Incrementally, we incriminate ourselves. The tabla rasa of birth, research shows, is no longer a blank slate. That old biblical indictment, "the sins of the forefathers shall be visited upon the sons," is a continual catch-clause in our family constellations. Yet at which juncture might one say that the buck stops here, and might the evolution of an individual, let alone a species, surpass all that clings to the heretofore? How do we ever overcome our great great great not so great grandfather, some three hundred years ago, whose weakness and selfishness and sickness may still be seen to plague us? And on the other side, how do we live up to our great great great grandmother who endured and triumphed over the inestimable odds of her time and race? When do we find ourselves sufficient unto ourselves, such that no anchor of the past, no shoreline or habitat or involvement holds us back from peace with ourselves at this present moment, or is the very vessel in which we travel always built up by the bulk of the constituents of our psychic time and place, let alone our geographic and genetic makeup?
Thing is, the journey of our cognizance can be repeated, like living within a perpetual loop, and we will see something new every time. (For myself, having driven an 1800 km journey back and forth, for several times a year over the course of 30 years, I still notice and discover and remark on things I never noticed, discovered, or remarked on before.) What if, like the AI, or artificial intelligence robots in a TV series called West World, we are in a perpetual loop of reincarnations in which we relive our circumstances, incrementally, adding to our conception of life, but also forgetting the past, except for those undeniable provocations of déjà vu. Hm? Certainly there are sufficient promulgators of such stories. What creative imagination! To what end? And were we here to insert that The Singularity is encroaching in order that we all may achieve a more coherent and effective symbiosis, then indeed, it would seem that the individual is entirely to be subsumed by the collective; there is no goal other than to contribute toward the health of the whole.
Yet, whose whole are we talking about?
"You want to make God!" was once levelled at Ray KurzweiL, the foremost proponent of artificial intelligence. He lifted his chin. "Isn't that what mankind imagined in the first place?" Yes. It's all very confusing, very disturbing, very unsettling. Yes, it's all out there, in some distant future. Yes, some of us may not live to see its inheritance, let alone its generalized inception, but we all, will he, nil He, are already in the grip of its sway. Incrementally, it advances. Skype. Wifi. Internet. Cell phones. Talking cars. Self parking cars. Self driving trucks. Replicators. Cloning. What would grandmother have thought! Imagine our great great forbearers in the cave!
Incrementally, we make mistakes. But we also learn. And if evolution may be defined as the ability to adapt to new survival needs, and intelligence may be defined as the ability to adapt to new challenges, then we are almost always at some new point on the continuum of the bell curve, caught up in the mass of mankind of our time period, or lagging behind, or perhaps even prodding at its forefront, edging on and egging on and egregiously hoping to do well. But how very different 'doing well' can be defined!
"Are you at peace with yourself," Morrie Schwartz asks, "are you trying to be as human as you can be?" It's a tall order. We seldom measure up. We are so very caught up in the increments of our existence, incriminating ourselves with 'faults', quite sure that somewhere out there, beyond here, lies yet more peace. Peace, when realized, is so very momentary. Rather, we are forever yearning, seeking, wanting, and exploring yet more and more and more. Thing is, how to be at peace with that. At peace with one's incremental incriminations; an attainment to have, indeed.