Podcast No. 59 Posted 8/15/2011   Leave a comment

Podcast No. 59 Posted 8/15/2011

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TITLE:  Truths of Terasem – The When of Terasem  4.7 – 4.7.6

SUB TITLE:  Two steps forward, one step back.

SUMMARY: History has not always marched forward uniformly.  Even though the rate of change, for the big picture, has been exponentially forward, there have also been large regressions.  Could advanced technology be a bane instead of a boon?  Is the human race an endangered species?  What will be required in order to come through the Singularity with an advanced culture and civilization, rather than another dark ages, or even the total destruction of our planet?


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

(Fred)  Hi, we’re Fred & Linda Chamberlain, with podcast 59 on the Truths of Terasem.  Today it’s Group 4.7 through 4.7.6, timelines and variations in progression or even regression as civilizations evolve.

(Linda)  Regressions?  Like the “dark ages”?  Do we still have to worry about that sort of thing?

(Fred)  Unfortunately, we do!  As Mark Twain is known for saying: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”  In other words, history never repeats itself with such precision that you can predict the future, but the Greek civilization marched forward for centuries with no anticipation of being replaced by Roman domination of the world, and the dark ages in Europe ran in parallel with a relatively enlightened period in China, while at the same time the Aztec and Mayan Cultures were battling each other with no foresight that superior weaponry and disease from Europe would wipe them both out.  Even as Rome fell, the culture on Easter Island was on its upswing, and then it fell into unsustainable chaos as the Middle Ages in Europe began.

(Linda)  Now, it’s the whole world at once, isn’t it?  Like Jared Diamond reminds us in his 2005 book, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed”:

“We’ve looked at the types of environmental dangers facing the modern world, the commonest objections raised against claims of the seriousness, and differences between environmental dangers today and those faced by past societies.  A major difference has to do with globalization, which lies at the heart of the strongest reasons both for pessimism and for optimism about our ability to solve our current environmental problems.  Globalization makes it impossible for modern societies to collapse in isolation, as did Easter Island and Greenland Norse in the past.

“Any society in turmoil today, no matter how remote—think of Somalia and Afghanistan as examples—can cause trouble for prosperous societies on other continents, and is also subject to their influence (whether helpful or destabilizing).  For the first time in history, we face the risk of a global decline.  But we also are the first to enjoy the opportunity of learning quickly from developments in societies anywhere else in the world today, and from what has unfolded in societies at any time in the past.  That’s why I wrote this book.”

(Fred) Yes, and there are two side by side visions.  One is that the world’s populations will experience unsustainability as energy runs out and global warming produces massive, and possibly fatal, impacts on our environment.  The other is that high technologies like nanotech will produce solutions before we are ever really in danger.  Nanotechnology is something that Jared Diamond’s book doesn’t even explore.

But high tech is a two edged sword.  The risky side is the potential for the uncontrollable use of these technologies for warfare among bio-humans, or even worse, conflicts between conscious beings on a wide range of substrates, where biological humans may be just one more in a long line of “endangered species”.

(Linda)  Humans as an endangered species?  Sounds like some kind of poetic justice where those who have been responsible for the extinctions of so many species in the past are themselves threatened by such a fate!  Perhaps the greatest threat is that humans will unintentionally invent biological or nanotech “time bombs” that might damage the biosphere or even humanity itself.  If something “goes wrong” in the next few decades, it might be a big step backward for humanity, right into a pre-technology state where those who do survive, fear technology so greatly that it becomes a cultural taboo to even talk about it, much less develop it.  And, that’s only one possibility.  But then, that’s what Geoethical Nanotechnology is all about.  That’s why it is so important, isn’t it?

(Fred)   Exactly.  The potential dangers of nanotechnology have created so many concerns that both academic and governmental communities are becoming involved.  A huge body of literature is beginning to develop through funded studies, all cross-referencing each other, filled with speculative concerns about where it’s headed along with documentation of the dangers.

If the future reflects the past in terms of regulations and controls, bureaucrats with little scientific perspective will attempt to control these technologies.  Such controls will probably do little to contain the real dangers.  They’re likely to emerge so quickly that before any adaptation of the regulatory apparatus takes place, catastrophic impacts may have already begun.  Perhaps the best way to describe this situation is to say that “The natives are restless!”

(Linda)   Isn’t that a little too skeptical, as to regulatory authorities and their abilities to contain danger?

(Fred)   I’m afraid the track record for regulation by past and present government bureaucracies is not inspiring.  Jared Diamond’s book is full of examples of such failures. Filled with loopholes and short term thinking, slow to adapt, turning a blind eye to special interests, as a result of recruiting from those with far too much in the way of conflicts of interest, many programs that are supposed to protect against dangerous developments in high technology are unlikely to do more than reassure the public that they are being safeguarded, when in fact they are not!

Following the 911 World Trade Center disaster I spend five years working for Homeland Security and sadly, everything I saw there convinced me that the focus is far more on patting the organization on the back and pursuing good PR rather than competent accomplishment of the mission.  I suspect the same is true within the FDA, CIA, and all others of that kind.  If a government agency is ever set up to attempt to control replicator nanotech development or cyberconsciousness research, it could be a comedy, or a tragedy, and most likely, both.

(Linda)  But if we can’t count on government regulation, what are the alternatives, voluntary industry self-regulation?  Can we really expect those who engage in high technology development to form independent professional organizations and actually regulate themselves?  The current record of Wall Street, or the oil drilling and pharmaceutical industries, to name just a couple of examples, doesn’t exactly fill me with warm fuzzies!  And the way politicians seem determined not to engage in any kind of cooperative efforts, it leaves me wondering what other alternatives do we have?

(Fred)  That is the whole point of this set of the Truths!  Things can go wrong, and sometimes the adverse impacts on civilization can be devastating.  We’ll be talking more about Geoethical Nanotechnology in many future podcasts, but in this one our focus is on the fact that things can go wrong, and if they do, progress could be irregular, not always exponentially forward, or there could be fall-backs of a negative kind.  This Group of the Truths of Terasem is, more than anything else, a warning flag that if we do not develop strong Geoethical Nanotechnology as a widely agreed upon set of standards with independent provisions for monitoring and compliance, there could be a very large penalty for humanity as a whole.  So, let’s see how the Truths for this week fit with what we’ve been saying so far.

The lead Truth in this Group is 4.7:  “Timelines for civilization progress n steps forward, n-1 steps backward, with n values 1 or larger.”  Two steps forward, one step backward is a simple numerical example.  This doesn’t sound too ominous until one reflects that if there had been 27 steps forward in human technology starting with the invention of the two sided stone axe, and then we fell backward 26 steps, this would be like going back over a million years, to a point far before humans had begun to herd animals or raise crops for food.

(Linda)  4.7.1  builds on that with “Values of n are set by actual conditions and depend inversely upon diversity and unity.”  Now, we have more to work with.  The mention of diversity and unity and the inverse relationship translates to the idea that with a lot of diversity and unity, n can be very small.  (Remember, as stated, n is larger than 1, but perhaps only by a very small amount.)

So, to take this to a realistic example, suppose that unity is measured by the number of team members in a climbing team, and diversity is a measure of the number of different types of rock climbing safety devices (pitons, wedge anchors, etc.) that a given climbers has on her belt.  Then the inverse relationship gets very large, and n might be very small indeed.  In a dynamic fall from the cliff, the climber might be caught before falling even ten feet.

This, of course, is not an example related to fall-back steps for civilization, as this group of Truths addresses.  It’s just a simple physical example for the purpose of illustration.  Conspicuously, this Truth says that if you have enough diversity and unity in a civilization, you might progress through a very large number of steps and still (by virtue of the diversity and unity that is involved), lose very little in the way of progress in a setback.

(Fred) So, where do we go, from here”?  In 4.7.2 we find, “Always look at setbacks as re-positioning launching pads for greater progress.”  As the old saying goes, if you are given lemons… make lemonade.  Or, returning to our example of the rock climber, if you’ve played it safe and fell only two feet from your last anchor point, you can start climbing again from there.

(Linda)  Or, if you’re exploring a cave trying to find a way out after the entrance has collapsed behind you, the greater diversity of the team in terms of caving skills, and the greater the unity of the team, the better are your chances for getting out safely (this goes back to the previous truth).

The next Truth also encourages us to face the Singularity in a hopeful way, with 4.7.3.  “Look also to the big picture, for life has improved dramatically over historic time.”  This is definitely the case.  In podcasts past, we’ve delved into the reduction in the individual brutalization of humans by other humans over the past millennia, and technology has given us a very much higher level of access to information and freedom to express ideas in just the last century.

The last few decades have seen an explosion in the ease of communication and data management; now we seem poised to literally free ourselves from biology and engage in subjective time expansion by experiencing a thousand VR years in just one real-time year and living in the real world from time to time by means of nanobot-swarm-bodies.

(Fred) 4.7.4 says: “Understand pain, suffering and devastation as setbacks that must be overcome, not as fate”.  Terasem is about spreading joyful immortality through the cosmos.  This requires that, as we encounter suffering in cosmic pockets here and there, we rescue ecosystems that are still mired in such primitive stages of evolution as the tooth and claw, eat or be eaten, rule of most of the natural world we live in today.  This transcends the “no interference” ethic followed by the future human culture envisioned by “Star Trek”.  As highly ethical and technologically potent beings, we will find this kind of evolutionary enhancement is a higher form of inter-cultural cooperation that speeds the growth of Terasem into the Cosmos.

(Linda)  That’s a good one!  Like most people, I love seeing animals in the wild, especially the babies.  But then the thought that most animals in the wild are sure to be eaten alive, it just shreds my heart.  I’m definitely all for eliminating pain and suffering for all sentient beings. What about this next one?  It seems a little more obtuse.

(Fred)  4.7.5 says: “Existential technology, the ability to forge self-determination, drives unlimited progress and is programmed into the universe”.  It’s a little like your favorite Carl Sagan quote: “We have begun to contemplate our origins: star stuff, pondering the stars”.  And as we ponder our origins and our fates, we are indeed fortunate that we live in a universe where the laws of evolution and physics are everywhere consistent and unchanging, and across all time.  If it were otherwise, we would never be able to figure anything out!

And, the next Truth gives us the conclusion to be drawn from the last one.  4.7.6  states: “Sooner or later, depending on order or chaos, joyful immortality will arrive”.  So, it’s a happy ending after all!  Starting with the Big Bang, evolution has progressed toward a time when the cosmos could contemplate itself.  In spite of vast galactic collisions and other show stoppers along the way, the universe has always been programmed by the same laws, and its progress is unstoppable.  The objectives of Terasem, to spread joyful immortality everywhere, are part of that programming.

(Linda)  I love happy endings, Fred.  What a great place to end today’s podcast.  Let me briefly preview next week’s topics.  We’ll be talking about the rituals of Terasem.  They take us to the most down-to-Earth level of what it’s like to be involved in the Terasem Community.  Every four years there’s a large scale celebration at which major policy upgrades may be made, and each year, on October 10th, there’s an event where additional responsibilities are defined for the most active participants.

(Fred)  Right, Linda, and the yearly events also break down into quarterly celebrations where particular themes guide what happens; each month, local groups hold a gathering with a defined program, and on an individual basis, depending on the time available, Terasemers are encouraged to engage in pondering the issues which Terasem faces.

(Linda)  That’s all part of why we relocated to the Space Coast of Florida, so we could be more personally involved.  I’m looking forward to talking about all the Terasem periodic events, and give listeners a better idea of what we “insiders” enjoy!  Meanwhile, I want to remind all of you that you can join Terasem over the Internet, without the need to travel or participate in physical events. We even have gatherings in Second Life. The details are at terasemfaith.net. 

(Fred)  Terasem events are a great way to become a part of its network, which is like a family in many ways.  It’s also a fun way to further explore these mind-pretzel ideas with others, in a relaxed atmosphere.  And if you want to read the text of our podcasts, to help you dig deeper into the details, or maybe find websites that you weren’t able to write down, go to truthsofterasem.wordpress.com.

(Linda)  Waking up in cyberspace means making a mindfile.  You can do that at either CyBeRev.org or LifeNaut.com, and there are no fees to participate in these mindfile programs.  If you still have unanswered questions about mindclones, mindfiles and mindware go to mindclones.blogspot.com for fascinating discussions about these subjects.  And don’t forget, Terasem has a priority list; those who join earlier are most likely to make the jump to cyberspace sooner.  The longer you wait, the longer the line will get!

(Fred)  For those who can’t afford cryostasis at this time, another approach to identity preservation is to have a mindfile plus a biofile (your DNA).  You can preserve your DNA very inexpensively at LifeNaut.com.   For additional information on their cell storage program go to truthsofterasem.wordpress.com and take the BioFile tab. Their program not only includes indefinite storage, but the cells are cultured for viability to verify that, indeed, living cells are being stored. You’ll find an additional link to VWR which describes the cutting edge cell preservation compound (the cryoprotectant) they use.

(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)  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.

(Linda)  And this is a personal invitation, for you…Join us, and our quest for an endless future…

(Fred)  Come with us – into Tomorrow!

Closing music – no fade – full length.  


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

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