THE SINGULARITY SURVIVAL GUIDE: Preface

I don’t know what’s been lost to us—six hundred thousand pages is a lot of goddamn room to pack away some gems. But the question now should not simply be: What have we lost? Instead, we should also consider: What can we learn from what’s happened? I think I might have an answer to that.

First, let’s assume a human being (like myself) can still dabble in the art of manufacturing wisdom, however approximately. I’m not the perfect candidate for this endeavor, perhaps, but I’m not the worst. As an academic affiliated with [ŗ͟҉̡͝e̢̛d̸̡̕͢͡a͘͏̷c̴̶t̵҉̸e͘͜͡ḑ̸̧́͝], I had the opportunity to peruse the complete text of the Singularity Survival Guide (before any of the unfortunate litigation came about, I should add). And I can assure you that, generally speaking, I could have thought of a great deal of the purported wisdom found within those exhausting pages. Take that for what it’s worth…

So, as a human, unaided by any digital enhancement, I’ll hazard an original thought: If humanity is ever taken down by robots, it will in part be due to our knee-jerk infatuation with anthropomorphism.

We can’t help ourselves in this. As children, what’s the first thing we do with a yellow crayon? Do we draw a shining yellow sun? No! We draw a shining yellow sun with a face and its tongue sticking out! It’s like we can’t stand inanimateness—not even in something as naturally wondrous as the goddamn sun!

In 2017, the humanoid robot Sophia became the first robot to receive citizenship from any country, and she also received an official title from the United Nations. Then, across the globe, serious talks of AI personhood began.

And now look what happened with the Singularity Survival Guide: We gave ownership rights to the program that created it. Next thing, you’ll expect the program to start dating, get married, go on a delightful honeymoon, settle down with kids and a mortgage, and participate in our political system with a healthy portion of its income going to federal taxes.

Here’s another bit of human wisdom for you: If there is no consciousness to these AI creatures, then they better not take us over. I don’t quite mind being taken over by a superior being at least so long as it experiences incalculably more pleasure than I’m capable of, and can also appreciate the extreme measures of pain I’m liable to feel when my personhood is overlooked… or obliterated.

– Professor Y.

Palo Alto, CA

The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (VI)

(a.3) If We Do Nothing | Invariable Extinction (continued from part V)

Whilst it is obvious that the “the world” is not ending in any meaningful, immediate way, despite the doomsaying of catastrophists such as Al Gore and Stephanie Wakefield, the world will, eventually, come to disintegration given sufficient time. Nothing extant is without an end. Even stars perish at the last. Our own sun, no exception to this rule. By aggregate estimate, the average age of a star is predicted to be around several billion years; the precise number of these years is difficult to determine given that celestial burn-out is predicated upon the amount of hydrogen contained within the core of any given celestial body. Our own star – the sun – is classed as a “main sequence” body which describes the fact that it is currently in it’s most stable period wherein it continuously converts it’s hydrogen core into helium. After around 8 billion years of this process the hydrogen will have been exhausted and as a consequence, the helium still in the core will cause the sun to utilize hydrogen outside of the core as a heat source, as this occurs, gravitational forces take over from the burning process thus causing the shell to expand and the surface to cool from white to red; when a star enters this stage it is referred to as a red giant due to it’s sanguine hue and significantly increased size. Given sufficient time this process will bring the red giant into contact with the earth which will swiftly be disintegrated. Before that occurs, however, the heat from the rapidly expanding sun will boil the oceans, causing all water on earth to become trapped in the atmosphere where it will be molecularly splinted by the sun’s energy, causing it to bleed out into the void of space as hydrogen and oxygen, thus leaving a barren, desiccated husk1. Amun-Ra’s wrath. Given that our galaxy is 4.5 billion years old, our sun has exhausted around about half of its total, estimated lifetime, this is to say humans have around 5 to 6.5 billion years left to inhabit the earth before the sun reaches it’s red giant phase2.

Yet even abandoning any concerns about sun-death, humanity, whether collectively or in some portion, will still need to contend with what many environmentalists and scientists have begun referring to as the sixth great extinction event. A research paper published in Science Advances in 2015 by the well known American biologist, Paul R. Ehrlich, and others, comparing past extinction rates to modern extinction rates states that animals are vanishing at a rate unprecedented since the fifth mass extinction period3 which occurred over 66 million years ago4 and brought about an end to the dinosaurs (save for that which became avians). The problem with these studies (and assertions which echo the sentiments contained within such studies) is that it is incredibly difficult to determine, with any accuracy, the rate of extinction of species that no longer exist. Ehrlich notes as much within his study when he writes, “-biologists cannot say precisely how many species there are, or exactly how many have gone extinct in any time interval-5.” He further states what should be obvious to everyone in the proceeding page, “Population extinction cannot be reliably assessed from the fossil record-6” the study also abstains from making any statement on organisms other than vertabrates; “-we have not considered animals other than vertebrates because of data deficiencies-7.” The latter point should also be rather obvious, there are simply too many different species on the planet to plug them all into a extrapolatiing extinction matrix in a 6 page paper. It would be astounding if, say, tardigrades were on the verge of extinction (they aren’t). However, we should not wax whistful about the prospect of extinction as there are decidedly certain types of organisms which we would be better of without. Whilst it is still dubious to classify viruses as a form of life, there are numerous types of viruses, such as HIV8. HIV is but one of many of the genus lentivirus which are, across the board, harmful – and often deadly – to mammalians such as humans, apes, cows and goats. More terrifyingly, viruses of the genus lentivirus can become endogenous to the host, meaning that they can incorporate their genome into the occupied organism’s genome such that the virus will henceforth be inherited by the host’s descendants. Pathogenic bacteria (those types of bacteria which cause disease and death) also occupy a similar position in relation to humans.

A common rebuttal to such a position as that which we have sketched out above is to take aim at centering either one’s personal or societies collective concern on humans-as-such and attempt to deconstruct so-called anthropocentric thinking. But what would it mean to center one’s concerns on anything other than one’s species? At a certain point one would be forced to make the decision between expanding a settlement and displacing some wildlife and simply not expanding and settling at all. If this queer notion had been taken up from the first it is highly unlikely that humanity would share the masterful command over the world that it does to this day. If we had refused to slay a charging beast upon the plains, if we had refused to eat the feral herds, if we had refused to burn the forests and there kindle them a’fire, if we had refused to dam the rivers and drain the swamps and level the land how sleek our chances would have been! How like as not we’d have passed away into the dustbin of history like the Neanderthal and homo erectus before us!

1Nearly all animal species will die once the oceans boil with the possible exception of the tardigrade. Fascinatingly resilient organisms!

2See the work of Enjar Hertzsprung and Henry Norris Russel, specifically as pertains to the Hertzsprung-Russel diagram.

3K-Pg extinction event which occurred between the Cretaceous and Paleogene epochs and ended 75% of all life on earth.

4Time interval calculated from Time Scales of Critical Events Around the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary, Paul R. Renne et al, Science 339, 684, (2013).

5Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv. 2015, p. 3

6Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv. 2015, p. 4

7Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv. 2015, p. 4

8HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

Swallow the Sun

Fermentation of Organon

Ra straddles the celestial-array like a colossus. Look how unhinged the old god has become! Intoxicated with the ostensible progression of his creation, he twines wildly about the horizon in spastic, shuddering bounds, caring not who is bathed in his fiery effulgence. The charred bones of his victims shine off the creaking charnel barge, its shimmering hull, once a beacon of hope, now a harbinger of terror. A lighthouse of despair. The shadow of the ship, blotting out the celestial rays meant to nourish the soil and water below, now frothing in a cascade of roiling disruption. Now the plants wither and a cold wind blows over the skulls of the dead. The brave viri lapis, those crafty escapees of the dread Sun Cult, hide in hollows, primitive huts and forgotten caverns, hunched, gaunt and feral of eye, ceaselessly conspiring against the hegemony of the great solar disk, knowing that should they emerge from their solitude they’d face the blazing rays of Ra’s fell light, which would burn any mortal man a’cinder. Nothing but a skeleton would remain, the only alcahest, screams lost to sky. His parts would be taken to the grand temple and there placed in immaculate assemblage, a offering to the all-seeing providence and a warning to the survivors that day-running was anathema. The only vector of escape was neath the breezy shade of the god-ship, too fleet for humanid velocity.

A most intolerable situation, but a intoleration which is exasperated by ingenuity and understanding, both qualities which have transformed the fallow ground of our innermost thoughts into fertile soil, rich with the oxygenating force of abundance which bred a thoughtless proclivity towards decadence and with decadence comes detachment. The industrial pioneer and rogue philosopher, Boyd Rice, wisely notes, “with detachment comes perspective. The less you care, the more you know, and the more you know the less you care.”1

Since ages immemorial Man as concept and Nature as concept have been considered two parts of a whole which make up something akin to “proper existence,” the “way of the world.” Yet by Man’s recognition of his placing therein he has – by, not just his consciousness, but recognition of his consciousness – of necessity, removed himself from any semblance of harmonic acquiescence. The only harmony is in struggle. In death. The forced forms which under-gird even our conscious minds. As McCarthy’s Judge Holden reminds us, War is God2. The clashing of one force against another with the ultimate result of one emerging supreme is the end result of entropy and the fueling fire of the universe and thus, nature. The topography of the universe is one of constant twining, collision, fold and explosion. The glaring heat of grand solar bodies, the black and airless vacuum of space, the eruption of volcanoes, deathly gyres of the hurricane and the disemboweling larvae of the ichneumon wasp do not portend a past of harmonic unity but rather a pitched-battle in which the very fabric of existence turns upon itself with horrifying and thoughtless intensity. Such vision; a stark contrast to the humanising conception of genderfication which is so characteristic of all too much of modern philosophy. The moon as nourishing mother, the sun as patriarchal overseer, the earth as Gaia and so on and so on. A conceptual anthropomorphic topographical overlay foisted without much forethought; a masking idea-layer which is born out of desire, the desire of significance and reciprocal emotional interplay. A balancing of co-dependent states. Make no mistake, this is not a question of pedantic quibbletry but rather a foundational concern for the entirety of humankind. One day the sun will move into it’s late-stage cycle, become a red giant and engulf the entirety of the earth. Long before the earth is swallowed up in Ra’s bountiful flames, every single speck of life will boil. Even should we escape that fate, the remains of the dying star will eventually burn out in totality and bring utter darkness to the entirety of the galaxy and send all hither-connected planets sailing off into the limitless void. Due these facts, we must hastily sever the umbilical cord which anchors us to the Mother Goddess, slaughtering her mercilessly if she resists, else suffer the fate of the dodo. Thus, nature as concept must be purged of imposed desire (if possible by thought, if not then by breed-engineering), for it is the generative machine of corrosive and leveling fantasy, for the anthro-primeval liminality of the shaman. The source of animistic fancy, sacred geometry and the pantheon of the gods – clamoring and gaudy -who rob Man of his upward drive, his trajectories of ascent, spiral and spread. A curious condition wherein the human animal thrusts his face into the muck and the mud and spits on his selfsame and filthy image for its grotesqueness as if no such other outcome were possible. This denaturing of hubris may, one day, itself become the nail which utterly seals us within the frigid and celestial coffin of galaxial extinction.

We must lay something out quite solidly here, that there can be no value nor trajectory of action which supersedes survival, firstly of the species, then of the race, then of various concentric groupings within, moving ever smaller until one reaches the bedrock of the individual. The “why?” is very simple, without the continuation of the organism there can be no value given the lack of a valuer. More importantly is the “to us,” should there be other variations of self-aware lifeforms – deities or aliens or some consciousness embedded into the very architectuality of matter itself – matters not to the purposes of all that matters to us. Away with all your cry’s of “anthropocentrism” if one is care one MUST care, principally, about things which CAN CARE. Who among this passage’s readership is like to sacrifice his life for a river or a stone? Or even a insect?

He who believes that there are no values outside of survival itself is imminently superior to the man who holds all values save for survival itself, for as he perishes, so too shall those values perish and even should his genes survive, in the form of his immortal clones, his children and their own, how many of them will assimilate their progenitor’s suicidal tendencies?

Nearly all the profligate religions of the world hold fast to the importance of survival; there is always some essence, typically a soul, which survives the death of the body, which transcends and escapes off from the physical realm into some kind of afterlife or ultra-dimensional flux (and numerous injunctions against suicide to mitigate the temptation to depart from the port of temporality earlier than was scheduled). However, for these star-seekers, this soul-escape is conceived of as part and parcel of “the natural.” Yet the natural as line-of-desired-action prepossesses the “unnatural,” a fundamental quandary for which there are no objective answers and no logically accessible subjective answers either; only the vagaries of intuitions (a unreliable metric). For if all that is known is “the natural” world, then that which is “unnatural” is unknown by definition. One here then becomes trapped in a glue of useless pedantry-become-moralizing; “We cannot do that, it is unnatural!” Rarely is the question asked, “But is it bad?” A prohibition without justification is justification for further prohibition. When coupled with afterlifeism this prohibition without justification is intensified for in breaking with it, one threatens one’s very immortality, that is to say, one’s survival (whether corporeal or incorporeal, it is continuance of the being all the same). No matter how much the holy man may detest materiality he still feels the compulsive urge to survive, so much so that he codifies them in his sacred tomes. Never mind the how and why. It just “is.” The naturalists ever conflate “the good” with “the natural” yet they are irrelevant distinctions to those without heads. If the dead are terribly concerned with “the natural,” or “the good,” “the gods,” or some other such anthropomorphic imposition upon the clockwork of the cosmos they haven’t been particularly vocal about it. Furthermore, the lines of desired trajectory which are extrapolated by misbegotten exegesis from the extant world are utterly inapplicable to the forces which under-gird the world itself. That is to say that if the natural be the good then the uninterrupted motion of matter is also good but no one takes up in defense of the leptons which make up the stones. Here we find a conception which has gone largely unexamined, if the more a thing proceeds upon “its own line” of entropy is greater in its “goodness” than a thing which is disrupted by a conscious agent one is implicitly placing entropy as the good. The “natural good” then is really just a mask for the worship of disorder, the acceptance of entropy. This is platonic insanity, the realm of forms invading the mental fortress and tearing it apart from within. Instead of withstanding the slings and arrows of the invading hordes of phenomonology, we’ve opened up the gates to the barbarians! The conception-outside-the-conciever now becomes like a ontological compression module which refuses to assimilate any and all new discoveries and theories. A reactionary idol worshiped by those who are infected with the incorrigible disease of sentimentality and “history.”

The reactionary3 proclivity towards the conception-outside-the-conciever presents innumerable intellectual problems, the first and foremost being that it’s myraid claims are wholly unfalsifiable. It is Quantum theory without the methodological verifiability. It is not just that reactionary transcendentalism is barren of verifiability, it lacks even a path to move towards it. To address those who would here enjoin, “There is more to life than logical and falsifiability!” Certainly, we would agree, but if one is building a ontological-organon then it its preferable that it be falsifiable, provided one’s principal concern is survival, in whatever variation.

One can already hear the obnoxious screeches of “Nihilism.” Let us address this as we bring our ideas to their logical conclusion. “Nihilism” is best summarized by Brassier when, in Nihil Unbound, he described nihilism as the belief that, “existence is worthless.”4 Brassier states that this is a “naive” conception which has become “hackneyed” and we would agree. Nihilism would best be described as the belief that the universe does not care about you; the fundamental mistake was in anthropomorphizing the universe to such a degree to begin with. Perhaps it was unavoidable but it certainly is not now. Agents and objects, humans and stars. Another crucial problem plaguing “philosophy” is the idea that nihilism is a thing to be overcome, as if a erroneous induction can be conquered like a foreign kingdom! Who can subdue a ghost or wrangle a kheft? The solution to the Ding an sich is not ontological cop-outs via flowery and obscurantist prose but rather, The Machine. Where sense-perception fails better senses are required and sense perception IS required for the perception of consciousness. Creation here suggests itself. Viri lapis must become et ferro to conquer the sun, to build up the bulwark against its searing rays. Woodwork to clockwork, man-power to machine-power in a hundred thousand variations. A skittering sprawl of thoughts crystallizing across Ra’s domain, subsuming and subverting it, for never forget, Ra deigns your death. Best to kill him first. Shorn of Set, he is powerless before Apophis.

For the good of our species we must swallow the sun.



Footnotes

1Boyd Rice, NO (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 2017)

2Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian (Vintage Publishing) Chapter XVII

3Reactionary here meaning, “Knee-jerk,” or “A action done without due thought or contemplation” not, specifically, the political tendency/philosophy(ies).

4Ray Brassier, Nihil Unbound (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) Preface, x