Out of the Past

Thursday, October 06, 2005

New Century Telecommunications

By applying knowledge of quantum physics, New Century Telecommunications (NCT), a privately owned research and development company located in Infinite Island, is able to develop quantum telecommunication devices that can connect any two subscribers equipped with the device instant, wireless, and reliable connectivity. This is a major improvement over the present method for optical quantum telecommunications which still requires fiber optic cables to connect the communicators.

Unlike the traditional means of data transport which requires electromagnetic signal to be transmitted over a physical medium such as cables, wires or air, the NCT quantum transceivers connect two points in the space-time continuoum through their patented and advanced application of quantum mechanics. This also means that you will be able to communicate with similarly equipped individuals from the past or the future, including yourself.

NCT is presently running pilot programs for the quantum telecommunications device in several of its research facilities in Asia and Eastern Europe to test the technology, and is planning to release a number of product offerings to the general public within the next three months. A next generation device has also been rumored to be developed which will allow the integral transmission of living tissues. However, we have not been able to produce any confirmations that NCT had successfully developed such equipments.

Source: Totally Fiction Newswire

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Ultimate Programming Language

It is well understood that the DNA uses life's programming language elements, the gene, to express various life forms, including humans. What has been a hard problem to solve is deciphering the programming language and its elements such that modifications and extensions can be reliably and successfully engineered into existing life forms, outside of their "natural" methods for generating mutations. However, research in the field is quickly progressing, and the knowledge of how to successfully perform genetic engineering is steadily improving. The recent discovery of RNA interference (RNAi) and how it works is one that will help accelerate the process of understanding the meaning of various genes in the DNA.

It may not happen soon, but eventually we will be able to understand enough of this ultimate programming language to greatly benefit from it. Aside from the obvious application for selecting preferred physical qualities—no worse, but perhaps slighly more accurate than the use of social rules as an evolutionary selector—there are many other possible applications of genetic engineering that are far more interesting.

We will be able to manipulate life forms to carry engineered and cryptic strands of code, or payloads, that can be passed over generations as hidden messages—in other words, a mechanism for creating bioencryptors(*). Coupled with the deep knowledge of neuroscience, we will be able to package an existing mind in DNA form, and pass the contents from one life form to another, to be deciphered to influence the construction of the new brain—in other words, a mechanism for passing consciousness from one live container to another.

Further, multiple consciousness could be aggregated into a single container that may not take the human form, but rather a more efficient structured blob that only needs minimum physical care to survive—much like a brain in a vat. And the purpose for this is not to simulate anything, but to compose a deeply complex amalgamation of consciousness richly sensitive to, and highly knowledgeable of, many subjects. This blob would then serve as the Oracle for the rest of life, providing and making wise judgements for everyone. It would behave and function almost exactly like the US Supreme Court—appointments into the blob are lifelong—except that votes will be tallied at the molecular level, and decisions will always be unanimous and irrefutable.

(*) Biocryptography is a new cryptology that uses biomolecules as carriers of hidden information. The huge dimension of biopolymers permits the insertion there of private messages and the rapidity and specificity of biomolecular interactions facilitate the identification of classified communications.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Immersive Computing Of The Altered Existence

More than being pervasive, computing will eventually be immersive, interjected in every aspect of our existence. Intermediaries between biologically grown computing devices—the brain—and mechanically derived ones will be so sophisticated and cease being a technology but instead disappear into a sharable, altered existence.

The present day software has been hosted on woefully inadequate computing platforms, and is just passionately waiting for that ultimate quasiorganic platform—mechanically enhanced and extensively engineered bioorganisms that combine animal and robotic traits—to be available.

Soon we will be able to choose whether to treat and heal dysfunctioning body parts organically or to substitute them with limited-use, ever-improving artificial components. There will be two school of thoughts. One that advises the more natural, organic, albeit engineered, approach, and another that argues the virtue of fully upgradeable software and hardware. Neither is right, nor wrong, since by then the human form has long been reduced to tend to the menial task of being one of the many containers for thoughts and memories, bearing no significance and no special place in the blended ecosystem of humans and machines.

Monday, September 27, 2004

The Afterlife Before Life

So they say there is this place called the afterlife, a destination for all of us after we are through with this life, the presentlife. What is not always clear is if this same afterlife is where this presentlife originates. If life is a medium for energy, then it is very possible—it is most likely—that the life before this presentlife—its beforelife— is a completely different one from its afterlife and that the afterlife is simply a beforelife of some future, unknown, possibly completely unrelated presentlife. And this chain of lifes can go on and on like that indefinitely.

An animal less cognizant of its own consciousness will not be bothered by this unrelated chain of lifes, since it only cares so much about the present. But humans, being somewhat more intelligent than most animals and more aware of their own identity and consciousness, are deeply troubled by the fragility of the present and the uncertainty of the future. Why have an identity if it may not survive the life chain transformations and if it may not be coherently reformed through the cycles? What is the significance of this particular present? When you couple this issue with the fact that human existence is bound to pain and suffering—or pleasure and happiness, if you prefer so stated, as they are equivalent anyway—it becomes even more troublesome to the human mind. What is the meaning of this infernal existence?

Thursday, September 16, 2004

The Independent Existence Of Mental Consciousness

Someday it will be possible to create a blank human being. By creating I mean the production of the living form through biological or other means—such as the normal reproductive process that typically takes about nine months to complete, or the yet-to-be-discovered method of fabrication in some future living-system factory. There is nothing remarkable here, except, possibly, for the adjective blank.

Why want a blank one? And also, aren't all human beings born blank already?

Let's answer the second question first. No, every one of us was born already inheriting many physical qualities and already bearing initial mental qualities that depend on a number of environmental factors. To my ear that first cry of a newborn always screams a protest: "Why am I here like this?" "Why am I an imbecile?" "Where is my father?" "Why am I born poor?"

You see, when your lifeline is predetermined by environmental factors, you cannot be a blank human being. Don't think for a moment that you are free to fill your existence with the experiences that you want. You are born deaf, therefore you will never hear a single note of Mozart's. You are born poor, therefore you will never experience the feeling of comfort while growing up as a child. Some people think mental qualities are orthogonal from the physical ones—but in reality they are interdependent.

Now the first question. Let's imagine that it is possible to create a blank human being. Let's also imagine that it is possible to transcribe all the experiences that another existing human being has into an external medium, an optical or molecular storage of some sort. Now, this new blank human being can be made to absorb all these experiences, making him virtually a living copy of the original. Except that the second one could be much younger than the first. Get the idea? It may eventually be possible to remove the intermediate storage, and make a copy of a human mental consciousness to a blank substrate directly. This process can be initiated just a few moments before the original copy dies, resulting in the extension of the lifespan of its being.

This is not human cloning, which, some people argue, is immoral and genetically dangerous. Remember that our body is only a vehicle for energy flow? Well, there is nothing wrong with providing another vehicle for that flow when the first one is exhausted. Also, think of how much more we can advance mentally over generations. It may be possible that history will never be repeated again. It will be wonderful.

Now, here comes the difficult question. How can we create a blank human being?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The Collection Of Best Practices Called Culture

I caught a portion of the Globe Trekker episode 330 which covers Nepal's Himalayas. There exists the Nimba tribe, which practices polyandry, the simultaneous marriage between a woman and a few men. In the program a woman was shown to wed five men of varying ages between late teens to early twenties [ in fact, five brothers, if I am not mistaken ]. This practice does make a lot of sense when you consider the short life expectancy of males in this part of the world. I will have to check the facts, but I won't be surprised if most Nimba males do not live much more beyond thirty years of age. By marrying five men of varying ages, the woman in the wedding had established a plan that guarantees a caretaker for her and her future children for a period beyond the lifespan of each groom—a good plan in a place where food availability is not a certainty. Her tribe agrees to and promotes this winning strategy; so much so that it had adopted ployandry into their culture countless generations ago.

In other parts of the world, where males can expect to live longer—although still typically shorter than most females'—lifespans, and where the resource constraints are dissimilar, people practice a different, but more appropriate strategy. I have been very fortunate to have grown up in a third world country but immigrated at a young enough age to a developed one to be able to notice, among other things, the nuances of the application of the practice of marriage. In my native country, most people marry young and have a few children not long after they get married. Three, four children are fairly common. My mother is one of eleven or so in her family, a number that is less common now, but far from being the exception during my grandfather's best years as a farmer and landowner. In America, not surprisingly, people tend to marry and have children later in their life, and keep relatively small families. Whatever the reasons are for these nuances, we perceive the observables as cultural differences among people.

This should not come as a surprise, but from the human perspective, culture is an invention that serves its time and place appropriately. It is also evolving, adapting to its context in order to remain relevant as a collection of best practices—a fact that many find to be disturbing. Unfortunately, the hauntingly familiar, neverending cycle of creation, nurture, and destruction applies to culture and the values that it represents.

Culture is not invariant. In fact, it must not be, in order for it to be truly beneficial for its people.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Life, The Medium For Energy

It struck me tonight as I was watching an interview on TV—Robert Rubin on the September 10 Charlie Rose Show—that all these struggles that we, humans, have with ego, greed, poverty, and wealth show that our existence is merely there to provide a medium for energy to flow. Energy seeks containment, or it will disperse and dissipate spontaneously—uninterestingly. But when it finds the right structure, the right form, it will incarnate itself into it passionately. It builds, injects, forms, and motivates the structure—filling it with happiness, with sadness, with pleasure, with pain. With these the structure grows and the energy flourishes—seeking even more of its own with which to combine, absorbing some, thrashing some: the passionate exchanges through which all facets of life are expressed. The illusion of feelings is there to feed this dance, to stretch the structure methodically to its limits. Until it can contain no more. And so it dies of exhaustion, in serving its masterful and ultimate meme, the energy of life.