Podcast No. 4 – Posted on iTunes 8/23/2010   Leave a comment

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Podcast No. 4 on The Truths of Terasem – Posted on iTunes 8/23/2010


(Text used to record podcast)

TITLE:  Truths of Terasem – The When of Terasem 4.3

SUB TITLE:  Geoethical Nanotechnology will be a prerequisite to humanity expanding outward into the multiverse.
SUMMARY:  Order in the universe has been steadily, exponentially increasing ever since the Big Bang.  Optimistic scenarios predict humanity can overcome the light speed barrier for space travel and that every corner of the Milky Way Galaxy will have been explored by the year 2200.  By the end of year 2400, we might even have bridged the gap to other galaxies.
(Fred)  Hi, we’re Fred & Linda Chamberlain, and this is the Fourth in the new podcast series on the Truths of Terasem.  We’ll be talking about Truths 4.3 through 4.3.6 today, which cover a most important set of ideas.

(Linda)  The focus here is on “order”, and particularly how it will play a part in the Singularity.  Increasing order in the universe, known to many as the process of extropy, has been steadily, exponentially increasing ever since the Big Bang.

(Fred)  Spontaneous order building in the universe began slowly with the formation of galaxies, then stars with planetary systems became more and more common, life emerged on some of them, or at least here on Earth, and then over further billions of years intelligent species developed, we humans way ahead of the rest.  Now, we’re literally reinventing ourselves and moving into an era where biology itself will be left behind.

(Linda)  This group of Truths addresses self-ordering in the universe over a relatively short span of time, from about the middle of the twentieth century to the middle of the twenty-first.  But, during that time, we will have gone from mechanical calculators and vacuum tube electronics to computational machinery in crystals, with structures so tiny they are literally invisible to the unaided human eye.  Already, our present laptops are so profoundly more powerful than what we had a hundred years ago that in many ways it’s as great a leap as single celled organisms evolving into human beings.  And, this will have taken place in less than one ten millionth the number of years.

(Fred)  We’re going to resist the urge to survey the very detailed discussions of these subjects Ray Kurzweil has given them in his book, “The Singularity is Near”.  We have to make the assumption that those listening to this podcast are generally familiar with what he’s said.

The Truths of Terasem for this week begin with, “4.3 – Build Order because time between salient events varies inversely with order.”
Early human civilizations upgraded the single-sided stone axe to double-sided in a tiny fraction of the time it took for earlier and less ordered species of mammals to evolve infant care adaptations such as kangaroo pouches, for example.  But the impact on infant survival might have been similar. In less than a century our industrial revolution let us do away with hand-weaving of fabrics, which had persisted for thousands of years.  Then it took barely more than a decade for the evolution of the Internet to a point where the printed page is an almost archaic device.  Rates of change ever-accelerate more rapidly.

In a more specific focus on human history, 4.3.1 tells us, “Events are achievements that alter the nature of history such as teaching, tool-making, language and electricity.”  At the end of the dark ages, teaching was dominated by churches, but then the printing press quickly made self-education practical.  Now, Internet classes provide wireless education globally.  Advancing order feeds on itself to produce even more rapid self-ordering.  Soon brain augmentation for biological humans will enable faster learning with less dependence on biological memory, and then in an even shorter time this may be inadequate to keep up with post-Singularity cyberbeings.

(Linda)  Even the nature of science fiction is changing.  We just found this “world-building” project named “Orion’s Arm” on the Internet which seems to be a brainstorming group focused on future transhumanism’s evolutionary branches!

(Fred)  That’s right.  This group is coming up with a rich variety of scenarios where self-aware sentient entities on many different substrates are challenged as to how to relate to each other productively and harmoniously.  Science and science fiction are now literally “on each other’s heels” so closely it’s sometimes unclear which is which.
The next Truth takes us into the zone of human conflict, by use of the term “victory”.  It’s stated as follows:  “4.3.2 Victory will never arise from anarchy.”  To put it very simply, in earlier human cultures, tribes who traded peacefully and enjoyed the benefits of specialization where win-win outcomes resulted advanced far more rapidly than tribes who mainly fought territorial battles and killed each other’s males and children to extinguish their competitors.

Carried to the extreme, we could say that a civilization of cyberpersons who eliminate internal conflicts and work as one for mutual defense while recognizing a right to pursue happiness for each individual are more likely  to enjoy a safe and optimum state of community life than a chaotic, warring semi-civilization where disputes often lead to physical conflict.  In any conflict, the more highly ordered group should be able to prevail.  Put in more tangible terms, with sufficient technology, human beings, the more “orderly” of the two species, should be able to keep cockroaches out of their houses.

(Linda)  Now we move into the present time, don’t we?  The next Truth, 4.3.3, states: “Exponential growth in microelectronics and information technology is enabled by, and self-enables, compounding order.”   Sounds reasonable enough, right?

(Fred)  Yes! Perhaps the simplest example is that by using transistors to make computers, and then using computers to design better transistors, technology literally pulls itself up by its own bootstraps.  Then in 4.3.4 the focus switches to Nanotech, meaning (of course) replicator or nanobot self-replicating Nanotechnology.   This Truth states: “Nanotechnology will arrive soonest from continued compounding of microelectronics and information science achievements.”

(Linda)  Almost sounds too obvious, doesn’t it?

(Fred)  Maybe, but let’s add the idea that final development of strong nanotech will almost certainly be carried out by self-conscious cyber-persons, devising and testing concepts at speeds a thousandfold or more beyond those of biological humans. Picture a nanotech lab, where everything happening in the real-world is controlled from virtual reality in which self-conscious cyber-persons are using computers far more powerful than today’s as substrates for their own minds and using the same level of technology for design work, in teams coordinating their efforts in a synergistic way.

Such teamwork is already common in everything from advanced software design to automobile manufacturing.  These cyberbeing development teams may be using the same kinds of specialized group interaction that I was familiar with in the design and fabrication of interplanetary spacecraft.  At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where I worked several decades ago, a spacecraft design team could move from mission concept to conceptual design, and then all the way to flight hardware fabrication and system integration, in perhaps 5 to 8 years.

At a thousandfold acceleration, all those program phases could be compressed to half a week.  Fabrication of large macro-units would take longer, but the real bottle-neck will be in creating self-replicating nanobots, perhaps ten to one hundred microns in diameter at most.  Think about that!  We’re talking about very complex machines that make copies of themselves, the largest of which do not exceed one tenth of a millimeter.

Once the barrier of self-replicating nanotech is passed and massive speed-up of cyberbeings’ thought is achieved, biohumans’ abilities to participate in decision making will be very limited.  A bio-human might be discussing a difficult decision over the phone with a cyber-person, in what might seem a one-on-one conversation, but the cyberperson could be discussing how to respond to a tough question with other cyberpersons for over an hour in a virtual reality conference room, while the bio-human would feel as if only four seconds had passed, and remember, cyberpersons will have perfect, absolutely perfect, memories.

At even a modest ratio of a thousandfold in subjective time experience, a five minute phone conversation for a  bio-human will seem like three and a half days for a cyberperson.  At such a time humans are likely to feel they must trust the judgment and ethics of a cybercommunity that is for all intents and purposes “at the wheel” of social change.  This is why what Terasem calls “Geoethical Nanotechnology” is essential to an orderly transition through the Singularity.

(Linda)  Let’s discuss Terasem’s idea of “Geoethical Nanotechnology” for a minute.  This concept will continue to be mentioned, throughout the Truths of Terasem.  And, it’s so very important!

(Fred)  In 2006, in “The Journal of Geoethical Nanotechnology”, Dr. Martine Rothblatt presented a detailed definition of this.  In her paper, “Alternative Models for Managing Self-Replicating Nanotechnology”, she points out that in the development of high risk technologies such as nanotech, those most likely to suffer from unintended risks or consequences should receive the most protection.  She advocates strongly that high technology development risks be consented to by all who may be affected, either directly or through their representatives.  Finally, Dr. Rothblatt concludes that there must be ways to self-finance or audit compliance so that agreements will not be made on paper only to be violated shortly afterward.

If, for example, drilling for oil required insuring against extreme worst cases by the responsible companies posting enormous bonds, and if those bonds protected at the maximum level those who would suffer most from a catastrophe such as British Petroleum’s in the Gulf of Mexico, then a far higher level of reliability and failure recovery provisions would exist.  Oil spills are one thing; runaway nanobot replicators are another.  The difference is profound.

(Linda)  The need for Geoethical Nanotechnology certainly is apparent in light of the spill in the Gulf.  And many science writers are concerned about what dangers may be associated with even high levels of  cybertechnology, to say nothing of nanotechnology!  To highlight how important these changes are, just recently Dr. Rothblatt gave another presentation on this subject at the 6th Annual Virtual Workshop on Geoethical Nanotechnology!

(Fred)  Right!  That was on July 20th, just a few weeks ago, and it did expand on her earlier concepts in a powerful way.  I hope the video of that gets posted on something like You-Tube soon.  I’d like to see it again!

The Truths of Terasem continue with these issues in 4.3.5 – “Technology thrives best in a stable society.” – Stability!  Think of this!  What level of social stability will be required?  Are we talking about the biological human community, where mushrooming globalization impacts on economies, world starvation, projected effects of global warming and the possibilities of nuclear warfare suggest a need for “stability”?  Actually, those are comparatively slow moving and manageable events, compared to what will be going on soon, in cyberspace.  Things will mushroom explosively there, if something goes awry. Biological humans may “go home for the weekend” on Friday night and come back a couple of days later.  Meanwhile, for those in the cyberspace “inner civilization”, seven years will seem to have passed.

Such changes “demand” Geoethical Nanotechnology.  Risks of inadvertent or malicious misapplication of replicator nanotech, if these could lead to an uncontrolled infestation of the material world, must be scrupulously guarded against.  Competitive urges to dominate and “empire build” that presently pit various factions of humanity against each other could be disastrous if they took place at the speeds of thought and action that will characterize life in cyberspace, and adverse turns of events could give biological humans less warning than a surprise nuclear attack.  Geoethical nanotechnology must be designed to detect signs of such dangers far in advance and provide countermeasures.

The final Truth of Terasem in this set is: “4.3.6 – Stable societies thrive best amidst diversity and unity.”  We’re running low on time, so let’s look at this principle in elementary terms.  We need “unity” to safely develop technology and avoid interpersonal conflict.  But, we cannot hide in the woodwork, cover our eyes and ears, and resist change on the basis that any forward movement is too great a danger.  We must permit diversity, or optimal solutions will be suppressed and lesser, perhaps almost “certain to fail” protective strategies will be agreed upon, if everyone must be comfortable as to what is safe.

These are not easy issues.  But they are as vital as they are difficult, and turning our back on them as insoluble is not an acceptable approach.  In the Truths, Terasem’s Founders have given us an excellent starting point.  Our job is to explore all of the interpretations possible and even see if there are dimensions to be added.  This… the open-ness to not blind ourselves to any promising avenue, is where the principle of diversity comes in, and why it is so important.

(Linda)  That’s all we have time for this week, Fred.  But next week, we look at the positive end of where all this may lead.  Based on Ray Kurzweil’s most optimistic scenarios, assuming we overcome the light speed barrier, might the next century not take us deep into the Milky Way, or all the way across it?  How long would it take to poke our noses into every corner of it?  And, by the end of year 2400, might we not have bridged the gaps to other galaxies?  Perhaps all of them?
(Fred)  Linda, the next set of the Truths of Terasem pulls out all the stops.  They make the assumption that faster than light travel is not a problem, and that we’re the only high-tech lifeform in the universe so far.  For those of you who wish, previewing the next Group, 4.4 and those under it, might be interesting.  They’re at terasemfaith.org.
(Linda) We’re inviting all who find the Truths compelling to “Join Terasem”, and test the Truths as to plausibility and consistency.  As we saw in this podcast, near-term challenges of Geoethical Nanotechnology have to be met before we can even hope to expand beyond this planet.

(Fred)  That’s so.  And if you wish, you can begin now, setting up your own mindfiles, through CyBeRev, one of Terasem’s research projects.  There’s no charge.  Mindfiles are explained in detail by Martine Rothblatt at mindclones.blogspot.com.
(Linda)  Terasem is very much like a “family”, structured to stay that way no matter how widespread it becomes.  To join Terasem, and there’s no cost, simply go to terasemfaith.net.
(Fred)  Just a reminder, our next podcast will literally take you to the ends of the universe, on the premise that nothing stands in the way.

(Linda)  So, don’t miss next week!

(Fred)  And this is a personal invitation, for you…

(Linda)  Come with us – into Tomorrow!


Posted November 13, 2010 by Truths of Terasem - Podcasts in Uncategorized

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