Analogy (Inspired by Plato's Apology)
How you, men and women of Silicon Valley, have been affected by your scientific fantasy, I do not know. For my part, even I nearly forgot myself, so persuasively did you speak. And yet you have said, so to speak, nothing true. For instance, when you stated that humanity will be just a whisper in between the old natural evolution and the new era, guided by a higher intelligence.
You did not deliver this oracular idea completely by yourselves of course, you were assisted by many of good reputation. Contemporary economists contributed an economic theory based on rational egoism. This theory states that in a modern economy where individuals are subject to appropriate control and constraints from a democratically elected government, the sum of all individually selfish acts adds up to something that is beneficial to society as a whole. My reasoning mind will be the basic source of the values on which my life depends. So reason itself has been given the honor of being the source of all my knowledge, values, and prosperity and all I have to do is to pursue my life-serving values and not sacrifice myself for the sake of others. If I practice this consistently, it will guarantee me a life of sheer happiness. Thus enhancing my reasoning powers - albeit artificially - while being guided by my egoism, will ultimately raise my level of happiness and turn consuming, using your technology, into my raison d'être.
Historians added another perspective when they analyzed and described the players of the great wars. At first sight WW-I could be viewed as a war fought by armies living and fighting in trenches, who were aided by sophisticated technology that cost the lives of millions. But behind the scene an intellectual war was also being fought between engineers and chemists. This secret war has made apparently a positive and long-lasting contribution to how war should be conducted and continued at an even greater scale in WW-II, the ultimate war of the physicists and code-breakers. During the cold war that followed, the real battle was delegated by the secret agencies to the guerrillas and colonels around the world, making this war in hindsight not so cold after all. The present war is being conducted by the mathematicians and coders, using computers of ever increasing power, faster connections and with the aid of Artificial Intelligence, gradually removing me as a stakeholder granting me immunity as compensation.
Psychiatrists served you as well when one of the most notorious amongst them stated that I in the course of time had to endure from the hands of science three great outrages. According to him the first happened when I realized that earth was not the center of the universe. The second was when biological research robbed me of my notion of being specially created, and confided me to a descent from the animal world. And until now I had to endure the most bitter blow when psychological research proved to my ego that it is not even master in its own house, but that it must be satisfied with the “veriest scraps of information” about what is going on unconsciously in its own mind. But the final affront is yet to come if I understand you correctly oh men and women of Silicon Valley. I am nearing the point of Singularity. During the Singularity, my life will be irreversibly transformed and I will transcend the limitations of my biological body and brain.
But is there really something natural about rational egoism in human, social, economic or political life? If the propensity to consume more and more is a natural propensity, and guarantees that I will satisfy my needs in the most efficient way, why then am I feeling empty inside. Increasing consumption propelled my internal process of wanting, searching and liking and raised my hedonic set point temporarily. In time this sequence of behaviors raised the bar for this set point and turned my need into greed. The impossibility of delaying my gratification became the motor of economic growth and ironically lead to its downfall as well. While producing the ever-increasing volumes of goods to satisfy my greed, I have started to abuse the planet and gradually developed an Earth Use Disorder, EUD for short. While developing this disorder I drifted from my authentic state of being into a false state of being, accelerating my need to comfort and sooth myself even further. Due to this shifting of states I became disconnected from the grid and became to belief that it was no longer necessary for me to live for the sake of others, denying myself in the process. To remain in my authentic state of being, I will surely need your expertise and brilliant algorithms to create a new, block chain based, cradle to cradle economy, enabling a really evenly distributed wealth of nations, making the hand for the first time visible.
Obviously a world without war is the most desirable scenario, but at the moment this is more an utopia than a reality. For the time being war needs me as a stakeholder, to learn, to advance my moral coding, to make amends. Do not be fooled by the diminishing bloodshed. Cyberwarfare includes the concept of hybrid information war, the subtle disinformation and overt propaganda along with more traditional options like denial of service, but also about denial of reality making it harder for critics to be heard, undermining the foundation of democracy. It may also open the door to La Guerre pour La Guerre.
Transcending in the near future the limitations of my biological body and brain by improving my main components might indeed be the case, but take notice my biological instance, is merely – using your vocabulary – a thin client. Even when I am completely replaced by a fat client, it will be off-grid, having no conscious, because of its very nature. I am, on the other hand, an instance, a descendant of the Word John spoke about. My ability to connect to the spirit and experience embedded grace inside of me is based on this inheritance. There is no soul entering or leaving my body, a connection is being made. To be consciously aware of this connection I have to be able to be silent making contemplation possible. Solely replacing me by a disconnected fat client, will render your new era meaningless. But do not understand me wrong. I do need these clients as I stated before, to put an end to my earthly needs and bring my EUD into recovery.
Finally when I travelled into space and observed our beautiful blue marble planet, I could not see any borders, but I did see bridges and realized that being connected is my true nature and the basis for all religions. Whether I am homeless, stateless or powerless it does not make me less human, nor does it alter my need for connection. It is like the tree that falls in the forest. If I am not here to experience or sense it, it does not exist, since only I can truly relate to “I am that I am”, whilst your new era is only based on an analogy.