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Then a Miracle Occurs: The Singularity in Parasitic Retrospect

edited July 2006 in Simulacra
George Dyson asks: Are we learning to manipulate life or is life learning to manipulate us?

A plausible scenario for how we arrived at life as we know it is that primitive organisms were infected by self-replicating parasites, learned to adopt those self-replicating processes, and became eukaryotic cells. Now, our still-primitive life-forms have again been invaded by self-replicating parasites (a network of code-consuming and code-spewing microprocessors) and life will, once again, adopt these self-replicating processes, on its own terms, for its own ends (with our help). Life (and evolution) as we know it will never be the same.

- Link to Constructive Biology
imageI live in nothing but awe of such concepts as these. Assuming that humankind survives the next couple of hundred years with our technological capacities intact, it would be naive to suggest that we are not now living the final evening of the homo sapien. The process of evolution is so over arching that once technology is factored into its mix the entire history of mankind becomes a mere homage to those first "primitive organisms ... infected by self-replicating parasites". But which way around is one best to view the dawn of this new (imagined) age?

Perhaps our anthropic arrogance is the only thing which can truly stop us from destroying ourselves. Perhaps it is not technology which has infected us - its parasite sustaining host - perhaps it is us who have infected the universe, manipulating fundamental evolutionary forces to our own ends. What too is to come of every ounce of our culture, our literature, our art, our historical knowledge, if in the final instance we will seem as if self-replicating amoeba to the hyperaware digital beings set to inherit 'our' universe?

What I suppose I am saying is... Can humanity assume any control over the future of its species; of all species? Will the rise of the next stage of life come at a cost to our heritage or is all our history merely an irrelevant shimmer on the surface of this reality?

I welcome the supersedence of organic life, and in doing so I beckon the destruction of everything it is I live for each day of this oxymoronic existence. How can we justify the continued emergence of complexity when its very being will leave us as nothing but evolutionary whale food?

(...Mirrored on The Huge Entity main site...)

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Comments

  • Its life Jim but not as we know it, not as we know it, not as we know it.....

    I think the problem is that humans have arrogantly assumed that they are entitled to take control over the present and future of all species! Hey lets just drop about a hundred nuclear bombs at various places on the planet and see what happens; we'll just use up all the natural resources and destroy all the habitats of other species and cover the planet in our oozeous waste. I do think humans are parasites but I would really like to be a virtual fly on the galactic wall to see what they do in the future when this planet is no longer habitable. Maybe they'll just send off all the really important people like telephonists and beauticians on a big spaceship and start all over again! Anyway not that I have to worry, not being human.
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