Earlier this year I had a series of panic attacks over a couple of weeks. Makes you think more about your own mortality. Given this unexpected nudge I have taken some time out to read on the topic of transhumanism. Living in the geek ecosystem / culture you hear the word from time to time along with the technological singularity and even talk on post human beings. There is much to read, listen or code to review online but my online searches got to me to two books.
The first by Ben Geotzel, A Cosmist Manifesto. Ben is the founder of the open source AGI (artificial general intelligence) project, OpenCog . Written with many headings and quick burst of thoughts, explanations and philosophy history or own opinions. The second book was authored by an Economist, Ted Chu, Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential. This was a more demanding read with the breadth and depth of content, thinking and reasoning and sheer range of topics, including putting religion equally at the heart of the book.
Religion and especially religious history would not normally be my choice of reading but I found Ted’s global vantage point, from East to West, believer to atheist, he covered it all and beyond. The rigor of research and references is impressive although I have not had the time to follow any of it to source yet. Before expanding on the main thrust of the topics of both books, I found myself seeing part of my own personal path through the Universe or cosmos being described. How pioneers or those providing a different view point and thinking are not always embraced and often the opposite of encouragement put in the way. Both achieved a person connection along with the big future looking visions.
Both books are putting the case for a post human future, as Ted puts it, Cosmic Evolution. A Universe full of CoBe’s (cosmic beings). AGI could well be one of the technologies that takes us to this state of being. Ted, builds on the thinking of Darwinsm in the context of biological evolution, cultural evolution (which if I understand right includes technology, religion and social forces) and conscious evolution or consciousness 2.0 which will take the the lead in evolution and us humans will ‘give birth to it’. Ted ties all these stands together into a coherent argument to describe the future.
A future not with out many risks. The risks discussion takes up large parts of both books. Morality, playing god or human extinction are all big hitting subjects that both authors rationally discuss from various stance points.
Both authors bring much to think on about the future. By sharing their knowledge, more general awareness is brought to us new or newer to the topic. What gets me is the time scales are not eons away. The most optimistic predictions are a 10% change of transhumans in the next 10 years, 50% chance in the next 20 years. Time will produce the date if ever. Finally, the personal role we each can and do play in the future is brought up by both authors and I found renewed focus and commitment to the part I want to play in the future.
Both books have all or a couple of chapters open sourced and free to read. Invest your attention and mind in one or both.