Category Archives: Space and Cosmology

Futurist Tom Lombardo and Future Consciousness

Podcast link: http://mindfutures.libsyn.com/rss

On Episode 2 of The Consciousness Files I speak with futurist Tom Lombardo, Ph.D.

In this episode you will find out the best science fiction novel of all time, why cyborgs are an inevitable part of the future, why Ray Kurzweil’s idea of consciousness being uploaded onto computers is limited, and why the Benjamin Libet free will experiments are wrong in suggesting we do not have free will.

Tom Lombardo is the Executive Director of the Center for Future Consciousness, the Director of The Wisdom Page, the Managing Editor of Wisdom and the Future, and Professor Emeritus and retired Faculty Chair of Psychology, Philosophy, and the Future at Rio Salado College. He is a national and internationally recognized researcher, writer, and speaker, and he has published six books and over fifty articles on topics including: the history of scientific and philosophical thought; the future of education; future consciousness and contemporary futurist thought; and science fiction as the mythology of the future.

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Tom is also an award-winning teacher and educator with over thirty-five years of professional experience in college teaching.

Tom’s web site is: www.centerforfutureconsciousness.com

PODCAST TIMELINE

4:40 Tom outlines his brand of futures – futures of consciousness, including wisdom.

6:30. How Tom first got into futures studies, seeing an Alvin Toffler book in a department store.

8:50. How Tom became interested in the subject of consciousness – with the mind-body problem.

12:00 Tom’s solution to “the mind-body problem.”

13:00 What is consciousness?

14:00 How Tom’s theory of consciousness can assist mainstream science.

16:00 The physical environment is not separate from our interpretation of it.

18:30 Tom’s book Mind Flight discussed.

20:20 What experiences have influenced Tom’s understanding of consciousness. How weight lifting played a part.

22:50. Meteorite synchronicities.

23:50 Olaf Stapledon’s novel “Starmaker,” and why it is the best science fiction novel ever.

27:30. Why Stapledon influenced Tom’s understanding of mind and the future.

29:30. Australian sci-fi writer Greg Egan, and his novel “Diaspora.”

33:00 Sexuality in Stapledon.

34:00 Tom’s critique Ray Kurzweil and the transhumanists. They focus on technology, but fail to consider mental and spiritual evolution.

38:10. Evolution moves towards greater complexity.

40:10 Cyborgs, mobile technology and the human future. Tom relates his enthusiasm for detachable body parts.

45:50. “The Last American”. Sci fi Novel written in 1880. Persians sail to New York City in the 23rd century, only to find it has been destroyed.

47:40. The evolution of consciousness and the current American political crisis.

50:20. America lacks cultural icons of higher consciousness expression.

53:10 How can we create a more positive attitude towards the future? Collapse may be required.

55:20 Who are the positive role models we can look up to?

59:20. Does the universe have any purpose? We have begun guiding evolution.

1:02:10 We are participating with the universe in its evolution.

1:08:10 The brain operates within a cosmic ecology.

10:10.40 Thomas Nagel’s argument about consciousness as being intrinsic within the nature of the universe.

1:12:10 Spinoza and the possibility of free will.

1:15.00 Critiquing Benjamin Libet’s free will experiments. Why Libet is wrong.

1:19:40 Tom’s recommended reading and contact details.

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40 000 sign up to live and die on Mars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 000 people have already signed up for the Mars One project. This is the project that will send a group of people to live on Mars. They will almost certainly not be able to return.

The link below will take you to an interview with Gerard ‘t Hooft, a professor of physics at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and an ambassador for the Mars One project.

 

Mars One supporters: Nobel-prize-winning physicist endorses plan to send people on a one-way trip. – Slate Magazine.

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell on UFO nondisclosure

There is perhaps no question of greater importance than that of whether the human species is alone in the universe. I now consider this to effectively be a rhetorical question. In the past decade or two we have come to see that our galaxy is populated with endless numbers of planets. Given that there are 100 billion stars in our galaxy and about 100 billion galaxies (and counting), it is as good as impossible that we are alone.

Then there is the controversial issue of UFOs and alien encounters with individuals and governments. The discussion on this issue is another one of those domains which is effectively forbidden in mainstream science – unless you assume the null hypothesis, that there is nothing to see here. To suggest otherwise is to invite ridicule or academic censure.

I believe a more rational approach is the one taken by former astronaut Edgar Mitchel, founder of IONS. In the video interview below, he discusses the UFO issue, and what it means for the future of humanity. I found the video on Conscious Life News, who also kindly published my Ted, Knowledge and Power oped.

My conviction is that there is something very real and very important happening here. My perspective is informed by my witnessing two very different kinds of UFOs on the same night, one hour apart about twenty years ago. One was a great ball of etheric light, which glided silently across the night sky. The the other was either a formation of red, glowing circular objects flying in a “V” formation, or a single triangular craft (it was hard to be certain). I detail the event in my book Extraordinary Mind. For those who haven’t read the tale, I include it below.

In 1996 I was living in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia, a small coastal town. One day I was walking along the street downtown, and I saw a sign which read: “Psychic readings, $10”. I had never had a psychic reading up till that time, and curiosity got the better of me. So I went inside and met a woman named Leslie who gave me a “reading.” The reading itself was nothing particularly special. But what followed certainly was.

To cut a long story short, I ended up going to one of Leslie’s talk/meditation evenings a few weeks later. At the end of the talk she told everyone present that she had had lots of dreams about UFOs the previous night.

“Whenever I have these dreams there are lots of UFO sightings around,” she said. “So if you go out tonight you may see something. I feel that about two in the morning would be the right time.”

Now, being the gullible fool that I am, I decided to take up the offer. I went to bed at about 11 p.m., but set my alarm for 1.45.

When the alarm rang, I managed to drag myself out of bed. I stumbled around my house for 15 minutes, and then headed outside at 2.00 a.m. sharp.

My eyes almost popped out of my head when I swung the door open and looked up at the sky. For flying right in front of me in the clear night sky was something I had never seen before. I can only describe it as a large ball of luminous white light, about a third the size of a full moon. The thing was probably a few hundred metres in the air, and was floating eastwards at about 90 degrees above the horizon. There was absolutely no sound, and it seemed to be gliding on air. I can only describe it as eerily unearthly. I ran out onto the road, and watched it disappear over the neighbours’ houses. In total it was in view about 30 seconds.

The ball of light was heading east, out over the ocean, and since I was in an excitable state, I ran down to the beach, which was only a few hundred metres from where I lived. I walked up and down the beach for an hour, but the ball of light was nowhere to be seen.

Finally I gave up, and decided to head back to bed. I walked back down the short street to my home, and trudged up the driveway. Then, as I was about to duck under the doorway (I’m rather tall) I looked up one last time. Once again my eyes nearly jumped out of my head. I saw something equally as amazing as the ball of light. For, moving directly over my head there was a group of about twenty red, circular lights, flying in a double-V formation, one “V” inside the other. Again there was no sound, just eerie silence. The objects flew in a southerly direction, parallel the coast. They appeared to be a few hundred metres in the air, and within half a minute disappeared behind some trees at the end of the road.

 

Here’s Edgar Mitchell on the subject. He’s worth listening to.

Marcus

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Is the universe a computer simulation?

A team of physicists claim that they have evidence that the universe is a computer simulation, according to an article on Technology Review. The hypothesis that was being investigated is “that the observed universe is a numerical simulation performed on a cubic space-time lattice or grid.” If intelligence keeps evolving and expanding (as it indisputably has on this planet), then eventually it would develop the technology to create other universes.

I’ve only read the abstract of the paper, and it is clearly beyond my expertise. However what interests me about the paper is that it returns the discussion “intelligent design”. The term is loaded of course, and enough to get steam coming from many a scientist’s ears. However the discussion is often focussed upon biological evolution. The anthropic principle – essentially that the universe is just too darned neatly suited to the existence of life like ours for it to be pure coincidence – is another important facet of the discussion. Physicists Beane et al appear to be tantalisingly close to treading the same territory. The investigation surely invites a return to discussions of (and terms like) “creator”, “God” and “gods”.

But where does it all begin? From where did the first intelligence (call it God if you will) arise?

It is intriguing to me that only when the discourse is centred on the computer/machine metaphor that discussions of first causes (the greater origins or meaning of all things) are generally entertained in mainstream science. And it is normally only via geometric abstraction and mathematical extrapolation that truth claims are considered. I wonder how their paper would be received if the scientists had begun with a different metaphor – say, that the universe is a great mind, or a great organism? Would anyone in science pay much attention? And the physicists had used introspection as their prime way of knowing? For millennia mystics have related profound insights into the nature of mind and cosmos. Yet the knowledge is only available through a relaxed, receptive attitude where the mind falls into quiet presence. It is only then that the chattering verbiage of the neocortex dissipates, and the illusion of boundary begins to fall. In contrast, the distance between knower and known is still vast in modern science, and the mechanistic paradigm is still with us.

Perhaps if the right and left brains could meet in a place where introspection and verbal/linguistic abstraction worked in harmony, we would have a powerful new science that was not afraid to embrace its deepest nature.

Marcus

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Here is the article on Technology Review:

The Measurement That Would Reveal The Universe As A Computer Simulation

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/429561/the-measurement-that-would-reveal-the-universe-as/

Physicists say they may have evidence that the universe is a computer simulation.

How? They made a computer simulation of the universe. And it looks sort of like us.

A long-proposed thought experiment, put forward by both philosophers and popular culture, points out that any civilisation of sufficient size and intelligence would eventually create a simulation universe if such a thing were possible.

And since there would therefore be many more simulations (within simulations, within simulations) than real universes, it is therefore more likely than not that our world is artificial.

Now a team of researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany led by Silas Beane say they have evidence this may be true.

In a paper named ‘Constraints on the Universe as a Numerical Simulation’, they point out that current simulations of the universe – which do exist, but which are extremely weak and small – naturally put limits on physical laws.

Technology Review explains that “the problem with all simulations is that the laws of physics, which appear continuous, have to be superimposed onto a discrete three dimensional lattice which advances in steps of time.”

What that basically means is that by just being a simulation, the computer would put limits on, for instance, the energy that particles can have within the program.

These limits would be experienced by those living within the sim – and as it turns out, something which looks just like these limits do in fact exist.

For instance, something known as the Greisen-Zatsepin-Kuzmin, or GZK cut off, is an apparent boundary of the energy that cosmic ray particles can have. This is caused by interaction with cosmic background radiation. But Beane and co’s paper argues that the pattern of this rule mirrors what you might expect from a computer simulation.

Naturally, at this point the science becomes pretty tricky to wade through – and we would advise you read the paper itself to try and get the full detail of the idea.

But the basic impression is an intriguing one.

Like a prisoner in a pitch-black cell, we may never be able to see the ‘walls’ of our prison — but through physics we may be able to reach out and touch them.