“I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process — an integral function of the universe.” -Buckminster Fuller
The term ‘Infomorph’ was first introduced in “The Silicon Man” by Charles Platt in 1991 and later popularized by Alexander Chislenko in his paper “Networking in the Mind Age”:”The growing reliance of system connections on functional, rather than physical, proximity of their elements will dramatically transform the notions of personhood and identity and create a new community of distributed “INFOMORPHS” — advanced informational entities — that will bring the ongoing process of liberation of functional structures from material dependence to its logical conclusions. The infomorph society will be built on new organizational principles and will represent a blend of a superliquid economy, cyberspace anarchy and advanced consciousness.”
The overall efficiency of information sharing among infomorphs, elimination of computational redundancy, data storage and processing, among many other advantages over a random collection of unconnected machines would make the networked design an imperative rather than a matter of taste. We can see this networked design today in the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) where smart devices would work more like intelligent, semi-autonomous front-ends of the global system. In turn, these devices will interact with larger machines and each other for continuous data backups, experience sharing, and knowledge upgrades. We’ll soon witness the emergence of even more advanced networks, such as the Internet of NanoThings, the Quantum Internet, and the Metaverse. The generation of cyborg-like transhumans with cloud-based exocortices and attached to the Virtual Metaverse (functional successor to today’s Internet) will inevitably lead to the next generation of postbiological posthuman info-beings.
The lives of infomorphs who have no permanent bodies but possess near-perfect information-handling abilities, will be dramatically different from ours. Infomorphs will achieve the ultimate morphological freedom. Any infomorph will be able to have multiple cybernetic bodies which can be assembled and dissembled at will by nanobots in the physical world if deemed necessary, nonetheless most time will be spent in the multitude of virtual bodies in virtual environments. An advanced multividual info-being could “shape-shift,” “multi-body-task,” and “ghost” anywhere, anytime, and across virtual dimensions. The difference between physical and artificially created realities will not matter much anymore.
Similar views are expressed in the TRANSCENSION HYPOTHESIS by futurist John Smart who proposes that our posthuman minds will live inside virtual worlds at the nano- to femto-scale, further increasing complexity through S.T.E.M. compression (the compression of Space, Time, Energy and Matter), and turn from outer space to inner space for exploration. However, one may argue that when the level of our posthuman syntelligence may be trillions upon trillions of times more powerful than today, nothing would stop its expansion both in outer space and inner space.
Infomorphs will use holographic language, data transfer protocols, inherent synthetic telepathy and intersubjective mind sharing, “digital mind meld,” among their numerous ways of interaction and communication as well as conceptual merging/un-merging (sex? relationship?).
As we are, in a way, embryonic infomorphs, we are basically writing right now our own infomorph “genetic code” each and every time we post a piece of information online, tweet and even make a random call, or otherwise leave a footprint in the digital space, all of which becomes a permanent record of our “INFOMORPH DNA.”
This new decentralized and incredibly complex system will resemble a rudimentary SUPERORGANISM, despite the implied high degree of structural integration. At this initial stage, the “Global Brain,” will remain compartmentalized, with many relatively independent components and threads, separated from each other by subject boundaries, as well as property, privacy, and security-related interests. At a later stage, the fully developed civilizational mind, INFOMORPH COMMONALITY, will gradually get rid of such archaic informational barriers between functional subsystems for greater efficiency.
As Alexander Chislenko puts it: “The notion of a single ‘self’ in its traditional sense would not apply to this system, or any single robot — though perhaps it can be applied to some functional subsystems. The intelligent personalities of tomorrow will evolve from today’s philosophical systems, technological disciplines and software complexes. Current human cultures may not leave many functional heirs as they are based too heavily on the peculiarities of human nature. Physically connected consciousness carriers will be left behind the evolutionary frontier. New distributed systems will take the evolutionary lead, and physical objects will adapt to more closely follow functional entities.”
This process of distributed functionality is already well under way in in the form of cultural, subcultural and economic specialization. One may argue that this SYNTELLECT, a global neural network, the Global Brain, with its global body of specialized knowledge is becoming increasingly coherent, self-organizing, and self-reflecting, and at some point, must reach self-awareness.
As evolutionary cyberneticist Francis Heylighen in his paper “Return to Eden? Promises and Perils on the Road to a Global Superintelligence” argues: “..the resulting superhuman intelligence will not be centralized in a single AI system, but distributed across all people and artifacts as connected via the Internet. This Global Brain will function to tackle all challenges confronting the ‘global superorganism’… The resulting solution to all our individual and societal problems can be conceived as a return to ‘Eden’, the state of abundance and peace that supposedly existed before civilization.”
In some peculiar sense, infomorphs will inhabit the Global Brain infrastructure and represent the GB’s ideas, communal memes, knowledge, memories, and other mental constructs. Alexander Chislenko also points out: “Distributed systems are much less susceptible to accidental or deliberate physical damage than localized physical structures. This makes them the only class of entities that can hope to achieve TRUE IMMORTALITY. In fact, they are the only ones to deserve it, too. One may notice that all sufficiently complex entities with unlimited natural life spans — from ant colonies to large ecologies and cultures — are distributed. Physically connected objects, including biological organisms, are no longer independently alive and even contain, in the interests of larger systems, self-destruction mechanisms that lie beyond their control.”
Perhaps AI research should focus on distributed, rather than autonomous, systems. In fact, both early animals and machines have tended to be relatively autonomous — a state that greatly hindered their development. One may expect all sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial sapience to be distributed; and the evolutionary process here on Earth now may be approaching the maximum level of networking functionality.
Existing economic theories may find it difficult to assess the condition of this post-Singularity TRANSCENDENT ECONOMY. Until the Global Brain is fully developed, space, time, matter and energy may still require some premiums (but much lower in comparison to intelligence). There will be various methods of creating necessary resources, such as widespread nanotechnology and femtotechnology (3D printing will become obsolete by then), solar energy, antimatter reaction, and other currently unknown sources of energy, etc.
Since infomorphs will have no natural physical appearance there will be no competition of infomorphs for the right to embody themselves. Rather, they will use the physical world as a shared tool kit. Earth, Moon and other planetoids may become giant computroniums, programmable matter, easily manipulated by the Infomorph Commonality to suit its needs in the physical world.
Many conventional economic notions of 3D space, such as primary locations and differential rent, will become irrelevant under new effective topologies of the social space and predominant use of virtual environments. Transportation, which under the current economic model makes up about 40% of all costs, will diminish in importance, at least in terms of moving physical objects from one place to another. However, its functional successor — transfer of knowledge from one representation system or subject domain to another — will be just as important.
Self-improvement (self-transcendence) in the rapidly evolving environment will be the main “survival” mode, eventually resulting in the loss of identity of the original object. Monetary considerations will continue to lose their indicative and guiding roles — and give way to more integrated control algorithms. The outdated practice of breaking up functional domains (from motor skills to knowledge of ancient history) into isolated parts confined together with completely unrelated constructs in one physical body, will be abandoned, and functional relatives will finally merge into “knowledge clusters.”
The inner life of integrated subject domains — “personalities” of the future — will be too complex to be organized on principles of financial exchange, and will work on hypercollaborative principles typical for today’s integrated systems — from brains to families to corporations.*
If we extrapolate the current trends in increasing complexity and integration of the system, we can ultimately envision a superintelligent entity encompassing the entire Universe, creating an infinite number of simulated universes, as well as many other spectacular emergent features.
This picture bears a striking resemblance to the familiar concept of an immortal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent entity. Spiritually inclined rationalists may view the ongoing evolutionary process as one of divination — ‘Theogenesis’ — emergent divinity. An interesting question is whether it has already happened elsewhere.
Our current efforts are laying the foundation for the infrastructure of the forthcoming “Universal Intelligence.” Many of our achievements in information engineering may persist forever and eventually become parts of the internal architecture of “God.”*
*Abridged excerpt from
“The Syntellect Hypothesis:
Five Paradigms of the Mind’s Evolution”
by Alex M. Vikoulov