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Archive for the ‘evolution’ Category

I do not know how much I would pay or what I would do for an event of such transcendence. The fact is I would not be surprised if someone had already developed a technology not just to communicate with but to actually speak to our intelligent cousins. It is suspected these relatives are not necessarily less smart than we are. They just have not had the chance yet to exploit their intelligence as we humans have, but do not assume their moment will not come.

Despite our arrogant sense of human supremacy and progress we have become dumb enough to believe the future of human evolution is the so called Singularity, a separation from Nature and our very own humanity where we are destined to become immortal Techno Gods as we upload our mind and soul to a supercomputer.

I on the other hand envision a somewhat distant future where man will have evolved enough to finally address non-human intelligent earthlings as equal citizens of planet Earth. I imagine a world where ironically the non-humans will return to us the humanity we lost in our primitive pursuit of material progress; where enlightened wild life will teach us a new way to reconnect with Nature which will inevitably bring new way social order.

Maybe we will have to wait until such time before we can understand the TRUE MEANING of DEMOCRACY, HUMAN RIGHTS, GLOBAL SOCIAL JUSTICE and SUSTAINABILITY. Call me a dreamer. I love it when you do that.

Sperm-whale-pod-2

Source: Scitable by Nature Education

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UNLIKE THE TRANS-HUMANISTS, I CANNOT IMAGINE THE FUTURE OF THE HUMAN RACE BEING REDUCED TO BECOMING CYBORGS AND ACHIEVING IMMORTALITY BY UPLOADING OUR MIND (AND SOUL) TO A COMPUTER. I DO NOT WANT TO IMAGINE SUCH NIGHTMARISH SCENARIO. I BELIEVE OUR DESTINY IS TO RE-INTEGRATE OURSELVES IN NATURE USING THE PRINCIPLES OF LIFE, BIO-CENTERED HUMAN VALUES AND OUR MIGHTY CREATIVITY AND TECHNOLOGY. THE FUTURE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES WILL REQUIRE US TO WIRE WITH THE BIOSPHERE, LEARNING TO COMMUNICATE, COLLABORATE AND EVEN HAVE CULTURAL EXCHANGES WITH OTHER INTELLIGENT SPECIES ON EARTH. RESEARCH  AT INSTITUTIONS LIKE GOOGLE ARE ALREADY LAYING THE GROUND FOR THIS FASCINATING FUTURE

Google X

An underwater keyboard at Epcot Center, shown at TED by dolphin researcher Denise Herzing
Source: Walt Disney World Company

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As much as I feel riled up by atheists for instance denouncing the abuses and manipulation of religion, and liberals ripping on the repressive conservative right, at the end of the day, I sadly realize, we are all one single species rid with hopeless fragmentation. As offended as I may be when compared to the Bill O’Reilly’s of the world, a deeper side of me argues I am not that different from him who I have always been considered a despicable individual representing a lot of what I think is evil in society. The fact of the matter is that demonizing no longer brings any value to me. After a short moment of identifying or honoring truth and justice, I immediately feel a sad vacuum in my soul. A vacuum I am learning to fill in with compassion. Not an easy task to perform, May I add. In my last years of sustainability study and reflection about the nature of this planet and its human inhabitants, I have solidified my belief that we are destined to raise our consciousness sharing the pain and suffering of the global crises that will sweep us in this us planet leaving us no place to escape to. We will be stuck with one another being forced to survive together and cooperate. This is going to feel like a sinking boat where we will all have to lean on each other’s efforts if want to tell the tale. It is a well-known fact the planet is shrinking for all of us, and that the consequences of our actions, and I would dare to say even our thoughts have an unavoidable impact on everyone and everything else. In this quickly shrinking planet where we are increasingly forced to co-exist in harmony with our approaching neighbors, human and non-human, we cannot afford to feel, think or act in isolation. Even our emotional state has become a responsibility to our living environment. More than ever before we have the right and the duty to cherish LIFE, starting with our own and continuing with every life form in this rare cosmic jewel called Earth. I find Ken Wilber’s philosophy somewhat persuasive and aligned with my view of reality and human beings. Grounded in objective historical study of human behavior, he conveys a message of hope in the face of the overwhelmingly complex, interconnected and challenging reality.

The time of culture wars has become obsolete and significantly dangerous. Although I will never buy into the inherent hypocrisy of political correctness or religious self-righteousness, I am awake enough to realize we are just one single humanity which at the end of the day is completely dependent on itself and the natural system that keeps it alive. We are altering the living conditions of this biosphere so quickly that we do not even have the time to argue or keep us apart based on our cultural or ideological differences. Our petty human dramas and cultural issues become dwarfed by the need to cooperate and assist one another in the face of the upcoming planetary disruptions, which we have already started to experience. The times of ego-centrism, ethno-centrism and other excessive individualism are essentially over. Survival and thriving will depend on our willingness and ability to serve the planet.

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Before you read the lyrics to the song below please know it is not intended to be a neo-ludite manifesto. The song in this post is not written to persuade folks the only way to reach sustainability and save the planet is to go back to pre-industrial times thus giving up on technology and progress.

The need to take a hard look at the risks and consequences of our existence on Earth and the even greater need to understand what it will take to inhabit this planet sustainably is not in conflict with honoring our inescapable technological and overall creative nature.

I agree with the common view that human progress based on science and technology cannot be stopped unless our species perishes. And I believe our ability to investigate and even shape the world is one of our greatest strengths. However this virtue needs to be checked by a higher human strength which is our values, also known as human consciousness.

Our capacity to shape the environment at the planetary scale brings an equal planetary sense of responsibility. We have been lured by our technological might and in that episode we have made a serious mistake. We have forgotten the responsibility and the respect we used to have for the land. We forgot how to interact with the environment in a harmonious non-disruptive manner. And now we must realize we have created a situation that is destabilizing our life sustaining system with the potential of irreversible consequences for the whole planet.

Let’s get completely out of our comfort zones; let’s stop pretending we are greening the world when quite often we are pursuing our own selfish profit driven but green marketed agendas; let’s for once stop putting our interests before anyone or anything else on Earth; let’s honor truth and justice by taking responsibility of the situation we have created; and let’s use our creative passion to transform our socio-technical environment into a truly sustainable one.

This will not be possible until we can correct our perception of reality and our relationship with Nature. Until then I will sing this song.

The howl of the wolf is the soundtrack of wilderness
And wilderness, the ferment of the soul
Primal humans knew what modern humanity has forgotten,
that life is balance
The world endlessly consuming itself
and joyously making love to itself through its constituent parts
Every species equal, with an inherent, intrinsic value
sacred worth, sacred worth
Civilization is a mere 16,000 year imbalance
after the shared adventure of three and a half billion years of ecstatic evolution
Now called Deep Ecology,
this sacred worldview was the life and practice of all primitive peoples
and it will be the worldview once again of any peoples to survive the Earth’s cataclysmic cleansing

– Lone-Wolf Circles and Friends (Oikos – Songs for the Living Earth)

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Metropolis film poster (1926)

Metropolis film poster (1926)

Continuing on my previous post on trans-humanism I recognize this is a complex subject where a one size fits all analysis could risk the required understanding of and engagement with this movement.

On the one hand I am convinced repressing our human capacity to create and develop technology goes directly against human nature, self-realization and purpose. Subsequently I vehemently oppose the demonization of trans-humanism and by default, the demonization of human progress.

On the other hand I cannot stress enough the urgency to (1) raise awareness of the risks inherent to the trans-humanist agenda and (2) to manage such risks.

I am probably less optimistic or idealistic than most people in our society’s ability to manage the impact of these new powerful life altering technologies effectively and timely. We have been indoctrinated by modern society, primarily by corporations and universities into a blind faith in technology. Such faith keeps us complacent believing technology will save us all in the end. This inability to question technology’s limitations and safety keep us powerless in the face of considerable risks.

History has shown society does not wake up to major risk until we have come to the very brink of the crisis. An example of such human behavior was the insane arms race escalation which drove the US and Russia to the so-called Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) scenario. It was long after both super powers had made enough weapons to destroy several planets like earth that both parties realized nuclear war could not be won by either side. No nation could escape the enormity of the resulting nuclear holocaust. It took such an overwhelming and terrifying realization before the parties recovered the common sense to reduce their nuclear arsenals.

I am still looking for a way to manage the challenges that trans-humanists goals like human life extension will bring to a world where the carrying capacity of the Earth will have been exceeded several times over. We would need fantastic technologies to compensate for the extra people who would live by immediately reducing the ecological-footprint they would add.

And that is where my main argument arises. What will take to remove our anthropocentrism (human centeredness) from technology and from the human perception and interaction with the planet? That achievement would allow us to approach reality with a true consciousness that will call for the most ethical, rational and responsible use of technology. Such level of consciousness would enable us to prioritize our never ending list techno-wish list accordingly and allow us to better manage our development. It comes down to prioritizing planetary threats such as water scarcity over saving 40 year-old women from wrinkles.

It is amazing to see how the egotistical obsession with ourselves can cloud our judgment so much that we can completely detach from reality and  the urgent growing list of planetary issues which make such self-indulgent trans-humanist goals not just unimportant but shamefully frivolous. Resolving the global threats upon us, assuring the health of our life sustaining system and ensuring social justice and equality should take priority over any other goal by humanity. I will support trans-humanism in as much as it may contribute to the progress of sustainability.

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Anyone would think this is a scene from a sci-fi or James Bond film but the scary thing about it is that this gentleman is no actor and he represents a growing fundamentalist movement called trans-humanism set to harness human evolution through technology to ultimately become God. This particular character is very serious about his plan to become God. He says “if you’re going to interfere with me becoming God, we’ll have big trouble. Then we’ll have warfare”.

I think the threat posed by this new religious worship and absolute belief in the almighty power of technology is more serious and far greater than global terrorism, global warming or global financial meltdown. We are dealing with what is after all a religious fanaticism far more dangerous than any militant religious extremist group or ideology.  What makes this extreme faction of the so called  trans-humanism movement such a concern is the very acceptance of the movement – even its radical elements. Such acceptance is won because modern society sees trans-humanism as mere science and that is enough to make it legitimate and unlikely to be questioned.  So much for Homeland Security when we have such a threat well rooted inside our borders brainwashing our very own populations. Their technique is extremely powerful and subtle: to hook the public with luring promises such as human perfection and eternal youth.

Let’s examine where this techno-dogma comes from. The mission of trans-humanism’s is the development of the next stage of human evolution called post-human or neo-human. Writer and globalization expert Carl Teichrib describes the premises of trans-humanism:

“1. DNA: Now that we are unlocking the secrets of DNA, we can alter our genetic makeup to augment desirable traits and block negative characteristics. It’s hoped such a move will bring longevity and eradicate diseases. Other possible outcomes include the production of designer babies in the womb, and even introducing DNA from other species into the human code; thus building a ‘Human Plus’ equipped with advanced physical and cognitive traits. Such a trans-human/hybrid would be ‘transgenic’, in other words a human Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) just like corn or soy.

“2. Computer Interfacing and AI: As the secrets of the brain are discovered, it is anticipated that a time will arrive when the mind is efficiently interfaced with cyber-space. It is believed that in such a scenario the brain, once ‘plugged-in,’ could allow the mind to surf the network, download and upload from the web, receive memory upgrades, and converge with a global mind-to-machine-to mind community—forming a type of cyber-hive. Or, according to some cybernetic purists, to allow one’s consciousness to completely leave the bounds of flesh and enter cyber-space as an electronic entity. After all the brain, it’s argued, is an electrochemical organ. This mind uploading, it’s believed, could culminate in what the Catholic mystic, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin called the noosphere: the emergence of a living, global consciousness. The web would thus ‘come alive’.”

The objectives stated above have been used by sci-fi literature and films to warn us about the potential for the future to become a horrible nightmare, but guess what? I am wide awake and by looking at the news I can only realize the plan for this nightmarish future is already under way, and apparently with no one willing or able to stop it. Despite the risks and horrific consequences the misuse of technology can bring such as that  posed by Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) destabilizing the fragile balance of natural ecosystems, I take comfort in the fact that the core believes held by transhumanists are false. We humans are not machines and consciousness is not a computer algorythm.

Those two facts alone make the trans-humanist agenda a childish fantasy which nonetheless can cause great irreversible damage to humans and planet. Thus the activities of these people still need to be closely monitored and controlled. Alongside the supervision by those institutions whose role is to enforce bioethics and safety on the use of technology, we need to counter trans-humanism with a new humanism driven by core timeless human values. It is the removal of values from science that has allowed science to run unchecked, unquestioned and ironically become the greatest threat to civilization and the planet, despite all the benefits it has also brought to humanity. Deep ecology illustrates the true nature of human beings and the life honoring values which were upheld by our indigenous ancestors and that we urgently need to restore.

I am not against progress. Man must not give up on his inherent nature to develop science and technology. It is his right and duty. However after  four centuries of reckless exploitation of planet and people in the name of science and progress, man needs to retake responsibility for his power by re-infusing  science and technology as well as all his activities and his very own perception of reality with the mentioned human values and overall sensibility. We must contain our human progress within the domain the human of human values and ensuring we will not disrupt the fragile order of the natural world who we are not even close to fully understand due to its enormous complexity and the limitations of our scientific knowledge.

Let’s continue honoring our inherently human ambition for growing human knowledge and bringing progress, but let’s ensure we do it in a responsible, safe and ultimate sustainable manner.

 

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I can better understand now people how so much of the public can persuaded by political and corporate powers to deny the global environmental crisis and even be turned against the green movement.

You need not bribed scientists to make fake or unfounded scientific claims denying climate change, discrediting the benefits of clean-tech or promoting the cleanliness of carbon, just like the ‘scientists’ that were paid to promote tobacco as a healthy product.

The mere fragmentation and inefficiency of market driven sustainability and overall green washing we have reached today can alone turn the average citizen you into a skeptic. The Powers that Be take advantage of such deceptions no different than other powers take advantage of social inequality, oppression and exploitation to radicalize people and turn them against the West.

As objective as science and material progress has tried to be, we know no human activity, including science and business are not value neutral. Just like politics they both have had vested interests. Science cannot happen without a budget and quite often that budget has not come from the highest moral standards.

The collateral damage of material progress and the rate at which our current global economic system and our socio-technical infrastructure is devouring the environment makes it extremely urgent to re-infuse much of the science and many of the institutions who have sustainability in their mission statement with old fashioned core human values, the very same values that are at the essence of ecological thinking and sustainability: true respect and responsibility for all life.

The ancient and rediscovered discipline of DEEP ECOLOGY analyzes and promotes such values, which in turn generate a far more accurate, value-based and scientific perception of reality as well as extraordinary behavioral changes consistent with such values and perceptions.

A good introduction to the subject is this enlightening interview with Professor Michael Zimmerman who describes Deep Ecology in the context of the industrial paradigm I believe we are still lingering to as a civilization despite the urgency to shift to true sustainability.

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