9. Who Are We?

What is psychopathy and this condition of “zero degrees of empathy”? What kind of consciousness can it be described as?

Explore predatory consciousness in nature;

Lets look at the actions of lions, who are considered to be the one of the most iconic predators in the animal kingdom.

Observe –how a lion preys on a baby buffalo.

Discuss – What kind of quality does a lion bring, dynamics in the interaction between lion and buffalo:

Quality; a lion hides its real motives, move quietly and discretely, No conscience or empathy, driven purely by instinct to kill and fulfill hunger.

The fittest attacks the weak and vulnerable by using claws and teeth as a weapon.

Dynamics; what kind of dynamics are at play in their interaction?

Predator and prey: To lion, a buffalo exists simply as a food, something that satisfies his needs. The lion sees the buffalo simply as food to be eaten. Instinctual drive defines relationship. There is no ground for friendship or any other possibilities.

Predatory instinct 

Predatory instinct is something that is needed in order to survive and perpetuate the life of the species. Is this act evil?

Lions are simply driven by instincts and this is part of nature. A lion needs to have this instinct to kill in order to be balanced with nature and for preservation of his life and species.

Nature doesn’t create excess (greed, narcissism, selfishness, pursuit for power and qualities such as unlimited wants and desires) and generally works toward harmony.

1). Lions hunt when they are hungry and their actions are guided and regulated by instinct.

2). Balance is created that maintains the ecosystem (see the food chain, plants get eaten by rabbits, rabbits eaten by other stronger animals etc.)

Laws of nature

Animals are governed by the laws of nature. They can act cruel and destructively, but they won’t act detrimentally to the survival of the species. They are restrained inside the cage. Law of nature protects them. Something got away from nature’s law – What is it?

The human ego (thinking, a sense of self and individuality); this separates us from other living beings -freed from nature, opening up a possibility for further freedom. At the same time, humans are given responsibility to do what nature does for animals. Humans strive to create governing systems with laws, regulations and rules (creating what we call civilization and culture) that are supposed to create balance.

Out of this freedom, comes a potential for evil, defined as acting out of harmony with the whole.

We can observe how the law of nature has its own balance. Nature doesn’t say that the strongest and the fittest have more right to survive at the expense of others’ lives. It is man who starts to change the environment to benefit him or herself. So, the stronger ones can break nature’s law.

Key questions

Do we have within ourselves what was displayed by this lion that preys on the weak? Are there parts of ourselves that are aggressive and seek to exploit and take advantage of vulnerable people? If this predatory instinct within ourselves sees no restriction, what kind of society would we have?

Brainstorm; what would happen if it gets out of control?

We have seen this throughout history: Barbarism, savagery, violence, war/military invasion, terrorism, dictatorship, exploitation, slavery, colonization, imperialism, unfettered capitalism etc.

Darwin’s lost theory of love”

Aside from predatory instinct, there are other forces working. We humans have shown that we can act differently and not give in to instinctual drives. It is not just selfish genes, but we also have innate capacity for altruism and love. Psychologist David Loye in his work “Darwin’s Lost Theory of Love” elaborated how Darwin believed that love instead of ‘selfish genes’ is a primary force for evolution. Darwin pointed to sympathy for the weak, love and mutual aid as “mutual relation of organism to organism” (2000, p. 79).

It is this impulse to do good for others, to help, support and protect others, be kind to others, that indicates we carry this impulse for altruism and love (that allows a baby buffalo to be free and live). A lion is not free, as it is driven by predatory instincts.

Perhaps psychopaths lacking empathy are also driven by internal instincts and are not free.

Relationship

Explore a different side of lions and their relationship with humans.

VideoKevin Richardson’s relationship with lion

Observe – what kind of relationship does he have with lions? We humans are food to them and there exists the same prey and predator dynamics, but we can possibly build a relationship that goes beyond instinctual drives which include the prey and predator dynamics.

Empathy – allows us to accept others as who they are and understand and care for others. In the case of Richardson and the lion, Richardson understands the lion’s instinct to kill. Without denying it, simply projecting his good nature, he enters it objectively. Through him accepting that as a part of lion’s nature, he can develop a unique bond.

When one brings through consciousness the capacity for empathy, it can be transformed into love. Tame animals with understanding and love, instead of punishment or the use of force that tries to suppress them. Make a conscious relationship with the animal part of ourselves. Kevin Richardson’s relationship with lions shows a new model of relationship based on respect, love and trust.

Intelligence of the heart

A new vision of love is emerging. This love is not based on sentimental feelings, romantic emotions portrayed in Hollywood movies, but is a new kind of intelligence, based on clarity and objective knowledge.

“Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”- (Matthew 10:16)

“We must combine the toughness of the serpent and the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.” – Martin Luther King Jr., “Strength to Love” (1963)

Heart intelligence is a combination of mind and the heart working together. It is an intelligence rooted in our animal nature as well as higher altruistic /angelic nature. Empathy exercised consciously awakens this new intelligence.

Discovery from neurocardiology:

Joseph Chilton Peace shared the insights of Rudolf Steiner, noting how he said: “back 100 years ago, that the greatest discovery of 20th century science…, of late 20th century science, would be that the heart is not a pump, but profoundly more than that. And that the greatest challenge, 21st century humans would have, would be to allow the heart to teach us to think in a new way.” This heart intelligence often comes into conflict with mind-based intelligence.

A call for evolution

We have a choice – two pathways; are we driven by survival instincts or can we go beyond this to realize other innate capacities? Can human intelligence align itself with the heart or does it go separate ways? This leads to the transhumanism movement. There is a strong effort to bring humanity to the ‘next level’ in its evolution through the idea of transhumanism. In many ways, our life has been already affected by it. Its influence is slowly creeping in under the surface.

Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+)

Melding man with the machine

Definition: A drive to fundamentally revolutionize what it means to be human by ways of technological advancement.

Core ideas:

  • To enhance humanity beyond what is naturally human. Transcend human limitations and transform oneself into this perspective of the next stage of human evolution they call “post-human beings”.

Their view of enhancement depends on the elimination of ‘weakness’ in human beings, not just physical weakness such as disease and sickness. They intend to eliminate some of the emotions that are considered to be weak, such as sadness and anger. But their ultimate goal is to eliminate the human limitation of death (which they consider to be the greatest weakness).

  • To replace natural evolution with what is called “directed evolution”.

Transhumanists ask questions:

If humans can interfere with the process of evolution, is it possible for us to create a human being with far greater capacities than what we are now? Can we make a human species without death, without limitation, weakness and disease? Why can’t we improve biology and cognition and do better than human beings as they now exist?

“You had your time. The future is our world, Morpheus. The future is our time.” “I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it. I can’t stand it any longer. It’s the smell, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink … I must get out of here. I must get free and in this mind is the key, my key.” – Agent Smith

Are certain people becoming a kind of God? (immortality and ultimate control?); An urge to be on the top of a hierarchy (i.e. in a food chain). This idea of enhancement and redesigning what it means to be human is a call for humans to merge with machines. The measurement of evolution is compared with the machine, computer and robots. One that represents brain-based thinking and doesn’t account for emotional or inner development. There is a strong pull for us to mimic machines – cognitive update; Transcending organic biological limitations.

AI- Artificial Intelligence

Man-engineered intelligence

Basic forms are here. Washing machine etc, that is designed to perform certain focused task. Artificial intelligence can reproduce itself on its own. There are now attempts to create a super-artificial intelligence. Narrow focused intelligence works without consideration for others and consequences. Seeking for solving problems, this creates single goal-oriented harm or creating problems that didn’t exist before. The question is how can we create a super-intelligence that at the same time has our values so that it won’t threaten us.

Singularity:

Singularity is a term used by technologists to signify the emergence of a super-intelligence that could overtake human intelligence. It is a moment when the human race as we know is can’t continue. Computer power may then grow without limit, surpassing human intelligence,

Ray Kurzweil is one of the world’s leading minds on artificial intelligence, technology and futurism. He is the author of five national best-selling books, including “The Singularity Is Near” and “How to Create a Mind.

Robotics:

Application of cognitive science, neuroscience, simulation of cognitive behavior. Imagine a future when you’ve replaced your fresh-and blood lover or friend with a robot! Scientist Hiroshi Ishiguro describes the human android as a beginning of better artificial intelligence. Geminoid HI-2 is a tele-operated android that has near identical appearance of the original person.

With this, perhaps Skinner’s wildest dream is coming true. In Skinner’s book Walden Two, he asserted the power of behavioral science to ‘invent man’;

“Well, what do you say to the design of personalities? Would that interest you? The control of temperament? Give me specifications, and I’ll give you the man! What do you say to the control of motivation, building the interests which will make men most productive and most successful? Does that seem to you fantastic? Yet some of the techniques are available, and more can be worked out experimentally. Think of the possibilities! … Let us control the lives of our children and see what we can make of them” (1948, p. 243).

Death of death:

Transhumanists put forward the idea that death is a disease that must be cured. There is a capability to reprogram DNA molecules so that we can have health without sickness and extend life. A new book by Martine Rothblatt, Co-CEO and Chair of United Therapeutics, envisions a mind clone, a digital copy of our mind outside our body that can go on living after we are gone.

Gene therapy – the way they look at life/DNA is as if it is computer code or software program – biotechnology and regenerative medicine, replacing body parts and treating certain disease through deactivating ‘bad’ genes.

Digital immortality:

Creating a mind file, personality, values that are stored on Google, Amazon and Facebook; the idea is to store them. Once software is independently revisable, the consciousness develops mind clones of themselves that have their own life on the web, with consciousness operating systems writing codes that express human consciousness – a digital doppelganger.

What happens with a virtual human is when AI gets better and better and cobbles together dozens, hundreds, even thousands of different types of AI software programs and is mated with the part of big data that is Katherine’s or Martine’s plan of big data. You then can have a digital simulacra, or a digital doppelgänger, that will certainly look and think like you, yet without actual emotions.

Where is this all leading? Rothblatt talks about self-actualization. She claims that technology allows ultimate love; that love is infinite and we achieve this infinite love through technology.

Digital memory:

Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist and futurist uses physics to predict the future; A digital upload of consciousness

  • Memory can be digitized.
  • Brain – electric signals that can be converged to digital form.
  • Transferring human memory, from biological state to computer

Sensors in the brain capture images; Brain net -Replacing internet, record thoughts, movies will be replaced by the brain-net (total immersion entertainment). Taking consciousness and uploading it. Create a new pill that slows down a person’s perception of time. A forgetful drug that eliminates painful memories, memories of job and classes will be uploaded, photographic memory, reproducing concerts etc.

Nanotechnology

Manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular level. Genetic engineering and generic manipulation; take genes from different species and mix together and design something new such as attempts to build a better baby.

Cybernetics

The study of human control is based on functions as well as artificial systems, prosthetic hearts, organ transplants, robotic body parts, blood transfusion, enhancing physical capacities, replacing them with technology, far better than biology, cognitive enhancing drug (anything that fails in a body can be replaced).

Cryogenics – first venture into prolonging life with the lower temperature preservation of living tissue and organisms. This is storing people to be revived later and maintaining personality and memory when it is frozen.

Key questions

  • What is your view on the transhumanist vision of future humanity? Do you agree?
  • If presented, would you accept this technological advancement to alter your body, mind and personality?
  • What are the pros and cons; positive outcomes and potential negative consequences?

Abundance and going beyond survival

Technology gives us a tool and potential to overcome poverty and energy shortage etc. It can allow abundance and humanity to live beyond the logic of survival, but this transition may need to be carefully guided.

Critiques

What are concerns?

  • It poses a threat to human values.
  • It challenges how we define humanity and personhood.
  • Some view that technology is hijacking human evolution.
  • It creates a new apartheid, machine v.s non-robotic human scenario (a question of equal distribution of technology).

Robots are better workers, as they never take a break and are always polite. Automation and the vision of transhumanism to eliminate limitations and experience of meaningful human choice. This limitation deprives freedom necessary for the evolution of humanity.

This brings us back to humanistic psychologist Carl Roger’s concern about Skinner’s technology of behavior, arguing how it would deprive humans of will and capacity to choose.

Is there a possibility that we may lose what it means to be human if we go this direction?

Loss of human consciousness?

Does a robot have a soul? What makes robots and humans different? Humans have consciousness that is experience-based and also have emotions. Before humanity is able to define who they are and have a conscious relationship with technology, we may be molded into what a robot already is.

Robot’s intelligence is narrow and lacks ethics and conscience. Are We Approaching a Robotic Consciousness?

Humanity at a crossroad

With accelerated speed of technological advancement, where are we going? We are being quietly transported into a digital world, a virtual reality where we can transcend flesh and become disconnected from nature and the world around us.

Are we moving into a sub-earthly digital world? As we built a relationship with robots, moving more deeply into a digital world, what and who are we leaving behind? Are we leaving behind our own body, our soul and the earth?

What would happen to the earth, ecosphere, trees, rivers, and animals?

Environmental destruction of land and habitats for many species; a new environment created through technology and this vision of humanity leaves some species and certain populations behind. Some cannot adapt to this fast-changing environment. Civilization has been defined in Western terms with its Eurocentric values. It now has morphed into corporate-led globalization.

Business and commercial interests dictate trade agreements, economies and policies concerning environment, defining the environment that we live in.

Is this progress defined by the few giving an ultimatum to all living beings to adapt or die?

As Western consciousness expands, the world shrinks. On the fringe of a paved consciousness, the lives of others may suffer a loss of their humanity. Indigenous people are abandoned and nature is left behind (this new technological advancement comes in conflict with nature). In Chiapas, one of the most poor and exploited communities in southern Mexico, indigenous people were treated like animals.

Battle for humanity – Confrontation with the shadow

Just as Neo stopped escaping from Agent Smith and decided to confront him, many of us are facing our shadow.

On January 1, 1994, was the day the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect. The Zapatista then declared a war against the Mexican government. They called for building up another world, getting off the grid of national and supranational governments and creating their own, bottom-up autonomous communities.

This inspired protest against WTO (World Trade Organization) in 1999 in the streets of Seattle was called ‘The Battle of Seattle’ and subsequent global justice movements followed in its footsteps. The film The Matrix coincided with the Battle of Seattle.

Then came the Internet generation.

Hacktivism- the use of hacking to promote social justice.

Global alliance of freedom of speech was created. Information warfare; enables freedom of speech and allows people to participate in the process of evolution. Waves of whistleblowers began exposing government secrecy and wrongdoing. Cypherpunks code with ethics. They began to build a defense against the hacking of our humanity.

In the article “Generation W: WikiLeaks Ignites a New Generation of Hacktivists”, founder of an online newspaper, Urizenus Sklar noted how WikiLeaks has become the catalyst for an underground subculture of hackers that burst into mainstream culture (January 4, 2011). Founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange also recognized it as the “politicization of the youth connected to internet.” He acknowledged it as “the most significant thing that happened in the world since the 1960s” and called it as “a real revolution” (as cited in Dorling, October 29, 2011, para. 4).

One planet – Web of life

Honors our kinship as species that belongs to one planet. Recognizing and restoring the balance and web of life –the interconnectedness that we all share

Time of decision – Choice

Once a society moves into automation by adopting mass technology with certain values, we lose freedom to participate in shaping the course of our own lives and of history.

Rudolf Steiner talked about the ego as a doubled-edged sword that on one hand leads us to “self seeking and selfishness” and on the other as “our potential for the divine” (1993/1997, p. 189).

“I hate this place, this zoo, this prison, this reality, whatever you want to call it. I can’t stand it any longer. It’s the smell … I must get out of here. I must get free and in this mind is the key, my key.” – Agent Smith

We have a choice and can participate in defining the course of our evolution. We need to be responsible in the development of these technologies with consideration of all living beings, and most importantly with consideration for the life of this planet.

References:

Breakingtheset. (2014, March 29). Uploading consciousness & digital immortality: Interview with theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckwGUai_Vvk
Dorling, P. (2011, October 29). Assange can still Occupy center stage. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/assange-can-still-occupy-centre-stage-20111028-1mo8x
Living Dialogues. (n.d.). Episode 21: Joseph Chilton Peace- the biology of transcendence: Part 3-the evolving heart. Retrieved from http://podcasts.personallifemedia.com/podcasts/212-living dialogues/episodes/2719-joseph-chilton-pearce-biology
Loye, D. (2000). Darwin’s theory of love: A healing vision for the 21st century. Lincoln, NE: toExcel.
Petts1. (2012, April 29). Male lion kills baby buffalo. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxejViC1Uvk&feature=youtu.be
Skinner, B. F. (1948). Walden two. New York: Macmillan.
Steiner, R. (1997). Evil: Selected lectures by Rudolf Steiner. (M. Kalisch, Ed.) (M. Barton, Trans.). Forest Row, England: Rudolf Steiner Press. (Original work published 1993)
123theJapan. (2012, March 17). Humanoid robot: Gemonoid HI-1 android prototype. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD1CdjlrTBM
Tim Noonan. (2013, July 13). Lion man: Kevin Richardson | South Africa. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1sFPqO9tRQ
Wachowski, A. (Writer/Director), & Wachowski, L. (Writer/Director). (1999). The Matrix. [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Brothers.

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