When my friend Dr. Scott D. de Hart and I were talking about how to strategize our book on transhumanism, our biggest problem was how to remain objective about it, because frankly what we uncovered - from top to bottom, and in respect to most every issue we discuss in the book - was at some very basic and visceral level profoundly disturbing, and we remained very skeptical in spite of our attempts to remain objective about all of it, and to allow readers to come to their own conclusions.But it was, and I think it is fairly safe to say, remains for us both a kind of black alchemy, for while individual components of the movement and its proffered future do indeed hold great promise, it is the overall transformation of consciousness that it promises to effect, and the redefinition of humanity that it might entail, that gave us pause.
Well, there are isolated voices warning about some of the implicit dangers in the phenomenon, and some of them are coming from Russia:
"While doing an open Q&A on the community website Reddit, CEO Luke Muehlhauser explains that the superhuman AI would end up ‘optimizing’ the entire globe and starving resources from humans. In other words, the AI would suppress humans similar to the premise of iRobot or other similar works. This is particularly interesting when considering that artificial bodies and brains have been promised first to the wealthy elite by the 2045 program creator, allowing world rulers and the financial elite to achieve ‘immortality’ and subsequently a never-ending rule over the humans of the world.
"Muehlhauser explains how humans would become a ‘prey’ to the ruthless ‘super-human’ AI with the completion of Singularity:
'Unfortunately, the singularity may not be what you’re hoping for. By default the singularity (intelligence explosion) will go very badly for humans… so by default superhuman AIs will end up optimizing the world around us for something other than what we want, and using up all our resources to do so.'
"The concerns echo those put forth by researchers and analysts who have been following the concept of Singularity for decades. With the ultimate goal of linking all hyper-intelligent androids into a ‘cognitive network’ of sorts and eventually even forfeiting physical bodies, it’s clear that the Singularity movement even has its top supporters openly speaking out against it in many regards. What’s even more clear, however, is the fact that AI Singularity has no place for humankind — not even in a form of co-existence."(Plain italicization emphasis added)
This "virtual immortality" that the movement promises, and in my opinion, may be capable of delivering, is precisely the rub, for it recalls the ancient texts that I have written about in my books, particularly The Cosmic War. In those texts, one reads of "gods" with vast lifespans... and a thoroughly decayed sense of morality and compassion for humanity. After all, in those texts, the "gods" are wont, from time to time, to slaughter humanity on a genocidal scale that would make a Hitler or Stalin blush with envy.
But during our long discussions while writing Transhumanism: A Grimoire of Alchemical Agendas, Dr. de Hart raised another possibility one day as we were trying to figure out how to negotiate our way through some very difficult passages. What if the new "cyborg" human, the humanity so many see as being the "new elite", actually turns out to be the new slave caste, a creature of human-machine interface that is perceived by the rest of "normal" humanity to be a threat, and hence, a chattel slave to be heavily regulated, and overseen, with cyber implants designed to keep "them" firmly under the control and scrutiny of us "normals"? Will this mean they would be treated any more humanely? Indeed, this possibility also hovers in the transhumanist background, for we already see foreshadowings of it in the quest by DARPA and other projects groups to create the perfect super soldier... an engineered being with something less than normal human scruples.
All of this raises profound ethical questions: do we define human nature apriori as being an "untampered with" creature? But how does one define "untampered" here? After all, if the ancient texts that suggest some sort of genetic manipulation gave rise to humanity, then we're all to some extent "tampered with" (or, to put it into the terms biblical fundamentalists like so often to cite, we're all "Amalekites" and offspring of the diabolical Nephilim). But there are dangers, equally, on waiting to define thingsa posteriori or after the transhumanist fact as well: what if, by waiting, we discover that the implants, the genetic modifications, the nanotechnology, all contrive to eradicate or at least dampen normal human compassion and decency, and to turn its transhumanist creations into that grizzly Aryan superman-butcher so eagerly sought by Heinrich Himmler as his Waffen-SS elite?
The bottom line is this: like it or not, transhumanism is forcing upon human civilization, society, and culture, the need for a profound, and broad discussion of what it means to be human, on what place compassion, tolerance, and love have and must have in human society. If we do not start having this deep philosophical conversation now, we will be overtaken by events.
See you on the flip side.