Podcast No. 90 Posted 02/21/2012   Leave a comment

Podcast No. 90 Posted 02/21/2012

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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, which as far as we can tell was all that existed at the inception of the Universe.

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


(Fred)  Hi, we’re Fred & Linda Chamberlain, with podcast 90 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.  It’s significant to me that one of Terasem’s Founders has chosen the Second Life name, “Vitology Destiny”.

(Linda)  That helps set the stage for what follows!  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.

(Fred)  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.  Back in 1943, he deduced the general principle of negative entropy, now more frequently referred to as extropy.

(Linda)  Dr. Michael Perry, in his book Forever for All, has some fascinating thoughts about how fundamental information is to life and identity.

 “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.

(Linda) 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.

(Fred) 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.

(Linda) A more common use of the term biostasis is to refer to a person in cryonic suspension. But that raises an interesting conundrum.  Due to the higher state of fidelity in one’s continuer that this might permit vs. the limited and static information in the cryopreserved instantiation, the wait for biological reanimation may not be worth it if things are changing so fast that a delay of even years may amount to a loss of centuries of subjective time in the cybercommunity in which that person could have been a part.

(Fred)  With that as background, let’s get down to the specific Truths for this week, which start with 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.  Even there, we may find as wide a range of consciousness as we now perceive in individuals within any given biological species.  It’s an awesome outlook concerning what we see coming.

(Linda) Another quote from Michael Perry helps give us 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.”

(Fred) 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 details 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 was 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!

(Fred) Michael Perry takes digital interpretations of life  to an even higher level 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.”

(Linda) That takes us back to the last couple of podcasts where we talked about the Ti of I and the Qi of I.  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.

(Fred) The next Element is 1.9.3:  “Teaching via software makes cybernetic life inherently biological because it is an extrapolation of flesh experience.”  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 science and philosophy courses and so forth.  Much of what we learn in schools is obtained through laborious struggling to memorize facts, 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 suggests a continuum of consciousness, a sliding scale.  To be high on the continuum requires these three elements: (1) Autonomy, or the ability to think and act for oneself, (2) Communications, which includes language, and (3) Transcendence, going beyond the borders of one’s own mind and body.  Rocks wouldn’t be on such a continuum.

(Fred) 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, which of course is part of what it means to be autonomous.  “Unconscious life” might as well apply to a colony of bacteria as a lower species not only lacking empathy and/or a way of inter-relating we could interpret as ethical behavior, but a long way from evolving any sophisticated levels of autonomy, communications, or the technology required to transcend biology.

(Linda)  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.  In Mike Perry’s Forever for All, he states this as: “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.

(Fred) 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 realize that here the term “cybernetic” is more concerned with the idea of identity being information than 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.

(Linda) 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.”

(Fred) 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 another quote from Michael Perry’s book,  Forever for All.

(Linda) This quote has a great deal to do with this question of whether a continuer, a reasonably close copy of you, will be an acceptable and comfortable concept for those who may come to the end of their biological lives.  Here’s what Perry has to say about this.  Again, this is only a short introduction to his thinking.  For those who would like to explore these ideas at more length, his book can be read at no cost at truthsofterasem.wordpress.com, under the Forever for All tab.  Here’s the quote:

“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.

(Fred)  The quote continues:

“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.”

(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 whose biological life may have terminated (assuming they have assembled a detailed mindfile) will continue his or her life as easily as we step over a seam in a concrete sidewalk.

(Fred) Next week, we’ll look at how Terasem conceives of a future where a harmonious community of life fills every lifeless or unconscious corner of the Universe.  Those of us who share this vision are the seed of this open ended pursuit.  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 book The Singularity is Near, this could take place in less than one thousand years of real time, to the extent we biological human beings have any way of presently visualizing.  Next week we’ll see how.

(Linda) Find out more about joining Terasem at terasemfaith.net. And the most important thing you can do to insure that you are a part of this exciting future, is to start building your own mindfile with the free tools at either CyBeRev.org or LifeNaut.com. There are no fees for building or storing your mindfile.  Don’t procrastinate! Those who join earlier and have good mindfiles are most likely to make the jump to cyberspace sooner.

(Fred)  For those of you who would prefer to build your mindfiles by playing a game, Mike Clancy, at Terasem, has created the exciting maze-based, mindfile building game for the Android.  It’s addictive because the difficulty ramps up quickly with multiple layers of challenges.  While you are trying to build motor neurons inside a brain, plaques are obstructing your path and you have to avoid macrophages that are hunting you down!  Check it out on PersonalityMD.com.

(Linda)  If you want to dig deeper into the ideas of mindclones, mindfiles and mindware, go to that intriguing and challenging blog:   mindclones.blogspot.com.  Martine Rothblatt will treat you to fascinating discussions about these subjects that will take you far, far beyond what we are able to just sample lightly in these podcasts.

(Fred) If you would like to read the text version of these podcasts, you will find them at truthsofterasem.wordpress.com.  As we mentioned  earlier, that’s where you can download a copy of Michael Perry’s book, Forever for All.

(Linda) If you’ve been enjoying the music that we use in this podcast series, it’s called Earthseed.  It’s the Terasem Anthem.  It was 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 astronomical artwork, go to the Join! tab on the terasemfaith.net website.

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

(Linda)  Come with us – into Tomorrow!

Closing music – no fade – full length.



Posted February 22, 2012 by Truths of Terasem - Podcasts in Uncategorized

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