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A Future History of Mankind: Speculations of a Clever Ape – Article by Michael Hanson

A Future History of Mankind: Speculations of a Clever Ape – Article by Michael Hanson

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Michael Hanson


Long ago and very, VERY far away, the universe that we find ourselves in today was born. For billions of years, the universe has been completely inhospitable to life as we understand it. This remains the case today throughout much of the known universe, including right here in what we have come to believe is a “safe haven” for us.

Yes, the Earth that gave birth to us appears to be safe – for now. It is clearly much more hospitable to life than even the space just beyond our atmosphere. Make no mistake, however – danger lurks at every corner. Gamma rays from exploding stars millions of light years away; massive solar flares from our own beloved star; planet-obliterating asteroids; sociopathic world leaders armed to the teeth with megaton warheads; and superintelligent robots gone mad are just a few potential threats to the survival of life on this tiny speck of nothing floating in a vast ocean of cold indifference.

Have no fear, though. One of these things is not like the others. It could be the reverse of what we imagine it to be; it very well could be our saving grace.

“Superintelligence.” A term coined to describe the future of man-made technology. It is essentially the natural outcome of the very thing that makes us human: our deep-seated need to understand and master our surroundings. For millions of years now, mankind has made a somewhat steady march towards this goal.

We now stand on the brink of The Singularity – the point in spacetime where humans will be able to integrate the culmination of their millions-of-years-long pursuit of knowledge directly into their physiology. The benefits of this unspeakably beautiful possibility are immeasurable, and yet most of us fear it as much as – or more than – any other event imaginable.

Whether we fear it or not, The Singularity is inevitable. We would not be humans if we collectively decided to stop understanding and mastering our surroundings. If we somehow manage to dodge all of the other doomsday scenarios, we WILL see The Singularity come to fruition.

While it is extremely difficult to speculate what life will be like post-Singularity, it seems silly to think that life will remain as it is now. When every snot-nosed toddler has direct access to computational power exponentially greater than Albert Einstein could have ever hoped to have, diseases – including old age – will be a morbid footnote in the annals of spacetime. When the Neil deGrasse Tysons and Elon Musks of the world have instantaneous access to the accumulated knowledge of the last few hundred years, and the ability to research and master any subject in milliseconds, we will have very few problems.

It is likely that, with our new capabilities, humans will cease to be what we think of as humans altogether. We will be transhumans, a forced step forward in the evolutionary process. Once we transcend evolution, we transcend nature. In essence, we become “supernatural beings” – gods in our own right.

Where does this path lead us, and what does it mean for the “inhospitable” universe out there? Will we conquer “the final frontier” with our god-like powers? This also seems inevitable.

Imagine if we had the ability to “upload” our consciousnesses onto tiny, nearly weightless microchips. The problem of escaping this doomed planet seems ridiculously simple at that point. With no bodies requiring nourishment, being subject to radiation poisoning, or even weighing a spaceship down, it would be extraordinarily easy to transport thousands of sentient beings across vast expanses of spacetime in a vessel no larger than a modern automobile. With no threat of death due to the passage of time, the only real threat at that point is collision with comets and the like.

What would our problems be without any real threat of death? The scarcity of energy comes to mind. Without energy, everything dies. In space, the temperature is near Absolute Zero. This means that energy is NOT abundant, at least not in any form that we’re used to utilizing.

In fact, there is a finite amount of useable energy in the universe. It seems inevitable that our next great mission after The Singularity is to find useable energy throughout the universe and maximize its utility. We will view the destruction of useable energy as the greatest waste imaginable, similar to how we view the wasting of time now. Alas, before The Singularity, we are forced to view time as the most precious resource because we are tragically bound to expiration dates. When time is no longer a hindrance, energy will become vastly more precious.

What then, would be our likely solution to the need to collect and conserve as much energy as possible? Visions of stars wrapped in energy nets, and entire planets converted into generators dance in the head. Eventually, we may even convert entire solar systems, then galaxies, into energy farms to feed our superintelligent descendants. With the conversion of the energy of entire galaxies into fuel for self-evolving gods, all connected through an intergalactic internet which obliterates our notion of a separate “self,” it would not be long before the entire universe is made up of a single, omnipotent, omnipresent being.

It is possible that the end result of the universe is what we call “God.” This is the transposition of the Alpha and the Omega. It is possible that, rather than the universe being created by a supreme being, the opposite is true: the universe could be the womb wherein a supreme being is gestating.

In the end, it seems silly to worry about the “consequences” of our technological advances. Either way, we are destined for eradication in our present form. Whether by our own doing, or simply because the universe is indifferent to our desire to survive, the human race will eventually come to an end. Why not utilize the very essence of our species to escape this fate? What have we really got to lose in the end?

And they all lived happily ever after…

Michael Hanson founded the Transhumanist Research and Support Foundation and endeavors to assist the Transhumanist Party’s efforts in New Hampshire. 

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“The Singularity is Here” – Paintings by Leah Montalto

“The Singularity is Here” – Paintings by Leah Montalto

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Leah Montalto


Left-click on the thumbnails below to see a higher-resolution, downloadable image of each painting.

The U.S. Transhumanist Party is pleased to feature art by painter Leah Montalto, inspired by the concept of the Singularity. These paintings were originally exhibited at the Reis Experimental Gallery in Long Island City, NY, during March 23-25, 2016. See the page for the original exhibit, “The Singularity is Here“.

The paintings are a celebratory valuing of life. They are symbolic of the wonder inherent in the art of creation and building, alluding to the potential for the advancement of civilization.  The paintings celebrate the impulse toward reason, innovation, creation, and liberty.”  – Leah Montalto         

Description from “The Singularity is Here” Exhibit: 

In her large-scale paintings, Leah Montalto explores the visible and the invisible, the physical and the metaphysical, envisioning an expansion in both material and inner dimensions. With a masterful deployment of color, and a dynamic sense of motion, her paintings defy convention by simultaneously revealing two paradoxical perspectives.

From one perspective, Montalto’s paintings are classical landscapes, inspired by the tradition of the Hudson River Landscape School.   Montalto creates futurist landscapes, taking the viewer on a three-dimensional journey through outer space, and through imagined nanotech creation scenes in scales both massive and miniature.  Structures break apart, coalesce, and reform as she evokes the spirit of creation, transformation, and reconstruction.

From a second perspective, Montalto’s paintings are two-dimensional abstract paintings, evoking the physiological effect of gazing at a Tibetan mandala, offering an entry to an internal space of reflection, contemplation, and illumination.

With these paradoxical yet simultaneous perspectives – alternating between three-dimensional space and internal vision, Montalto’s paintings evoke an exhilarating sense of the potential of new worlds and new ways of thinking.  Montalto’s paintings present an optimistic view of the future, of transformational possibilities, and of a merging of the material environment and the psyche, and of nature and technology.

Leah Montalto was born in Boston, MA in 1979.  She lives and works in New York City and Queens, NY.  Montalto holds an MFA from Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art.   She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Academy Museum of Fine Art’s Hallgarten Prize for Excellence in Painting, and a New York City Cultural Commission Individual Artist Grant.   Exhibitions of her work include shows at the National Academy Museum of Fine Art in New York City, Priska Juschka Fine Art Gallery in New York City, Reis Experimental Gallery in Queens, University of Michigan Gallery in Ann Arbor, and the Korea Biennial.  Montalto has taught painting at Sarah Lawrence College, State University of New York at Purchase, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, University of Connecticut, and Rhode Island School of Design.

 

Transhumanism, Meet Business – Article by Alcott Evans

Transhumanism, Meet Business – Article by Alcott Evans

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Alcott Evans


Being the tech and business enthusiast that I am, I have a weekly subscription for Bloomberg Businessweek, so the latest issue arrived in the mailbox yesterday.

After checking through the front-page index which provides headlines for every major topic, I noticed the title “Do-It-Yourself Transhumanism” under the Technology section of the magazine. The article can be read online here.

“Harbisson, whose U.K. passport shows he’s the first legally recognized cyborg, was born colorblind. He designed his antenna—which translates colors into one of 360 musical tones he’s memorized—back in 2003 with help from a cyberneticist. At first, he connected it to headphones and a laptop. Eventually, he persuaded a surgeon to drill into his skull, implant a chip, and fuse the antenna to his occipital bone.”

The field of human augmentation is rapidly becoming its own corporate industry, and many can openly assert that it already is its own industry; plastic surgery and liposuctions are becoming more and more common as we speak. As time passes and technological breakthroughs become more prominent, we will move from surgically fixing asymmetrical faces and other human cosmetic desires to programming “nanobots” which can dive into our bodies to perform the same tasks with relative ease.

Even in today’s early stage of mental and physical augmentations, we can clearly see the industry growing rapidly as individuals seek freedom of expression, a right granted to us by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Alcott Evans is a member of the U.S. Transhumanist Party and submitted this article as a guest post.