Bob has an interesting quote from UFO-nut/prophet Whitley Streiber in the comments section of the ID debate thread below, regarding Ray Kurweil's predictions:
As far as the close encounter experience is concerned, science is absolutely nowhere. Fantastically, the intellectuals, who so distrust the government in every other regard, swallow its lies about this without the least complaint. Perhaps it’s because the visitors completely shatter the secular view of the world. Or maybe they threaten the fragile ego of the educated human being, whose soul knows that all his fine knowledge is but an engine of forgetting. You cannot be with them without also being with your own truth. Then you see what you really are, a little fragment in a vastness so great, so various and so shockingly, unimaginably conscious that it completely swallows you. To enter the universe as it really is, you’ve got to leave your self-pride far behind, and that is a hard, hard thing to do.
Other worlds have faced these same problems. Understand, there are not all that many worlds with intelligent species on them that have survived very long. Often, they come to tragic ends, undone by chance or, more often, by aggression even more excessive than our own. In some places, though, there have been very remarkable solutions to the survival problem.
Some intelligent species have been able to see that their intelligence was a precious asset that could actually intensify itself. They have learned to increase the quantity of this valuable commodity by altering themselves, by creating machine intelligence, and by conferring it on other species on their planets. As if we'd hit upon the idea of genetically engineering brains to greater intelligence, and included not only ourselves but the animal world as well. In such places, life becomes very, very rich.
But mostly it doesn't happen that way. There are people who worry about the fate of consciousness across the universes. (And there is more than one, as we will soon discover.) They worry because so often intelligence--which is the single most important way station on the road to consciousness--fails. It's incredibly rare, and it fails. Thus the journey toward ecstasy is compromised.
The more consciousness, the more ecstasy, and consciousness cannot come about without intelligence. What is worse, until a species is conscious, intervention is very, very difficult. That's the problem that the visitors are having here. If they intervene openly, our culture totally refocuses itself toward them and all human innovation stops. We end up locked in a state of profound disempowerment that will take many generations to recover, and that will leave a permanent scar.
The visitors cannot reveal themselves to us. We must reveal ourselves to them.
Normally, I don't take much stock in Whitley Streiber's rantings, a mixture of psychism and science-fiction that is hard to take seriously. But in light of Kurzweil's analysis, these kinds of ideas are becoming less fiction and more reality. It sounds like a bad episode of Star Trek, but so has a lot of the last century. There's certainly plenty of reason to believe that we, as a species, are engaged in a battle with our own intelligence. We have developed the intelligence to create a fully conscious life, but we've also developed the intelligence to destroy ourselves many times over by all kinds of means: nuclear, environmental, biological weapons, war and terrorism, the list goes on. The new technologies we are developing that have such promise for creating a paradaisical world also have the potential to utterly destroy us. And at the forefront of our destructive impulse is our religious nature, which seems bent on forcing an armageddon showdown.
KurZweil's book also reminded me of that wonderful old drug-addled crackpot, Dolphin researcher and sensory-deprivation tank explorer of the universe John Lilly, who in the course of his many out-of-the-body experiences on Ketamine repeatedly reported coming across "silicone-based civilizations" floating through outer space in interstellar craft, whose entire populations had uploaded themselves onto computers and lived within virtual worlds onboard. Is that one possible future for us all?
Another poster, Mark Miller, brings up the news from Iran, where the new President is intent on both developing nuclear weapons and forcing a conflict with Israel that he believes will bring the Mahdi, the promised God-Man of his sect of Islam, onto the scene. He's Pat Robertson with nukes and oil. All of this makes Adidam seem like very small potatoes in the scheme of things.
And then of course there's this:
Fortunately, these are a minority of the world's people. One has to continue to have faith that they will not have their way with the rest of us.
I'm also reminded of a wonderfully titled book "Mass Dreams of the Future", in which a group of psychologists studying breathwork-induced past-life memories began asking their subjects to project into the future for the next century or so. The "dreams" or reveries they came up with seemed to fit into three major camps. One was a post-apocalyptic world of dreary survivalism. Another was a new-agey world of touchy-feely paradise. Another was a high-tech world of deadening sterility. The funny thing was that this was about it: no other possibilities seemed to be hidden in anyone's unconscious. And all three of these themes are found in popular fiction and movies. Are people just that unimaginative, or is the future just that boring? One longs for a Monty Python future: and now for something completely different!