Post-humanism and the coming of the Singularity

By Lennox Farrell Wednesday July 16 2014 in Opinion
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Post-humanism is not the same as de-humanism. The latter affects fewer humans than would the former. The latter has also been the norm with humanity for the past five centuries and, more specifically, imposed upon us as Black people. So, the radical idea of post-humanism is a continuance of the established attitudes by those in power, towards those without power. It is also continued by the same groups in power, and who are currently making decisions affecting all humanity. Those groups, historically positioned atop the food chain are White and male.


Among this small group of humans are unquestionably those who are for the Singularity, and those against this event horizon facing all mankind. Collectively, however, this group, a minority in numbers, is also a majority in control of the cosmic-changing events already upon us: the GNR revolution – acronym for Genetics, Nanotechnology, and Robotics. Before considering – at a later date – the pros and cons of this GNR revolution in general, and more specifically that of the Singularity, some personal and other observations could assist in nailing down reasons behind, and possible ways to contain decision-making by this minority/majority clique.


Earlier this summer, at a school ceremony for Grade 5 graduates, students of all races were at one time or another on stage receiving awards. Some were for Science, Math, Leadership, etc. Students from every other ethnic group received these awards…except Black students. These, however, won awards for Athletics. Maybe it was different where you attended similar events. However, I suspect that similar scenes also unfolded elsewhere.


Going now from graduation representations to employment stats, the July 2014 edition of Business Insider, an organ for the movers and shakers on New York’s Wall Street, carried the headline: “Silicon Valley has a huge diversity problem and these charts prove it”. These stats were gathered from the collussi who dictate the terms and directions for the GNR revolution: Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.


Based on the data, the gender-based differences between Facebook’s employees are 69 per cent men; 31 per cent women. This was the good ones. However, Google and LinkedIn had worse ratios of 83 per cent males; 17 per cent females. In addition, of the women in leadership engineering positions of these corporations, one is Black, a Haitian woman. When the percentages are further sub-divided by ethnicity, the percentages are even more dismal: Whites 53 per cent; Asians 38 per cent; Blacks 2 per cent.


Business Week summed up the data thus: Silicon Valley is comprised of mostly White (male) employees. These are the individuals who, alone at the helm of mankind’s future development or demise, consult each other.


These stats are neither surprising, nor unexpected. They are also repeated, ad nauseum, in different formats. One young physician describing conferences convened for medical doctors interested in bio-engineering spoke of the several hundred attendees, of every race, but which, apart from himself, included only two other Black doctors.


There are some issues which confront us, and which have historical roots. There is, however, a historic responsibility which we cannot avoid, and which we must use to inculcate in our young, the idea and goal that, from the hurdles we face, we create either stumbling blocks or stepping-stones. That’s it!


The implications of this advice could appear trite, idealistic, unachievable. This is true. By contrast, however, the obstacles which face us today; literally coming from the same mindsets and forces – now more urbane – that were opposed to our forebears, are nowhere as virulent. Had our ancestors the surrendering spirit of que sera sera, we would be in positions similar to the Tainos (the Amerindians Columbus met alive and left for dead), tourism-supported museum pieces, going extinct.


We must groom our young to break records for success in the disciplines of Math, the Sciences, and Music; in addition to furthering their prowess in the physical. Mind, body and spirit must be the foci of their development; foci equally cultivated, encouraged and expected.


While we are more familiar with the bottom half of the divide between “the haves” and “the have-nots”, if plans by a White minority/majority come to fruition, and do so without significant input, changes and leadership from us, for sure, the coming divisions will no longer be between “the haves and the have-nots”, but between those who have the power and right to thrive, and those without the power and the right to survive.


Finally, and for later consideration, will humans create machine intelligences that are conscious, self-conscious and volitional? And if created, can such “beings”, as they exponentially surpass us, becoming all they can be, remain considerate and accommodating?


With the coming of the Singularity, could this present iniquitous division between “the haves and the have-nots” ultimately develop into divisions between those who have the might and the right to determine who is to be; and those without the might and right and are thus, not to be? And at what point, too, will all huMans – regardless of ethnicity and privilege – be considered, for comparative ability by the huMacs, to be three-fifths humanoid?


To be continued: the Gilgamesh epic and the Singularity’s promise of deathless life.

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