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Wed Feb 25, 2015, 03:05 PM

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Godhood..

An implication and slight rephrasing of Clarke's third law, an implication Asimov wrote into his story "The Last Question".

Technology can confer vast powers, today we can talk to, see or even kill people on the other side of the world without ever setting foot out of our own country. We would be like gods to someone transported straight from the middle ages.

If an advanced civilization were to show up here at Earth how would we be able to determine that the manifestation was not a god or gods, assuming the aliens were trying to get us to believe they were a god or gods with technological tricks far beyond our own understanding?

Edited to correct a brain fart on my part..

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Reply Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Godhood.. (Original post)
Fumesucker Feb 2015 OP
Kelvin Mace Feb 2015 #1
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #2
Warren Stupidity Feb 2015 #3
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #5
Kelvin Mace Feb 2015 #21
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #22
trotsky Feb 2015 #4
bvf Feb 2015 #6
Lordquinton Feb 2015 #15
skepticscott Feb 2015 #20
Kelvin Mace Feb 2015 #32
trotsky Feb 2015 #38
leveymg Feb 2015 #7
edhopper Feb 2015 #8
Kelvin Mace Feb 2015 #33
edhopper Feb 2015 #34
AtheistCrusader Feb 2015 #9
AlbertCat Feb 2015 #30
cbayer Feb 2015 #10
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #11
cbayer Feb 2015 #12
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #13
cbayer Feb 2015 #14
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #16
cbayer Feb 2015 #17
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #18
cbayer Feb 2015 #19
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #23
cbayer Feb 2015 #24
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #25
cbayer Feb 2015 #26
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #27
cbayer Feb 2015 #28
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #29
AlbertCat Feb 2015 #31
Warren Stupidity Feb 2015 #37
Act_of_Reparation Feb 2015 #43
cbayer Feb 2015 #39
AlbertCat Feb 2015 #40
cbayer Feb 2015 #41
Iggo Feb 2015 #35
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #36
edhopper Feb 2015 #42
Fumesucker Feb 2015 #45
edhopper Feb 2015 #46
stone space Feb 2015 #44

Response to Fumesucker (Original post)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 03:15 PM

1. "The Last Question" was an Asimov story

 

Unless Clarke wrote one of the same name. He did write The Last Theorem with Frederik Pohl, is that what you are referring to?

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 03:16 PM

2. Oops.. You're right.. Brain fart..

I hope you don't mind my editing the OP..

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #1)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 03:17 PM

3. wiki says:

 

The Third Law is the best known and most widely cited, and appears in Clarke's 1973 revision of "Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination".

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #3)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 03:27 PM

5. See post #2

I didn't mean to imply that Asimov was cribbing from Clarke.. But the implication is certainly there in the story that at some point technology becomes godhood or indistinguishable from it.

I think I'm overdue for a nap..

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #5)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 06:08 PM

21. Not my thought at all

 

just a mistaking of two similar ideas. If you have not read The Last Question, I would highly recommend it, as it is one of Asimov's masterpieces of short-story writing.

Available here: http://www.multivax.com/last_question.html

It also relates (though not intentionally, I am sure) to Clarke's Three Laws, specifically #3, which you paraphrase.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #21)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 06:10 PM

22. I wrongly attributed TLQ to Clarke in the OP and then edited when it was pointed out to me..

Very familiar with the story..

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Response to Fumesucker (Original post)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 03:23 PM

4. The word "sufficiently" is key here.

Like your person from the Middle Ages example, a flashlight would be sufficiently advanced enough to convince primitive humans of godhood. Or a lighter.

What would it take today? Seeing miracles could possibly be attributed to holograms, or advanced matter manipulation. Maybe they have force fields, etc. Just our awareness of technology and the progress of our own species (knowing that there was a time that today's tech would look like magic) might be enough to always have at least a little doubt about whether something was a god.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 03:36 PM

6. I hear they have toasters now

 

that can imprint an image of Jesus (or Satan--whatever floats your boat) onto your morning slice. Talk about coming full circle.

Seriously though, can't wait to see what quantum computing achieves.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 05:03 PM

15. To Bronze age goat herders iron chariots were sufficiently advanced

To be magic, which is the proper quote. Changing that to godhood really changes the whole meaning.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #4)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 06:07 PM

20. This of course raises the question

 

that is always ignored by the pseudo-intellectual puffers here and elsewhere of what exactly would qualify something as a "god", if it really existed? Would some being, entity, whatever simply have to have an ability to manipulate matter, energy and reality at a certain level of control? Or is there still a qualitative difference between the least powerful "god" and the most powerful non-god in that respect? Would they have to be the object of worship or veneration in SOME religion? Is immortality a necessary or sufficient characteristic of a "god"?

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #20)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 08:32 PM

32. Sci-Fi was full of characters with "god-like" powers

 

In Star Trek alone you had Gary Mitchell, the Mentrons, the Organians, Apollo (an actual god), the Prodviders, etc. Hell, Kirk and company were mistaken for gods on occasion.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #32)

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 08:34 AM

38. And don't forget Q!

The most god-like of all!

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Response to Fumesucker (Original post)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 03:37 PM

7. In Childhood's End some idiot tried to fire a nuke at the alien guardians, and promptly disappeared.

If aliens did show up, I suspect we might be stupid enough to try something similar, just to test their G-d status.
That is why they probably won't show up anytime soon.

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Response to Fumesucker (Original post)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 03:53 PM

8. I think Clarke's law is no longer valid

due in part to writers like him and Asimov. They have imagined technology and races well beyond our current understandings, yet we have no problem identifying them as just advanced science.
So I don't see us thinking anything is magic or divine and not advanced technology.


Look a a movie like Interstellar, we have no trouble imagining fifth dimensional beings that can manipulate time. Living beings, not gods.

True, using fakery, they could convince a lot of people. But Clarke's law isn't about tricking us, it's about just seeing sufficiently advanced technology. Hell, people today with nothing more than ear pieces and radios convince people in godlike powers.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #8)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 08:36 PM

33. You vastly overestimate the intelligence

 

of many people. I am amazed at how many of them believe in magic, astrology, tarot, demons, etc.

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Response to Kelvin Mace (Reply #33)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 11:25 PM

34. As I said

Many people are easily fooled. But as q society or civilization, I don't think we will accept them as Gods, for the reasons I stated.

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Response to Fumesucker (Original post)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 04:08 PM

9. I think this feeds into an evolutionary defense mechanism; our predisposition to faith.

Humans are excellently well tuned to survive. We make snap judgments about threats that our most intelligent rival species cannot hope to match.

Moreover, we can communicate threats to other members of our group in ways that we haven't yet discovered highly-intelligent species doing. We do it by crafting stories that make the threat immediately recognizable to newcomers, and gloss over the components and specifications that we cannot grok.

Story-telling and legend making allows us to package threats and communicate them broadly to the entire group. For all the language we've decoded from, say, dolphins, we've so far not caught them spreading stories of great machine-whale gods, and their dangerous, rhythmic propellers, or the crushing force of their bows, as humans once propagated stories about lightning and its lethal knock-on effects.

I don't think it'll be much longer and we'll have working models that show, and explain our species predisposition to faith as nothing more than the vestigial leftovers of the concept Asimov/Clarke described, but in relation to natural phenomenon and risk/danger.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #9)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 07:50 PM

30. Another thing we homo sapiens do is...

 

..... anthropomorphize....well, everything!

We do it to boats, cars, pets, and especially nature....storms, flowers, the sun, moon and stars....

This comes from the ability to assume other humans are acting and thinking like "I am". AND we can assume that they are assuming what we are assuming... according to Steven Pinker (I think that's where I read it) to about 7 degrees of "I think he thinks I think that he thinks..... goo goo ga joob"

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Response to Fumesucker (Original post)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 04:19 PM

10. One of the reasons I have never fully rejected the belief in god and

remained agnostic is because I believe that there is other intelligent life and that some of it is most likely much more highly evolved than we are.

It is possible that that is god.

Perhaps we are just somethings ant farm. Who knows?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 04:35 PM

11. I think I've mentioned before that I'm an agnostic who is also an atheist



I tend to think that once a species gets more or less to where we are evolution as such is no longer much of a factor, evolution is about responding to pressures from the environment and when a species largely controls its environment evolutionary pressures lessen a lot or go away entirely. Not to mention that evolution as far as we know has no destination, no goal other than survival of the least ill fitted and luckiest. In that sense speaking of "more highly evolved" doesn't really have much if any meaning.

On the other hand deliberately manipulating our genetic makeup is certainly something that can and will be done and there are an almost infinite number of ways that could be beneficial but probably even more ways it could go horribly pear shaped.

Nancy Kress' "Beggars in Spain" is one tale of such pear shapedness, all done from a desire to improve humans by genetically altering them so they no longer require sleep.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beggars_in_Spain

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #11)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 04:43 PM

12. I was not clear. I do not think something has evolved further from us.

I think there have been completely independent lines of evolution. Frankly, we aren't controlling it all that well and I suspect will go extinct rather than further evolve.

But that doesn't mean that some other evolutionary line hasn't done a much superior job and advanced much further.

Do you imagine that out of all the probably infinite places that here are, we have gone further than any other life form? Is it not possible that there are things other than purely adaptive evolution at play under vastly different circumstances.

I don't think we are going to improve much on humans, but I do pretty firmly believe that there is something out there that's doing it better.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #12)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 04:46 PM

13. What do you mean by "further"?

In evolutionary terms it's a null statement..

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #13)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 05:00 PM

14. You and your null statements.

I think we have evolved further than chimpanzees and much further than single celled organisms.

Being top of the food chain is advanced.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #14)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 05:06 PM

16. It's only technology that puts us at the top of the food chain..

Without weapons (technology) even the baddest ass human is only a midmorning snack for a Smilodon.

I would have died at birth but for technology, antiquated technology by today's standards but technology none the less. I'm basically an evolutionary failure if you are looking for something to be at the top of the food chain.

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #16)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 05:18 PM

17. But that technology is due to some very highly evolved intelligence.

Should something that has developed a even higher degree of intelligence appear, we might not be top of the food chain any longer.

Eye glasses have been one of the biggest manmade adaptations imagined. Many, many people would not have survived without technology.

I just feel pretty certain that while we are high on this earth's ladder, we are really, really primitive in the bigger scheme of things.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #17)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 05:29 PM

18. Only if their environment is far more harsh than our own..

It's adaptation to environment that drives evolution.

I don't think we would want to meet a much more "highly evolved" species, they would likely be ferocious beyond our comprehension and we are a fairly ferocious bunch ourselves once we get worked up to it.

I've got to get back to knapping flint, we're getting low on spearheads around here and I'm the best knapper, people are depending on me.

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #18)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 05:33 PM

19. Harsh? How about just different?

What is harsh to us may be live giving for something else.

This is how self-centered we are as humans. We think that we are the only real form of life and that our planet is really the only kind that can sustain life. We think that life must be carbon based and requires water.

Nonsense. It is our narcissism that will lead to our demise.

Even imagining that they would have a human quality like "ferociousness" is symptomatic.

Enjoy knapping your flints, whatever that is.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #19)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 06:15 PM

23. You have no idea what I think may be possible in terms of life..

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #23)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 06:24 PM

24. I am only responding to what you wrote.

I have never read of seen Game of Thrones or read Martin. It's not my cup of tea. I couldn't even get through the first book of Lord of the Rings.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #24)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 06:27 PM

25. He wrote quite a bit of stuff that's not in that subgenre, I don't read fantasy either any more

What I linked to is much different and much more thoughtful.

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #25)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 06:30 PM

26. I read the beginning of it, but it didn't grab me.

I may try again.

My favorite books about this topic are The Sparrow and, to a lesser degree, Children of God. Forgive me if I have previously mentioned them to you. They are about life on another planet and religion is a strong underlying theme.

If you like this topic, you might enjoy these books.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #26)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 06:51 PM

27. I'm kind of limited to what I can find online for free and at the library..

I did do a search for the Sparrow and couldn't find it in either context.

Did you ever find Childhood's End?

One of the very best and most thoughtful books I've read in quite a while is free and online.

Fiction books with an appendix aren't particularly common.

http://www.rifters.com/real/Blindsight.htm

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #27)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 06:58 PM

28. I see that Childhood's End is in a downloadable format.

On your recommendation, I will download when I get a connection to do it. I will let you know when I have read it.

I have bookmarked Blindsight and promise to read it.

The Sparrow is available as a Kindle book but cost $8.31. It may come down in the future.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #28)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 07:07 PM

29. Neither may be your cup of Earl Grey

Blindsight doesn't get into religion so much as some extremely alien aliens and has a lot to do with consciousness, one character is a deliberately created multiple personality and the narrator is also psychologically very different from the norm.

Blindsight is the name of a psychological condition also, it's related to the nature of the story. We are a lot weirder than most of us realize.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blindsight

Blindsight is the ability of people who are cortically blind due to lesions in their striate cortex, also known as primary visual cortex or V1, to respond to visual stimuli that they do not consciously see.[1] The majority of studies on blindsight are conducted on patients who have the "blindness" on only one side of their visual field. Following the destruction of the striate cortex, patients are asked to detect, localize, and discriminate amongst visual stimuli that are presented to their blind side, often in a forced-response or guessing situation, even though they don't consciously recognise the visual stimulus. Research shows that blind patients achieve a higher accuracy than would be expected from chance alone. Type 1 blindsight is the term given to this ability to guess—at levels significantly above chance—aspects of a visual stimulus (such as location or type of movement) without any conscious awareness of any stimuli. Type 2 blindsight occurs when patients claim to have a feeling that there has been a change within their blind area—e.g. movement—but that it was not a visual percept.[2] Blindsight challenges the common belief that perceptions must enter consciousness to affect our behavior;[3] it shows that our behavior can be guided by sensory information of which we have no conscious awareness.[3] It may be thought of as a converse of the form of anosognosia known as Anton–Babinski syndrome, in which there is full cortical blindness along with the confabulation of visual experience.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #10)

Wed Feb 25, 2015, 07:55 PM

31. Of course...

 

.... "aliens with greater technology" is NOT a definition of "god". (The whole point Clark and Asimov are making is it would be a MISTAKE.... it would be woo) Why such a notion would make one still believe there might be a real god is beyond me.

It's yet another example of redefining the whole concept in a (vain) attempt to make it relevant and viable....which it isn't.

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #31)

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 07:33 AM

37. shhh, don't spoil the fun.

 

plus we are developing new theories of evolution. It is fascinating.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #37)

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 10:44 AM

43. Sure is entertaining, isn't it?


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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #31)

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 09:12 AM

39. And I did not say they were. There are other ways to think of

or describe lifeforms that may exist in this universe, and some of those might be consistent with people's concept of god(s).

It's beyond you, but not beyond others. That's what life is all about.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #39)

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 10:36 AM

40. It's beyond you

 

Oh please.

How rude! I should report this!

Nothing said in this forum is "beyond" me. No one needs "other ways of knowing" to confront bunk.

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Response to AlbertCat (Reply #40)

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 10:40 AM

41. I was only repeating what you said to make a point.

Why such a notion would make one still believe there might be a real god is beyond me.


I acknowledged that it is beyond you, but point out that others see it differently.

Of course no one needs "other ways of knowing" to confront bunk. What one needs is data, facts, reason and rational thought.

Please feel free to report whatever you would like, lol.

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Response to Fumesucker (Original post)

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 01:22 AM

35. You mean magic?

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Response to Iggo (Reply #35)

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 07:10 AM

36. Show someone from a thousand years ago the Tsar Bomba



God or wizard?

Does it really matter?

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #36)

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 10:42 AM

42. Don't you think

We have a slightly better understanding of the Universe. Including the notion of alien life, than we did a thousand years ago.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #42)

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 03:39 PM

45. How about a technology that can make a star go nova?

Or simply make it go out?

A Dyson sphere for instance between our planet and the sun..?

Most of humanity would be frozen to death in a few days and the rest wouldn't last much longer.

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #45)

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 04:48 PM

46. That would be very advanced technology

The operative word is technology. You understand that, as do I.
So we can distinguish it from a God.

Clake's law is no longer valid.

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Response to Fumesucker (Reply #36)

Thu Feb 26, 2015, 10:48 AM

44. You don't have to go back 1000 years for that.

 

Many thoughtful folks today would call that a God of Metal. (Otherwise known as a False God or Idol.)

I know that I do.

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