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At the Techonomy conference in August 2010, Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt said that through artificial intelligence Google can predict human behavior and that if we show Google 14 pictures of ourselves, it can even identify who we are—a boastful statement, but not far from the truth.

The ordinary human mind works mostly as a mechanism based on past conditionings. And it becomes even more mechanical through interacting continuously with machines. So there’s little surprise that some well-written software can infer with good accuracy who we are, what we want, which website we will visit, where we will go next while on the street. Google knows of every Web page we visit, every advertisement we click on and probably—with their mathematical and analytical tools that can interpret location, web navigation, connections with people, and email messages—much more than we can imagine.

In case our behaviour can’t be predicted, Google can always tell us what we should do, because, in Schmidt’s words, people “want Google to tell them what they should be doing next”, as reported by Nicholas Carr1. As much as his words are unnerving, there’s, again, more than a hint of truth in them. Our will and inner direction are activated by the connection with our “belly center”—that place which any martial arts practitioner moves from.

This center is weakened by overusing the mind without a felt, alive and aware connection with the body, which is the ground for our search for truth. Lacking this connection, we seek guidance from technology even for the most basic decisions, just as we ask Google for anything which could be retrieved with a little effort by our memories.

This transforms all of us into helpless babies needing suggestions or confirmation from Mother Google for all our activities. Or at best into rebellious teenagers ignoring her hints, but showing up at dinner time.

Possessive mothers want their children to be dependent on them, not wanting them to grow up, seducing them with their tastiest dishes (free and entertaining software tools) and providing for all of their needs—while resisting their children’s every effort to go out from home unsupervised. Anywhere we go we leave a trace for Google. The children, then, will never face the real world—nor their real selves.

1. Brave New Google.

See also:  Mail Goggles
Mother Google
The Tao of Google Ranking
Google, Privacy and the Need to be Seen

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Juggling with the Mind

“I would like to be able to download the ability to juggle. There’s nothing more boring than learning to juggle.”1 That’s artificial intelligence scientist Marvin Minsky, talking about a new AI project at MIT. He points to the fact that his iPhone can download thousands of applications, instantly allowing it to perform with new capacities. Why not do the same with the brain?

Minsky believes that we can separate the ability to juggle from the internal transformations that take place while learning to juggle. Knowledge, in the Cartesian style, is seen as something “pure,” removed from subjective participation and the involvement of our body/mind.

Scientists who claim to be at the forefront of human progress are still entangled in paradigms hundreds of years old.  Given Minsky’s vision, even inner knowledge can be represented digitally and downloaded to our neurophysiology, just as we do with a computer application. Kurzweil and others forecast such a future.

Here is Aldous Huxley’s view:

Some artists have practised the kind of self-naughting which is the indispensable pre-condition of the unitive knowledge of the divine Ground. Fra Angelico, for example, prepared himself for his work by means of prayer and meditation; and from the foreground extract from Chuang Tzu we see how essentially religious (and not merely professional) was the Taoist craftman’s approach to his art. Here we may remark in passing that mechanization is incompatible with inspiration. The artisan could do and often did do a thoroughly bad job. But if, like Ch’ing, the chief carpenter, he cared for his art and were ready to do what was necessary to make himself docile to inspiration, he could and sometimes did do a job so good that is seemed “as though as supernatural execution.” Among the many and enormous advantages of efficient automatic machinery is this: it is completely fool-proof. But every gain has to be paid for. The automatic machine is fool-proof; but just because it is fool-proof it is also grace-proof. The man who tends such a machine is impervious to every form of aesthetic inspiration, whether of human or of genuinely spiritual origin. “Industry without art is brutality.” But actually Ruskin maligns the brutes. The industrious bird or insect is inspired, when it works, by the infallible animal grace of instinct – by Tao as it manifests itself on the level immediately above the physiological.” 2

When we don’t feel “presence” in our actions or value our activities as media for our growth, we move toward automating everything that can be automated, including activities which expand our soul’s capacities. In Zen monasteries, even the most repetitive tasks—like cleaning the rice—are used as a path for awareness. But the contemporary ego wants goals – and wants to reach them fast.

1Chandler, D.L. “Rethinking artificial intelligence”.  MITnews.  http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/ai-overview-1207.html

2Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, New York: Harper & Row, 1945, p. 171.

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The Singularity is Nearest

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Ray Kurzweil, futurist, inventor, and author of The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, looks forward to an era where humans, in their evolution, will be linked to machines, through electronics and biotechnology. His research and inventions range from music to artificial intelligence, from speech recognition to optics. Kurzweil defines The Singularity as “an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today — the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity.”

Kurzweil forecasts the enhancement of our intelligence by merging with non-biological intelligence, sending intelligent nanobots into our brains. In his view, our neurons and the nanobots will communicate on a local area network. We’ll be online all the time directly from our brains and we’ll communicate with other brains through the network.

This quest also goes in the direction of searching for radical life extension – even immortality. In the book co-authored with Terry Grossman, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, they write that through biotech we’re developing the tools to reprogram our biology at the most fundamental level. I have been consulted myself by Terry Grossman about health and life extension, getting interesting hints about how supplements work on my biology.

When Kurzweil was interviewed by What is Enlightenment magazine (now called EnlightenNext), he stated that we are in a stage of intersection of information technology and biology where we understand life, death, disease, and aging as information processes. With our knowledge we can start to reprogram genes, seen as software codes. Merging our biological intelligence with non-biological intelligence will vastly expand human intelligence, where the thinking process will be a hybrid of the two and where the non-biological portion will be much more powerful, giving birth to new and enhanced forms of intelligence.

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Ray Kurzweil, futurista, inventore e autore di The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, immagina un’epoca non distante dove gli esseri umani, nella loro evoluzione, verranno congiunti alle macchine attraverso l’elettronica e le biotecnologie. Le sue ricerche e invenzioni spaziano dalla musica all’intelligenza artificiale, dal riconoscimento del linguaggio parlato all’ottica. Kurzweil definisce la Singolarità come “un’epoca in cui la nostra intelligenza diventerà sempre meno biologica e sarà trillioni di volte più potente di ciò che è oggi – l’alba di una nuova civilizzazione che ci consentirà di trascendere i nostri limiti biologici ed amplificare la nostra creatività.”

Kurzweil predice il miglioramento della nostra intelligenza tramite l’unione con un’intelligenza non-biologica, mandando dei nanorobot nei cervelli. Nella sua visione, i nostri neuroni e i nanorobot comunicheranno tramite una rete locale. Saremo collegati online direttamente dai nostri cervelli e comunicheremo con altri cervelli attraverso la rete.

Questa ricerca va anche nella direzione dell’estensione radicale della vita – addirittura verso l’immortalità. Nel libro che ha scritto insieme a Terry Grossman, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, viene affermato che attraverso le biotecnologie stiamo sviluppando gli strumenti per riprogrammare la nostra biologia al livello più fondamentale. Ho incontrato personalmente Terry Grossman riguardo la salute e l’estensione della vita, ricevendo interessanti informazioni su come i supplementi operano sulla mia biologia.

Quando Kurzweil fu intervistato dalla rivista What is Enlightenment (ora chiamata EnlightenNext), egli ha dichiarato che siamo in un’epoca di intersezione tra l’information technology e la biologia, in cui capiamo la vita, la morte, la malattia e il processo di invecchiamento come processi informativi. Tramite la nostra conoscenza possiamo iniziare a riprogrammare i geni, intesi come codici software. L’unione della nostra intelligenza biologica con quella non biologica espanderà enormemente l’intelligenza umana, dove il processo di pensiero sarà un ibrido dei due e dove la porzione non-biologica sarà molto più potente, facendo nascere nuove ed accresciute forme di intelligenza.

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Biotech as an information system

<h1><a xhref="http://www.indranet.org/?attachment_id=70">geopoliticus-child-watching-the-birth-of-the-new-man.jpg</a></h1>[en]

The race toward the digitalization of reality has never slowed down, and it has resulted in a perception of the universe as an information processing system. The digitalization of reality has spread to the biological system and has been accelerated with the DNA sequencing of Human Genome Project.

Then scientists discovered that RNA, previously considered junk, regulates protein production and regulates genetic expression. Sequencing RNA and the classification of proteins will probably require billions of times the computational power needed for the Human Genome Project in 2005.

Biology and physics can express themselves on an informational level as well, but this doesn't mean that this is the only level where we can understand their nature.

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La corsa verso la digitalizzazione della realtà non si è mai arrestata e ha creato la percezione dell’universo come di un sistema di elaborazione delle informazioni. La digitalizzazione della realtà ha raggiunto il sistema biologico e ha subito un’accelerazione con la mappatura del DNA tramite il Progetto Genoma Umano.

Quindi gli scienziati hanno scoperto che l’RNA, precedentemente considerato spazzatura, regola la produzione di proteine e l’espressione genetica.  Sequenziare l’RNA e classificare le proteine richiederà probabilmente una capacità di calcolo miliardi di volte più grande di quella necessaria per il Progetto Genoma Umano del 2005.

La Biologia e la Fisica possono esprimersi a livello delle informazioni, ma questo non vuol dire che esso sia l’unico livello in cui possiamo comprendere la loro natura.

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