Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Biology and spirituality: more questions

I wrote earlier about human intelligence, about how the brains of our species are continually evolving. The use of IQ as a measure is only a snapshot in time, with 100 being the average IQ today. It is believed that our stone-age ancestors had an IQ of less than 50 compared to modern man.

With the advances in life sciences, and education (are the children of well-educated people more intelligent than those of similar native cleverness who've not benefited from education?), there is the likelihood that at some time in future, the average IQ of the human population will be the equal of 200 in today's terms. And therefore the 'gifted' and the 'geniuses' of the future will have IQs of 300 and above - in today's terms. What will they be thinking? How will their consciousness, their awareness, differ from ours? If at all? Will the only difference being that our hyper-intelligent descendants will simply be better at expressing the experience? Or will experiencing life through the lens of higher intelligence be somehow qualitatively better?

I have no proof for my supposition that other living beings are as conscious as we, despite being unable to place their experience into a wider frame of reference or communicate it as clearly to their fellows - the song of birds and whales may be the nearest. [This week we learn that scientists have discovered how to synthesise life, by creating a bacteria's DNA (from scratch) and implanting it into the shell of a bacterial cell. A bacteria, then, with no ancestors. The implications are profound in the extreme. (The story went surprisingly under-reported.) But could mankind ever create artificial consciousness? Artificial intelligence is on the way. But a machine which can describe to us how it feels to exist? To feel sorrow, elation, anxiety, embarrassment, pride, fear, confusion, jealousy? And describe it in such a way as to elicit empathy from the listener/reader/viewer?

As mankind gains in intelligence, we must learn to rise above our biology. We are born, we reproduce, we die. There is no getting away from these biological imperatives. Yet applying one's heightened intelligence to dwell on this can be a depressing and futile activity, focusing on one's impending senility and demise which approaches at an ever-accelerating speed. Physical and mental frailty will come to us all who live to natural old age. To cope with these truths, we must acquire a thorough understanding of our biology - and then, in a spiritual sense - through the richness of the life of the mind, in dreams, in our flashbacks - rise above it. We are part of a universal, eternal whole, a process of consciousness rising, of order rising out of chaos; our wills shape it, and will continue to shape it long after the atoms that currently form our bodies cease to work together as one coordinated entity.


Norman said...

Is there a problem, if I write You a comment in Polish? There's a lot of stuff and "devil sits in details" ;]

Michael Dembinski said...

Norman, I look forward to your comment, but my non-Polish speaking readers (57% of total) would appreciate it in English :-)

Thanks in advance.