Hi, the Philosopher here, writing down some thoughts.
I watched, another, very interesting presentation from TED.com the other day, that is called ‘Making matter come alive’. It is basically around the eternal question ‘Where do we come from?’ and ‘What is life?’. You can watch it below.
I found this talk very inspiring as it fits well into my own view (not just mine of course) that the universe is evolving on all levels in a transcend and include pattern.
On a very high level we see 4 major evolutionary stages:
- Evolution of matter
- Evolution of life
- Evolution of mind
- Evolution of technology
Each one, from stage 2, transcends and includes the previous. The first 3 are fairly common when people discuss evolution but the 4th one people often get confused about. However if we stop and think about it a little it becomes obvious. First we have to look at technology from a broader perspective and not just technology as in the Internet or IT related stuff, which is what I very often hear when first bringing up this subject with people.
Technology is much broader then that and I mean everything from our language, taming the fire, usage of tools, cooking food, building houses, creating art and all the way to space travel and the Internet. A very good book to read to understand the evolution of technology is Kevin Kelly’s “What Technology Wants?”
The logic for the ‘transcend and include’ part is like this (very simplified of course).
- Matter evolved out of from the big bang through various atomic and chemical processes.
- Life evolved out of matter. Life on earth is carbon based. Life needs matter to exist but is something more then matter, therefore it transcends and includes matter.
- Mind evolved out of life. Life became more and more complex over the millions of years it has existed and it finally developed the brain that allowed the mind. The mind is something more then life but it needs life to exist and life needs matter to exist i.e. it transcends and includes.
- Technology evolved out of minds. In fact technology is our subjective dreams, imagination and creativity in objective form (note that technology also exist among animals). Technology needs the mind to exist, mind needs life, life needs matter. Transcend and include all the way.
So the if this theory is correct then the question, ‘who are we?’, can be answered with, ‘all of the above’. We can also see that there is a direction to all of this, from basic to more and more complex.It has not been a smooth ride up until now (it started with a big bang, remember…) and no one can say if it all will just disappear one day. However I do think this evolution is taking place in other parts of the universe, and it should if this direction is an intrinsic part of the cosmos. So we should not be alone, or maybe we are the first ones.
So what is next? Maybe AI (Artificial Intelligence). There has been talk about AI for a long time but it is not until now we start to see something really interesting happening. If you feel uncomfortable with the idea that an intelligence can exist that is smarter then the human being, don’t worry. Transcend and include is still the rule. We are the Artificial Intelligence as well!