This "problem" about immortality comes up in much more direct ways. The notion of ego and self-awareness has been the bedrock of the hardheaded rationalism of the last few centuries. Yet now the notion of self-awareness is under attack from the Artificial Intelligence people ("self-awareness and other delusions"). Intelligence Amplification undercuts our concept of ego from another direction. The post-Singularity world will involve extremely high-bandwidth networking. A central feature of strongly superhuman entities will likely be their ability to communicate at variable bandwidths, including ones far higher than speech or written messages. What happens when pieces of ego can be copied and merged, when the size of a selfawareness can grow or shrink to fit the nature of the problems under consideration? These are essential features of strong superhumanity and the Singularity. Thinking about them, one begins to feel how essentially strange and different the Post-Human era will be -- no matter how cleverly and benignly it is brought to be.

From one angle, the vision fits many of our happiest dreams: a time unending, where we can truly know one another and understand the deepest mysteries. From another angle, it's a lot like the worst- case scenario I imagined earlier in this paper.

Which is the valid viewpoint? In fact, I think the new era is simply too different to fit into the classical frame of good and evil. That frame is based on the idea of isolated, immutable minds connected by tenuous, low-bandwith links. But the post-Singularity world does fit with the larger tradition of change and cooperation that started long ago (perhaps even before the rise of biological life). I think there are notions of ethics that would apply in such an era. Research into IA and high-bandwidth communications should improve this understanding. I see just the glimmerings of this now [32]. There is Good's Meta-Golden Rule; perhaps there are rules for distinguishing self from others on the basis of bandwidth of connection. And while mind and self will be vastly more labile than in the past, much of what we value (knowledge, memory, thought) need never be lost. I think Freeman Dyson has it right when he says [9]: "God is what mind becomes when it has passed beyond the scale of our comprehension."

[I wish to thank John Carroll of San Diego State University and Howard Davidson of Sun Microsystems for discussing the draft version of this paper with me.]

Annotated Sources [and an occasional plea for bibliographical help]

[1] Alfve'n, Hannes, writing as Olof Johanneson, The End of Man?, Award Books, 1969 earlier published as "The Tale of the Big Computer", Coward-McCann, translated from a book copyright 1966 Albert Bonniers Forlag AB with English translation copyright 1966 by Victor Gollanz, Ltd.

[2] Anderson, Poul, "Kings Who Die", If, March 1962, p8-36. Reprinted in Seven Conquests, Poul Anderson, MacMillan Co., 1969.

[3] Asimov, Isaac, "Runaround", Astounding Science Fiction, March 1942, p94. Reprinted in Robot Visions, Isaac Asimov, ROC, 1990. Asimov describes the development of his robotics stories in this book.

[4] Barrow, John D. and Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Oxford University Press, 1986.

[5] Bear, Greg, "Blood Music", Analog Science Fiction-Science Fact June, 1983. Expanded into the novel Blood Music, Morrow, 1985.

[6] Cairns-Smith, A. G., Seven Clues to the Origin of Life, Cambridge University Press, 1985.

[7] Conrad, Michael et al., "Towards an Artificial Brain", BioSystems, vol 23, pp175-218, 1989.

[8] Drexler, K. Eric, Engines of Creation, Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1986.

[9] Dyson, Freeman, Infinite in All Directions, Harper && Row, 1988.

[10] Dyson, Freeman, "Physics and Biology in an Open Universe", Review of Modern Physics, vol 51, pp447-460, 1979.

[11] Good, I. J., "Speculations Concerning the First Ultraintelligent Machine", in Advances in Computers, vol 6, Franz L. Alt and Morris Rubinoff, eds, pp31-88, 1965, Academic Press.

[12] Good, I. J., [Help! I can't find the source of Good's Meta-Golden Rule, though I have the clear recollection of hearing about it sometime in the 1960s. Through the help of the net, I have found pointers to a number of related items. G. Harry Stine and Andrew Haley have written about metalaw as it might relate to extraterrestrials: G. Harry Stine, "How to Get along with Extraterrestrials ... or Your Neighbor", Analog Science Fact- Science Fiction, February, 1980, p39-47.]

[13] Herbert, Frank, Dune, Berkley Books, 1985. However, this novel was serialized in Analog Science Fiction-Science Fact in the 1960s.

[14] Kovacs, G. T. A. et al., "Regeneration Microelectrode Array for Peripheral Nerve Recording and Stimulation", IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, v 39, n 9, pp 893-902.

[15] Margulis, Lynn and Dorion Sagan, Microcosmos, Four Billion Years of Evolution from Our Microbial Ancestors, Summit Books, 1986.

[16] Minsky, Marvin, Society of Mind, Simon and Schuster, 1985.

[17] Moravec, Hans, Mind Children, Harvard University Press, 1988.

[18] Niven, Larry, "The Ethics of Madness", If, April 1967, pp82-108. Reprinted in Neutron Star, Larry Niven, Ballantine Books, 1968.

[19] Penrose, Roger, The Emperor's New Mind, Oxford University Press, 1989.

[20] Platt, Charles, Private Communication.

[21] Rasmussen, S. et al., "Computational Connectionism within Neurons: a Model of Cytoskeletal Automata Subserving Neural Networks", in Emergent Computation, Stephanie Forrest, ed., pp428-449, MIT Press, 1991.

[22] Searle, John R., "Minds, Brains, and Programs", in The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol 3, Cambridge University Press, 1980. The essay is reprinted in The Mind's I, edited by Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett, Basic Books, 1981 (my source for this reference). This reprinting contains an excellent critique of the Searle essay.

[23] Sims, Karl, "Interactive Evolution of Dynamical Systems", Thinking Machines Corporation, Technical Report Series (published in Toward a Practice of Autonomous Systems: Proceedings of the First European Conference on Artificial Life, Paris, MIT Press, December 1991.

[24] Stapledon, Olaf, The Starmaker, Berkley Books, 1961 (but from the date on forward, probably written before 1937).

[25] Stent, Gunther S., The Coming of the Golden Age: A View of the End of Progress, The Natural History Press, 1969.

[26] Swanwick Michael, Vacuum Flowers, serialized in Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, December(?) 1986 - February 1987. Republished by Ace Books, 1988.

[27] Thearling, Kurt, "How We Will Build a Machine that Thinks", a workshop at Thinking Machines Corporation, August 24-26, 1992. Personal Communication.

[28] Ulam, S., Tribute to John von Neumann, Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, vol 64, nr 3, part 2, May 1958, pp1-49.

[29] Vinge, Vernor, "Bookworm, Run!", Analog, March 1966, pp8-40. Reprinted in True Names and Other Dangers, Vernor Vinge, Baen Books, 1987.

[30] Vinge, Vernor, "True Names", Binary Star Number 5, Dell, 1981. Reprinted in True Names and Other Dangers, Vernor Vinge, Baen Books, 1987.

[31] Vinge, Vernor, First Word, Omni, January 1983, p10.

[32] Vinge, Vernor, To Appear [ :-) ].

For more (online) information, visit Anders Sanberg's Singularity page. See also these comments on Vinge's Singularity ideas by prominent Transhumanists, and his replies.


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