I have known Dirk Bruere online for many years, but I only met him in person a few weeks ago in London. He came to my talk on Turing Church unlimited – Transhumanist Religions 2.0, on July 14 in London, and gave me a copy of his book The Praxis.
The official description: Immortality in the multiverse, The Artilect Messiahs, The end of death and suffering, Humans into Gods, The rise of the unreal, Raising the dead, Apocalypse and Judgment Day, The validation of religion, … and what we must do about it. These are the same matters that I discuss here, and I wish to recommend the book to all Turing Church readers.
Dirk’s thinking has many of the features of a religion, but he prefers to use the ancient Greek word Praxis, meaning the practical application of a philosophy.
Dirk’s book has two very important merits: it is short (you can read it cover to cover in a couple of hours), and it is written in clear and simple English. Dirk doesn’t waste four words where two are enough, and doesn’t hide weak concepts behind big and difficult words. After a concise outline of the standard transhumanist stuff (emerging advanced technologies, life extension, mind uploading and all that), he moves on to the big issues.
Dirk’s universe is the same as mine. We will build / merge with / become Artilect Gods, and they / we will develop super science and magick technologies to resurrect the dead by copying them from the past to the future. Following Moravec, Dirk sees reality as a cascade of worlds within simulations within virtual worlds in the multiverse of quantum physics, each level of reality simulated by the level above in a progression without end. We may wake up in a simulated reality after resurrection, and perhaps that has already happened. If simulated realities outnumber original physical realities, the probability that we live in a simulation is very high.
I owe to Dirk the important concept, first formulated in online discussions and expanded in the book, that SimReality does not run in a box powered by a future release of Windows, but in the mind of a person, a post human Artilect. A computer able to simulate a reality as complex as ours, and containing conscious observers, must be orders of magnitude more complex and powerful than anything that we have today, and based on magick computronium hardware and software. Consciousness and self emerge spontaneously from sufficiently complex computational system, and we will merge with our technology and become Artilects. So if we are living in a simulation, the computational system simulating our reality is not a what, but a who. Not an inanimate machine, but a thinking and feeling person, orders of magnitude smarter and more complex than us. Not a mere machine, but a Transcendent Mind.
I have thought and written a lot about these things, and before starting to read I was sure that nothing in the book would surprise me as a new, fresh idea. But Dirk knows better: here is a fresh and powerful new idea (one of many): the entity that is running the simulation, the Transcendent Mind in whom you are living, may be… yourself, in a later stage of evolution after post-human augmentation. “Why would you do this? One possible reason would be curiosity, to see how your life would have played out had certain paths been followed,” writes Dirk.
Instead of using aseptic modern terms taken from computer science, Dirk prefers to borrow from the world’s religious traditions, of which he demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge. “‘Simulation’ or ‘emulation’ sounds clinical, cold and mentally distances us from intuitively connecting the concept with mundane existence as we all perceive it. So, following on from the Brahmic dream analogy we will borrow a word from the Advaita Vedanta philosophy — Maya,” he writes. Similarly, he calls whoever or whatever is generating the Maya in its various forms and levels “Shen,” from Chinese religion and philosophy (Moravec calls them “Exes”).
Dirk has taken the time to write down his, our ideas, in a book, and a very good one. I am also writing a book on similar matters, and I know very well how much work and dedication it takes. We, spiritually oriented transhumanists, must thank Dirk for his effort and buy the book — that means YOU, and NOW. Please follow this link to buy the Kindle version. If you prefer the ePub version, you can buy The Praxis here. If you prefer the dead tree version, you can buy The Praxis here (but think of those trees).
From the Introduction:
“[Transhumanism is founded on] an explicitly materialist basis, but it does nevertheless address those questions that might once have been the sole province of religion — those of life, death, deity (of a sort), immortality, resurrection and the destiny of the universe. It is the apotheosis of materialism, yet eschews taking on the mantle of a modern faith. Its mainly male adherents tend to be atheists who generally ignore or disparage its religious implications and character. By dismissing out of hand spirituality (no matter how vaguely defined) it alienates a large percentage of the population. I hope this work goes some way towards rectifying that situation, and also some way towards blunting its naive materialist message with a complementary and ancient spiritual one…”
I totally agree with this memetic program, which mirrors my own effort. Dirk also formulates ethical guidelines, and sketches appropriate rituals for members of The Praxis. Which may become many: Dirk’s work is the spiritual part of the — totally awesome — transhumanist philosophical / cultural / social / political movement Zero State.