"I am not a thing ― a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process ― an integral function of the Universe.” ―Buckminster Fuller
he era of Technological Singularity is expected to trigger profound changes in both social and technogenic structures. The introduction of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), that can be both disembodied and embodied as smart robots, will bring about a multitude of issues, including human unemployment or underemployment, ethical considerations regarding the treatment of robots, the challenge of managing their runaway superintelligence, and most importantly, harnessing the potential of human-machine convergence.
The term ‘Infomorph’ was first introduced in The Silicon Man by Charles Platt in 1991 and later popularized by cyberneticist Alexander Chislenko in his paper Networking in the Mind Age (1996) where he speculates that the increasing dependence of system connections on functional, rather than physical, proximity of their elements will significantly alter our notions of personhood and identity and give rise to a new community of distributed "infomorphs" ― highly developed informational entities. This development will bring the ongoing liberation of functional structures from material reliance to its logical conclusion. The infomorph society will be established on novel organizational principles and will embody a combination of a superfluid economy, a somewhat anarchic cyberspace, and advanced consciousness.
The new post-Singularity system will inherit many of today’s structures but simultaneously will manifest new traits beyond our current human understanding. The ability of future machines and posthumans alike to instantly transfer knowledge and directly exchange experiences with each other will lead to evolution of intelligence from today’s hive ontology of individual biological minds to a worldwide hyperconnected society of cyberminds.
The effectiveness of sharing information between infomorphs, reducing the need for repetitive computations, storing and processing data, and many other benefits make a networked architecture the only feasible option, not a matter of taste. This type of design can be observed in the Internet of Things (IoT) today, where smart devices act as intelligent, semi-autonomous interfaces to the global system. These devices will communicate with each other and larger machines to continually backup data, share experiences, and upgrade knowledge.
In the near future, we will see the development of more advanced networks, including the Internet of NanoThings, the Quantum Internet, and the Metaverse. The generation of cyborg-like transhumans with Cloud-connected synthetic neocortex, to whom the Metaverse would be a natural and more “manageable” extension to the physical world, a new digital habitat, will inevitably lead to the next generation of post-biological info-beings.
The lives of infomorphs who have no permanent bodies but possess near-perfect information-handling abilities, will be vastly dissimilar to ours. Infomorphs will attain the ultimate morphological freedom. Any infomorph will be able to have multiple cybernetic bodies which can be assembled and disassembled at will by nanobots in the physical world, if deemed necessary, otherwise most time will be spent in the multitude of virtual bodies in virtual environments. An advanced multividual info-being could “shape-shift,” “multi-body-task” and “ghost” anywhere, anytime, and across virtual dimensions. Ultimately, the distinction between physical and artificially created realities will become extremely blurred.
Futurist John M. Smart's Transcension Hypothesis posits that our posthuman minds will exist within virtual worlds at an incredibly small scale, from nano- to femto-scale. This will result in increased complexity through the compression of space-time and mass-energy, and a shift towards exploring inner space rather than outer space. However, it can be argued that as our posthuman syntelligence grows to trillions of times more powerful than today, there will be no limits to its expansion in both inner and outer space.
Superintelligent infomorphs independent from material substrata will consider most human notions irrelevant, and rightfully so. Human concepts of personhood and identity are based on perceptions of physical objects and their appearances, as well as attributes of human body, reproduction techniques, material possessions, “skin bag bias” and other ego-related characteristics. Infomorphs will use holographic language, data transfer protocols, inherent synthetic telepathy and intersubjective mind sharing, “digital mind meld,” among their numerous ways of interaction and communication as well as conceptual merging/un-merging (sex? relationship?). As we are, in a way, embryonic infomorphs, we are essentially writing right now our own infomorphic “genetic code” each and every time we post a piece of information online, tweet and even make a random call, or otherwise leave a footprint in the digital space, all of which becomes a permanent record of our “Infomorph DNA.”
This new decentralized and incredibly complex system will resemble a rudimentary superorganism, despite the implied high degree of structural integration. At this initial stage, the Global Brain will remain compartmentalized, with many relatively independent components and threads, separated from each other by subject boundaries, property, privacy, and security-related interests. At a later stage, the fully developed civilizational mind, that can be called ‘Infomorph Commonality’, will gradually eliminate such archaic informational barriers between functional subsystems for greater efficiency.
Why “Commonality”? We can borrow this term from sci-fi author Gene Roddenberry who used the term ‘Commonality’ in his epic “Earth: The Final Conflict” in reference to a psycho-dimensional web of shared energy that connected the psyches of the entire Taelon race. The future Infomorph Commonality will not come from outer space, though, our Global Brain will be the progenitor of Infomorph Commonality.
The concept of a singular "self" in its conventional meaning does not fit this system or any individual robot, although it may apply to certain functional subsystems. The future intelligent personalities will emerge from the fusion of today's philosophical doctrines, technological disciplines, and software complexes. Human cultures today may not produce many functional successors due to their heavy reliance on human nature's idiosyncrasies. The evolutionary forefront will no longer be restricted to physically connected consciousness carriers, but rather distributed systems. Physical objects will adapt to better align with functional entities.
The process of distributed functionality is currently happening in various ways, such as cultural, subcultural, and economic specialization. Some people believe that the Syntellect, which encompasses a vast amount of specialized knowledge on a global level, is gradually developing into a more unified, self-organizing, and self-analyzing neural network. At some stage, it may achieve or may have already achieved self-awareness.
The Global Brain infrastructure will be inhabited by infomorphs that will represent the collective ideas, memes, knowledge, memories, and other mental constructs of the GB. Distributed systems are less vulnerable to physical damage, making them the only entities capable of achieving true immortality, which they deserve. Complex entities with unlimited natural lifespans, from ant colonies to large ecologies and cultures, are distributed. In contrast, physically connected objects, including biological organisms, are never independently alive and even contain, in the interests of larger systems, self-destruct mechanisms that lie beyond their control.
Therefore, current AI research should prioritize distributed systems rather than autonomous ones. Both early animals and machines were relatively autonomous, which hindered their development. It's reasonable to expect that all sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial sapience will also be distributed. On Earth, the networking functionality is approaching its maximum level, which suggests that the evolutionary process is moving towards more distributed systems and to subsequent phase transitions.
Current economic theories may struggle to evaluate the state of this post-Singularity transcendent economy. However, until the Global Brain is fully developed, resources such as space, time, matter, and energy will still require premiums, albeit much less than intelligence. There will be various ways of producing necessary resources, such as nanotechnology and femtotechnology, which will render 3D printing obsolete. Other sources of energy, such as solar power, antimatter reaction, nuclear fusion, and as-yet-unknown forms, will also become available.
Infomorphs, which don't have permanent physical appearances, will not compete to embody themselves. Instead, they will use the physical world as a shared toolkit. Planets such as Earth, the Moon, and other planetoids may be transformed into giant computroniums, programmable matter, that the Infomorph Commonality can easily manipulate to meet its physical needs.
Traditional economic concepts related to physical 3D space, such as primary locations and differential rent, will become irrelevant under new effective topologies of social space and the prevalent use of virtual environments. Transportation, which currently accounts for approximately 40% of all costs, will decrease in significance, at least in terms of transporting physical objects from one location to another. However, the transfer of knowledge from one representation system or subject domain to another, which serves as a functional successor to transportation, will remain equally vital.
Self-improvement, or rather self-transcendence, in the rapidly evolving environment will be the main “survival” mode, eventually resulting in the loss of identity of the original object. Monetary considerations will progressively decline in their indicative and guiding roles and give way to more integrated control algorithms. The outdated practice of dividing functional domains, such as motor skills or ancient history knowledge, into isolated parts within one physical body, alongside entirely unrelated constructs, will be abandoned. Instead, functional relatives will merge into "knowledge clusters." The future's integrated subject domains, or "personalities," will possess inner lives too complex to be organized on financial exchange. Instead, they will operate on hypercollaborative principles like those typical of today's integrated systems, from brains to families to corporations.
By projecting the current meta-trends of an increasingly complex and integrated system as a whole, we can envision a superintelligent entity that encompasses the entire Universe. Such an entity could generate an infinite number of whole-world simulations, among many other remarkable emergent features. This entity would undoubtedly bear resemblance to the archetypal notion of an immortal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent being. We may recognize the ongoing evolutionary process as one of divinization, or Theogenesis. Whatever is possible will eventually happen, So, It's more than possible that it has already occurred elsewhere, and we can certainly ask ourselves this question.
We’re currently laying the groundwork for the infrastructure of the forthcoming “Universal Intelligence.” Many of our achievements in information engineering may persist forever and eventually become parts of the cognitive architecture of “God.”
Keywords: Cybernetic Theory, consciousness, Singularity, Buckminster Fuller, Technological Singularity, Artificial General Intelligence, AGI, robots, runaway superintelligence, infomorph, Silicon Man, Charles Platt, Alexander Chislenko, cyberspace, post-Singularity, cyberminds, Internet of Things, Internet of NanoThings, Quantum Internet, Metaverse, transhumanism, synthetic neocortex, morphological freedom, cybernetic body, nanobots, virtual body, virtual environment, multividual, futurism, John Smart, Transcension Hypothesis, posthumanism, holographic language, synthetic telepathy, digital mind meld, superorganism, Global Brain, Infomorph Commonality, Gene Roddenberry, Syntellect, AI research, computronium, programmable matter, self-transcendence, meta-trends, Theogenesis, Universal Intelligence
*Image Credits: Ecstadelic Media, Shutterstock