When Dr. Scott D. de Hart and I were researching and writing Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas, one of the areas of research we concentrated upon was the growing field of what we called “alchemo-mineral” man, the fusion of man and machine, and hence, of man and the minerals represented in computer chips. The transhumanist quest, we averred, was in part a quest to create, via such chimerical fusions, a kind of “group” or “hive’ consciousness rather like the Borg in Star Trek, the Next Generation: resistance is futile, you will be assimilated. There, in the Borg collective, the individual’s consciousness is not so much suppressed, but rather, overwhelmed by the equal presence to his or her mind of scores, if not hundreds or thousands of other individual consciousnesses. It is like that conversation we all have in our own minds, with that voice that is another part of our self, only in this case, it’s not just one voice, or even the “two” voices of a schizophrenic, nor the several voices of a multiple personality disorder.
It is literally hundreds if not thousands of voices.
Now, almost no sooner than the ink on our book is dry, than that future seems to be one frightening step closer:
Note now this one paragraph, pregnant with frightening implications:
“It was both exciting and eerie to watch an imagined action from my brain get translated into actual action by another brain,” Rao said. “This was basically a one-way flow of information from my brain to his. The next step is having a more equitable two-way conversation directly between the two brains.” (Emphasis added)
Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, the two-way flow of information I can immediately see being of benefit to the military: the ability to see and hear, for example, what your colleagues on the battlefield are seeing and hearing. OK. I get that. This whole area of research would be of interest to, and we know is at some level being funded by, the military industrial complex.
It’s that one way flow of information that bothers me. Just how one way was it? It raises the possibility of a technology able to override an individual’s own will, and perhaps to a certain extent, their own interior consciousness and, to a certain extent, their interior assent or dissent to such externally commanded actions. That prospect, we know, would be of extreme interest to all sorts of repellent people dreaming of technetronic societies and wonders.
Even worse, why would the “one-way flow of information” even have to come from another human at all?
In Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas, we pointed out that the transhumanist singularity comes in a variety of apocalyptic shapes and sizes, the heaven scenario of people like Ray Kruzweil, the “muddle through” scenario which has elements both of a heavenly and a hellish transformation of human culture and society, and the Hell scenario, where the whole technological transformation is one gigantic nightmare.
Now, historically, human technological progress has usually resulted in the “muddle through” middle-of-the-road scenario. Technological progress has given us medical capabilities far beyond what existed prior to the industrial revolution. It also gave us the hell of poison gas during World War One. So the track record is mixed.
But when I contemplate the alchemo-mineral man and the “one way flow of information,” I increasingly think that these people, smiling in their laboratory chairs and producing such bizarre experiments, are unknowingly (or perhaps, knowingly) working to transform human existence into a nightmare.
Time, and our vigilance, will tell.
See you on the flip side.