oh my god!
Updated: Nov 10
Full disclosure, this is gonna be the dumbest most awesome post I’ve ever written. Two things: Richard Dawkins and Ray Kurzweil. Three things: Richard Dawkins, Ray Kurzweil and a disclaimer that I majored in English and am now in law school. I know, major disappoint from those who until this point thought I was an authority on all things.
I’m sitting on the train reading Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, and as you all know it takes me about one point no seconds to become totally convinced of whatever science I’m trying to understand when I’m reading these books I don’t understand, but let me just tell you one thing about this book: it is so good. Even if he is very aggressive and even if he doesn’t get it all right (I am really in no position to evaluate seeing as I have not been keeping up with the literature for the past 40 years) it should be read by everybody. Unless you are already in a position to have an opinion about him, at that point you have probably read enough better books to just skip this one.
But anyways I just got to the part where he’s positing that early life must have begun at the emergence of a “Replicator”, a set of molecules that wouldn’t just randomly bump around until it met more molecules that made it stable, but when it bumped into the right molecules would create an exact replica of itself (or a negative of itself, doesn’t matter). And then these replicators, obviously, would begin increasing exponentially and then survival of the fittest and then the ones with protection would survive most and then we are all replicator protection machines!! The best line so far is: “A monkey is a machine that protects genes up trees, a fish is a machine that preserves genes in the water”. Yeah yeah if you want an actual description of this go read the book. I’m no biologist.
Anyways, the other night I couldn’t sleep and at like 4am (remember I said I think I figured out the secret to not watching 30 rock on repeat? Just wake up regularly in the middle of the night and watch other things) I started watching Transcendent Man, the doc about Ray Kurzweil, the really lovable lookin guy who wrote the book The Singularity is Near about how technology and man are gonna merge.
So because I posses the enviable scientific naiveté of the blissfully ignorant, and I am able to free associate with wonderful creativity amongst the pieces of information I do have. Kurzweil. Dawkins. Dawkins. Kurzweil. HOW DO THEY CONNECT? So I’m thinking about the primordial soup and how crazy it is that not only did enough molecules form together to create monkeys (to protect genes up trees) but they also deliciously collided to form humans like you and me right? And they collided in such a way as to create brains and our brains fire off in such a way as to allow us to think about who we are and what we are doing and EVEN TO WRITE BOOKS ABOUT THE VERY FIRST MOLECULES THAT COLLIDED IN THE PRIMORDIAL SOUP THAT ULTIMATELY BECAME OUR BRAINS THAT FIRED OFF THE NEURONS TO LET US WRITE THE BOOKS ABOUT THE
is it not the craziest thing you’ve ever thought about?!! Anyways, so I was thinking about how if we are the product of random collisions of molecules, how our brains have become so much greater than the random collision of molecules in that they can think about the random collision of molecules and even interfere with the random collision of molecules. Then I started thinking about Kurzweil. Our brains are so tremendous that we (I am using a very generous form of “we”, you and I could not do this) are even at the brink of being able to build other brains. Bringing us to the singularity, the point at which technology advances as such an exponential pace that basically humans will have no choice but to merge with robots or face annihilation. I’m paraphrasing.
And I started to think about creation and the myth of creation. The myth of God creating man confronted with the theory of humans evolving out of the primordial soup. And then I thought about humans evolving to the point where we are on the brink (I am using the term brink loosely, a hundred years? more? less?) of creating a new race of humans. A race that could go on to evolve or create itself past the bounds of all human understanding. And I thought that puts such a crazy spin on the creation myth doesn’t it. It stops being something you think about in the past – when humans were created, and starts being something that may occur in the future – when man creates super-man. And then superman outstrips man – just as replicator molecule outstripped whatever event created it. And in a few thousand years we get not one Bible but all the works of man in literature and art. We get ‘The Human Delusion” by Richard Dawkins great great great great great great great great x 10 granddaughter.
Does that not sound nuts to you??!