I’ve been thinking a lot about connectivity lately. On many levels. From the fact that Comcast really is just a horrible ISP, to the connection between the ecosystems on Earth, I think it’s safe to say we’re not separate entities. We are intimately connected within webs, both virtually (which is why when we all want to stream Netflix in the neighborhood, our internet slows around here) and materially (which is there is a link between an increase of flesh eating bacteria on our beaches after a major oil spill—those little guys just love a good tarball.)
But this is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to connectivity. The Robot Apocalypse has been in the news a lot lately, and this new race of beings represents just one potential future. While I do believe robots will come and take most of our jobs, I don’t think they’re the new race we need to focus on.
The new human race will be one that has blended biology with machine. What exactly that will look like is uncertain. Personally I think there will be many different types of machine enhancements that humans pursue. Race, sexual orientation and religious xenophobia will disappear. Instead, the xenophobia of the future will be between those who adopt technologies to enhance their biology, and those who don’t.
One thing I think can’t be avoided: The networking of the human mind. I don’t mean mind uploading, though anything is possible, but an internet connection via thought. Whether through a headset, implant or neurological brain surgery, humans will end up in a place where your mind and mine are only a thought apart.
This of course opens up a Pandora’s box. My first novel, eHuman Dawn, focuses on what could possibly go wrong in such a scenario, especially if the technology is owned by one group with its own agenda. I would call this a traditional hierarchical scenario and it’s entirely possible, given we’ve been abusing each other for centuries, why stop when we’ve finally got control of one another's minds?
Yet the opposite scenario is also just as possible--An open sourced network of human minds working cooperatively. My new novel, eHuman Deception, attempts to envision such an agreement. A cooperative network, where everything is shared, is honestly the only way to avoid being controlled by special interests. If we have things to hide, whether it be some big idea, or some terrible act we’ve committed, then we’re vulnerable to control. This is because when we have to protect, we have to be secret, and thus build the systems to enable secrecy, which are used by those with less than noble motives to manipulate us. It’s the cycle of fear and we’ve been living in it for millennia. However our technology is about to bring it to a whole new level.
If we are afraid, we will be controlled by those who have the means. If we are fearless, then the future is ours to inherit.
How then, can we become fearless in our minds? It’s impossible to cover that in one blog. Philosophy has spent ages skirting around the idea. In the end, it’s a personal thing, to choose between fear and courage. No one can fix our minds for us, we have to do the work to prepare ourselves for a networked future.
Think of it this way, your brain is the hardware of human existence. We will most likely change that hardware platform dramatically, using technological enhancements, over the next 50 years. Many of us will be alive to see it. So it’s up to us to design and download the new software program within us to work with the hardware upgrade. That software is our self, our emotions, our thoughts and our desires. The software we need to design is one of an esoteric nature—covering all the intangible aspects that make up our personality. The more open sourced this software of the mind is, the freer we shall be as a race.
How? By implementing two key practices that can help us upgrade ourselves from fear to courage: Mindfulness and Shamelessness.
Mindfulness is the ancient practice of watching your thoughts and being aware of the world around you. It’s really nothing more than that. Observing who you are, what you like, what you do, and how you feel, without judgement!!! There are a million ways to get to the point where you’re the observer of your life, rather than the helpless victim. Mindfulness must be a part of the program of humanity if we’re to take the next technological leap collaboratively. We must understand ourselves, our motives and if necessary, bring our action into alignment with our highest principals. It’s a huge thing to ask, but if we’re going to network our very dreams together, then we owe it to ourselves, and one another, to come into the experiment with a true understanding of ourselves and the lives we live.
Shamelessness is the non-judgment part. There are many things we do as a species that are terrible. We also do many beautiful things. And then there are the things we do because society says we’re supposed to, but perhaps aren’t in alignment with our truest selves. We can’t force others to stop judging us, but we can stop judging others, including ourselves! I think we’re beginning to break down many of these issues, mostly in the realm of sexuality, and that’s a good thing. If you’ve practiced mindfulness, and have understood your motives to be pure and true and come from a place of courage, then don’t be ashamed of who you are. Too often we hide ourselves in fear that no one will like us, or approve of us, and then we must be secretive. We keep ourselves protected from that rejection and thus become ever more fearful. This is the greatest vulnerability we have, and the sooner we learn to accept ourselves, the more beautiful our new world will be.
There’s a major hardware upgrade coming for humanity. It’s up to us to prepare ourselves to live the most honest and open lives we can, in clear conscience and action, without shame.
Otherwise, the sheep will become slaves. I personally want no part of that world.