A few days ago (from 6/23/2017), on one of my escape-from-senility adventures, I reviewed the 614 books I had borrowed from the Tucson Public Library over the past few years. I was reminded of authors I valued highly and searched to discover any new writings. Three authors of speculative fiction stood out: Robert Sawyer, David Brin, and Daniel Suarez. I ordered one recent book by each from the library. I just finished Quantum Night by Robert Sawyer. This coincidence, the close serendipity and synchronicity, with my own imagining and our accelerating global Crisis-of-Crises, at this time was exciting.
Quantum Night was first published in March 2016, when Trump was but a GOP primary candidate for POTUS; and viewed as a “joke” by many. POTUS in Quantum Night (2020) is a psychopath, eerily similar to The Donald. The multiple crises in Sawyer’s 2020 are potential forecasts for our real reality, on into the 21st Century.
Sawyer reports his intention, in writing this novel, was to alert “us” (humankind, in my terminology) of the deep reality of our Dark Side. As an appendix, he lists 51 highly relevant books . I was aware of most of them, have read many – which are in my own list of relevant books for the survival/thrival of Humanity/Gaia.
I have read many of Sawyer’s prior novels and heard his keynote presentation in 2010, in Tucson, at the Science of Consciousness Conferences, held every other year since the 1994 (which I attended). I learned, from the book, of another presentation at the 2016 conference – where he likely spoke about Quantum Night. Unfortunately I have been unable to attend the more recent conferences because of their excessive cost – even with my living in Tucson.
It is obvious that Sawyer was influenced by the persons and ideas discussed, over many years, at these conferences. He makes specific reference, in the text of the novel, to David Chalmers, Stuart Hameroff, and Roger Penrose – and bases the scientific (quantum) hypothesis, in the novel, on their theoretical work on consciousness. Within the novel are explicit references to the works of many other scientists, whose work attempts to better comprehend the complexity of “human nature”.
Yet, Robert Sawyer’s integration of these many discoveries and insights is masterful, as is his attempt to alert us the the reality of three basic human types: (Q1) Zombies (humans lacking consciousness, ala Chalmers, or simple S/R mechanisms), (Q2) Psychopaths (humans conscious, but without conscience), and (Q3) the “Quicks” (conscious with conscience) among us. I wonder on the data Sawyer consulted to arrive at his 4:2:1 contemporary ratio for these three fundamental human types.
In my writings, I have attempted to alert others to the vast COGNITIVE DIVERSITY within humankind, for which the three types are very rough categories. I focus on the great diversity among the “Quicks”. Sawyer doesn’t attend to diversity within the three types. I also believe the three categories are more themes or threads that can occur in every human, at different times and in different circumstances and mixes (along with other relevant themes).
The three types are discrete, in the novel, due to their material association with three distinct states of quantum entanglement coherence in the micro-tubular structures within each neuron (an extrapolation of the “Orch OR” hypothesis by Hameroff and Penrose). The drama in the novel hinges on means to shift persons (and whole populations) between the three states. Of all the novelist scientific extrapolations (acknowledged by Sawyer), I find this the most unlikely – but also necessary for the novel’s drama.
Sawyer, having his primary characters, in Quantum Night, exist (at different times) in all three types is a insightful way to illustrate the differences between the types. How his characters relate to each other between their state differences (and similarities), and how they thought of themselves having been in other states – was well done. Also of merit, is his weaving in issues of Utilitarianism, Ethics, and Free Will.
The novel’s ending was not satisfying to me, but he could hardly have done differently – within the context of a novel. Miraculous, heroic, individual human intervention, AGAIN, saves humankind from catastrophe. The future was left to emerge, seemingly without critical, human, creative, positive contribution – which is, unfortunately, typical of all longer-term futures thinking today. It is this paradox that my Up2Met model attempts to address.
I was also frustrated by leaving humankind with all the “Quicks”, now being psychopaths. Even if, now only 1 of 7 from 2 of 7, from their positions in societies they could do real damage. The prior “Quicks” were the most talented and competent in many disciplines, their creativity having been nurtured during their lifetimes. Prior Psychopaths, now having conscience, is hardly sufficient to assist humankind free itself from the systemic traps they have laid for themselves.
UPLIFTING the whole population, in many different domains of knowledge and competencies, remains – to me – a primary prerequisite in any successful transition. Why & how such a challenge is deemed so impossible, to be excluded from the imagination of the most imaginative, is my primary query.
Quantum Night was, and is, a scary concept. I also believe the Crisis-of-Crises we face is systemic, in the cognitive diversity of humankind whose minds are warped by the effects of their own creations. We literally and significantly are NOT who we think we are. We all have limitations, which within our delusion of superiority and exceptionalism, block us from doing what we have the potentials to do – were we to acknowledge and accept our limitations.
The Sci/Tech of humans and humankind, cited by Sawyer, reports many patterns – but there is no coherent theory/model of humankind – in its diversity and complexity. We transfer the successes of the Sci/Tech of material systems (without human persons as components) to the Sci/Tech of systems with human persons as key components, which is unfounded and dangerous. Humankind requires a unique Sci/Tech, which I call Quman Physics.
In the context of Sawyers’ three types, our difficulties are not the result of Zombies or Psychopaths. We haven’t “fixed humankind” because of the arrogance of the “Quicks” and their belief – in any era or culture – that they basically know reality. This may be the curse of “consciousness” (a phenomenon not yet adequately identified, let alone comprehended). Zombies and psychopaths continue to cause trouble because the type with the potential to “do the right things” don’t adequately attend to their own uplift.
However we might call or list those traits that have given humans the “advantage”, we have not yet had sufficient time to adapt to our own creativity and productivity. And, even with the few persons who accept the “fact” that our experienced wrlds are totally subjective (we experience and behave DIRECTLY from patterned neural-molecular activity in our brains/bodies); we can’t avoid behaving as if we directly perceive an objective world -THAT IS ALSO PERCEIVED SIMILARLY BY OTHERS (but who may interpret it differently). So, if others act strangely, it is because they are ignorant or deceptive.
Note: we never directly perceive others; we experience patterns in our brain/bodies that have been influenced by (hypothetical) energy signals from others onto our sensory organs. Some of the time, what we experience is sufficiently similar to what others “experience”, so as to have no problems.
Our brains worked well with the complexity of tribal life and environments. (1) Our brains haven’t evolved to meet our current needs (which is unlikely without DNA manipulation – for which we are not yet knowledgeable to perform correctly – even if we have the tools to do it) AND (2) We have yet to design/engineer/emerge learning/organizing systems to seaf (support, enable,augment, facilitate) our contemporary brains to work better together.
Some persons can be so influenced by their own internal contexts as to actually experience others as saints or ogres. This is the confused state of most humans unaware of the basics of psychology: what they experience is believed to be objectively real. This causes great difficulty when they think they actually “observe” “meta-things” such as governments and corporations.
Fortunately, humankind – with its emergent visual languages – have created patterns (information) independent of the material nature of the substrate on which the pattern is superimposed (written). I call these sems (semiotic structures). What is unique about sems (from all other “objects” or “figures of attention” in the hypothetical material world) is that by gestures and language diverse persons can come-to-agree that two patterns are identical (although they will always differ on their “meanings”). This is not the case for any other “percept” in the universe. Sems are the magical key to accuracy and precision in communication. We have to explore this strange phenomenon and learn to utilize it in guiding the future, multi-millennial emergence of Humanity/Gaia on Planet Earth.