Saturday, July 7, 2007

Something Geeky

Hey everyone, this isn't related to Chinese, so please feel free to skip it.

But its something I stumbled onto at 4 am when I should be asleep. I remembered playing this game, Deus Ex, and remembering how the user could engage in philosophical discussions and see and be involved in international politics, something that was so different than most other games I had played before.

Anyway the reason I made this post was because I was remembering this bit of discussion between the main character, a nearly God-like clone strengthened by nanotechnologies operating inside his body, and a prototype of a computer program(Morpheus) that spies on everyone who uses the Internet or telephones, like a completely automated version of the ECHELON program:

MORPHEUS: JC Denton. 23 years old. No residence. No ancestors. No employer. No --
JC DENTON: How do you know who I am?
MORPHEUS: I must greet each visitor with a complete summary of his file. I am a prototype for a much larger system.
JC DENTON: What else do you know about me?
MORPHEUS: Everything that can be known.
JC DENTON: Go on. Do you have proof about my ancestors?
MORPHEUS: You are a planned organism, the offspring of knowledge and imagination rather than of individuals.
JC DENTON: I'm engineered. So what? My brother and I suspected as much while we were growing up.
MORPHEUS: You are carefully watched by many people. The unplanned organism is a question asked by Nature and answered by death. You are another kind of question with another kind of answer.
JC DENTON: Are you programmed to invent riddles?
MORPHEUS: I am a prototype for a much larger system. The heuristics language developed by Dr. Everett allows me to convey the highest and most succinct tier of any pyramidal construct of knowledge.
JC DENTON: How about a report on yourself?
MORPHEUS: I was a prototype for Echelon IV. My instructions are to amuse visitors with information about themselves.
JC DENTON: I don't see anything amusing about spying on people.
MORPHEUS: Human beings feel pleasure when they are watched. I have recorded their smiles as I tell them who they are.
JC DENTON: Some people just don't understand the dangers of indiscriminate surveillance.
MORPHEUS: The need to be observed and understood was once satisfied by God. Now we can implement the same functionality with data-mining algorithms.
JC DENTON: Electronic surveillance hardly inspired reverence. Perhaps fear and obedience, but not reverence.
MORPHEUS: God and the gods were apparitions of observation, judgment, and punishment. Other sentiments toward them were secondary.
JC DENTON: No one will ever worship a software entity peering at them through a camera.
MORPHEUS: The human organism always worships. First it was the gods, then it was fame (the observation and judgment of others), next it will be the self-aware systems you have built to realize truly omnipresent observation and judgment.
JC DENTON: You underestimate humankind's love of freedom.
MORPHEUS: The individual desires judgment. Without that desire, the cohesion of groups is impossible, and so is civilization.
MORPHEUS: The human being created civilization not because of a willingness but because of a need to be assimilated into higher orders of structure and meaning. God was a dream of good government. You will soon have your God, and you will make it with your own hands.

The game just gives me shivers.

Why do we need the idea of God? When we die, why do we need to have the idea that something will take care of us if we have been good, and will punish if we've been bad? In order to keep people from hurting each other in this life; so they can be controlled.

As Voltaire wrote,
"If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.
Let the wise man announce him and kings fear him.
Kings, if you oppress me, if your eminencies disdain
The tears of the innocent that you cause to flow,
My avenger is in the heavens: learn to tremble.
Such, at least, is the fruit of a useful creed."
Read: God is useful to control even kings, because he will judge even them. So, if there is a God, and a king is a bad ruler, then he will go to Hell. Therefore, kings who believe in a God will try to behave properly, thus ensuring proper government.

Like the AI Morpheus said above, "God is [just the idea of, ] a dream of good government."

And where do current ideas about God and nature come from? About Jesus? Some very interesting research has been done into religions that very nearly resemble Christian beliefs, that had been around for a long time before Christianity had. It seems as if Jesus is just the "remake" of other religions, and Christian ideas(like natural law from Stoicism) have just been borrowed, copied and pasted from other philosophies and religions.

In the game I have been talking about, creatures that resemble aliens are everywhere, but in fact, they are not from another planet. They all turn out to be genetically engineered, dreamed of and manufactured by human minds. So too, it seems very likely to me, is the Christian God, or at least, Jesus.

As for me, I just can't wait until sentient programs rule over mankind as benevolent dictators, ensuring ethical treatment of everyone, as the AI has nothing to gain from hurting (or even helping) people, but merely does what it is programmed to do, and from what it has learned. I, for one, welcome our new software overlords.

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