Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Technological Singularity: Human Convergence & The Spiritual Implications Of Uploading Your Consciouness

I think I am now officially a borderline case of OCD for convergence. You would be wondering "what in the world is he going to talk about converging today?" I've talked about virtually converging the mobile OS across device categories and physically converging devices themselves (converging a smartphone with a tablet by way of foldable screens). Well this time I've definitely taken it over the top. I am going to talk about converging us. You heard right. I am talking about the convergence of you with me. Human convergence with technology, on the other hand, is nothing new. Technologist, scientists and futurists have been working on bringing technology closer to your body...literally. Ray Kurweil popularized the concept of Technological Singularity - the theory of creating super-intelligent humans with the advent of Artificial Intelligence and new technologies such as molecular nanotechnology.



Today we carry powerful computing devices in our pockets. Google and Apple are working on putting technology on our skin (think iWatch and Google Glass). Companies are working on putting technology under our skin. Students and Professors at Belgium based Ghent University and at Washington University have prototyped a computer screen contact lens.


We're are not too far off from having nano-computers embedded in our brains. Imagine the power of 'Watson' inside us! 


We will have access to all the digital information in the world - public libraries, Wikipedia, public servers, Facebook profiles...you get the point. Think of us all as connected biological devices. Do we have the processing power to hold all the world's information? We don't need to. The embedded computing power will sense our brains trying to figure out a problem or remember information. The computer will go out to the 'World Wide Minds' (which now have our brains and servers connected to it) and fetch the right kind of information to complete whatever cognitive task we were trying to figure out.

Even though some amount of cognitive processing will be individualistic, intellectual open communities will allow 100% sharing of their minds. So in essence humans will not only converge with technology, but also converge with other humans! We are all going to be clones of each other from a cognitive perspective. 

There are spiritual or karmic implications associated with the singularity or human convergence concept. For the agnostic, there is the implication of the consciousness 'living' on in the connected biological realm. Take, for example, Kim Souzzi, a 23-year old woman who died of brain cancer.  She successfully raised money to have herself cryogenically frozen (check her last post she wrote on her blog). OK so lets fast forward to the future; a time when we are technologically capable of bringing her BACK TO LIFE! I have obviously assumed several things as a given...legal, political, societal and of course technological and biological. Is she the same person? More importantly, is she the same soul? How is her destiny decided? Does she start with a clean Karma slate or continue from where she left off? Lets take another example. A tech guy (we don't know his name) wants to live long enough for him to be possible to transfer his brain (cognitively speaking) in to a machine. The same set of questions apply to him...or should we say apply to the new entity that's created out of his uploaded consciousness.

We have reached a point in technological evolution where we are thinking about meddling with the state of consciousness or spirituality. Even Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, talks about God when describing about Google's future direction.  Larry Page started Singularity University back in 2008. My take is that spirituality will evolve as societies evolve just as it has been evolving since cavemen days to now.


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