Help Us, Richard Branson, You’re Our Only Hope

Dear Richard Branson,

You have the power to save the world.

Maybe.

If you choose to accept the mission. The fate of humanity depends on your vision and your charity.

You, Mr. Branson, are one of the world’s leading visionaries and entrepreneurs. Also, I’ve heard you are quite the jet-setting playboy. Your ventures into the world of music, mobile overview2technology and travel are admirable and commendable.

And soon, you are taking people into space. Regular, average, mundane people. Well, average millionaires, but still, science fiction has become reality.

The pricetag for a trip to space is about a quarter of a million dollars. That’s a little more than I have in my bank account right now. It’ll likely be a while before I’m taking my trip into the lesser gravities.

I’m kind of embarrassed to even bring this up, Mr. Branson. A man of your education and stature has surely heard of this. So don’t be insulted.

But I wanted to tell you about the Overview Effect, a psychological state first named in the 1980s by author Frank White.

It’s a conclusion that many human space-travelers reach once they are in orbit around our small, blue, delicate ball called Earth. Our disagreements and conflicts seem so trivial once you see the entire world miles beneath you. The boundaries we’ve drawn on our planet become meaningless, people’s genders and nationalities fade away, arguments seem stupid.

overview1Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell said, “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty.”

Sir Richard Branson, here is your call to action. Your Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo will hold six passengers and travel about 70 miles above Earth. That’s fantastic.

I was wondering if you could waive the $250,000 fee for a few people. Just pick out six world leaders with influence. Give them all a free ticket, let them float in zero-gravity in the Thermosphere, see the delicate little blue planet below, then bring them back.

That’s all. See what happens. If we get good results, if the leaders experience the Overview Effect, you’ve just given humanity the greatest gift imaginable. In all of your entrepreneurial endeavors, probably none will be so mighty as space tickets.

Yeah. I know. I’m an optimist. I have this overwhelming drive to believe in the best of humanity and its people. It appears to have worked in other cases. So why not again?

So, Richard Branson, what’s it going to be?

A few more million dollars? I seriously doubt you need it? Or to (possibly) go down in overview3history as the man who gave geo-political leaders a new world. We either need to start working together in better ways, or we will perish.

I know which one I would choose.

The ball is in your court, Mister Branson. Oh, and that ball is our tiny, remote, lonely, fragile world we call Earth.

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Yet Another Post-Human Manifesto

We’re not radicals, we’re rationalists. And this is not a call for Post-Humans to rise. We don’t really believe in those sorts of motifs anyway. But this is our time.

We no longer desire to be at the mercy of visionless leaders, antiquated mythologies, and debunked narratives. We now create our own universe and our own identities.

Being a Post-Human is not about age, race, nationality, personal belief systems, or wealth. These things are superficial. In fact, it’s open to all.

Our belief is that evolution no longer happens over millions of years. With technology, art, trans1philosophy and other means, it can now happen in a few years, a few minutes, or even moment to moment. Evolution will become a Choose Your Own Adventure story.

Post-Humans recognize that our most devout beliefs are arbitrary. If you were born in a different time, in a different part of the world, you would cling passionately to very different belief systems and assumptions about the universe.

The term “Post-Human” is sometimes used as a metaphor for something bigger that may currently escape us, something we can’t fully explain no matter how hard we try. But so are the words “human”, “society”, “faith”, and “gender”.

The term helps us envision a future where we are no longer bound to traditional forms of life and death.

Many things are metaphors before they become reality.

 

Our Past Selves

We were not always like we are today. At one time, we probably believed in a static planet for our fixed lives. That everything should be this way forever.

trans2But then we discovered the mutation in our own DNA. We were different. Maybe the prototypes of a new possibility. We sought bigger answers and envisioned new possibilities.

We may have been afraid of change or mired in the trenches of our minds. We had no road map to get out. We lacked self-analysis and vision. At times, we were likely even regressive.

We were once equivalent humanity. The same pattern stamped out, over and over again.

Now we are PHlux Humanity.

 

Post-Human = [PH]

[PH]lux-Humans

 

Post-Humanists from History

The idea of impermanence is nothing new. 500 years before the birth of Christ, people were already questioning the static universe. Greek philosopher Heraclitus said (paraphrasing for clarity) that the only constant in the universe is change.

German-born existentialist philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said that man is not a goal, but a bridge.

If you’ve ever wondered where that bridge leads, [PH]lux-Humans believe we have the trans3answer.

Even Ben Franklin was a [PH]luxer. He said:

It is impossible to imagine the height to which may be carried, in a thousand years, the power of man over matter. We may, perhaps, deprive large masses of their gravity, and give them absolute levity, for the sake of easy transport. Agriculture may diminish its labor and double its produce: all diseases may by sure means be prevented or cured, (not excepting even that of old age,) and our lives lengthened at pleasure, even beyond the antediluvian standard.

Control over the universe, sickness, gravity, and our own lives? Brother Ben was a Post-Humanist for sure. Not to mention he may have invented the idea of anti-gravity a few hundreds years before science fiction writers.

 

Hard Questions

Ask yourself, must we live forever at the whim of a careless mother nature? Do we have to be like this? With self-destructing brains and bodies? Could we be more? Do we have to live on this collapsed dust cloud?

You say you’re perfectly happy how you are and that everything worked out just fine.

What if you were born with genes that aim to destroy your body? Perhaps you’d be a little more excited about the promises of technology.

What will humans do when we become obsolete at the hands of own technology? When there are no longer any reasons to be a truck driver, or a doctor, or a painter, because robots can do all that and even perform better than humans.

What happens when we all live in the shadows of our rapidly-accelerating technology? Humans may be unnecessary to the operations of the planet.

Perhaps the answer is to become one with the machines, so their acceleration can be ours as well.

 

Why Evolve?

Humanity is threatened.trans4

Anthropologists believe we are in the middle of the sixth great extinction. Earth has already experienced five great extinctions dating back millions of years. Up to 90 percent of life on the planet disappears with each event. This time, Homo Sapiens are on the chopping block. And sadly, we’re probably the reason for the current great extinction.

Humanity could also perish at the hands of a super virus, a meteor strike, biological or nuclear warfare, climate change, or resource depletion.

Even if we survive all of that, our sun is scheduled to go supernovae in a few billion years. Our star will expand, swallowing up the Earth and surrounding planets, and all lifeforms in our solar system. We’ve come this far already. I don’t want everyone on the planet sitting around waiting to be consumed by fire.

We are either destined to die on this planet, or inherit the universe.

We can continue to fight for antiquated belief systems and prejudices, killing and harming our brothers or sisters, or we can turn our eyes to the cosmos and finally see we are all of common ancestry with a common future.

But, to explore the universe, first we must conquer our own biology. Humans, in our present state, are equipped to live in the One-G environment. That is what Earth provides us. After all, we evolved on the plains of Africa, not the long-distance irradiated vacuum of space.

A super Post-Human would have fewer problems in the far reaches of the cosmos.
Chances are, you or someone you love are already experimenting with Post-Humanism

Does someone you know wear contacts or eyeglasses? Maybe you wear them. This technology definitely enhances the daily experiences of many people. Lives are made better through a tiny piece of technology.

Have you conversed with people who have come into contact with:

 

A pacemaker

Vaccines

Knee or hip surgery

Exo-suits for paraplegics

Ocular implants

Electric wheelchairs

Virtual Reality

Plastic surgery

Smart devices

Invitro fertilization

Where Mother Nature says “No”, technology says “Yes”. Isn’t this the dream? Isn’t this what millions of people have prayed for their entire lives?

To be well, strong, and possibly even eternal?

If you use any of the technologies above, you are already a [PH]luxer

If you require or enjoy any of the technologies above, equivalent humanity would have left you behind. The promises of Post-Humanity are essentially endless.

And amazingly, the small list above is just the beginning.

 

trans5Part I: You Blinked and Missed It

The cyborg revolution already happened and you probably didn’t notice. Your head was buried in your mobile device. You were browsing the internet, the largest database of human knowledge ever curated. You didn’t feel like a cyborg because you were too busy being one.

Maybe you think cyborgs should look like movie androids, with mechanized arms and high caliber weapons attached at the shoulders. Not so much.

We are already enhancing our brains with computers. We have outsourced our biological RAM and knowledge to the internet. Assisting our brains with machine intelligence makes us cyborgs. If you have a smart device, you no longer need to know anything, except how to navigate the net.

When is the last time you were talking with friends and you just couldn’t remember that one actress’s name who was in that one movie with that guy? Then someone said, “I’ll just look it up.”

That person used a computerized device to tap into a global network of intelligence and information more vast than their own solitary mind could ever store.

This is just a mico-example of how we are all Post-Humans now. Whether you like it or not. And there is no reason to believe the march of technology into our hearts and minds will ever stop.

 

Part II: Belief systems and new mythologies

We are oblique and askew. Tomorrow is ours. So is today.

We believe it is our inheritance to populate the cosmos.

Creating a new, beautiful world of infinite possibilities is just as likely as dwelling in this old one.

Post-Humanism is choosing the life you want, not accepting the ancient narratives or biological limitations we’ve been handed.

We do not support obsolete laws or outdated prejudices.

The ordinary and expected are only choices. If those are your preferences, that is sad. But they do not work for us.

We believe one day, humans will merge with machines. Perhaps, we shall conquer death. Until that day, we use the term Post-Human as an idea. A symbol that means the past is over so let it be. The future is ours and begging for experimentation and wonder.

Post-Humanism CANNOT become a tool only for the wealthy to further their hegemony over the masses. [PH]luxing must be for everyone and available to all who seek it.

It is time to put aside our fears and antiquated beliefs that divide us. We must make a decision. Are we are going to live in these ancient and violent mythologies, or adopt a new paradigm of a peaceful universe?

ngs0_1168

 

Part III: We’re emergent, we’re divergent, get used to it

We advocate for personal evolution. We support laws that protect the right to do so.

It is our moral imperative to transform ourselves. Imagine if our ancient ancestors said,

“Well, we’ve come far enough. Now that we gather in groups of a dozen and eat bugs off each other, I’m perfectly happy here and will oppose all future advances in our species.”

There will always be those amongst us – Jules Verne – Charles Darwin – Sojourner Truth – Louis Pasteur – Mary Shelley – envisioning lasers and rocket ships and freedom for the oppressed and tiny universes of living creatures. And all this during times when people fought for the right to enslave others.

In no way am I comparing our movement to the movements and scientific ideas of the above list. I just use them as examples of people who appear as outsiders.

They seem weird to the average populous. These visionaries seem a-synchronousanachronistic to their times, or as genetic mutants or social side-effects.

trans7People with big ideas never fit comfortably into their world because they are from another. But this is only temporary. Eventually, they are all vindicated. They helped to see the future, to create a new and better world rather than re-enforcing the old and dead one.

There is no natural place for technological progress to stop. In fact, it might be infinite. There is only this plateau we are upon before the next evolution within us.

 

Part IV: The Downside and Costs:

There are plenty of criticisms (I’m intentionally leaving out all religious and theological prophecies from this list) of [PH]lux-Humanity. After all, if we become one with our machine children, we may:

Lose our humanity and ourselves in the process

Be outdone by our own creations

See Post-Humanism used for evil and hegemonic reasons

And these criticisms are all valid. This is why the conversation needs to begin today. When we start becoming cyborgs, it’ll be too late as to the ethical paths we should take.

We either ask ourselves today what should be the next circuit for humanity and its technologies, or we shall watch them run rampant over us, inside us, through us and without us.

As always, regarding everything humanity has encountered before us, from fire to uses of atomic energy, the choice is ours.

 

Noteworthy links:

Nope. I’m not the first to write a manifesto. Here’s another.

Author Zolten Istvan‘s musings are must reads

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I’m Theoretically a Theoretical Physicist . . . . In Theory

Time for a little confession. I nearly flunked my college physics courses. Well, maybe I wasn’t close to flunking, but it sure felt like I was. I studied until my brains turned into tapioca pudding, and still only felt I was grasping a few percentage points of the whole curriculum.

theorytwoI did make it through physics, but I realized after the experience that my life would be better suited making words than equations.

You know those TV shows where they interview actors and the biggest stars from the biggest movies? The host of the show sometimes asks the question, “And if you hadn’t become an actor, what other job would you have today?”

Sometimes the actor has a quick response. Sometimes they bite their lips and say, “I don’t know.”

Not knowing is a perfectly fine answer. How many of us actually ponder the parallel lives we could be living in alternate universes?

****my hand slowly raises***

If I were ever famous, and the host of a TV show asked me what else I would be doing if Itheorythree wasn’t doing this, my answer is, “I would be a theoretical physicist.”

That’s a problem since I could barely pass college physics.

Every theoretical physicist needs math skills. But, even more so, a theoretical physicist needs a theory. Many theories are later proven false through the process of the scientific method. It doesn’t matter. You still need one.

Nowhere do I think my idea will hold any water or survive any scrutiny or mathematical tests. Further, I don’t know how to apply mathematical tests to theories, so I’ll have to trust others to do that work for me.

My Theory

First there was string theory. It basically said the universe is made up of tiny, quantum, uni-dimensional particles, or strings, all vibrating at different wavelengths. These vibrations, in turn, cause different particles to represent themselves uniquely. Hence, the universe and everything in it exists.

Many physicists, such as Richard Feynman and Stephen Hawking, have debated string theory both ways, as a failed idea, and as the only one posited so far to be a possible “Theory of Everything”. That “Theory of Everything” is the Holy Grail of theoretical physics. But so far, string theory is just another interesting idea yet to be proven as the basic underlying principle of existence.

Bubble-WrapIn light of all these perceived failures of string theory, let me provide another in its place: Bubble Wrap Theory.

My theory: the universe consists of tiny bubbles held together by a film or fabric. The bubbles are pockets of information, like seeds, that when “planted” in time and space grow into the stuff we call The Universe.

All of the bubbles, seemingly an infinite amount of them spread across the galaxy, all contain information code that programs our little sector of the universe.

The bubbles serve as DNA packets for the galaxy. Our little corner of space has bubbles that contain information for a rather ordinary star, eight planets, some of them more remarkable than others, and information for at least one of the planets, at one particular time-frame in the galaxy to contain sentient lifeforms, whatever those are.

The bubbles are all there ever was and ever will be, Amen.

So, there you have it. My little tiny idea for an infinite universe and our place in that endless expanse.

For fun, I’m going to pitch this idea to a few theoretical physicists and see what they have to say. I’ll post their replies if and when I get any.

Until then. . . . . .

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Welcome to the Post-Future. There is nothing else to look forward to. . . Yet

The spring of 1955 was an interesting time. Things were prosperous, at least in America, haircuts were short, and dresses were long.

But two watershed moments occurred, both pointing to the future, both of them linked, ivponeboth of them also mired in the mores and limitations of their time. Yet they divided up the 20th century into nearly two half-centuries, each filled with its own wonders and challenges.

April 18, 1955, one of the greatest mathematicians and physicists of all time died. Albert Einstein turned the entire world on its head with his theory of general relativity. Time and space were related. Black holes. The speed limit of the universe. Nothing that came after this genuine and innovative idea would be the same. Totally a notion fit for tomorrow.

March 19, 1955, the film Blackboard Jungle premiered. It featured the song Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets. Teens were blown away by the new sound of rock ‘n’ roll. They rioted. They fainted. They finally had a culture and a music set free from their parents.  They were looking toward the future.

Einstein and rock ‘n’ roll both believed in the future. They felt a better tomorrow was coming, a future set free from the old. A place in which you are invited to dream and imagine, where the antiquated ideals perish.

The Future Came While We Were Dreaming

ivptwoDuring the entire 20th century, there was a date most people looked forward to with awe and wonder. It was the year 2000, and oh the magic that date promised to bring.

Sure, there were neo-futurist dreams of flying cars and house maid robots.

But, the year 2000 really meant unlimited potential in the hands of everyone, the promise of technology, a life beyond the drudgery and the familiar and the tedium.

But most of all, 2000 was a time almost within grasp. It wasn’t so far into the future that it appeared unattainable. Many people alive in 1955 knew they would also be alive in 2000. They looked forward to it. The world was supposed to turn into an amazing place during those 45 years. And it did.

If the year 2000 symbolized the future, we now live after the future. A post-future reality.

Are we still dreaming?

Our future, the future of the Post-Future (does that make sense), is fragmented. There is no magic date anymore. We don’t talk about the year 3000 in the same ways we dreamt about the year 2000. First of all, it’s too far away.

The future is broken into segments because we’re promised certain technologies by the year 2020. Humankind on Mars by the year 2026. The computer singularity, when ivpthreemachines become ‘conscious’, will greet us in the year 2045. And on and on.

But not one single magic date. The future will come in small bites rather than in one big gulp.

Maybe 2000 was never the future, but just a metaphor to help people frame and imagine what it could be.

Rock ‘n’ Roll is dead. What will our next metaphor for the “future” be?

 

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Frequently Questioned Answers

The Gideons are an organization that places religious books into many establishments

The great blizzard of 1899

The great blizzard of 1899

around the world. If you’ve ever looked for a phone book in a hotel room, perhaps you’ve encountered their work.

Distributing free books takes money, coordination, time, and commitment. The Gideons are very devoted to their answers, and that’s commendable. Their organization began in 1899 and is still going strong today.

They have lasted over 100 years on basically faith alone.

But the world rapidly changed during the 20th century. So, where should we look for answers for the next 100 years?

 

We Grow When We Forget the Answers

 

Many websites feature a tab called “Frequently Asked Questions”, or FAQ.

The quality of these answers can vary, depending on the respondent’s ability to accurately predict your question. In other words, these lists are easy ways for websites to corral people into a bunker of others who are like-mindedly confused.

Yeah. Your answer is not going to be on this list. Don’t even bother looking. It’s actually a good thing not to find your answers there. FAQs are for the most banal and predictable questions imaginable. And you never want to be banal and predictable.

But imagine the meta-application of blanketing the world with FAQs. Being able to predict gideonstwothe questions means many inquiries are cliched and mundane. Many of us are drawing from the same indistinct data sets. Our inputs are obvious.

I’m asking you to build a new tab, at least in your mind; to embrace Frequently Questioned Answers (FQA).

Answers are rigid and fixed. They deserve to be questioned. It’s hard to grow when you possess the answers. Questions open us to infinite possibilities.

How many answers do you have?

An origin story? The meaning of life?

 

Gideons 2.0

 

I’m proposing a new group for the 21st century. The Gideons 2.0 (Two-Point-Oh).

It’s not a group for the predictable Frequently-Asked-Questions set. It’s a group for those who frequently question the answers.

Who feel comfortable embracing the mysteries.

gideonsthreeWho think it’s more important to create something new than to live in the old.

Who think life is not rigid but full of surprises and mysteries.

Who think prejudice and superstition are ideals best left in other centuries.

Who think that tomorrow is going to be just amazing.

If any of that list appeals to you, chances are, you are probably a Gideon 2.0.

 

Requirements for Membership

 

You must evangelize. We usually do this quietly, by example. We’re not loud or brash.

Ask questions. Raising your eyebrows while asking questions is completely acceptable.

Point out logical flaws. Gently.

And always, frequently question the answers.

Maybe you’re already doing these things. Maybe you want to start.

Either way, you’re likely one of us.

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Your Table Is Ready. Also, I Just Cured Cancer

Imagine the most banal piece of technology ever invented. One whose purpose is narrow, obvious, and only marginally required.

pageroneOkay. Got it?
I say its the restaurant table pager. You know these devices. Your host or hostess hands it to you when there is an hour wait at your favorite enchilada place. They flash, they vibrate, some even make noise. Their one function is to alert you when your table is cleared and ready for you.

It’s easy to imagine, with the current march of technology, that soon our table pagers will be smarter than us. The little device that tells us to have a seat will know more about the universe than we ever will.

Someday, these mundane devices will connect to the internet or some other future data sharing utility. They will be able to access the history of Rome, or the major philosophical differences between Hegel and Kierkegaard, or have the ability to perfectly draw a polystyrene molecule.

Can you do that? Nope.

Table pagers of the future may even write formulas to cure cancer during their shift breaks.

 

Technology Hurt My Feelings

 

How will super-intelligent restaurant pagers make us feel? I’m sure many people will want to climb back into the trees and feast on bananas like our primitive ancestors.

Imagine your coworker is forming a trivia team. You’re good at trivia. Naturally, you thinkpagertwo she will ask you to join the ranks. But she never does.

Why?

Because the team already has a secret, all-knowing weapon: a Chilis Bar and Grill table pager.

Psychologically damaging at best.

Many futurists and scientists call this event The Singularity. When technology surpasses humanity in knowledge with the ability of hyper growth. Technology will be able to transform itself, almost momentarily. Computers will rewrite their own programs. Robots will rebuild themselves into better forms, all while their software is learning like a rapidly evolving DNA strand.

We probably can’t stop this from happening.

 

Is There A Place For Me Tomorrow?

What will it mean to be a human in this environment, when we are finally outdone by our own technologies? I don’t know.

pagerthreeThere are a few things humans will control in this world of tomorrow. Our attitudes. Our outlooks. Our happiness. The meaning we derive from being alive.

We can look at that world with a very defeatist attitude. ie – Now that our technology is smarter than us, our existence is meaningless.

Or we can see that world as an amazing place. Where science-fiction has finally made the world science-reality.

Surely, the future will hold a whole new set of challenges. Yes, table pagers will be smarter than our best scientists. But let’s face tomorrow together, with open minds and the belief that humans can make anything possible.

Amazing things will happen when we put our heads together.

Come. Our table is ready.

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Fun Things to Do With Strangers on Elevators Besides Talk About the Weather

    There is no specific word that means fear of elevators. Most people call anxiety toward elevators “claustrophobia”, which is a fear of small, enclosed spaces. It fits the bill, but a 1983 Volkswagon Rabbit is also a tiny space to find yourself.

    In the car, you can unlock the doors, or look out the windows. There is an illusion of someelevatorone control there. But in an elevator, the big, metallic doors close and will not open again until you’ve been whisked away. There is a certain faith that goes along with riding elevators. And those people who suffer from acute fears of them won’t get on.

    For the rest of us, elevators are the best ways to manipulate our analog bodies to higher planes. And sometimes, we are just bound to stand in these elevators with complete strangers.

    Why, at least anecdotally in my life, does weather conversation appear so often? Talking about how cold it is outside, or that it’s going to rain on Tuesday, or asking me if I ordered up this snow. Do we just need to fill the quiet spaces with words or we’ll all get so uncomfortable and start clawing up the elevator walls?

    Here’s an idea. If someone comments about the weather, especially while riding an elevator with you, gently acknowledge their comment, then counter with one of the following:

1)   Imagine if Neandertals had won the evolutionary struggle against Homo Sapiens and we were all descendants of them. How would this elevator be constructed differently?

2)   When the elevator doors open upon our designated floor, what if we found all time had stopped? What would be the first thing you would do?

3)   What if pushing the elevator buttons caused us to fall into a parallel dimension where there are dragons and magic? Would you train to be a witch or wizard, or would you choose to remain a regular mortal as you are now?

elevatorthree    I think any question will do as long as it’s speculative and open-ended and requires at least a little bit of brain power and creativity.

    With those questions, you are disrupting their predictable flow. Damming up their river banks. Sending them a metaphorical slap to the face.

    You have forced their Prefrontal Cortex into operation and raised their consciousness by one tick.

    Maybe this will have no further impact on your elevator companion, but what if it does?

    I would much rather live in a world where everyone’s awareness has been raised one tick.

    Now what if we tried to raise everyone’s consciousness by a factor of ten? The world would suddenly expand and feel less claustrophobic.

    Happy elevating.

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