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  Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
Scholarship Posted by Mordecai on July 20, 2001 @ 09:28 PM
from the gnanosis-or-nagnosis? dept.

The Spike: How Our Lives Are Being
Transformed by Rapidly Advancing Technologies

by Damien Broderick
Forge: New York, 2001.
ISBN 0312877811

Damien Broderick is an Australian writer, educator, and futurist who has somehow managed to write a book that is both immensely fun to read and vitally important to our future. I highly recommend it to Beast Bay readers. Its 380 insightful pages have shaken me out of my complacency, and I cannot possibly approach this review with my usual smug philosophizing.

What Broderick describes is a scenario (or more accurately, a set of scenarios) of the future based on a reading of past and current trends in technology. No one can deny that the speed of technological change has a tendency to snowball, to grow exponentially. We see it in "Moore's Law" which states that computer chips double in circuit capacity every year or two. There's no scientific evidence for this "Law", but so far in the Computer Age it has generally held true.

Another example that Broderick offers is the growth in the speed of human transportation. If you plot a graph of the last hundred thousand years with the date on one axis and the speed of transport on the other you get a line that starts out 100,000 years ago at walking speed (four to five miles an hour) and stays virtually flat for over 90% of the chart, then starts gradually elevating to horse and wind and galley slave velocities (roughly 8 to 15 miles an hour) until about 200 years ago when trains first got people moving at 20 to 30 miles per hour. Since then cars, planes, jets, and rockets have had us moving at ever faster speeds, exceeding 25,000 miles an hour (5,000 times faster than walking!). Almost all the movement in our chart is concentrated in the last .2% of the time axis, rising in an asymptotic line which gives Broderick the inspiration for his title, the "spike".

But these examples of the spikes in computer capacity and transport speed are just the tip of the iceberg. If technological change continues to accelerate it has enormous implications for the future of human civilization. Enough quantitative changes eventually become a qualitative change. Some futurists envision a "Singularity", a time beyond which our forecasts based on past and present trends are unable to any longer attempt predictions, the "black hole" of the future, if you will. The consensus among these thinkers is that this will occur around 2020 at the earliest, but certainly by 2100.

It's the convergence of three different technological revolutions that is seen as key to the unpredictable future evolution of human culture: the achievement of artificial intelligence, nanotechnological manufacturing, and biotechnological gene engineering. Once the possibility for humanity to redesign itself, or design its successors, presents itself, the argument goes, it will eventually be taken. Things like material abundance on demand, immortality (at least of consciousness), and the merging of individuals into a group mind will all be within reach.

Many scientists and writers have played a part in the development of this scenario of the future, most prominently Vernor Vinge and Hans Moravec, though perhaps most representative of the promoters of the "Singularity" is Max More and his Extropy Institute. They forsee a society of total abundance and personal freedom for immortal superintelligent human beings and artificial intelligences (the differences between the two blurring with time).

But is this scenario really possible? Serious scientific critiques can be made of it, though it must be admitted that nothing is contemplated that is on the face of it a violation of known physical laws, though one possible limitation on the success of nanotech is that the relevant physical laws aren't entirely known and they may perhaps prevent mechanical processes at nanoscales.

As for artificial intelligence (much less superintelligence), my father-in-law worked for years on AI computer programs before he became convinced that he was trying to reach the moon by climbing trees. He was getting closer, but he still couldn't see ever getting there. Many other scientists share this view that self-conscious intelligence is more than just hardware and programming, still, they don't have any concrete evidence of the impossibility of artificial intelligence. Of the tripod holding up the "Singularity" genetic engineering seems the most inevitable at this stage, but by itself it won't cause the rapid and absolute transformation of humanity which is envisioned.

In spite of the various scientific objections which might be made I think it's foolish to deny that some such technological point of no return may fairly soon be reached, and it makes sense to start discussing the social implications now, just in case we want to take a different course than that proposed by "boosters" (who would happily shed their physical bodies and upload "themselves" into a computer for the chance at conscious immortality!). Understandably, many people prefer a different future for the Earth, and there are groups like the Turning Point Project that want a full airing of these issues before the logic of commercial and technological development leaves us without any choices.

So what are the implications of such a future for Thelema? Certainly the intensely individualistic, libertarian, and power-oriented milieu in which this "Singularity" culture is incubating is in no way antipathetic to Thelema. But their vision of the future, blurring all distinctions between the group and the individual, between the animate and the inanimate, sounds much more to me like the Maatian hive mind than the Horian company of stars. This could be quite a disappointment to smug Thelemites envisioning themselves as heroic founders of the 2000 year reign of the Hawk-Headed Lord. As Crowley wrote in his comment on verse III:34, the Aeon of Maat may arrive "a hundred or ten thousand years from now." Perhaps it is far closer to the former than the latter.

On the other hand, the overall gnostic implications might be somewhat different. Those gnostics who see their task as aiding the redemption of all planes of existence by the pure light will surely rejoice in the extension of consciousness to beings of previously inanimate matter. But just as surely some gnostics will see it as merely a further degradation and entanglement of the pure light in this physical realm.

What do you all think?



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    A Postcript
    by Mordecai on Friday July 20, @11:51PM
    More on the "Coffin Nail" - Another excellent book I recently read, Life Everywhere by David Darling, is concerned with the search for extraterrestrial life. Darling explains the fact that we have yet to detect, in spite of what is fast becoming a rather extensive SETI effort, any signs of intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy by the not unlikely premise that technological civilizations quickly outgrow the use of electromagnetic signals for communications. Certainly any civilization that has gone through its own version of the "Singularity" is likely to have developed something more sophisticated than radio. There are, however, other equally not unlikely premises that could explain the lack of signals from alien intelligences. One that was suggested by the late Isaac Asimov is that intelligent life is self-limiting. Sooner or later, the reasoning goes, intelligent life always ends up destroying itself by some unforeseen or overlooked result of its technology. Civilizations that succeed in become viable in outer space may last a few million years longer than most, but eventually they too will take the misstep or twelve necessary to their own extinction. If this scenario is true then it may be the reason we haven't found aliens yet is that there are mighty few or none out there. Maybe you can't predict beyond the "Singularity" because nothing happens after that!

    • Re: A Postcript
      by Tim Maroney on Saturday July 21, @02:57PM
      There is the possibility that alien intelligences are trying to reach us by means other than radio, such as, say neutrino modulation. Then again, it is possible they are out there yet are not trying to reach us at all. A recent Scientific American piece on the subject looked into what it would take for an alien race to build a radio beacon that we could actually see, and it was a phenomenally difficult and expensive thing to do. What is the great benefit we imagine to them that would justify the expenditure?

      I tend to believe that technological culture is self-limiting. I honestly don't see how the world can survive five hundred more years of nuclear weapons given the state of human social and psychological development. I also believe nuclear weapons are by no means the greatest weapon threat we will face. The lifespan of our species and of our current ecology are, like our own lives, finite.

      Tim


    Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
    by Shasu Ma'akheru on Saturday July 21, @02:48AM
    So what are the implications of such a future for Thelema? Certainly the intensely individualistic, libertarian, and power-oriented milieu in which this "Singularity" culture is incubating is in no way antipathetic to Thelema.

    No disrespect to you, Mordecai, but let me offer a friendly "Oh bullshit!" to this notion. The rigidly conformist world that technology has constructed, beginning with the industrial revolution and continuing into the global monoculture of electronic mass communications is as antipathetic to Thelema as anything in history. What is more dangerous to the individual -- Medieval Christianity, which indulged in ham-handed attempts at totalitarian rule and apocalyptic fantasies, or materialist technoindustrialism, which provides the practical tools to construct both an invincible police state and obliterate the human species, either in a single afternoon with nuclear weapons (or a week with biological weapons), or over a few decades through the piecemeal destruction of ecological homeostasis? Was there more cultural variety in the world of two hundred years ago or in the world of fifty years from now, when six thousand languages will have dwindled to six, and no one will be required to wear the traditional clothes of their tribe or clan, but can pick from the extensive array of trivial variations in the catalogs of three or four multinational textile vendors?

    I know it's hard not to feel some gratitude to science for having smashed the church and provided novocaine and air conditioners, but science as an institution is mostly devoted to mass murder -- throughout the last century, more scientists were employed by the military than not -- and knows no higher ideal than profit. That's not a moral judgment, just an observation that science is a blind force that is more often than not wielded by individuals and organizations of the lowest possible character.

    When Crowley launched his "scientific illuminism" with the motto, "The Aim of Religion, The Method of Science," that wasn't just a dig at religion alone, it was a contemptuous gesture aimed at the soulless mechanists and reductionists of the 20th century.

    What's genuinely scary about this sort of technology-worship is that it posits a single future for the human race, which is, I think, a hangover from the fascist movements of the mid-20th century. The "human race" either has a single future, namely extinction, or an indefinitely large number of futures, i.e., migration off-planet (or into alternate realities). Fevered prognostication about "our" future is almost always veiled persuasion, either because the speaker is exhibiting Burroughsian control fantasies or because he or she, like any perceptive person, sees the writing on the wall: There are increasingly too damn many of us in too little space with too much power concentrated in too few hands, and the vast majority of us are about to squeal like pigs.

    Maatian hive mind? If that's the future, I'd just as soon go back to Christianity, which at least promises endless sectarian conflict. Becoming more like ants, even if we're talking about immortal, self-luminous ants, is not evolution, it's degeneration. It's high time that the seed-pod that is the Earth should burst and scatter its seed to the stars to take on an infinity of forms. The alternative is for it to rot on the vine.


    • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
      by Codus on Saturday July 21, @06:30AM
      Brilliant piece of writing there, Shasu. I will not analyse it too much. My main point is that I fully concur with your view that to become borg-like, however advanced, is counterproductive.
      However I would never envison this reality for, although species inter-communication and "harmonisation of thoughts" is an unconscious "aim" inherent in all life, so too is the maximisation of diversity to ensure further evolution. We are programmed by evolution never to become the same, never to become drones - it's pointless!
      (Ants are actually a case in point, and quite unique. They follow a different evolutionary principle. The gene relatedness ratios are different - e.g. more related to cousins than parents, or something like that, so the level of investment is different - hence the colony (bit simplified)).


    • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
      by Fra THA;M on Saturday July 21, @12:01PM
      You have some very potent points here. But insisting that Thelemites should be loath to embrace technology seems ludicrous. The dangers posed are real enough, and quite frightening, but so far mass communication has been a way for me to maintain contact with free-thinking subversives (politically and spiritually) who are active in the fight against a government imposed heteronomy. Look at the level of discourse we can acheive on the internet, and understand how many individuals are exposed to counter-culture through this medium.

      As for science, it isn't an 'evil' in and of itself. How the mechanisms of it's paradigm have been subverted by power-mongerers is the problem. We need to exercise our rights as autonomous individuals, and work towards breaking the hands of those who abuse the advance of science. It's rewards, and ability to improve lives makes this goal of grave importance.

      Science has been the standard around which those who make war upon God have rallied. For this I applaude it. It has weakened that symbol complex, God, that absolves people of true responsibility to one another. When I hear cosmologists speaking about Cosmic Background Radiation as the afterglow from the birth of the universe, or biologists advocating altruism as an integral element of evolution, I suffer spasms of spiritual ecstacy.

      Your points on the current destruction of the environment were quite astute. I would posit that much of the environmental damaged can be linked to the agendas of the Corporate/Consumer Institutions. George Bush's dismissal of the Kyoto agreement at the insistance of Business interests is an exemplary example. But, I take great exception to your broad generalization regarding character of science as an institution (and consequently everyone employed in that field), and your fallacious statement about the majority of scientists employed by the military. On the whole, some interesting points.


    • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
      by Mordecai on Saturday July 21, @12:57PM
      I hope you don't think that I am a technology-worshipper. I was not intending to advocate for the "Singularity" at all. I just wanted to bring up the issues for discussion. Like it or not, there are people actively working for this vision of the human future. One may sit back and smugly assume the whole thing is impossible for one reason or another, or one may take it seriously and attempt to stop it or affect its course.
      More specifically, the "rigidly conformist world that technology has constructed, beginning with the industrial revolution and continuing into the global monoculture of electronic mass communications" may be antipathetic to Thelema, but looking at the Extropy Institute's propaganda demonstrates the "intensely individualistic, libertarian, and power-oriented milieu in which this "Singularity" culture is incubating", and I don't think it's that much different than what I hear from libertarian Thelemites.

      "Becoming more like ants, even if we're talking about immortal, self-luminous ants, is not evolution, it's degeneration. It's high time that the seed-pod that is the Earth should burst and
      scatter its seed to the stars to take on an infinity of forms"-- This certainly creates a dichotomy which 'Singularists' would call false. Scattering their seed to the stars in "an infinity" of manifestations is what they think they are all about.


      • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
        by Mordecai on Saturday July 21, @01:06PM
        In a bit of synchronicity I just received this response from Damien Broderick:


        Hi Mordechai

        Thanks for the url and the review. I'm out of sympathy with yr general metaphysics, but am gratified that you don't savage the book and its
        ideas as I kinda suspected you might. :)

        However,

        >>>>
        Certainly the intensely individualistic, libertarian, and power-oriented milieu in which this "Singularity" culture is incubating is in no way antipathetic to Thelema. But their vision of the future, blurring all distinctions between the
        group and the individual, between the animate and the inanimate,
        <<<<

        isn't quite right. At least among the extropians and most other transhumanists (who are generally American anarcho-capitalist materialists
        [in the philosophical sense]), the idea of the Borg is horrible in the extreme. Group merging is not considered desirable. I myself, as an Aussie,
        am not as ferociously opposed to collective or social democratic impulses--as shown by my endorsement of a guaranteed income or negative
        income tax floor, as preparation for an age of toilfree abundance--but I don't wish to be merged into any sort of group mind, thanks all the same. :)

        Damien

        ------------------------------------------------------------
        Dr Damien Broderick / Senior Fellow, Department of English and Cultural Studies
        University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010, AUSTRALIA


        • More Forwarding from Damien Broderick
          by Mordecai on Tuesday July 24, @02:32PM
          You might find this comment of interest, fwd'd from Anders Sandberg;
          interesting that he makes the same Borg-related comment I made to you:

          On Sat, Jul 21, 2001 at 05:19:23PM +1000, Damien Broderick wrote:
          > Transhuman Mailing List
          >
          > As others see us:
          >
          > http://www.beastbay.com/beastbay/995689703/

          Quite fun, it has been a while since I read thelemitic texts. It of
          course makes a lot of sense from their perspective to put the
          singularity into the aeon-changing context, although I guess the
          arch-anarchists posthumans discussed on this list would fit much better
          with Horus than Maat in my own occult opinion.

          One misconception I found interesting is the view of the
          post-singularity as some sort of hive mind. Is that because the hive
          mind is the only form of posthuman mentality people know in general?

          --
          -----------------------------------------------------------------------
          Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
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          ***************************************************************************
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          blame *
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    • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
      by Tim Maroney on Sunday July 22, @11:20AM
      Why is it important to colonize space, and why is that not exactly the kind of technology worship that you are decrying?

      What's so great about space? It's the worst possible place for human beings to live. We co-evolved with the planetary ecosystem and I am unable to understand why anyone would think we should leave it to colonize an infinite, empty and hostile desert, to be forever dependent on machines for the most basic necessities of life.

      Tim


      • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
        by Mordecai on Sunday July 22, @12:29PM
        Here's how I see it. You're absolutely right about the fact that space is a terrible environment for humans. It may be possible to create artificial environments for millions in "space cities" (though the probable "industrial" accidents may be too devastating to their popularity to make financing them practical), but by and large if humans are really to populate space they must colonize other planets. The only way of doing it that makes sense to me is to create two different forms of humanity: the larva, us, and the imago, an artifical intelligence with human consciousness that swarms in unimaginable numbers through the galaxy and beyond, forming tribes and confederacies, playing long-distance multiplayer chess games, and everywhere one finds a world congenial to human life starting a larval colony.


        • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
          by Tim Maroney on Sunday July 22, @12:44PM
          As you note, "space cities," either planetary or orbital, would be fragile. They would be vulnerable not only to industrial accidents but to terrorism and to collapse of their artificial ecosystem -- which, being much smaller and less diverse than the Earth's, would be also far more fragile than a terrestrial ecosystem.

          It's strange to me that people paint space expansion as a way to insure humanity's long-term survival. One thermite bomb could destroy a domed city or a space station, where it takes an atomic bomb or equivalent to destroy a terrestrial city. Do we imagine that in an apocalyptic conflict, space colonies would be considered non-combatants? I suspect the same sort of naive utopianism that paints these colonies as idylls also imagines that they would somehow be untouchable by war, either their own conflicts or spillovers of terrestrial war. In fact, they'd be politicized, since they would be filled with humans, and that means they would be subject to violence.

          As for your second point, yes, it's possible we could robotically colonize space, but again my question is why? Why create a new species whose only purpose is to expand its territory? Isn't this drive to hold more and more territory one of the worst things about humanity, the primary factor that leads us into war?

          Tim


          • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
            by Lord Hitler on Sunday July 22, @01:06PM
            I object to your use of the term "naive utopianism". For this type of thinking denotes a complete and utter mental disease. IT is obvious to anyone who has read statements from the leaders at NASA that they indeed should be locked up in an assylum.


          • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
            by Mordecai on Sunday July 22, @07:17PM
            >Isn't this drive to hold more and more territory one of the worst things about
            >humanity, the primary factor that leads us into war?

            Perhaps this is true, but nonetheless it seems to me to be such an entrenched part of human behavior that it isn't likely to change soon. It reminds me of an escalating bathroom graffiti war:

            "US out of Earth!"
            "Earth out of the Solar system!"
            "Sol out of the Milky Way!"
            "Milky Way out of the Universe!"


      • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
        by Shasu Ma'akheru on Monday July 23, @06:17PM
        Why is it important to colonize space

        Survival. Island populations are much more likely to be exterminated by random events (asteroid impacts, disease, etc.) than more widely distributed populations. Earth is an island. If we keep 100% of the species here, we will sooner or later become extinct.

        Another important reason is that there's always more freedom on the frontier, far from the influence of centralized governments.

        and why is that not exactly the kind of technology worship that you are decrying?

        It's not technology I object to, it's the whole materialist-reductionist attitude that comes with modern science. And it may well not be physics that first produces a means for travelling to the stars, at least if magical researchers can get over their reluctance to seriously muck with the fabric of Assiah.


        • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
          by Tim Maroney on Monday July 23, @08:04PM
          I already addressed the survival issue. Any kind of space colony is far more fragile than the Earth's ecosystem -- so fragile that the idea that such a colony could contribute to species survival in a catastrophe seems more than far-fetched.

          In addition to the points I already raised, please note that the idea of self-sufficient space colonies is purely speculative. Human groupings even on the biology-friendly and resource-rich Earth are not independent of each other. How much less would a space station or a colony on the Moon or Mars be independent of the rest of humanity?

          Finally, why is it important that any and all means be employed to extend the lifespan of the species? In particular, if we despoil our home world, wouldn't it be better all around if we ceased to exist?

          Tim


          • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
            by Shasu Ma'akheru on Monday July 23, @11:27PM
            How much less would a space station or a colony on the Moon or Mars be independent of the rest of humanity?

            There are over a hundred billion stars in this galaxy alone. This desolate solar system is little more than a proving ground for the methods that will take us somewhere more hospitable.

            Finally, why is it important that any and all means be employed to extend the lifespan of the species?

            Um, 'cause that's what life does. Why do humans have to sit around, giving themselves airs, thinking up philosophical justifications for what everything from lions to toilet mold does automatically with every last ounce of their energy? Humans ought to differ in only two ways: we can use our unusual brains to do so with foresight and forebearance, and we can use our splendid wills to do so with wisdom and understanding.

            In particular, if we despoil our home world, wouldn't it be better all around if we ceased to exist?

            The human species is not a monolithic mass, and even if it were, what more certain way for it to differentiate into new species with novel characteristics is there than to scatter it into geographically (or, more accurately, astronomically) separated communities? To badly paraphrase the famous Catholic saying, sow them all and let Darwin sort them out.

            If the universe really is teeming with life, the odds are good that more advanced species exist with the ability to contain us if we don't mend our ways. And if it's not teeming with life, what does it matter what we do?


            • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
              by Tim Maroney on Tuesday July 24, @09:01PM
              There are over a hundred billion stars in this galaxy alone.

              Star travel is a fantasy. It would take the energy of millions of atomic bombs to move any significant quantity of matter to even a nearby star at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light. Building such a machine would hardly enhance humanity's survival chances.

              This desolate solar system is little more than a proving ground for the methods that will take us somewhere more hospitable.

              How could there possibly be an environment more hospitable for humans than the environment with which we co-evolved? And why do you hate the Earth?
              Finally, why is it important that any and all means be employed to extend the lifespan of the species?

              Um, 'cause that's what life does.

              Life spends quadrillions of dollars building enormous machines to travel to unimaginably distant locations for no apparent reason? News to me.

              Individual beings may have a survival drive, but a species does not; and for humans, we have the ability to reflect upon our drives and decide whether to act them out or not.

              Why do humans have to sit around, giving themselves airs, thinking up philosophical justifications for what everything from lions to toilet mold does automatically with every last ounce of their energy?

              Why do we need to have a compelling reason to embark on projects which are expensive, dangerous and useless? It seems to me the question is why we would even consider doing something this absurd.

              In particular, if we despoil our home world, wouldn't it be better all around if we ceased to exist?

              The human species is not a monolithic mass, and even if it were, what more certain way for it to differentiate into new species with novel characteristics is there than to scatter it into geographically (or, more accurately, astronomically) separated communities?

              I have no doubt that if there is a future for "us," it is in the creation of successor races. We have already begun the process. But if those races are going to turn the galaxy into an enormous shopping mall or military base, then I would prefer we not continue to exist, rather than destroy so much beauty.

              If the universe really is teeming with life, the odds are good that more advanced species exist with the ability to contain us if we don't mend our ways.

              I'm not impressed with the appeal to the imaginary galactic parent-figure.

              And if it's not teeming with life, what does it matter what we do?

              Because it's not all about us? Because the natural world has an integrity of its own?

              Tim


    • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
      by Orryelle Defenestrate-Bascule on Sunday July 29, @09:18AM
      There is some major misunderstanding of the Maatian concept of the Hivemind here. The idea of N'aton (Nema's word for the collective consciousness) is not some borg-like oppressive mono-culture (how could this equate with a Goddess of Truth and Balance?), but quite the opposite: it is about union through diversity- Acceptance of individuality (Thelema) providing the link for collective unity. In this way the Maat current is an extension and complement of the Horus current, not an antithesis of it.
      On a more general note, I believe it is too late logistically to attempt to retreat from technology. We've already taken it to a point that our only hope lies in refining our technologies to be more ecologically sound and our intent to longterm sensibility rather than short-term localized greed. I can only see the awakening of humanity's groupmind -bringing awareness of repercussions beyond the immediate- as aiding in this process.


      • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
        by Mordecai on Sunday July 29, @11:19AM
        There has been discussion of the "Borg" here, but not by me, and my understanding of group mind based on the ideas of The Spike is nothing like Star Trek. The end of individuality is not what I'm contemplating; there will always be more than one group mind (especially if space migration occurs; we have no way of communicating FTL and might never have). The issue is the "blurring" of individuality. When ten people become one group mind they may still have the awareness to function, at least superficially, as if they were ten people on a committee, but they will also be just a single "entity". Right now will seems to me to be a phenomenon of the individual entity, all talk of "collective will" seems delusive to me, but when we have "superminds" will we also have "superwills"?


        • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
          by Parlertriks on Sunday July 29, @11:29AM
          What kind of Will is not the whole of the Law?
          (see bottom of this page for answer)


    Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
    by Xnoubis on Saturday July 21, @09:11AM
    I see this issue as a symptom of changes in our values. Frances Yates' Giodorno Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition depicted the shift in Renaissance European culture from religious authority to science and individual achievement. By now, we've gotten extremely accomplished in getting what we wanted back then. But it's starting to dawn on us that this is no longer what we want. While we're arguing about what it is we want instead, the old framework continues to accelerate.

    > So what are the implications of such a future for Thelema?

    Thelema is in some ways a vision of "what we want instead," and in other ways a reiteration of the Renaissance rebellion against religion. (Hmm, I'm a functional alliterate.) The spread of Thelema and other alternative religions is a response to the growing dissatisfaction with our current prevailing direction. If Thelema positions itself in a way that is relevant to our current crisis, it will have carved a place for itself in the emerging world view, if humanity doesn't destroy itself first.

    > "Singularity" culture

    Um... the acceleration of technology is very real. But extremist technophile groups such as the Extropians form a marginal sub-culture at best, don't they? (Not that Thelemites are any more prevalent.)

    Also, the association of Extropian (and similar movements) ideas with Maat doesn't work for me. The hive mind is already with us. The Maatian perspective suggests a loving interplay between the roles of individual and collective, not the steamrolling of both by technological structures. Not that there's anything anti-technological about Maat, either.

    The question for humanity is, what does humanity want? My sense is that many of us will see the first sproutings of a new shared vision of this in our lifetimes. Around the time of the Spike, maybe?

    • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
      by Fra THA;M on Saturday July 21, @12:36PM
      "If Thelema positions itself in a way that is relevant to our current crisis, it will have carved a place for itself in the emerging world view"

      Thelema has all of the characteristics generally asscoiated with a world religion: a central text, a supposed history dating back into antiquity, a prophetic figure, an additional set of undogmatic beleifs, and a volatile social climate which birthed it. Considering that Thelema has the prerequisites, do you ever foresee the possibility that it could take a place on this stage? In my frenzy of idealism I say yes, but in moments of lucidity I am doubtful...


    Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
    by Fra THA;M on Saturday July 21, @12:09PM
    "sounds much more to me like the Maatian hive mind than the Horian company of stars. This could be quite a disappointment to smug Thelemites envisioning themselves as heroic founders of the 2000 year reign of the Hawk-Headed Lord"

    I am unsure as to why, but this caused me quite accute pain. Much like a slap. Well said. Perhaps the foundation of my paradigm is so weakly constructed that entertaining the possibility is a real personal threat. Nice reveiw, and my gratitude for giving me pause to think.

    Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
    by Mark Shekoyan on Saturday July 21, @12:49PM
    I think both Timothy Leary and Terrence Mckenna provided interesting alternative models for the creative appropriation of technology with spiritual and evolutionary ends.

    Though Tim's Smile2 proposal for space migration, intelligence increase, and life exstension may seem a little problematic given that our current Gaian spaceship needs alot of care, his idea of synergestically using technology along with other elements as a catalyst for consciousness expansion is still a very powerful idea.

    Mckenna also saw communications technology converging with psychedelic use as a potential catalyst for the evolution of consciouness.

    Both of these thinkers provided interesting and novel approaches to how we might "Master" our tools with the intetion of quickening and enriching our own experiences in service of lives based on Love, Freedom, and Creativity. These are decidingly Thelemic values.

    On the "Hardware" front people like Bucky Fuller, and Paolo Solari(Visionary Italian Architect) provide opportunities for ways we might Design our future in ecological, and appropriately technology ways.

    It seems to me the issue is not a matter of the technology itself, so much as the intention behind the tool and its use.

    Out current technocapitalist scientific materialist worldview is driven by a deep existential alienation from source, coupled by the desire for mastery and control born out of that alienation. Technologies which emerge from this Moloch driven technoinferno express the fragmented and fearful natures of their makers.

    If we can "Bend" and "Shape" (Something we Magicians are suppossedly good at) the tools to a higher order intention, then they can fit a mode
    of life we might call beautiful.

    I envision a prototype of the New Jersulem/Heavenly City where all of the fruits of advanced technology have found a place with a sustainable and harmonious relationship with nature. This reclamied garden would be the healthy platform from which our species would eventually migrate into space to explore from a nurtuing foundation.

    Instead of leaving a wrecked planet behind so we can take are highly charged technoselves out into space to colonize other resource opportunites(The Borg), we would venture forth from a space of health and integral wholeness united in spiritual awakening. The advanceds technologies provide the tools, but the spiritual "Technologies of the Self" that are practiced in Yoga, Magic, and Mysticism will be the evolutionary agents which make this a living possibility.

    This will ultimately rest on people doing their Wills, and following the Tao as organic nodes in the nexus of the contiuum of possibilities that is nature/Cosmos. As I mentioned in my discussion of Charles Fourier and Thelema, a "Passional Harmonics" might be the foundation for this proto Utopia.

    We must shift our technologies and modes of being from the demonic to the daemonic. This can only come about through devotion and practice to the realization of beauty and truth, which is the essence of the great work.

    So if Thelema is ultimately about the great work, then the future rests on it as the foundation for the New Atlantis.

    As Aldous Huxley mentions in his brilliant Utopian Novel Island, "Nothing short of everything will do."

    93 93/93

    Mark

    • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
      by Nekial on Saturday July 28, @12:40AM
      93

      Here, here!

      We should not worry so much about what the spike/singularity may or may not be if/when it occurs. Our best bet now as yesterday as tomorrow is to get on with the joyful work of doing our wills.

      93 93/93

      ~N


      • Re: Golden Spike or Coffin Nail?
        by Parlertriks on Saturday July 28, @12:44PM
        i don't suppose it could be my will to worry?


    Punchline
    by Parlertriks on Sunday July 29, @11:31AM
    George Will.

    Punchline
    by Parlertriks on Sunday July 29, @11:31AM
    George Will.

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