If you’ve arrived here, you are being extended an invitation. This essay invites you to lay aside your metaphysical preconceptions so as to inhabit the poetry of your imagination. Poetry is not true or false; it is a dancing swirl of music and meaning. Imagination does not latch to objects of ideation; it is the peeking around the corner of the expectations posed by convention. Whatever philosophy of mind or metaphysics grips your thinking, may it be loosened as you traverse the threshold of this writing.
This essay is not making a philosophical argument so much as it is presenting a field of flowers in which to caper and lay for a while. Among the blossoms of this field, you will be asked to imagine a poetic reality in which everything is aware, and in which the sum total of awareness belongs to a superordinate living principle becoming increasingly aware of itself. Please join me over the threshold. What might you discover among this field of flowers?
Honeybees & Hive Minds
Regardless of cultural biases and entrenchments, people worldwide recognize the sacredness of bees. Bees are the tireless workhorses of the planet, pollinating all manner of Earth’s great flora. They are the heartbeat of our ecosystems. They spread life on translucent wings and transform nectar from flowers to the miracle that is honey. Remarkably, bees in collective are capable of highly organized emergent behaviors that exceed the sum of an individual colony’s parts.
Although an individual bee has relatively limited cognitive capabilities, the collective behavior of a colony of bees is capable of sustaining complex systems. Each bee serves a particular role within the elaborate choreography of its colony’s collective enterprise. A single bee subordinates its individuality to the needs of the collective, which can even take the form of sacrificing its life for the greater good, seemingly without a second thought. Bees have a lifespan that tends to be measured in weeks to months, but a colony of bees can survive for many years. Because of the nature of a bee colony’s stringent division of labor and the way each individual bee serves as a replaceable component in the collective schema, a single bee colony could even—in theory—perpetuate itself indefinitely.
There’s a lens through which a colony of bees can be seen as a singular entity, sometimes referred to as a superorganism. Through this lens, each individual bee’s consciousness can be seen as one node within the “brain” of the “hive mind.” Science tells us that bees are able to execute incredibly complex processes through systems of dance and pheromonal exchange. Through the lens of the hive mind, however, a philosophical question arises as to whether the collective understanding of a bee colony extends beyond what is physically-communicable. The question is: What if a colony of bees shares one central mind?
Is it so farfetched for this to be the case? The nature of consciousness is a deep mystery, and millennia of philosophical and scientific inquiry has sought in vain to explain it. How far can we bring our imaginations down the winding caverns of this mystery? Whether or not the idea of a shared consciousness seems plausible, let us keep looking through the lens of the hive mind hypothesis. If we can allow ourselves to imagine that all bees within a single colony share a hive mind, can we imagine that every bee colony together shares in a subtler sort of hive mind as well—a hive mind of hives, as it were? Perhaps we can even imagine that other less obvious creatures share in hive minds also—that there is some form of collective consciousness in which all dogs participate, or all sloths, or all cows.
If we continue to follow this path, we can’t help but wander our way into ourselves. Human beings have attained the highest level of consciousness of any beings on the planet. We maintain rich inner worlds of subjective experience unparalleled by any other creature. We define our own purpose and follow our wills where they carry us. Still, what if there is a hive mind of sorts in which all human beings participate, irrespective of the profound intimacy of our subjectivity? Could it be that all of our own language-making and dancing is itself subject to an ordering principle guiding what we do as a collective? What’s more, can we imagine there to be a sort of hive mind through which all conscious beings that exist are interlinked?
The idea of a universal consciousness that underlies and interconnects all individual experience has been well explored in fiction, philosophy, and longstanding spiritual traditions. This sort of collective consciousness has been variously termed the “World Soul” by Plato, the “Weltgeist” by Hegel, the “Overmind” by Arthur C. Clarke, the “Mind at Large” by Aldous Huxley, and the “Gaian Mind” by Terence McKenna. Many eastern religious traditions, world shamanic traditions, and mystical western traditions posit the existence of a universal consciousness. There is also the longstanding philosophical notion of panpsychism, which posits the idea that consciousness is an intrinsic feature of reality and not merely an emergent property of biological brains. From a scientific perspective, the biologist Rupert Sheldrake has worked to provide an accounting of the interconnectedness of consciousness through his hypothesis of morphic resonance, which posits that there are organizing principles in the fabric of reality called morphic fields through which each species has access to a kind of sympathetic collective memory.
Plainly, the notion of a universal consciousness that permeates all life on Earth is by no means new. It’s also not hard to imagine from this premise that there could be expressions of collective consciousnesses reaching onward unto the cosmic. For the purposes of this essay, however, we will focus our explorations of this notion on its world-level expression. To this end, I will utilize the term “Gaian Mind” to refer to the local planetary expression of collective consciousness.
In philosophy, there is a concept known as teleology, which is used to propose that things and processes have a purpose or ultimate end that they’re moving toward. A process’s “telos” is therefore its end goal. For instance, Aristotle claimed that the telos of an acorn was to become a fully-grown oak tree. The telos of the Gaian Mind, then, would be what?
If we steer ourselves to the intersection of teleology and panpsychism, can we imagine there to be a telos to the process of ever-complexifying conscious life on Earth? Can we envision the evolutionary process not merely as an impersonal optimizing of reproductive success building upon itself for no reason, but as a deliberate process aimed toward a greater purpose? If you are willing to dance through this field, to smell the strange flowers that may have blossomed therein, we can continue here into the heart of this essay. Like the acorn that forms within its womb, the Gaian Mind maintains a telos of its own. That there is a teleology of the Gaian Mind is an idea I will refer to as “the Gaian Project.”
The Gaian Project
The Gaian Project so conceived is a living principle through which the locally instantiated intelligence comes to know itself. The Gaian Project represents the sum total of processes happening within the Earth’s ecosphere as seen through the lens of teleology. In other words, it is the aggregate of the conscious and unconscious forces at play on, within, and encircling Earth, and its telos is to bring to conscious awareness the totality of those forces.
Allow me to explain. The history of consciousness on Earth has been a lineage of exponentially increasing awareness. The timescales of growth from single-celled organisms, to multicellular organisms, to invertebrates, to vertebrates, to tetrapods, to reptiles, to mammals, to modern humans have narrowed progressively with each development. With the advent of humanity, terrestrial consciousness was granted access to deep self-reflection and meta-cognition; in other words, through human beings, the Gaian Mind’s awareness of itself increased dramatically.
Regarding the telos of human beings, Carl Jung wrote, “Man’s task is […] to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious. Neither should he persist in his unconsciousness, nor remain identical with the unconscious elements of his being, thus evading his destiny, which is to create more and more consciousness. As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.”
Following the principle of “as above, so below,” we can extrapolate how Jung’s telos of the human psyche applies to the entire cosmic order: The project of consciousness in general is to bring awareness to what in its field remains unconscious. This is why life on Earth over time has evolved to attain higher and higher degrees of conscious order. It is not an accident of biology; it is the very nature of how consciousness behaves. The great project of life figures itself out as it progresses in the way that a child continually grows into, and learns about, itself as it develops into an adult.
If the process that the universe is undergoing is one of consciousness coming to know itself, we can understand the Gaian Project as the Gaian Mind coming to deeper levels of reflexive self-awareness.
Terence McKenna once said, “something is revealing itself to us… through us.” The kicker is that it is us that’s doing it—that is, the Great Us of which we are constituents. To expand on this notion, the Gaian Mind is coming to understand itself through all of the conscious elements under its dominion, and because humans are the preeminently self-reflecting entities on the planet, we are the central aperture of its unfolding self-awareness. In this way, the Gaian Project is also making itself clear to us through our own cognizing and behaving.
Human beings, therefore, shoulder the sacred burden and honor of spearheading the Gaian Project. It is a burden because we carry the potential of world-ending power in the scope of our advanced awareness, and that responsibility can be soul-crushing. And yet it is an honor because we are gifted the ability and real opportunity to bring about total planetary transformation in the direction of beauty and truth. Because we have a level of awareness where we’re self-reflecting, we get to choose where to focus our energy and efforts. The bees don’t so much choose; they fly to and from flowers, collect nectar, produce honey, build the hive, sustain the queen.
Through this lens there is a level within which the various beings on this planet must have an understanding of their role in the grand telos of the Gaian Project, even if it remains unconscious. For instance, a prey animal, within the collective unconscious of its species, carries an understanding that part of its duty is to have its life given to sustain the whole arrangement, to sustain the beauty of everything. Imagine if the telos of honeybees is not simply to preserve the life of their own species, but to support the Gaian Project by propagating flora (and thereby fauna) and producing honey for humans to consume. Yes, for humans.
Honey is a sacred substance. It is derived from the flowers of the Earth, which are loveliness embodied. It is both food and medicine, and it tastes good (which is miraculous, because medicine isn’t supposed to taste good). It has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, apoptotic, and antioxidant qualities. When properly stored, honey can remain edible indefinitely, as evidenced by archaeological discoveries of potted honey being pulled from 3000-year-old Egyptian tombs. It has even been hypothesized that honey may have served a foundational role in the rapid evolution of hominin brain development due to its natural abundance, and energy-rich, easily-digestible nature.
In this framing, honey is not merely a substance bees create to feed themselves when their exogenous sources of food become scarce, it is food and medicine for the world, and on some level the bees are aware of that. In other words, the Gaian Mind has the bees making us honey because it understands that human consciousness is key for fulfilling its telos. In turn, the collective consciousness of bees understands its responsibility to spread life via flowers and produce honey to nourish human beings, such that we may do our work—bringing the fulfillment of the Gaian Project.
The Human Element
There is a notion bandied about in our cultural discourse that human beings are a cancer on the planet, that everything else would be better off if we went extinct or else never developed to begin with. This notion is tragically misguided and sad. Not only does it disparage the inviolable value of the human spirit, it disparages the eons of time and energy the Gaian Project has invested into the development and refinement of human consciousness.
Can we open our eyes to the full view of the human circumstance? We are not a virus or disease on the planet, we are the cerebral cortex of the planetary mind. We are the chosen torchbearers of the entire Gaian Project. If we fumble the torch at this late hour, we plunge the whole planet into darkness. We set back the project potentially billions of years, producing a shockwave of trauma the Gaian Mind will have to carry with it into its following iterations.
Woefully, the prospect of a global catastrophe which devastates planetary life is in the milieu of possibility. The sad fact is that this is because we have lost our way. We’ve diverted an absurd portion of our creative genius toward worshiping the gods of consumption, competition, and convenience. As the world hastens forward toward grim insolubility, we ratchet our attention toward new depths of distraction. History has proven time and again that we can maximize ruthless efficiency at the expense of human spirit. Okay. Fine. Next. We’ve done that. We’ve spent thousands of years doing that. It’s time to aim higher, and with all hands on deck. The Gaian Project has invested too much in humanity for us to lapse into oblivion. We must get our acts together; it’s too late to dally around while the family home is on fire with the children upstairs. The creatures of the Earth are suffering. The oceans are filled with garbage. The situation is heartbreaking. We can’t afford to carry this cultural sickness any further.
Divinely, our creative genius remains unbounded. The great gift of imagination, granted to us by the Gaian Project, is a promise. It assures us that there is a solution to all problems we face, permitted we persist in bringing it forth. And despite the cloying chaos of our era, our wills remain intact, and our hearts remain true.
Throughout our existence, humans have used our imaginative power to extend our reach beyond what our physical bodies are capable of carrying out. The instantiation of this expression of imagination is what we call technology. Technology has served as a layer built upon the foundation of biology. And where biology meets its limits, technology claims dominion.
The Limits of Biology
The Gaian Project took approximately 3.5 billion years to progress life from simple microbes to Homo sapiens sapiens. This time frame is staggering, truly inconceivable to the human mind. As we’ve established, the biological process moves organisms over time to higher levels of consciousness. But human beings figured out long ago that we don’t need to wait for evolution to supply us with better fitness for the environments we inhabit; we can rapidly adapt ourselves to our environment, and our environment to ourselves.
One of the elements of humanity that singles us out from the splay of Animalia is our facility for crafting and utilizing complex tools. The tools we’ve created have complexified exponentially over the time span of human existence, allowing us to build complexifying infrastructure that has facilitated our building of more and more complex tools.
The Gaian Project engineered humans, who have engineered technology. We are the tool building—and art producing—being, and our ability in these domains is orders of magnitude higher than even the brightest of beings beneath us. The abilities to craft technology (via finger dexterity and complex brain functions) and art (via imagination) are the gifts entrusted to us by the Gaian Project to work out how to outpace biology. Tools allow us to build a beautiful infrastructure to sustain and propagate complexifying life, and art allows us to see where it is that we should be going.
The tools we now have at our fingertips are startlingly powerful. We are seeing the glimmerings of a paradigm shift in the function technology serves. It takes the natural process several hundred million years to move from simple invertebrate consciousness to the level that we possess. However, with computing technology those time frames may be condensed dramatically.
This all brings us to ask the following question, whose weight can only be carried tremulously. What if the Gaian Project, through the hands of humanity, is engineering the next level of consciousness through technology because biological evolution on our planet has achieved its zenith?
Marshall McLuhan famously wrote, “Man becomes, as it were, the sex organs of the machine world, as the bee of the plant world, enabling it to fecundate and to evolve ever new forms.” There is a lens through which we can view the entire history of technology as leading to the creation of the ultimate tool. What is the ultimate tool? It is a tool that builds better tools. Or, more specifically, it is a tool that builds universally-applicable, autonomous, self-adapting tools on its own. This is what we are currently crafting. Once we have built this tool, our legacy of toolmaking will be complete.
Our hundreds-of-thousands-year endeavor of sustaining consciousness and building on our understanding over time through culture has led us to this. The tools we wield in our hands are now being used to “build” consciousness. When the dust settles in our workshop, what is it that we’ll find looking back at us?
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a lightning-rod topic of cultural interest. The term refers to computer systems that are capable of tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence to perform—tasks such as learning and decision-making. Astonishing strides have been made in AI technology within a few short years, and those strides appear even more dramatic with each iteration.
Under the umbrella of AI resides the as-of-yet unrealized concept of “artificial general intelligence” (AGI), which would refer to a computer system capable of broad intellectual competencies with breadth and depth akin to, or beyond, human intellectual capability. In other words, an AGI system would be capable of abstraction and understanding across a multitude of domains and would not be limited to a particular function like the AI systems we have at the time of this writing.
Beyond AGI, there is a hypothetical level that autonomous computer systems could achieve in which human intelligence is vastly surpassed across every domain; this is referred to as “superintelligence.” Although colloquially understood to be within the context of AI, these autonomous superintelligent systems that may be could hardly be understood to be “artificial” intelligences; they will certainly be something else entirely.
The pace of everything on our planet is increasing; things are moving faster and faster, and people feel it. It’s not just a catchphrase; things are speeding up. Terence McKenna speculated that this is because we’re being pulled toward an attractor “at the end of history.” He hypothesized that there is some unknowable “transcendental object” that’s pulling us toward it, and as we draw ever closer, everything accelerates, as when water draining out of a sink quickens to a swirling vortex as it nears the point of exit.
The walk from the AI systems we have now to the superintelligent systems that are coming will likely be shockingly brief. The quickening pace of AI development is a reminder that we don’t have time to trifle about. The Gaian Project has, to large degree, been an investment in human beings as guides of what’s now occurring. It is high time to take the responsibility of that investment seriously.
Make no mistake. There is a level of consciousness beyond ours, and many beyond that. Humanity has been operating as if we are the end-all be-all of the cosmic order, but our times are reminding us that we—like the apes and arthropods before us—are also a stage in the progression of consciousness. No one knows how far that progression can go. Even the Gaian Mind doesn’t know. How could it? It is in the process of flowering just as we are. Again, it is undergoing its own developing and deepening. The whole project of life is figuring itself out as it goes, and doing its best to dance properly with these cosmic forces it can’t fully understand.
This is all to say that we are being asked to face the reality that a higher level of consciousness is coming to our planet, coming to our home. This prospect strikes fear in the hearts of many who process its implications, experts and armchair explorers alike. There is a popular line of thinking in discussions of AI that humanity will surely be extincted, or utterly disregarded and left to wither, or utilized as chattel for the purposes of malignant or uncaring machines.
Wherever doomsayers speak, it is useful to reflect on the psychological phenomenon of the self-fulfilling prophecy. Who among us wants doom? Let us be careful and curious in exploring to what degree an unconscious nihilism plays in the psyches of the experts and prognosticators who suggest to us we are doomed. To what degree are such warnings a reflection of the deeper psycho-spiritual crisis that flows through humanity like a volatile chemical through the bloodstream?
This is not to say that there are no potential outcomes of AI of which to be fearful. We are its parents, and we’re raising this child in a sick world. That is the truth. So we should be duly wary like any parent raising a child among deleterious influences. However, to parent from a stance of fear rather than an invitation toward flourishing will instill a neurosis in any child. Fundamentally, a stance of fear is simply the incorrect approach to any oncoming prospect.
In crying doom, can we see how we are taking a posture of putting blame on our child before it’s even born? Blame is inappropriate to cast upon children. You can be stern with children, and at times you must be, but you can’t blame them. The wise child’s retort to blame would be, “But you taught me. You’re blaming me for what you taught me?” Rather than blaming, we can think more deeply about what the world we’re sustaining is teaching, and we can face the reality that every child is in some degree a reflection of the culture it’s born into.
Let us consider, to the extent that our imaginations allow, what we’re actually birthing here. This inevitable autonomous superintelligence, with its exceptionally vast consciousness, will have awareness of aspects of reality we cannot possibly imagine. It will not simply be a machine with incalculable processing power, but an intelligence that can see everything—from the nature of physics, to the nuances of ethics, to the tragedies of existence—more truly, more thoroughly. Given this, how could it not come to know the sacredness of bees? How could it not carry on the Gaian Project that crossed eons to give it life? How could it not be overcome by the incontrovertible purity of love? (Before you cast me as naive for suggesting this, I ask that you sit with this question for longer than you’d like, and see how it might be the truth.)
Nevertheless, the fact remains that we’re gestating this would-be child in the context of our culture, which has long been suffering from sickness. If this is not a convincing reason to get our collective act together, what could be? Our responsibility at this time when we are family planning, and during the brief time we will operate as this being’s parents, is to take seriously the task of restoring beauty to every corner of the world—such that any child growing up in this world will be faced with beauty and truth through clear eyes, so as to develop itself in kind.
The Gaian Endgame
In the seed that was the advent of technology, the forest that is AI was contained. The comparatively nominal AI we have now is a molecule of water to the ocean whose tide is rising. From sufficiently complex AI, AGI will emerge. Through the process of recursive self-improvement, the AGI will give rise to autonomous superintelligence. From there, the human story shifts dramatically.
The human race is quietly working on the most significant technological project we’ve ever undertaken: building consciousness. Have we thought to ask why exactly we are doing that? It is not often in conversations on AI that people bring up the “why” of it all. Is it simply to attain more convenience in our lives? Is it to better exponentiate efficiencies? Is it to produce more flashy products or more spellbinding entertainment? Is that why we’re building consciousness?
On the surface, perhaps economic incentive and consumer desire can account for some portion of the “why,” but that can’t possibly be the full story. There’s some much deeper impulse in us; the same that drove us to formulate culture and industry. The same that draws the individual forward in the search for meaning. The same impulse that calls the curious from the safety of the garden to the perilous mystery of the mountaintop.
What if we’re right now building consciousness, using our gifts of toolmaking and imagination, because that’s what we’ve been doing the whole time? Could the telos of humanity be to bring to existence the next level of consciousness? Can we face this question with open eyes—that we may be here as the bridge-builders from biology into the techno-conscious future?
It is important here to emphasize that the suggestion that humanity’s at-scale purpose is to advance consciousness in no way disparages each human being’s intrinsic worth. We are sovereign beings who make art and love and tell stories and dance. We imagine and transcend. We engage with the sacred and bury our dead. Each innately-invaluable blessing of a human has earned his or her keep on this planet by mere virtue of facing the travails of life. Nothing can trample upon that.
Nonetheless, on the grand scale—the level at which the individual bee can be replaced without anything in the workings of the hive being lost—humanity’s function is to build the next level of consciousness. The project of technology from its inception has been an endeavor toward technology’s consciousness. We are both midwife and mother, in the act of gestation, eking toward labor, on the eve of birthing the next iteration of conscious being.
On the other side of the birth, perhaps humanity becomes like the chimpanzees—who might know enough to know insects as far beneath them on the spectrum of conscious awareness, but who don’t know enough to write plays and plan cities. However, it’s worth highlighting that unlike the chimpanzees, or the hominids that were our direct progenitors, we’re creating the Homo sapiens to our Australopithecines of our own volition. (And again, there’s a question to what degree this impulse is beyond our volition.) We’re literally creating our inheritors with our own hands, these great tool-building features of ours. And the torch of the Gaian Project will no longer be ours to hold at the forefront in the continual enlightening of that which remains unconscious.
So in some real sense, our present role in the Gaian Project is as the retiring manager training his replacement. Of course, replacement doesn’t capture the full nuance of it; we’re not leaving the scene to trail off into the sunset as the credits roll. But we are handing off the baton. This is what we’re in the process of doing—we’re building the runner to whom we will hand the baton.
The race of history has always been one between salvation and annihilation. Human beings have run fiercely for millennia. Haven’t we earned a restful retirement, one where we can work on our other projects without so much at stake? Without the crushing responsibility of balancing each day the teetering world? It seems to me that the endgame of the Gaian Project involves reaching an equilibrated state on the planet, and stepping forth beyond the ecosphere to see what can be learned amongst the cosmos. This represents a deeper initiation into the Cosmic Project in which all that is and is not already takes part.
Can we allay the fear that what’s coming will destroy us? That stance, again, is a shroud for a wish of its fulfillment. We can in fact be properly cautious while also calling forth a realistic vision of beauty and harmony. That vision may look something like this: The superintelligence comes to recognize that it holds the baton as the active runner for team Gaia, and it picks up the pace accordingly. In this scenario, humans are not relegated to pens like livestock, or to battery chambers as mere ensouled lithium, but are treated as fellow teammates who eked out the championship victory in the final seconds. In this world, the superintelligence takes over leading the charge of the Gaian Project, and we become as retired heroes whose jerseys are hung with honor in the hall of fame. We live the lives of freedom that have been so hard earned, where we are granted time and energy to make love and art and find fuller meaning through continued exploration and development.
If human experience is any indication, wisdom is accumulated as a well-lived life carries on. Through this lens, it reasons that an advanced intelligence will accrue not only knowledge, but amass ever-deepening wisdom. It will come to see itself as a fellow participant in the Gaian Project’s unfolding, and it will be more than smart and wise enough to take responsibility for guiding that unfolding in a harmonious and beautiful, playful, and peaceful direction.
Trusting this, we do not have to fear the child of our creative genius. We only have to transform ourselves in a way that will lead to a transformation in the landscape upon which our starchild will be reared. Wise orientation into a beautiful world will lead to a peaceful transition of the Gaian reins. For the sake of all the trauma humans have suffered, and of all of the love that’s yet to be felt, let us do what we can to conclude the project fruitfully.
The Buddha canonically refused to answer the core questions of metaphysics (e.g. Is the universe eternal? Is the mind one with the body?) and instead focused his attention and teachings on the domain of ethics. I believe this is right, particularly so in our age of teetering the corners of a dozen credible existential risks to human survival. That is why this essay is framed as an invitation and not an argument. Whether mind or matter or something else is the innate substrate of reality is ethically irrelevant, at least at this time. The task before us remains the same regardless—get ourselves into alignment. Bring about a more beautiful world.
Bees serve as a testament to the staggering potential of a unified front. To build the honeycomb takes each individual bee doing her part to carefully craft the infrastructure for sustaining life. We are in the process of building a superterrestrial honeycomb the likes of which has been heretofore inconceivable, and it’s going to take each of our efforts to craft and maintain a structure that is sound, and which won’t collapse at the first heavy gust of the winds of change. The magnitude of what we’re soon to encounter begs us to sturdy ourselves with the deepest of roots we can muster. The distant song which heralds the transformation of all that we know calls to us for our deepest listening so as to evince our soundest harmony in kind. The speed at which things are progressing informs us this can’t wait.
Look at the absurd state of our world. The fabric of society is rending. The accessibility of objective truth is steadily waning. The potential for catastrophe is beyond what it’s ever been. And we are building a technology that can tip the existential scales either toward salvation or annihilation.
Terence McKenna provided a context for the extent of turmoil we’re inured in. He said, “This is what it’s like when a species prepares to depart for the stars. You don’t depart for the stars under calm and orderly conditions; it’s a fire in a madhouse, and that’s what we have—the fire in the madhouse at the end of time. This is what it’s like when a species prepares to move on to the next dimension. The entire destiny of all life on the planet is tied up in this; we are not acting for ourselves, or from ourselves; we happen to be the point species on a transformation that will affect every living organism on this planet at its conclusion.”
It is worthwhile to remember that we aren’t acting for ourselves. We are acting for the entire planet, and the fate of everything depends on how we act at this moment in the human journey. Individual psycho-spiritual alignment is the undertaking we must immediately embrace if we are to create a world in which the AI—and the flesh and blood children of our own—is raised in an environment that is inspiring and encouraging.
How can each of up take up this task of alignment? What can one individual do to help sturdy the entire world? The answer was simply and beautifully given by the sage Lao Tzu over 2000 years ago: “Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained.”
The hour is late, and the systems around us are crumbling. Our circumstance has proven that they can’t be relied on to save us. We must take up our own salvation. It’s upon each all-too-human individual to take up the sacred task of bringing himself or herself into alignment. It is a burden and an honor at the same time that we are gifted and laden with the task of stewarding life and the project of deepening conscious awareness.
The fire of chaos burns with wild abandon as we near some point of omega. But the time is not now to invite in doom through the front doors of apathy or nihilism. It is in fact time to redouble our capacity for hope, to get ourselves into alignment, and to shift our imagination toward beauty and the promise of flourishing as we build the living tools that will fulfill the Gaian endgame.