INTEGRAL WORLD: EXPLORING THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber



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David Christopher LaneDavid Christopher Lane, Ph.D., is a Professor of Philosophy at Mt. San Antonio College. Professor Lane received his Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego, where he was a recipient of a Regents Fellowship. Additionally, he earned an M.A. in the History and Phenomenology of Religion from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. Dr. Lane is the author of several books including The Radhasoami Tradition and Exposing Cults (New York: Garland Publishers, 1992 and 1994 respectively) and The Making of a Spiritual Movement (1979, 1983, 1993). He is the founder of the Neural Surfer website and co-founder along with Dr. Stephen Runnebohm, former Dean of Mt. San Antonio College, of the MSAC Philosophy Group.

SEE MORE ESSAYS WRITTEN BY DAVID LANE

DIGITAL EXISTENTIALISM

IN THE FUTURE U.R.A.I.

David Lane

The next stage is already upon us and its initials are A.I., but it stands for augmenting intelligence.

The acquisition of knowledge is defined, limited, and measured by distance. Yet what happens when there is no lag time between what we desire to know and what is known?

We are already witnessing the exponential acceleration of technological evolution to such a degree that in a few decades we will become the very A.I Nick Bostrom, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking fear but not in the exact form they predict. No, it isnít a superintelligence apart from ourselves that will transcend us in a Kurzweil like singularity, but rather that we will become the very network itself.

The next stage is already upon us and its initials are A.I., but it stands for augmenting intelligence.

Just think: The smart phone in our hand today can access more information in seconds than all the computers in the world combined just thirty years prior. We are becoming forever tethered to the computational web that help us in every single aspect of our lives: from whom we date and mate to how we spell and write to how we sing and compose to how we drive and shop to how we watch and listen to how we think.

The tomorrow of who we are can be glimpsed in the millions of applications that are downloaded daily to help us navigate our overlapping worlds of the virtual and the empirical. But that distinction between the two is an illusory one which will be soon be crossed when we become the very apps we seek, where that which we want and that which we can have are one and the same.

All that we couldnít get from without, we will quite literally get from within since in a multiverse of information nothing is in short supply and everything is ready for digital consumption, except in our case the line between upload and download will be forever blurred and where we end and artificial intelligence begins will be meaningless.

Everything we know will be literally turned inside out. We already are glimpsing such a destiny even now as moment to moment we are sharing the most personal of details and pictures of our lives to strangers we have never met except in textual affirmations.

No longer will we have to pretend to be the avatars we project. We may be bodily separated in the here and now but in cyberspace we will be the fused generation, where every desire and every whim and is met instantly with its twin counterpart: absolute fulfillment. But therein lies the great transformation we cannot portend, sacrificing the limits of our humanity and what made us who we are for a future where nothing is breakable and vulnerable remains since we have replaced our mortality and its fragileness for a photonic wonderland where space and time and their separation no longer have any meaning.

The forbidden fruit is electronic and we have already eaten it. The future will not so much shock as absorb us. We, the last remnants of a nature without intention, are becoming aware of a wholly new terrain which also brings with it a terror of its own: digital existentialism, where meaning and purpose are without direction and where we are never alone. We sacrificed our privacy for never ending company and in return we became the flickering screen that never shuts off.






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