Democracy, Violent Sunsets,
Transhumanism and the Wiggle
One of the things I love about getting my mind
re-centered and relaxed is that I start to view the things happening in my
life a bit more objectively, instead of just feeling and reacting to them. I
start to see connections between things, things beyond and within me, and
enjoy the thought processes that brings on.
As I was flying home last evening, I sat in my window seat facing west watching a gorgeous sunset from about 30,000 feet. In the foreground of the sunset, right outside my window was also a bank of clouds with the most mesmerizing lightening show. The puffs of clouds would light up as if they were blinking holiday lights embedded within cotton. As the sun set, the skies above the clouds turned to an azure blue, and the stars and planets appeared above. When the clouds would briefly break, the sky was painted with oranges and reds on the horizon. It was violent. It was awe inspiring. It was surreal. It was amazing.
When I first noticed what was happening outside my window, I put down the book I was reading - Citizen Cyborg. The book is about how the bioethical concerns of the transhumanism movement need to be embedded into the democratic process, and how we as a society will need to decide how we grant citizenship to all the possible combinations of the human genome and technology. While the author has not yet explicitly stated this, it's contemplating the root ponderence of how much of evolution has been a natural biological based process versus how much it is becoming a process that we, as conscious beings, have control over our own evolution. For me, it's a merging of the meme and gene as the catalyst for evolution. Two wiggles in the process of coming together, and right now we're in the friction of that eventual confluence as two extremes find their balance in warmth.
The chapter I had just finished when mother earth decided to refocus my attention was how the author was contemplating the possible role that the Harry Potter books might have on the future of these ideas. How the books are implanting ideas in today's young generations of granting equal rights to non-human species... morphs of human/werewolf, elves, etc. As I sat watching the visual display, my mind was racing a million miles a minute, firing synapses at the same rate the clouds were lighting up with electrical charges. Having just completed a couple of research projects on the role of science fiction on alternative relationship models, this was a topic that particularly prompted thoughts. A generation of youth reading science fiction has led to thinking outside the box in terms of technology. When those young impressionable minds were triggered with thoughts of reaching beyond what is readily seen - they grew up, pursued education and literally reached for the stars. The technological advances of our society have been exponentially profound in the last century or so. But relatively proportional to the rate of ideas that have been made accessible through various mass media distribution. Books, TV, movies, internet... these all contribute to spreading ideas. Increase the ways in which ideas can travel, and the rate of advancement increases. The wiggle at work.
There will always be those who resist change. It is a built in control mechanism to keep the rate of change somewhat stymied. Living on the fringe of society, I am frequently aware of new ideas that may become reality in the future. It is my role in society, after all, being an idealist. But it is democracy that will eventually find the balance between the ideas and reality.
I attended a UU Congregation service yesterday in Fayetteville, in which the topic was Learning in Democracy. The topic was presented as a contemplation on the role of educated people being important to the success of the democratic process. How appropriate for the book I am reading, and of course my mind draws connections. We're seeing a school system right now that is largely being influenced by those resisting the changes, the future shock, that is coming. A system created out of an emerging industrial society meant to crank out cogs for the system. But if we are to advance and take advantage of the fringe ideas being presented in today's sci-fi and fantasy media, we as a society must offer more opportunity for education that allows and encourages critical thinking. For an educated society who can see beyond the fear of future shock is more able to adapt their ideas and technology in a democratic process that betters us all, and the new posthuman we are evolving to create.
We, as humans, already are far along on a path of enhancing life through technology and meme based advances. We have developed medical and technological advances that prolong and improve quality of life. Despite what those who resist the changes coming may think, they are already firmly embedded in this path; benefiting from their climate controlled environments, pills that control their blood sugars or whatever ailments they have, MRIs that diagnose them, satellites that help predict dangerous weather patterns to provide warning to protect their lives, etc. We, as humans have already taken over some aspects of evolution to better our living lives on this planet and beyond. What is being evolved and resisted is just a furtherment of this path.
And that brings me back to my incredible, awesome, violent sunset outside my window. I was witnessing this very earthly and natural wonder, from a perspective that was only possible because of humans thinking of technology. If it were not from some human mind pondering the idea of flight, bringing together other people who could see the idea and developing the tools and technology necessary, I would not have been able to be part of this magical moment in which I was never more aware of my place betwixt the meme and the gene.