/ Experts

12.05.2011

Timour Shchoukine, "2045" Initiative Coordinator in Russia, About Technology and Human Development

Are cyborgs able to grow spiritually? Who will be the first to get an artificial body? Is "2045" Initiative an inhumane project? Here is "2045" Initiative Coordinator in Russia Timour Shchoukine’s standpoint.


The first technique appeared way earlier than the invention of the plow, car and cell phone.

Contradiction of the technological and humanistic approaches to the development of humanity seems obvious: the industrial world depersonalizes a man, turns him into a “brick in the wall”; dries out the communications, making the relations non-contact and superficial, while the humanity is associated with images of nature, family, creativity and self-knowledge. Any technological innovation is seen as dehumanizing and destructive for human nature.


In my opinion, this view is valid for the industrialized world, but not for technology in general. Today a significant part of the planet is already in the post-industrial stage. Technology is an essential part of mankind, it accompanies us from the very moment when the first sparks of self-consciousness were lit in the eyes of our humanoid ancestors.

Before technology came out into the external world in the form of levers, traps for animals, steam engines and nuclear plants, it was internal. The first type of technology is language - the system of signs of an external origin; signs that gave man the opportunity to think about objects and actions that are out of his direct experience. Objects and actions were named, a man has learned to plan his hunt in his imagination and in the communication with other people. The language is a tool which has completely changed the situation on the planet separating our species from the rest of the biosphere, and placing the mankind in the  unique place of the evolutionary process.


The basis of the language is the alienation from the direct experience, abstraction, assigning a specific meaning to a random combination of signals (sounds, for example). Using these signs with others, a man gets an opportunity to talk to himself, and then - in his mind... eventually the inner speech subsides, revealing the thinking process. Each of us goes through this process in childhood, otherwise a man turns into a “Mowgli” - a creature almost similar to an animal.


Along with language, an arbitrariness appeared. Man has learned to control himself with words, to control his own attention and the attention of others, to control the memory by his will, rather than through association, and even to talk.  Language is the first tool to control the world and self, the first psycho-technique.


Cars, plants, iphones are all just versions of “organ projection”, the term invented by father Pavel Florensky. It is the process of physical body functions transferred to the outside world. The functions of the hand are transferred to a stick, and then - to a shovel or a mining complex. Calculation and analysis get delegated to the knots on a rope, and later to computers capable of beating even a chess grandmaster. A person delegates his own functions to the outside technical world and takes off the external layers of himself which is like peeling an onion or a head of a cabbage. This gives him an opportunity to say, ‘If this is external, it isn’t me’. And then, he continues the process of the search for self while saturating the surrounding world with his own functions.


The world is at the point when the functions humans consider to be their essential attributes (thinking, decision making, emotions) are on the edge of being finally alienated. Soon they will be performed by artificial systems. Some techniques of altered states of consciousness are already being performed by external tools and can be amplified with biofeedback devices, bin-aural stimulation and light stimulation, not to mention pharmacological agents.

How Can External Devices Help Internal Development

There is technology (device-free and device-based) aimed at returning a person to himself, stimulating and strengthening the development of specific human qualities: creativity, attention, emotionality, ability for deep and mutually enriching relationships. Methods of working with body and breath are technology. A therapist uses techniques to focus client’s attention on the problem, helping him to keep the grip to a certain point of the inner space, though when masterly applied it can be called art. Using real hardware - biofeedback devices - a man can dramatically accelerate the process of self-awareness, learn to control the functions of the body up to activity of individual cells. Even to change the state of consciousness voluntarily, spending months to complete amounts of work that with classical schools of yoga would take decades. A good expert on the theory of inventive problem solving uses methods and techniques, part of which are algorithms for systems reasoning and another part is technology in the usual meaning of the word (ie software, schemes, tables). He can bring his own technological or scientific creation to a new height and make high-level inventions and discoveries in days without sacrificing years to option iteration.


Therefore, appearance of cybernetic hands or even bodies controlled by neural interfaces, transition of some body and psychic functions to artificial media is quite a natural way to go. It follows the basic trends of “body-projection” and definitely isn’t something “anti-human”. Expanding the range of accessible states of consciousness, mind capabilities along with body capabilities, a man gets much more opportunities for development than before. Regardless of what exactly he calls a development; unlimited growth of inner freedom and new states of consciousness or the opposite, the search for that “unchanging” matter which is the source of all the diversity.

 

Moreover, a person, who learns to control a prosthetic limb or even a whole robot through a neural interface, usually does that using biofeedback methods. It is well known that this method gives a wide variety of positive (from the psychotherapeutic point of view) “side-effects”. Redirection of attention to inside of the body, tracking of the subtle nuances of states, and constant introspection are essential parts of effective learning. And this helps to realize interesting facts about our own structure, accelerate elaboration of psychological problems, increase the range of comfortable states of consciousness, and even enhance immunity and reduce the incidence of colds and flu.


Body tuning, the study of the inner world, the correction of somatic problems related to improper functioning of the body and its "software" (the systems of mental control) - this is the main application of biofeedback techniques besides the control of external devices through neural interface. Professional literature describes this in detail, additional information can be found on the website www.wetware.ru

 

Thus, the technological way does not mean a transformation of man into robot. The "2045" Initiative program combines both a technological and a humanistic approach. Any technology allows human abilities to expand - it is what it was created for. On the other hand, these abilities may be aimed either at development or at self-destruction and destruction of the world around us.

 

In other words, the purpose of any technology is dual. And the purpose is chosen by man himself. Serious technology requires serious responsibility.


Who will get the super abilities and a long, likely eternal life? The question is not whether thieves, murderers, lifelong presidents, cynical bankers, glamorous fraudsters and other unworthy people would get it. The question is - who will get all the abilities if we get them? What would determine the way I will use the abilities? Technology evolves, so should the ethics, aggression control mechanisms, the instruments of communication and cooperative activity. A well-known Russian culturologist Akop Nazaaretyan calls it the hypothesis of techno-humanitarian balance. The future of the
mankind depends on sustaining this balance.


Psychological subjectivity and selfishness is the major theme of the self-development discourse (whether it is self-discovery, counseling or religion). The self-image is connected with the system of needs which controls the activity and determines whether a man will be a vindictive prime minister, a disgruntled taxi driver or a curious oceanologist. A self-structure with its entirety, fragmentation and truth is the defining point in self-development. Counseling helps a person to realize that some of the views or desires do not belong to her or him and are a part of someone else’s scenario. It may happen because family forced the person to accept these scenarios, or that they are the result of a neurotic process. And now these scenarios control all his or her life!

If Self Gets Rid Of Itself, What Will Happen Next?


One of the most influential figures in the world of psychoanalysis, Jacques Lacan, considered Self as the major neurosis of the personality. Self is Other, Lacan says. Any neurosis is the image of Self which became rigid. For example, fear of an accident may be the frozen image of Self in a traumatic situation which demands from other mind structures (and even the body) to match the previous trauma. The majority of psychotherapy systems peel Self from its tumors and don’t go further, while admitting that the core of the personality is neurosis-like.


That is why any self-development should start from self-discovery and through paying attention to one’s inner world, to the process or thoughts, emotions and emerging bodily sensations. The person discovers how his inner processes interact with each other, which of his reactions and feelings are automatic and which are not.


It is clear that creating an eternal body for Ego, which is a combination of unperceived needs and beliefs, is not humane, unlike the opportunity to live and grow, discover and develop oneself. There is no point of making someone develop against their will, no matter how long the life is. But if the life is long, there is hope that the person will experience circumstances which may change him for the better. Eternal life makes it unavoidable.


Learning to use an artificial body will involve exercises, which themselves have a positive psychological effect. The usage of biofeedback as a method also tips the scale in the desired direction. Before science will make the transition to an artificial body simple and easy, the first people to master control of this body would be those who would be no longer tied to the current body. May be, this can become a sort of protection?

 


Muscles and Joints of Our Future Wings


We can hope and work on the methodology of the development and the real evolution of mankind which would be continued even after the transfer to an artificial media. This is a part of the "2045" Initiative project. If a man does not develop, he degenerates, obviously. “Use it or lose it”. Usually, death hides the final part of this trend, but with the increase of life expectancy, the gap between mentally healthy and developing people, and mega-neurotics could become much more obvious.

 
The technical feasibility of the "2045" Initiative is not in doubt. I am infected with TIPS (Theory of Inventive Problem Solving) virus, and no longer can see any impossible tasks, but only those of different levels of difficulty. If mankind will not succeed in destroying itself by that time, the project will be fully implemented. This can happen by the year 2045. And then our answer to the classic question of “why don’t people fly like birds”, will be, “Because before the year of 2010 people did not have none of the following: electro-polymers for the creation of electrical muscles, Tesla-style ways of energy transfer through ionized channels, pierced by a laser; neural interfaces able to control a complex dynamic system (flight control) in real time, even primitive artificial intellect, able to automate control of artificial wing muscle system. And the most important thing: in the year of 2010 neither the "2045" Initiative had not yet  started, nor the interdisciplinary research in the field of neural interfaces, artificial organs and systems!




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International Manifesto of the "2045" Strategic Social Initiative

Mankind has turned into a consumer society standing at the edge of a total loss of the conceptual guidelines necessary for further evolution. The majority of people are almost exclusively absorbed  in merely maintaining their own comfortable lives.

Modern civilization, with its space stations, nuclear submarines, iPhones and Segways cannot save mankind from the limitations in the physical abilities of our bodies, nor from diseases and death.

We are not satisfied with modern achievements of scientific and technical progress. Science working for the satisfaction of consumer needs will not be able to ensure a technological breakthrough towards a radically different way of life.

We believe that the world needs a different ideological paradigm. Within its framework it is necessary to form a major objective  capable of pointing out a new direction for the development of all mankind and ensuring the achievement of a scientific and technical revolution.

The new ideology should assert, as one of its priorities, the necessity of using breakthrough technology for an improvement of man himself and not only of his environment.

We believe that it is possible and necessary to eliminate aging and even death, and to overcome the fundamental limits of the physical and mental capabilities currently set by the restrictions of the physical body.

Scientists from various countries in the world are already developing technology that ensures the creation of an artificial human body prototype within the next decade. We believe the biggest technological project of our times will become the creation of such artificial human body and a subsequent transfer of individual human consciousness to such a body.

Implementation of this technological project will inevitably result in an explosive development of innovations and global changes in our civilization  and will improve human life.

We believe that before 2045 an artificial body will be created that will not only surpass the existing body in terms of functionality, but will achieve perfection of form and be no less attractive than the human body. People will make independent decisions about the extension of their lives and the possibilities for personal development in a new body after the resources of the biological body have been exhausted.

The new human being will receive a huge range of abilities and will be capable of withstanding extreme external conditions easily: high temperatures, pressure, radiation, lack of oxygen, etc. Using a neural-interface humans will be able to operate several bodies of various forms and sizes remotely.

We suggest the implementation of not just a mechanistic project to create an artificial body, but a whole system of views, values and technology which will render assistance to humankind in intellectual, moral, physical, mental and spiritual development.

We invite all interested specialists: scientists, politicians, mass media personalities, philosophers, futurologists and businessmen to join the "2045" strategic social initiative. We welcome all who share our vision of the future and are ready to make the next jump.

 

The main objectives of our movement are:

1. To achieve the support of the International community and create conditions for international co-operation of interested specialists around the "2045" Initiative.  

2. To create an international research center for cybernetic immortality to advance practical implementations of the main technical project – the creation of the artificial body and the preparation for subsequent transfer of individual human consciousness to such a body.
 
3. To engage experts in the selection and support of the most interesting projects in the quest to ensure technological breakthroughs.

4. To support innovative industries and create special scientific education programs for schools and institutes of higher education.

5. To create educational programs for television, radio and internet, to hold forums, conferences, congresses and exhibitions, and to establish awards and produce books, movies and computer games with the view of raising the profile of the initiative and spreading its ideas.

6. To form a culture connected with the ideology of the future, promoting technical progress, artificial intellect, “multi-body”, immortality, and cyborgization.

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