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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Transhuman Agenda

Last weekend I attended the Humanity Plus conference in Hong Kong. This was essentially a conference for transhumanists, although it also featured a good diversity of other presenters. The organisers of the conference were well intentioned, and many share similar ideas about mind and consciousness to my own. This post is not about them, so the following observations are not directed at them. But many of the invited speakers, who came from all over the world, were of an entirely different ilk.

Put simply, transhumanism is the idea that we will one day (hopefully soon) be able to upload our minds onto computers and live forever. Perhaps the most famous exponent of this idea is Ray Kurzweil, who in his book The Singularity is Near maintains that we will be able to reverse engineer the brain to create conscious machines; and then we can merge with them. Kurzweil was not at the conference, but there were a large number of other such transhumanists present.

I came away from the conference with my perspective on transhumanism largely unchanged. There are both technical and psycho-spiritual issues I have with the movement.

Let me begin with a very short technical issue or two. My experience as an intuitive has shown me that consciousness is non-local. It is not confined to the brain, and is in constant interaction with the environment and other people. The mind is also mufti-faceted and multi-dimensional. There is no single locus of the “I” in the brain, as recent neuroscience shows. Further, I have seen that consciousness is extended into other dimensional realms and experiences. The etheric and astral realms are just two. I am pretty sure that the laws of physics as we understand them do not operate in these realms. How are the transhumanists going to account for all these facets of consciousness when they start doing their uploading. How will the mind-computer retain them? Perhaps nano-computing might offer solutions, but my knowledge of this area is insufficient to comment in any more than general terms

In short, the transhumanists have a very poor understanding of mind and consciousness, at least at present.

 The psycho-spiritual perspective, however, is my main concern with the movement. As an intuitive, meditator and mystic, I have spent many years investigating a wide range of conscious experience from an inner perspective. Conversely, many transhumanists (but not all) have no experience at all with experiencing consciousness beyond the delimited range of experience which is programmed into us by modern society. Most transhumanists are highly educated, and many have PhDs and work in universities. The problem here is that modern education and science is highly unbalanced in the ways of knowing and mental experience that it employs and cultivates in the people that pass through its walls. We learn well how to analyse, calculate, classify, experiment, hypothesise, dissect and verbally communicate understandings. However we spend almost no time learning how to intuit, directly experience, empathise, meditate upon, feel, spiritually connect with and - dare I say - love what we study. Students today learn nothing about the state of silence and how spiritual knowledge can derive during such  a state, These processes and ways of knowing are vital in understanding consciousness in its full expression.

Another way of looking at this is that transhumanists confuse the workings and projections of the ego for the fullness of consciousness.

Even if we can upload minds on to computers, the delimited understanding of consciousness as displayed by transhumanists leaves a genuine danger that the computer hardware they develop to upload themselves onto will be configured only to mediate the rational/egoic expressions of mind.

The transhuman agenda then is to perpetuate the separated ego state, and denies the evolutionary call of unity, of love and Spirit. There has thus become something ‘dark’ about the movement. In Discover Your Soul Template I have written about the way that consciousness conducts itself through energy fields that vary in their intensity and their overall degree of “light” and “darkness”. Light energy fields are relaxed, gentle, compassionate, receptive, loving, and transparent. On the other hand dark energy fields are controlling, manipulative, deceptive (hiding from the truth of itself), denying, destructive, fearful, shaming, obsessive, and neurotic.

Yet this is not a simple dichotomy. There are degrees of light and darkness in any given energy field, and one way to think of a consciousness energy field is in terms of the percentage of light or dark energy it contains. My intuitive reading is that as a general energy pattern transhumanism resonates at about one per cent of consciousness, meaning that it exists almost completely in the fragmented ego state. It is by definition, dark.

One does not need to be a psychic to sense that the overall conscious expression of transhumanism is centred in terror - of death.

Interestingly, a transpersonal psychologist friend of mine, who attended the Humanity Plus conference on the first day, said he had an intuition that the transhuman movement is “demonic”. I try to avoid such emotive terms myself. I would prefer to use the term “deluded”. It is a movement which exists largely in unconsciousness, and is thus controlled and manipulated by energy fields that it is quite literally not “conscious” of.

This was perhaps epitomised by one speaker whose presentation I noted. As an intuitive, I admit to being slightly frightened by his overall energy field. He was operating with an almost one hundred per cent ego state, completely unconscious of his own inner space. When he was seated in the audience he paid attention only to the other presentations which supported his agenda. When Dr Jeffery Martin came up to speak about enlightenment experiences (an alternative perspective), this man completely turned away and began fiddling with his computer. Fascinatingly, he has put himself down to be frozen cryogenically when he dies, in the hope that someone will later pull his brain out of the fridge and reanimate him. Let’s hope they upload some sense into him if it does happen!

The transhuman movement, like the artificial intelligence field which it is closely related to, is not without its merits. Undoubtedly such fields will enhance knowledge of consciousness in some ways, as well as help to improve the intelligence of computers. Technologies related to machine-augmented biological intelligence (cyborgs) will also be enhanced here. Yet the real danger is that the entire movement will, in a worst case scenario, fragment human consciousness even further than its current damaged expression, and grant that fragmented, neurotic, fear-based consciousness great power.

The transhuman agenda represents the apotheosis of the fragmentation of the modern mind.

The human ego will always fear death. Such fear is programmed into us biologically. Yet there is a far better way to deal with the issue than to believe that we can achieve immortality by uploading the fragmented ego state onto a computer. Many spiritual traditions speak of the requirement to allow an egoic death before the truth beauty of human consciousness can truly flower. Ironically, it is the clinging to life which turns us into walking zombies, cut off from the reality of our connectedness. Such an understanding cannot occur at an intellectual level, via the critical rational mind. This is why it is more important than ever for us to allow time to connect with the intuitive mind, what I call Integrated Intelligence.

Many of us are already lost. Let us not unintentionally perpetuate the insanity of the ego by perpetuating and immortalising its own delusion.



  1. A very clear, fair and balanced account, Marcus, of something that's actually pretty ****** scary! To put it another way, any account of consciousness which excludes love and compassion also excludes everything which makes us human and which makes it worth incarnating in the first place.

  2. Yes, there are huge issues approaching humanity right now in terms of Artificial Intelligence and the development of cyborgs. There was one speaker at the conference who expressed this very clearly. It's not just the stuff of science fiction anymore. We will soon have to decide just how smart we want to make machines. The development of AI is not that impressive at present, but the future is a long time...

  3. Your experience as an 'intuitive' is irrelevant; subjective experiences, however internally meaningful, don't reliably inform us about the external world. I'm reminded of Sam Harris remarking on the mistake Deepak Chopra makes of applying internality to externality. The 'etheric' and 'astral' realms are completely unsubstantiated and exist only in your mind and the minds of other 'New Age' believers.

  4. Thanks for sharing your rich experience on the subject, Aurelian. Looks like you've put in the hard yards here and developed an informed but humble awareness of meditative experience.

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  6. The merging of humanity and technology seems likely to continue. However, there is nothing to suggest that consciousness will ever be able to inhabit anything but biological forms whilst here in the physical realm.

    The idea that consciousness or the nebulous, poorly understood entity called "mind" could somehow inhabit a machine is pure science fiction and abstract hypothesis with no basis in observed fact.

    If we seek to extend human lifespans it would seem logical to focus on improving the attributes of biological forms rather than seeking to achieve the impossible by uploading consciousness onto some kind of machine.