The biological system is a natural form of technology. A simple examination of the nanobiology of the macromolecular system of any cell will attest to this – enzymes and structural proteins are veritable nanomachines, linked to the information processing network of DNA and plasma membranes. Far from being a primordial or rudimentary organic technology – we are discovering more and more the level of complexity and paragon technological sophistication of living systems, which as is being discovered, even includes non-trivial quantum mechanical phenomena once thought to only be possible in the highly specialized and controlled environment of the laboratory.
Reciprocally, soon our technologies will become living systems – particularly through nanotechnology (which is being accomplished through reverse engineering and hybridization with biomolecules, particularly DNA) and general artificial intelligence – machine sentience. Following this parallelization of biology with technology, we can examine how humanity as a technological supraorganism is undergoing a period of punctuated speciation – an evolutionary transformation of both our inner and outer world.
Humanity possesses a unique characteristic amongst our co-inhabitants of planet Earth, in that we utilize technology to record and transmit information to progeny beyond what is naturally transmitted by the molecular genome. This is a form of technological heredity – a technigenome.
In his book, The Singularity is Near, Futurist Ray Kurzweil examines how the geometric (exponential) increase in human collective knowledge as well as the emergence of Strong Artificial Intelligence and advanced nanotechnological capabilities is seemingly leading to an inevitable point of fundamentally transforming the human species – The Kurzweilian Singularity – being nothing short of a form of technological transcendence beyond the putative limitations of the biological system.
Indeed, the human collective technigenome is undergoing punctuated evolution. This rapid adaptive radiation and expansion of our collective body of knowledge is fundamentally transforming human civilization.
Since the behavior of each individual – from the structure of the belief system, worldview perspective, right down to the molecular biology – is directly influenced by the higher level dynamics of the macrosystem (civilization as a supraorganism) what it is to be human is fundamentally transforming as well. This is speciation. With selective impetus being more of a technological nature, as opposed to the supposed filters of natural selection. More specifically however, it is a change in the knowledge-base (technigenome), belief-system, and worldview of each individual – influencing the higher-level dynamics of the human collective body of knowledge, which in turn feeds back into each individual – forming the self-organizing feedback operation that is the causal genesis of this evolution. This is directed evolution – a species changing itself through its own actions.
Although the evolution, in that sense, is being driven by consciousness – it is not exactly being done with an awareness of this inevitable outcome, aside from a few forward thinking technological and scientific aficionados – such as the transhumanists of the Kurzweilian Singularity. Almost seemingly juxtaposed to this cybernetic trans-speciation, is the very same perspective by much of the spiritual community of the transformation of humanity – just instead of being technological in nature it is envisioned as being purely consciousness-driven, by increasing transpersonal connectivity.
However, since it is being self-driven – by our collective actions – we then have the choice of exactly what direction of transformation we want to move in. By bringing awareness to the global state of humanity, the technologically-driven introspective transformation we are experiencing, and working together – we can coordinate our actions and channel the awesome power of our exponentially expanding knowledge-base in any direction we so choose.
The question then is – where do we want to go?
“The origin of consciousness reflects our place in the universe, the nature of our existence. Did consciousness evolve from complex computations among brain neurons, as most scientists assert? Or has consciousness, in some sense, been here all along, as spiritual approaches maintain?”
ask Hameroff and Penrose.
"This opens a potential Pandora’s Box, but our theory accommodates both these views, suggesting consciousness derives from quantum vibrations in microtubules (protein polymers inside brain neurons), which govern neuronal and synaptic function, and also connect brain processes to self-organizing processes in the fine scale, ‘proto-conscious’ quantum structure of reality."