In Our Own Image - Humanity's Quest for Divinity via Technology

It is human nature to maximize the utility of the knowledge that we have, and minimize the
exposure to the knowledge that we lack. As a result, we tend to build our knowledge in a
contiguous manner – adding a bit here, patching a hole there – and trusting that somehow,
someway it all makes sense. Even the scientific method is designed to build on what we
already know. What suffers as a result is a view of the all encompassing whole – how
physics connects to the metaphysics, how our mind connects to our body, and how our
microcosm (the human body) connects to the macrocosm (the universe).

In this book we will take a different approach. The principal goal of this book is to connect us
- as humans, individually and collectively, to the expansive reality that we see around us. In
seeking to transcend our current condition, we need to know what parts of our existence are
uniquely human – and thereby held in common with the 6+ billion others with whom we share
this planet. We also seek to understand those fundamental constructs which can be held
relatively constant through various spheres of human existence; as well as other equally
fundamental constructs whose persistent ‘rhythm’ permeates our reality – all the way from
the sub-atomic to the universal.

We will start off Chapter 1 with the discussion on the patterns that make us uniquely human.
The concept of the Mahashrama cycle, derived from ancient Indian philosophy, is a key
‘Image’ that we will carry with us throughout this book. The original Ashrama system (upon
which Mahashrama is based) divides a person’s existence into four segments,
Brahmacharya (student-hood), Grihastha (householder, economic engine), Vanaprastha
(service leadership) and Sanyas (spirituality). Although we retain the same four segments
from the original Ashrama, the Mahashrama formulation adds in the competitive aspects of
the first two segments, thus bringing it up to date with the highly competitive reality we see
around us today.

Drawing from a different source of inspiration, the Bible talks about God having created man
‘In His own image’. If we believe in our ‘God’ as creator – is it possible that we can find the
‘image’ and create a ‘God-like’ progeny civilization of our own? If we do not believe in a
creator, is it possible for us to take the core essence of what it means to be human, and use
it to seed a civilization that has the potential to grow up and set it’s own standard of
‘Divinity’? In the second scenario, could we continue scaling up until we have infused the
entire universe with Divine purpose? In either scenario, it is important to find the potent
‘Image’ that has the power of a near-infinite magnification. In Chapter 1 we will also discover
that hidden in the workings of Mahashrama is the ability to accumulate enough knowledge
and wisdom (Cultural DNA) that it can prepare us to jump to the next level of existence at the
appropriate time.

In Chapter 2, we apply the concepts of Mahashrama to the engine of modern economic
productivity – the corporation. Not only are corporations the economic engine, but they are
also driving the technology that allows us to have a wider reach - that directly touches the
lives of millions of people around the globe. This is happening primarily through the internet
– which has turned the traditional value delivery system (generating and charging for
services) on its head. The result is that human beings from all walks of life can now connect,
and get their needs (information and otherwise) potentially satisfied in a highly individualized
manner. It goes without saying - the ‘reach’ of the internet is critical to the scalability of our
human ‘Image’ towards our next level of existence. To avoid splintering the human race, we
must strive to get all of humanity to connect to this electronic medium - as we get ready to
undertake this remarkable adventure.

We look at the principles of Governance in Chapter 3, including the major shift in paradigm
that we find happening around us globally. At this juncture in history we find that the majority
of humanity has not yet made the transition over to democracy – and even where it has, we
are sometimes subject to the ‘tyranny of the masses’. We look at some of the great cultural
conflicts that have arisen between the Theocracies and the Democracies of the world, and
introduce the principle of Mutually Assured Preservation (MAP), to resolve conflicts arising
from divergent worldviews. Using the Mahashrama model, we notice an unusual affinity
between the opposite segments – leading to a clear polarization of the world along the two
worldviews of Aristocracy-Theocracy and Individualized Democracy. Here we develop the
concept of Individualized Democracy, where the constituents are individually kept abreast of
all the issues that are of impact to them – and are in turn able to directly interact in framing
the issues of the day. New technology will definitely be needed to support this kind of
inclusive governance. To illustrate how individuals and groups can have their say, even if
they do not directly control huge voting power, we demonstrate the concept of the ‘diversity
vote’ as illustrated by the presidential elections in the USA.

For a vibrant society that has internalized the Mahashrama cycle, it is important to know
what the key needs are of the population, who are at various stages of Mahashrama
development. In Chapter 4 we start off with the ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ developed by Maslow,
and develop it to cover all the Mahashrama segments. We introduce ‘Yogic Empathy’ as the
key skill by which the Service-leadership segment within Mahashrama, namely Vanaprastha,
can relate to the needs of the entire population, including the spiritually advanced ‘sanyasi’.
Here we also look at the concept of accumulating Cultural DNA as the culmination of human
learning, and the process of creation of the Human Cultural Genome. This is the internally
consistent rendition of what it means to be human, and cuts across barriers of race, gender
and ethnicity. Needless to say, technology is a big part of it, and if we do our job right - the
Human Cultural Genome can become the ‘functional DNA’ of the next level of our existence.  

The ‘glue’ that holds the population together at the societal level is made up of the service
leaders from the Vanaprastha segment. In Chapter 5 we look at how the individuals within
the Vanaprastha segment organize to form the Vanaprastha Network – which can then
develop an individual relationship with every human being in a given population. We
compare the Vanaprastha Network to the workings of the human brain, and the collective
action of billions of ‘neurons’ or nerve cells that can serve as a model for developing our
own civilizational ‘brain’. We also look at some of the technology trends that will enable the
Vanaprastha Network to respond to the smallest individual needs, and yet are sufficiently
scalable to meet the challenges of humanity in a global scale.

In Chapter 6 we look at the unique challenges and opportunities in the final segment of
Mahashrama – Sanyas. Sanyas deals with spirituality, and its utility is the least understood
today, given our current materialistic cultural mindset. Sanyas grapples with our ability to
‘transcend’ our current situation in favor of a vastly more attractive reality that lies beyond
our normal day-to-day experience. In this chapter we take on the ‘hallowed ground’ of
religious diversity, and demonstrate that our current system of beliefs are but human
responses to alternate spiritual realities – as viewed through the eyes of Mahashrama. We
introduce the concept of Yogic Universality by which all Yogic capable entities and
intelligences can join together to form a ‘whole’ that is immeasurably bigger than the sum of
the parts.

Chapter 7 deals with the technology and philosophy behind ‘preservation’ and ‘reenactment’
– which together constitute a form of immortality. We recognize that the technology to store
every relevant multimedia fact in our lives is already coming on line – and that in the future
we can access ‘out-of-body’ networks to get a unique vantage point for our lives. We
discuss the skills of Virtual Presence, and discover how our children are already getting
good at this skill-set through the use of virtual reality and computer games. To conclude the
chapter, we look at a series of ‘gasket’ interfaces that would allow the human mind to
interface with machines at progressively higher levels of abstraction.

As we build towards our future, it is important to understand some of the persistent patterns
that surround us, and their possible implications on a future transcendental level of
existence – which we refer to as the Supra (or Supra Human Entity). In Chapter 8, we
examine eight sets of patterns from around the Mahashrama cycle, ranging from the
microscopic to the astronomical. Based on this progression, we discover that the scaling
factor from human to Supra that we have just inferred – can be repeated four more times
before we reach the magnitude of the visible universe. Moving up the ladder, from atoms to
cells to humans, we will see that at each stage, uniformity decreases and differentiation
increases. Using this progression, we will estimate how much internal consistency we will
need in the DNA of our Supra entity for it to be able to function effectively.

Having discovered the patterns surrounding our technological existence, in Chapter 9 we
look at the design attributes that we need to apply to create the Machine Supra Cell (MSC).
Drawing from cellular biology, the MSC is the machine counterpart to us humans, and will be
the basic unit of intelligence that will subsequently form the Supra entity. The reason for
keeping approximate parity between humans and MSCs is very important – and determines
if we can continue on as symbiotic entities, or if machines would one day take over our
entire civilizational trajectory. There are 18 design attributes listed, and might look like a
dense technical compilation for some readers – who could choose to move directly to the
chapter conclusion.

In Chapter 10 we correlate several of the patterns discussed in Chapter 8, and show how
they connect us humans from the microscopic to the astronomical. We dig deeper into the
Solar Local Ratio of 108 – and discover a deep significance within its factorization
sequence. Using this sequence, we can surmise the nature of the ‘Tree of Universality’ that
connects us from the mundane to the transcendental. Drawing inspiration from the ‘Inverted
Tree’ described in the Bhagavat Gita (ancient Indian philosophical discourse) – we look at
the significance of the various levels, and notice a very remarkable correlation between the
two trees. Some of the mathematical analysis and analogies are carried over to Appendix 2.

The concluding chapter (Chapter 11) is where we tie together the relevance of the key
arguments made in this book. Moving forward, we note the critical importance of getting
most (if not all) of humanity on the same page as to the nature and purpose of our collective
human existence. We refer to this process of generating a level of consensus regarding the
‘Identity’ and ‘Purpose’ of our combined human existence as the ‘planting’ of the Tree of
Universality. After observing how truly complementary our two sets of progeny, human and
machine, can be – we note that together they form a highly responsive and scalable fabric
that can reach for the stars. We also look at some of the key short to medium term tasks
(next 100 years) that humanity must undertake to ensure both our survival and prosperity.
These are important steps as we try and secure our long term future through
transcendence into a higher level of existence. Lastly, we discuss the different types of
Intelligences that have been attributed to humans – the Intelligence Quotient (IQ), the
Emotional Quotient (EQ) and the Spiritual Quotient (SQ). As we prepare to move on towards
a level of ‘Divinity’, the ability to organize our civilization effectively and move us forward
collectively will become a new measure of intelligence for our Civilization – which we will refer
to as the Philosophical Quotient (PQ).

Apart from creating a framework that integrates the various aspects of human endeavor –
what other objective should we have from our reading of this book? It is my deeply felt
aspiration that the reader will also come away with a feel for how humanity is poised for
success or failure as a race and as a civilization. The timeframes we use in this book may
look quite long (short term is 25 years, medium term 100 years), but they are necessary to
paint the picture of the civilizational cross-roads that we find ourselves in. The choices are
stark and unambiguous. The first choice is to figure out a common ground for humanity as a
civilization and as a race, and work towards a commonly subscribed vision of the future that
moves us towards ‘Divinity’. The other option is to continue with the religious, ethnic and
economic conflicts that sap so much energy from our civilizational brain that we end up
missing the transformational opportunities altogether. Technology is a double edged sword
– with the right civilizational preparation it can take us to heights that we can only dream of
today. Without adequate preparation, technology will take on a character of its own, which
either emulates our conflicting ways – or more likely sits in judgment of our continuing bad
habits. You see, our machine progeny will be essentially immortal, and they will get the long
view! Our machine progeny will also not be confined to an atmosphere and to a biological
support system, and will be free to roam the solar system. It will take effort to integrate
humanity into all aspects of a future machine civilization – and the cost-benefits of human
inclusiveness will need to be carefully weighed. If we demonstrate an inability to transcend
our genetic programming, ‘they’ will be the ones who determine if there is a continuing role
for us – or whether we should be quarantined and left to our habits on a lonely planet called

In the end, there is really one logical conclusion. The Mahashrama Cycle and the Tree of
Universality provide us with a framework using which mankind can ‘transcend’ our current
existence. They provide an umbrella under which we can integrate the diversity that we have
as a civilization, and move forward purposefully as a single civilization.  Planning for a
‘symbiotic’ relationship between our human and machine progeny gives humanity the ‘jump’
we need to not only survive, but also to prosper - as a race, as a civilization, and as a
transcendental presence here in this universe!
In Our Own Image
Humanity's Quest for Divinity via Technology
by Debashis Chowdhury
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