The transcension hypothesis is the recent conjecture to come from Evo Devo Universe (evodevouniverse.com), an international inter-disciplinarily research community. Below is an excerpt from the paper by John M. Smart of Acceleration Studies Foundation:
The transcension hypothesis proposes that a universal process of evolutionary development guides all sufficiently advanced civilizations into what may be called ’’inner space,’’ a computationally optimal domain of increasingly dense, productive, miniaturized, and efficient scales of space, time, energy, and matter, and eventually, to a black-hole-like destination. Transcension as a developmental destiny might also contribute to the solution to the Fermi paradox, the question of why we have not seen evidence of or received beacons from intelligent civilizations.
An Interesting Narrative
The transcension hypothesis is an idea that has stemmed from the fruits of evolutionary developmental biology. The above abstract from John M. Smart, although an exemplary definition of the hypothesis, uses esoteric language and is inadequate for those of us who haven't the luxury to study cosmology, biology, or complexity theory. A more concise and language-friendly version of the hypothesis is required, which I will (try) to outline below:
It is perhaps best to look at the transcension hypothesis as the inevitable conclusion of the human narrative.
The narrative is as follows (outlined in steps):
1. The Big Bang occurs and the Universe is created.
2. Matter begins coalescing and the first stars form.
3. These initial stars explode in phenomenal supernova bursts, spreading their inner components throughout space.
4. Metal-rich stars begin forming throughout the interstellar medium which has now been enriched with the heavier elements of exploding stars.
5. Galaxies, which are groups of millions of stars, begin forming. Superclusters, which are dense groups of galaxies, form next.
6. The remaining matter around the stars coalesces once again, but this time into planets. These planets enter gravitational orbits around their parent star and solar systems emerge.
7. If a planet is orbiting in what is called the 'Goldie Zone', which is an orbit that is far enough away from the parent star that it is not too hot, or too cold, then the basic building blocks for life evolve.
8. Life evolves through the mechanism of natural selection. Human beings arrive on the scene.
9. Human beings begin a cultural evolution which supersedes biological evolution. That is, we begin to facilitate our own evolution, eventually an act that is done through the creation of technology.
10. Technology enters STEM (Space, Time, Energy and Matter) compression and grows exponentially. (For instance, compare the MIT supercomputer of the 1960's to your average smartphone today. The smartphone is one billion times smaller and one million times more powerful than the MIT supercomputer).
11. Biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology and artificial intelligence begin their own exponential growths.
12. Human civilization, in order to keep up with the STEM compression, must either augment (integrate) with these technologies. A transition period occurs where humans become half-technological, half-biological. In the meantime, computation happens in denser and denser regions of space.
13. STEM compression increases until it meets the absolute threshold of computation complexity, that of a 'black hole limit'.
14. The technological singularity occurs and humanity enters a postbiolgoical epoch.
15. The induced black hole undergoes gravitational time dilation, which means to say that the while civilization entering black hole views time moving at the same rate of change, it see the rest of the Universe speed up. In effect it witnesses the complete evolution of the universe until its conclusion. This allows it to gain all information about the universe.
16. It's here, in this postbiolgoical end-of-the-universe scenario we meet all other intelligent life in the universe. We meet them at the end of time.
(Steps 10-16 are postulated to occur in the next 600 years)
Understanding the Singularity
The above isn't science fiction, although it sure sounds like it. There is real research here that is being done by some of the best scientists and thinkers in the world. Take a quick look at the EDU community to see what I mean.
There is also a huge amount of optimism ('techno-optimism') that surrounds the idea of a technological singularity. I think some of the optimism is justified, but I also believe there is room for more realistic discussion.
It's hard to imagine our current mode of existence drastically altering in the near future, but that is exactly what the transcension enthusiasts are pontificating. What kind of consequences does this entail for each of our subjective experiences? What does it mean for a single human being?
The opposite end of the spectrum is note that such technological singularity results in 'virtual death' for human beings. We transcend, certainly, but such transcendence means that we give up our current tenants of existence.
For more information on the technological singularity I recommend videos by Jason Silva, or the information offered by Singularity University and EDU.
About the Author
I first wrote Memory Worlds in 2008. Back then it was done for personal reasons: I wanted to prove to myself that there were ideas in my head worth writing down. I left the novel in its absolute rawness, because I knew that later down the road its unedited and unfiltered ideas would encompass the memory of who I was.
The novel was called Yesterday,Today and Tomorrow back then. I immediately knew what I would call it now: Memory Worlds. There were a few reasons why I felt the title change to be appropriate, most of which are best left up to the reader to uncover in my prose, including the subtle and latent realization of what memories were. It's a message that I believe needs to be shared with everyone.
We live in an accelerated world. Our futurists and technologists are extremely optimistic. They believe that our future is unbounded and that transcendence is inevitable. I think it's easy to fall into the optimistic trap of a Kurzweil or Silva and to believe that each of our lifespans will soon reach an indefinite number. Why wouldn't it be: conquering death and the quest for immortality is part of the human condition.
Yet to what end? What do we lose in the process? I explore possible alternatives for the transcension hypothesis, including a narrative that saves our intrinsic beauty.
Evolutionary Development Biology
At the point of the Singularity the illusion of individuality dissolves absolutley.
It is the near future and the singularity has occurred resulting in the normal mode of existence for an average human being changing drastically. STEM (Space, Time, Energy, Matter) compression has occurred with consequences that are both physcial and material, as well as philosophical. The conception of human identity is a example of humanity's philosophical transformation, as the precept of an individual 'I' is no longer relevant. Supercities have become superorganisms and the unqiueness factor of a single being has dissolved into the more unitary existence of collective consciousness.
Death is no longer an imposition on humanity in these collective states and other factors of illusionary singular existence have faded away, including time and free will. The world appears to have followed the eventual evolutionary development track of increasing complexity.
Immortality and collective consciousness comes with one big cost: the mode of existence has made it impossible for new life to be brought into existence. Natural selection, as Darwin conceived it, has become artificial selection and the random exploitation of genes no longer can occur. This also is extended into the realm of knowledge: the human race can no longer conceive of anything new.
The superorganisms have become aware of this fate and have created memory worlds. In these worlds they can effectively send virtual copies of offspring to live, grow and simulate development.
This is where our story begins.
Where will the money go?
Everything pledged will go directly into Memory Wolds. This includes editing, type-setting, as well as the numerous other first-novel-costs:
- Professional editing services for a publication-ready final manuscript
- Cover design artist
- Printing and production of limited edition book prototypes
- eBook formating
- Book Trailer
Chapter One Preview
A preview of Chapter 1 of Memory Worlds. More to follow.
In the book Ishmael author Daniel Quinn elucidates a favorite metaphor of mine:
Humanity is represented as a vehicle moving on a straight path. The vehicle begins moving slowly and, as time progresses, picks up velocity, ie begins accelerating. This acceleration continues to increase until it has reached a perpetual state of acceleration, one that can't be stopped by any normal physical means. The vehicle eventually runs off a cliff, but because the velocity is so great, ie the horizontal velocity, there is no cause for alarm: the vehicle continues to move on a straight path through the air, unknown to the drop below.
Quinn asserts that the acceleration of the vehicle is analagous with the development of human civilization. We have effectively, Quinn says, moved off the cliff and have yet to realize it.
What I propose in Memory Worlds is the following:
i) What Quinn didn't account for is that humanity can alter the vehicle when the abiltiy to do so becomes possible. The vehicle can be turned into a flying machine and humanity can soar to transcendental heights.
ii) The vehicle, the cliff and the ground below are all human conceptions: do we even need it?
Memory Worlds is really about beginning a conversation about the future. Although the singularity may very well be the real deal, and thus the technology optimists are valid in claiming their future, it may also be dead wrong in the grand human development it proclaims.
We will HAVE to lose something of the human condition when the mode of existence changes.