Not long ago, I ran across a Big Think article about a newly proposed ontology called “idealism.” Bernardo Kastrup essentially suggests that panpsychism (the notion that everything in the universe contains consciousness) can go even further: he believes the universal mind has dissociative identity disorder, and we are all facets of one universal consciousness. Fascinating stuff. Check it out here.
A Singular Superintelligence
As I considered the possibility that we’re all “multiple personalities” of one universe-mind, I started to reflect on the technological singularity. Many predict it will come within a few decades—Google’s Ray Kurzweil would say 2045—bringing with it a radical transformation of our civilization and way of life. Such a powerful superintelligence could enable us to do all sorts of unfathomable things, like:
- Live forever
- Digitize our consciousnesses and become non-biological beings
- Merge with AI to multiply our intelligence a billion-fold
- Travel between stars
On the other hand, the superintelligence could wipe us out and take over the universe, more or less becoming Bernardo Kastrup’s universe-mind. Elon Musk is concerned about that, but let’s not dwell.
So What About Cloud Tech?
The point is that “consciousness” is perhaps less definable than we’d like, and would get even blurrier if we were ever able to upload our brains to the cloud. As it is, cloud tech is already taking us closer and closer to the point of no return:
- Virtual servers combine processing power from servers across the world—essentially a computing hive mind.
- The cloud enables continuous uptime and availability to SaaS systems (like our OpenWater software) by balancing loads between multiple, redundant servers. High Availability (HA) is almost like computer immortality: always on, always awake, always working.
- The sum of all human intelligence is always readily available in the palm of your hand, with any internet-connected device.
- The Internet of Things (IoT) has begun to integrate our very environment with this global information highway (will objects soon have consciousness?).
Kurzweil would say—thanks to tech like cloud computing—the evolution of the singularity has already begun. He sees a near future where we’re putting human-level AI “inside our brains, connecting them to the cloud, expanding who we are. Today, that’s not just a future scenario. It’s here, in part, and it’s going to accelerate” (as he said to Futurism).
As it turns out, Elon Musk is already working on that one. His Neuralink company is making strides on a brain chip that could relay your thoughts to a smartphone app. Some would argue this is the next stage in human evolution, although it’s not exactly biological. Of course, continuous access to the internet and cloud-based applications is impacting our bodies and brains, too. Some research has shown that our love of mobile devices could be reshaping our skulls.
But I digress. Whatever happens, it’s at least fun to imagine that our cloud-based software, OpenWater, is one of the latest stepping stones in humanity’s march towards the singularity.