I had a little conversation with a friend today about the "singularity" -- the name commonly given to the idea of what will happen to humanity as people can be wired together with computers, and computers become powerful enough to simulate human level intelligence.
A couple things occurred to me. First, although I believe that something like the singularity will eventually happen in reality, I also want it to happen, and so it's hard to know if my belief in the singularity is distorted by that desire, in the way some people might accuse religious people of just wanting religion to be true so they don't think life is meaningless.
Second, I have a somewhat unconventional view of my hopes for the singularity. A lot of people who believe in the singularity see it as a way for man to become immortal, which is an appealing way to avoid the modern "scientific" belief that death is the complete end of a human's existence.
I don't have that belief though. I told my friend that I wasn't concerned if I made it to the singularity or not. And he pressed me about why. And it forced me to articulate my reason, which is this: I'm not sure I'll make it to the singularity. I might die first. And I can't prevent the possibility of my death, no matter what I do. So I want a view of the singularity that makes it "ok" if I die tomorrow.
Incidentally, my belief -- that makes it "ok" to die tomorrow -- is something along the lines of believing that the universe is on a course toward greater intelligence, which is somehow weirdly inevitable by the laws of nature -- the strange force that causes life to arrise and tend toward more complex and interesting life. And I am a part of that. I am programmed to act as a sort of neuron in the brain of humanity, and I can't help myself but do that. That is, whether I like it or not, it seems like that's what I do, and I've decided that I like it. It makes me less concerned about what happens to Greg, allowing me to concentrate more on "solving problems", which is what my programming tells me to do anyway (which is a bit circular I realize, since no matter what I do, or what viewpoint I take, I can say that's what I'm programmed to do...). Anyway, I need to think about this more to articulate what exactly I find appealing about it...