There is a lot of truth in the ideas above, and it seems that all is not quite as outlined.
It seems that most of the higher functions are distributed, rather than localised to any specific region.
Certainly many of the perceptual functions are localised, and certainly there are some aspects of the storage and retrieval systems are localised to particular regions of the brain, and it seems that memory, and most higher functions related to memory, are distributed across most of the brain.
So it seems that the brain is a mix of localised and distributed systems, with some that are intermediate (being mostly localised and partially distributed, or vice versa).
If one is alone, then certainly, one has many potential problems.
If one has appropriate technology, and a cooperating community, then one has the potential to recover from all injuries.
There is no excuse for any extinction from this time on.
We have the technical ability to store examples of cells of all species, so that should they become extinct in the wild, we will, when our social and technical systems stabilise, be able to bring them back to wild systems again.
There are gene banks in many different nations now.
So no – I don’t see extinction as an issue. If anything does go extinct, then it is a matter of incompetence or deliberate destruction on a monumental scale.
We are developing technology at an exponential rate.
Outer damage is becoming less and less of an issue, and within a very few decades seems likely to ba a none issue.
Our exponential growth in knowledge applies to our internal systems as well.
Damage is such an interesting notion. It implies that there is some optimal system structure.
Certainly, there are some key subsystems that are absolutely necessary for the function of awareness, and a lot of other subsystems can be substituted.
It seems to me from my experience that often some of the greatest growth I have experienced has come about when I have lost what seemed like key system components, and have had to learn how to operate with other systems in different modes.
In today’s world, provided you have a cooperative network, and you have the ability to communicate in some fashion, then you have the potential to do anything (if not by yourself then through others).
We can use the hands of others, including the hands of robots.
Here in Kaikoura there are two brothers who grew up using the machinery of their father’s contracting business. They are almost as good as each other when it comes to using diggers, and yet to my eye, one brother (Kevin) has a slight edge when it comes to using a 20T digger with a thumb and bucket. He can do things in minutes that would be difficult to coordinate a hundred men to do in hours.
And that is relatively old and primitive technology.
The next generation of robot arms and hands will be able to exceed humans in all attributes – strength, speed, sensitivity, dexterity.
It is a very interesting time in which we find ourselves – very interesting indeed.
We are still capable of completely stuffing it all up, and there is also a very real possibility of producing both technologies and ways of thinking that support radical abundance and radical security for all humans (and through the attendant rise in awareness, all other life as well).
So I am cautiously optimistic.
It seems to me that the biggest threat to our future seems to be the myopic focus on money and markets that dominate most decision making complexes at present. And there are signs that there are some cracks appearing in that paradigm, and it is going to take concerted effort by a lot of people, at many different levels.
As far as I am aware, such communities do not exist yet.
And they do not seem to be very far off.
Last I looked it seemed that something over 1% of the population had achieved some sort of enlightenment state experience, and somewhere around 1% of those were experiencing some sort of enlightenment stage experience with some consistency.
That still makes them a very small minority, and it is a significant number of people (close to a million).
So there is a lot of stuff happening at many different levels, and all is often not quite as it seems.
Nanotech is still in its infancy, and like many things, it will mature quickly.
While some people were working on robotic cars in the late 70′s, DARPA inaugurated their Grand Challenge in 2004, and this year (2012) it is legal to have self driving cars on the road in Nevada State.
People have been working on medical techniques for micro and nanoscale repair of human tissue for a very long time, and we are finally getting to the stage where we are starting to understand how the major systems of the brain interact with each other. So it is not here yet, and it is not that far away. Another decade or so and experimental procedures for the worst of damages should be available. As we learn from working on those, we will improve. That is the nature of knowledge – always a bit of trial and error involved – and when working inside brains, you don’t want the errors to make things significantly worse – so you always start with the most damaged of cases (so long as we have people driving cars we wont be short of those).
If you are not talking about physical damage, but are talking about what I call systems level damage – habits or patterns that do not align well with reality, but are well protected by recursive systems, then that is another issue.
To me, such matters can always be fixed, if the person involved at some level wants it to be fixed.
It then becomes a matter of gently building and reinforcing the level that wants the “fixing”, so that it is able to do what is required (which may not be an easy or quick journey – perhaps decades or longer). Something for which radical life extension is a must – to allow the individuals involved to have a sufficiently long realistic time-scale to work with.
Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series is a good read, with some good ideas one what one might need to look for. And I think things have progressed a little further than that.
Beautifully put Torch.
Nothing in there I would disagree with.
The only things I would add is that it seems that the entire system is potentially infinitely recursive – ie that there is no end, even in principle, to the number of levels one can transcend. In other words, there is no end, only the journey, the practice, the being.
The other thing is that it is not just about self-repair – it is also about self creation. It seems that we do have choice, at all levels.
So many possible analogies.
We are tempered by the fire of our own soul’s journey.
If we simply relax and enjoy the ride, hang loose, await for opportunities to present themselves to our intuition.
And we need to keep practicing our competencies, and working on new ones – with infinite choice, there must be some that call to us. Who’s to say which is more important than any other.
When something has the property of light, it radiates something. It seems that it radiates information about the states of its being. That information is received by whatever it encounters.
Some forms are transparent to particular energies (they just pass straight through, no interaction).
Some forms can receive certain energies, and change their state as a result.
Some forms receive and re-radiate.
There are perhaps infinite analogies available.
So perhaps enlightenment is a useful term.
Analogy, abstraction, evolution, …. Such an amazing set of processes. So interlinked, so recursive, such and infinitude of infinities.
It seems to me that the worst of it comes from our societal attachment to money as a valuation system.
It is so fundamentally flawed, and at odds with true human values, that it seriously screws with the intuition of most folks.
Self interest is a powerful motivator, and it needs to go far beyond money and markets.
And that is a journey.
Not an easy one in today’s world.
What is uninviting about being “stuck using intuition to sort it all out”?
To me, that is the journey.
That is what the machine does.
Might as well enjoy it.
Revel in it even!
Rationalising our intuitions is so much fun – at least for this bloke.
At the societal level, I am reasonably confident that it is not too safe to give up on the rationalising and testing of our intuitions. That function does actually seem to be important for our mutual survival and development. Without it, we’d all be stuck with some version of “burning witches”, and we would all probably already have been at the “stake” some years back.
Intuition is great.
It seems to be responsible for most of the novelty we all enjoy so much.
And it needs to be tested and tempered with the rationalising and testing aspects of our being too (if and when time permits, and sometimes time doesn’t permit until after a particular choice has been made, and actions taken).
As to jumping off cliffs, fine with an abseil harness, or a good parachute, or parapont, or hang glider etc; and I’m not yet ready to test Douglas Adam’s theory of flight “Throw yourself at the ground and miss.”