Tom Lombardo’s essay “Consciousness, Cosmic Evolution, and the Technological Singularity”

Tom Lombardo is a futurist who is very interested in many of the realms of inquiry that I am, and he has come to similar conclusions many times. (he wrote the introduction to my book Extraordinary Mind). Lombardo’s essay “Consciousness, Cosmic Evolution, and the Technological Singularity” has just been published in the Journal of Futures Studies. It is well worth reading for those who have an interest in the feilds of transhumanism and artifical intelligence. Transhumanism is centred upon the idea that human beings will one day upload their minds onto computers and potentially live forever. Like Tom Lombardo, I believe that many of its founding precepts rest on very shaky grounds. In particular, I believe that the transhumanists typically confuse the concepts of thought and consciousness, and are not aware of the distinction between mind and presence (still mind). The mind tends to identify with thought and confuses it for its genuine nature. This is the essential problem that many mystical and spiritual traditions have been referring to for millennia. This distinction cannot be seen by the mind itself, which is why mental stillness is required. I am yet to meet a transhumanist who engages in such practice.

In this essay futurist Lombardo critically examines two influential evolutionary visions of the cosmos—those of Eric Chaisson and Ray Kurzweil—focusing on their explanations of consciousness within their evolutionary theoretical frameworks, and how they conceptualize the significance of consciousness within their respective views of the coming “technological singularity”. Lommbardo’s central argument is that a scientifically and philosophically credible understanding of the “technologically singularity” requires a satisfactory explanation of how consciousness fits into a cosmic evolutionary scheme. In examining both Chaisson and Kurzweil’s ideas, Lombardo concludes that neither Chaisson nor Kurzweil provides a satisfactory account of consciousness, and consequently neither one provides a scientific and philosophically satisfactory understanding of the “technological singularity.”



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