Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Emerging Mind of the Cosmos

Several years ago James Gardner published his first book 'Biocosm' which I mentioned here and which postulated 'that the cosmos possesses a utility function (i.e., some value or outcome that is being maximized) and that the specific utility function of our cosmos is propagation of baby universes exhibiting the same life-friendly physical qualities as their parent-universe, a sort of cosmic reproductive organ'

In his new book 'The Intelligent Universe: AI, ET, and the Emerging Mind of the Cosmos' (not yet published) Gardner envisions a final state of the cosmos in which a highly evolved form of group intelligence--a cosmic community--marshals the assets of matter and energy bequeathed by the Big Bang and engineers a cosmic renewal: the birth of a new baby universe endowed with the same life-giving propensity that our cosmos enjoys:

"The purpose of this book is to tell an extraordinary story. You will meet a senior NASA official whose passion is investigating the probable impact on religion of the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence; a computer scientist who is coaxing software to undergo a special kind of Darwinian evolution, thus becoming ever more adept and financially valuable over time; and a technology prophet who, in my view, is the true contemporary heir to Darwin's intellectual legacy.

"You will also meet a fascinating cast of non-human players likely to have leading roles on tomorrow's cosmic stage. They include:

• Super-smart machines capable of out-thinking humans without breaking a sweat;
• Speedy and cost-efficient interstellar probes consisting of elaborate software algorithms capable of "living" in the innards of alien computers they may encounter on far-off planets; and
• Intelligent extraterrestrials, which SETI researchers have not yet discovered but whose probable existence is strongly predicted by my Biocosm hypothesis.

"The Intelligent Universe, then, is a kind of projected travelogue--an imagined future history--of the cosmic journey that lies ahead. The foundation for that projection--the defining leitmotif of that imagined future--is a vision of the deep linkage between three ostensibly separate phenomena: the appearance of life, the emergence of intelligence, and the seemingly mindless physical evolution of the cosmos. In discussing these topics, the book will not only provide news dispatches from the frontiers of cosmological science but also offer musings about the philosophical implications of emerging scientific insights for our self-image as a species."

Yet it's all down to how one defines 'Intelligence' - and in whose terms: the danger is anthropomorphic approaches to this understanding...

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