VII. Pedia Sapiens: A Genesis Future on Earth and in the Heavens
D. Cosmocene Destiny: The Greening of the Galaxy
Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. www.bis-spaceflight.com/publicB2.htm. For many years this periodical has contained in its pages some of the most imaginative considerations on human futures in space, the possibility other intelligent, advanced worlds in the galaxy and of what kind of universe this might actually be.
SETI Decoding Alien Intelligence Workshop. https://daiworkshop.seti.org/guest-papers. A unique meeting with a stellar cast to begin to wonder all about extraterrestrial neighbors, relative life forms, (linguistic) communications, and much more, held at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, CA in March 2018. The event was cast as a response to Nathalie Cabrol’s 2016 paper Alien Mindscapes (search) which entered in initial litany of topics and concerns. On the above site, abstracts and papers are posted such as Astrobiology: Thy Name is Synergy by Penelope Boston, Evolving SETI for the 21st Century by Steven Dick, Bio-Friendly Exoplanets by Seth Shostak, The Spiritual Quest in the SETI Research by Jose Funes, SJ, and Cognitive Planetary Transformations by David Grinspoon. Some other speakers were Jill Tarter, Lori Marino, Annamarie Berea, Terence Deacon, and Erik Zackrisson. A tacit assumption, it ought to be noted, was to treat exoworld civilizations, if they exist, as a whole, thinking planet, noosphere entity (but this Earth was not yet appreciated that way).
Perhaps what SETI is searching for is not merely the appearance of a certain kind of civilization on a planet, but a transition in planetary evolution to what we might call the Sapiezoic Eon, in which cognitive processes become integrated into the functioning of a planet. Now we see the advent of a radically new type of global change: Self-aware cognitive/geological processes. If the “Anthropocene” marks the beginning of the Sapiezoic Eon - then it requires that cognitive processes can become a long-term stable part of a planet. Global technological influence contains both perils which threaten to make this a short-lived stage and the possibility that this phenomenon could become a very long-lived and even permanent part of the Earth system. I will discuss the possible observable properties of planets that have gone through a Sapiezoic transition. (Grinspoon)
Adams, Fred and Gregory Laughlin. The Five Ages of the Universe. New York: Free Press, 1999. An example of the old doom scenario with a megabillion year cosmic history divided into inflationary, radiative, stellar, black hole and dark periods. The universe inexorably burns out because a phenomenal role for life, mind and informed spirit can not be imagined.
Armstrong, Rachel, ed. Star Ark: A Living, Self-Sustaining Spaceship. International: Springer Praxis, 2017. The editor (search) is a visionary British eco-architect who conceived this unique volume to broach how human beings may commence upon travel to stellar, galactic and cosmic habitation so as to convey forth, seed and propagate life and mind. There are two sections – An Ecological View of the Interstellar Question by RA, as the quote cites, and An Anthology of Interstellar Culture with entries such as Space Ecology by Michael Mautner and Simon Park, Constructing Worlds by Jordan Geiger and Mark Morris, and especially Connecting with the Divine and the Sacred, and becoming Cosmically Conscious by Steve Fuller (second quote), Roberto Chiotti, and Krists Ernstons.
Part A, written by Rachel Armstrong, proposes a new age of space exploration based on an ecological perspective of the cosmos. It is this that will create the conditions for inhabiting
Armstrong, Stuart and Anders Sandberg. Eternity in Six Hours: Intergalactic Spreading of Intelligent Life and Sharpening the Fermi Paradox. Acta Astronautica. 89/1, 2013. The physicist Enrico Fermi famously asked in the 1950s that for a universe then thought to be rife with advanced civilizations, so “Where is everybody?” This question has been much debated since, a Wikipedia entry under its name provides a good survey. Here Oxford University, Future of Humanity Institute, philosophers contend that galactic travel and celestial reengineering are really not prohibitive, so once a world which did not destroy itself got unified and going, they should have formed evident reconstructions. But nothing like a “Dyson sphere” built by a civilization around its star has been seen. Even though Kepler satellite discoveries forecast some quintillions of earth-like bioplanets across galactic spacescape, the authors go on to allude that there may not be anyone else out there.
The Fermi paradox is the discrepancy between the strong likelihood of alien intelligent life emerging (under a wide variety of assumptions) and the absence of any visible evidence for such emergence. In this paper, we extend the Fermi paradox to not only life in this galaxy, but to other galaxies as well. We do this by demonstrating that travelling between galaxies – indeed even launching a colonisation project for the entire reachable universe – is a relatively simple task for a star-spanning civilisation, requiring modest amounts of energy and resources. We start by demonstrating that humanity itself could likely accomplish such a colonisation project in the foreseeable future, should we want to. Given certain technological assumptions, such as improved automation, the task of constructing Dyson spheres, designing replicating probes, and launching them at distant galaxies, become quite feasible. We extensively analyse the dynamics of such a project, including issues of deceleration and collision with particles in space. Using similar methods, there are millions of galaxies that could have reached us by now. This results in a considerable sharpening of the Fermi paradox. (Abstract)
Beech, Martin. Rejuvenating the Sun and Avoiding Other Global Catastrophes. New York: Springer, 2008. The University of Regina astronomer tabulates the litany of impending perils along with ambitious responses to gain a cosmic prowess able to take over and sustain an environmental milieu favorable for life, humankind, and precious biosphere. In this largest scenario, earth might appear as a stochastic fertile egg embryo at term whom needs to select her/his self as a special center of successful life and mind.
Bertka, Constance, ed. Exploring the Origin, Extent, and Future of Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. As seen by a mix of scientists, such as Robert Hazen and Christopher McKay, historians Steven Dick and Iris Fry, and theologians such as Ernan McMullin and Richard Randolph, God’s creation lately expands to a cosmic space and duration, which ought to be filled with various life forms of ethical merit. But these deliberations again go on with no imagination of a phenomenal universe with a discernible identity, purpose, and destiny of its own. Within any religious valuation, everything still remains skewed to a Creator, rather than allowing for a place and role for sentient Sapiens.
Bonnet, Roger-Maurice and Lodewijk Woltjer. Surviving 1,000 Centuries. Berlin: Springer/Praxis, 2008. Bonnet is Director of the International Space Science Institute in Bern, Switzerland, and Woltjer is with the French Saint-Michel l’Observatoire. As a human cognitive vista lately expands to a worldwide scale, we can begin to take stock of our past, present, and future local, global and galactic environs. A methodical survey discusses how to avoid a plethora of hazards and to achieve a viable peace over eons to come on earth as it is in the heavens.
Broderick, Damien. Year Million: Science at the Far Edge of Knowledge. New York: Atlas & Co, 2008. A collection of original essays by expansive thinkers such as Catherine Asaro, Gregory Benford, and Rudy Rucker about the long future of creative human beings, mindful intelligences, and cosmic destinies. The title phrase is from H. G. Wells which serves to define this vast vista. Two options then seem to vie – an advance of regnant galactic life over nutrient matter, or an inexorable drift to entropic darkness. But an imagination to ask whatever such a universe might be all about and for is still absent, and without which much remains aimless speculation.
Burdyuzka, Vladimir, ed. The Future of Life and of Our Civilization. Berlin: Springer, 2006. The proceedings of a May 2005 conference held in Budapest, Hungary. Some 26 well-intentioned fellows plumb a cosmic context for our worldly fate in sections such as Life as a Space Phenomena, The Origin of Life, Conservation of Life, and Are We Alone? Papers range from “The Spread of Life Throughout the Cosmos” by Chandra Wickramasinghe, “Planetary Cosmogony” by Alexander Bagrov, Josip Kleczek’s “Energy in the Universe and Its Availability to Mankind,” “There are 6 Million Tons of Brain Matter in the World, Why do We Use It so Unwisely” by Boris Zakhariev, and onto Brian Marcotte’s “Eco-Ethics Must be the Main Science of the Future.” Of note is polymath Andrei Kirilyuk’s “Towards Sustainable Future by Transition to the Next Level Civilization,” which advances his “universal concept of dynamic complexity,” see his arXiv/physics for postings. But the brave effort languishes, as all such works, without an imagination of a greater discernable creation, a nested genesis, of which human and earth are a pivotal phenomenon. I read this as an “e-book” in the University of Massachusetts at Amherst library. As a result, a nascent evolutionary emergence to a super-organic noosphere just reaching its own knowledge and cognizance is also rarely considered.
Calder, Nigel. Spaceships of the Mind. New York: Viking, 1978. From over two decades ago, the British science writer delves into the Copernican options of a moribund universe or one which innately grows in intelligence and galactic organization, facilitated by the creative activity of aware, intelligent beings.
In talking with scientists about the human niche within the vast and ancient universe revealed by modern astronomy, I detected very different kinds of ‘intuitive feelings about nature.’ Some saw us diminished: all we could do was try to snatch a little dignity in cultivating our planet, and draw a little pride and rationality from our understanding of the universe. Another feeling reflected strongly in this book, was that human beings had the collective knowledge and skill to start transforming the universe to their own purposes. (13)
Chu, Ted. Human Purpose and Transhuman Potential: A Cosmic Vision for Our Future Evolution. San Rafael, CA: Origins Press, 2014. An international economist with degrees from Fudan University, Shanghai and a doctorate from Georgetown University, now based in Dubai, achieves a unique synthesis of traditional wisdom with our latest scientific transfigurative prowess. With a Foreword by theologian John Haught, it is made clear that he does not intend a machine takeover as the near Singularity. An early chapter records an original Axial Age for both Eastern and Western cultures, especially as a “Yin-Yang reality.” By these lights a Second Axial Age is proposed to commence an intentional transformative procreation of a Cosmic Being. The overall message, akin to the prescience of a Nikolai Fedorov and Pierre Teilhard, is an “hourglass view” (127) whence temporal creation does not end with us, but needs to wholly pass through its human phenomenon on earth, which has “a critical role in cosmic evolution.”