Stirling Westrup (sti@Hydro.CAM.ORG)
Sun, 19 Apr 1998 02:22:14 EST

The recent discussion about pets let me to thinking about bodhisattvas and their
transhuman counterparts. For those who know even less of Budhism than I, (any
Buddhists out there should correct any errors on my behalf here) a bodhisattvas
is a being that has gained all of the necessary knowledge and/or wisdom to
transcend and become a Buddha but declines to do so out of compassion. Buddhas
rarely interact with mere mortals, and so a bodhisattvas delays his own
transcendence so as to be in a position to help encourage the transcendence of

The parallel with technotranscendence is clear. We talk about uplifting dogs and
octopi here, but seldom about doing so for amoeba or rotifers. Creatures
sufficiently far down the complexity ladder from us just don't seem worth it.
The same may be true for a Power. After a while humans might not seem worth the
effort to aid/uplift anymore.

A Power might decide to temporarily halt its trancendence when it
feels its abilities relate to humans as ours do to dogs. At that point it
could still care (although WE might find it hard to understand its actions) and
might work to uplift us towards its abilities.

More likely (in my mind) is for a Power, able to perform distributed
multi-node processing, to spawn a whole series of intermediate versions of
itself to form a ladder of trancendence. Each would be a minor processing node
of the Power (a sattva?), and each would have a complexity relation with those
'above' and 'below' it on the ladder such that communication is just possible
and/or worthwhile.

If you want a selfish reason for doing such a thing, it could be observed that
the space of possible transcended beings is probably immense. By leaving behind
a trail, a Power makes it easier for others to follow it, and be guided such
that they arrive at the Power's level as allies rather than enemies.

So, what do folks think, goofy idea, or not?

 Stirling Westrup  |  Use of the Internet by this poster
 sti@cam.org       |  is not to be construed as a tacit
                   |  endorsement of Western Technological
                   |  Civilization or its appurtenances.