Being exposed to the native cultures of the Pacific Northwest was a humbling and transformative experience, drawing me into a rich visual vocabulary and tradition. The dove is a constant symbol in our house, a symbol of the peacework that my partner does and a sign of covenant and promise, the constant search for a peaceful and solid place to land. Seattle wasn’t quite it, so still we’re searching…
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What do the 1980s taste like? What’s the difference between the flavor of the Bronx and the flavor of Staten Island? What is the difference between the self-described flavor of Brooklyn and the clean scrubbed stats produced by the census?
Just last month I came to a better understanding of what nerdier nerds know as Singularity, the horizon of history at which superintelligence emerges through technological means. Thought leader on the subject Ray Kurzwell predicts it will happen by 2045.
In my limited understanding, Singularity is the moment beyond which our imaginations cannot see because our imaginations will no longer be the limits of our technological future. The imagination and intelligence explosion that follows the horizon will be propelled by the creativity and imagination of our technology itself.
By the time of the Singularity, we will have fully mapped the human brain and reverse engineered its processes. We will have bridged the gap between gadget and flesh. We will have planted the seed that will liberate our “selves” from our physical bodies. Simultaneously we will have liberated our bodies, reproduced through technology, from the confines of human mind and memory, relinquishing ownership by our “selves” to the human “Self” infinitely connected to the cloud of knowledge and computation. The Singularity represents the creation of a new life form, the human-inspired machine.
Immediately I am transported to the Garden of Eden: we are bringing into being an entity created in our image, built to serve us and to extend our will into the world. We will inhabit it and yet be separate from it. We will gift it with free will and thought, giving it a future we cannot control. We will build it because we love the extension of possibility, the greater fullness of created life. We will create it because we delight in it.
Now, to many techies and sci-fi folks this analogy is nothing new, but for those of us who have written this flavor of sci-fi off as one of many possible futures dependent on realities not yet discovered, the sheer imminence of the tech singularity is enough to make me pause, draw breath, and dream fearfully and hopefully of the post-human world I may live into.
Some may call our foolhardy rush towards the Singularity pride, pursuit of being gods ourselves. And we are afraid after all because in our common narrative Pride is the source of the Christian conception of Lucifer and the search for eternal life and infinite wisdom is the root cause of The Fall.
But I wonder if it isn’t the very expulsion from the Garden, falling from Grace only to seek redemption, that serves as the wellspring of our creativity, creativity that holds our redemption. Perhaps we must be expelled from the presence of our Maker in order to truly pursue the likeness of that Maker. By it we are forced to enter into acts of creativity, thereby gaining God-like humility as we gaze upon that which we have created but will never fully understand except by entering into being with it. By seeking Godlike-ness are we driven to create a being we may infinitely love and in so doing actually releasing ourselves from our illusions of control, paradoxically from Pride itself?
Singularity looms, but I believe it also makes way for new redemption and evolution. If we take the whole Story and wrap it back around to meet itself at its beginning, acknowledging it as a lifecycle, we might find that this moment in human history offers an opportunity for entering more fully into the Biblical story of humans and the God that created them: the infinite release of Creation into the clumsy and fumbling hands of the Created for whose sake we are called to sacrifice ourselves. Perhaps with the Singularity comes the age of our salvation, a second coming of sorts in post-human, by-human creation.