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This essay started as my response dated 3/96 to a USENET question about CPU performance increases from now to the Year 2000. Later I expanded it to further explore the implications for humanity of the virtualization of reality.

A very crude approximation would be a doubling of single CPU performance every eighteen months between now and the year 2000 (Moore's Law). However, there will probably be a closer fine tuning and meshing of operating system and CPU architectures in the personal desktop world, perhaps resulting in greater gains or gains resulting from both hardware and software technological progress. At the personal desktop, multiple processor units using various shared memory architectures will become increasingly prevalent, supporting both symmetric and asymmetric processing. Networked, high bandwidth systems may begin to standardize and work more effectively in parallel to offer synergies across multiple users/systems for shared computing/collaborative tasks.

Due to decreasing competition and rising barriers to market, there may be an increasing tendency to stay longer with older hardware and software technologies that have large installed user bases. However this trend will be counterbalanced with a revolution in telecommunications, i.e., the realization of the Information Superhighway (not the Internet per se), that will demand high bandwidth, wireless, transparent and almost limitless information computing. In other words, computing for the masses will demand high levels of technological innovation that will create much more than Bill Gates' information at your finger tips. It will, in combination with 3D photonics, quantum computing and nanotechnology, create an immersion in multidimensional, increasing indispensable virtual realities. See also: KurzweilAI.net

Virtual Reality- The Implications

And the full realization of this "universe of virtual reality"- what of it? Does it foreshadow the further evolution of humanity or the diminution of the human spirit? 

The first burning question of Neo, the hero of the the film, "The Matrix", is simply, "What is the Matrix?" In a general sense, "The Matrix," is a computer generated all encompassing virtual reality created at the turn of the 21st century. Yet is Neo's question really answerable? Is "The Matrix," for example, an imperfectly perfect machine constructed reality? Or is it a metaphor for the endlessly recursive nature of existence- a dream within a dream within a dream...? When we awaken, is it yet to another dream? Reincarnated to another dreamlike world, with only distant traces of memory guiding us from one world to the next? 

Within the Matrix, are human beings software automatons in the ultimate "Universal Program," choosing between different "If-Then-Else" statements and endless Do While Loops? What then is "free will" - a "break in the code," a hack, a viral implant?" A refusal to accept what is "real as real?" A renegade software subroutine generating its own seemingly random, new code?

"The Matrix" resulted from a machine victory in a war with mankind. The result was a world where machines no longer existed to serve mankind but where mankind existed to serve machines. Is this far from today's reality? Finally, does the darkening of the sky in the film foreshadow environmental disaster- the final submission to our machine creations- the destruction of all life other than our own and our own lived out in supreme bondage.  

The late Timothy Leary outlined twenty four stages/steps of human evolution or "freedom" in his book "Flashbacks: A Personal and Cultural History of an Era - An Autobiography ." The last twelve stages are:

Mastery of the body as aesthetic instrument

13. Hedonist: aesthetic-erotic-somatic consciousness; receptive and passive consumer approach of the body.

14. Artist: aesthetic-erotic-somatic engineering. active and innovative sensory invention.

15. Aesthetic fusion: aesthetic-erotic-somatic contact with other artists; the life as art.


Mastery of the brain-computer operations

16. Consumption of multiple realities: electronic-cybernetic-psychedelic consciousness; Use of the relativist functions of brain and neuro-electric modeling (i.e., video games).

17. Neurological engineering: invention of an electronic-cybernetic-psychedelic reality; computers programming.

18. Multi-real reticulation: inter-computers contacts; telepathy?


Mastery of the ADN-ARN, theory of Gaia, and socio-biology

19. Genetic consumer: socio-biological consciousness; unicellular consciousness; jouissance passive and receptive use of the ADN knowledge; cloning.

20. Genetic engineering: sense of invention with the ADN; genetic creativity, life extension.

21. Symbiosis: inter-species contacts; cooperation at the level of antigens and immunology; participation in Gaia's intelligence.


Mastery of the meta-physiological and neuro-physical processes

22. Consciousness of meta-physiological intelligence, nuclear-particularly consciousness; physics consciousness (see Fritjof Capra; ability to think as atomic-nuclear particles)

23. Neurophysicist: mastery of nuclear and gravitational processes; out of body experiences.

24. Meta-physiological fusion: decorporated contact with other body-liberated entities. See: "Atlantis."

If one accepts this "classification," then stages sixteen through eighteen partly manifest themselves in the realm of virtual reality (VR).  The creation of VR stems from man's ability, evolved over thousands of years, to create, manipulate and transmit symbols and develop complex, enduring and evolving social structures.

Today, humanity may be experiencing the beginning of self-directed neuro-genetic-social-machine evolution. Standing at a cross road- perhaps we are seeing the last remnants of a reality rooted in our biological/terrestrial origins. Yet, is future evolution possible if humanity fails to cherish and respect the dignity and oneness of Gaia? Will the biological sphere be sacrificed to the deevolution, of a human machine like consciousness that devalues its origins and loses compassion for all life. A fear based nightmare reality- separated from the web of life.

As Norbert Wiener, the founder of Cybernetics wrote: 

"I have spoken of machines, but not only of machines having brains of brass and thews of iron. When human atoms are knit into an organization in which they are used, not in their full right as responsible human beings, but as cogs and levers and rods, it matters little that their raw material is flesh and blood. What is used as an element in a machine, is in fact an element in the machine. Whether we entrust our decisions to machines of metal, or to those machines of flesh and blood which are bureaus and vast laboratories and armies and corporations, we shall never receive the right answers to our questions unless we ask the right questions."

Or, will a heightened sensitivity to the consciousness continuum bring about a more profound understanding of life and creations' oneness?  Maybe both alternatives represent concurrent branches in the evolution of human consciousness. The fundamental questions are: (1) How will humanity choose; (2) What will it choose and (3) What will be the consequences. Gaia itself will influence those choices and their manifold consequences in ways that are beyond our imagining. See also: "First Step." As to examples of possible consequences, see: Global Warming Alert from NOAA and U.K. Is man re-creating the Earth in his own image?

"If you lose touch with nature you lose touch with humanity. If there's no relationship with nature then you become a killer; then you kill baby seals, whales, dolphins, and man either for gain, for "sport," for food, or for knowledge. Then nature is frightened of you, withdrawing its beauty. You may take long walks in the woods or camp in lovely places but you are a killer and so lose their friendship. You probably are not related to anything to your wife or your husband "

J.Krishnamurti, from - Krishanmurti's Journal, 04 April 1975

The Giants of Gaia by Diana Stanley

The Giants of Gaia, by Diana Stanley
from, Vision Quest Studios - The Art of
Diana Elizabeth Stanley


"Until we extend the circle of our compassion to all living
things, we will not ourselves find peace."
Albert Schweitzer

Excerpt from "Le Phenomene Humain," published in 1955 by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

"The two-fold crisis whose onset began in earnest as early as the Neolithic age and which rose to a climax in the modern world, derives in the first place from mass-formation (we might call it a 'planetisation') of mankind. Peoples and civilizations reached such a degree either of frontier contact or economic interdependence or psychic communion that they could no longer develop save by interpenetration of one another. But it also arises out of the fact that, under the combined influence of machinery and the super-heating of thought, we are witnessing a formidable upsurge of unused powers.

Modern man no longer knows what to do with the time and the potentialities he has unleashed. We groan under the burden of this wealth. We are haunted by the fear of 'unemployment'. Sometimes we are tempted to trample this super-abundance back into the matter from which it sprang without stopping to think how impossible and monstrous such an act against nature would be.

When we consider the increasing compression of elements at the heart of a free energy which is also relentlessly increasing, how can we fail to see in this two-fold phenomenon the two perennial symptoms of a leap forward of the 'radial'- that is to say, of a new step in the genesis of mind?

In order to avoid disturbing our habits we seek in vain to settle international disputes by adjustments of frontiers - or we treat as 'leisure' (to be whiled away) the activities at the disposal of mankind. As things are now going it will not be long before we run full tilt into one another. Something will explode if we persist in trying to squeeze into our old tumble-down huts the material and spiritual forces that are henceforward on the scale of a world.

A new domain of psychical expansion - that is what we lack.
And it is staring us in the face if we would only raise our heads to look at it.

Peace through conquest, work in joy. These are waiting for us beyond the line where empires are setup against other empires, in an interior totalisation of the world upon itself, in the unanimous construction of a spirit of the earth." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin; See also the "Evolution of Consciousness" essays at GaiaMind.


Below is an extract from the writings of Peter Medawar. Medawar is sharply critical of Teilhard de Chardin's, in his view, pseudo-scientific approach that confuses ontological levels through the use of  imprecise language and muddled thinking. Medawars' union of the first and third worlds (the world of ordinary physical reality with the world of all artifacts of the mind) seems to beckon for a new form of "household management." However, can the household be effectively managed without the fundamental shift in consciousness that Teilhard de Chardin alludes to?  Does not the title of Ward's and Dubos' United Nation's report, "Only One Earth-Care & Maintenance of a Small Planet," suggest such a shift needs to and is taking place? See also: Paul J. Crutzen's & Eugene F. Stoermer's  essay, "Anthropocene."


From, "Technology and Evolution," by Sir Peter Medawar

Genetic and exogenetic heredity

"...The coming of technology and the new style of human evolution it made possible was an epoch in biological history as important as the evolution of man himself. We are now on the verge of a third episode, as important as either of these: that in which the whole human ambience --- the human house --- is of our own making and becomes as we intend it should be: a product of human thought --- of deep and anxious thought, let us hope, and of forethought rather than afterthought. Such a union of the first and third worlds of Popper's ontology is entirely within our capabilities, provided it is henceforward made a focal point of creative thought.

The word `ecology' has its root in the Greek word oikos, meaning `house' or `home'. Our future success depends upon the recognition that household management in this wider sense is the most backward branch of technology and therefore the one most urgently in need of development. An entirely new technology is required which is founded upon ecology in much the same way as medicine is founded on physiology. A blueprint for such a technology is described in the book "Only One Earth," by Barbara Ward and René Dubos, written in preparation for the United Nations World Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm in 1972. If this new technology comes into being, I shall be completely confident of our ability to put and keep our house in order."

 

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