Podcast No. 31 Posted 2/28/2011   Leave a comment

Podcast No. 31 Posted 2/28/2011

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 (Text used to record podcast)

TITLE:  Truths of Terasem – The “Who” of Terasem  1.9 – 1.9.6

SUB TITLE:  The Dimensions and Levels of Life – Vitology

SUMMARY:  Across many different substrates for consciousness there will be different levels with much in common, and variations in destiny for each.  Terasem uses the term “vitology” to describe this zone of existence, which is fundamentally different from the non-living matter of the Universe, which as far as we can tell was all that existed at the inception of its existence.

KEYWORDS:  1.9-1.9.6, Vitology, vitals, consciousness, life, forms, matter, information, interchangeability, biostasis, continuum, cybernetic, instantiation, person-stage.

Music  – “Earthseed” fades out, as the voice recording begins.

(Fred)  Hi, we’re Fred & Linda Chamberlain, with podcast 31 on the Truths of Terasem.  Today we’re going to talk about the term “vitology”, as Terasem uses it, and what that means in terms of the most general interpretation of sentient consciousness.

(Linda)  We get two main hits on the Internet for that term: Vitology Nutriceuticals offers skin care products and nutritional supplements. And the other hit was for the “Vitology album” by Pearl Jam.  Do either of those have anything to do with Terasem?

(Fred)  Actually, no!  Nothing at all!  And there’s no indication that Pearl Jam or the nutriceuticals company are fighting over exclusive use of the term.  Terasem’s use of it, on a completely independent basis, combines the letters, “vit”, the Latin prefix for ‘life’, with “ology”, where Wikipedia remarks humorously that this suffix is even in English to create nonce words (e.g. beerology as “the study of beer”), and that a “nonce” word is one “used to meet a need that is not expected to recur.”

However, Terasem expects life to ‘recur’, in fact to fill the Universe, so we can dispense with any worries that vitology is a ‘nonce’ word.  That takes us back to the most general outlook that it includes everything except those things which in no way could be claimed to be “alive”.  It’s significant to me that one of Terasem’s Founders has chosen the Second Life name, “Vitology Destiny”.  That helps set the stage for what follows!

(Linda)  It sure does!  We start with 1.9, “Vitals transcend biological and cybernetic consciousness, including all entities with maturing autonomy, communication and transcendance.”  Looking at this without immediately attempting to distinguish the word “vitals” from “vitology”, we find that the Terasem view of life is that it is fundamentally information based.

We could go back to that earlier podcast in which Erwin Schrodinger speaks of DNA, which his work helped to foster the discovery of, as an incredible packing of information in an “aperiodic” crystal, which would in many ways survive the specific organism based on it, through copying into offspring.  From this, back in 1943, he further deduced the general principle of negative entropy, now more frequently referred to as extropy.  Dr. Mike Perry, in Forever for All, has some fascinating thoughts about how fundamental information is to life and identity, doesn’t he?

(Fred)  Absolutely.  Something that you found in Chapter 8 of his book is right on top of that.  Do you want to quote it into the podcast, since it fits so well with what we’re going to be talking about?

(Linda)  Sure.  Here it is:

“Matter is actually a form of energy, as Einstein showed us, energy contained in a holding pattern. Matter is needed to record information. Matter thus serves as the map for territory composed of information. Since information can be copied, it can survive the destruction of the matter that records it. If it fails to survive, however, it can eventually be recreated. This we would expect to hold even if the laws of physics alter with time so that the “same” matter is no longer possible. If information processing became impossible due to changing physical conditions, even including a change in physical laws, the situation might be salvaged if once more the processing could happen again, even if in another universe entirely.

“Information thus has a permanence that makes it more real, in an ultimate sense, than the material world that is needed to map it. Information, we might say, is the ultimate, enduring substrate of reality. This point of view, it will be seen, in no way contradicts materialism. Information always requires a material substrate for its expression. No mystical essence is needed that is outside the reality that physics reveals to us. Yet I think we can see, in the information paradigm, the basis for a deeper meaning in life than was suspected traditionally by materialists.”

(Fred)  That’s far reaching, all right.  We view the momentary state of organization of our neurons as an information pattern, dynamically changing moment to moment, literally an internal flow of information, some of which reaches the outside world by means of what we say and do, but much of which serves to self-modify our brains as we think and reflect on our experiences, thus we literally are information in a dynamic state.  And, the Terasem mindfiles point of view suggests that we can externalize enough of this in a relatively straightforward way to enable a “continuer” of ours as described in the last podcast to survive if our current instantiation, as Dr. Perry would call us, is otherwise “lost”.

For these reasons, Terasem ascribes a state of “biostasis” to one’s mindfiles, meaning a potentially re-emergent or resurrected personality, at a future time.  And, at such a time, with frequent backup of mindfiles, any such thing as death would become meaningless, since reemergence with a very slight step backward in life experience would put one “back in the game” almost instantaneously.  A more common use of the term “biostasis” is to refer to a frozen or cryovitrified person who had not been able to maintain homeostasis, and is now in cryonic suspension, but with all due respect for the higher state of fidelity in one’s continuer that this might permit, the wait may not be worth it, if things are changing so fast that a delay of years may amount to a loss of centuries of subjective time in the cybercommunity of which that person could have been a part.

(Linda)  As to information being the basis for one’s identity, I’m reminded of a little poem you wrote for me over forty years ago titled, “Green and Blue”, and I’d like to read a little of that into the podcast.  You were describing love in terms of two fundamental levels.  ‘Blue’ love was primarily non-cognitive, where subliminal levels of perceiving joy in one’s lover was sufficient, while ‘Green’ love was based on a deep understanding of the other person’s values and state of mind.

And Green is love, But what is that? What makes our world, Stop being flat?

Is it the other, Standing there? Flesh and blood, And bone and hair?

Information, Somehow speaks, Creates smiles, Not wrinkled cheeks.

But let’s ask, If we should measure, Smiles to see, The source of pleasure.

Children love their, Warm dry socks. Some folks like, To play with clocks.

Some see Infinite, Life’s the game. All may smile, Is it the same?

Blue is love, That loves the smile, Likes its quickness, Charm and style,

Doesn’t worry, Whence it comes, Takes the wordless, Song, and hums.

Green love loves, The sight that’s seen, See’s beyond, The smile’s front screen.

Sees what makes, That smile exist, Likes it, shares it, Wouldn’t  have missed,

What the smiler, Must have thought, What was seen; What was caught.

In those terms, ‘Blue’ love was restricted to an emotional level of empathy, in which the other’s state of joy vs. sadness, compassion vs. anger, and so forth were everything.  ‘Green’ love transcended this to include a ‘cognitive’ level of empathy where the loved one’s philosophy and understanding of the meaning of life were vitally important to comprehension.  The entire poem explores this in far more detail, but here are a few verses that convey the essence of it:

In other words, two minds that are transparent to each other, who love both on a cognitive as well as an emotional level, have more than minds that are enigmatic to each other, mysterious and sometimes incomprehensible as to what’s going on in the other person.  It’s a visibility of information, of very open communication on all levels, which makes the difference.

(Fred)  That’s exactly what I was trying to understand, and why it was so helpful to write that out and feel as if it helped get rid of some of the cobwebs.  You glommed onto that right away, and it helped you see what was going on in your life at the time more clearly.  But we have to get down to the specific Truths for this week, so I’ll dive into the first of the Elements, 1.9.1 “Vitological life is a continuum of diverse consciousness from biological to cybernetic.”

That basically says that consciousness exists at many levels within the sphere of biological lives, but the same will be true in the cybernetic world we think we may move to within a few decades and even there, we may find as wide a range of consciousness as we now perceive in biological species, and individuals within a given species.  It’s an awesome outlook concerning what we see coming.

Another of those quotes of Mike Perry’s you found helps give a picture of how wide that landscape is:

“If information is to be regarded as the real, enduring substrate of reality, as our argument suggests, it lends further confidence to the principle of Interchangeability. Different instantiations of persons may be materially distinct, but if they are identical on informational grounds, they can rightly be regarded as redundant images, as mutual backups of a single mentality.”

There is enough depth in just that observation, much less all the paragraphs that precede and follow it, that we have to move on, with the recommendation that listeners who want more will find it online in the Forever for All tab at truthsofterasem.wordpress.com.

(Linda)  Yes, Perry explores these subjects in awesome depth, and yet, it is so readable that I can’t imagine anyone finding it to be anything but a real page turner!  Like an action novel, but better!  Next we have 1.9.2, “Information coded in DNA makes biological life inherently cybernetic because it is an extrapolation of code.”  That’s so evident when you think about it we go back to Schrodinger’s calling DNA, before it could be given that name, an “aperiodic crystal”, and saying that only in biological life do we encounter anything remotely like that complexity of information in nature.  Nowhere else!  Only in life!

On a life-history, cognitive level, Dr. Perry takes digital interpretations of life higher in his book, Forever for All.  There, he says:

“A person, on the other hand, could be described (a person-stage could be specified) by some digital record of finite length, encoded, say, as a long string of bits. In principle then, it would be possible to guess an arbitrary, finite bit string and thus arrive at a description of any person who ever lived. Technology of the future, and particularly a mature nanotechnology, could presumably, working from this description, then bring the corresponding living person into existence by creating and setting in motion an appropriate instantiation. This then is a way that a vanished person of the past could be resurrected.”

(Fred)  Seeded by just a little knowledge of a person, such an approach suggests optimization processes such as are already widely used in noise removal from digital images.  Amazingly well focused and noise-free photographs are derived from what appear to be faint blurs by reinforcing patterns and removing those with chaotic signatures.  We are certainly just at the beginning of seeing how these things will work, but someday we will wonder why we were so reluctant to expect them.  That takes us back to the last couple Truths of Terasem where we talked about the Ti of I and the Qi of I.

The following Element is 1.9.3, “Teaching via software makes cybernetic life inherently biological because it is an extrapolation of flesh experience.”  By that, I take it to mean that a self-conscious cyberbeing with vast memory could gain the power of language in the same way a small child does, but very rapidly, and then “learn to think logically” the same way a human gets this by taking philosophy courses and so forth.

Much of what we learn in schools is obtained through laborious struggling to memorize facts, many of them without much relevance to the lives of the students once they graduate, where all the time so invested by biological people is saved in the case of the cyberbeing, who memorizes the texts, takes final exams, and moves on to the next course in milliseconds.

(Linda)  1.9.4 says, “Autonomy, Communications and Transcendence differentiate conscious vitals from unconscious life.”  This follows from an earlier Truth where consciousness as interpreted by Terasem includes both empathy and logical ethics.  Without awareness of how others feel and what is proper in a relationship of fairness, the idea is that a degree of ‘unconsciousness’ exists.  The comparison at the end of this Element distinguishes “conscious vitals” from “unconscious life”.  Interestingly, “vitals” is plural, as if it envisioned individuals possessing unique identities.  “Unconscious life” might as well apply to a colony of bacteria as a lower mammalian species lacking empathy and/or a way of inter-relating we could interpret as ethical behavior.  We could explore this for quite a while, but we’re over our time limits already.

(Fred)  True, but they get easier toward the end.  In 1.9.5 we find, “Life is not what you are made of but is what you make of it.”  If you see the essentiality of empathy and ethics to what Terasem calls consciousness, this enables you to take these two aspects of your life more seriously.  If they seem irrelevant to life as you perceive and enjoy it, then that may guide you along a different path, to a different destiny.  However, being self-conscious, you are the steering wheel of your life, and the roads you take will determine your destiny to a large extent.  In Mike Perry’s Forever for All, he states this as (quote), “Our basic and, in my view, unlimited worth lies not so much in what we are or have been but in what we can become.”  Very succinct and to the point.

The last Element, 1.9.6, wraps up this Expansion with, “Sentience sings from several kinds of substrate, each of which may give rise to conscious life.”  If we ask, “Are there more than two, biological and cybernetic?” we must answer that here the term “cybernetic” is not so much concerned with the idea of identity being information as to what kind of material platform is supporting that information.  Progress in quantum computing increasingly suggests that we may have far more choices than just silicon or carbon, long term.  Biological life, all the way from its most basic patterns in DNA to its most exquisite neurological structures for conscious life, is in the end digital and thus arguably cybernetic.  We have to leave the door open for many possibilities we cannot even imagine, at present.  I can’t resist quoting Carl Sagan, from his book Cosmos:

“The molecules of life fill the Cosmos.  But even if life on another planet has the same molecular chemistry as life here, there is no reason to expect it to resemble familiar organisms.  I cannot tell you what an extraterrestrial being would look like.  I am terribly limited by the fact that I know only one kind of life, life on Earth.  Some people – science fiction writers and artists, for example – have speculated on what other beings might be like.  I am skeptical about most of those extraterrestrial visions.  They seem to me to rely too much on forms of life we already know.  Any given organism is the way it is because of a long series of individually unlikely steps.  I do not think life anywhere else would look very much like a reptile, or an insect or a human—even with such minor cosmetic adjustments as green skin, pointy ears or antennae.”

That’s part of why the future appears to be full of adventure, for those who find their way into it.  Let’s wind it up with two more quotes from Mike Perry’s Forever for All that you found, Linda.  Do you want to add them to the podcast?

(Linda)  Sure, Fred.  They have a great deal to do with this question of whether a “continuer”, a reasonably close copy of you, can be the ‘real you’ that will satisfy a great many of us, as we come to the end of our biological lives.  Here’s what Perry has to say about this, again, more of a short introduction to his thinking, for those who would like to explore it at more length in the site at truthsofterasem.wordpress.com, under the Forever for All tab:

“There is one issue connected with Interchangeability we left hanging in the last chapter, where we noted that person-instantiations share identity when they can be considered equivalent. The precise delineation of when this equivalence would occur is well beyond our present powers. But the general idea is that a person is a type of computational process, so that the equivalence we are seeking is a similar notion to the equivalence of two running computer programs, which at least is a meaningful concept. In general, the digital model of events should allow us to decide, in principle, when two person-instantiations can be considered equivalent.

          “Given some finite limit on the time, space, and energy involved, all processes are replicated by finite state machines, and, in fact, only a finite number of processes fit any finite bound. If such processes are expressed in a standardized form recording the input, state transitions, and output, there is an effective procedure for deciding when two such processes are equivalent, so that equivalent processes indeed form sharply bounded or well-defined classes. (The equivalence classes could then be extended straightforwardly to more gargantuan, slower processes that mimicked the faster ones but seemingly required more states.) Once again, we are benefited if events can be regarded as happening in discrete jumps rather than by continuous changes. Here the benefit is that the notion of person-instantiation gains coherence, lending plausibility to the main form of our concept of Interchangeability.”

(Fred)  Thanks, Linda.  That’s so abstract I’ll offer a simple example.  If, at the border of one piece of a picture puzzle and the next to be added, all of the colors match, all of the lines in one extend into the other, and shape of the edges fit, the flow of the overall picture from the one piece to the next “continues” with no noticeable boundary.  In the same way, given a sufficient information match, the “continuer” of a person who dies, is placed in cryonic suspension, or assembles a detailed mindfile will “continue” his or her life as easily as we step over a seam in a concrete sidewalk.

Next week, we’ll look at how Terasem conceives it might at some time in the distant future be a community of life that fills every lifeless or unconscious corner of the Universe.  It starts here, with each of us who envisions such an outcome, and it endlessly pursues a destiny that is open ended.  Dr. Perry has qualified his view of this destiny as one which is approached asymptotically over an infinite period of time, notwithstanding theoretical suggestions in the Truths of Terasem, and as also suggested in Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity is Near, that this could take place in less than one thousand years of real time.

(Linda)  As you said, Fred, it starts here, with each of us, so we warmly invite listeners to get a running start on building their mindfiles right away through CyBeRev.org or LifeNaut.com, no charges to participate.  A powerful new Android app described at Personality MD.com makes this even easier, with your smartphone.  By the time this podcast airs, there should be more than 30,000 applications of this app in use.

(Fred)  It’s derived from CyBeRev program, but more like a game.  The two dimensional display entry screen rapidly produces evaluations unique to you, and shows how your traits compare to others’ who live near you, many of whom may the same kinds of mindsets you do.

(Linda)  Check out joining Terasem at terasemfaith.net and go to mindclones.blogspot.com for a broad introduction to the mindfiles concept of identity integration into cyberspace that we may see taking hold over the next few decades.

(Fred)  Join us, and our quest for an endless future…

(Linda)  Come with us – into Tomorrow!

Closing music – no fade – full length.


Posted March 8, 2011 by Truths of Terasem - Podcasts in Uncategorized

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