In Search of Solaris
If we at this stage are talking about mind uploading, why do we ignore the possibility of advanced civilizations having done so billions years ago?
Digital Immortality Is Close
According to different estimations human species has been around for plus minus 4 millions years. What might seem a lot to the mortal human being is a blink of an eye in the timeline of the universe.
Being so young, we are nevertheless pragmatically discussing the cyborgization of humanity and the feasibility of uploading our minds into a computer.
Numerous initiatives sprang up to kill the death and allow our sacred consciousness transcend the boundaries of our delicate biological envelope.
Ray Kurzweil predicts we will be freely uploading our minds by 2045. While the exact definition of a mind and of uploading still hovers around such notions as consciousness, memory, cut & paste and copy & paste, the fact that at least some resemblance of ourselves could be stored in digital form for eternity is quite impressive. Be it through the robotisation or the invention of a bionic eternal engine, we are undoubtedly getting to the era of an all-encompassing “soul” digitalization.
We might debate as to whether our generation will be the one who will achieve immortality or whether it is going to be the one hundred years from now.
Important difference between our times and the quest for a philosopher’s stone is the historical “if” and scientific “when”.
What Is The Chance of Life on Other Planets?
In November 2013, astronomers reported, based on Kepler space mission data, that there could be as many as 40 billion Earth-sized planets orbiting in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars and red dwarfs in the Milky Way, 11 billion of which may be orbiting Sun-like stars.
We have been looking for those habitats and the suitable life conditions for as long as we have had at least distantly applicable astronomic tools. We know life needs hydrogen and oxygen to evolve, we know it needs photosynthesis, metabolism or any other matter transforming processes to survive.
But will we have all those biological needs once our minds are digitally uploaded into the metal shell and the Universal Mind blends our consciousness into an all-powerful web? Will there even be a luxury to breath oxygen millennials from now?
If not us, our Sun will create a heat-produced runaway greenhouse effect which would wipe out all but the most resistant microorganisms. Not to mention climate change-inflicted natural disasters, very possible meteoroid rains and human caused nuclear annihilation.
We simply cannot afford to stay biological forever. Our modern day body and “consciousness” has been a temporary pleasure to be enjoyed during the times of biological paradise. We are lucky enough to exist in the Rare Earth era.
Why Should Alien Life Be Biological?
In the Universe timelapse our biological paradise has been around for a fraction of a second. Despite our ill-adopted bodies and such a short time frame we had managed to take advantage of our unlimited intellectual capabilities and come to the point of an intergalactic travel and digital immortality.
What we have never overcome, however, is our inherent egocentrism and short-sightedness.
If we at this stage are talking about migrating from the constraints of our biological body, how can we ignore the possibility of advanced civilizations having done so billions years before we even come to exist?
We have been looking for the minerals and gases that would make Earth-like life possible. All we found was the resemblance of solid hydrogen on Mars and Venus, which might have been covered by water before.
But have we searched for other types of life? Have we thought of life as having a non-biological foundation? Do we have a slightest idea of what other forms could be out there? Do they even have to exist in the same time dimension? If the matter and time do not go hand in hand, chances are we'll never encounter them.
Great example of human hypothesis on alternative life form is Solaris by Stanislaw Lem — an intelligent Ocean on a sentient Planet capable of getting into one’s thoughts and controlling your consciousness through telepathy.
It is more than probable that the life forms we are looking for have left their biological existence before we even came to be. Maybe their Planet was rendered uninhabitable and they had to come up with the way to preserve their essence by alternative means. Having been around for billions of light years before us, they have been definitely faced with a cosmic catastrophe and had to come up with the way to survive.
What did those civilizations do? How did they survive an apocalypse? Could they manage to physically overcome it?
Where Does Our Existence Come From?
In case they managed to survive the adversary space conditions they must have abandoned the living envelope and transitioned to the resistant and resource-free form of intelligence, the one we are approaching ourselves.
In case they did not have the design and idea of preserving themselves locally they might have well thought of a way to telepathically implant their consciousness into another nascent civilization elsewhere in the universe.
Chances are the civilizations we are looking for found Earth way before we even conceived of a possibility of their existence. Their implanted knowledge and sentience could have been the base that allowed Homo Sapiens to dominate all other species on the surface of the Earth.
If so, our engrained belief in the human consciousness and sacred soul might have a much more scientific than spiritual explanation. We are simply too early in our development to realize and explain the phenomenon of our own existence.
It does not prevent modern thinkers from dwelling on the possibility of artificially created reality, the so-called “Matrix” Silicon Valley tycoons are talking about. What we have overlooked is the probability of ourselves being artificially conceived in the favorable conditions of Pleistocene.
The thought that all we have around has been lived through and made possible by an alien intelligence is not the most empowering one. Neither it is easily acceptable by Homo Sapiens, a self-proclaimed Master of the Universe.
Nevertheless, the possibility of being spiritual descendants of billion years old civilization is definitely a humbling and inspiring one.
Just as another civilization might have had depended on us at one point so we might get to depend on another life form millions years from now.
If the cyclical civilization theory is correct, we might be responsible for much more than human civilization inhabiting Earth today.
Before you go…
If you enjoyed this post, you will love KateGoesTech (my blog on futurism and philosophy of technology). I am planning to start vlogging as well — @kate.goes.tech. Looking forward to your comments and suggestions.