People die, civilizations and cultures are taken over or forget their past, our genomes decompose or are disrupted by radiation, pollution in our environments, diseases; our neural networks forget, or eventually suffer from degradation. The common enemy of humankind and all life is entropy. Contrarily, our common goal is attaining information.
The below is an information-theoretic and physical interpretation of these circumstances, and a number of ideas to help us achieve our common goal.
The Black Hole
When famously Newton saw an apple fall, he didn't notice one thing -- it fell not just towards the ground. It fell from past to the future. What force pulled it into the future?
According to an interpretation of the existing evidence we are indeed falling into a "black hole", - not gravitational, but entropic.
Information as we know it, is the substance that reduces the uncertainty about an information source. When a coin (information source) is spinning in the air, and you don't know if it will land heads or tails, it is said to have "entropy" (randomness) about the outcome, and when it lands (and you observe the outcome), you get "information" (certainty about the outcome).
We as humans who live their lives, are a result of outcomes, and thus could be said to be "information" accrued over time.
Human minds are largely coded in weight distributions within our neurons as results of what we've learned. However, as time goes by
most all people end up dead. In fact, on average over 150,000 people die every day. The information coded in approx. 86 billion neurons per brain eventually is lost to environment's natural noise background (even the stones succumb to erosion by the noise of winds and sand).
We say, information is being lost in the past. If you look closely, this process is quite similar to how matter enters an event horizon of a black hole. Look at the moment of "now": the information that is not copied over to the future (the next moment of "now") as part of relatively stable structures, is lost forever in the past -- a phenomenon of "now" is very similar to an event horizon, or a growing surface boundary in the polishing entropy of wind.
The entropy ("randomness") destroys information; but also uncovers new information. It's not quite on our side, it helps us create, but it makes us lose parts of what we are. Ideally, we would like the world where we can preserve what we are, as well as uncover new information.
Our implicit goal was the same, even 4 billion years ago. Life had arisen as the first molecules, perhaps the RNA, which were able to resist the destructive force of entropy. Much like Earth is able to resist the force of gravity, RNA moleculs were able to resist the "force of entropy" by replicating themselves. Under the pressure of entropy, the information proliferation process started to evolve to counteract it. The DNA, cell, sex, neuron, brain, book, wire, processor, etc. are just examples of information proliferation mechanisms What's common to all of these evolution's inventions is that they all solve problem of copying information over distances of space and time. For example, the books, like DNA, being a much more stable medium for information, enabled us to copy over knowledge of the ancients to the present time.
In the case of the brain and a computer processor it is very evident that the thinking happens as a result of copying information from one place to another through neurites or wires. Some information gets copied to another neuron, some doesn't. In the case of sex it may be less evident, but sex is a tool of evolutionary thinking, which granularly increases the variation of offsprings: some parts of genotypes in some environments get copied over (reproduce) into the future, some don't (they die). Just like we are more likely to retain the propagating thoughts (signals of neurons) that solve a problem, evolution tends to favor the extending lines of progeny that solves problems and are hopefully more likely to counteract the entropy (= retain information) in the future.
In other words, we could say that the world's entropy (F) trains us, the mutating replicators (=information), to look for best model (F') (=more information) about the structure of entropy (world) itself, and to take actions (X) to counteract it, and that it is our implicit goal (Y). Thus, we do science, research the laws of physics to understand the (F) by constructing ourselves (F') to counteract it.
Our goal equation is simple: F(X)=Y, and we need to find that X. Why? We don't want to die. We don't want our life experiences coded in our neurons, our cultures coded in our people be destroyed by entropic invaders, noise makers, starting from pollutants, mosquito bites and viruses, ending with political terrorists and cultural invaders.
Contrary to entropy, our common goal is creating and retaining information.
What do Google, China and Elon Musk have in common?
A company, country and an individual.
Google, back in 199X, has defined its mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful. This mission definition captures accurately what saving information is about, it is rearranging information structures to enable more diverse information to exist.
Back in 2008, during the summer Olympics, China has declared a lofty goal - "One World, One Dream". This common goal might have been elusive, but in the light of the above reflections, we, the life, have an implicit common goal to beat the entropy (organize information).
Recently, Elon Musk, has explicitly taken on a mission to save life, both through funding the FLI with objective to save life in the mission declaration, as well as other endeavors, such as SpaceX with a spaceship to spread life by diversifying its presence to other planets.
I'm pretty sure that these entities in some way had spent significant amount of time thinking about the same issue.
What Spaceship Can Save Us?
There is existential risk not only on global level, but on personal level as well. The life expectancy of a biological organism is predicted by Gompertz-Makeham law of probability. There is a very good introduction to it here, but the main point is that our organisms experience a process similar to the game of Tetris.
In Tetris, you fail rapidly, when the speed of falling bricks is beyond some threshold. Similarly, human organisms fail rapidly, when they reach a certain threshold, where the environmental effects (falling "bricks", such as food, and many other factors) of life are too fast for our bodies to deal with. The similarity is close, because just like the bricks of Tetris, the malignant structures in our organisms are also diverse and non-homogeneus. These may be small, like the air pollution particles initially, but result in large issues eventually, due to effects similar to crystallization, for example, forming clots and resulting in strokes (ref).
However, there are systematic solutions to the problems of much broader scope than the ones mentioned above, which gives hope. A recent insight and discovery by Henry W. Lin and Max Tegmark shows that our laws of physics indeed are simple enough that deep learning algorithms (and our brain) can tackle them.
deep learning use brains first.
If you were to be sick with an disease without a known cure, or would like to save your grandparents from death, first thing you want to do, is to tap into the creativity of the minds of the young people with flexible abilities to parse and make sense of novel structures, and represent the world of data in biology that we have onto a computer game -- the minds that can beat "Tetris".
You could invest into the "education hypertunnels", which would enable us to employ our hippocampal neuroplasticity, movie-like suspense, irregular rewards, and the social attraction to search for friends like in social networks to create a super-addictive and very powerful combination, that sucks in the talents of the world, and outputs treatments for cancer, reversed aging, comes up with new car and rocket designs, solutions to equations for climate control, and all kind of useful gadgets like telesurgery machines and health monitoring sensors inside our bodies to make sure that not any fraction of them goes out of homeostasis.
This computer game, which I call 3D Study Maze, is described here. There is a working prototype. Apart from 3D aspects, the structure based on Schema.org is underway for structured data about secret, locked locations. It's something that could give VR technologies the momentum they need to change the world.
The plan is to start small, and get exponential.
The education+ is just one idea, and we need a place to critically and constructively discuss about many of them in context of the world's challenges. This is the idea and a project pursued by WeFindX to do it - a financial think-tank, where you can talk about the world's greatest challenges, suggest and discuss ideas to solve them, start and fund projects based on them and semi-automatically control the investments. The full description of the Infinity project is outside the scope of this article.
As our environments become more entropic (=polluted, noisy), especially in developing regions of the world, we need ways to protect ourselves from the entropy in foods, air, water, also from the communicable diseases, high or low temperature, and other negative factors. The traditional home and cars are expensive to do all that. The idea such as what I call home cell, connecting home and car into one, could solve the problem by providing an alternative that enables us to reduce the risk of death, pandemic, etc., and make human populations more flexible when it comes to relation to live anywhere on Earth as the climate continues to change.
The [capsulated habitation] paradigm has a potential to allow us to pack more sensors to monitor our bodies, and emergency systems to save them. Old people tend to die in beds. There is no reason why the beds shouldn't have sensors to predict such events, and take emergency actions. The home cell is an extrapolation of that, so that it would work where-ever we go.
Our hands is one of the key elements that allowed us to create all the technology on Earth. Right now, we already have prosthetic hands with tactile and force feedback. What would people do if we miniaturized the very same prosthetic hands, replaced the computer mouse with cyber-gloves, and allowed people from the internet do work by controlling these hands to make all kind of procedures at micro-level, directly from a computer game?
What if we could use smaller hands to create even smaller ones, and repeat the process? With abundance of people's brains able to control hands, we could fix a lot of things.
With micro-sized limbs, the game players could practice to do surgery to all kind of small animals like insects, worms, bugs, eventually reaching a point, where the nano-workforce is widely available to fix us dexterously and efficiently before we die.
Life is essentially an information proliferation process from cell to cell, from brain to brain, from computer to computer, producing new technologies, and counteracting the pressure from entropy, much like the nuclear fuel burning in the cores of stars produces force to oppose gravity.
How do we build that information rocket?
While we burn fuel and use 3rd Newton's Law to accelerate to the orbital speeds, life makes copies of information to propel itself in the field of entropy.
Idea 1 - Interfacing with Brains
An analogy of a rocket may be a direct connection from one brain to another via something like a high resolution sensory pixel matrix plate that is inserted and integrates with corpus callosum to enable our thoughts to flow across the brains of each others just as naturally as they flow between our left and right brain hemispheres. If the personality, memories and dreams were to remain in more than a single brain, we could save each other in one another through improved communication.
Idea 2 - Parallel Artificial Neurons
An analogy may also be a artificial neural cells, which, when injected into the blood stream finds other neural cells and attach around them, creating a parallel neural network, which has full bi-directional communication with the underlying biological one, and is able to provide wireless communication with external devices and brains, replicating our memories and personalities across many minds.
Idea 3 - Connecting via Virtual Reality
Use virtual reality to connect our abilities. The 3D Maze Idea.
Idea 4 - Freezing to Preserve Info
There is also cryonics, however, it would be more akin to a cold orbital parking rather than "propulsion" per se.
Idea 5 - Speeding Up Technological Singularity
A superintelligence, that evolves rapidly. That's what SIAI non-profit was started for in 2000s.
It is worth noting that the first rockets fall more often, and likely, if we start with (2) or (3), we might have only one shot, and it's important to solve superintelligence control problem before to make them safe.
We are information and we need new media, or we'll die. I provided a couple of ideas for new technologies, such as the education hypertunnels, force manipulators controllable via computer games, [habitation cells], corpus callosum junction and a couple of ideas of others to help prevent pandemic, deal with medical emergencies, create more reliable cryonics, and help organize and manage the investments into development of the ideas, to increase the chances that we create more reliable media for our minds to exist earlier rather than later.
Since there are ideas that would be useful to all of us, instead of taking over each other's cultures by using media to reprogram people as substrate, it makes much more sense for us to cooperate at all costs to create more capable media to hold, preserve, and let evolve for all of our cultures.
If we take action to share relevant information to relevant people sooner, relevant technologies will get implemented earlier, and our minds just might make it into a more reliable substrate to personally live and explore the Universe for billions of years to come, just like our DNA did.
So, think which part from here to share and with whom, and let's reach the extropic escape velocity together:
If competing entities like Russia, U.S., China, etc., intelligence agencies, competing corporations, and people in general realize that if we would invest more into medical, cultural and information technologies together, then we might literally save ourselves from death (which otherwise without assuming safe technological advances is imminent to most of us within the next couple of decades, which is a tiny moment at the geological timescale) by creating higher order substrate for our consciousness and our cultures to flourish, rather than trying to overtake each other as a substrate of information.