THE FOG – A Planet for Profit
The other day I read a futuristic odyssey which presented a hypothesis that artificial intelligence would one day rule over humans. We have all heard this before and whether you believe it or not is your decision to make. However this article theorized that human kind would be at the mercy of artificial intelligence because at its conception it was designed by humans. The article went on to reveal that because of the vast amounts of energy AI will need to sustain itself in the future, it will have to develop the vice of greed. Just like its human designers AI will have to continue to strip the earth of its natural resources.
It is also presupposed that AI will have such a hunger for energy that it will have to inhabit other planets to mine them of their resources. This AI mindset can be illustrated in the scientific realm with what is known as a Dyson Sphere. This is a conception of a mega structure that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its power output. The concept is a thought experiment that attempts to explain how a spacefaring civilization would meet its energy requirements once those requirements exceed what can be generated from the home planet’s resources alone. Only a tiny fraction of a star’s energy emissions reach the surface of any orbiting planet. Building structures encircling a star would enable a civilization to harvest far more energy. Unfortunately the effort to build a Dyson Sphere which could encapsulate a star is mind boggling. Therefore a Dyson Swarm would be the next best thing. A Dyson Swarm would consists of a large number of independent constructs (usually solar power satellites and space habitats) orbiting in a dense formation around the star. Various forms of wireless energy transfer could be used to transfer energy between swarm components and a planet. This is just one hypothesis being considered by the space faring scientific community.
The problem is what kind of material will a Dyson Swarm have to be made of. Well as it turns out the amount of material required for a Dyson Swarm would be truly massive. You’d need to break up and consume all of the material in all of the planets, moons and asteroids in the entire solar system in order to complete the project. Hence AI will have to develop a predatory mentality to sustain itself. This is only one example. But the point here is too illustrated that in order for AI to grow and thrive it will have to surpass all human destructive potentials.
Let us back up a millennium or two and try and see where human kind got off track. The following is a sermon given by the Buddha which may help.
The Fire Sermon
And the blessed One went forth with a company of one thousand monks. The blessed one addressed the monks. “Everything, O monks, is burning. And how O monks is everything burning?” “The eye, O monks is burning; visible things are burning; the mental impressions based on the eye are burning; the contact of the eye with visible things, be it pleasure, be it painful, be it neither pleasant nor painful, that also is burning. With what fire is it burning? I declare onto you that it is burning with the fire of greed, with the fire of anger, with the fire of ignorance; it is burning with the anxieties of birth, decay, death, grief, lamentation, suffering, dejection and despair.” “The ear is burning, sounds are burning. The nose is burning, odors are burning. The tongue is burning, tastes are burning. The body is burning, objects of contact are burning. The mind is burning, thoughts are burning, all are burning with the fire of greed, of anger, and of ignorance.” “Considering this, O monks, a disciple walking on the Noble path, becomes weary of the eye, weary of visible things, weary of mental impressions based on the eye, weary of the contact of the eye with visible things, weary also of the sensation produced by contact of the eye with visible things, be it pleasant nor painful. He or she becomes weary of the ear, and so forth, down to thoughts,. Becoming weary of all that, one divests oneself of grasping; by absence of grasping one is made free; when one is free, one becomes aware that one is free; and one realizes that rebirth is exhausted; and that there is no further return to this world.” When this exposition was proclaimed, the minds of those one thousand monks became free from attachment to the world, and were released from all entanglement.
Ever since the big bang, fire has always been considered the furnace where all life was forged. Fire has always been humankind’s greatest discovery. Whether it is a fire to keep us warm, a fire to cook with, or the internal fire of spiritual awareness. Fire is the one element which illuminates, purifies and reveals the potential of a far reaching spirit. Everything humans have has been shaped within the furnace of fire. As the Buddha teaches, the fire of thought is a resource which has served humanity well. From the beginning of human existence there has always been a force which has kept the power of greed at bay. But as we continue to acquire the appetite of greed combined with anger and ignorance humanity is being lead down the rabbit hole of our own demise. And as we develop AI the human vices of greed, anger and ignorance are growing exponentially. Without the counter balance of sharing, love and wisdom what will the central essence of human life become? What will be the point of being human? In a world of such advanced technology what will be the purpose of humans and what will become of the age old human search for meaning? Grant you all of this can be projected into a distant future. But if the hunters and gatherers who invented agriculture, or the farmers who foreshadowed the industrial revolution anticipated how their inventions would impact on the future of planet earth would they have opted for something else? All of this seems nonsensical now that the genie is out of the bottle. But what if? What if humanity begins to see past the fire of greed, anger and ignorance? Can we begin anew with all the wonders of the world at our finger tips? Or is it too late to navigate the voyage of the dammed into friendly waters?
Today we are still at a point in our human evolution to understand that enlightenment or gnosis is the only helm which can navigate the voyage of the dammed back to a safe harbor where we can re-evaluate what the meaning of life is! Real life! Not an artificial life! So where are you right now on the road of life?
In the Gnostic text Poimandres (The Mind of the Shepard or the Divine Mind) we are told that at death the bodily senses will return to their own resources for the cosmos to recycle. Then anger, desire and ignorance will enter thoughtless nature. What will remain of us will rise and exist in peace and harmony within the spheres of nature. To even begin to appreciate this wisdom we must abandon the narrow path or our own narrow mindedness and embrace the noble path of wisdom.
Chuang Tzu puts it this way:
Such a person will leave the gold in the mountain and the pearls to lie in the deep. They do not view money and goods as true profits, nor are they attracted by fame and fortune, nor by enjoyment of long life, nor sadness at an early death, they do not value wealth as a blessing, nor be ashamed of poverty. They will not lust for the wealth of a generation to have as their own. They have no wish to rule the whole world as their private domain. Their honor is clarity of understanding that all life is part of one treasury, and that death and birth are united. Their knowledge is firmly rooted in the origin of self and encompasses even the spirits. Their heart goes out to what is beyond them. Without virtue their body has no brightness. They move unexpectedly and all life comes after them.
To some this may sound ludicrous. But I can assure you, if humanity would only give themselves an opportunity to truly avoid the world of distraction, a new paradigm could begin to unfold within their minds and hearts. Patterns exist in the heavens for those who dare to look up from their keypads. It is said that we become like the thing we love. So we must learn to choose wisely. Fish can live in water contentedly. But if people were to try to live in water, they would die. Different people need different things to live. We all must find the right environment to flourish. To do so, we must wake up to the truth that living in a submarine is not the same as living under water. This is simply living in a metal tube, which is filled with air and sinks to the bottom of the pool. Likewise, people cannot fly. Birds can fly, but people cannot. Being propelled through the air, sitting in a metal tube above the clouds, is not flying; it is simply being corralled in a metal tube, which is being hurled across the sky. To think otherwise is just another illusion. Therefore, we must learn to let a fish be a fish and a bird be a bird; we must let them have what the Creator has given them. Likewise, humans must respect and celebrate what the Creator has given to us. A bird does not want to be a human, so why should we want to be a bird? When we stray from our natural path, all we do is upset the balance of nature. As we trace human history, the only achievement accomplished by this type of mentality has been the extinction of millions of species. It is time to stop upsetting the balance of nature; it is time to use our human gifts to repair the damage we have inflicted on Mother Earth. It is time to admit to the birds that we cannot fly; it is time to admit to the fish that we cannot live in the sea. And finally, it is time to admit to Mother Earth that we have abused her. In doing so, may all life on Mother Earth show us mercy and forgiveness. As humanity steps into tomorrow, may humanity evolve as an awakened Homo Spiritus. In doing so may Homo Spiritus sincerely show contrition and seek to live in balance and harmony as a respected companion and friend of the natural world.