Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Future oil on linen 92 x 102 cm

Of The Universal 
And Maybe The Multiversal Kind
Regular readers know of my interest in existential risk. They also know of my fascination with cosmology. These two interests inter-relate.
Cosmology, the study of the Universe [maybe even the Multiverse], makes it very clear that we humans are new arrivals upon the trajectory of Universal/Multiversal time, space and distance. We did not exist for a very long time. The Universe is about 13.8 billion years old and we, Homo Sapiens, arrived in physical form only around 200,000 years ago...just a blip really! Check out the Big History Project's fascinating series Humans for more information.
So, we were definitely not around for a very long time. This perspective of the past makes our future seem quite vulnerable. How? There's no guarantee that the trajectory of the Universe/Multiverse will take us along for the full journey, whatever that may be. In the 21st century, a number of realisations and issues compel us to examine existence in different ways to existential ponderings of the past. Today, scientists, philosophers and a plethora of other thinkers and researchers, study the risk of real catastrophic risks that may lead to human extinction. These real possibilities include human-made and natural threats. The human-made ones are things like bio-terrorism, nuclear threat, rampant and uncontrolled artificial intelligence and much more. For further information on existential risks please visit Cambridge University's Centre for the Study of Existential Risk fascinating site and the Future of Life Institute in the USA.. You'll see that science fiction's parameters need to be re-negotiated to acknowledge that some fictions are now being considered as distinct possibilities, especially in the area of artificial intelligence..
A cosmological perspective of time, is humbling. If we humans want to stick around, we have to seriously think about our behaviour, abilities and the future. Apart from human-made risks there's the issue that our Sun will not exist forever. Yes, it's got about 4 billion years to go, but it will make life on Earth very uncomfortable long before its ultimate demise. Even without the other smorgasbord of risks facing humanity, our Sun will ultimately cook us or force us to leave to find another planetary home/s. Indeed, many thinkers including Stephen Hawking see humanity's continued existence as contingent upon an interplanetary settlement.
But, humanity's continued existence, does not necessarily mean we will be like we are now. For instance the need for interplanetary travel and settlement may mean forced mutations in order to survive. It may mean artificial intelligence integrates with us, so that downloaded minds 'exist' is physical forms that are not flesh and blood. I did say some science fictions need to be re-negotiated to the realms of possibility and thus serious research! If you'd like to read a thoughtful and detailed analysis of artificial intelligence check out The Singularity: A Philosophical Analysis by David J Chalmers. Others fascinating thinkers to check out are Nick Bostrom and Jaan Tallin.
So to my new painting FUTURE
Yes, it is ambiguous! Regular readers know I like ambiguity. Well, I certainly don't have THE answers in order to be less ambiguous, but I do have questions, musings, wonderings. I am engaged and I have fun with this engagement. It's like playing in a sand pit, where the sand slips and falls, but as it does this, I am entertained, become thoughtful, and I learn.

Future looks cosmological. The Universe seems to open up, maybe like an eye? This 'eye' sees... at the same time as beckoning us forward into its glow. There's promise. For me it is both past and future, because the future is always present-as-potential in the past. Maybe that's the promise?

Even though Homo Sapiens appeared only 200,000 years ago, the birth of the Universe created the 'dust' that ultimately lead to life on Earth, including us. 'Dusty' connections back to the source, give hope that they continue, in some form or another, into the future. Indeed, even if we humans are cooked by a dying Sun, we'll return to the cosmos as dust...literally!

And, who knows where that may lead?

 Gate Oil on linen 100 x 100 cm 2011
Viewers have seen an eye is this painting too!


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