Consciousness, Cosmic Evolution, and the Technological Singularity

by Tom Lombardo


In this essay I critically examine two influential evolutionary visions of the cosmos—those of Eric Chaisson and Ray Kurzweil—focusing on their explanations of consciousness within their evolutionary theoretical frameworks, and how they conceptualize the significance of consciousness within their respective views of the coming “technological singularity” (Vinge, 1993). My central argument is that a scientifically and philosophically credible understanding of the “technologically singularity” requires a satisfactory explanation of how consciousness fits into a cosmic evolutionary scheme. In examining both Chaisson and Kurzweil’s ideas I conclude that neither Chaisson nor Kurzweil provides a satisfactory account of consciousness, and consequently neither one provides a scientific and philosophically satisfactory understanding of the “technological singularity.” (I should note that this year Kurzweil (2012) is publishing a new book—How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed— that, given its title, is obviously relevant to this essay. I though have not been able to access or consider the arguments in his new book prior to completing this essay.)(continue…)

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