Project Gaia is a space observatory being launched on December 20th,
2013, by the European Space Agency.
Gaia will be launched from the ESA’s spaceport at Kourou,
French Guiana, on a Soyuz ST-B rocket and will be boosted by a Fregat-MT upper
stage to the Sun–Earth Lagrange point L2 located approximately 1.5 million
kilometers from Earth. The L2 point will provide the spacecraft with a very
stable thermal environment.
Gaia is an ambitious
mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, in the
process revealing the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy. Gaia
will provide unprecedented positional and radial velocity measurements with the
accuracies needed to produce a stereoscopic and kinematic census of about one
billion stars in our Galaxy and throughout the Local Group.
Gaia’s purpose is
to catalogue the positions, substances and movements of a vast number of
celestial bodies in our Milky Way over a period of five years, creating a 3-D map
that will be available to astronomers world-wide. This amounts to about 1 per
cent of the Galactic stellar population.
As readers of this blog are aware... the technological equivalent of the immanentization of the eschaton has been labeled... Singularity. The concept's creator, Vernor Vinge, said this: The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this (20th) century. We are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence. There are several means by which science may achieve this breakthrough…
Vinge outlines four scenarios by which Singularity may come about. We opt for scenario two, Intelligence Amplification, which postulates:
Large computer networks and their associated users may "wake up" as a superhumanly intelligent entity.
From our "Consciousness Hacking" page: Viewing the worldwide Internet as a combination human/machine tool may manifest the Singularity before anything else. The power and influence of even the present-day Internet is vastly underestimated. The very anarchy of today’s worldwide net development is evidence of its potential. As connectivity and bandwidth and archive size and computer speed all increase, we are experiencing the transformation of our very biosphere into a vast data processor, with a million times greater speed and with millions of human intelligent agents (ourselves) in direct participation.
These developments appear to be evolutionary in nature. The internet is arguably one of humanity's most ingenious and ambitious creations to date. Being nothing less than a vast working model of global consciousness, each human with the means to connect to the web becomes, in a sense, a single, autonomous neuron in the mind of our biosphere, or as she has been more eloquently titled, Gaia. Given the incredible potential each individual earthling brings to this system, the creative possibilities for our global consciousness are seemingly infinite. As this global nerve-net becomes more complex and sophisticated... singularity approaches.
Intelligence Amplification Update
A recent article in WIRED magazine provides an insightful update on the strategy of Intelligence Amplification...
(by Brandon Keim) It’s a question that’s perplexed philosophers for centuries and scientists for decades: Where does consciousness come from? We know it exists, at least in ourselves. But how it arises from chemistry and electricity in our brains is an unsolved mystery.
Neuroscientist Christof Koch, chief scientific officer at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, thinks he might know the answer. According to Koch, consciousness arises within any sufficiently complex, information-processing system. All animals, from humans on down to earthworms, are conscious; even the internet could be. That’s just the way the universe works.
“The electric charge of an electron doesn’t arise out of more elemental properties. It simply has a charge,” says Koch. “Likewise, I argue that we live in a universe of space, time, mass, energy, and consciousness arising out of complex systems.”
What Koch proposes is a scientifically refined version of an ancient philosophical doctrine called: panpsychism ...and, coming from someone else, it might sound more like spirituality than science...