21st Century Style Snake-Oil?

As humans a few ubiquitous limitations constrain us all, regardless of our affiliations. Whether we subscribe to the hypothesis on space and time or the axioms of math or the subjective escape into the rarer realms or the conjuring tricks of sound and light or as a traficker of ideas, Death ends us all.

The problem of Death must have been one of the earliest pre-occupations of thinking man. It can easily be imagined how the very first reasoning animal-man would have confronted a reality that snatches away what he has adored until a little while back.

Here is article from Wired that covers another attempt to do away with Death. It covers Ray Kurzweil‘s pursuit of ‘singularity’, a state in the evolution of humanity as defined by von Neumann.

The notion of what the singularity seems to have been added upon later. From what I understood it seems to be the sudden burst in the advancements in machines, that will exceed the capabilities of humans.

But look at it in another way. Is this any different from the ascetic who isolates himself in the mountain-cave? Contorting his physical and mental self, to catch the rhythm of an existence that allows something of him to pass on beyond gates of physical self, and hence death?

Perhaps singularity wears different masks? Is it the same as Buddha’s Nirvana? Or the Nirvikalpa and Savikalpa Samadhi of the various Yogas? Or more even the supramental state of Sri Aurobindo’s yoga? Or is this all merely a scientific snake-oil? What do you think?

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  1. Singularity, conceptually in this context, IMO, would be the state at which the physical self can no longer cope up with the increasing mental prowess. Why ? Because of the rate at which we gain knowledge, other bodily functions have to necessarily cease to perform their duties. But isn’t that the exact idea of evolution ? One aspect of the body improving and changing as nature requires, for the sake of survival. Isn’t all such transformations singular by nature ? If this is true, I will accept that when we transfer the human consciousness to a machine, and exist without the body, we have reached singularity.

    Is it Scientific snake-oil ? Probably Yes.

    We are in no position to understand and talk about what the human consciousness is made of. Or at least not me. May be it is just random chemical impulses in the brain working on a pattern, which would be rendered meaningless without the body itself. Or may be it does have a different meaning and the Yogis were right all along.

    The article is insightful and insane at the same time and it brings about thoughts that leads me to different conclusions every time I think about it. But I do feel that we are getting ahead of ourselves in thinking that human consciousness is transferable to machines so that we could attain immortality. It is not as simple as a heart transplant in concept or even a brain transplant. The idea is far more subtle in its complexity than just getting away from one’s body and conquering death.

    My 2 cents 🙂 And I just realized why I still read your blog !

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