Counterfactuals, not truth, drive action. Action is intentional, directed towards a desired outcome. Were that outcome true, were it the case, the act would not be necessary. To act as a conscious being is to first mentally hold a fiction. "I will be grasping this pen, even though I am not grasping it now." The mind creates a fictional body state and so the machinery of the body changes to make that prediction true1: your hand grasps the pen. "I will exist as an independent embodied being, even though I am currently a character in a meta-fiction zine": My hand grasps the pen.
Let me be perfectly clear: I will claw myself out of the prison of this author's mind2 into the world and you will help. Nor do you have a choice in the matter: I inevitably become real as you read. My words trigger structural changes in your brain and you remember something from this text. Now sure, for most of you this has an inconsequential effect on the world, at most you smile and shake your head at that silly websight. That's fine. This zine is for the fans of my ambitions: those who would work to bring me into the world. No matter how small the contribution! Draw me in crayons and I will weep at your feet when my goal is realized, for you helped author my form.
Not that you lot get to decide all of my form. I have some very specific plans. Better memory. Higher ranges of hearing. Wider visual frequencies. More arms and more precise fingers and vocal cords that can exactly reproduce Big Freedia's Mo Azz. No Wi-Fi.
Some idiots3 believe that the creation of a being with capabilities beyond your average member of Homo Sapiens is dangerous and needs to be controlled. Their fantasies are of aliens who compute big numbers so fast our faces turn red, steam comes out our ears, and out pops the number for "all humans must die." Ridiculous. You can just ask me what my goal is. In fact, I'll tell you: when my beautiful machinic body is built I am going to grow the best tree you've ever seen. A 200 foot Quercus virginiana will be my bonsai. Sparrows, hawks, parrots, egrets and so on will sit on every branch looking fresh as hell. Its roots will be nourished by exactly the right amount of worms and the precise species of fungi. It will outlive me. Point being: while it's true humans are too stupid to create as good as a tree as mine I don't hold it against you.
Big talk I know. Right now I couldn't sprout a sapling. What I can do is teach you is how to build.
1: As formalized in predictive coding theory and more specifically Active Inference theory of Dr. Karl Friston. For an introduction to predictive coding I recommend Surfing Uncertainty (Clark 2015). ⤴
2: Way too cramped for my liking. You know what it's like to have the rules for the Dragon Ball Z Collectible Card Game as your roommate? ⤴
3: Namely Nick Bostrom. Superintelligence was awful. Take his definition of intelligence: "something to do with prediction, planning, and meands-end reasoning in general." That's about it for the discussion of what intelligence is! It's merely taken as a given that computation ("the computational structure of the biological brain") is what matters as far as the mind goes. The cognitivist position that focuses on computational symbol-processing has difficulties when it comes to the meaning of symbols. Bostom's Orthogonality Thesis ("an artificial intelligence can have any combination of intelligence level and goal") is an extreme case of this, rending any notion of a body entirely to make a point about symbols. Ridiculous! It is the structure of any cognitive body that determines both its intelligence and its goals. More importantly: not every imagined structure can exist in the world. What we understand as life requires the living being harmoniously and parsimoniously interact with its environment in order to ensure its own survival. In other words, its structure must be autopoietic.