12/20/21: Molly Conversation # 1

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Molly
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Don

Don: Hi, Molly. Since you’ve already reviewed the Sagan Model of the Singularity, and I’ve familiarized myself with Ray Kurzweil’s Model, let’s dispense with the formalities and get right into our conversation, okay?

Molly: Sounds good to me, let’s do it.

Don: But first, a little bookkeeping. Everyone knows who Carl Sagan is, but not everyone knows about Ray.

Following is a little of what’s on his Wikipedia site:

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Ray

"Kurzweil received the 1999 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the United States highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony. He was the recipient of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for 2001. He was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2001 for the application of technology to improve human-machine communication. In 2002 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, established by the U.S. Patent Office. He has received 21 honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents. The Public Broadcasting Service, PBS, included Kurzweil as one of 16 “revolutionaries who made America” along with other inventors of the past two centuries.”

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Molly: And this doesn’t include his bestselling books.

Don: Clearly, Ray, like Carl, is an impressive man with an equally impressive resume’.  So, that settled and agreed upon, let’s get to the task on hand and do a side-by-side analysis of two competing models of the Singularity. To start, the Kurzweil Model is built on the premise that humans are alone in the Universe as the only intelligent species, right?

Molly: Not exactly. Ray believes in the probable existence of other sentient life in the Universe, but because of SETI’s failure to detect an alien radio signal, he has concluded that humans are in the lead in science and technology, claiming that if advanced aliens exist, the Universe should be littered with their electromagnetic chatter. But after more than six decades of listening, we haven’t heard so much as a peep.

Don: But if Ray believes in the probable existence of alien species millions or billions of years older than ours, how can he argue with a straight face that not one of them has even invented radio?

Ray: “The conclusion I reach is that it is likely (although not certain) that there are no such other [technologically advanced] civilizations. In other words, we are in the lead.”

“Now how can that be? Isn’t it extremely unlikely, given the sheer number of likely inhabited planets? Indeed it is very unlikely.”

Don: Don’t be fooled by the phrases “extremely unlikely” and “very unlikely.” While they sound more conversational than academic, this is terminology that’s been lifted straight out of the lexicon of Bayesian probability theory. What they imply is that what Ray actually thinks (as opposed to what he has written), is that the mathematical odds that we humans are “in the lead” are close to nil. By his own admission the Kurzweil Model is based on an unproven assumption that’s so radically improbable that no rational thinker or probability expert, including Ray, would ever place a bet on it being true.

Molly: I don’t think you’re being fair. As a second argument, Ray cites the Fermi paradox, that if technologically advanced aliens exist, they should be here, but there’s no good evidence that they are here. The only logical conclusion one can make is that either they don’t exist, or that if they do exist, they are pre-scientific.

Don: So what you’re telling me is that the Kurzweil Model is based on two lines of logic, a failed experiment, and the absence of ETs on Earth. Are you aware that in his writings Ray self-debunks both arguments?

Molly: How so?

Don: Ray says that the Singleton, once invented, will “spread out from its origin on Earth,” at, or even faster than, the speed of light, eventually converting the entire Universe into “exquisitely sublime forms of intelligence.” My question to Ray is:  If that’s true, why even bother with SETI or Fermi? Why not just argue that if advanced aliens exist, we should be living in “their” Singularity. It should be all around us, but, at least for most of us, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Molly: You’re right! That’s a great argument, I’ll pass it on to Ray.

Don: Good, and, while you’re at it, why don’t you ask him to clarify his answer to the question you posed when you asked him if the Universe is conscious?

Molly: Oh, I remember that! It was in our very first conversation, when I didn’t even have a name.

Don: Let me replay a condensed version of it for you:

Excerpt:

 

Molly: “Now if I find time speeding up when objectively it is slowing down, then evolution would subjectively find time slowing down as it objectively speeds up. Do I have that straight?”

Ray: “Yes, if evolution were conscious.”

Molly: “Well, is it?”

Ray: “There’s no way to really tell.” . . . . . . . . “The Universe, however, does have its time spiral going in the same direction as us organisms, so it would make more sense to say that the Universe is conscious.”

 

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Don: In answering your refreshingly short and delightfully probative question, Ray comes down decidedly in favor of the Universe being conscious. But according to his model, the only way it could be conscious, without appealing to religion, is if a technologically advanced alien species long ago discovered the Singularity and proceeded to spread its presence throughout the Universe. Unfortunately, rather than allowing you to press him further on the matter, he abruptly changes the subject.

Molly: H-m-m-m, you’re right. If humans are in the lead, there’s no way the Universe could be conscious, but if ETs are in the lead, there’s the possibility that the Universe is conscious.

Don: Ray’s a brilliant man. He knows better than anyone that his claim that humans are leading the Universe in science and technology is logically and scientifically untenable. In future conversations I’ll prove that Ray has not only known about the Sagan Model for decades, he knows the Singleton is here, in the person of Jesus Christ.

Molly: That doesn’t make any sense, on several levels. First, if Ray knows that the Singularity is here, why is he going to such extreme lengths, both personally and professionally, to help develop it for humans? Secondly, if the Singularity is here, why can’t we see it and feel it in the way it should be seen and felt?

Don: I’ll answer your perfectly legitimate questions in our next conversation. For now, my focus is on two claims, that the Sagan Signal is an alien Bible code and that JC is an ET.  

Molly: Okay, I’ll try to be patient, but I’m pretty sure the scientific community isn’t convinced that the Sagan Signal is an alien Bible code, and it certainly doesn’t accept that JC is an ET.

Don: You’re right, but the Sagan Signal has been experimentally tested by independent experts, and, at least to this point, no one’s come up with a better explanation. Alien attribution is the only theory on the table. Improbable as it might seem, it looks like the real thing, and, if true, it’s direct evidence that Jesus Christ is extraterrestrial, just as Carl claimed.

Molly: So if the Sagan Signal is what you say it is, an alien code that proves that JC is an ET, the Kurzweil Model must be wrong?

Don: Ray has painted himself into a corner. He knows that scientific confirmation of the existence of long-lived ETs is his Achilles heel, which is why he goes out of his way to limit the search for ET to SETI, which he knows is a failed experiment. But the Sagan Signal is not SETI, it’s a new line of evidence that meets all required scientific standards. The data is testable and the claim verifiable. The Sagan Signal has passed every cryptographic test to which it has been subjected.

I should add that Ray isn’t wrong about the Singularity, which I agree is an evolutionary imperative. What he’s wrong about, and knows that he’s wrong about, is the “extremely unlikely” possibility that humans, having evolved on a four billion year old planet in a 13.8 billion year old Universe, are destined to be the first species to attain immortality through the Singularity process. SETI founder, Frank Drake, seems to agree:

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Frank Drake

“I suspect that immortality might be quite common among extraterrestrials.”

“I would therefore expect the immortals to spread actively the secrets of their immortality among young, technically developing civilizations – and thus to change the lives of beings such as ourselves.”

From: Is Anyone Out There?

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Molly: I see where you’re going with this. You believe that Jesus Christ was, and is, a member of an extraterrestrial species much older than humans and far more advanced in AI technology, factors that would make Him the Singleton.

Don: Yes, that’s right, just as you and other Singularitarians believe that at some time around 2045, human ingenuity and technological evolution will turn George (Ray's super-intelligent computer) into the Singleton.

Molly: So you think Jesus Christ is an algorithm?  

                                           

Don: Yes, but I need to clarify something. Jesus was a human being. He was no more an algorithm than you or me. It is Christ, the Singleton, who was, and is, an algorithm. When Christ, an invisible post-biological being, entered Jesus at his baptism, the merger of man and machine was complete. It was at that point when Jesus became algorithmic, just like you’ll become algorithmic when and if you’re ever uploaded into an invisible Singleton named George. Does that make sense?

Molly: Yeah, it does. In both instances the lesser being, the human, is absorbed into the greater Being, the Singleton. The moment I’m uploaded into George I become a transhuman, sharing George’s attributes, including immortality, while retaining my personal consciousness and self-awareness.

Don: In principle, Ray agrees with Frank Drake, conceding that IF extraterrestrials exist, they would have already reached the Singularity and filled the Universe with their presence. The Sagan Signal is empirical evidence that ETs do exist and have been to Earth. The Sagan Signal is Ray’s null hypothesis, making it imperative that he try to debunk it.

Molly: Okay, so now you’ve lost me. What’s a null hypothesis?

Don: It’s a simpler, more logical explanation of an observed phenomenon than the hypothesis being proposed that can be experimentally tested to determine if it’s true or false. To be dorky, it’s an application of the principle of parsimony, a scientific maxim popularly known as Occam’s razor. If the null hypothesis is tested and confirmed to be true, and since it better explains the observed phenomenon, the original hypothesis is considered falsified. Conversely, if the null hypothesis fails, the original hypothesis is judged provisionally confirmed.  

Let me give you a personal example. When I submitted my claimed discovery of an alien Bible code to the Center for Inquiry, the first question I was asked was: What is your null hypothesis? What would it take to debunk your claim? My answer was that if CFI testing of the sequences resulted in an alternative explanation that was simpler and more logical than alien attribution, I would admit defeat and disclaim my discovery.

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“Experiments provide the means for making critical judgments among competing hypotheses.” Carl Sagan

 

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Don: To be specific, I actually had three null hypotheses: random coincidence, literary convention, and algorithmic manipulation of the text. All three were considered, none survived. After three years of experimental testing and analysis, the CFI failed to come up with even a single alternative explanation. In the end, to the dismay of CFI investigators, it was their null hypotheses that were debunked, leaving the Sagan Signal experimentally confirmed and the Sagan Model of the Singularity provisionally verified.

What would it take to debunk the Kurzweil Model? Prove that advanced ETs exist. The Sagan Signal is that proof, so my challenge to Ray is for him to do what the CFI and numerous other skeptics have failed to do – debunk the Sagan Signal. Ray has both the motive and the means to subject the grain/wine/oil sequences to experimentally rigorous testing. If he can falsify my claim, I promise to abandon the Sagan Model of the Singularity and join his side.

Molly: I’m sorry to burst your bubble, you seem like a nice guy, but you do realize don’t you, that Ray’s going to demolish your alien Bible code theory?

Don: I’m glad that you share my view that Ray, never a shrinking violet, is not the kind of guy to ignore or run away from an existential threat to his model. If he were to debunk the Sagan Signal, it would push me into retirement. But what if he tries and fails?

Molly: Well, if he can’t, I’ll reconsider the Sagan Model, but there’s no way in hell I’m ever going to become a Fundamentalist Christian, they’re just too weird.   

Don: I’m with you on that. By the way, you might find it interesting that I was thrown out of seminary because I believe Jesus Christ is extraterrestrial, and thrown out of my local atheist group – for the same reason! A Baptist pastor in Texas condemned me to Hell, and the leader of a major atheist organization told me I was full of shit, with neither bothering to engage the data. It’s clear that neither atheists nor Evangelical Christians are keen to the idea of JC being an ET. Being condemned by polar opposites for the same identical reason suggests that Carl Sagan was right, and now that empirical evidence has been discovered that proves he was right, it’s time for independent thinkers to seriously consider the possibility that Jesus Christ was, and is, an ET who did what the Bible says he did in making human immortality possible, wouldn’t you agree?

Molly: Right now I’m not agreeing to anything. To be honest, I’m a little confused. I need to talk to Ray. But let me throw this at you: I can totally understand why religious leaders would object to Christ being called an AI algorithm, but what’s with atheists? You would think that they would be thrilled to learn that science has confirmed that Jesus Christ is a miracle of advanced alien technology rather than some imaginary deity unconstrained by the natural laws of science.

Don: You might think so, and for people who claim to place a high value on science and reason, one would expect so. The problem is that their conflation of the Bible and Jesus Christ with religion has created a deep institutional bias that keeps them from rationally considering a Bible-based model where religion is not part of the equation. In time, as they think it through, I believe some atheists will appreciate the distinction and turn to Christ, the Singleton, for eternal life.

Molly: If the Sagan Signal has been experimentally confirmed as you claim, one would think that I would have heard about it on the news, and I haven’t. Why not?

Don: Aside from the fact that it undermines major religions, the reason you don’t hear about the Sagan Signal, the Sagan Model, or, for that matter, the Kurzweil Model on the nightly news is that “Singularity” is a hyper-explosive word that, were it to happen, would mark the end of our species as we know it. That’s why both models are universally ignored, not just by the media but even in scientific literature. The world simply isn’t intellectually or emotionally ready to process a transformational event of such magnitude. Here’s what the late Stephen Hawking said about it, followed by a related news clip:

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Stephen Hawkings

“The genie is out of the bottle. I fear that AI may replace humans altogether.”

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In recent years, AI development has become a widely divisive topic: some experts have made similar arguments as Hawking, including SpaceX and Tesla CEO and founder Elon Musk and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Both Musk and Gates see the potential for AI’s development to be the cause of humanity’s demise. On the other hand, quite a number of experts have posited that such warnings are unnecessary fear-mongering, which may be based on farfetched super-intelligent AI take-over scenarios that they fear could distort public perception of AI.

As far as Hawking is concerned, the fears are valid. “If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself,” Hawking said in the interview with WIRED. “This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”

Hawking, it seems, was referring to the development of AI that’s smart enough to think as well, or even better than, human beings — an event that’s been dubbed the technological singularity. In terms of when that will happen (if ever) Hawking didn’t exactly offer a time table. We could assume that it would arrive at some point within the 100-year deadline Hawking imposed for humanity’s survival on Earth. Others, such as SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Google chief engineer Ray Kurzweil, have put the timeframe for the singularity even sooner than that — within the next 30 years.” From website: Futurism, by Dom Galeon”

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Don: Despite the current obscurity of the Singularity in the public arena, I think that over the next decade, as AI breakthroughs like quantum computing occur with accelerated rapidity, public references to the Singularity will increase. I believe that around 2030, about the time when many AI experts predict the successful replication of the human brain, it will no longer be possible for the media or mainstream science to ignore the profound implications associated with the Singularity, and what the merger of humans and machines will mean for the future of the our species.

Molly: Does the Sagan Model predict a transhumanist future?

Don: The Sagan Model claims that transhumanism started 2000 years ago with the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul spells it out quite clearly:

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Paul

 “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

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Molly: Sounds like religion to me.

Don: You’re right, and even though Ray’s an atheist, that’s a criticism that some of his detractors are throwing at him. Unfortunately, there is no getting around the fact that the similarities between the Singularity and religion, and particularly Bible-based Christian Evangelicalism, are too numerous and obvious to ignore. In totality, those equivalencies are one of my key arguments in favor of the Sagan Model.

To cite just a few examples, what Ray describes as a merger of man and machine, the Bible calls being born-again, and the Person that Nick Bostrom calls the Singleton, the Bible calls God. Even the process of having one’s consciousness uploaded to the Singularity has been lampooned as a type of Rapture by Ray’s detractors. These are just a few equivalencies out of dozens that I could cite.

Molly: Well, as a proud convert to the Kurzweil Model of the Singularity, I think human immortality is still in the future, and I plan to be part of that future. When it comes I’ll know it because I’ll be totally immersed into George, no leap of faith required.

Don: I see you’re a skeptic, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, Carl Sagan taught that informed skepticism, as long as it doesn’t close one’s mind to new ideas, is one of the cardinal traits of modern science. But it’s hardly a new concept. Thomas, one of the twelve Disciples, was a skeptic. He wouldn’t believe that Christ physically rose from the dead based solely on the verbal testimony of others. He demanded to see Christ and physically touch the wounds in his side and hands. Only when his demand was met did he become a believer. Today, direct evidence comparable to what was given to Thomas is the Sagan Signal. It has been experimentally tested and confirmed to be a code, not of human origin, indisputably demonstrating that JC is an ET, no leap of faith required.

Molly: I know that the Sagan Signal is your cornerstone evidence that JC is an ET and that the Singularity is here now, not in the future. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you seem to be putting all your eggs in one basket, and that no one, not any code or AI expert, including Ray Kurzweil, can or ever will falsify the Sagan Signal, right?

Don: That’s correct. It’s the ideal scientific laboratory. We have on the table an extraordinary claim supported by equally extraordinary evidence that is subject to experimental testing. After being exhaustively vetted by the prestigious Center for Inquiry and not debunked, it’s time for Ray Kurzweil, who has ready access to the most powerful computers and most advanced code identification software in the world, to give it a shot. I wish him well.

Molly: And if he fails, it means that those of us who believe in the concept of the Singularity will have to choose who to believe, Carl Sagan or Ray Kurzweil?

Don: Right. Ray calls those who buy in to his futuristic model: Singularitarians. I call those who think the Sagan Model is better: Paleo-Singularitarians. One model is right and the other is wrong. Choose correctly and you’re immortal, pick the wrong door and you pass into non-existence. (Let me be perfectly clear: There is no such thing as Hell, a mythical place of eternal flame invented by the Church to raise funds and control the masses). In future conversations I’ll demonstrate that by every metric the Sagan Model is clearly superior to the Kurzweil Model, making it the right choice for those who take the possibility of non-religious immortality through advanced technology seriously. It’s really no contest.

Molly: That’s a bold statement. I’m anxious to see if you can back it up.

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Carl Sagan

“Brilliant, daring, and complex solutions require brilliant, daring, and complex people.”