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Podcast No. 17 on The Truths of Terasem – Posted on iTunes 11/22/2010
(Text used to record podcast)
TITLE: Truths of Terasem – The How of Terasem
SUB TITLE: Safe Nanotechnology and Organization to Achieve It
SUMMARY: The development of replicator nanotechnology carries with great risks and dangers, but they cannot be escaped by withdrawal or blindly counting on good luck. An ethical framework must be erected and firmly guide what will happen; that starts one person at a time, one group at a time, one group of groups at a time, and so on outward until an airtight protective shield exists.
(Fred) Hi, we’re Fred & Linda Chamberlain, with podcast 17 on the Truths of Terasem.
(Linda) This is where we see what’s most dangerous about the Singularity, isn’t it, and what we have to do individually to cope with that?
(Fred) That’s right! Just as with nuclear fission and fusion, just as with biotech and all the benefits and dangers of that also, we confront an astronomically higher level of challenge with replicator nanotech. We’re literally designing a non-biological form of life that could evolve so rapidly that it might not only turn the world into a grey goo, but evolve beyond that into sentient forms like I described in a short story over twenty years ago, titled “Re-Creation”, beings which themselves might possess the full spectrum of replicator nanotech with a very different ethical system, if it could be even called that, than what we envision for Terasem.
So, in that light, even as we build geoethical nanotechnology in the narrowest sense, we must also build it in the broadest sense. In the words of the Summary for what we’re talking about today, “An ethical framework must be erected and firmly guide what will happen; that starts one person at a time, one group at a time, one group of groups at a time, and so on outward until an airtight protective shield exists.” The Truths of Terasem concerning this provide a general framework within which this is conceived to happen. Today, we’re going to expand on that but in a very exploratory, not authoritative way. And, we’re going to talk extensively about why it’s critically important to be exploratory vs. authoritative in doing this. In the end this will be the dividing line between evolutionary success and extinction, between an endless adventure and a dead-end death.
(Linda) Let’s plunge into the first Expansion for today, Fred, it’s 6.2, “Embrace nanotechnology that presents no clear and present danger, builds universal joyful immortality, and is auditable.” How do we pull all of that together into one tightly interconnected idea?”
(Fred) First, let’s not take it too simplistically. “Clear and present danger”, for example, can be taken too literally. There is a need to engage in deep, farsighted failure mode analysis of every facet of a program for development of replicator nanotechnology, and in that context anything that suggests a reliability of safe passage less than a very high, yet to be determined number has to have a protective strategy developed to reduce risk.
On the other hand, mentalities of a Luddite kind that have baseless fears other than fictional worst-case scenarios would not even think in terms an “acceptable risk threshold” are beyond and outside reason; they are in the nature of “The sky is falling” chicken-little complaints like an ostrich burying its head in the sand. I think it’s toward objections to nanotechnology of that kind, that I think this Truth is directed. It’s like the fears of those who will not fly but prefer to drive, when it’s well established driving is more dangerous.
The rest of 6.2 is more straightforward. “Builds universal joyful immortality” is intended to help set priorities as to what use is made of nanotechnology. For example, let’s imagine a cyberpsychotic form of reinforcement that induces a state of what is initially perceived as joy at such a high level of addictiveness and intensity that it quickly fragments the personality of the addicted person and leads to self-erasure of mindfiles to the end of obliteration of personality in a crash of consciousness. All that’s left in the mindfiles is noise. This would be, in biological terms, such a toxic and lethal use of nanotechnology that it would be at the other end of the spectrum from “universal joyful immortality”.
The final part of 6.2 is the inclusion of the three words, “and is auditable”. What that means is that what looks good on the surface, or even in depth, can run into unforeseen problems and go sour without this being detected easily.
(Linda) To me, “and is auditable means ‘cannot be opaque to detection of emergent problems and increases to probabilities of failure”, or more simply, “must be transparent enough to give warning of dangers at the first moment of detection”.
(Fred) Right, Linda, and in too many cases where environmental pollution dangers were discovered in an industrial development, or failures in qualifying new drugs were anticipated due to unacceptable side effects, those who were in charge ‘swept the bad news under the carpet’ and only after some terrible damages had occurred, was this found out. “And is auditable”, the way I look at it, is intended to say “problems must be so easily detected that the very idea of concealing them would be ridiculous”.
In 6.2.1 we find, “Danger must be assessed a priori and can be consented to if not palpable.” Most simply stated, this is taken to mean we look for danger before we begin, and if we can’t find it, we consent to the risks of what we conceived might be a danger, even if there is no tangible sign of it. Does this sound somewhat oblique? Not really! If we think something might be a danger and look for it, but do not find tangible evidence, does that mean it does not exist? No! It only means that based on the amount of time we devoted and powers of observation we have, we could not find enough evidence to halt our program.
The fact that we conceived of a danger and gave it enough attention to pursue a quest for it means that a burden of responsibility exists, however slight, and that if it turned out that damage resulted from insufficient searching, some means of redress should exist, and we would likely be the party responsible.
This degree of penetration into issues of responsibility may go beyond the original intent of the Founders of Terasem in framing the Truths, but it is clear to me that they intended to serve as the starting point for exactly such extensions as what was explored in the last paragraph, and now, what means of insuring against such damage might be appropriate?
(Linda) Looking ahead to a mature Geoethical Nanotechnology, we might suppose that at such a time a means of purchasing insurance against damages arising from “dangers assessed as not palpable” might be made available, perhaps at relatively modest cost, considering the low level of probability assigned to them.
(Fred) We’ve stretched the point on this element of the Truths of Terasem, but “stretching points” is part of the mission of this podcast. Let’s push on with the remaining elements.
6.2.2 states, “Admit that risk of danger is necessary, like pampering thorns for the sake of a rose.” If we always hide in the corner, that is where we will remain. Joyful immortality is a distant goal, but we must go into the distance, to reach it, and risks await us along the way.
In 6.2.3, we return to the main topic of this Expansion, nanotechnology, where the words are, “Nanotechnology must be independently audited to assure compliance with the terms of its consent.” We must, if we are to engage in perfecting replicator nanotechnology, be willing to be highly transparent to our co-workers and in the widest extent to all humankind, since, to use a slogan associated with one of the most well known crisis situations on the Apollo Program, “Failure is not an option!”
6.2.4 turns the focus onto the long term goals; “Grant consent to builds that ‘Maximize the Ratio of joy and happiness to pain and suffering.” In terms of priority, spend energy and take risks where changing the conditions of life are maximum. There are so many ways to illustrate this that to engage in it would be to make a shopping list of everything that we might conceive. The important thing is to recognize that replacing pain and suffering with joy and happiness are at the top of the priority ladder.
6.2.5 states, “Euclidian ratios are maximized by zero denominators, meaning geoethical nanotechnology seeks pain-free joy for all” One of the simplest ways to indicate infinity is to “divide by zero”. If we zero out pain, any amount of joy in a joy/pain ratio makes the result infinity. Biological life is filled with both the pain of living and the pain caused by dying, to both those who experience the pain and those who love them. Getting rid of the pain and death leaves plenty of room for expanding the finite amount of joy. The ratio remains infinity, as long as pain and suffering… and death… are zero.
Finally for this Expansion, 6.2.6 tells us, “Realize that nanotechnology is like a bird’s food — it is there but not in the nest”. If we are to eat and survive, we must leave the nest to find the food. Extropy demands that replicator nanotech be developed, in fact virtually assures that it will, and that will entail risk. If we are clear about the fact that hiding in the corner will only delay this, or perhaps even lead to self-destruction, we will realize that leaving the nest is imperative, and we will do it.
(Linda) Now, we get to look at how we take the first baby steps to get to where we’re going. The next Expansion, 6.3, begins with “Organizing a Center of Critical Consciousness (a c-cube) pragmatically implements the how of Terasem.” How hard is it to do this?
(Fred) It’s the simplest thing in the world. 6.3.1 says, “Center your c-cube someplace, and let others know you’ll be there at the Terasem times.” Further, it only takes one person to start a c-cube. You pick a location, and announce that you’re going to be there at certain times. The criteria are not rigid, but it is important that they be specific, and there is room for diversity of approach.
You and I, for example, together are a c-cube, and we do two or three “connections” a day, but, we choose and define the content, and while we are aware of and respect the times of day recommended by Terasem, we adjust this as need be to the flow of our lives. If we were only one person, we could do this, but then it would be important to broaden the connectivity to include at least one other.
We are not restricted to being in just one c-cube. We are also part of a larger c-cube, in fact it is a c-quad, in Melbourne Beach FL, that has somewhat less than a dozen members. It holds monthly gatherings, quarterly celebrations and other annual events. Beyond this, it seems likely that we will begin nucleating other c-cubes, just as this is already in progress at other Terasem gathering points around the country. Since we have only recently moved to this area, we are in many ways among the newcomers, yet we have been warmly accepted.
(Linda) Last week, we began discussing the importance of “rituals”. This is a concrete example of using rituals to build fellowship and solidarity among an expanding membership in c-cubes and c-quads.
(Fred) Yes, and the next Element builds on this, with 6.3.2, “Encourage participation in the music, art, recitations, teachings and yoga of a Terasem gathering.” These are the monthly events and rituals mentioned just a moment ago. They are a way of connecting all the c-cubes and c-quads of a given area, on the 10th day of each month at 10 a.m., to share ideas and aesthetic values. In the most complete sense, gatherings at both 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. might be held, depending on the character of the local groups, but in most cases at present. 10 a.m. is the main event.
Let’s continue with the other Elements in this Expansion, and then I’ll go into a rather extensive discussion of c-cubes, c-quads, and how they may connect and support each other and further expand. 6.3.3 says, “Narrate stories of freedom, nature, obligation and transcendence at their respective Terasem quarterly holidays.” These can be events that go on all day, or just an evening, where a meal is shared. A lot more about these can be found on Terasem’s websites, so I won’t go into the details about them here. Each of these four holidays has its own theme, the same each year, to remind us in detail of how much we have to be grateful for, in addition to how far we have come in the past year.
6.3.4 says, “Train c-cube members to graduate to higher levels of Terasem, culminating with graduation ceremonies each 10-10.” On October 10th, each year, those who have accomplished valuable things in support of Terasem are moved up, or escalated, to various levels that reflect their comprehension of, and efforts to promote the successful memetic spread of the Truths of Terasem, as well as many other critical Terasem goals.
These are not, in any way, positions of “authority”, but they do entail additional responsibilities for work in support of Terasem. We discussed these in more detail in an earlier podcast. All that’s happening in this Expansion is to make sure that this annual event is not forgotten.
(Linda) The importance of networking comes to the surface in 6.3.5, where we find, “Extend cooperation to other c-cubes and c-quads and to all of Terasem.” Here, we are recognizing that only as we hang together and help each other grow are we going to move most methodically and rapidly toward our goals.
(Fred) This principle is expressed in other Truths of Terasem also, in different ways. Network harmony and synergy is a big part of what Terasem has going for it, but carefully approached in such a way as not to intrude on diversity or individual pursuit of joy either.
6.3.6 “Reach for recognition as a c-quad”. Once every four years, at an event called a “Quadrennial Convocation”, c-cubes that have accomplished enough are formerly recognized as “c-quads”. In some ways this a reflection of terminology. C-cubed, or in mathematical terms C x C x C, three C’s in a row multiplied by each other, stands for “Critical Center of Consciousness”. Adding a fourth “C” to make it a “c-quad” adds the word “consented” to the term. A “consented critical center of consciousness” is one to which the other c-quads have agreed should be formally included in decision making, where it is necessary to “consent” to expansion of their numbers.
This happens only every four years, so it is not something that can be rushed. On the other hand, if your “c-cube” has not accomplished enough to be recognized as a “c-quad” at a Quadrennial Convocation, you’re going to have to wait another four years for such a promotion. So, doing what you can to qualify for that recognition is important, if you want to be able to contribute at a maximum level to Terasem’s growth.
(Linda) We’ve completed the two Expansions for this week, in far less time than in previous weeks, but there’s a reason for that. We’ve reserved time to talk about some very personal and pressing matters that have to do with Terasem’s growth, in terms of building c-cubes and c-quads. They have to do with both “what” you might be doing, and what standards of quality levels might be required.
(Fred) As always, the principle of diversity says that you may do whatever you wish, consistent with the Truths of Terasem, as to quality and quantity of contributing to Terasem, but there is no escape from the fact that how much you do and how well you do it are going to be directly reflected into how survivable your c-cube or c-quad may be, and how much it might be able to do to inspire others to form and build strength.
Humans, especially in competitive sports, have developed standards in the pursuit of excellence and performance levels that are incredible. If you have ever watched the Olympic Games, for example, you have seen what seem to be unbelievable heights of accomplishment. This kind of accomplishment is not restricted to competitive sports, or course. In the performances of Cirque de Soleil, for example, you see acts that except for having seen them, you might have thought impossible. In like manner in the entertainment industry, dancers like Eleanor Powell and Gene Kelly are the kind of very visible reminder of centuries of high level excellence in the ballet, the composers and orchestras of classical music, strong among the seekers of excellence back before even the availability of electricity, and the list of such pursuits of excellence stretch back into antiquity, to the original Olympic Games of Greece.
Why am I bringing up such standards of performance? Because we are now entering an era of transcendence in humanity where only those who can commit themselves to such standards in areas even more demanding than sports, will we want to be at the controls of the societal starship we picture as safely navigating the Singularity. Terasem is out to build such a starship. It’s fully empowered emergence is yet to be realized, and exactly who will be doing the navigating is not yet clear. But, the fact that such a starship must be built and flown is indisputable in the view of those of us who are laying out the launching pad now. In order to weather the Singularity, it’s existence is absolutely essential.
Before going further, let me make it perfectly clear that from a personal standpoint I have no idea as to whether or not I’ll be involved in that level of Terasem’s operations or not, when the time comes. The only thing important is that the best who have helped build Terasem up to that time will be the team that accomplishes this. In many ways, I am so biologically old, and my mindfiles have yet so far to go, that it is by no means clear that I’m doing anything more than clearing brush from the field where the launching pad will go, but it is certain in my mind that the field must be cleared, the launching pad must be constructed, the starship must be built, and it must carry humankind to safety past the dangers that the Singularity will bring with it.
In building your c-cubes, then, keep this in mind. You are looking for others who have the conviction and determination that the mountain can be and will be climbed, in order to put together a team that will be able eventually to climb it. I’m speaking to a very small minority of humans of which I may not even be a part, but who will have some sense that they have what it takes and will do what is required to make it happen.
(Linda) Fred, let’s switch to the other end of the spectrum, for a moment, for listeners who might feel they’re about to be left out. What about those of us, and I may very well be one of them, who do not conceive that we might be able to achieve this superhuman level of ridding ourselves of evolutionary baggage, before a Singularity takes place? What happens to us?
(Fred) The answer is more positive than you can possibly imagine! None of us will be left behind. Terasem’s goal is to “take everyone along”. Even the slightest fragmentary mindfile, even if it has to be derived from the memories of others who knew us, is sufficient so that we will not be forgotten; and, if we are not forgotten, we will find our way into that future world by Terasem’s determination to lose none of us, no matter how pitiful and depressing our lives might have been. Before you break out with laughter or outrage, at such a shift of standards, take a closer look at the constraints that will be involved. They should pull everything together.
For the most part, people will remember the best about us, not the worst. If they remember things about us which are negative, in this future world, it will be with compassion and sorrow for the pain we felt and/or caused others to feel, not with anger and/or hatred that we could not have been other than we were. The Truths of Terasem are filled with Elements in other Expansions that deal with this, so I won’t go into them here, but in that society we envision coming into being, whatever part of you that might emerge into it will be into the midst of those who will welcome you for whatever good might have been within you, and that will be the essence of what is used to recover you and bring you into that society.
(Linda) But what about the concept that “only kind consciousness will be revived”?
(Fred) There might be a few exceptions, I agree. But, if we are to survive our evolutionary baggage, they will have to be rare cases. Let’s conjecture what they might be, shall we? Suppose that there is a person out there who says, “Not me! I’m hateful, cruel, and enjoy it! I want to stay that way! Don’t ever clean me up and bring what you think the ‘best of me’ might have been into that future society! I’d prefer oblivion!”
Then, what might happen? It seems pretty simple. Such a person’s wishes should be respected. Whatever data might exist, from which a personality recovery might have been achieved, should be “mothballed” if retained at all. And, what destiny other than oblivion would such a person have? Only that in some dark, remote corner of the Universe, some dark and warped component of such people who had not wanted to unite with others while respecting diversity, might gather together whatever they could of such a personality and emulate it, adding to their own population of such individuals.
I would not want to wake up in such a society, and I suspect neither would you. It seems as if it might be a “slave society”, ruled by callous masters, where pain and suffering of an endless kind might be the standards, a kind of “hell” you might call it. So long as Terasem were not aware of such a place, it might be able to coast along for a while. In the end, who can say what might become of it? Such speculation lies beyond our current scope of concern.
(Linda) This has been a tough one to deal with, Fred, contemplating the widest range of personal destinies from very strong and creative ones to those which might survive by the barest shred, and yet still have the long term potential to be among the most brilliant of all. The good news is that there’s going to be room for anyone who wants to go, and it’s free of the kinds of complications and expense that have plagued cryonics from its outset. Cryonics may still be valuable for its potential to save brain maps and even permit those who want it to be brought back in biological form, but it is no longer the “only hope”, as you and I were so convinced for nearly four decades!
(Fred) Exactly so, Linda. Next week, we take a close look at the kinds of activities Terasem people use, in the most concentrated way, to focus their lives on what has to be accomplished here and now, for as long as we are still in these limiting biological bodies. They involve practices, some of them with roots in ancient Indian Yoga, mixed with extremely positive affirmations, to maximize health and rid one’s mind of dark and painful thoughts, thus freeing maximum energy for accomplishing all we can in each day to prepare for leaving these biological bodies behind.
(Linda) I’m inspired by this part of what Terasem does, more than I can say. For over four decades we ruled our lives with a hard, cold kind of logic that seemed to point toward an equally if not greater kind of cold, hard, endless future if we did manage to avoid biological death.
Maybe that’s part of why we gradually lost the thirst we shared when we first got together, for living on endlessly in a limitless future with so little warmth and love outside our own close coupling. That, in large part, gradually shifted over the decades to a more compassionate and community based vision of what endless lives can be like. And even more important, we now understand to be critical to the success of Terasem and to surviving the Singularity.
(Fred) We’re on the same wavelength about that. In addition to going over what Terasem’s Truths presently have in the way of practices to describe and recommend, we’ll explore how with time in the interest of diversity some of us will want to evolve what we do into other forms that transcend earlier ones, and how this may map into what we may be doing of the same kind in cyberspace once we arrive there.
(Linda) True, and the second Expansion for next week is about the beautiful subject of a “chosen family”, which is described as a basic building block unit of Terasem. That has to be closely allied with the c-cube and c-quad networks we were talking about earlier, doesn’t it, Fred?
(Fred) Yes, Linda. It portends how our biological sense of family bonding evolves into a close-knit tie, of a long enduring kind, of small groups of individuals in Terasem’s future society, and it touches so closely on the LifePact idea we thought should be the core of cryonics, over twenty years ago, that it seems a natural outgrowth, as described by the Truths of Terasem on this facet of future society.
(Linda) Wow! I can’t wait. And don’t forget - It’s easy to “Join Terasem” at terasemfaith.net if you want to be part of this kind of community and be closer to the heart of this adventure. “Waking up in cyberspace” is pursued by the programs of CyBeRev.org and LifeNaut.com, no fees to participate.
(Fred) Right! And mindclones.blogspot.com tells you all about mindfiles. Also, remember that android applications for iPhones are now available so CyBeRev can be done on the fly, anywhere. Next week, we’ll see how the daily practices of meditation and affirmation with Yoga ready us for mental resilience, in Cyberspace.
(Linda) And, how “family structure” is a bigger part of that than we ever would have imagined. Join us, and our quest for an endless future…
(Fred) Come with us – into Tomorrow!