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Futurist spaceflight meditations: interview
Space expansionism is a cornerstone of Turing Church.
Greetings to all readers and subscribers, and special greetings to the paid subscribers!
Please scroll down for the main topic of this newsletter and a reading list. But first:
Please come to the Terasem Colloquium next Friday, December 10. Susan Schneider, Randal Koene, Max More, Ken Hayworth, Martine Rothblatt, and Robert McIntyre will discuss consciousness and how to preserve it beyond physical death.
We discussed the political, cultural, philosophical, and spiritual aspects of spaceflight and human expansion in the solar system and beyond. Agah asked if “Futurist spaceflight meditations” can be considered a follow-up to “Tales of the Turing Church.” I said that it is more limited in scope, but on second thought the answer must be yes.
Space expansionism is a cornerstone of Turing Church. At the beginning Agah says that space launches are spiritual experiences. I agree, and promoting space expansion is what I can and must do to follow my spiritual calling. As I say in the book:
“Our duty to God, or to God by any other name, or to the cosmos, or to some cosmic principle that favors life, or to life itself, is to expand beyond the Earth into the black sky.”
Agah was also curious about my recent resignation from the Board of Directors of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET). I am not at liberty to add much to what I said, because I resigned in protest against a Board decision that hasn’t been (and probably will never be) communicated to the public.
However, I will say two things. One, I’m one of those old-fashioned people who still believe in “innocent until proven guilty.” Two, in this specific case I was totally right, and this can be easily verifed.
Netflix is streaming the film “Az Úr hangja” by Hungarian filmmaker György Pálfi, inspired by the science fiction novel “His Master's Voice” by Stanisław Lem. The film is half in Hungarian and half in English, with the Hungarian part subtitled.
The film is not an adaptation of Lem’s book but an experimental film inspired by and loosely connected to the book. I didn’t expect a close film adaptation, so I wasn’t disappointed and liked the film. But I would like to watch a close film adaptation because “His Master's Voice” is a masterpiece of philosophical science fiction and one of my favorite science fiction books ever. Pure Lem, as good as “Solaris.”
So I’m reading again Lems’ masterpiece. The 2020 edition published by MIT Press has a foreword by Seth Shostak. In Shostak’s words, Lem offers “a deeper look at what would follow an actual SETI detection” and “deftly anticipates the inevitable ambiguities, the personal conflicts, and even the inescapable government paranoia.”
The discovery of a SETI signal might “change from fiction to fact tomorrow” and “offer an opportunity to glimpse the incandescent wisdom of intelligence millions or billions of years more advanced than ourselves.”
Lindsay Ellis’ novels “Axiom’s End” and “Truth of the Divine” feature aliens much more advanced than us that come to the Earth. Of course, the authorities have known of the aliens for decades and tried to cover things up. The aliens are seriously aliens, and ultra-advanced.
This theme has been often explored in vintage science fiction. But most vintage science fiction sounds too simple and too naive to the sophisticated readers of these days. Ellis, a social media superstar in her thirties, revisits alien invasion with contemporary sensibilities and a fresh, richly textured style.
Ellis is no scientist but she puts enough weird science and ultra tech in the novels to appeal to vintage science fiction fans as well. But what everyone wants to know, notes a reviewer, is “Do Cora [the human heroine] and Ampersand [the cyborg super alien] fuck?” Not yet, at the end of the second novel. But they come close, and everything can happen in the third novel expected next year.
Cover picture from NASA (adapted).