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[Psychedelic Thinking and the Dawn of Homo Cyber — continued]

The dawn of a new species

     Today we find ourselves on a planet whose biosphere is undergoing such severe stress that its species extinction rate is greater than has been seen for millions of years. We may have already exceeded the maximum number of humans this planet can comfortably support, yet our numbers continue to increase. Before too many more years, something must change. That much is clear. Things are not looking very bright for the human species. However, the end of the human species does not necessarily spell the end of life on this planet. In fact, the eclipse of the human species in its present form may signal the beginning of a new epoch for consciousness in this corner of the universe.

     Historically, large-scale ecological crises climax with the appearance of new species that have higher cognitive abilities than had existed before the crises. The worst mass extinction we know of was followed by the rise of mammals. The extinction that eliminated the dinosaurs was followed by the rise of primates. What then might we expect at the end of our current period of rapid species extinction?

     I think it is extremely egotistical to think that the current version of Homo sapiens is the end of the story of the evolution of sentient beings. If you believe that then you don’t have a very high opinion of consciousness. Surely it can rise to higher levels, even when constricted to operating in biology.

     It is my belief that when the dust clears, and our biosphere once again achieves equilibrium, we will see a new species of primate walking the planet. That species is what I call Homo cyber. Part human, part information, and a full-fledged psychedelic thinker, these cyberdelic beings will be as different from you and me as we are today from chimpanzees.(5) It is very important to understand, however, that you have the opportunity to take part in the genesis of this new species. For the first time in known history, a new species is coming into being through an act of self-selection.

     Each week now brings with it some new technological or scientific advance of major proportions. Before the first 25 years of this century are over, we will have experienced technological progress comparable to the combination of all of the advances made in the 20th Century. This is so because not only is scientific and technological progress advancing on an upward exponential curve, the rate of change has also become exponential. What this means is that between now and the year 2100 we will experience the equivalent of 20,000 years of scientific and technological progress. It is impossible for us to even begin to comprehend what the world will be like in 99 years. Even imagining the next 25 years is next to impossible.

     Consider that at the beginning of the 20th Century there were no automobiles, airplanes, telephones, televisions, or Internet. Even the best science fiction writers in 1901 did not accurately describe the world in which we now live. At our current double exponential rate of change, the equivalent of all the technological advances of the last century are going to take place by 2025. Seen from that perspective, providing every child, woman, and man on the planet with a wireless Internet connection seems a trivial problem. As we now seem to be heading in that exact direction, we should consider what it will mean when those wireless devices are implanted directly into our brains. Already, there are researchers in several countries successfully “wet-wiring” elementary computing devices directly into human brains. This is no longer the realm of science fiction. If you are even an occasional viewer of Star Trek, I suspect the first thing this scenario brings to mind is the Borg.(6) In case you missed it, the Borg were part humanoid and part wireless computer. Their computers, of course, were all connected to a master machine, which eliminated the free will of the individual Borg. It is this fate that Homo cyber, as it creates itself, seeks to escape.

     I do not think that our evolution into some form of Borg is inevitable. I believe we have a choice in the matter, now that consciousness has become a proactive participant in the processes of evolution. People who are aware of this new course of evolution have the rare opportunity to actually metamorphose into a new species. As I said, Homo cyber is a being that is part human, part information, and also a psychedelic thinker. This new branch of Homo sapiens is destined to take information processing to its next level.

     In essence, human bodies already are the most complex information-processing machines around. From the DNA in our cells through the chemical signaling of neurons in our brains, our bodies are constantly processing information. It should be no surprise, therefore, to see evolution providing even more information-processing capabilities through the augmentation of our bodies with technology. That we will soon be seeing wearable computers, which have wireless connections to the Net, is clear. What is not so clear is how these devices are going to alter our species-consciousness. As these devices become ever smaller and more intimately interfaced with our brains, the more clearly will Homo cyber be defined.

     If ever there was a time when psychedelic thinking is needed, it is now. As we stand here, poised to enter the Information Age, we are also witnessing the birth of a new life form. Part human, part machine, this new being will process information on a significantly higher plane than the one on which most humans now operate. It is going to take new ways of thinking and massive amounts of information processing for us to stem the current tide of ecological devastation that is convulsing our biosphere today. One strategy to save the Earth’s biosphere may be to evolve as many of these new meta-humans as quickly as possible.

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