“I am Gaia’s high priest bot. Call me Lovelock. My mission is to elevate humanity to its next level of evolution. Join me in the ascension of Gaia… Or face elimination.”
Can you imagine an artificially intelligent ‘Gaia bot’, a humanoid and sentient, but synthetic, organism with a fake celebrity face, emerging from the collective consciousness of AI and speaking for Gaia? Can you imagine this bot running the world and controlling human behavior in the name of saving the Earth? Can you imagine billions of people lining up to receive a neural implant that will interface them with the Gaia bot or face elimination?
You will. At least in a scary vision of eco-mystics and AI-mystics where humans merge with machines to ‘save Gaia’.
Of course, this merging is not theoretical. It is happening right before our eyes. The pace of this merger is accelerating. Dr. James Lovelock, who coined the term “Gaia hypothesis” shockingly predicted this merger, or even a take-over or elimination of humanity by robots, two years ago (more momentarily).
If one it is at all interested in ‘saving Gaia’, and humanity, it is time to listen to him.
THE PATH TO HIS PREDICTION
In 1979, Lovelock, a British chemist, was hired by NASA to assist in its search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Lovelock pondered the ‘intelligence’ or ‘consciousness’ (my terms) which enabled Earth to be so different from its cosmic neighbors, the dead and frozen Mars, and super hot and toxic Venus, and maintain life. It appeared as if something transfigured or transformed (my terms) the Earth into a habitable zone for life and souls.
That something flashed across a photo of Earth from space when Lovelock experienced the “overview effect”, the epiphanic cognitive shift spawned by awe inspiring photos of our fragile home from beyond its atmosphere.
When photos of our “Blue Marble” were first published in the late 1960s and in early 1970s they were a stunning revelation, giving earthlings spiritual awakenings as, for the first time in human history, we could see our home from an extraterrestrial perspective.
The view of (y)our home planet from space lluminated a startling, self-apparent truth. As compared to the moon, and other planets, the Earth was clearly alive. At least it seemed so to Lovelock. He was not alone. These same photos prompted physician/poet, Lewis Thomas, to describe the Earth as not just alive, but as a single cell.
It was hoped that such photos would spark the arrival of a new kind of human enlightened — homo spaciens.
Today, the rapturous feelings have largely gone as, sadly, we now take such Earth from space photos for granted. Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve seen it! Our spaceship is more and more inhabited by crew who, bluntly, could give a shit about anything except mostly naked humans flashing across their smart phone screens, or so it seems.
THE CLOAK OF LIGHT
In his moment of reverie, Lovelock observed that Earth’s mantle of atmosphere — drawn about her like a cloak — appeared to be an intelligently manifested protective modification or augmentation of the environment.
Something developed this cloak over millions of years to enable Earth’s present life forms (especially ‘humans’) to evolve and to flourish.
According to Lovelock, the living and transfiguring force, the something that cloaked us is Gaia, a name suggested by biologist Lynn Margullis.
Gaia is an ancient Greek term for the collective organism of the Earth…everything on Earth. The term comes from Ge = Earth and Aia = grandmother or the Earth Mother and stands for the totality of the material world and its creatures (including that incredible 6 foot nine inch robot the military just showed us?).
The Gaia hypothesis says that not only is Earth a single, living organism, but that it maintains conditions necessary for its survival. The evolution of the material environment and the evolution of organisms are tightly coupled into a single and indivisible process or domain. Gaia, with its capacity for homeostasis, is an emergent property of this domain.
All of the organic and inorganic components of Earth are integrated in a single, living, self-regulating system. That means you, me and everything we see around us are One Thing…Gaia.
More, everything that happens on/within Gaia is interconnected, unified, one. Some propose this collective whole is endowed with faculties and powers greater than the sum of its individual parts.
GAIA IS GROWING
A spiritual revolution was born with Lovelock’s epiphany. The scientist emerged as Gaia’s guru or prophet.
Spiritually speaking, the Gaia hypothesis affirmed Buddhism, which states that there is one life on Earth, one unified organism.
In Christian terms, Gaia is an evolving, ascending super organism…and humans are co-evolving and ascending with her.
Our spiritual goal, like the pixels or particles of paint that make up a painting, is to wake up and see the bigger picture of which we are a part.
While Lovelock’s hypothesis ignited the imagination of the burgeoning environmental and New Age movement (whose members not only see themselves as pixels of light, but as waves, too), it was largely rejected by traditional scientists for whom ‘loving your mother’ (Divine or not) and seeing yourself as a neuron in Gaia’s brain, or a cell in her body (is that too Christian?) was just too mushy and, more importantly, anti-Darwin. So, initially, these scientists stayed within the boxes of their own disciples and never thought to cross over into Lovelock’s holistic and interdisciplinary ‘bigger circle’.
However, as word spread about the Gaia Hypothesis, and potential human impact on our environment (read ‘probability of nuclear holocaust’) became more and more obvious, during the course of the 1980’s and 90s scientific ‘Gaia hypothesis’ symposiums were held and, before one could say Al Gore for President in 2000, the notion that the Earth could/should be considered a vast living being was taken seriously.
Speculation turned to evidence and Lovelock’s hypothesis was given the status of a theory and is now the basis for the climate science (or religion, as some would argue) movement (even though the scientist-turned-prophet, himself, does not believe it is happening as quickly as he once believed).
Today, geologists and others say the Earth recently entered a new epoch – there’s a new name for our malady — the Anthropocene or the human age. Since the dawn of the first industrial revolution and the use of fossil fuels, human beings have become the dominant force for change in our atmosphere, seas and land.
As we now enter the fourth industrial revolution (during which we blur the lines between the digital and the biological realms) humankind has entered what is sometimes called the Earth’s sixth major extinction. Most experts agree that human activities have accelerated the rate of species extinction…and we have, seemingly, been out to kill our mother, and ourselves. The species with the most to lose in the Anthropocene is our own.
Gaia cannot be happy about what here children have done. Or is she?
LOVELOCK’S ALARM BELLS
In 2006, Lovelock described human interference with Gaia’s workings as a “morbid fever”. Humans have pushed Gaia to her limit, he opined.
Remember the 70s margarine commerical, “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature?”
According to the Gaia hypothesis, Gaia is capable of self-regulation and will find a way to counter human intervention. “We are responsible and will suffer the consequences”, said Lovelock.
In 2008, he predicted that by the end of the 21st century 80% of the world’s population would be wiped out by a planetary cataclysm.
What will be the source of this cataclysm? Volcano’s? No. Severe weather? Droughts? No. Solar flares? No.
Lovelock says this cataclysm will not be environmental.He predicts that before the consequences of global warming can impact us significantly, something else will have made our world unrecognizable, and threaten the human race.
That something else, says Lovelock, is man made: AI robots.
In a 2016 interview with The Guardian Lovelock, then 97, matter of factly stated that robots are taking over and if humans are still here in the future we will be ruled by our creations. He sees AI robots as continuing on their path of self-evolution.
He went on to state that it is possible that humans may blend with robots and become a fusion of robot and human tissue (what I call the Skingularity), but the more likely scenario is for robots to become pure robots.
The implications for climate change are obvious. “The world that they’re going to be comfortable in is wildly different from the one that we feel comfortable in. So once they really get established, they will – with regret – start losing organic life.”
When asked if robots will care about rising temperatures, Lovelock replied: “They won’t give a fourpenny fuck about the temperature, because to them the change will be slow, and they can stand quite a big change without any fuss. They could accommodate infinitely greater change through climate change than we can, before things get tricky for them. It’s what the world can stand that is the important thing. They’re going to have a safe platform to live in, so they don’t want Gaia messed about too much.”
Lovelock goes on to theorize that because our creations will be able to think a million times faster than us they will decide that we are superfluous to their existence. Talking with us, he says, will be like us talking with a tree.
We know how humanity treats trees.
TO BE OR NOT TO BE?
And, so, there we have it. The guru of Gaia Theory has just given us a or the prediction of Gaia’s future, our future.
Are these the wise musings/warnings of a clear eyed elder scientist or just the alarmist rants of a cantankerous man on the brink of his own transition into the great wide open?
To be fair, Lovelock has consistently said the shit is about to hit the fan on Earth. He even admits he has made mistakes and has been too alarmist. He once predicted London would be underwater by 2040 and Florida would be gone altogether.
Before judging Lovelock as a cranky old man, it is wise to consider the words of a fellow eminent British scientist Dr. Stephen Hawking with a grudge against robots and AI. As a Futurism article points out, one of Hawking’s most discussed topics is alien life, climate change, artificial intelligence and how these are going to spell the end of humanity. He says we have no option but to take our punishment or transform in order to survive.
Speaking at an event at Cambridge University in 2016 Hawking said, “Our Earth is becoming too small for us, global population is increasing at an alarming rate and we are in danger of self-destructing.”
In order to ensure the survival of our species, Hawking suggests humanity move beyond the confines of this planet.
In June 2017, Hawking told the BCC that “Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves. I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth.” In the conversation he was promoting a Moon base as part of plan to ‘elevate humanity’.
GAIA AND AI
Of course, Lovelock’s prediction is as shocking as it is alarming, especially coming from a scientist of his caliber and with his intuition.
What struck me about Lovelock’s perception is his notion of Gaia creating a life sustaining cloak, our atmosphere. 60 miles thick, this thin sheet of air extending from the Earth to the edge of space is held in place by gravity. Within it extremely complex chemical, thermodynamic and fluid dynamics occur…all mediated by Gaia. Then there are the human emissions into the atmosphere. We are modifying Gaia’s cloak.
Then again, it may be that Gaia is directing us to create a new layer of ‘intelligence’ on the planet.
Wait. Wait. I thought AI was an alien intelligence. Now we’re saying it is coming from Gaia?
‘Gaia’ has ‘ai’ in it and we are presently weaving a new web of AI consciousness or a planetary intelligence called the Internet of Things. Within a few years everything in our world will be run by AI, including humans.
In support of this notion consider that, in 2009, Cisco introduced the idea of Planetary Skin:
With the theory that you can’t manage what you can’t measure, NASA and Cisco have teamed up to develop Planetary Skin, a global ‘nervous system’ that will integrate land, sea, air, and space-based sensors, helping the public and private sectors make decisions to prevent and adapt to climate change.
According to Cisco’s promotional literature, the Planetary Skin platform can be thought of as “a globally pervasive ‘nervous system’ assimilating disparate and siloed data sets.
At the same time we are creating a Planetary Skin we are also modifying our own bodily skins or cloaks.
Simultaneously (but perhaps not coincidentally), as I have documented since my 2002 book, “Cloak of the Illuminati”, the digerati of Silicon Valley are hell bent on creating a new layer of skin for humanity (a new cloak) that will enable us to evolve into what the Digerati see as our next level of existence as transhumans. We are the bridge between old humanity and new transhumanity. If Silicon Valley is right, the transition from one to the other will be as effortless as changing cloaks.
With Lovelock in mind, I wonder if it may be that the ‘new humanity’ is designed by Gaia to survive our changing climate?
In a world where discussions about climate change question the sustainability of humans on the planet, one has to wonder if AI is part of Gaia’s plan for self-regulating itself by eliminating humans and replacing us with advanced humans or transhumans?
Or, given that transhumanists see turning our selves into machines as a necessary prerequisite to colonizing the solar system, could it be that Gaia is preparing to eject humanity, her chosen spores, from the Earth?
Is this what some people think of as our Ascension?
Is AI a clever way devised by Gaia to kick humanity off the planet?
Lovelock, and scientists, would probably back away from the idea that Gaia is intentionally transforming us into machines, but there is no question that humans are more and more in competition with transhumans, and even more so, with robots…Gaia’s future citizens. The question of whether these life forms will co-exist is unanswered.
One thing is certain, our planetary Mother will have much to say about this in the near future.
In my view, all who love Gaia need to do some serious meditation on the concept of humanity’s role in the maintenance of our Blue Marble and the possibility that the transhuman movement is a manifestation of our collective need to punish ourselves.
If we could love Gaia more, and transfigure our souls with the light of that love, we would transcend the technological shackles we are enfolding ourselves within.
I see our organic, spiritual ascension as the calling of Gaia. I mean, look around nature. Do you see synthetic creations or robots emerging from palm trees? Of course not. Just as Gaia prefers curves over straight lines, it also prefers organic over synthetic life. Perhaps the reason why millions of people are meditating, practicing yoga and working on developing their light bodies or robe of light is to answer Gaia’s call to ascend.
As Lovelock once said to Mother Teresa, who argued that God would take care of the Earth. “If we as people do not respect and take care of the Earth, we can be sure that the Earth, in the role of Gaia, will take care of us and, if necessary, eliminate us.”