Saturday, June 26, 2010

Is the Singularity Movement a New Materialist Religion?

How anyone can watch our inept efforts to contain the Gulf oil spill and contend that we're on the verge of a "Technological Singularity" is beyond me. The technological advances in the last thirty years simply have not been great enough to make it plausible that we're going to enter a technological utopia within the next thirty years . (As an example, the space shuttle is about thirty years old, and we don't have a technologically superior replacement for it yet.) The Singularity Movement seems to be more about wishful thinking than rational thinking. In fact, The Daily Grail notes that it displays some of the signs of a religious cult.
... Here we can find signs of what I think is the inception of a materialist religion (of sorts), replete with charismatic leaders and transcendence of death. The latter perhaps is a driving force - without the 'crutch' of a religious belief in an afterlife, the Singularity becomes the salvation of the materialist facing their own mortality (this certainly seems to be how it is in Kurzweil's case). An interesting bit of speculation might be to consider the (fringe science) possibility that consciousness lies beyond the brain (a la transmission theory), and that it not only survives death, but is in fact set free from the body by the experience. To borrow an analogy from the mystical literature, could 'Singulatarians' in fact be the equivalent of a caterpillar desperately trying not to be become a butterfly?

The religious parallels in the Singularity movement are, however, not going unnoticed. Read more

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