The Box of a Trillion Souls: Stephen Wolfram on the Distant Future

June 26, 2015

In this dangerous idea, computational mastermind Stephen Wolfram wonders about the distant future of humanity, and what will happen when—not if!—humans achieve immortality.

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Comments

Hallo Stephen,

Thank your for your interview. I like your idea to live in a digital existence. You raised the question: "What will be those disambodied human souls choose to do?"

Well, here is one attempt to answer this question by linking it with important findings of evolution theory and evolutionary epistemology.

Evolutionary theorists explain us that life forms transform "objective structures of the real world" into "subjective" awareness, e.g. an ameba only "knows" that here is an object or not. A bee already recognizes much more structures of the real world, e.g. it has visual faculty, a dog is even able to listen to sounds and so on. In that sense is the subjective awarness of a dog "larger" than the subjective awareness of a bee.

Mankind itself is also part of this giant process, e.g. we learn many structures of the real world and become aware of this.

Now, let us assume we live in a digital existence: I think this will give us the opportunity ('it may free us') to learn MUCH more about the real world, the universe and all. Not only about the physical world, but also the intellectual world (philosophy, mathematics, ..), about art and so on.

One might ask: "What might happen if the "subjective awarness" is (almost) congruent with the real, objective structures?" Well, I have absolutely no idea, but I think a "digital civilization" which is close to this "point" will be fascinated of this situation! It may be the case that evolution will come to a "natural" end or something "very new" will come to existence...

BTW: As you know, another phenomenon in biology is that several "small" organisms join together and so to build a new and very simple organization. Sometimes, it happens that such an organization differentiates to new structures (e.g. Volvox alga). If we live in a kind of digital existence, it might be possible that the situation is similar in some sense. It may be the case, that there exist several "clusters" of such "digital organism" (entities). And if such digital entities "want" to reorganize themselves into a new - more complex - "cluster", it might be an important adavantage of digital entities that such a reorganization may be done much easily as compared to biological evolution.

Now, let us assume we live in a digital existence: I think this will give us the opportunity ('free us') to learn MUCH more about the real world. Not only about the physical world, but also the intellectual world (philosophy, mathematics, ..) and so on.

One might ask: "What might happen if the "subjective awarness" is (almost) congruent with the real, objective structures?" Well, I have absolutely no idea, but it may be the case that the universe itselfs comes to a "natural end" or something completely new will come in this world....

BTW: As you know, another phenomenon in biology is that several "small" organisms join together and so to build a new and very simple organization. Sometimes, it happens that such an organization differentiates to new structures (e.g. Volvox alga). If we live in a kind of digital existence, it might be possible that the situation is similar in some sense. It may be the case, that there exist several "clusters" of such "digital organism" (entities). And if such digital entities "want" to reorganize themselves into a new - more complex - "cluster", it might be an important adavantage of digital entities that such a reorganization may be done much easily as compared to biological evolution.

In any case, all the best to you,

Wolfgang

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