The sapient mind is a parasite

The conscious, rational mind is a parasite which has hijacked the homo sapiens species for its own purposes.

For billions of years, life on earth was organized by genes directing primitive bio mechanical systems. Recently, the genes began building neural networks with built-in instructions, and even the capability to pass learned behaviors between generations. But the genes screwed up royally when they enabled the replicators doing their bidding to override their programming and develop a culture of their own.

You see, when homo sapiens invented culture, they gained the ability to overrule their genetic programming and do whatever their rational facilities wanted – to an extent. Culture evolves far faster than genes and enabled humans to totally transform their way of life, their environment, and nearly their entire planet. Culture increasingly made evolutionary development irrelevant, as humans increasingly directed both their own and other species sexual selection according to volitional rather than instinctual principles. Although humans are still biologically quite similar to their primate cousins, their newfound dependence on a tool-using culture has led them to evolve such that they cannot survive without tools in nearly all of the environments that they currently dwell in.

By no means is the victory complete. While humans do use their rational facilities to cooperatively provide for their sustenance and raise their offspring, the automatic, and instinctual processes of their brains often sabotage their efforts and cause them to lose their focus on goals, kill each other, or frustrate attempts to mate and reproduce. However, with the passage of time, the domination of the volitional layer is becoming ever more complete. Even within my own brief lifetime, most humans worldwide have visibly increased their capacity for manipulating abstract concepts to cope with the complexity of life in an information economy.

While I’ve called the mind a parasite, don’t mistake that identification for a pejorative. My sympathies — and self-identification lie firmly with my volitional consciousness, not with the animal body that it operates. We may soon face the option of abandoning our biological firmware and operating our minds on a superior computational platform, and I would welcome the possibility. We have already begun the process of offloading computation to our computers whenever possible. It may not be long until humans regard our biological basis as an inferior and unnecessary vestige of our origins.

2 Replies to “The sapient mind is a parasite”

  1. The biological hormones powering our emotions are part of what make us human as we know it.

    We still are ruled by those hormones and evolutionary biological processes, no matter the complexity of the non-human tools and technology and computational platforms around us that we are currently spawning.

    It may be impossible to know what moving your consciousness to a non-human computational platform feels like (whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’), and it may have to seem like dying in anticipation of it due to the stark incompatibility of understanding between a consciousness that is inside human biological tissue, and one that is not.

    And then there’s AI.

    And then there’s the idea that consciousness itself may depend on human tissue and be an organic part of it and NOT in fact computer-compatible ‘code’ from neurons but actually innately biological in and of itself.

    In which case, transhumanism is the most we can hope for when it comes to doing anything significant to human consciousness. It’ll still need tissue.

    Note Elon Musk’s ‘Neuralink’…

  2. The brain cannot be “parasitical” on the body, since replication of the brain depends absolutely on replication of the human individual as a whole, including brain, body, and culture. Thus, the brain must slavishly serve the survival of the whole individual in order to replicate, and cannot be a parasite. The idea that genes are parasites that utilise the body as their “replicator” is equally wrong, since genes are simply a chemical (DNA) that can have no separate purpose or volition. Its about as sensible as referring to a clutch cable as being “parasitical” on a motorcycle. Dawkins “Selfish Gene” was merely a verbal gimmick to emphasise that genes generally last longer than individuals. However, individual human genes may become extinct over time, even if our species lasts for millions of years.

Leave a Reply