The End

Before we get started on this rather esoteric exploratory exercise you should know that there were alternative titles for this article. Here’s a few that’ll give you a flavor of what’s going to be discussed:

  • The Ultimate End of Evolution
  • The Pinnacle of Human Evolution
  • The Final Destination of Man
  • The Purpose of Life

Or less optimistically-phrased but as accurately represented:

  • The End of the World
  • The End of Humanity
  • The End of the Universe
  • We’ve arrived. Now What?

Lastly and perhaps more accurately than the title you see at the top of the page (but much less poignant you must admit):

The End is Just the Beginning

It’s come to my attention recently and with increasing dismay that there is actually a possibility (however small) that we humans, or any other sentient being for that matter, may never be able to answer the question “How do you get something from nothing?”

This speculative short, hopefully fun piece paints a scenario in which we can eventually know everything… except that.

expansion of the universe and what came before the big bang

Who among us hasn’t noted with some consternation that left to its own devices the Universe is just going to let itself peter out; just keep expanding till all energy dies, matter decays, and time (perhaps) ceases to exist.

We humans are not about to let that happen, as I’m sure you’ll agree, not if we can help it. And it doesn’t take too much imagination to put a few pieces together in order to paint a scenario in which we do just that: save the Universe.  Somewhere on this website I’ve got an article I wrote a few years back that talks about the diverging paths of our descendants from carbon to energy. Put link <here>  In any case it is relevant to this discussion as it points out that on one end of the evolutionary spectrum, some humans will choose silicone over carbon enabling potential immortality.  Some of those future humans with vastly superior information-gathering and processing power will begin to unlock the secrets beyond our view today- understanding the “fabric” of the universe and gaining the ability to transform into energy-based beings.

[Note: Before you snort at such speculation may I kindly point out what a huge disappointment the confirmation of the discovery of the Higgs Boson was for mankind. God particle? We still don’t have any idea what 95% of the universe is made of.  For all we know it’s partly the ephemeral energy of late Great Aunt Suzy or dear departed Grandpa Abdulhady.]

Before the end of the universe however, regardless of whether we examine the biological humans of that time, the silicone based entities, or the ghosts of energy able to manipulate matter at it’s currently unrealized constituent parts, the common goal of survival, existent in all life will prevail and these sentient beings could cooperate on a cosmic scale to stabilize the physical universe enabling life to go on literally forever.

Is that really the end?  Hardly. If we extrapolate, or rather expand our view of the ethereal intelligence (already assumed to be able to occupy parts of the fabric of the universe in our scenario), to include a scenario in which they (or it) occupies all of the fabric of the universe, we hit a bit of a dead end.

Now I don’t know about you but after I explored every nook, cranny, and dimension of this universe and there’s nothing new, just for entertainment I’d crunch it all up and start a new universe – take matter and energy to a compression point just above self-annihilation and start over. When stasis set in again, I’d start over.  Run every possible scenario time and time again of every moving quark and lepton in every possible position at every instance of time from the beginning till I’d seen every possible outcome the universe could possibly have under every possible condition.  At that point the intelligence would literally “know” everything (omniscient), be everywhere (omnipresent), and be able to do anything (omnipotent).

For good measure I’d check around for an extra millennia or two to make sure I didn’t miss the odd dimension or two before I decided that the end of the line just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. One would be left with two choices:

  1. Assuming energy is necessary for survival in any form including our own ethereal selves, intentionally let the expansion of the universe continue until all energy is extinguished and existence ceases. Not a likely choice especially in the face of one last great experiment…
  2. Marshal all matter and energy and ball it up into an infinitesimally “small” (for lack of a better concept), past the point of self-preservation-safety, again and again, smaller each time trying and discover something new, ultimately too small for the intelligence to survive – crushing the reality fabric and all knowable existence.  The ultimate experiment the results of which the intelligence would never see.

In this speculative scenario once the orchestrating and compressing force of the intelligence is extinguished, the ball of time, matter, and energy would likely explode with a tremendous force.

Enter the big bang and the beginning…

Epilogue

This scenario skirts around two rather important issues, time and god – primarily because it’s intended to be a romp through a plausible universe rather than an intense treatise on the nature of reality.  On the latter I personally find god to be an excellent stand in for the unknowable and would be delighted if he constituted the 95% percent of the universe we can’t explain while one day explaining to me from where he came!

Regarding time and omniscience, in the scenario above omniscience is portrayed serially as in the movie Ground Hog day in which Bill Murray’s character muses that god may not be that smart, it’s just that he may have been around a looong time.  Naturally, and just as (if not more) plausible is the multidimensionality of parallel universes, each representing only one subatomic particle difference per instant from the next.

On time itself, you may be thinking that an interesting scenario our imagined omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent intelligence in the scenario above might wanted to have experimented with would have been a condition of existence without time. For one thing, from a story telling perspective it didn’t seem very interesting- events only occur in time. The whole premise of the scenario is the continual and repeated unfolding of events. For another, and for the philosophical musings of this piece, time is treated as something that the eventual cooling of the universe might be able to destroy while leaving its genesis in the arena of the unknowable.

That may be cheating on my part, but I’ll save Time for another day :-)

Political Philosophy

Politics in the past, present, and the future

political-philosopy-and-future-human-evolutionNo discussion or thought on the future of human evolution would be complete without taking into consideration politics. At it’s simplest, the word “politics” is defined as the act of influencing the decisions that affect two or more individuals. More commonly, it is the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs.

If we hop aboard a mental time machine, the most obvious and linearly extrapolated veins of thought with regard to future politics are probably the two polarized extremes of the ultimate one sentience/one vote democracy, and the ultimate central intelligence/loss of individual autonomy tyranny.

There is also another perhaps more unconventional extrapolation, and that is the disappearance of politics altogether. This disappearance does not mean a decay into anarchy; rather the literal loss of governance as a concept or necessity. These are by no means the only possible extremes, and they certainly aren’t the most likely to occur. But let’s take a quick look at what these particular political futures might look like.

The Ultimate Democracy

It is not a difficult stretch of the imagination to envision a world in which instant access to real-time polling is ubiquitous. Just looking at the news today we can begin to see the genesis of a world wide wireless web that is and will transform the way we live as much as the initial public accessible web did 20 years ago. Look a few more years into the future when brain implants and enhanced interface devices make access to decision making information and public opinion instantaneous, and you have arguably a perfect democracy: every voice informed, every voice heard, every vote counted. Do we keep checks and balances? What of mob rule? What about the rights of the minority? Is the ultimate democracy really desirable?

The Ultimate Tyranny

Now let us advance a few more years into the future. Cognitive implants are now ubiquitous, required in fact in order to survive as all life support mechanisms (sustenance, shelter, information access, transportation, etc.) respond only to the individual digital signatures implanted in our brains and speaking directly to our conscious and our subconscious. This direct access to the psyche could easily be hi-jacked by a well meaning government intent on identifying abhorrent thoughts that could lead to anti-social behavior, correct the “illness” as it occurred through electrical stimulation of certain neural pathways – yes thought control – for the greater good. The need for dual or multi party systems will have been eliminated because dissension is also anti social. People will be happy. People will be peaceful. People will be free to do whatever it is they are told to do and love it. Now that’s Tyranny.

The Passing of of Politics

The theory goes like this: if we review our definition above we see that politics is the influencing of decisions that affect multiple people. Let us for a moment stay on the time machine and come to a place where we have developed such a mastery of the universe, of physical matter and energy, of artificial intelligence, that it is possible to create an entire universe in our brains or in what our brains will become. We can create whatever small physical sustenance is needed through replicators (small nanofactories converting raw materials needed), AI’s serve better company than other humans who may have different wants than ourselves, virtual reality is much more pleasant than any actual physical reality we can create, and the need to procreate has been entirely eliminated through cloning. it’s lingering desire sated by the AI’s and VR’s created to tailor to individual tastes. Essentially, the need to interact with other humans will have been completely eliminated. The decisions I make in my universe, even if I choose to allow a black hole to consume entire galaxies, will not affect my “fellow” man who may be six inches away, who may reside in a different star system all together, or by then may have created an actual new bubble in the multiverse which we have learned to manipulate, not just playing God, but actually being God. Each individual may be God, the Devil, Mussolini, Gandhi, or Hans Solo with no need for any political system regulating the affairs of anyone, internally or externally.

Politics for the Real World

But back to planet earth and the near-term nature of our political systems in relation to the changing nature of man himself. One of the key issues we will face as a society includes the rights of humans vs. transhumans vs. sentient beings. The definition of what it means to be human will soon be played out in courtroom settings, school yards, boardrooms, and bedrooms across the world. The principles we use to define individual freedoms, and the very notion of freedom itself will soon be under scrutiny and perhaps attack as the ability to record our activities on the net, in public and private places of gathering and commerce, and even driving or walking down the street become increasingly public information. As these forces and trends converge, we should pause and review the fundamental principles behind the governance of human activity.

To found our further speculation on the future of politics, we should survey a few of the modern philosophies and conflicts that have led to many of the present day political systems.