Technological Transreligion and the Singularity


Fri, Apr 18th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

Time magazine brings to attention Terasem, a transreligion which its main practice is to dispatch mindfiles, "the memories, thoughts and feelings of people who wish to create digital copies of themselves and fling them into space" with the idea that "they’ll eventually reach some benevolent alien species."

Sure, it’s easy to dismiss people who think they can somehow cheat death with a laptop. But Terasem is a potent symbol of a modern way of life where the digital world and the emotional one have become increasingly entwined. It is also a sign, if one from the fringe, of the always evolving relationship between technology and faith. Survey after survey has shown the number of Americans calling themselves “religious” has declined despite the fact that many still identify as “spiritual.” People are searching, and no longer do they look to technology to provide mere order for their lives. They also want meaning. Maybe, it’s time to hack our souls.

Terasem might sound silly, but with movies like Transcendence hitting the screens, it goes to show that "these ideas are real" and are being actively pursued.

Transcendence is based directly on the principle of singularity, the moment when technology surpasses humanity. In fact, Dr. Caster, the film’s protagonist, even states as much in the trailer, asking an audience to, “Imagine a machine with the full range of human emotion. It’s analytical power will be greater than the collective intelligence of every person in the history of the world. Some scientists refer to this as the singularity. I call it Transcendence.”

Over the years, the biggest proponent of the singularity has been noted author, scientist, and futurist Ray Kurzweil, who freely acknowledges that, “Science fiction is the great opportunity to speculate on what could happen.” Although a notorious eccentric, Kurzweil’s thinking has led to numerous technological innovations over the last few decades. Recently, he partnered with Google (yes, Google) in their efforts towards “using techniques of deep learning to produce an artificial brain.”



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