The Cosmic Visions of the Turing Church


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Talk given at at the Transhumanism and Spirituality Conference 2010.

Abstract: Following the Turing-Church conjecture, minds can be uploaded from biological brains to other computational substrates. Mind uploading research may achieve practical results within decades. Given the technology, humans may live indefinitely, colonizing the universe, and resurrecting the dead by "copying them to the future". Perhaps they will create synthetic realities inhabited by sentient minds; perhaps we are in a synthetic reality. These considerations parallel the tenets of many religions. The Turing Church will be a meta-religion, without central doctrine, characterized by common interest in the promised land where science and religion meet, science becomes religion, and religion becomes science.

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The Cosmic Visions of the Turing Church

  1. 1. The Cosmic Visions of the Turing Church Transhumanism and Spirituality Conference 2010 Giulio Prisco -
  2. 2. Disclosures <ul><li>I am a transhumanist. </li></ul><ul><li>I was raised in a not very religious family and community. </li></ul><ul><li>I was trained as a theoretical physicist and computer scientist. </li></ul><ul><li>I am not a member of the LDS. </li></ul><ul><li>I am a member of the MTA. </li></ul><ul><li>My worldview does not include the “supernatural”. </li></ul><ul><li>I am very interested in spirituality and “cosmic visions”. </li></ul><ul><li>As a scientist I know that time, space and the fabric of reality may be stranger and more complex than we think. </li></ul><ul><li>I am open to natural “magic” in the sense of Clarke’s 3rd Law. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Spirituality? Religion? <ul><li>Spirituality = weak Religion? Religion = strong Spirituality? </li></ul><ul><li>Often Religion = [Spirituality + God(s) + dogma + intolerance + holy wars]. </li></ul><ul><li>But other times Religion = Spirituality (Unitarian Universalism, Buddhism…). </li></ul><ul><li>I will talk of Religion - [dogma + intolerance + holy wars], with no supernatural God(s) but open to natural God(s), including those we may build (or become) ourselves. </li></ul><ul><li>“ I have suggested that only a transcendent, impractical, radical religion can take us to the stars… We need a new spaceflight social movement capable of giving a sense of transcendent purpose to dominant sectors of the society… The heavens are a sacred realm, that we should enter in order to transcend death.” - William Sims Bainbridge, Religion for a Galactic Civilization, 1982 and 2009 </li></ul>
  4. 4. Why are we addicted to R? <ul><li>Fear of death. </li></ul><ul><li>Wish to see our dead loved ones again. </li></ul><ul><li>Other reasons are much less important. </li></ul><ul><li>Radical life extension and mind uploading offer immortality (oops sorry, indefinite lifespan) but this is not enough. </li></ul><ul><li>A memetically strong religion needs to offer resurrection besides immortality. </li></ul><ul><li>Of course, we want to offer hope in resurrection based on science and technology. </li></ul><ul><li>How? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Two principles <ul><li>Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. - Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law </li></ul><ul><li>There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. - William Shakespeare, Hamlet </li></ul>
  6. 6. The right attitude <ul><li>&quot;So will the Universe end in a big crunch, or in an infinite expansion of dead stars, or in some other manner? In my view, the primary issue is not the mass of the Universe, or the possible existence of antigravity, or of Einstein's so-called cosmological constant. Rather, the fate of the Universe is a decision yet to be made, one which we will intelligently consider when the time is right .” - Ray Kurzweil, The Age of Spiritual Machines </li></ul>
  7. 7. Trans-religious groups <ul><li>Mormon Transhumanist Association, explicitly religious, probably the best transhumanist community. </li></ul><ul><li>Terasem. </li></ul><ul><li>Society for Universal Immortalism. </li></ul><ul><li>Order of Cosmic Engineers and spinoffs. </li></ul><ul><li>Past: Russian Cosmists. </li></ul><ul><li>Future: Ben Goertzel’s “Confederation of Cosmists”. </li></ul><ul><li>Future: Turing Church. </li></ul><ul><li>Perhaps some of these groups could / should merge. </li></ul>
  8. 8. A Cosmist Manifesto <ul><li>Consider Ben Goertzel’s Cosmist Manifesto and especially the Ten Cosmist Convictions as an integral part of this talk. </li></ul><ul><li>Watch the video of Ben’s talk at </li></ul>
  9. 9. Is transhumanism a religion? <ul><li>Short answer: yes! </li></ul><ul><li>Longer answer: transhumanism is not a religion because it is based on science instead of supernatural beliefs. But it can replace religion by offering the same drive and hope. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Transhumanism is already a religion… has a host of beliefs and practices associated with overcoming the human condition and attaining a state of superhumanity. This seems clearly religious to me. As a religious system, transhumanism can tap into the basic human desires for transcendence, meaningful purpose, a sense of community, and the hope for life after death.” - Robert Geraci, Author of Apocalyptic AI: Visions of Heaven in Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality, 2010 </li></ul>
  10. 10. The Turing Church <ul><li>The Turing Church Proposal for a Religion 2.0 based on Mind Uploading, Synthetic Realities and Technological Resurrection </li></ul><ul><li>At this moment the Turing Church is a closed working group at the intersection of science and religion. </li></ul>
  11. 11. The Turing-Church conjecture <ul><li>The Turing-Church conjecture states that any computation executed by one computer with access to an infinite amount of storage, can be done by any other computing machine with infinite storage, no matter what its configuration. One computer can do anything another can do. In other words, all computation is equivalent. Turing and Church called this universal computation. Mathematician Stephen Wolfram takes this idea even further and suggests that many very complex processes in the realms of biology and technology are basically computationally equivalent. - Kevin Kelly, 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Take as a given that the Church-Turing thesis applies to human thinking, that our minds are complex machines, but machines nonetheless. - Randal A. Koene, 2010 </li></ul>
  12. 12. Uploading, VR, Resurrection <ul><li>Following the Turing-Church conjecture, a human mind can be transferred from a biological brain to another computational substrate (Mind Uploading). </li></ul><ul><li>Mind Uploading research is ongoing and may achieve practical results in this century, perhaps in only a few decades. </li></ul><ul><li>Once Mind Uploading technology is available, humans will be able to live indefinitely in non biological bodies and make backup copies of themselves. </li></ul><ul><li>Future civilizations of uploads will colonize the galaxy and the universe, and perhaps they will be able to resurrect the dead by &quot;copying them to the future&quot;. </li></ul><ul><li>Perhaps they will be able to create synthetic realities inhabited by sentient minds, and perhaps we ourselves are sentient minds in a synthetic, computationally generated reality. </li></ul>
  13. 13. A meta-religion <ul><li>These considerations are very similar to, and actually indistinguishable from, the promises of many religions, which can then be considered as validated by science. </li></ul><ul><li>The Turing Church will be a meta-religion: a community without a central doctrine, and a loose framework of ideas, concepts, hopes, feelings and sensibilities at the intersection of science and religion, compatible with many existing and new frameworks. </li></ul><ul><li>We will provide our members with meaning and sense of wonder, and hope in personal immortality and resurrection, based on science. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Hard uploading <ul><li>Mind Uploading is feasible in principle and it will be achieved someday. </li></ul><ul><li>Achieving uploading will probably require a combination of all methods proposed so far, and then some. </li></ul><ul><li>In a few decades we will develop operational technologies for destructively scanning biological brains in such a way as to retain enough information for future re-instantiation of the mind. </li></ul><ul><li>Of course, non-destructive scanning would be much better, but experts disagree on its possible timeline, and even feasibility in principle. </li></ul><ul><li>I think non-destructive very high resolution brain scanning is feasible in principle and will be achieved someday. </li></ul><ul><li>It is compatible with the laws of physics and so it is just another engineering problem. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Soft uploading <ul><li>Bainbridge-Rothblatt “soft” uploading: instead of (or besides) reading a lot of the low-level information physically encoded in the brain by using “hard” brain readout technologies… </li></ul><ul><li>we can write a lot of high-level information out of the brain as diaries, blogs, pictures, videos, answers to personality tests, etc. in such a way as to create over the years a large database of personal information (mindfile, see CybeRev and Lifenaut). </li></ul><ul><li>The hope is that some future technology may be able to bring the information in the mindfile to life as a valid continuation (from both objective and subjective points of view) of the original person. </li></ul><ul><li>A very interesting related concept is the “me-program” - a generic model of a human mind that can act as a lower level layer of firmware and system software for the higher-level personal information in a mindfile. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Substrate-Independent Minds <ul><li>Advancing Substrate-Independent Minds (ASIM), a new initiative in uploading research by </li></ul><ul><li>ASIM is a field of research which seeks to the understand the brain and nervous system of a wide range of organisms, including humans, in order to facilitate emulation of these organisms in an artificial substrate, for example a computer processor. </li></ul><ul><li>A networking platform and hub around which experts in the individual fields relevant to ASIM can gather and exchange ideas. </li></ul><ul><li>See the ASIM Workshops and Expert Talks at </li></ul>
  17. 17. ASIM @ teleXLR8 <ul><li>See the videos of ASIM Workshops and Expert Talks at </li></ul><ul><li>Join teleXLR8 to participate </li></ul>
  18. 18. Uploading timeline <ul><li>I am not too optimist on the timeline. I don't think even the first uploading research demonstrators will be achieved by 2050. </li></ul><ul><li>Mind Uploading via a combination of: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brain preservation optimized for future scanning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DNA or softcopy genome storage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bainbridge-Rothblatt personality capture </li></ul></ul><ul><li>may available to those of my generation. </li></ul><ul><li>A combination of these methods may transport (a sufficiently detailed instance of) us to a future where Mind Uploading is an operational reality. </li></ul>
  19. 19. This is not a joke (1) <ul><li>To whom it may concern: I am writing this in 2010. My Gmail account has more than 5GB of data, which contain some information about me and also some information about the persons I have exchanged email with, including some personal and private information. </li></ul><ul><li>I am assuming that in 2060 (50 years from now), my Gmail account will have hundreds or thousands of TB of data, which will contain a lot of information about me and the persons I exchanged email with, including a lot of personal and private information. I am also assuming that, in 2060: </li></ul><ul><li>1) The data in the accounts of all Gmail users since 2004 is available. </li></ul><ul><li>2) AI-based mindware technology able to reconstruct individual mindfiles by analyzing the information in their aggregate Gmail accounts and other available information, with sufficient accuracy for mind uploading via detailed personality reconstruction, is available. </li></ul><ul><li>3) The technology to crack Gmail passwords is available, but illegal without the consent of the account owners (or their heirs). </li></ul><ul><li>4) Many of today's Gmail users, including myself, are already dead and cannot give permission to use the data in their accounts. </li></ul>
  20. 20. This is not a joke (2) <ul><li>If all assumptions above are correct, I hereby give permission to Google and/or other parties to read all data in my Gmail account and use them together with other available information to reconstruct my mindfile with sufficient accuracy for mind uploading via detailed personality reconstruction, and express my wish that they do so. </li></ul><ul><li>Signed by Giulio Prisco on September 28, 2010, and witnessed by readers. </li></ul><ul><li>NOTE: The accuracy of the process outlined above increases with the number of persons who give their permission to do the same. You can give your permission in comments, Twitter or other public spaces. </li></ul><ul><li>Sign on my blog: </li></ul>
  21. 21. Resurrection and/or simulation <ul><li>Partly based on the article “In Whom we live, move, and have our being” on my blog. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Resurrection of the dead <ul><li>Spacetime engineering and future magic will permit achieving, by scientific means, most of the promises of religions. </li></ul><ul><li>Eventually we will be able to resurrect the dead by &quot;copying them to the future&quot;. </li></ul>
  23. 23. Moravec’s resurrection <ul><li>“ Is robotics researcher Hans Moravec serious about the possibility of reconstructing a human being from &quot;clues&quot; left behind on an atomic level? The answer is &quot;yes.”… Assuming the artificial intelligences now have truly overwhelming processing power, they should be able to reconstruct human society in every detail by tracing atomic events backward in time. &quot;It will cost them very little to preserve us this way,&quot; he points out.” - Hans Moravec, interviewed by Charles Platt, 1995 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Perhaps we are most likely to find ourselves reconstituted in the minds of superintelligent successors.” - Hans Moravec, Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendent Mind </li></ul><ul><li>Note: A processor able to run simulated persons is not a computer, but a person. Not a mere machine, but a Transcendent Mind. </li></ul>
  24. 24. Tipler’s Omega Point <ul><li>Intelligent beings of a far future epoch develop the capability to steer the dynamics of the universe in such a way as to make unlimited subjective time, energy, and computational power available to them before reaching a final singularity (Omega Point). </li></ul><ul><li>They restore to consciousness all sentient beings of the past, perhaps through a “brute force” computational emulation of the past history of the universe. </li></ul><ul><li>Our successors may be able to engineer conditions suitable for the emergence of an Omega Point. </li></ul><ul><li>After death we may wake up in a simulated environment with many of the features assigned to the afterlife world by the major religions. </li></ul>
  25. 25. Clarke-Baxter’s time scanning <ul><li>In “The Light of Other Days” by Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter: </li></ul><ul><li>The fabric of space-time is full of micro-wormholes connecting every point of space-time with every other point of space-time. </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists develop the capability to resurrect the dead by time scanning, copying them from their past (our present) and uploading them to their present (our future). </li></ul><ul><li>Idea: if there are not micro wormholes suitable for time scanning, perhaps we can make some. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Do we live in a simulation? <ul><li>We will develop interoperable synthetic realities (virtual worlds) able to support sentience. Some uploads will choose to live in virtual worlds. The divide between physical and synthetic realities will blur, then disappear. </li></ul><ul><li>We may be living in a synthetic reality (simulation) ourselves! </li></ul>
  27. 27. We may live in a simulation <ul><li>“ Our entire history is replayed many times in many places, and in many variations. The very moment we are now experiencing may actually be (almost certainly is) such a distributed mental event, and most likely is a complete fabrication that never happened physically” - Hans Moravec, 1992 </li></ul><ul><li>By &quot;almost certainly is&quot; Moravec refers to the idea that observers living in simulated realities may vastly outnumber observers living in original physical realities. </li></ul><ul><li>In his &quot;Simulation Argument&quot; Nick Bostrom has proposed a more quantitative formulation. </li></ul><ul><li>A computer able to run simulated realities with conscious observers is not a mere machine, but a Transcendent Mind. </li></ul><ul><li>Bishop George Berkeley thought that the reality we perceive, and ourselves in it, exist in the mind of &quot;that supreme and wise Spirit, in whom we live, move, and have our being&quot;: God. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Miracles in simulations <ul><li>We believe reality is fully understandable and explainable by science. </li></ul><ul><li>If our reality is a simulation, everything in our universe can be understood in terms of the physical laws of the higher level reality in which it is simulated. </li></ul><ul><li>From the point of those who live in a simulation, Moravec's simulation cosmology may well contain supernatural phenomena: The reality engineer up there, the Transcendent Mind, may choose to violate the rules of the game. </li></ul><ul><li>The reality engineers cannot violate the laws of their physics, but they can violate the laws of our physics. </li></ul><ul><li>According to our best scientific understanding, it seems that the dead stay dead. But if we live in a simulation, the Mind can copy us to new simulation. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Conclusions <ul><li>We may be living in a simulation performed by a Transcendent Mind in Whom we live, move, and have our being. </li></ul><ul><li>If this is the case, we live in a universe which permits resurrection of the dead. After our death, the Transcendent Mind may choose to copy us to another simulation. </li></ul><ul><li>If this is not the case (that is, if we live in the original physical reality), future Transcendent Minds may be able to copy us from the past and upload us to one of their simulations. </li></ul>
  30. 30. A miracle: CA Resurrection <ul><li>If we live in a simulation, the Mind can copy us to new simulation. This is illustrated by the short movie &quot;CA Resurrection&quot;, which I made with a Game of Life program. </li></ul><ul><li>The protagonist pattern is doomed to certain death by interaction with an environment that, except in very carefully controlled conditions, is very unfriendly to the stability of patterns (sounds familiar?), but is copied before death and restored to life in a friendlier environment. </li></ul>