Possibilities: blossoming in the morn of days

International Social Science Journal (Chinese Edition)
No.1, 2013
Possibilities: blossoming in the morn of days
Stephen R. L. Clark
Taking my cue from a poem by an eighteenthcentury politician, H. H. Breckenridge, I examine the moral effects of imagining more or less plausible accounts of our very distant future (supposing that we escape destruction). In particular I consider – with reference to science fiction as well as mainstream philosophy – the possible conflict between biological and machine intelligence, the chance that the power of speech be widely distributed among our fellow creatures, and that speciesdistinctions cease to be significant – an outcome that has been described as the end of the Darwinian Era, but is better considered the vindication of pure Darwinian evolution. I conclude with discussion of the unnerving possibility that our very remote descendants or successors might have reason to construct virtual realities about adventuring in the early days of the cosmos (that is, our apparent present), and that there is therefore a good chance that we ourselves are living in such a virtual reality, and might wake up to realise that we are denizens of the very End.