I am an evolutionary anthropologist, futurist, and science writer. These interests collide on The Advanced Apes, my website and channel. With The Advanced Apes I attempt to explore the intersections between biological, cultural, and technological evolution in order to better understand the future of our species on the scale of deep time. I spend a lot of time on hubski and twitter. If you want to contact me, my email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"For me, I am driven by two main philosophies, know more today about the world than I knew yesterday. And along the way, lessen the suffering of others. You'd be surprised how far that gets you." - Neil deGrasse Tyson (Astrophysicist)
"The purpose of science is not to cure us of our sense of mystery and wonder, but to constantly reinvent and reinvigorate it."
- Robert Sapolsky (primatologist)
“Science, evolution, anthropology, and history are all on the same side. The other side is where the anti-intellectuals and ideologues are, and have always been, the ones who either don’t understand evolution themselves, or are knowingly misrepresenting its implications to the public.”
– Jonathan Marks (biological anthropologist)
"Cosmologists argue about whether the [universe] will end in [a Big Crunch or a Big Rip], but this does not take into account the power of intelligence, as if its emergence were just an entertaining sideshow to the grand celestial mechanics that now rule the universe."
- Ray Kurzweil (futurist)
"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."
- Charles Darwin (evolutionary biologist)
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I think it is interesting to note that the amoeba metaphor was also used to illustrate the nature of the imaginary limit-image in-itself (i.e. the virtual domain, the excessive sphere of language) by psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan (see: Lacan, J. 2005. Position of the Unconscious. In: Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English. Translated by Bruce Fink. New York: Norton. p. 846-8.). When thinking the "limit-image" in-itself think for example the radical multiplicity of views that humans posit in relationship to the whole of reality but which have no physical substantiation (i.e. sub-atomic string worlds, multiverse worlds, post-human utopian worlds, heavens and other supernatural worlds etc.). These "limit-images" don't "physically exist" but they nonetheless structure the motion of human subjectivity (and in radically different worldview domains).
In some of my recent Ph.D preparations I have found this video useful to illustrate the potential large scale meta relation between the imaginary nature of language in its relation to biology (i.e. the nature of humans as "linguistic bodies") where the "amoeba" can be visualized as language, the paramecium can be viewed as "pre-historical primates" and the interaction between the amoeba and the paramecium over time can be viewed as the stages of "pre-history" (amoeba surrounding unaware paramecium), "history" (paramecium struggling in vain to escape the totalitarian control of the amoeba) and the "end of history/event horizon" (the death of the paramecium and the triumph of the amoeba). In this mode of representation the imaginary domain in-itself can be conceptualized as a type of infinitely divisible immortal surface that pre-disposes humanity from ever being satisfied with the contemporary state of the world (i.e. no matter where you go in history you will find people positing or striving for some utopian image of perfection).
This is extra interesting in the context of the contemporary scientific mode of technological singularity theory. The question from my perspective is how should we interpret this utopian positing of actualized future immortality? Should we think that the contemporary positing of humans utilizing a scientific view of the world as legitimately going to actualize some form of human immortality? In this mode we could think of some continuously transforming identity structure that was capable of achieving ever greater degrees of cognitive control over its surrounding medium of interaction (which is certainly what many humans desire spontaneously). Or should we think that there is a general imaginary force colonizing the whole of humanity that is expressing in-itself the force of immortality in different cultural forms? It is certainly the case that the idea of immortality has been around for as long as we have written accounts of human thought and the archetypes of immortality likely stretch back to pre-historical times. In other words, could it be that the force of immortality is an inhuman virtuality that is "always-already" a part of the linguistic/symbolic order structuring an insane "super-human" motivation in some type of meta-historical dialectic?
If we are to seriously entertain the latter hypothesis then how should we approach scientists who are working in the genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics revolutions and their potential consequences? How should we think about their symbolic interventions in the world? On the one hand clearly their worldview structures have far greater actual effectiveness then any previous worldview structures, even and especially when factoring in idealistic positing (where typically religious ideal positing is totally impotent). However, there is still usually a profound gap between the ideal positing of scientists and the actual manifestation (the consequences) of the positing. In that light how should we entertain the possibility that the ideal positing of scientists related to radically longer life expectancy (genetic engineering of our stem cells, nanotechnological replacement of biology, etc.) could lead to consequences that are dramatic... but dramatic in a totally unexpected way? In other words could it be that the idea that we will eventually be immortal will not actually lead to the actualization of human immortality, but rather some other type of event horizon or radical discontinuity where we confront directly the limits of human existence?
Thanks b_b -- I'm all good. Actually the scary thing is that the Maelbeek/Schuman metro area is a line I take everyday. Luckily I have a pretty bad flu today so I decided to stay in...
Agreed. As soon as I read that I had the same reaction.
- Have you listened to the other conversation in that post? it goes into a lot more detail.
I know what I'm going to do tonight! Thanks for the link :)
- I think that this is basically the best argument for "mincome" or something like it. There are, in the not too distant future, going to be people who aren't just unemployed, they are unemployable. We will be in a "post-scarcity economy"
I, of course -- (I am not a monster!) -- I support Universal Basic Income (UBI). But I think the whole notion and societal conversation of a UBI suggests to me that there is something far more serious and fundamental that is wrong with our socioeconomic system (not that that is news...) and that we need to go beyond money, whatever, post-money, eventually. I think eventually it will be unnecessary and there will be a more effective and humane ways to build trust and collaboration between humans and the networks of AI/AGI that emerge throughout the century. Even sharing economy and gift economy models of organization are surprisingly varied and abundant, I have been looking more into different entities that function without money, and there are many of them! One of my favourite examples is, and I have used it quite a lot now, is couch surfing. It totally functions, it could of course function better, but it totally functions just on altruism and reputation systems, which enable a type of social trust without any money exchanging hands. I think there are signs for optimism here.
I think C.G.P Grey's "Humans Need Not Apply" video was a cultural moment. For people who had been following general singularity theory for some time all this is not news, but now that the wave of technological innovation is disrupting basic functioning of civilization in regards to -- I think the key categories of disruption include labour, property, and state -- now it will affect the way people in general imagine themselves and their relation to society.
Shouldn't be too long... I even don't care about paywalls for the journals I've published in, I anyway make the paper available for free and no one at the journal has ever contacted me.
EDIT: but maybe if I was a bigger name in academia etc. they would pay more attention to that act of rebellion...
- The truth of the matter is that our national identities are competing with our identities that don't benefit from geopolitical boundaries.
I agree, but now the burden falls on us to affirm that this process, of our national (bounded) societal identity undergoing a processual transition towards an online (open) societal identity, is irreversible. In this sense what is important is not ultimately the identity but rather guiding the process of differentiation leading to higher degrees of freedom and expression.
- Absolutely. Not necessarily bitcoin specifically, but something like it.
This is my general impression as well. It seems like a general case with a big innovation that the particular content of the innovation is not that important (i.e. in this case bit coin), but that the universal property (i.e. in this case digital currencies supported on a system of open, transparent trust) nonetheless presents us with an immanent emergence.
- replacing traditional agents of trust
Would be nice. Of course it is ironic to consider our current "agents of trust" as such. I think the existence of money itself is an explicit sign of mistrust.
I am more interested in what you think of blockchain technology. Do you think it could facilitate a transition to a world of trade that can more accurately track value of human interactions with a foundation of trust and reputation?
It's a pretty ambitious prediction, and not your typical crazy prediction, i.e. "sometime in the next 20 years" (short enough to peak our attention but long enough away to be forgotten if it doesn't happen) -- so we can see if they succeed! Would be amazing!