Transforming Ourselves

David Musick (
Fri, 22 Nov 96 10:46:55 UT

The Power of Symbiosis

I've been contemplating the possibility that highly advanced beings will
eventually regard humans as useless and entropic and destroy the humans. Eric
Watt Forste has suggested that I consider the idea that advanced beings may
use humans as processors of certain types of information, sort of like we use
calculators now.

This idea would be much more likely to happen if the humans were equipped with
more powerful interfaces, such as virtual reality suits or computers linked
directly to their brains, which allowed them to quickly and accurately express
their ideas by creating images and other data structures which they could then
send to other computers, which could pass the ideas on to other humans or to
the advanced beings. The humans could also receive complex data structures
through their computer interface. It may appear to them as images and three
dimensional environments, and they will manipulate the data that they are
given and pass it on.

I can imagine engineers taking on projects to design objects and systems with
various properties, visualizing all their work by using the computer in their
head, using that computer to communicate with other computers to retrieve
needed information (such as various precise properties of different
substances). When they were done with their work, they would send it off to
the entity requesting it, and they would receive the agreed benefits from
doing that work. An advanced being who is wanting to design a very complex
system may subdivide the task into many parts and use human engineers to
complete various tasks, much as we often use a calculator to perform
arithmetic tasks for us; it's often more efficient to buy, maintain and use
the calculator than to do all the arithmetic ourselves. There are many tasks
which humans are good at, and I can imagine very powerful entities hiring
humans to complete various tasks as long as there wasn't a more efficient
device to carry out the task.

When humans are all wired to computers, with virtual reality suits or brain
implants, one could think of the whole world of humans and computers as a
large and highly complex computer system, with human minds acting as one type
of processor in that system. Information that is best processed by humans
will be directed to humans to work on, and they will send their results to the
appropriate places to be processed further.

Actually, I already view the world that way. We are not all wired to
computers yet, but we all interact with each other or with systems that
interact with others. We all take in information from the world and make
changes to the world which others take in as information to process. We are
all processing information and communicating it to each other, by our actions,
by the changes we make in the world. We cause air to vibrate as sound; we
create objects and visual images; we create machines; we make many changes in
the world, and all our changes are forms of communication with other people
and whatever other systems are influenced by the changes we make. Our
cultures and societies are huge organic and psychological machines, evolving
and mutating. We are components of these organic machines, and we each have
varying degrees of influence over the behavior of the machine and other
components of the machine.

My goals include developing a deep understanding of the nature of the organic
and psychological machine that I find myself to be a component of; to learn
how to manipulate the behavior of this machine so that it works to achieve my
goals. The machine of Humanity is tremendously large and complex. It is
composed of the minds of individual humans, linked together through social
systems, such as language, religion, government, science, technology, art and
so forth (all are forms of language, actually). Through these social systems,
human minds interact with each other. We manipulate each other's sensory
environments by causing changes in the world which others observe and respond
I am working to become adept at using all these forms of communication to
influence the thinking of Humanity. I wish to alter the behavior of human
minds and the systems they create, in such a way that my goals are
accomplished. To some extent, we all are doing this; we all have found ways
to get what we want from the world, to some degree. By behaving in certain
ways, we have learned to influence others to provide us with money and other
experiences we seek. We all have learned to manipulate the system to some
extent. I, however, am working on doing this to a much greater extent than
most do. I am working to understand how to tweak the system of Humanity in
the right ways to have my goals be accomplished by the system.

As an Extropian, my goals include improving the system of Humanity, finding
ways to make it more intelligent and creative. As a component of that system,
I will benefit from helping other components to be more intelligent and
competent at accomplishing their goals, since many of our goals are very
similar. I am working first on training my own mind and increasing my own
intelligence and creativity. Then, I wish to use my advanced intelligence and
creativity to become highly competent in the many fields of human endeavor
which interest me. I wish to make significant improvements in every field I
enter and to assist others in training their minds to do the same in their
chosen fields of interest.

It is my understanding that to influence others to assist me with my goals, I
must provide them something of value; I must assist them in accomplishing
their goals as well. What value can I provide others so they will help me
accomplish my goals? How do I acquire this value, this ability to influence
others? My understanding is that I must create it within myself first. I
must become more intelligent and creative and more expert in working with
others, to help them achieve their goals effectively. If I help them to
increase their intelligence and creativity, they will also be more competent
in accomplishing their goals and in helping me accomplish my goals.

To accomplish my goals effectively, I am realizing that I must work closely
with many other people. It is strongly in my interest to help increase the
intelligence and creativity of those I work with so that we are more able to
effectively and efficiently achieve our common goals.

As I advance myself, it is in my interest to help others advance as well, so
that we may be strong partners and be more effective working together than any
of us would be working alone. It is also in my interest to not create
enemies, any system which would impede my goals. As far as I understand, the
best way to avoid creating enemies is to make oneself of great value to as
many other systems as possible. This way, it is in very few systems' interest
to interfere with one's goals. I must be very careful to not appear as a
threat to other's goals so they do not make themselves a threat to mine. This
is the wisdom of "loving one's enemies", turning them into friends and the
wisdom of developing deep, loving emotional bonds with as many others as
possible. It is an excellent strategy for accomplishing one's goals,
encouraging others to work cooperatively with each other and oneself to
achieve common goals.

So, is an advanced and extremely powerful entity likely to destroy humans? It
seems to me that the most advanced and powerful entities will be those who are
extremely adept at cooperating with as many others as possible and assisting
as many others as possible to advance themselves as well so they are able to
assist each other more effectively and intelligently. It seems to me that the
most advanced and powerful beings will not be those who dominate and control
others, but those who are able to develop strong, mutually beneficial
relationships with as many others as possible. I believe that the most
powerful and advanced beings will be constantly searching for ways to develop
symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationships with as many other systems as
possible. I believe that the most powerful beings will eventually be those
who are of the greatest value to the largest number of systems. Because they
will be of value to the most systems, they will have the greatest number of
systems working to help them accomplish their goals, and because the ability
to effectively achieve one's goals is what power truly is, these beings will
be the most powerful beings.

Considering this, it seems unlikely that extremely powerful beings will be a
threat to humans, since they will be most powerful by developing ways to
cooperate effectively with as many humans as possible. I also believe they
would have a great interest in assisting humans in becoming more intelligent
and creative since this would enable the humans to more effectively assist the
powerful beings. The most powerful beings on this planet have always had
deeply symbiotic relationships with other beings. Humans are some of the
results of profoundly symbiotic relationships among all their cells and among
the other bacteria which live in their bodies and among the other living
organisms on the earth which produce food for humans and maintain a suitable
living environment for humans. I expect that truly advanced beings will
continue to follow this successful strategy of developing profoundly symbiotic
relationships with many, many other systems.

- David Musick