The Choices Ahead of Us

Human beings may create their successors – intelligent software, either derived from us directly or created de novo – and They may be immensely more powerful than us. One thing they might do, to capture the Sun’s light, is build a Dyson Shell. Paul Gilster’s Centauri Dreams covered a recent news bite on a search for Dyson Shells, and sparked a huge discussion…

Dyson Shells and ETIs

…to which I added a few comments. One in particular is in two parts… Part 1 Part 2

…the end of Part 2 being something I want to share further here…

In the end it seems like an aesthetic choice – do we keep planets and remake them? Do we stay human, or become Artilects? Should brute matter be remade into computronium and the Sun enshelled as in a Matrioshka Brain? Or should we be more subtle? Darwinnowed gene-brain hybrids, like us, are motivated towards exponential growth, but Transformed Humans and/or Artilects will be able to bypass all that and reach for a whole different motivation set.

Ezekiel wrote 2600 years ago “Turn from evil, and do good.” So much of society, its moral-systems and educational systems focus on the first, but there’s no clear road for what the second half is all about. What is good for us, as evolved creatures, may seem flawed and limited to beings able to reflect upon all levels of their programming. They will have all our recorded history to see the fruits of our attitudes and philosophies and there’s no telling what that might lead them to conclude.

ETIs – if They persist for billennia – will have faced the same end-point of Darwinian evolution, and will have passed Judgement on themselves as a species. Speculating on Their choice and its consequences may well help us make our own, before that choice is taken away by circumstances. At some stage we will run into the limits of social organization driven by Darwinian mechanisms, and the end of it might be catastrophic.

…the idea of impending Judgement has a lot of old religious references that I am loath to encourage. While I believe in Jesus Christ, I am unimpressed by the many and varied interpretations of his words on “the End of the Age” and I am equally dubious about present day fulfillments of the John the Elder’s Apocalypse. Christian creeds all affirm JC will come again to Judge the living and the dead, and I believe in the Resurrection of all by the Omega Point, God-as-Singularity. But there’s another “end of days” coming our way as we reach the limits of our Earth-bound existence, and contemplate the creation of intelligence fundamentally different to our own.

Some approach the task with fear. They imagine to create intelligence will be animating the “Image of the Beast”, foretold in the Apocalypse. I don’t think so. If we create new minds we will only be fulfilling the Image of God within us. Yet we must be very careful not to infect this new life with the blight in our own souls from our evolution’s necessities.

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