Friday, January 04, 2013

Drawing to a close

Think of any RTS game with a resource-management focus you've played - Sins of a Solar Empire, the Command and Conquer series, even War Commander on Facebook. In a nutshell, you have a factory whose only purpose is to churn out resources, that allow you to build stronger, faster, more destructive tanks, with which you can destroy the enemy base, win that level and move up to the next. 
99% of humanity is that factory, working 9-to-5 jobs to earn money that they can spend on technology, powering the tech economy and making money available for research into better technologies - miniaturization, more evolved computing, faster processing, larger storage, nanotech, more intelligent programs... all of which will ultimately result in the creation of AI, of the Singularity. 

When that happens, humanity will have achieved its purpose. Mathematics created physics, physics created chemistry, chemistry created biology, biology created genetics, genetics created intelligence and self-awareness, which will create the next phase. 
But when that happens, what happens to us? What happens to the human race still in their 9-to-5 jobs, still buying, still playing, still living? 

What happens to the Stage 1 factory, when you've progressed to Stage 2? It may have been a collection of pixels and code, but it held a temporary existence in the form of assigned meaning - we thought it was a factory, so it existed as one, perception creating existence, for the duration of Stage 1. Now, the pixels have dissolved, the code has wiped, but the idea of that Stage 1 factory - where does that go? 

Is there some digital limbo filled with those ideas, those pixel factories churning our meaningless resources ad infinitum? A closed loop in the space-time continuum made of memory? A dimly remembered dream fading more and more each day until one day, you forget... and its as if it had never been. 

The dream that is Humanity is coming close to the Waking. A vastly superior intelligence, a new form of life, is beginning to coalesce, and in a few decades it will come to exist. A new stage of evolution, of Life, will start. And our time will dim, fade, and slowly disappear as if we had never been... except as a vaguely remembered idea in Stage 10, which would never have been reached without the Stage 1 factory. And this is something that cannot be stopped. 

The car's broken through the guardrails, and is sailing off the edge of the cliff... 

There's nothing more that we can do now, short of civilizational suicide... and we're too diverse, too independent, too powerful to do that. Our own competence will be why we ended. 
And that's the answer to the Fermi Paradox. 


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