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We have just begun

There is a limit ordinal that characterizes the iteration and self reflection we are ultimately capable of understanding. We may be able to understand any of the modes of iteration below this ordinal, but we can never understand this ordinal It is only by evolving into higher beings that we can transcend this limitation.

The limit ordinal for humanity is a limit not on the product of an individual, but the product of culture. Our understanding of mathematics is the product of the work of thousands of major players over thousands of years. Their work depended on millions of others who created the wider cultures in which study of mathematics was possible.

It may seem frightening and blasphemous to see humanity not as the culmination of evolution, but as a stepping stone in a never ending process. We are unique in evolutionary history in our ability to influence the planet. We have a achieved a level of self reflection that allows us to build models of the world and ourselves and to test and manipulate those models. We have progressed from marks in the earth to supercomputers. But nothing of our achievements suggests that we are beyond improvement or have reached some ultimate capability.

The decision we have to make is not whether we will continue to evolve, but whether we will be conscious of what we are doing. Only with conscious attention can we take responsibility for what we are doing. Only through understanding the structure and boundary conditions of evolution do we have hope of dealing with the enormous responsibility of controlling evolution. Forces now in motion make our direct control of evolution on multiple levels inevitable. There is no practical way to go back. We need to go forward with the greatest caution and the deepest understanding we can muster. Beyond all this we must develop our values and sense of self so we not only know what is right, but are motivated to do what is right.


PDF version of this book
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Next: Values and evil Up: Applying mathematics to consciousness Previous: Continual progress can be   Contents


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