point in our evolution where human reproduction is not a purely biological process. Imagine making sperm from the DNA of a dead man. Or how about making sperm from the DNA of a child? How would that affect us psychologically, socially and ethically? The process could be done in a lab with machines monitoring the embryo as it grows.
With this technology it is feasible to get the same result from the stem cells of an aborted fetus. This would mean that if a woman wanted an abortion she could request that the cells of the unborn fetus to be salvaged, kept in liquid nitrogen, and then used later when the baby could be born at a more convenient time for the mother. What would right to life groups have to say about this?
Churches have already expressed their concern about these types of Eugenics based directives and have also raised suspicions about the marriage of mechanized man with natural man.
As much as it pains the ultra religious to hear this, it has to be said. There are Issues that will affect us in the near future that the Bible with all of its alleged “divinity” does not address or is incapable of addressing. There are things that we are doing now in science that may strike a sour note with the religious; however they seem to be all part of enhancing the way we live and in some cases may be the very key to cheating physical death.
This is where we have to ask “is it wrong to create ways in which we can sustain life for an indefinite period of time? Or are we to accept that death is part of a plan and that if we tamper with it, we are tampering with the powers that are only powers that can be used by God?
Ever since man walked the earth he has made his world, destroyed it and made it allover again. As it is written biblically that God made man in his own image, it must be said that man has made things in his own image to his own liking in ways unprecedented for thousands of years. It has been speculated by many theorists that as man realizes his power he most often sees himself as a God and develops technological creations that imitate what is termed “natural “ or “human.”
By the time we get to the postmodern world that many human beings inhabit today, the lived-in, physical environment is for the most part, culturally produced. Reality is encountered mostly as virtual, or produced as an effect of human enhancements and operations. We are kept constantly surrounded by human productions and technology that is indistinguishable from magic. We are transported everywhere by machines within a realm totally fabricated by human engineering. We remain mesmerized by phenomena that are electronically simulated. We lose ourselves in virtual worlds.
Most memories now, and collective unconscious thought has been pumped into you through electronic transmission. You accept reality through the electronic medium. All things both real and simulated have had an effect of your brain. You have retained everything based on what a controlled electronic dictum has given you. Our rational minds are now far from rational because we have had most of the objective reality replaced by Hyper-reality.
With technologies on the horizon it is feasible to create another host for the continuation of your consciousness, basically another host for your mind. The idea of uploading the brain into the body of a clone, an artificially enhanced child, an avatar or R2 unit has been considered by science as one of our next steps in the evolutionary process.
The next phase is the reverse engineering of the brain. Various attempts have been made to imagine the benefits of mind uploading. Assuming continuation of the mind, these benefits include indefinite life spans and upgrading the mind. When your current brain no longer works well enough or not at all, you transfer your conscious mind to another (perhaps better) artificial brain. The potential for abuse here is also present. Laws then will have to be modified to also include cognitive liberty issues.
In 1958 Robert Sheckley wrote a piece of speculative fiction about a human's consciousness being transferred into a brain- dead body. This can unleash something known as the Frankenstein consciousness where ethics once again need to be examined. While we have the capability of creating artificial intelligence do we have the capability of building a model of a brain complete enough to allow a conscious mind to emerge?
The other question is concerned with identity. Some people argue that, if a copy of a conscious mind is identical by all measures ignoring the fact that one is biological and the other is neuro-morphic software/hardware, it should be thought of as a continuation of the mind that was mapped and uploaded.
Others argue that a copy cannot be considered the same as the original, so the newly awakened consciousness must be another person. This where we wonder if Transhumanism is literally killing off a part of you to extend other parts of you. The brain is the most delicate and we debate the ethics of its transplantation. We don’t bat an eye about the use of other organs to be harvested from donors and to use body parts in order to live on in others.
In the Book “Change of Heart” dancer Claire Sylvia claims that after a heart and lung transplant operation, she discovered that new organs were not the only thing she inherited. She began to crave beer and Kentucky fried chicken. Her friends were also noticing that she would sometimes act like a teenager and walk like a boy. She claims that she inherited the traits of her young male donor.
There have been other accounts of this phenomenon as well, which raises awareness about psycho-spiritual issues regarding consciousness and death. Is there organ memory within the body and if we transcend the body to machine will our mechanized bodies yearn for human needs like spiritual and emotional desire?
As you can possibly understand , Transhumanism or the Trans post humanity faces serious risks, especially from the misuse of new technologies. There are possible realistic scenarios that lead to the loss of most, or even all, of what we hold valuable. Some of these scenarios are drastic, others are subtle. Although all progress is change, not all change is progress. While there are advantages to most Transhuman or human enhancement technologies, we need to understand that perhaps it is a moral imperative to limit our ability to integrate with machines and technology. If not, we are looking at voluntary genocide.
Drawn to technological magic like moths to a flame.