Podcast No. 55 Posted 7/18/2011   Leave a comment

Podcast No. 55 Posted 7/18/2011

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TITLE:  The When of Terasem  4.3-4.3.6

SUBTITLE: Geoethical Nanotechnology the 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.

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

 (Fred)  Hi, we’re Fred & Linda Chamberlain, with podcast 55 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 coming technological Singularity.  Increasing order in the universe, known to many as the process of extropy, has been steadily, exponentially increasing ever since the Big Bang that got our party rolling.

(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 on that sliding scale.  Now, we’re literally reinventing ourselves and moving into an era where biology itself will soon be left behind.

(Linda)  Ray Kurzweil’s short definition of the technological Singularity, is that it is that point in time when humans transcend biology.   At first approach, that sounds like something that couldn’t possibly happen in our lifetime!

(Fred)  But today’s podcast will help us see how this is not only possible, but inescapeable!  This set of the 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.

(Linda)  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.  In his book, The Singularity is Near, Kurzweil explains it nicely:

“Exponential growth is seductive, starting out slowly and virtually unnoticeably, but beyond the knee of the curve it turns explosive and profoundly transformative.  The future is widely misunderstood.  Our forebears expected it to be pretty much like their present, which had been pretty much like their past.  Exponential trends did exist one thousand years ago, but they were at that very early stage in which they were so flat and so slow that they looked like no trend at all.  As a result, an observer’s expectation of an unchanged future was fulfilled.  Today, we anticipate continuous technological progress and the social repercussions that follow.  But the future will be far more surprising than most people realize, because few observers have truly internalized the implications of the fact that the rate of change itself is accelerating.

“Most long-range forecasts of what is technically feasible in future time periods dramatically underestimate the power of future developments because they are based on what I call the “intuitive linear” view of history rather than the “historical exponential” view.  My models show that we are doubling the paradigm-shift rate every decade, as I will discuss in the next chapter.  Thus the twentieth century was gradually speeding up to today’s rate of progress; its achievements, therefore, were equivalent to about twenty years of progress at the rate in 2000.  We’ll make another twenty years of progress in just fourteen years (by 2014), and then do the same again in only seven years.  To express this another way, we won’t experience one hundred years of technological advance in the twenty-first century; we will witness on the order of twenty thousand years of progress (again, when measured by today’s rate of progress), or about one thousand times greater than what was achieved in the twentieth century.”

(Fred)  That leads us right into the Truths of Terasem for this week, beginning 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 Internet to evolve 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 builds on the phrase “salient events” from the last Truth, and 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 and effectively withheld from the lower classes.  But then the printing press quickly made self-education practical and with it the European enlightenment created a tsunami in human advances.  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.  For example, there’s a “world-building” project named “Orion’s Arm” on the Internet which seems to be a brainstorming group focused on future transhumanism’s evolutionary branches! 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.

(Fred)  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?  Unless we add the idea that final development of strong nanotechnology will almost certainly be carried out by self-conscious cyber-persons, devising and testing concepts at speeds a thousand-fold 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.

(Fred)  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 thousand-fold 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 like a one-on-one conversation, but the cyberperson could be discussing how to respond to tough questions 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 thousand-fold 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 Geoethical Nanotechnology.  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 oil spills, nuclear waste disposal, or the burn-off of rainforests, 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 so apparent in light of today’s challenges to keeping our beautiful blue green earth from turning into a relative hell like Venus, much less the political and social unrest that encompasses most of our human cultures today.  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, Martine Rothblatt gave another presentation on this subject in 2010 at the 6th Annual Virtual Workshop on Geoethical Nanotechnology!  That presentation expanded on her earlier concepts in a powerful way.  I hope the video of that gets posted on something like U-Tube.  I’d like to see it again!

(Fred)  Me too!  The Truths of Terasem continue with these issues in 4.3.5 – “Technology thrives best in a stable society.” – Stability!  Think about 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’ll 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 life-form 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.net.

(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.  Join us!  We need your energy and strength to build this vision of a safer and better future for us all.

(Fred)  Find out more about joining Terasem at terasemfaith.net. “Waking up in cyberspace” can be pursued by way of CyBeRev.org or LifeNaut.com, no fees to participate.  And if you want to preserve your DNA very inexpensively, you can do that at LifeNaut.com, too.   For those who can’t afford cryostasis at this time, the most practical approach to identity preservation is to have a mindfile plus a biofile (your DNA).  Go to truthsofterasem.wordpress.com and take the BioFile tab for additional information on the cell storage program. The program not only includes indefinite storage of the cells, but they are cultured for viability to verify that indeed, ‘living cells’ are being stored. There is an additional link to VWR which describes the ‘cutting edge’ cell preservation compound (the cryoprotectant) used.

(Linda)  Again, and we can’t say it often enough, big kudos to Mike Clancy, at Terasem, who created that challenging, fun and addictive mindfile building game for the Android. The multiple layers of the game ramp up the challenge very quickly.  While you try to build motor neurons within a brain, you encounter plaques that obstruct your path and you have to dodge macrophages that are hunting you down.  Check it out at PersonalityMD.com.

(Fred)  And if you still need to blow a few more of your neurons, go to mindclones.blogspot.com for fascinating discussions about mindclones, mindfiles and mindware.  And if you want to read the text of our podcasts, to help to dig deeper into the details, or maybe find websites that you weren’t able to write down, go to truthsofterasem.wordpress.com.

(Linda)  If you’ve been enjoying the music that we use on this podcast series, which runs full length at the end of each podcast,  it’s called Earthseed.  It’s the Terasem Anthem written by Martine Rothblatt, who also plays the flute and the keyboard.  If you’d like to experience that music in a video, with spectacular inspiring artwork, go to the Join! tab on the terasemfaith.net website.

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

(Linda)  Come with us – into Tomorrow!

Closing music – no fade – full length.

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Posted July 19, 2011 by Truths of Terasem - Podcasts in Uncategorized

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