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Prospectus of the Order of Cosmic EngineersIntroducing the Order of Cosmic Engineers (OCE)Shape Your Universe!
The Order of Cosmic Engineers warmly invites you to join its cosmic quest.
We joyfully set out to permeate our universe with benign intelligence, building and spreading it from inner space to outer space and beyond.
The milestone grails of our joyful cosmic quest sequentially comprise:
evolve a vibrant global community of responsible, dynamically optimistic, cosmic engineers;
engineer & homestead synthetic realities
suitable for ultimate permanent living;
responsibly develop and apply technologies to enhance our minds and bodies to be suited to the long cosmic road ahead;
engineer & apply consciousness preservation means enabling mind uploading and personality reconstruction;
devise a roadmap for the exponential ingression of intelligence into inanimate matter;
make inner space come alive with intelligence by engineering intelligence computation at the molecular level;
engineer, spur and guide the responsible geometric intelligence expansion from inner space to human scale to outer space scale;
intimately join, cross-pollinate and cross-leverage our mental resources into a meta-mind society;
deeply optimize our material universe for cosmos-wide intelligence computation;
answer the ultimate questions of the origin, nature, purpose and destiny of reality;
tune universe-creation parameters so as to further improve the maximization of the computational ability of a universe;
engineer and engender one or more new baby universes with controlled physics parameters;
beget a new universe anew;
behold our creations;
Engineering ‘Magic’ Into A Universe Presently Devoid Of God(s)
As scientists, we face reality and do not believe in metaphysical ‘magic’, supernatural ‘miracles’, direct interventions by or various forms of contact with putative praeter-natural deities, etc.
At the same time, we are persuaded reality might well be much stranger and much more complex than even our most radical thinkers dare imagine. In the immortal words of Shakespeare: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
There Is No “God”… Yet
To be clear, while we, the members of the OCE, collectively stop just short of calling ourselves “a-theists”, the OCE’s present worldview is definitely “non-theist” as in “presently devoid of god(s)”. (Our OCE Cosmogony… is another matter. See below.)
OCE members share the conviction that -in all likelihood- there presently is no supernatural god. At present, and at least for the time being, we, sentient human beings, are here on our own in our tiny backwater corner of the cosmos. As a sentient species, and while we believe there are valid reasons for enthusiastic and active hope, we presently do find and understand ourselves as left to our own devices in an apparently coldly indifferent, seemingly cruel, and hostile universe.
We furthermore share the conviction that there actually never was and also never will be a “supernatural” god, at least not in the sense understood by theist religions.
“God(s)” By Any Other Name
We hasten to add to this in the same breath that, at the same time, the OCE does espouse the conviction that in the (arguably) very far future one or more natural entities -i.e. entities existing within our present universe- are highly likely to come into being -plausibly resulting from the agency of our and other species- which will to all intents and purposes be very much akin to “god” conceptions held by theist religions. We refer to conceptions of personal, omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent super-beings, “deities” or “gods”.
Such intra-universe, natural entities or beings would be so similar in almost all aspects to the conceptions of a supernatural god, that mistaking one for the other would be all too easy. So much so that some of us at the OCE find that this strongly suggests that the god(s) of theistic religions may be just that: one or more natural super-being(s) which early human civilizations have simply mistaken for being supernatural ones. Given the state of scientific understanding as well as technological development in those times, the simple mistake of taking something natural for something supernatural is all too understandable.
An “Intelligently Designed” Universe After All
Some of us -not all- at the OCE furthermore hold the conviction that -by means of subtle, counter-intuitive properties of space and time, some of which are being glimpsed by contemporary scientists- these very same future natural super-beings or “gods” may possibly and plausibly have both designed, tuned or engineered as well as activated, triggered, or orchestrated the coming into existence of our universe. That is, the universe within which we presently find ourselves.
Broadly concordant with cosmogonies posited by some religions, this same set of convictions furthermore hold that these natural super-beings or “gods” knowingly, willingly and joyfully dis-integrated and dissolved themselves into, within and through this supreme creative act of literally cosmic proportions.
In this view, (natural!) “gods” -or rather super-beings virtually indistinguishable from a “god” or a tight collective of “gods”- may actually have engineered or otherwise greatly influenced the so-called Big Bang at the space-time origin of our particular universe… and the anticipated possible so-called “Big Crunch” at its space-time end would then quite literally be the pre-amble and build-up to this very same original -or a new and ever so slightly different- Big Bang.
To Build “God(s)”
The OCE views as its ultimate, very long-term aspiration -its cosmic-scale mission if you like- the permeating of this universe -by means of cosmic engineering interventions such as so-called ‘computronium’- with benign intelligence.
We see the perfusing of our universe with benign intelligence as a step towards the (re-)constitution or (re-)integration of (possibly hive-like) “societies of mind” or “global brains”.
These in turn would ultimately evolve into -a possibly new and ever so slightly improved version of- these ‘original’ god-like super-beings.
Instrumental Need Of Indefinitely Extended Healthspans
The recursive nature of this vision is of course a theoretical postulate the ultimate truth of which we will have to explore and discover for ourselves.
This logically and naturally calls for technologies to indefinitely extend our lifespans, or rather “healthspans”. By any measure, four score circumsolar years definitely do not suffice for any serious cosmic engineering project.
“If men cease to believe that they will one day become gods then they will surely become worms.” — Henry Miller
With all the above as background, we understand ourselves -i.e. sentient entities, human beings- as possibly being a kind or type of remote -and comparatively extremely limited- emanations of or remote aspects or reflections of mind-constituting elements of these super-beings which dissolved themselves into the tuned creation of our universe.
In this sense, we -as intelligent & sentient entities- may indeed have evolved “in the image of” the original super-intelligent, sentient super-beings… and be evolving towards (new versions or -ever so slightly different- instances of) them who, in turn, may loop back to the beginning or instantiate new “baby universes” in an endless spiral of ever-expanding consciousness.
In this context of great enhancement of the self and of the human species, we note that the Order originated from and still embodies a joyful, action-oriented, dynamically optimistic strand of transhumanism. As such the OCE can be distinguished from other strands of transhumanism by its enthusiastic espousal of universe-scale cosmic visions and worldviews, including spiritual sensibilities attendant to such.
Re-instantiating The Dead
Some of us -not all- at the OCE even dare contemplate the possibility that future civilizations, or super-beings, might be able, in some sense, to re-instantiate the dead of past ages by “copying them forward to the future”.
Whatever may be the case, we intend to find out… and be actively instrumental as cogs, pins and gears enabling, facilitating and actualizing this cosmic-scale reproductive process.
In this specific sense, we understand that all of us, jointly and/or severally, are -possibly, plausibly, probably, ultimately- to become AS “god(s)” indeed.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s “Third Law”
As engineers, we aim to build what cannot be readily found. Adopting an engineering approach and attitude, the OCE aims to turn this universe into a “magical” realm in the sense of Clarke’s Third Law: a realm where sufficiently advanced technology turns daily reality into what would be considered by most today as a seemingly supernatural ‘magical’ realm.
A magical realm in much the same sense as our present-day daily reality would seem supernaturally magical to virtually all humans living even as little as a few hundred years ago: talking to the disembodied voices of far away people; flying through the skies; speeding along super-smooth roads in shiny horseless carriages; traveling to the Moon and beyond; seeing at arbitrarily great distances; symphonic orchestras in minute boxes; a box that warms complete meals in minutes; the full texts and images of entire libraries inside objects the size of a small postage stamp; lighting up the night as if it were day; observing our own robotic spaceships parachute down to the surface of distant planets, etc. etc.
As transhumanists, we espouse the conviction that we can build and use technology to modify our species and that such is both feasible and -provided it is done judiciously and responsibly- beneficial.
As radical transhumanists we affirm the right of each and every sentient being to:
- self-determination, in the sense of radical autonomy;
- sovereign self-ownership of one’s own body and mind;
- the right -duty perhaps- to use science and technology to remake and perpetually improve oneself, reach for the stars and spread throughout the universe;
- ultimately, to transcend biology and, for those who so wish, to thrive as uploaded consciousnesses in synthesized realities of our own design.
At the same time we promote a joyful & selfless transhumanism more open to spiritual and artistic sensibilities, and to visions and convictions substantially beyond the reach of current technology.
Homesteading Our Future Living Realities
The Order is naturally resolved and determined to have a very strong presence in online VR worlds, the next generation online global meeting place, and it will lead new VR world development initiatives. As we approach the capability to create synthetic universes “strong” enough to contain sentient beings, some of us contemplate the possibility to migrate to our own synthetic realities by means of mind uploading and personality reconstruction technologies, to thrive and evolve there. And of course, once we glimpse at these ‘magical technologies’, we cannot rule out the possibility that we, ourselves, might _be_ sentient beings in a universe generated as a simulation in a higher order reality.
The Order will host frequent events in various virtual world venues: conferences, seminars, informal meetings, “services”, artistic events, and social gatherings. We will also offer unique content, fora, webcasts and videoconferences on the web and, last but not least, we will even organize events in good old brickspace.
Mainstreaming Beneficial Convictions Without Elitism
The Order is not primarily aimed at a happy few ivory tower intellectuals and/or mystics, but at the masses: one of our convictions is that our ideas and visions are sound, and genuinely and deeply beneficial. Naturally and logically, we wish to make them available to much wider audiences.
In anticipation of deliberately evolving into a synthetic “society of mind” -plausibly with hive-mind features- we already are a swiftly mutating, ever-adapting, polymorphous organizational entitity. We are, at the same time, a transhumanist association, a space advocacy group, a spiritual movement, a literary salon, a technology observatory, an idea factory, a virtual worlds development group, and a global community of persons willing to take an active role in building, in realizing a sunny future.
We will discuss the future of humanity during World of Warcraft quests, plan the future of technology in Second Life, and build futuristic virtual worlds in our labs. But most importantly, we will assist you -yes, we do mean you- in finding meaning and hope in your existence in this, your reality, your universe.
Through our work on the emergent science and technology of cyberconsciousness, we can realistically offer you the active hope to be (t)here when we start to radically re-engineer physical reality.
Whatever our formal training and professional affiliations, in a very profound sense we are all scientists and engineers. We seek to understand the nature of reality and of ourselves. We seek the ultimate answers to the perennial ultimate questions: Where do we come from? Who or what are we? What is the nature and meaning of reality? What is our destiny and/or purpose?
We develop technical skills and design principles that will enable us to create and explore new realities. Therefore, the Order will undertake various projects, selected because they are both revolutionary and feasible at the current cutting edge of science and technology.
Our early areas of emphasis and action will include:
- cognitive enhancement;
- personality transfer technologies and services, including so-called “uploading”;
- perpetually improved development and public articulation of a rigorously science-based cosmogony;
- development of artificial intelligence avatars that emulate aspects of ourselves;
- networked virtual environments in which we can evolve;
- drafting first specifications and a technology development roadmap for Computronium v1.0.
Note: the word computronium refers to a plausible future computing technology enabling the sustained, robust computation of intelligence (equal or better than human-level intelligence) all the way down at the level of atoms and ultimately perhaps even at the level of subatomic particles.
Humanity’s First “UNreligion of Science”
As much as the OCE enthusiastically espouses universe-scale cosmic visions and worldviews, including spiritual sensibilities attendant to such, the OCE however is -emphatically- NOT a religion. The OCE is not a religion, not a faith, not a belief, not a church, not a sect, not a cult. We are not a faith-based organization. We are a convictions-based organization.
We do not worship anyone or anything. Any kind or form of worship is really anathema to us. We hold nothing or no-one as “sacred” or “holy”.
While respect that has been duly earned -in the meritocratic sense- is not foreign to us at all, we are not about worship, reverence, piety or deference. We do not expect -leave alone instruct or, horresco referens, coerce- our members to revere, to worship or to defer to anyone or anything, be it persons, graven images, symbols, buildings, places, rivers, seas, planets, stars, galaxies or what have you. We are radically idolatry-free.
Consequently, we have no rituals or glorified symbols to speak of. No “holy relics”, no “sacred grounds, places or buildings”. No devout wardrobes, candles, processions or pageantry. No liturgies or practices veiled in insence and mumbo-jumbo. We have no canon of “saints” or “holy” persons. We do not and will not revere or defer to anyone dead, living or yet to come into being. If we hold anything in very high esteem and have any reverence for anything, it would be for the scientific method… as well as -perhaps and at each OCE member’s personal discretion- for some of its greatest accomplishments. Notice that even in this case we significantly do not write the words scientific method with leading capital letters. Good wine needs no laurels.
Instead of anything like a classic theist religion, the one and only label the OCE will not contest is that of being a so-called “UNreligion”.
“We do not want to believe, we want to find out.” — Carl Sagan
When it comes to being an unreligion, this is key: we do not, and do not want to, believe anything on faith. Instead, true to the genuine core of scientific spirit, we want to find out… and true to the core of engineering spirit, we want to also build and create.
No Dogma, No Elites, No Obfuscations, No Doctrinal ‘Police’ Or Judiciary
The OCE offers no articles of faith, no beliefs, no points of dogma.
As duly rigorous science considers absolute truths -as well as incontrovertible facts- to be virtual, logical, and empirical impossibilities within this universe, we consequently claim or offer none. Nothing is certain… possibly including this very assertion.
Instead, we adopt and espouse revisable, science-based convictions… which we aggregate and integrate into an ever-evolving, revisable, science-based OCE cosmogony and a revisable, science-based OCE worldview… which in turn provide foundation and inspiration for the OCE’s practices, actions and Cosmic Engineering Action Plans.
The DNA of an unreligion, its core set of organizational and worldview precepts, retains virtually all of the demonstrably ‘good’ elements and aspects of human religions, while it renounces and abstains from all of the many demonstrably ‘bad’ elements and aspects of human religions. The list of the latter is long, and you are hereby invited to help us complete it so that the OCE may avoid all of the major and minor mistakes ever made by human religions.
On the one hand, our convictions and worldview are deeply rooted in science and technology, instead of being based on faith, revelation, non-falsifiable hypotheses or beliefs, allegedly “holy” scriptures and supernatural explanations. For lack of any demonstrably superior path, we consider science and technology to be the best available -not to mention wholly and deeply natural- path to understanding as well as improving reality and the human condition.
On the other hand, we consider that our visions and convictions offer many if not most of the benefits to the human heart and mind proferred by the best-of-breed of human religions: great emotional, psychological, cognitive and contemplative (or ‘spiritual’) value. These include a great sense of wonder and a deep sense of emergent meaning, of plausible purpose, of potential destiny. At the discretion and convenience of OCE members, they can be taken either as a complement to or a as a replacement of traditional faiths, beliefs, religions.
Personal Responsibility: WE Make Or Break Our Future
The OCE wholeheartedly encourages free thought, logical coherence, and a truly honest assessment of all available evidence. Accordingly, we seriously question one of the key tenets of the most popular religions of our planet: the postulated existence of one or many supernatural deities or personal gods wielding enormous power over our existences and destinies.
With the exception of rare historical accidents (such as large extinction-causing asteroid strikes, or species-killing natural pathogens), we are the makers of our future. We are fully responsible for our actions, and it will be WE who will make a glorious heaven or a desolate hell out of our world. It is up to US to create a world of love, empathy, understanding, and even endless fun and intellectual satisfaction.
It is also up to US to be smart enough to take the necessary steps to avoid catastrophe(s). This vision offers a sense of near-infinite possibilities, but also of real responsibility. Not in order to please an imaginary, indifferent, and biblically tyrannical and threatening god, but in order to extend our own real lives (hopefully) indefinitely, to spread our ever-increasing wealth of knowledge and positive attributes throughout the Multiverse… ultimately, to design our own paradises.
Present Prospectus is a live document, collaboratively authored and revised by the OCE’s Founders and Architects.
The formal foundation of the Order was announced at The Future of Religions/Religions of the Future conference in Second Life on June 4 and 5, 2008.
Its formal launch event was hosted by the Science Guild in World of Warcraft on June 14, 2008.
The Silvermoon Meeting
The Silvermoon Meeting was a great event, with the formal launch of the Order of Cosmic Engineers and the Cosmic Engineers Guild in World of Warcraft, and the first public reading of the Prospectus of the Order. The Silvermoon Meeting also featured news and announcements about the Science Guild: new leadership, a dedicated website and a new direction as a a “guild of guilds” for scientists, MMOG researchers, and science-loving inhabitants of any game world.
Some pictures and excerpts from the chatlog follow, and here is the full chatlog of the Silvermon Meeting. The characters below: Catullus and Futura are both avatars of William Sims Bainbridge, and Eschatoon is an avatar of Giulio Prisco. Max More was present as Dedthang.
Catullus says: Welcome now, ambassadors of the Cosmic Engineers! This new ogzanization is an international, interworld movement already established in Second Life as well as World of Warcraft.
Catullus says: You can learn more about the Cosmic Engineers at cosmeng.org or at my wiki, convergentsystems.pbwiki.com
Catullus says: The Cosmic Engineers plan many practical projects intended to move humanity forward toward the stars, but for now they wish to communicate their general vision. Ambassador Futura, please share with us your prospectus…
Futura says: Shape Your Universe! The Order of Cosmic Engineers warmly invites you to join its cosmic quest.
Futura says: We joyfully set out to permeate our universe with benign intelligence, building and spreading it from inner space to outer space and beyond.
Futura says: The milestone grails of our joyful cosmic quest sequentially comprise:
Futura says: * evolve a strong global community of responsible, dynamically optimistic, cosmic engineers;
Futura says: * responsibly develop and apply technologies to enhance our minds and bodies suited to the long cosmic road ahead;
Futura says: * engineer a cosmic-scale technology roadmap for the exponential ingression of intelligence into inanimate matter;
Futura says: * make inner space come alive with intelligence by engineering intelligence computation at the (sub-)atomic level;
Futura says: * engineer, spur and guide the responsible geometric intelligence expansion from inner space to human scale to outer space scale;
Futura says: * intimately join, cross-pollinate and cross-leverage our mental resources into a meta-mind society;
Futura says: * deeply optimize our material universe for cosmos-wide intelligence computation;
Futura says: * answer the ultimate questions of the origin, nature, purpose and destiny of reality;
Futura says: * tune universe-creation parameters so as to further improve the maximization of the computational ability of a universe;
Futura says: * engineer a suitable black hole to engender a baby universe by means of a tuned black hole transition;
Futura says: * beget a new universe anew;
Futura says: * behold your creation;
Futura says: * THINK; * BE
Futura says: And now my colleague Eschatoon will have a few words…
Eschatoon says: Thanks Futura and Catullus
Eschatoon says: I did not think you even knew each other
Eschatoon says: I will improvise, I hacve not learned yet the macro thing
Eschatoon says: However
Eschatoon says: Please take a look at our websites cosmeng,org and convergent system
Eschatoon says: This is a “unconventional” transhumanist group
Eschatoon says: And I wish to welcome Max More, the founder of modern transhumanism
Eschatoon says: He is Dedthang, but for a tech problem he cannot talk
Eschatoon says: He is listening though
Eschatoon says: I hope you guys will consider joining our Guild and your group
Eschatoon says: We are going to have a lot of fun, and re-engineer physical reality too
Eschatoon says: Thank you very much
Catullus says: Thank you, Futura & Eschatoon. While the Science guild has no formal connection with the Cosmic Engineers, I recognize in you a kindred group, giving virtual worlds a new level of significance for the so-called “real world.”