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AGI Lectures Summary 
Here’s a succinct, six-point summary of the lectures on AGi and the Human Future I completed on 2/22: 

One. Humans, especially with the prospect of developments in AI that may lead to AGI, are developing technologies that are likely to create a major discontinuity in human civilizational development. This discontinuity will be akin to the shift that followed from the development of  phonetic literacy in the first millennium BCE, known as the Axial Revolution, and the invention of moveable type in the 15th century from which followed the Scientific Revolution. 

Two, Technological developments change human nature for better and worse. It could be argued that people who lived in hunter-gatherer societies were far happier and lived in deeper communion with one another, the natural world, and the cosmos than do people who live in modern societies. People who live in modern societies live lives that are clearly more alienated, lonely, and meaningless compared to our premodern ancestors. If humans have paid a price in the intensification of their alienation, what have they received in return? Certainly material prosperity--at least for some--but also, more importantly, a sense of themselves as free, moral actors. As having an "I".  

Three. To come into full awareness of one's freedom and individuation, one must suffer a 'disembeddeing', a  "positive alienation", a metaphorical 'wandering in the wilderness'. This is where one learns to step outside of one's acculturation and to self-legislate. As the early Christian monks fled into the Egyptian and Syrian deserts, so must we all step outside of our acculturation to find within us what the Greeks called the Transcendent Good, the Chinese called the Tao, the ancient Israelites the Torah. and Christians the Logos. But unlike our premodern ancestors who chose to flee into the wilderness, the wilderness has come to us. It has de-territorialized us in place. It has stripped us of all our traditions, customs, and external cultural props.This forces us to choose, either to surrender to what's worst in us or to find what's best. You need not be religious to know the Transcendent Good. But whether religious or not, all people of good will know it with the awakening in the heart of an inner spiritual faculty called 'conscience'.

Four. Cultural Conservatives are people who want their lost territory back. Liberals are people who are too comfortable in adapting to the nihilistic creative-destruction of what I call the Techno-Capitalist Matrix--or TCM.  But there is no getting back what was lost, and just allowing the TCM to develop unchecked leads inevitably to disaster for the human project. We humans must move forward, and we must create something new--something inspired by the Transcendent Good.
Five. Because these new technologies are unprecedented in their power to change what it means to be human, we cannot allow people who are captured by the TCM, and who therefore have little sense of the Transcendent Good. to develop these technologies unchecked. The technologies don't scare me; the people creating them do because of the way they are so deeply and unreflectively captured by the TCM. In the coming decades, all people of good will throughout the globe, i.e., all people who have consciences and who in some measure know the Transcendent Good, need to find a way to organize a resistance to the TCM. 

Six. As unlikely as it seems now because of its lack of moral and spiritual authority, the Church is perhaps the only cultural institution with global reach that provides an infrastructure to organize such a global resistance. Why the Church? The universities, the media, are captured by the TCM. The Church must undertake such a project in concert with the other great Post-Axial religions--Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism--as well as other smaller religions/sects similarly inspired. Instead of obsessing about their differences, all people of good will need to find a way to speak with one voice in resistance to the TCM. How this will happen I don't know. Expect the unexpected--out of barren wombs and empty tombs, so to say. But something like it must happen because the people who are most deeply captured by the nihilism of the TCM are leading humanity off a cliff, and the rest of us, divided and so pre-emptively conquered, are passively being dragged behind. 
I plan to make this argument in more detail later this spring on my free Substack Newsletter when I've done with my Winter Quarter teaching responsibilities. 

Final Wrap for AGI, Hope, and the Human Future
Here are last night's slides.
And as I mentioned last night after the lecture,  I would be posting a bibilography for further reading.
If you want to be in touch with me through email, you can contact me at jackwhelan1@comcast.net.
And if you are interested in subscribing to my freeSubstack Newsletter you can either email me or go directly to the website here. I will be posting there a version of the three AGi talks in essay form sometime in March. 


From Jack Whelan:

Slides from last night are posted below. I encourage you to read throuogh them since there’s content on them that was unavailable in the presentation last night because  of the technical difficulties.   

I also ecnourage you to watch Whale Rider and Soul, which play a role in next week’s lecture similarly to the role played by The Matrix in Lecture 2.   

See you next week—   Jack

Download Week Two Slides here (PDF)

From Jack Whelan:

I was probably too ambitious in my presenting the Charles Taylor Disembedding them in such a condensed form, but I wanted to get it laid out as something to build on in the next two weeks. I think it will be clearer as I work out the implications. In the meanwhile here are the slides for you to take another look at. 
There is also the John Vervaeke YouTube I referenced in the first lecture. I recommend that you start at about the 30 minute mark, and try to be patient with the jargony CogSci language. I think that you should be able to undersand the most important ideas they are debating. 

In the second lecture I willl be referencing two movies: The Matrix and I, Robot. It would be great if you could find some time to watch both, but The Matrix if you have only time for one. It will make what I have to say next week a lot more easy to understand. 

See you next week. 

Downlaod Week One Slides here (PDF)





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