This 'note', together with the telepathy item, sketches
out the issues encompassed by my answers to the
fourth question. I dare to suggest that this may be the first public
human attempt at explaining the origins and evolution of god without
in any way resorting to concepts of the "supernatural" or, in any way,
compromising my devout atheism.
The vision I had as an 18 year old; my realization, if it exists, of
what was implied by telepathy
had remained almost a secret until the internet began poking itself
into my consciousness. The pictures in my head seemed impossible to
describe. And I shared them with less than a handful of people. But
suddenly, and slightly before the main interface with the internet became
'the web' I began to see how the internet could fill in the gaps, particularly
the communication gaps, which would make the practical version of the
telepathy model possible. My letter to the woman who is now my
wife was my first reasonably successful attempt at painting the picture.
It also becomes clearer, with each passing day, that ongoing developments
in computer technology, particularly the ability to deliver an alternative
reality, are progressing at explosive speed. It is already clear to
me that we will shortly have the facility to deliver every fantasy
with the force of perfect reality at the touch of a button.
Have you any idea what effect these developments will have on Society?!!
Phase one will have a harmful effect on sexual relationships as the
VR versions will outperform the real world quite quickly. There will
also be a perceived social problem caused by growing "addiction" to
the new electronic drug. Yes, there will be some weak minded individuals
who will so crave escape from their mundane or painful lives, that they
will come to develop symptoms, when deprived of access to their VR connection,
not too distant from the "cold turkey" experienced by the heroin abuser
when similarly deprived.
Phase two will stem the damage to relationships by making it possible
for a couple to share a fantasy in cyberspace but, ultimately, with
the added advantage of offering both parties exactly what they
want. In the wider community, the increased understanding of the effects
and significance of human interaction mediated electronically will begin
to reshape all human activities and relationships.
Phase three: Virtually all other human behaviour will transcribe to
cspace. It will become increasingly difficult to determine when you
are in the "real" world as opposed to cspace. Especially as you will
be "interfacing" with the real world through cspace. (e.g. doing your
'job' in the city while still in your Cornish farmhouse. And not in
the remote and disembodied sense we can do today. Your colleagues will
probably actually believe you are in the City! Or, more precisely, they
won't be able to tell that you aren't!
(I use 'jobs' and 'the city' for the benefit of 21st century readers
to whom such institutions seem eternal)
This phase probably won't happen for at least 150 years. (putting it
in the middle of the 22nd century) (though given our present geometric
rate of progress, I wouldn't be all that surprised to see it in the
next 50. The fact that we can even foresee such developments is evidence
that they are already on their way)
At the end of this phase, such will be our acceptance of the superiority
of living our lives in cspace, that it may, for example, even have become
"distasteful" to have sex with a real person! It will, after all, always
be messier and inevitably less satiating than the virtual alternative.
And by way of illustrating at least one probable dramatic consequence
of this development, following on from that, as fewer and fewer "perverts"
will continue to have "real" sex with all its health risks, inferior
performance and lesser intensity of satisfaction, we will become increasingly
tolerant of what are now thought of as sexual perversions, the most
despised of which is currently paedophilia.
At the moment social hatred of the paedophile is justified on the basis
that if s/he even has "just" a photograph of a nine year old being gang
raped by a bunch of adults, s/he is almost as guilty as the men or women
who committed the rape. His desires, her demand for that photograph
has formed part of a chain of cause and effect which led to that child
being raped or, at the very least, makes it more likely that another
one will be. This is because, at the moment, in order to satisfy such
inappropriate sexual cravings, it is necessary to involve real children.
And that, even to the most devout libertarian, will always, I suspect,
be a line in the sand beyond which we will not tread. Put simply, all
behaviour by human beings is entirely acceptable provided all participants
undertake their roles on the basis of informed consent. Whilst there
may be a grey area from the age of 12 onwards (where individuals are
to a greater or lesser degree acquiring the skills and consciousness
which predicate informed consent), nobody would currently argue that
a nine year old is yet capable of such decisions and thus, any adult
taking advantage of even apparently consenting nine year olds is crossing
the line into abuse and exploitation.
Personally, I would quite happily castrate men and appropriately 'disarm'
women who showed such tendencies in present day circumstances. But,
take it forward a hundred years, to the stage where the technology can
completely fulfil the twisted cravings of the paedophile. If
it then turns out that no child whatsoever is involved or adversely
affected in any way by the existence of such fantasies, then, I for
one, would cease to care. I don't care if you get your rocks off by
fantasizing the machine gunning of the entire population of London -
as long as you don't actually do it!
More importantly, just let yourself see what would happen in such a
situation. If our current explanations are anything like accurate, then
paedophiles become that way by being abused as children themselves.
If that doesn't happen for a couple of generations, then there simply
won't be any more paedophiles! In other words, the total licence and
liberty we will obtain through the developments of web and VR, and whatever
is coming along behind them, will, through catharsis, actually
eliminate many of the harmful forms of behaviour which currently cause
us such angst.
In this and a billion other ways, some even more dramatic, the technology
is literally going to transform our species. It will truly liberate
our minds, our desires, our egos, our angst, our paranoia, our megalomania
etc. etc. by allowing us to live our fantasies without restriction
to the extent that they will never again harm fellow human
beings. Spend some time in a darkened room thinking about
that. We will purify ourselves! Don't come back to me with the paranoid
crap about how such fantasies fuel real world behaviour! If you are
still thinking along those lines, then your imagination is letting you
down. You have to accept the level of sophistication VR or its successor
is going to achieve. I refer in chapter
3 to the nerd on the beach with a sensory transmitter. When I first
penned those words in 1989, they were pure fantasy. I now confidently
predict we'll see the first laughable prototypes for such devices within
another ten years or so, say by the year 2010. By the end of the
21st century I anticipate a global electronic environment and our connections
with it so advanced that one of the few ways you will be still able
to determine that you are in the 'real' world will be your inability
to turn off the pain or perception of pain that accompanies our existence
in that world.
Phase four obviously follows from that ecstatic state. The human body
will become an option. You will be fully capable of existing and having
entirely fulfilling lives in cspace. The first to take this step will,
like all pioneers, be thought of as slightly bizarre. A hundred years
later the bizarre ones will be those who choose to retain human form.
Phase five - clearly we have reached the state in which complete high
level 'engagement' is readily and routinely achieved. You really will
be able to get into someone's mind in ways we cannot even imagine in
our pitiful biologically limited state. Far from 'spoiling' human relationships,
these will explode with significance and reward. Some pairs will choose
literally to bond and become one new entity. A new form of reproduction
will have been born. Our biological evolution will be at an end.
Phase six. Soon this too will become the norm. Not long after pair
bonding we will see the first troilisms, and then more numerous multiple
bondings. The resulting mental entities will look upon our 20th/21st
century way of conducting human affairs with the same amused disdain
as we watch the relationships amongst chimpanzees.
Phase seven. It will probably take a crisis of some kind to trigger
the first global melding. Perhaps news an imminent stellar explosion
or something of that ilk which could take out the entire planet. Even
though, by this time we should be widely dispersed at least around our
local section of the galaxy, it will still be a matter of some consequence
for the humans on the threatened planet. This may provoke them into
global communion. Against that, I see no reason why they could not escape
that particular catastrophe electronically and just establish themselves
on another appropriate planet. But, for the sake of this mind experiment,
we'll accept that they had no obvious way out. Or perhaps they need
the melding to achieve the electronic evacuation or whatever!
Please don't press me for details! This is probably more than a thousand
years into our future. Could William the Conqueror have envisaged anything
like the Boeing 747, the automobile, TV, the personal computer or the
World Wide Web - let alone have the faintest idea of how social behaviour
would alter to accommodate all these miracles?!
The point is, at some point in time, for whatever reason, the
melding groups will coalesce into a single entity - probably based on
the population of a planet or perhaps a planetary system. That will
conclude the next stage in our evolution.
Beyond that, in tens of thousands of years from now, we can anticipate
galactic entities, and ultimately of course, in a few billion years,
a universal being with the kind of insight, wisdom, experience and power
that some of us pathetic savages still attribute to a supernatural God.
Aint nothing supernatural about it. Its just our destiny. And one day,
no doubt, that universal being, as it watches the universe wind down
to its apparently inevitable heat death, will chuckle to itelf as it
recalls this and other first naive attempts at foreseeing that future.
It will reach within itself and decide that its all been so much fun,
that we'd rather like to do it again. And so it will utter the magic
Let there be light
And just maybe, that's already happened at least once, and perhaps
the widespread obsession with god/s is our dim protoplasmic memory of