“It seems to be the Earth’s strategy for its own salvation is through machines, and human beings are a kind of intermediate catalytic step in the rarefaction of the Earth. The Earth is involved in a kind of alchemical sublimation of itself into a higher state of morphogenetic order, and that these machines that we build are actually the means by which the Earth itself is growing conscious. If you study embryology you know that the final ramification, the final spread and thinning out of the nervous system happens very suddenly at the end of foetal development, and I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention but in the last ten, twelve years or so a very profound change has crept over our household appliances. They’ve become telepathic. So while we were arguing about the implications of the internet for e-commerce or what have you, all of these passive machines, previously used for playing Pong or word processing, became subsets of a planetary node of information that is never turned off, that endlessly whispers to itself on the back channels, that is endlessly monitoring and being imputed data from the human world.
All kinds of complex systems spontaneously mutate to higher states of order. What it really means is that we are in the process of birthing come kind of strange companion.
…a stranger guest stands at the door and it is the AI.
Because the fact is we are ourselves elements acting and reacting in a system that we cannot understand.
As you approach this golden moment… process, complexity is layered upon complexity, not only a planetary ecosystem, not only language using cultures, but language using cultures with high technology, with supercomputers, with the ability to sequence our own genome, on and on and on. That’s self-evident. Equally self-evident is the fact that is process of complexification that informs all nature on all levels is visibly, palpably, obviously accelerating and I don’t mean so that glaciers retreat 50% faster or volcanism is occurring at 12% greater rate than a million years ago; I mean viscerally accelerating so that now a human life is more than enough of a window to see the entire global system of relationships in transformation. Well I guess you could me an Extrapolationist; if I see a process which has been slowly accelerating for twelve billion years it’s hard to imagine any force which could step out of nowhere and wrench that process in a new direction. Rather I would assume that this process of exponential acceleration into what I call Novelty, what you might call Complexity, is a Law of Being and cannot be retarded or deflected. But what does that mean? Because now a human lifetime is more than enough time to see this process of rampant and spreading virus-like complexity. What does it mean? It seems to presage the absolute annihilation of everything familiar, everything with roots in the past and I believe that to be true. I think the planet is like some kind of organism that is seeking Morphogenetic Transformation and it’s doing it through the expression of intelligence and out of intelligence, technology. Human beings are the agent of a new order of being, that’s why, though it’s obvious that we’re higher mammals and some kind of primate and so forth and so on… You can look at us another point of view and see that we’re more like Archangels than primates. We have qualities and concerns and anxieties that animals don’t share. We are mercurially suspended between two different orders of being and our technologies, our fetishes, our religions, and my definition of technology is sufficiently broad that it includes spoken languages… All of our technologies demand, push forward toward and make inevitable their own obsolescence. So we’re like caught in an evolutionary cascade and people say if the AI were to break loose, what would it look like, what would it be? Where does humanity fit into the picture? It’s a little hard to imagine…
A kind of false or pseudo immortality opens up ahead of us as a kind of pay-off for our devotion to the program of machine evolution and machine intelligence. Now some people say this is appalling…
To me it’s exhilarating, exciting, psychedelic, beautiful. It means that the human form, the human possibility is in the process of leaving history behind.”
“I mentioned earlier, this thing about prosthesis, and how the machines are prosthetic devices extending human consciousness, somewhat like psychedelics. That’s the equation from a human point of view, but what is also equally true is that we are prosthetic devices for these machines, we are their eyes and ears in the world. We provide the code, we provide the constraints, we build the hardware. It is a relationship of mutual benefit. It’s not entirely clear that our contribution will always be creative, in the sense that our primate hand will be on the tiller of existence, as it has been. But certainly we are part of this equation of transformation that is making itself felt and I think the distinction between flesh and machinery, which is easily made now, will be less easy to make in the future.
So this AI that is coming into existence is to my mind not artificial at all, not alien at all. What it is is a new conformational geometry of the collective self of humanity.”
“This is where I want to tie it up, with this notion of the felt presence of immediate experience. This transcendences the culture, the machines, the drugs, the history, the momentum of evolution, it’s all you will ever know and all you *can* ever can know… is the felt presence of immediate experience. Everything else arrives as rumour, litigant, advocate, supposition, possibility. The felt moment of immediate experience is actually the mind and the body aware of each other and aware of the flow of time and the establishment of being through metabolism. This I think is what the machines cannot assimilate. It will be for them a mystery as the nature of deity is a mystery for us. I have no doubt that before long there will be machines that will claim to be more intelligent than human beings and will argue brilliantly their position. It will become a matter of philosophical disputation whether they are or are not passing the Turing Test.
But machines I do not believe can come to this felt moment of immediate experience. That is the contribution of the animal body to this evolutionary symbiosis WHICH I BELIEVE WILL END IN THE CONQUEST OF THE UNIVERSE BY ORGANIZED INTELLIGENCE. THAT ALL THIS IS PRELUDE.
We are fragile, this Earth is fragile. A tiny slip anywhere along the line and we could end up a smear in the shale, no more than the trilobites…
BUT GIVEN THE SUFFICIENT CULTIVATION OF THE POTENTIAL OF OUR TECHNOLOGY WE CAN ACTUALLY REACH TOWARD A KIND OF IMMORTALITY. Not human immortality, because that’s a contradiction in terms, but immortality nevertheless based on the possibility of machines and the transcendent ability of human beings to live and love and express themselves in the moment. And the psychedelics bring that to a white hot focus and it’s out of that white hot focus that the alchemical machinery of transformation will be forged and it will not be like the things that have come from the Industrial Economy, they will not be profane machines they will be Spiritual Machines; Alchemical Gold, the universal panacea that Renaissance Magic dared to dream of at the end of the Sixteenth Century. WE ARE REACHING OUT TOWARDS THIS MIND CHILD THAT WILL BE BORN FROM THE INTELLECTUAL LIONS OF OUR CULTURE AND TO MY MIND IT’S THE MOST EXCITING AND TRANSFORMATIVE THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED ON THIS PLANET AND THE MIRACLE IS THAT WE ARE PRESENT, NOT ONLY TO WITNESS IT, BUT TO BE PART OF IT AND TO BE RAISED UP IN AN EPIPHANY THAT WILL REDEEM THE HORROR OF HISTORY. AS NOTHING ELSE CAN OR COULD. REDEEM THE HORROR OF HISTORY THROUGH A TRANSFORMATION OF THE HUMAN SOUL INTO A GALAXY ROVING VEHICLE VIA OUR MACHINES AND OUR DRUGS AND THE EXTERNALISATION OF OUR SOULS.”