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30 April 2009 | Draft
Emerging Memetic Singularity in the Global Knowledge Society

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Introduction
Checklist of constraints
Varieties of singularity
-- Technological singularity | Cognitive singularity | Metasystem transition
-- Communication singularity | Globality as singularity | Symmetry group singularity
-- Subjective singularity | Spiritual singularity | Singularity of planetary consciousness
-- Metaphorical singularity
End times scenarios
-- End of history | 2012 | Timewave theory | Eschatological scenarios | End of science
-- End of culture | End of religion | End of civilization | End of security | End of privacy
-- End of intelligence | End of ignorance | End of knowing | End of abundance | End of confidence
-- End of hope | End of truth | End of faith | End of logic | End of rationality | End of modernism
-- End of wisdom | End of tolerance | End of nature
Black holes and Event horizons
Conclusion
Introduction


(Constraints on global knowledge"

progressively higher proportion of the population and interest groups with active websites, blogs, lists and special concerns, including communication strategies in response to their preoccupations

progressively higher proportion of original thinkers with unique and innovative ways of framing the challenges

progressively higher proportion of information constrained by language (or jargon), copyright, commercial cost of access, etc

progressively higher proportion of purportedly highly significant knowledge that is held secret (classified), is little known, or is held to be incommunicable ("unsaid")

increasing constraints on available individual attention time for the range of extant knowledge (namely information overload), even with personalized search engines, visualization tools, synthesizers, etc

increasing commitment to "maintenance" information (responding to short-term priorities), precluding openness to new information calling for learning (notably with respect to longer-term challenges), even under conditions of emergency

increasing constraints on learning the increasing number of new applications purportedly designed to alleviate the above challenges

distortions introduced by ranking processes to highlight significance (as promoted by special interests), variously based on commercial criteria, ethical and libel sensitivity, political filters, accuracy, popularity, security, etc

ever increasing automated information processing with ever diminishing capacity for human confirmation of its validity (namely the focus of technological singularity concerns)

increasing indifference, insensitivity and habituation to the conditions and suffering of distant others -- whether real or virtual, human or non-human

increasing challenge, in the above context, of detecting and communicating with people of influence -- even on matters of urgency

increasing challenge for people of influence, in the above context, of communicating effectively with potentially supportive others -- in order to get "traction"

radical loss of confidence in "authorities" (including people of influence), sources of information, and in the capacity to authenticate information

increasing constraints on feedback processes, even with regard to what is perceived as urgent

increasing occurrences of destabilizing memetic enthusiasm and panics ("memetic pandemics")

diminishing capacity to match accessible information with reality (as with the processing capacity of intelligence services), except by extreme, and potentially dangerous, selectivity (eg bias)

increasingly hyperactive tendencies to frame information and its sources as "positive" or "negative", inspiring "hope" (hope-mongering) or "anxiety" (doom-mongering), with necessarily little capacity for objective assessment

increasing tendencies deliberately to exploit and exacerbate incoherence -- most evident in definitional game-playing, conceptual gerrymandering, news managemernt ("spin"), demonisation, etc

multiplication of contradictions and paradoxes undermining any conventional sense of coherence

fragmentation of knowledge society into zones (islands) of relative coherence in an ocean of relative incoherence

increasing number and variety of categories through which it is required (on forms) that bodies and initiatives be adequately identified for related or unrelated purposes

disparity between the assumption (naively) made by any one constituency of the singular connotation of terms ("democracy", etc) and the increasing variety of connotations implied by the range of constituencies using those terms
What other trends does this set suggest and how would its completeness be recognized? With a population recognized to be "ageing", it might be asked whether the challenges of ageing, notably erosion of memory, are to be understood as increasingly reflected in collective memory. In the "blip culture" seen to characterize the future according to Alvin Toffler (The Third Wave, 1980), it is increasingly unlikely that trends of any kind will be collectively registered as meaningful (Societal Learning and the Erosion of Collective Memory, 1980). Collective existence in a "blip" context already suggests one form of "singularity".
                                           ..................................................................

Cognitive singularity: Potentially more intriguing -- and relevant to the checklist above -- is what might be termed a "memetic singularity", a "semantic singularity" or possibly a "cognitive singularity" -- on which there has been less discussion. Previously with respect to the Emergence of a cognitive singularity ( 2008) it was stated that:.
The condition of such a singularity might be understood as intimately associated with a knowledge-information singularity at which the amount of knowledge-information generated -- of immediate relevance to viability -- exceeds the capacity of any (collective) human cognitive operation to process it. The dynamics of significance then constitute a form of standing wave of self-reflexivity. The points to a form of metasystem transition, namely the emergence of a higher level of organization or control... . Such a cognitive singularity is therefore distinct from that hypothesized as a future technological singularity of civilization, which might be understood as more probably related to that of societal collapse.
                                                   ..................................................

Communication singularity: One understanding of the technological singularity (or "AI singularity") sees it in terms of a communication singularity as expressed by Brad Johnson (Making a case for the communication singularity, 29 September 2008) from a transhumanist perspective:

In this perspective augmented intelligence could reap its very own communication singularity. A prevalence of instant thought communication would stifle the chaos of argument that plagues our society right now. Millions of minds augmented by the cool logic of computer enhanced human rationale would cut through years of debate and hot emotional wasted time and effort.

The hive mind will be augmented by A.I. and transhumanity will no longer experience the sting of fear we now feel when considering the possibility of being 'left out' of the singularity and being completely replaced by big hard A.I. machines. Evolution leads us to what we have been heading towards all along: The marriage of humanity with communication itself. We are building our way to A.I. just as we build A.I. itself. In this fine respect we are not building our own demise but rather a method of success and long term survival.

In my humble opinion the communication singularity is one of the most prevalent scenarios that draw us to the approach of transhumanism but it is not the only one. Another of the most likely candidates is the fascinating emergent anotechnological singularity. If the possibility of having our mentality stored permanently on computer hardware leading us to our destined immortality is not a human enough transhumanism for your taste, then nanotechnologically enhanced physicality should be.  In either regard the marriage of technology and humanity itself occurs on the front of communication. Nanotechnology will be an A.I. driven technology which will lead us down the omnipotent road of godhood itself.

A valuable contrast to this large scale view is that with respect to artistic and intellectual community as denoted by the tusovka ( translated as 'incrowd' or 'scene', namely the specific form of non-committal sociality that dominated the small intellectual-artistic community during the post-Perestroika period). ..  
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Subjective singularity: As part of a discussion thread on the topic, and in contrast to his understanding of the "tech singularity", Ben Goertzel (Consciousness Singularity, BrainMeta.com, 4 March 2003) complements that with a posited subjective singularity:

In a broader sense, I think of a "subjective Singularity" as involving either: Drastic alteration in human subjective experience. Technologies like virtual reality, genetic engineering, neuromodification, and uploading have the potential to drastically change the experience of being human. Once these technologies have transformed the subjective experience of a moderately large percentage of humans, in a highly significant way, then we will have reached a "subjective Singularity": a replacement of human mind with something different.

or,

The creation of nonhuman intelligences that are tremendously smarter than us, and most of whose activities are as opaque to us as our activities are to a dog.

In principle, either variety of subjective Singularity could occur without a tech Singularity; but I think the two are likely to come together.... It is the combination that I refer to generically as "The Singularity."

As for what life or mind will be like after the Singularity, I think this is something we can not know. The most important aspects of post-Singularity reality and mind will likely be as opaque to an unimproved human as advanced mathematics is to a dog.

In the same thread a form of psychological singularity is distinguished by Hitthelimit (Consciousness Singularity, BrainMeta.com, 16 November 2008) with respect to the the evolution of the natural intellect:

There is the limit for the evolution of systems that can reflect reality the way human mind does. There is a moment in evolution of the mind after which it becomes incompatible with essential requirements of existence. The reason for psychological singularity is peculiarity of the auto-reflection process in mind which leads to creating an insoluble and irreplaceable strategic motivation. The core moment of it is the ultimate understanding of total absence of "free will".

Spiritual singularity: Peter Russell (Singularities: the shape of the future, 1998) distinguishes a spiritual singularity from the technological variant -- transcending the considerations of any cognitive singularity:

... there is good reason to believe that before we arrive at some such technological singularity we will have already moved into the next phase of evolution, the development of human consciousness. Once it takes hold inner development is likely to progress even more rapidly than technological development. We could arrive at a spiritual singularity -- a moment of unimaginably rapid inner awakening -- before we reached any technological singularity.

One articulation of this possibility is provided by Authentic Grokking: emergence of Homo conjugens (2003). Another is provided by Engaging with Globality through Knowing Thyself: embodying engagement with otherness (2009) which notably refers to the generic cognitive implication of the mirror recognition test (Self-reflective Embodiment of Transdisciplinary Integration (SETI): the universal criterion of species maturity? 2008). The issue of self-awareness has been raised with respect to the internet itself in interviews with Francis Heylighen and Ben Goertzel by Michael Brooks (Could the net become self-aware? New Scientist, 30 April 2009).

Personal development and spiritual practice, may result in individual experience of singularity -- possibly through a series of stages, initiations and awakenings (Varieties of Rebirth: distinguishing ways of being born again, 2004). These might be understood as cognitive "metasystem transitions" in their own right.

Such individual experiences of forms of singularity in "internal" transformation of consciousness, may be understood as associated with (or even engendering) a form of "external" transformation of the world as experienced and understood. In this sense any spiritual singularity may take the form of a transformation of any sense of bounding identity in relation to the world as previously explored (Being the Universe: a Metaphoric Frontier -- co-existent immanence of evolutionary phases, 1999; My Reflecting Mirror World: making my World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002) worthwhile; Stepping into, or through, the Mirror: embodying alternative scenario patterns, 2009).

Such mirroring might itself be understood as a metaphorical singularity suggesting that the hypothesized technological singularity is more fruitfully to be comprehended as a metaphor (Robert D Romanyshyn, Technology as Symptom and Dream, 1989; Mirror and Metaphor: Images and Stories of Psychological Life, 2001). The metaphorical nature of singularity is discussed in commentary on KurzweilAI.net of the study by George Gilder Jay W. Richards (Are We Spiritual Machines? Ray Kurzweil vs. the Critics of Strong AI, 2002)....
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Emerging Memetic Singularity in the Global Knowledge Society

Marginally relevant but interesting and exhaustive/

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
baron_waste
Jan. 2nd, 2015 04:55 pm (UTC)
I thought that was a draft you were preparing. I was impressed.

It's an interesting take on things to link an ageing population to “blip” culture through loss of memory, but I think he's wrong.  It's far more a product of advertising, a barrage of disjointed information becoming the norm in the “sound bite” culture.  Have you watched any theatrical movie trailers lately?  Some of them are so spastic and staccato that they're completely meaningless, just a jumble of unrelated snippets.

“I'm bored if I'm not being constantly bombarded with media.”

The notion that this might be exhausting, that it might be producing distorted, burned-out, increasingly apathetic reactions, has occurred to some people.  It's also possible that rising generations would adapt to this, as villagers in the Andes have physically adapted to a partial air pressure that can cause lowlanders to pass out.  Humans are remarkably plastic in their adaptation to environment.  The young professionals of a generation hence

http://youtu.be/NeK5ZjtpO-M

may find this quaint.


[I was amused to see how whatsisname hijacked the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) with his more opaque version.  I suspect it won't catch on.]
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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