The Virtual World / The Natural World

Synthetic Existence

We'll live on ... not through our genes but through our memes.
Synthetic Existence

For all the talk about the environment these days, I don’t think human beings have ever been more distanced from nature. And much as I hate to say it, I don’t think this trend is going to reverse itself. It just seems inevitable that people are going to continue to live more and more through technology. I think the gene-based, corporeal life we are familiar with is just the incipient stage of an evolutionary development of universal intelligence.

Water: The Essence Of Life
From the book Water: The Essence Of Life by Mark Niemeyer. Published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Water: The Essence Of Life
From the book Water: The Essence Of Life by Mark Niemeyer. Published by Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

Already you can see signs of an advent of avatarism. Humans are happy to go through synthetic self-transformations … breast augmentation, Botox, plastic surgery, tummy tucks, etc. At the same time many others neglect their physical selves, adopting (sometimes false) computer identities. Altogether people are less and less resistant to the synthetic. At the same time people do more and more online: shop, work, socialize … Inevitably there will be huge market demand for the technology to create artificial selves, avatars, to function in the online world for us.

Animal Logic
Richard Barnes | Murmur 21, Nov. 26, 2006 from the book Animal Logic. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, September 2009.

Imagine being able to make an avatar self that will look like whatever you want, do whatever you dream of. How ideal! Without depleting natural resources or harming the environment, we will be able to create whole worlds for our avatar selves to live in. There will be a thriving online market to dress your avatar, buy your avatar a house, decorate your avatar’s house, whatever. Every dream comes true, without death, illness, aging, consequences, repercussions, limitations of time or distance. You could create a self like James Bond or Marilyn Monroe. Your avatar could win the Tour de France, have sex with a thousand women in the Playboy Mansion or climb Mount Everest.

Photo by Noah Kalina
Photo by Noah Kalina.

Of course the big turning point will be when you and your avatar can meld sensory experience through virtual reality. Already neuroscientists are more and more able to pinpoint the location centers of the brain for very particular emotions, thoughts, physical senses, etc. Eventually we will be able to hook up to brain monitors and actually experience what our avatars experience.

Photo by Noah Kalina
Photo by Noah Kalina.

But as identity becomes more and more based on mind alone, identification with a body and its environment will also become outdated. Even the old human memes will inevitably become obsolete. And as hyper-connectedness makes us all more and more like one living brain, all ego identification of the “self” will fade as well.

Photo by Noah Kalina
Photo by Noah Kalina.

It will be like the Isaac Asimov story “The Last Question.” The mind will be a singular intelligence, eventually joining other intelligences in the universe and, as such, becoming the macro intelligence that is the universe itself: “God” in the ultimate Spinozan sense. This universal intelligence will exist as hyper-condensed energy in perfect symmetry until some outside irritant disrupts the balance and sets off the entire cycle again with the big bang.

“Let there be light.”

Perhaps it has already happened a billion times already.

58 comments on the article “Synthetic Existence”

Displaying 21 - 30 of 58

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e.f.

Gwen Wahlmann's article is speculative, and to point out that it lacks any 'semblance of professionalism' without identifying anything about the article that warrants such a critique is pointless. If the assumption that Adbuster's is resource for critical commentary, it is useless and self-congratulatory to diminish the contribution of an article with thoughtless commentary. Furthermore, Adbuster's does indeed publish articles regularly with content that could be construed as at least semi-factual and informative. But the fact that Wahlmann's article is not discussing the issues being addressed in the article from a research-based, empirically informative perspective does not completely discredit it. I will concede that the choice of images, most notably the strung-out supermodels, are an obvious and unnecessary appeal that serve no real purpose for the article.

Perhaps Gwen knew that her speculative article would seem inadequate in terms of content, and she thus decided to embellish it with flashy images, not to mention the occasional name drop (Asimov, Spinoza, junkies, and tracers, Oh My!) Nevertheless, the thesis of the article, albeit a speculative, philosophical one, is a possibility that cannot be ruled out definitively. Most of the criticism to this article so far consists of little more than discounting Wahlmann's effort on face value, instead of proposing reasons why her argument is insufficient. 'The media is so sad and depressing, and has nothing positive to say to make me fell better...' If there is at least one thing that we --- 'we' meaning the interpersonal reflective community --- have to wield to our advantage, it is the ability to interact in a civil discourse. Tell Gwen, Adbuster's, your friends, colleagues, whomever, what you are thinking in an articulate manner that takes the discourse further instead of displacing it with confrontational speech.

e.f.

Gwen Wahlmann's article is speculative, and to point out that it lacks any 'semblance of professionalism' without identifying anything about the article that warrants such a critique is pointless. If the assumption that Adbuster's is resource for critical commentary, it is useless and self-congratulatory to diminish the contribution of an article with thoughtless commentary. Furthermore, Adbuster's does indeed publish articles regularly with content that could be construed as at least semi-factual and informative. But the fact that Wahlmann's article is not discussing the issues being addressed in the article from a research-based, empirically informative perspective does not completely discredit it. I will concede that the choice of images, most notably the strung-out supermodels, are an obvious and unnecessary appeal that serve no real purpose for the article.

Perhaps Gwen knew that her speculative article would seem inadequate in terms of content, and she thus decided to embellish it with flashy images, not to mention the occasional name drop (Asimov, Spinoza, junkies, and tracers, Oh My!) Nevertheless, the thesis of the article, albeit a speculative, philosophical one, is a possibility that cannot be ruled out definitively. Most of the criticism to this article so far consists of little more than discounting Wahlmann's effort on face value, instead of proposing reasons why her argument is insufficient. 'The media is so sad and depressing, and has nothing positive to say to make me fell better...' If there is at least one thing that we --- 'we' meaning the interpersonal reflective community --- have to wield to our advantage, it is the ability to interact in a civil discourse. Tell Gwen, Adbuster's, your friends, colleagues, whomever, what you are thinking in an articulate manner that takes the discourse further instead of displacing it with confrontational speech.

Anonymous

"But the fact that Wahlmann's article is not discussing the issues being addressed in the article from a research-based, empirically informative perspective does not completely discredit it."
Yes.
"Most of the criticism to this article so far consists of little more than discounting Wahlmann's effort on face value, instead of proposing reasons why her argument is insufficient."
And Yes.
"Tell Gwen, Adbuster's, your friends, colleagues, whomever, what you are thinking in an articulate manner that takes the discourse further instead of displacing it with confrontational speech"
And, finally, yes.

Anonymous

"But the fact that Wahlmann's article is not discussing the issues being addressed in the article from a research-based, empirically informative perspective does not completely discredit it."
Yes.
"Most of the criticism to this article so far consists of little more than discounting Wahlmann's effort on face value, instead of proposing reasons why her argument is insufficient."
And Yes.
"Tell Gwen, Adbuster's, your friends, colleagues, whomever, what you are thinking in an articulate manner that takes the discourse further instead of displacing it with confrontational speech"
And, finally, yes.

MonkeyMuffins

Perhaps a relatively small group of obscenely wealthy human primates will endure this anti-life but global-heating/climate-change and peak-oil, -water, -food, -forests, -soil, -rare-earth-metals, etcetera (in short: "peak everything" or the general, inescapable dwindling of Earth's finite resources) will ensure the death of this nightmarish dreamscape (not to mention overpopulation, peak infrastructure, peak empire, peak economy, and other similar peaking, anomalous realities).

Thank goodness!

MonkeyMuffins

Perhaps a relatively small group of obscenely wealthy human primates will endure this anti-life but global-heating/climate-change and peak-oil, -water, -food, -forests, -soil, -rare-earth-metals, etcetera (in short: "peak everything" or the general, inescapable dwindling of Earth's finite resources) will ensure the death of this nightmarish dreamscape (not to mention overpopulation, peak infrastructure, peak empire, peak economy, and other similar peaking, anomalous realities).

Thank goodness!

Anonymous

Necessity is the mother of invention. Even if it is only a:

"relatively small group of obscenely wealthy human primates"

Regardless, it continues.

Anonymous

Necessity is the mother of invention. Even if it is only a:

"relatively small group of obscenely wealthy human primates"

Regardless, it continues.

Peace Reese

Ms Wahlmann did not select the images (or interspace images with her words), but as they depict isolation, disconnected patterning, and a swarm which is connection and disconnection at the same time; I see no reason to be so critical of her or adbusters on their use.
While I hope Ms Wahlmann's predictions do not come true (since I prefer face to face, flesh to flesh encounters rather than the typing I am now doing), it does seem the world is heading into a future in which virtual everything would be the new "reality".
I would suggest several of you should review Heinlein, Asmov, Clark, even Jules Vern to remind yourselves that science fiction eventually into everyday fact.

Peace Reese

Ms Wahlmann did not select the images (or interspace images with her words), but as they depict isolation, disconnected patterning, and a swarm which is connection and disconnection at the same time; I see no reason to be so critical of her or adbusters on their use.
While I hope Ms Wahlmann's predictions do not come true (since I prefer face to face, flesh to flesh encounters rather than the typing I am now doing), it does seem the world is heading into a future in which virtual everything would be the new "reality".
I would suggest several of you should review Heinlein, Asmov, Clark, even Jules Vern to remind yourselves that science fiction eventually into everyday fact.

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