Singularity vs Free Will: False Dichotomy?

Paul Hughes (
Mon, 07 Dec 1998 15:07:20 -0800

Ok, Eleizer you got me. After some deep contemplation, I finally have a tack on all this that has eliminated any confusion I had in reconciling my understanding of a singularity vs. yours; and also addresses the messy issue of evolutionary arbitrariness. I think you and I are actually in agreement, but are operating on slightly different conceptions of what self-awareness and free will are.

One can argue about the existence of free will and self-awareness until the Singularity is ancient history. As you say, short of a catastrophe, the singularity is coming whether we 'wish' it to or not, but this brings up an interesting notion. Regardless of whether free will exists or not, relative to our own self-awareness, many would argue that their are greater and lesser degrees of self-direction. I think Timothy Leary's 8 Circuit Model of Contelligence is very appropriate here (for details see

Like most primitive life-forms, one can act on ones evolutionary pre-programmed biosurvival circuits for food and shelter (Circuit 1). The emotional-terretorial circuitry (circuit 2) allows us to transcend these biosurvival circuits for short periods of time to act out on various emotional urges - such as caring for someone else even though our stomach is aching for food, or our body's cry out for sleep. Going another step further, we can transcend our emotional urges by thinking rationally (circuit 3) about more sane alternatives. When we call someone 'irrational', what we are really saying is they are acting like robots dominated by earlier emotional (neurotic) programming.

Going further still, we gasp and awe at tremendously creative individuals such as Mozart or Beethoven, who managed to carry us to non-linear sensory depths of beauty (circuit 5) that our rational-linear brains couldn't (I'm using rational in the more limited sense of linear "left-brained" styles of thinking). When asked how they came up with such beautiful music, they were often quoted as saying "I didn't compose it, so much as it was composed through me". The same can be said of many scientific breakthroughs. Many scientists said such discoveries reveled themselves to them in a moment of 'insight' (circuit 6+). Imprecise terms, but nonetheless hinting at modes of intelligence beyond the merely rational-linear.

Timothy Leary came up with four new circuits of intelligence beyond the terrestrial evolved emotional-rational-social. Circuits whose primary process is a feedback loop of re-programming ones programming. For examply, using genetic engineering as a way of increasing our intelligence can be seen as re-programming our genetic evolutionary baggage for increased performance - what Tim Leary called Circuit 7.

The point I'm trying to make is, I highly suspect that the Singularity will encompass our selves and our knowledge, because not doing so would an irrational waste of collective experiences that might prove useful in the future. Not wanting to argue about the hard problem of consciousness, I'm assuming that consciousness in some form or another will continue. If the Singularity has consciousness and also has my entire collective memories, then it has me in there for all practical purposes. I'm still alive and aware!

**The question then becomes, do I still have free will or am I somehow a slave to the machine? I think in the end this question is meaningless. I could ask that question now. Am I free or am I a slave to arbitrary evolutionary genetic imperatives? Speaking subjectively, my "free will" always seems to prefer operating on higher circuits over lower ones. I would rather act more rationally than emotionally and have a greater tap into genius-like-insight over pure logical methods. The Singularity portends that such a process will occur. Since the Singularity is operating at a tremendously higher level than my current self, such a Singularity 'controlling" me would be indistinguishable from me operating on higher circuits of genius-like insight. Whether I am really free or not still remains unanswered, but I'll certainly be operating in processes increasingly free of genetic evolutionary baggage - to my self awareness it will seem infinitely more free than I do now.

Paul Hughes