Creative Creatures

February 5, 2014 in Blog, Home, Tech vs. Labor

I was raised Christian. In College as an engineering major and lover of science, I became Atheist but quickly realized I was really Agnostic. I could not claim to be wise enough to say that we were not created. We could be someone’s science experiment, because we would do the same if we knew how. Then, I started to wonder how we would do it, how we would create the universe.

Throughout the last 10 years I have watched the science of technology and computing evolve at an exponential rate. Now, every day something new blows my mind, usually news media from the Facebook page of Transcendent Man, a documentary about Ray Kurzweil that posts great content. He’s one of the most successful inventors of the last 30 years and recently took the position of Google’s Chief Engineer just to be around other great minds and create even more awesome stuff. He believes, as well as many other people on the leading edge of the scientific community, that we will live forever, becoming immortal, and that we are heading into an age of machines that will lead to the singularity, which is when we can no longer see the difference between man and machine. We are becoming so advanced that we can create all things organic and mechanical. One company, Monsanto, has already created many new species of life, which we eat every day. To these living creatures, we are gods. We’re constantly creating new forms of bacteria and virus; we’ve even created nanorobots that are smaller than a single bacterial cell, which will one day run through our bodies like a back up immune system. The next 30 years will be exciting to watch, we are just at the dawn of the age of technology.

The most controversial and interesting aspect of the new age will be the software programs “A.I.” and our computing power. For instance: there are already people experimenting with computer simulations that attempt to recreate our universe from a massive explosion of matter, the big bang. Meet Mira the super computer that creates lifeless universes; 12 billion year cycles are simulated in just two weeks. This video simulation of a computer generated universe is more detailed than the imaging of our own universe. With exponentially increasing computing power we could run billions of simulations in the next century, creating billions of universes. So, the question is, is it possible to run the simulations with intelligent life forms included? Just like software engineers write the programming rules for the physical elements, their properties, and interactions, they will be able to describe DNA, the five senses, sexual reproduction, evolution, etc. We already understand life a lot better than you probably realize; it won’t be long until we can write the rules ourselves. A few examples: Scientists have already created self replicating synthetic cells developed in a computer. Also, this TED video shows how life can evolve from non-living systems and that we are not far from understanding the rules that allow life to develop from the basic chemicals and elements. If starting from a big bang scenario, we could likely use an organism such as the Tardigrade or Water Bear, which can survive in space living on meteors, traveling to some of the coldest and hottest parts of the galaxy. It is theorized that these tiny, but complex, organisms could be the origin of life. They are found on every corner of our planet. All of these can be explored as we experiment with simulated universes. For those who are still skeptic at this point, you should know I did not develop the theory of “simulated creation”. There is an oxford professor that wrote a dissertation on this subject, an off Broadway play that explores this theory, and even the Matrix portrays a version of this idea, but poorly so.

Now, back to reality, before we can run a simulation with intelligent life, the computer simulated microscopic organism would have to be capable of achieving all five senses and sexual reproduction. Surprisingly, IBM said that by 2018 computers will have all five senses. Also, computer IQ has already reached human levels, meet Watson. But there are many more leaps in science that will need to happen before we can add life forms into the massive universe creation simulations.

So, let’s just look at the next 10 years, where we may see a new video game system with characters’ that have human intelligence, human senses, and believes they’re real. There may be a game in which you have to raise the character from birth. Now, imagine a game that allows murder and violence. Do you think the pain and emotion of these simulated creatures/humans is any different than the laws that create our world, and our own pain and suffering? How will we react when this happens? If we don’t accept that we may be someone else’s science experiment, and accept our title as responsible creators, we will cause more harm than every sin of every person and every act of war in human history. This is an important moral issue we are going to have to address in the coming years; religion will play a big part.

Let’s take this to the larger scale, how will we react when a company, government, or religious organization creates millions of universes full of intelligent life? Imagine when people start simulating the Christian story of creation. They could design worlds like ours and place people/programs on them in a way very similar to their own belief in the story of creation. While fossil evidence contradicts this, it’s not impossible that we are a copy or recreation of another world. We will have the ability to run billions of trial and error simulations trying to find every story of creation we can imagine. In the process of trying to discover our many theories of creation, it would produce large amounts of data. Our purpose could just be to produce large amounts of research data for curious minds/gods. The possibilities and reasons for our creation become infinite.

Imagine if computer science is able to find out exact creation story. We’d have every bit of data about the entire world as we know it. We could view our entire history, record or back up every organism’s life, view all of our ancestors’ lives, and even display the future… in theory. But one thing would always remain unknown, we would have no way to know for sure what creation/purpose we are part of, until death.

That brings us to the question of an afterlife. In a simulated computer world the thoughts and feelings of every creature could be recorded; allowing any moment in time to be viewed by the creators. Depending on the religious and moral convictions of our creators, this would allow for a real judgment day. Preset rules could be used to decide if software programs “souls” get downloaded into a new Heaven like program, which might be a state of bliss, or it may allow them to watch what happens for the rest of time, or maybe even send the bad ones to a torturous hell. Why would our creator do this? For the same reason we may vote for laws that require computer scientists to give an afterlife to good simulated creatures/humans, because we want an afterlife too. While we may never know what is in store for us, we may one day decide how to design the afterlife for others. We can only hope our afterlife will be as fair as the ones we would want to create for others.

On a purely speculative note, I don’t think our creators have perfected universe creation. Otherwise ghosts wouldn’t exist. They could likely be explained as recording over an old tape; you can still see and hear what’s underneath it if you look hard enough. This analogy alone should open your mind to the possibility that everything you think, feel, and say could be recorded by a possible creator. But I am not wise enough to claim anything, only speculate on what’s to come. All I really know is. “I think therefore I am.” – René Descartes

These theories of simulated worlds and universes are where I found my faith in the unknown. I believe our species is in the crossroads between existing as creatures and creators. I believe that any world we can dream can exist. I even believe an infinite number of Human inhabited Earths could exist. This has given me a greater appreciation for all life; especially other mammals that, in a not so different world, could have evolved to be even more intelligent than us. It has increased my desire to discover anything the universe has to offer. I have found new importance on improving moral and ethical behavior in our world. I believe that all of our thoughts and actions could be viewed by our creators and our ancestors. I have faith they will leave some parts of our personal histories to the imagination. I have faith we will not be deleted when our hearts expire. I hope that those people who sin and work to destroy our world will be punished, or may be used for any unpleasant simulations that exist. I have faith we will experience pure bliss, if even for a moment. I believe we will get a chance to reflect on the records of our lives and the lives of those we love. I hope we will catch a glimpse of the future and of our creators revealing the answers to life’s biggest questions.  I have faith there is a heaven and I expect to meet you there.

The Singularity is Near

From the time the first human started cultivating the land and saving seed, some people were aware of our potential. They stood like gods among animals and they knew it. Then, in just a moment of time we are designing new worlds.

The early Christians knew it too, we are referred to as gods in the Bible: Psalm 82 “God returns to the other gods, where he reveals his judgments of us. He says of us: ‘How long will you defend the unjust and show partiality to the wicked? You must defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” Still speaking to the congregation of gods, he says of us, “The ‘gods’ (people of Earth) know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken. So, I told the people on Earth ‘You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High. But you will die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.’ Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.”

Update: I recently watched a documentary called “3 magic words“, it helps bridge the gap between creature and creator in a spiritual sense. After you read the other links throughout this post, primarily spend a few hours going through the Transcendent Man Page, then go watch this documentary. It is likely to turn both atheist and Christians agnostic.

Update: I am so excited to see the new entertainment movies and scientists that are beginning to gain respect in our culture… for their portrayal of simulation theory, or the hologram theory as is now also being called. Here’s a rebuttal to the conflicts with Stephen Hawking’s theories.

I’d also recommend watching Transcendence, Her, Mr. Nobody, The Machine, Automata, and Interstellar… all of these have arisen after I confirmed by believes. I have a sci-fi story of my own to write too. One that will make both monotheists and atheists turn agnostic.

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