I want to start this post by asking: what is awareness?
I know that seems vague because we all know that awareness isn’t a tangible thing to reach out and grab—but at the same time, it’s not magic. It is something real.
So what about the phrase “I think, therefore I am,” as Rene Descartes said; is that the answer? I’m aware that it’s happening, therefore awareness is something?
Well, instead of defining awareness just yet, let’s try this approach. I want you to think about how long will it take the entire world, with its global Internet, media, and telecommunications system, to be as fast as the human nervous system? How long will it take the collective world to be as interconnected as the synapses of your brain?
Twenty-five, fifty, maybe a hundred years?
Given enough time and with absolute connectivity, would everything that is lucid in the world become part of a massive unified portal—a global intelligence or a global being where each of us would serve as a neuron or nerve ending?
Whoa, is that even possible?
Could it be that the speed at which everything connects is all that it takes for this entire system to become a fully conscious superorganism?
Well, it may not be that simple, considering the complexity of the brain. Many parts of the brain have yet to appear in our global collective, but there are similarities; like the information retrieval or “Google”, part of the brain. Even through telephones, computers, and TV ratings, you can be seen as a neuron responding to stimulus.
Political news can send the political forums into a panic, or an earthquake can activate a plethora of healing entities oozing into the affected area. Add it all up and it’s like a global brain responding to stimuli. Of course, it’s not in real time yet, but it’s growing, connections are getting faster, and I’m sure there are many flavors of technology yet to be developed.
However, that raises an even greater question: does awareness really depend on a particular neural arrangement in order to occur? If it is not dependent on neural arrangement, then is awareness also a phenomenon occurring independent of this animal body?
If it is, then let me ask again: how long do we have before this worldwide system of electronic communications becomes self-aware in its unification—at least enough for this communion to be seen as an entity in and of itself?
Of course that may be hard to see at the time of this writing. So far, this global entity has proven itself to be as flighty as a flock of birds. It is without focus or planning. It has no supreme leadership. It’s incongruent and it’s certainly not fully integrated, so my next question is…where’s it going?
In other words: if this global entity were allowed to develop unhindered for two thousand years, would it become a transhuman superorganism, and what would such a multi-consciousness look like?
That’s a question for which there’s no clear answer, but no matter what the future holds, when all our communications begin to occur superfast or with absolute immediacy, we can, at the very least, look at this global system as a lucid, unified, and computational interaction (or LUCI).
Now this “LUCI” may not be a true awareness per se, but nevertheless it is something worth recognizing. And I say this because eventually people will integrate with this system.
What I mean by “integrate” is that people will one day plug into their particular node of this multiheaded unification and lose all physical contact. It may not be quite like a scene from the movies, but a possible outcome of all this connectivity is that one day people will spend every waking hour interacting in a virtual format.
As a matter of fact, an ever-growing number of people within this global community already have no other contact than a lucid, unified, and computational type of interaction—mainly through video games, mobile phones, and social networking websites. Notice that I use the word interaction instead of integration. That’s because integration is actually a whole other level of phenomenon.
To be “fully integrated” means to completely disappear—to lose autonomy. But you don’t have to be a Star Trek version of the Borg to lose autonomy. When sitting down to watch TV, it takes, on average, three seconds for the brain to go into a passive state. Just three seconds and the TV is thinking for us.
Where’s our autonomy when thinking disappears into a colorful flashing machine? And consider how many generations have now experienced this.
The printing press, the telephone, the TV, and now the Internet: these developments have torn down the distance barrier to global communication. And the promise of unity that LUCI generates also gives us hope that our tribal mentality will one day vanish, and with it the prospects of war.
Not only now, but throughout history, the concept of unity has been praised as a potential savior. And we all know that divisiveness won’t save anything, but let’s be honest here: are we not looking at this global technological unification with the expectation that it will one day solve our problems?
Despite those who see technology as a threat, deep within our global psyche resides a faith in technology’s power to save.
We want LUCI to unify global research and cure cancer. We want LUCI to stop global warming, global conflict, nuclear war, dwindling resources—everything. We want this unification to solve our problems and save us from death.
Pop singers croon of “the day when nobody dies.” Magazine articles claim that we are close to saving ourselves. And books like ‘The Singularity Is Near’ claim that we have the know-how to create our own salvation.
We expect technology to be a cure-all, and as a result all eyes are looking to a tangible heaven, a tangible savior—a tangible replacement for God. And it’s for that reason that whenever a problem arises and I hear someone say, “The government needs to do something about it,” I’m reminded of this simple underlying desire we all have, which is to have something else save us—because underneath everything happening, we realize helplessly that we are doomed to die.
Without realizing it, our expectations for this LUCI have led to worship. There are no churches or prayer services per se, but look at how we interact with machinery and how much we depend on technology, versus how much time we spend relating to actual human beings (or to God).
If this colossal effort toward our own salvation produces immortality, then the number of people who feel the need for God will continue to diminish.
How will a godless culture affect our children’s general perception of reality? If we wait for LUCI to cure death, wars, and natural disasters, are we not setting up our children to view LUCI as a savior—especially if these problems are solved by our machinery?
Will that be the end of it, or will they continue wanting more?
Yes, this animal fear of death has us wanting to be saved by something tangible. LUCI will also want a tangible salvation. This global brain will not give up the ghost one day to go meet Jesus. And in the end, where else will a fear-driven development of technology lead if not to be God’s replacement?