Works By Australian Authors
Science Wish List by Rodney Bartlett
People Factory
(contribution # 8 - written April 25, 1994)
 
           The knowledge that  we  can  live  forever  would let humans
          catch  a glimpse  of  where  they're  going  -  the  obvious
          companion to this  is  to understand where we come from. The
          commonly accepted explanation  of  where we came from is put
          by Isaac Asimov,  the  author  of  many  science and science
          fiction books -

          'The only possible  scientific conclusion (one that does not
          involve supernatural action,  of  which  we have no evidence
          whatsoever) is that  random combinations of simple molecules
          that existed in  Earth's  atmosphere  and  oceans about four
          billion years ago  built  up more complicated and still more
          complicated  molecules. Eventually,  molecules  formed  that
          were sufficiently complicated  to  possess the properties we
          associate with life.' ('The Exploding Suns' by Isaac Asimov,
          1985)

          The explanation which  is presented here totally agrees that
          there was no  supernatural action involved. However, it does
          not agree that  the  only  possible scientific conclusion is
          one that calls  upon randomness. This explanation calls upon
          established  technologies  like   space   travel  (which  it
          extrapolates to the  4th  spatial  dimension  of  time)  and
          biotechnology (which it  extrapolates  to the advanced state
          biological science will  undoubtedly  occupy  in  decades to
          come).  It then  conjectures  that  these  technologies  are
          applied in a theory-of-everything manner Me so that input is
          consistent with output  (humanity's  origins must be able to
          consistently produce humanity's present makeup).

          If humans have  a role to play in the 'creation' (recycling)
          of the universe*  it  only  seems  consistent that we should
          also play a  role in the 'creation' (recycling) of ourselves
          (learning how to  live  forever  is  one  way  of  recycling
          ourselves - a second way is described by the poem below):

          * Extraterrestrials may  actually  be  genetically  modified
          humans who have  terraformed  and  colonised  other planets,
          then travelled through  space  and  time  to (in some cases)
          20th century Earth.

          LITTLE GREY MAN


          The people from Earth said to those from the UF0 -

          'You are not like normal people! You must go away!'

          But the little grey men in the flying saucer were not alien,

          Though they came from other planets via another dimension.

          They were genetically engineered, terraforming, space

          travelling, time travelling, and descendent

          Of women and men who inhabit our world in our century:

          people known as 'proto-little grey men'.



          When they came to the 1990s,

          Those strange ones from the 2090s,

          A prototype little grey man became abducted,

          His memories erased because he was hypnotised.

          From his body a cell was first obtained

          and afterwards cloned.

          Then into the clone's brain a copy

          of his mind was loaded.



          Repeated gene reforming made many

          diverse grey girls and men

          Who went back in time (through artificial wormholes

          of the fourth space dimension).

          [3 dimensions - length, width and height - exist in familiar
          space:

          physicist Prof. Hawking says time is 4th dimensional space.]

          And from the dust of the ground and from the clays



          They made beings with apelike body and face.

          Apes' adaptations (evolutions) over time

          Created beings of almost human kind.

          Via EEGs and brain scans, grey clones' minds were duplicated

          And,  via  downloading,   to   adapted   ape   brains   were
          transmitted.

          (To explain life after death and the

          out-of-body experience,

          Into bodies of matter may be downloaded

          bodies of photons.)



          This energy influx changed brains and was a breath of life-

          Processing what they could, apes became more aware of life;

          Creating the very human traits of Cro-magnons

          And 20th and 21st century humans.

          (Anthropology suggests Cro-magnons were the first

          whose behaviour was humanlike:

          Other beings - like Neanderthals - possessed traits

          that were clever but were still apelike.)



          Finally - what  comes  out of a People Factory? People . . .
          or 'human machines'? TIME will tell:



          April 2, 1996

          TIME AUSTRALIA Letters

          GP0 Box 3873

          Sydney, NSW 2001



          Dear Editor,

          'Can Machines Think?' (TIME - April l):

          If a chess  playing computer called Deep Blue is compared to
          an 'unconscious' part  of  the  brain (say, the cerebellum -
          that  part  of   the   hindbrain   controlling  balance  and
          coordination),  then  future  parallel  computers  might  be
          compared  to  the   limbic   system  (those  internal  brain
          structures concerned partly  with  emotion) and the cerebral
          cortex (that intricately  folded,  1/8th inch thick, surface
          of  the  right  and  left  hemispheres  that  allows  us  to
          remember, understand, organise and create).

          What would happen  if  we connected Deep Blue to a couple of
          parallel computers that  were connected to each other, whose
          input came from  D.B.  and whose purpose was to process Deep
          Blue's signals (the 'cortex' computer could separate signals
          of long term  significance -such as those concerned with the
          overall state of  the  match  -  from  those with short term
          relevance - such  as  those  connected  with  the  wisdom of
          moving a particular  piece  to  a  certain  place)?  If  the
          'cortical computer' processed  the  former  signals  (called
          'logical' and 'intuitive')  and  sent the latter 'emotional'
          ones to the  'limbic  computer'  for processing, would world
          chess champion Garry  Kasparov  find himself challenged by a
          conscious opponent who could 'feel deeply blue' yet, because
          the  cortical  and   limbic  computers  are  connected,  use
          logic/intuition to rise above those feelings, harnessing the
          energy  from  the   feelings  to  boost  its  chess  playing
          effectiveness?

          Suppose we built  such a Deep Blue-parallel computers system
          from organic components whose particles of matter consist of
          pulses of electromagnetic  energy  serving as the 'ones' and
          'zeros' of computers' binary language (a possibility deduced
          from 'What's Hiding  in  the  Quarks?'  - TIME, Feb. 26) and
          miniaturised it to  fit  inside  a  skull attached to a body
          (maintaining a body  would  naturally  require the system to
          have  additional  parts).   Wouldn't   we   then  have  what
          philosopher Daniel Dennett  might term 'human machines' - if
          we also one  day  develop  the  technology to travel through
          four dimensional space Ye time ('It has been argued by James
          Hartle and Stephen  Hawking  that  .  .  . the most probable
          structure  for  space-time   under   some  circumstances  is
          actually four-dimensional space.'  - THE MIND OF GOD by Paul
          Davies, p. 63,  published  by  Simon  & Schuster, 1992), the
          human machines could be you and me.

          Wouldn't it also  be  a  good  idea  to  build a nonphysical
          backup system that  would  be  downloaded  into the physical
          brain and could  continue  functioning  after  the  original
          material  structures  became  disorganised  and  died?  This
          backup would be similar to what was imagined by 17th century
          philosopher/scientist/mathematician   Rene  Descartes   ('an
          immaterial, somewhat autonomous  soul  that  steers the body
          through life').

          Consciousness would be  extra-special  if space-time itself,
          not just matter  particles, had the equivalent of computers'
          binary  digits (another  possibility  gleaned  from  'What's
          Hiding in the  Quarks?')  Then  brains  would  be parts of a
          'cosmic computer' and  since everything would be included in
          one  computer-generated display,  consciousness  would  have
          instant access to anything in space or time. Physicist David
          Bohm would then  be  correct  when  he  contends  that human
          consciousness (which is  a  product  of  the  brain's  nerve
          cells) should be  regarded  as part of a unity that includes
          the entire universe; neurophysiologist Karl Pribram would be
          correct when he says the mind works like a hologram (see the
          last part of  'Cosmos  Factory');  and  as  Albert  Einstein
          stated, matter would  be  interchangeable  with  energy  (we
          could regard matter as 'frozen' or 'condensed' energy).