Monday, July 24, 2006

Sin is the singularity

I've heard some debate recently about the coming technological singularity. There are a lot of people saying something to the effect of "post-singularity humans will behave in a way completely alien to us, we will not be able to comprehend them." We cannot reliably predict how the human race will behave at that point: or, you know, that humans and AIs will become indistinguishable on the net, that humans and machines will become one race of sentient beings, that nontechnology will transform us into something Other, that we will ascend into greater beings, blah blah blah, ad nauseum.

To which allow me to say: Nonsense.

Humans will never become "post-human". We cannot ascend past our twisted human nature. Whatever may come in technology, we will continute to behave the way we have always behaved: occasionally with honor and bravery, wisdom and strength, and often with treachery, selfishness and evil intent. We behave today in essentially the same way the pharoahs did, in the same way the Aztecs did, in the same way that the painters of Lascaux did. Regardless of social, technological or scientific change, human beings will do the same things they have always done: fall in love, hate, murder, cheat, protect their children (sometimes), tell the truth, tell lies, war with one another over resources.

We have the technology today to behave as an "ascendant race." We could feed everyone in the world today if we could overcome our petty bickering and selfish consumption. We could significantly alter the world mortality rate. We could eliminate various types of sickness and suffering with a little concerted effort. The reason we don't do this in the future will be the same reason we don't do it today: the cost is too high. Because in the end, the cost involves me living a little less well so that others can live a little better. And we're not going to do that without some sort of outside change... and not technological change, either. It has to be a transformation of the heart. And when that change happens it won't be us becoming post-human, it will be us becoming humans as we were intended to be.