We live in an unprecedented time – a time of brave discovery and forging ahead towards the great unknown. Those of us who are alive right now, or waiting to be born in the next decade or two will be the last of our species to accomplish anything. We are sitting on the cusp of singularity, and we or our children will be the ones to bring it about. The next generation or two will deliver the final word in the history of the Homo Sapiens. They will be remembered by the history as the pioneers and forefathers of all those who will be born in a post singularity world. We are living the history that will be remembered until the heat death of the universe, and possibly even beyond. Sadly most people are too preoccupied with their reality TV shows to notice. But I guess that’s how history has always happened. With exception of great triumphs or tragedies history is a steady background process of constant change.
Most of us are no longer 100% human. Our brains no longer work the same way as the brains of our ancestors. Our high volume information diet, and constant-access has changed our attention spans, and modified how we process data. We are building this information sphere ecosystem for ourselves, ad at the same time adapting to it. Most of you have a specialized organ you use to access this information. Right now it is made out of silicon, plastic and glass and is external to your senses. You may call it a phone, or a tablet but it is nothing more than a specialized appendage that becomes as indispensable to you as a limb. Soon it will be an integral part of your body. Soon you will be able to interact with the internet without using any of your five senses, but will posses a dedicated sixth sense – a virtual I/O for your mind.
The Internet is already becoming an integral part of your mind. That’s where you go for entertainment, information and guidance and socialization. That’s where you look up unfamiliar terms, record your memories and share them with your friends. That’s where you publish your thoughts and speak your mind. As you go about your day, you leave an echo in the virtual space. Your thoughts, actions and interactions with others make impact on the cyberspace. Depending on how deeply plugged in you are, your mind leaves a sizable impression on the internet, and at the same time it plunges it’s own tendrils into your psyche.
What’s more interesting is that it is a shared part of all of our brains. We are all aware of our virtual echos – we can observe the information tide waves left by prolific individuals. We feel each other impact our shared mind space in many ways. And this will only become stronger as we move forward to the great question mark on the horizon. We are becoming closer, more interconnected and more plugged in. Is this the singularity?
Are we working towards becoming some sort of a gestalt society with a shared sub-consciousness? And by that I don’t mean complete loss of individuality, because that’s actually one of our driving forces and one of our strengths. I’m talking about keeping the fierce individualism that drives us now, but at the same time becoming something more. Millions of like minded individuals sharing, interacting ad debating at the speed of light, and coming together to form something greater.
I have already seen glimpses of this happening out there, and so have you. Have you ever wondered why some online communities develop something akin to personalities of their own? How places such as reddit or 4chan can have such self enforced cultures, aspirations and attitudes? How amorphous, leaderless, decentralized groups such as Anonymous can have such clear goals and moral convictions despite lack of any internal structure? How right wing communities aligned with fox news and popular pundits can almost completely dis-entangle themselves from facts and reality?
Granted, this is human psychology – that’s how group dynamics have always worked. When you get bunch of like minded people together they feed of each other. You get feedback loops, mob mentality, hive like behavior. Individuals are swept away and contribute to something greater. But up until now, this was rare. It only happened during special occasions – large gatherings, public events, conventions. Now we get group dynamics happening at the speed of light (well, at least on the backbone trunks, but probably not on the last mile), anytime and anywhere. We have fast, efficient communication, and means of establishing virtual tribes and mind-shares without effort, and without the physical proximity requirement that has always put an upper cap on hive-type collaborations.
The internet is allowing us to do mob together from anywhere, at any time, and nigh constantly. This is why reddit has a hive mind (for better of for worse). And as our communication technology improves, and as the internet is more tightly coupled with our brains this phenomenon will intensify. Perhaps this is our singularity. Perhaps we will transcend humanity not by building a touring grade artificial intelligence but rather by transmogrifying ourselves into huge gestalt hives composed of millions of individual minds synchronizing and working in concert to become something greater. And in turn, those hive minds will work toward symbiosis and integration to create an even greater singular consciousness.
Of course there is a chance I’m completely wrong about this. I am certain only of one thing – something will happen in the next few decades. It will be big, and it will change everything we know about life, universe and all the other stuff.