[ExI] YES! Hard-core transhumanist splinter groups yearning for cyber-heaven

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Wed Jun 16 23:44:09 UTC 2010

On 6/16/2010 5:37 PM, Gregory Jones wrote:

> let me talk a little about what I envision for a million years hence.
> This seems so inevitable, I have a hard time imagining any alternative:
> sentience will recognize that sentience is a good thing, so more of it
> is better, and the best that can be is to maximize the total scentience
> by every means possible.  To me, that means all the metal, everything
> that isn't hydrogen or helium, in the solar system converted to
> scentient matter, using all the available energy the sun so copiously
> and wastefully pours out, to do as much thinking as
> possible.  Scentience wants more more more until no more is possible,
> and that means an M-Brain, which to me is the essence of transhumanism.

Various people have expressed this sort of ambition/expectation in 
rapturous terms. I've posted some such quotes here in years gone by. One 
was the now-dead British sf writer J. G. Ballard, usually regarded as a 
grimly dystopian cynical chap, from his 1959 story `The Waiting Grounds':


	Deep Time: ... I saw the Milky Way, a wheeling carousel of fire, and 
Earth's remote descendants, countless races inhabiting every stellar 
system in the galaxy. The dark intervals between the stars were a 
continuously flickering field of light, a gigantic phosphorescent ocean, 
filled with the vibrating pulses of electromagnetic communication pathways.
		To cross the enormous voids between the stars they have progressively 
slowed their physiological time, first ten, then a hundred fold, so 
accelerating stellar and galactic time... [T]he slow majestic rotation 
of the universe itself is at last visible.
		Deep Time: ...Now they have left the Milky Way... have extended their 
physiological dependence upon electronic memory banks which store the 
atomic and molecular patterns within their bodies, transmit them outward 
at the speed of light, and later reassemble them.
		Deep time: ...Now, too, they have finally shed their organic forms and 
are composed of radiating electromagnetic fields, the primary energy 
substratum of the universe, complex networks of multiple dimensions, 
alive with the constant tremor of the sentient messages they carry, 
bearing the life ways of the race.
		To power these fields, they have harnessed entire galaxies riding the 
wave fronts of the stellar explosions out toward the terminal helixes of 
the universe.
		Deep Time: ...They are beginning to dictate the form and dimensions of 
the universe... The universe is now almost filled by the great vibrating 
mantle of ideation, a vast shimmering harp which has completely 
translated itself into pure wave form, independent of any generating 
		As the universe pulses slowly, its own energy vortices flexing and 
dilating, so the force fields of the ideation mantle flex and dilate in 
sympathy, growing like an embryo within the womb of the cosmos, a child 
which will soon fill and consume its parent.

and me, 20 years or so later:


The galaxies wheeled in the immensity of cosmic night, stars spending 
their substance in an orgy of radiance, sucking hydrogen from the frozen 
void and spewing back neutrinos, X rays, light, radio noise, the 
megaparsec pulses of gravitation, and finally the ores and dense 
evanescent metals forged in their bellies, hurled out in the cataclysm 
of stellar explosion; and in the midst of spendthrift fury, on the tiny 
motes of rock and soil and ocean that were the planets, life trod forth 
blinking from the slimy pools of its birth, ate hungrily of the prodigal 
outpourings of its suns, and changed under that same lash into forms 
strange and wild and beautiful, diverse beyond number, swarmed and 
preyed upon each another's flesh and cooperated in the intricate dance 
of shifting ecologies; and grew wise, at last, wise and murderous and 
choked with dreams, yearning for the unnamable, taming that very energy 
which mindlessly had brought them into being; and killed with it, and 
healed and built with it, went beyond it to now unimagined energies 
created in the
convoluted structure of brains and ganglia complex beyond precedent; and 
came, finally, to command their own brutality and greatness...

The wise beings strode from star to star, galaxy to galaxy, but not to 
rape and pillage. That eon of conquest was now no more than a regretted 
episode in their immense history. They went in joy and respect into the 
glory that extended, it seemed, beyond limit. Eyes of flesh were now 
eyes of fire, yet still flesh; bodies met in the passion of love, and in 
those meetings made new bodies to populate the multicosm and cherish all 
that lay and moved within it. They no longer died; death was a clumsy 
expedient of random evolution, and they had taken evolution into their 
own charge. Ennui, too, was vanished—that specter which once had seemed 
to spoil the promise of utopia—for how is boredom possible in a universe 
rich with other souls? So they went to the curving edges of the 
universe, learned its physical limits and measured and cherished them, 
learning the infinity within themselves...

Already more than forty billion years had passed since the first 
one-celled creatures struggled for life in their soupy ponds. The wise 
ones had altered themselves so radically that none of their early 
planet-bound ancestors could have recognized them. They had merged in 
gestalt unities huge as stars, their senses extending across the entire 
radiation scale and into the domain of pure psychic energies. Even now 
their evolution was not complete; the metamorphoses continued. Only the 
essential qualities of humanity remained unaltered: love, joy, creation, 
reverence. The expansion of the spacetime manifold achieved its greatest 
dimension, faltered; the long contraction began. Stars dimmed and died, 
or faded to a steady ember glow. The entity that was Sentience welcomed 
into its totality the few remaining isolated members of the cosmic 
fellowship. Purpose and consciousness infused every energy structure in 
the multicosm. A hundred billion years after it had coalesced from 
incandescent gas, the universe had become a single sentient organism...


Could happen that way. But I think that goes waaaaay beyond *human*ism, 
trans- or post-. Still, it might form part of our hopes, our 
meta-goals... Looking at such vistas, I almost feel, sometimes, like 
shouting back at the mockers, "YEAH, it's the fucking Rapture of the 
Nerds, bozos--and? What's yer point?"

Damien Broderick

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