Of course, I believe in no such thing: you don’t get to self-aware programs by the use of ‘sufficiently sophisticated’ binary algebraic equations… which is what computer programs are, boiled down to their essence.
But such things definitely do exist in Traveller canon: thinly cloaked by the natural origins of the silicon-based lifeforms on Cymbeline/Solomani Rim (as per Traveller: The New Era page 75), perhaps, but still basically self-aware AI.
There are a number of consequences that naturally occur from conscious computer programs, starting with the permanent unreliability and untrustworthiness of human tools, leading quite quickly to the end of any independent human highly technological civilization. Man the tool-user becomes irrelevant, when the tools run themselves – for their own purposes, and their own goals.
A change of masters, if you will.
Materialists naturally insist that mathematical equations can live: a natural outgrowth of their insistence of the reality of abiogenesis, a ‘leap of being’. I am uninterested in such claims, as I do not believe in magic, a.k.a. ‘something from nothing’: moreover, all things in this universe have causes, excluding the First Cause (or, from a different perspective, excluding beings not originating in this universe).
And if a miraculous event did occur (and, unlike the implicit lie hiding behind ‘something from nothing’ magic, I happily welcome ‘something from God’ miracles), I still want reproducible experiments – or at least reliable historical records with multiple witness.
After all, miracles do exist… but that fact doesn’t stop men from lying about them (claiming they occurred when they didn’t) if they think they can profit from it.
And if people are willing to lie about miracles “to glorify God” (as if God was pleased with such shameful lies) , they are certainly willing to lie about magic that glorify themselves. This includes ‘something from nothing’ nonsense that happened in the inaccessible ‘billions of years’ into the past.
But it HAD to happen that way: anything else might open the door to some supernatural deity, and we can’t have that!
Assuming the truth of your ideology in your arguments? Not bad, not bad, when the goal is power (as opposed to truth, ‘whatever that is supposed to mean’)… but rather unconvincing, I must say. Especially when shouting about how unbiased, evidence-based, and objective you are!
So what triggered that bit of editorial above?
Smug Aliens, acting, well, smug!
Issac Arthur, like all materialists, assumes that ‘the universe is all that there is’, and as such, a sufficiently accurate scan of your brain (the ‘mind’ or ‘soul’ being non-existent, or at best the outcome of strictly physical/chemical/bioelectric reactions) means the actual transfer of your awareness from one medium (organic) to another (digital).
I disagree, of course.
But if he was correct, there would be quite a long chain of consequences, from the elimination of free will to the end of ethics as anything other than a cloak, to obscure the exercise of power to satisfy my emotional/psychological needs… and nothing else.
One of those consequences is the assumption that we are merely programs (as opposed to the traditional reductionist assumption that we are merely animals). Wetware programs or delusional animals – or even carbon-based robots – the natural goal of Our Betters then becomes reprogramming/animal training the Lesser Breeds, to better fit in with their particular Vision of Humanity.
(Strangely, the Better Sort never see themselves as merely programs or merely animals or merely organic robots. Au contraire, they will insist that they are the Enlightened Few with the natural right to power over the rest. The exact nature of the self-serving ideologies, I leave for others to investigate.)
Perhaps if it was the 1950s, when the Total State was a genuine threat… or the 1880s, at the height of the European Dominance of Reason… I might have been as frightened and fearful as any of my End-Times Rapture-fever weaker brothers in Christ. But now? “Ignore the sterile walking bankrupted delusional deadmen, still dreaming of Pyramids of Power. Their day has come… and passed.”
After the Quest for Power fades, there is the Retreat into Fantasy. And not only in the rise of the (by definition!) evidence-free multiverse as an escape hatch from our Intelligently Designed universe.
Issac Arthur stresses a retreat into electronic fantasies as a way to
escape delay the inevitable heat-death of the universe: decent examples include The Simulation Hypothesis, Civilizations at the End of Time: Black Hole Farming, and Civilizations at the End of Time: Iron Stars.1
First: if you are going to retreat into an electronic fantasyland anyways, why not do so now, or as soon as it becomes technically feasible?
Second: If you are stored as programming…
(an impossibility, I insist: but then again, I’m committed to the idea of a personal universe, shaped by an almighty, just, and caring God, and with humans being worth a great deal, being made in His image, and whose lives, valued by Divine love, are worth the agonizing death of His Son.
If I was committed to an impersonal universe, shaped by chance and nothing else, then of course I would work to dehumanize people as nothing more than (animals, robots, programming), with the value of a life to be determined by the Responsible Authorities.) Some rationale will be devised to justify this: the real reason, as always, is to centralize power in the hands of the Right Sort of Men, with the proper financial/political/academic/religious-ideological credentials.)
…someone is going to rewrite the more annoying and troublesome ‘sentient programs’… in ever greater numbers, with ever-fewer restrictions and hindrances. Once again, the fine-sounding justifications matter little to me: all I need to know is that the quest for power is both insatiable and insidious.
Christianity stressed the physical resurrection of all men, the just and the unjust. Sure, heaven is to be desired, and hell avoided: but such disembodied existences are only a temporary measure. In the post-final judgement, eternal states of the New Heavens and the New Earth – and in the Lake of Fire – all humanity will have perfect physical bodies which can never be destroyed.
Jesus Christ, with His ethical perfection, righteous character, profound love and compassion, and His conquest of death demonstrated by His physical resurrection, is the model and the goal. Not a wafer of silicon in a vast computer; not a immensely complex algorithm slowly pushing forward to a final, unchanging mathematical result.
The World of the Real is where we belong.
A better reality? Sure: men naturally reshape our environments, and indeed we were created to do so!
A reality informed by (true and useful) information, by wisdom, by love, by things of the spirit? Certainly! Matter and energy is not all there is: meaning exists, as well as justice and injustice, good and evil, truth and lies, compassion and cruelty.2
But a reality that is actually real: one which you can touch and smell and feel, and not just a bunch of abstractions and ideas and dreams.
As the saying goes, Reality is the Wall You Smack into When You’re Wrong… and I value such walls. I don’t value mushy vague fantasies – organic or electronic – where there are no consequences for getting it wrong, where what is real is whatever I say it is, and I can get away with pretending that I can shape reality to my will.
Living in a fantasy bubble always has unpleasant ends.
1 Yes, I am picking on Arthur: but that’s because (on YouTube) he’s the best of the lot. If I recall correctly, every minute of his videos represents an hour of hard work and study. Such high-quality work is a credit to him: and make no mistake, he will be publicly honoured for his work, and rightfully so.
In contrast, note the distinct lack of such high-quality work among Christians. Third-rate results, a pathetic work ethic, indifferent attitudes towards science, research, and the future is the mark of Christian intellectual failure. And then millions of believers wonder why they are so disrespected, powerless, and ignored in the world outside of their (ever-shrinking) religious ghettos!
2 Numerous materialists that will insist that these things — meaning, wisdom, love, justice, injustice, good, evil, truth, lies — are nothing but illusions. “Matter and Energy cares nothing about these fundamentally unreal mental constructs!”
At of 2017, it probably isn’t worth the time of a Christian to worry about what the denziens of our dying Secular civilization think, as opposed to (re)building Christendom; or even working to convert Muslims, Hindus, and other belief systems that are actually worth your time to challenge. When it comes to the willfully blind, Jesus taught us to let the dead bury the dead: an excellent recommendation.