Monday, August 19, 2013

Technology and The Singularity

One trade mark of the human species is not only our ability to create technology, but to have that technology evolve and progress through time. That is, we not only make tools, our tools refine over time, improving themselves and merging with other tools. If we take the broad definition of technology as anything which a person creates or utilizes to further an end, then we can see how this technological progress follows a pattern: the removing of steps between the initiation and the completion of an end. An end is just any goal or task a person wishes to complete. Therefore in this sense, technological progression is that which helps removes the steps or shorten the procedure in the furthering of an end. Tools are the objects or skills themselves that are utilized in this process.

To understand how technological progression is the production of tools or skills which remove steps towards goals, some examples are useful. Some of the first tools humans utilized were stone axes. At first the tools were sharp but uneven. The next tool to come along worked on the original idea, and improved it by adding straighter edges. This addition helps one cut better, thereby removing the steps in order to complete the task of cutting. Therefore a pattern is seen, a tool emerges to help facilitate a task- like cutting- and as time goes on, the the tools are refined by the usefulness in removing the steps toward an end. Another kind of progression technology can go through is the merging of tools. This is best exemplified by today's smart cell phone. This device is an amalgamation of many different tools like a camera, mp3 player, web browser, etc. Therefore, not only do tools progress, they merge- helping remove the steps from multiple ends at once.

Considering this point of view, a question arises: would there be some point in time where our technology effectively removes all steps between initiation and completion of an end? Can technology become so efficient so as to remove any time between the thought of a goal and its attainment? Can all technology converge into a single tool that can do it all? Would this be the singularity the trans-humanists hope for? This is the idea that humans and technology will merge, causing an effect so novel, it is incomprehensible to think about at this time. I feel this potential state is exactly the point of us achieving the fully optimized technology explained above. The time in which out tools will remove all steps between us and our goals, we will reach a singular state where all things are instantaneous. This must be the singularity: the state where all goals are instantly accomplished through technology.

If humans do reach this point, what is left for them to do? If technology cuts all the time down and coalesces into single tool, then how would we act? What would happen to our desires and hopes? This is what makes the singularity so incomprehensible. We are so defined by our pursuits of goals, that if all was immediately attainable, our identity must cease and recreate itself. Much or maybe all of what we do now would be unnecessary. Perhaps this progression would go backward when people start to miss the delayed response of working toward a goal. Maybe some would regress toward tools which add more steps, thereby adding a sense of meaning for those who felt they lost it all with the lack of steps towards goals. Or would these people be deluding themselves by denying a life of possible perpetual bliss? It's hard to say for sure whether or not this progress in technology will prove to be ultimately satisfying for humans. It could either become a trap or a blessing.

Is the logical conclusion of technology a single tool which does helps towards any end instantaneously? Is this what would make the singularity incomprehensible to us now? As of now we cannot know for certain what it will bring, but what ever may come, it is enviable.  

Thursday, August 8, 2013

DMT, The Pineal gland, and The 3rd Eye

DMT is a neurotransmitter which is produced during normal human metabolism in the body. A neurotransmitter is a chemical used for communication between areas of the brain. Its function is unknown at the time, but its speculated that it is released in the brain during three specific stages: birth, death, and dreaming. There is speculation that DMT is responsible for visionary phenomenon like dreams, alien abduction, and near death experiences. If one would to ingest DMT as a vapor or in a brew with an MAO inhibitor, they would experience a psychedelic state which most describe more akin to visiting a place rather then a kind of intoxication. There are much higher reports of people encountering aliens or beings then on other classic psychedelics like LSD or psilocybin. Although DMT works on serotonin like the other classic psychedelics do, it produces these intense and unique otherworldly/alien experiences. Many have said that the drug allows one to cross into other worlds or dimensions. Many of the anecdotal reports support this sentiment.

Some scientists believe that DMT may be synthesized in the pineal gland. This is a gland which resides at the center of the brain. Interestingly, the tissue its made from does not resemble any of the other brain tissue. Its most well know function is producing the sleep hormone melatonin. The hormone is produced because the gland is light sensitive and requires darkness to begin the synthesis. The function of its light sensitivity should not be limited to its current use. In our ancient evolutionary past, the gland was connected to an eye, and is still like so today in so called “living fossil” reptiles. Therefore it was originally designed to take in light from the outside and convert it into mental images or dispositions rather then just melatonin. Knowing its possible for this gland to registrar light, its not far-fetched to see how the stimulation of it may produce it to take in more light then usual, thereby eliciting visually images. Increasing DMT in this gland may bring out is older sense organ properties.

The mythical and spiritual 3rd eye known to many metaphysical and esoteric belief systems represents a kind of inner or intuitive vision one gains after mastering a practice. Could it be that the otherworldly encounters known to the DMT experience really be another reality picked up via a light source beyond the visible spectrum? That is, could it be that what one sees under DMT is actual light being picked up from some part of reality we normally don’t see because the concentration of DMT in the pineal gland is usually low, but increased during external DMT use? I find it possible that an increase of DMT causes the usually low tuned pineal gland to go into overdrive and not only pick up light to create melatonin, but also to transform it into visual images and perhaps other kinds of sense data as well, thereby disclosing that part of light/reality we normally cannot pick up on. perhaps this does unlock perception of either another world or a kind of parallel continuum we normally cannot pick up. Granted this theory is highly speculative; nevertheless it gives us way to think about these three phenomenon and how they might relate to each other.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Double Standards: Oppressive For Females?

The idea of a double standard between the sexes has sparked a lot of debate in the post-modern era. Feminists insists that it is a form of oppression on women by subjugating them to activities like household chores and other traditional female roles. They see their side of the standard as a form of objectification which debases the female. The whole system is seen as only benefiting all men, at the cost of all women being subjugated in life. This idea is facile as it fails to regard how the gender roles emerged from environmental and anatomical conditions from our past.

The truth is one role is not more significant then the other. Rather, both are necessary but make up different parts which accompany each other in very complementary ways. Males are forced to defend the home and provide resources for it- a very dangerous job. Females are supposed to care for and maintain the home- a very difficult job. Although the modern age has liberated us from these roles, we still carry the psychological and anatomical baggage of our past- which shapes our behavior and minds. Our inherited cultural customs also reflect our past conditions. Therefore, its not surprising that many social institutions like marriage are crumbling in the wake of our self-sufficiency and individualistic economic system. In the absence of direct genetic intervention, it is unlikely that humans will drop their inherited gender differences. Yet it is possible with conscious intervention to work on these behaviors and acknowledge them for what they are: ways of adapting to the environment, and not a general form of female slavery. This way, people can make rational decisions on how to alter their behavior depending on their surroundings, not subscribing to a false dichotomy of either being an agent of oppression or a victim of tradition.

What gives us a double standard is our history in relation with the environment. Men were resource providers, while women were resource stewards. Each role is necessary for survival. Any perceived imbalance in value stems, not from the roles themselves, but the upstarts who seek control over other people through either violence or coercion. It is they who inflate one role over the other (their role) as a way to justify their power. They announce that it is because the role they assume is superior that they have the right to oppress others. Although most tyrants in history have been male, it does not means most males were the oppressor. Rather, most men throughout history have been the ones oppressed along with women. The fact of the matter was, if one was not apart of a powerful family or clan, then one was very likely to be oppressed by one. Cases of males with lesser status or class maltreating any woman was not due to the role itself bringing out this kind of behavior. Instead, those males have taken the twisted view of the inflated role from the very tyrants oppressing them. As there only view of power does not come from cooperation or compassion but oppression, they have no other ways to think of their role. This confines males to a inflated view of their role because of their ignorance about other views. Its plain to see how what makes the double standard in gender roles become oppressive is not anything inherent in it, but the tyrannical forces which shape the social view of these roles- making the male inflated over the female.

The modern age has given us the tools necessary to transcend previous boundaries and restraints. Nevertheless, we carry around bodies which were designed for the past which represent over 95%-99% of human history- the era of foraging. This era required each gender to perform a certain and critical role because their biology was optimized for it. Only with the advent of tyrants and social structures like divine kingship and royalty came the oppressive qualities which would be juxtaposed on top of the already existing roles, thus rendering one to become inflated over the other. The inflation acts as a cast to indoctrinate minds with these kinds of values. It is only by acknowledging this double standard of gender roles as a way to adapt to the environment and not as an intrinsic tool of oppression, that we can improve the schism between the sexes.