Beyond Ourselves

My brain was quite active last night as I pondered the reality of Reality. Is an IRC session “real”? Certainly there is an action (typing) which causes a reaction (words). [Granted, this is an over-simplification of the entire process] But I can not be certain if these words are real in any sense other than the fact that I perceive them and thus cognate their reality. But what is the nature of language that we might consider it to be real? But I digress.

More importantly, I was contemplating the fuzzy lines between the physical world and the electronic world. I was playing with a procedural world generator last night called MojoWorld. You can freely download the binaries for Windows, Mac, or Linux. (Not open source, but still a neat toy) And some of the imagery is rather stunning. This is not real-time by any means, but still, the pictures look “real”. One day we will have this level of detail streaming to us in real-time over the net. Perhaps we will wear some special glasses. Maybe the images will be displayed directly upon our retinal matter. Regardless of transport, we will be able to stand in this foreign landscape. And it will seem as real as walking through Madison Square Garden. If by all means of perception we deem this world to be “real” is it any less so simply because it was generated by a machine?

Take one part “Matrix”, two parts “Lain”, stir vigorously. Serve warm.

Now then, leaning towards the Lain end of things I got to thinking more. This time about connection and consciousness. If reality can become that which is generated by a machine, and if we can share this new reality, then in some sense we are connected by electrical impulses sent through countless miles of glass and copper. Now then, given a sufficient amount of connection between entities, what might we expect as a result? I wonder at the emergent properties of a fully connected world. Like the neurons of the brain, independent cells with little individual worth, but properties of consciousness through connection, might not the same order emerge from the connection of humanity? Would we even realize the existence of this new property should it come to be? And if, through global connection, we realize some greater piece of consciousness, could this be God, a higher-order consciousness which exists beyond all of us, yet exists because of all of us?

Particle physics and Eastern mystics are seemingly in agreement about the nature of the universe – everything is one. If this topic is of any interest, I suggest the book “The Tao of Physics” by Frijtof Capra. (You may also wish to consume “The Dancing Wu Li Masters” by Gary Zukav, though I have yet to read it myself.) An interesting aspect of this line of thought is that, ultimately, everything is energy. Not that this is a new idea, mind you. But if we look at in in a certain way we come to notice that matter is not “real” and more than a movie is “real”. Instead matter is simply a state of energy trapped in such a way as to manifest itself in an apparently solid form. In a sense, matter is an emergent property of energy and arises naturally from the mere existence of energy. It is not different from energy.

At the core, we see waves (energy) converge into localizations (matter). In turn, we see matter converge into all manner of things (elements). Elements because molecules. Molecules form compounds. And so forth, until we have the myriad of things we see before our eyes at this very moment.

In this light, it is absurd for us to think that this emergence of things would end with the construction of ourselves. Surely, from a great enough distance our solar system resembles the atom! The galaxy itself is no different. So then, I say that we can assume, even expect, the emergence of something beyond ourselves though our connection.

Let me go out on a limb here and pose this question:

How can humanity realize a Lain-level emergence of higher order cognition if we, the “neurons” of the Gaia Brain, do not connect?

I’ve been obsessed with the Matrix, the Metaverse, or whatever you want to call it, for quite some time. The idea seems to be a part of me. My deep fascination with computer programming has always led me down the path to that goal, regardless of my realization of that fact. But I am constantly frustrated by the limits of connection available to us today. The separation caused by the written word, while at times it draws us and connects us, it is at a different level than, say, an intimate conversation with a friend.

I crave the next level. I want to go beyond the keyboard and monitor and reach into the very reality of the Net itself. I want to be one with the Great Information Flow. Only then can we hope to realize the emergent God quality of humanity – our purpose to become Gaia.

March 19, 2002 • Posted in: Philosophy

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