|"Encounter", charcoal by Tim Holmes|
One of the most frustrating aspects of this blindness to me is the inability of so many scientists to take relationship seriously. Nick Bostorm in Superintelligence seems to assume that the highest human aspiration goes no farther than making money. Ramez Naam in More Than Human sees life as little more than spectacular mechanics. Michio Kaku in The Future of the Mind conceives of the possibility of human intelligence recycling the universe through a distant future Big Bang, without recognizing that this contradicts his view of the spiritless current universe. (The human spirit could create one but not a divine spirit?) The guru of the Singularity concept and current head of Google engineering, Ray Kurzweil, dreams of someday reconstructing his father, rebuilding a similar body and filling its digital brain with information about the man, as if that would recreate the person. But is there any one of us who would gladly accept a copy of our loved one in place of the real person? They don't seem to realize that no matter how good an art forgery is, its value lies in its authenticity, and for good reason.
All this speculation seems like a childish dream of replacing all nutrition with chocolate and homework with video games. The vision goes no further than immediate gratification, almost entirely ignoring the crucial dark side of life. The only reason we reached adulthood is we survived a lifetime of hardship and hard work, which is both difficult and good. Also, for some reason such materialists don't seem to recognize that one of the pinnacles of human experience is immaterial and thus largely beyond the reach of science: relationships. As much as we treasure our loved ones, the way to enrich life isn't replicating those entities mechanically, it's being present in the present with living people! That cannot be replicated, only experienced.