I am increasingly struck by the overtly spiritual language being used by techno-optimist singularity thinkers. From the conference's "About" page:
The main goals of the 2045 Initiative: the creation and realization of a new strategy for the development of humanity which meets global civilization challenges; the creation of optimale conditions promoting the spiritual enlightenment of humanity; and the realization of a new futuristic reality based on 5 principles: high spirituality, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies.
The main science mega-project of the 2045 Initiative aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of a individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world’s major spiritual traditions, science and society.
A large-scale transformation of humanity, comparable to some of the major spiritual and sci-tech revolutions in history, will require a new strategy. We believe this to be necessary to overcome existing crises, which threaten our planetary habitat and the continued existence of humanity as a species. With the 2045 Initiative, we hope to realize a new strategy for humanity's development, and in so doing, create a more productive, fulfilling, and satisfying future.
I rarely allude to spiritual matters on this blog, despite the fact that I have actually spent a great deal of time thinking about them. Roughly speaking the reasons are that my spiritual views are complex and still in flux, and so I don't feel confident to defend them publicly. Nor do I feel spiritually developed enough to make myself any kind of authority on the subject.
Still, with the kind of thinking outlined above, I question whether anyone else on the planet is much better qualified either. And so I will say this. The little I feel fairly certain of is that spiritual development is accomplished by going into our shadow and reclaiming it. Here I mean shadow in the Jungian sense: It means looking at our pain and weakness and what we are least willing to admit about ourselves, even to ourselves, and forgiving ourselves for it. At a macro-level, it means developing compassion for the poor and outcast in society - this is why all the world's religions are so big on love/charity/caring for the poor. Spiritual progress is hard work requiring bravery - diving into one's own pain, dealing with difficult people, facing up to painful things one doesn't want to see. Most of us only make a very limited amount of progress; it's slow and messy work. At the macro level, moral progress like ending slavery or emancipating women is the work of centuries.
And yet the project outlined about sounds like an attempt to turn ourselves into gods, via technological means, in our own lifetimes. Somehow, we are going to make a few decade's more technical innovations that are going to be a short-cut that allows all or most of us to reach enlightenment in a blink of the eye in terms of human history.
As a collective project, does that strike anyone else as hubristic? We don't want to deal with all our messy shadow issues, especially the greed around which we organize our society, and all the consequences of our past choices that are wrecking the natural world, so we are just going to fantasize them all away via technology. The worldview above strikes me as having a shadow thousands of miles wide that towers over all of us.
A bleg: I think I'd better go down to attend this conference. If anyone in NYC is close enough to Lincoln Center and has a spare bed or space for a thermarest that they could loan to me for a couple of nights, I'd be glad to save the hotel room cost.