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Viewpoints on Modern Cosmism
Giulio Prisco   Nov 18, 2015   Turing Church  

In the pictures I am with George Carey, Ben Goertzel, and Vlad Bowen, the day before the Modern Cosmism conference last month in New York. Here I try to summarize some interrelated and compatible but slightly different viewpoints on modern Cosmism.

Of course I must start with the Russian Cosmists. I am unable to produce a picture with Nikolai Fedorov (I definitely look forward to taking a picture with him someday in the unknown elsewhere), but a picture with George will do. George is the creator of the BBC documentary “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” which provides an excellent introduction to Russian Cosmism and shows how Fedorov’s ideas inspired Russian scientists and provided a powerful mystique for the Russian space program. George has been filming at the conference, and I look forward to seeing his new documentary on modern Cosmism.

Ben wrote the Bible of modern Cosmism: “A Cosmist Manifesto,” a practical philosophy primer that blends science and spirituality, established science and awesome speculative ideas, futurism and compassion, technology and art, life strategies and cosmic visions – a must-read book where every reader will find snippets of spiritual wisdom and practical advice.

Modern Cosmism has been beautifully summarized by Ben, legendary cyberculture icon (and iconoclast) R.U. Sirius, and Jay Cornell, in “Transcendence – The Disinformation Encyclopedia of Transhumanism and the Singularity.”

“Cosmism is a sort of philosophically laid-back version of transhumanism. In a culture that tends to be argumentative and filled with people who like to insist that their views are correct, cosmism doesn’t care if you’re viewing the universe as information or quantum information or hypercomputation or God stuff or whatever. Nor does it ask anyone to commit to AGI or mind uploading or brain-computer interfaces or fusion-powered toasters as the best way forward. Rather, it seeks to infuse the human universe with an attitude of joy, growth, choice, and open-mindedness. Cosmism believes that science in its current form, just like religion and philosophy in their current forms, may turn out to be overly limited for the task of understanding life, mind, society, and reality – but it teaches that, if so, by actively engaging with the world and studying and engineering things, and by reflecting on ourselves carefully and intelligently, we will likely be able to discover the next stage in the evolution of collective thinking.”

I quoted this compact and accurate definition in one of the opening slides of my talk. See the video and slides of my talk. The talks of BenVlad, and all the other speakers,  are available in the Cosmism Foundation YouTube channel.

Jeremiah P. OstrikerWendell WallachRandal A. KoeneJay Friedenberg, and James Hughes, presented related ideas on science, technology, and philosophy. My favorite recollection of the conference: a brief talk with a 14-years old who came with his father and found Randal’s talk on mind uploading especially interesting. Perhaps the boy will become a scientist and play an important role to develop mind uploading.

My viewpoint on Cosmism is totally compatible with Ben’s – I really agree with everything he says in the book – but I emphasize the technological resurrection aspect of Cosmism.  “[Not only] achieving immortality, but restoring all the people who have ever walked the Earth to life so that they may share the gift as well, making the heaven of the afterlife a physical reality” (Nader Elhefnawy).

See my essay “Technological resurrection concepts from Fedorov to Quantum Archaeology” for Fedorov’s ideas on technological resurrection and more modern formulations compatible with and informed by contemporary physics. I think the concept of technological resurrection is a bridge between science and religion, which can offer hope and happiness to everyone in today’s and tomorrow’s world.

Therefore, when thinking, talking, or writing about Cosmism vs. traditional religions, I emphasize the parallels and continuity rather than the differences. In particular, I emphasize the continuity between modern Cosmism and Russian Cosmism (an explicitly religious viewpoint): the technological resurrection concept is central to both.

To me, it’s intuitively evident that:

  • We will go to the stars and find Gods, build Gods, become Gods, and resurrect the dead from the past with advanced science, space-time engineering and “time magic.”
  • God is emerging from the community of advanced forms of life and civilizations in the universe, and able to influence space-time events anywhere, anytime, including here and now.
  • God elevates love and compassion to the status of fundamental forces, key drivers for the evolution of the universe.

I think this Cosmist Vision could and should play for our grandchildren the same positive role – sense of wonder, sense of meaning, hope to be reunited with loved ones in an afterlife, and calm happiness – that traditional religions played for our grandfather.

Eric Steinhart, professor in the Department of Philosophy at William Paterson University, and author of “Your Digital Afterlives: Computational Theories of Life after Death,” will present his thoughts on technological resurrection at the 2016 Conference of the Mormon Transhumanist Association (MTA).

Mormon Transhumanism is essentially Cosmist, with a special focus on Mormonism. Other essentially Cosmist groups at the intersection of transhumanist science and spirituality, unfortunately not very active at the moment, are the Society for Universal Immortalism, with a special focus on cryonics, and Martine Rothblatt’s Terasem, with special focus on “mindfiles” – the Bainbridge-Rothblatt soft-copy uploading method. See also the awesome essays “Religion for a Galactic Civilization,” by William Sims Bainbridge (1982 and 2009 versions).

Vlad Bowen, the organizer of the Modern Cosmism conference, proposes that future post-biological uploaded humans will build an artificial synthetic reality where “super-intelligent life can flourish and fulfill its mission as an important part of overall cosmic evolution.” Back to here and now, Vlad wants to get modern Cosmism organized, and make it popular and influential. I wish all the best to Vlad’s Cosmism Foundation and will will do my best to support it.

All these viewpoints that emphasize a special focus are compatible with the high level definition in Transcendence. Let a thousand Cosmist flowers bloom!

Giulio Prisco is a writer, technology expert, futurist and transhumanist. A former manager in European science and technology centers, he writes and speaks on a wide range of topics, including science, information technology, emerging technologies, virtual worlds, space exploration and future studies. He serves as President of the Italian Transhumanist Association.



COMMENTS

My sense, Dr.Prisco, is that if yourself, or Dr. Goertzel, or anyone else who is a ‘superbright,’ (salute to Dennett and Dawkins), were to arrive at a consensus, or plausible theory for technological resurrection, or another means of survival, they’d be preventing some wars, and promote human cooperation.

A reasonable skeptic might say, “how could this even make a difference? We already have billions of people alive today, or throughout history, who believed in some sort of afterlife, and blood has been shed like a red waterfall, perhaps because of religion.”

My answer is that a plausible theory of technological resurrection would have a decided advantage over pure religious faith. The advantage is that with scientific analysis supporting the plausibility, this becomes far less of a leap of faith, and far, more, of something all people could rely on. To quote Frank Tipler, “Heaven becomes as real as an electron.” I put it differently, and say, survival becomes as probable as semi-complex life evolving on different, far-away planets; or that eventually, great advances in energy production will actually arrive at some future time.

The advantage to Atheists are said, thusly, “look! All this, and heaven, too! Plus, we don’t need an old man in the sky to accomplish this, because our great, great, grandchildren will do this though science and reason.”

The religious can equally state, “Very well, humans can and will achieve this great gift and fulfillment, from God, by doing our part. This is something our teachings have always stressed. More importantly, we religious people now know the method of the Lord’s greatness and wisdom, and this, in itself is a joyous gift for us.”

Moreover, such a philosophy would prompt peoples to work together for pursuing such a mutually, beneficial, goal. Who among us, atheist, or religious, wants ourselves, family, friends, and pets, to stay dead and dissolved, forever?  For example, there are a few, but most people do not turn down medicines, jet travel, indoor plumbing, or smart phones. Knowing that we all will Return, might give us to reflect on how we live and behave today, now. If, say, Martine
Rothblatt, or Vlad Bowen, somehow, arrived at such a workable theory, who would decline it? I am guessing if this philosophy was solid enough, most people would gravitate to it, and adapt to it.

Re “a plausible theory of technological resurrection would have a decided advantage over pure religious faith… Heaven becomes as real as an electron…”

Then you say that that both atheists and believers would accept a scientific religion with a plausible theory of technological resurrection, each for their own reasons. But it’s equally (or more)  likely that both atheists and believers would reject it, each for their own reasons - the atheists because it sounds too much like religion, and the believers because it sounds too much like science and not enough like traditional religions.

I am more and more persuaded that reason plays essentially no role in shaping our beliefs on fundamental issues, which are determined mostly by emotions. First your guts choose what you believe, then your rational mind finds ways to justify your belief.

If so (as I have been saying for years) we must develop powerful and emotionally compelling art, literature, and mythologies. Plausible theories of technological resurrection are also important, but those who want to believe in a scientific religion will believe anyway, with or without plausible theories. We must make them want to believe.

Having said that (pasted from a related comment on turingchurch.com):

I am thinking to start a collaborative meta-research (research on research) project to scan scientific articles and books and find, review, cross-reference, and discuss the most interesting and promising proposals for a scientific afterlife theory.

The project would be at least inspiring for the participants and permit developing some kind of rough roadmap for future “akashic” science and tech.

A question is which web framework is the best for the project. I am thinking on a wiki based on Mediawiki (like Wikipedia), either with access control (only authorized users can contribute), or completely open (everyone can contribute).

Comments and suggestions welcome.

I still suspect that many people are looking for a fix, and your technological resurrection, once it is fleshed -out, would provide that fix. If one has zero concerns for their own dying, or even the dying out of family, friends, and pets, and there are quite a few people who say this, then whatever you present, will be dismissed, automatically. They are thus, too intelligent to be fooled by such a philosophy, and are also much smarter than the rest of us superstitious, peasants. Malocchio!!!

The fanatically, religious, will reject your philosophy, or one of Steinhart’s writings, also, as it may threaten their power. This, I understand as well, yet, there seems to be enough inquisitive minds (religious), who would make use of your ideas. On the other hand it may persuade many, as an example, that to attain “Janah” or Paradise, or more directly, to avoid eternal death, or hell, one need not strap on a bomber’s vest, because, in the fullness of time, help is on the way!

It’s akin to wanting some cream for your coffee and your choice is raising dairy cows, or stopping by a local market to purchase a milk carton or bottle. I am speaking ease of use, being the same with cream for your coffee, and, death anxiety. Ease of use.

Your project that you are considering, seems to be like an excellent process to create a knowledge base for practical use in these approach to life. Your mentioning of Akashic Records reminds me, not of Hindu beliefs but of the writings of Ervin Lazlo. The curiosity of “Sky records,” reminds of the “book of life,” as the ancients might term it, or as we would call it today, a relational or block-chain database.

The use of music and literature and cinema, indeed could be useful, and perhaps, profitable, for artists, musicians, and film producers. If some Atheists like our ideas, bellisima! If the Church adapts and uses these ideas (any religion) then it is also flavorful, yes? Some will like what we all can cook up. Other will find it indigestible. Alas! Still, taking some small steps like your book is better than not.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “It is better to light one candle, than curse the darkness.” It is often very dark out, indeed.

@spud100 - Erwin Laszlo’s “Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything” (2004) is an intriguing proposal for a synthesis of modern Western science and traditional Eastern wisdom.

It’s really surprising that Laszlo’s ideas aren’t more popular, which brings me back to the missing spice (a powerful, emotionally compelling formulation) that could make the synthesis of science and spirituality more appealing.

Of course, Laszlo’s ideas are dismissed as pseudoscience by the dull bureaucrats of philosophy, which makes about as much sense as dismissing Shakespeare’s “There are more things in heavens and earth that are dreamt of in your philosophy” as pseudoscience. Laszlo’s proposes a high level template, meant to be completed by philosophers and scientists.

Small steps are better than nothing indeed, I very much agree.

Well, a relational database via cosmological, holographic theory as prosed by physicists like Susskind, Bousso, and Sarfati, would do the trick. This would be where Baxter and Clarke’s Light of Other Days Technology would seem to possibly, work. How such a machine might work, to download yesterday’s world, perhaps embedded in Planck cells, along Earth’s orbital path around the sun, would be fascinating, indeed!

I remember that Ben Goertzel wrote that he was naturally, upset, after his dog died, unexpectedly, last summer, after they had gone for a walk. Goertzel wrote that he would buld a “resurrection machine” to retrieve his pet, when he could. I suspect this was just a joke, lamenting his misfortune of losing a friend. However, I will admit looking to through his writings online, to see if he ever wrote about such a magical device, in any of his older articles.

This would not be something that is ready to patent, or move into production of, or apply for a business loan for; but I ponder if Dr. Goertzel ever sketched out a schematic for how such a fantastical machine might, maybe, work? Is this even remotely conceivable in physics or computer science??

Ciao

@Spud100 - Ben wrote about “resurrection machines” here:
“Paranormal Phenomena, Nonlocal Mind and Reincarnation Machines.”
http://multiverseaccordingtoben.blogspot.hu/2015/03/paranormal-phenomena-nonlocal-mind-and.html

My review here:
http://turingchurch.com/2015/04/26/ben-goertzel-on-nonlocal-minds-and-reincarnation-machines/

My impression is that Ben is open to the idea but wouldn’t bet the farm yet. Which is, of course, the most reasonable position.

Re “Is this even remotely conceivable in physics or computer science??”

Yes, but remotely. Reading the Akashic records is out of reach of today’s physics and computer science, and I am afraid it will remain so for a looong time.

Today, we can only speculate about intriguing hints found in the weirdest fringes of fundamental physics, which is what the database is about.

By the way, I am starting to use the “Akashic” terminology, because the theory of the Akashic field (ref. Laszlo, Abraham and others, review forthcoming) is essentially equivalent to my ideas (or better, my half-baked ideas reflect the theories of giants like Laszlo).

If we will ever be able to retrieve the informatiion to resurrect the dead, it means that the information exist somewhere in the fabric of reality, so the Akashic records exist. If the Akashic records exist in the fabric of reality, then someday science will be able to read them.

Very insightful, Dr. An observation that is rational (I think) is that the branches of physics are now so diverse, that a Phd. in physics may not be aware of what the other scientist is doing. Thus, for example, what Krauss is doing is not a complete assemssment of what Susskind is doing. Two weak examples I am providing. Sifting through unrelated papers, might, as we both have suggested might provide a grande picture, of what potentiual for humankind’s great goal is. I database might do the work, similar to what hiring managers use to sift through resumes. Pick some choice words or verbage to screen for, and bing! We have a hit.

A fellow, physicist at Waterloo in Ontario, Paul Wesson, came up with the proposal that maybe ETI communications may be occuring via a 5th physical dimension. One that conceptually, is suggested by physics, dating way back to Kalusza-Klein, and evern earlier, with mathematics. Maybe I should wear a sign at international airports, stating, “On Strike! We Demand Resurrection Through Physics Now!” Since I will be out of work in a couple of months, I should have lots of time available to do this 😉

The Akashic thing could better explain, logically, that there’s a great database in the sky, where certain reincarnation experiences arise. The data is there and sometimes leaks, and thus, you have these rare, weird, occurences. It might work in the same way as genetics works in biology, where traits get inherited. Perhaps, like Goertzel thinks, mental patterns. It’s possible, but for my life, it’s not my goal.

This is principally why I focused on some or Eric Steinhart’s ideas. First, the process is already in existence (supposedly) via the evolution of Universes and the Minds that come along with them (operating systems?) like Darwin, like Conway’s   Life. On the other hand, I don’t agree with his focus on his Revision Theory of Resurrection, since it dumps the previous existing person, in order to formulate a copy of the previous person with a better life. I mean, how many times ought a human be toilet trained, etc?  Plus, its not the same person, because there is not the same person alive to have the memories to make note that this iteration is a better place.

Better still, is Steinhart’s concept of Promotion, (a term out of software coding) where as this Universe is some kind of Sim (likely, not an accurate term) where the individual is uploaded to the “upper universe” to share with one’s Creator or creators., via “pipelines.” This, to me sounds immensely, better, than creating a happy clone, in a universe different from our own. Best wishes to that fortunate, happy clones, but that’s not me, or you! This is not to go against Martine Rothblatts; Mind Clones, which is uploading! I once wrote to her Terasem team regarding the possibilty of resurrecting the long team, and the director wrote back, saying, “our straw poll indicates yes, this will be possible.” I replied, “Thanks” and did not pester, regarding the methods to be used. I realize that I can be a troublesome pain in the ass, so, I often desist.

Steinhart also likes Uploading to nice “Terariums,” via mind uploading, as Uploading itself, or Teleportation. Move the data that is you, and the data relationships, to someplace with a nice, view, and less expensive rents, and lower taxes. Ah! Heaven!

@spud100 - Resurrection will be the ultimate form of welfare on steroids, so I guess the taxes will be higher 😉

I am sorry to hear that you will be out of work in a couple of months, I hope you have enough (savings, pension, part-time work..) to go on. If so, you are more than welsome to contribute to the Akashic Physics Roadmap project.

Ha! il Professori. Actually, what one wit on a Forum once quipped, “what we would call a miracle of resurrection, our descendents, two hundred years from now will call ‘advanced medical care.’ The job thing is where people from out of my hemisphere, not yours, come in and we train them, and then our jobs go away, back to ‘out of country.’ Is this ever done in the EU?

It’s fascinating to watch. I have, apparently, zero resentment against the trainees, but do keep a narrow eye on the US planners of this, wondering whether such a business plan is workable over, a 5 year period, or not? I have some evidence of a large corporation who did this, only to have to rebuild their US based employees back up again. Money makes people crazy, including me.

If there was an Akashic Physics project 😉 going on, yes, I would contribute. By the way, Steinhart has listed his Compass magazine article finally, its on his website. Haven’t read it yet, but looks nice.

-Mitch

Thanks, il Professori, I look forward to it.

Regards,

Mitch

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