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New Gods, New Angels, & Demons

The Emergence of Machine Superintelligance & Superaugmentation of Human Consciousness

In one of the first uses of the term "singularity" in the context of technological progress, Stanislaw Ulam (1958)1 tells of a conversation with John von Neumann about accelerating change:
One conversation centered on the ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.

The term "technological singularity" was originally coined by Vernor Vinge, who made an analogy between the breakdown in our ability to predict what would happen after the development of superintelligence and the breakdown of the predictive ability of modern physics at the space-time singularity, beyond the event horizon of a black hole.

Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil, define the concept in terms of the technological creation of superintelligence, while other writers use "the singularity" in a broader way to refer to any radical changes in our society brought about by new technologies such as molecular nanotechnology2

The System States

Humanity has been spreading through the solar system for 1400 years. Human society has calved, subdivided, and divided again into thousands of pocket civilizations, subcultures and tribes, scattered across the span of the system, from Mercury's fiery orbit to the systems distant edge.

Out in the 
Cometary Halo humans animal and plant life have been engineered to thrive in micro-gravity. Separated by millions of miles, widely scattered soap-bubble worlds glitter in the dark. Giant World-Trees spread protective canopies beneath translucent bubbles of organic plastic, sealing in air, heat, water and soil. Here habitats cling among the branches of miles tall trees distantly related to Cypress. In micro gravity strap-on wings allow humans to fly. UV and infrared emitting bioluminescent orbs drift on currents of air like their distant jelly-fish ancestors once drifted on ocean tides. Among the world-trees, from branch to root, layer upon layer of life and humanity. Launched in pairs manned and robotic craft herd drifting icy bodies, harvesting CHNOPS (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and sulfur) the currency and life blood of this far flung empire

Among the moons of Jupiter and Saturn a sprawling archipelago of island stations and industrialized moons. Inverted worlds: Bernal Sphere's and O'Neill Cylinders, Spindle and Wheel cities, legacy of the abandoned Martian terraforming. The spread of human kind across the vast orbits of the outer giants, evolving the architecture of civilization as need be in order to fit what niches might be found, adapting to environments far stranger than humankind's natal world, surpasses by far the vision of that five hundred year long effort.  

These are the System States. 

Entire generations are born and live their lives in spinning cylinders, bubbles, and torus shaped habitats, harvesting, mining, and fabricating all they need from the environment of the outer solar system. Countless laser-sail freighters move along Hohmann orbits. Passenger cruisers, nuclear pulse and fusion rockets, ride high velocity brachistochrone trajectories between the stations, habitats, moons, and worlds.

Water ice mined from Saturn's moons and rings provide air, propellant and water, and from Titan nitrogen, methane, ethane, along with other chemicals, harvested to feed the industrial/agricultural engines of civilization. 

Almost infinite power from the Io plasma torus enriches the city states among Jupiter's moons. Satellite engines send threads of laser light out, pushing beam-riding spacecraft deep into the inner system and out to its distant edge.  

The polar cities of Mercury are rich with trade in metals, and here again, orbital power and propulsive laser beaming stations distribute energy harvested from the sun. Gigantic cargo liners tethered to vast sails ride laser light among the orbits of the inner worlds. 

Mars is alive with subterranean cities. The eldest of humankind's deep space settlements. 

At the L1 point between Earth and the Sun a 2000 mile diameter rotating fresnel lense reduces the thermal irradiance reaching Earth. The project to mitigate climate change begun far too late, Earth's coastal cities shelter behind towering sea walls.  

In Cislunar space ancient industrial giants play at games of influence and of power. Ten giant habitats and constellations of solar power satellites circle the Earth (SPS orbits off-set to accommodate shading from the solar-thermal shield).  

Across the system emerging machine superintelligance, and superaugmentation of strictly human consciousness are in evolution.
New gods, new angels and demons are at play in the world, and everything is about to change.


What I am exploring is an evolution beyond artificial intelligence, the created beings in my setting possess sentience, i.e. the capacity to feel, perceive and experience subjectively, consciousness, and self awareness as we know it.  

A New Philosophy on Artificial Intelligence | Kristian Hammond | TEDxNorthwesternU

Why we have an emotional connection to robots | Kate Darling 

True Artificial Intelligence will change everything | Juergen Schmidhuber

What if modes of consciousness could be reduced to code and superimposed on the human mind?

Ray Kurzweil’s statement3 “we have the ability to understand our own intelligence—to access our own source code, if you will—and then revise and expand it.” conveys a compelling promise – the potential to augment human intelligence, along with a chilling potential for unintended consequences.

What if the technology to access our own source code and then revise it became widely, and cheaply available?

The potential ability to induce, via a technological means such as direct neural interface, hallucinatory or psychedelic Doors of Perception type modes of consciousness is certainly implied in Ray Kurzweil’s statement.

Here you will find the final edit of the opening scenes to my System States War novel, Ganymede Rain. I have included selections of my notes after the story for those who might be interested.

Ganymede Rain - Marilyn

Relevant journal selection:

Singularity Highway

1 Ulam, Stanislaw (May 1958), "Tribute to John von Neumann", Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society 64 (nr 3, part 2): 1–49.

2 Wikipedia, Technological Singularity Basic Concepts

3 Wikipedia, The Singularity Is Near

© 2014 - 2024 William-Black
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