Consciousness and Accelerating Expansion
With our deeper understanding of reality, the structure of the universe informs the structure of consciousness, life, and rising complexity. The following are the theoretical basics. The correlations are abundant; causality must be determined.
A 3600 view of reality shows that accelerating expansion is fundamental to our physical existence and is exemplified in the picture above, illustrating the accelerating expansion of the universe. This recent discovery flew in the face of conventional wisdom and has spawned the relatively new cosmological theories of dark matter and dark energy. The universe is expanding, and this expansion is accelerating. This is the inherent structure of the universe. The question is: Does this structure inform consciousness, rising complexity, and our rapidly progressing existence? In my opinion, it does. The following are a few examples:
Acceleration has been operating since the Big Bang, but only recently has it become obvious in the human experience due to the compression of the time scales of our existence. The following are a few examples of acceleration and rapidly rising complexity. Much of the following is driven by human consciousness:
- Geoffrey West, PhD, of the Santa Fe Institute, writes, “We are living in an exponentially expanding socioeconomic urbanized world.” (Scale, Chapter 2) When we contemplate this fact, we must ask: “How did this happen?” Was it conscious and deliberate? Did a group of forward thinkers sit in a room and map out this exponential expansion? No, it is an emergent phenomenon flowing through the path of least resistance which is determined by structure.
- The cosmic calendar – compressing the entire 13.8 billion-year history of the universe into one year – provides useful context. Civilization has existed for the last 11.4 seconds, and modern history has spanned merely the final half-second. In this nanosecond of the universe’s existence, humanity has, by every metric, transformed the world.
- The Stone Age was 130,000 generations, the Agrarian Age 600, the Industrial Age 15, the Nuclear Era 4, Information Age 2.5 – we are now in the Age of Transformation.
- Knowledge is doubling every 12-13 months and accelerating.
- Computing power doubles every 20-24 months – Moore’s Law.
- Knowledge half-life is rapidly shrinking – 24 months!
- You can access the entire world’s information in the palm of your hand and disseminate an idea internationally with the touch of a screen.
There are many examples of accelerating progress – sanitation, life expectancy, public safety, food abundance, literacy, the dramatic decrease in violence, etc. This new story is becoming more obvious as it envelops our existence. Automation, digitization, robotics and augmented intelligence (AI) are disrupting lives and society monthly. Everywhere you look this new story is emerging. What is its genesis? Is consciousness causal or a neutral observer? The reality is that humanity continues to create, transform and exponentially expand its existence on this planet. Accelerating expansion is fundamental to the structure of our universe, life, and consciousness.
Innovation and Expanding Consciousness
The computing power nestled in the palm of your hand makes the original main frame super computers seem like an abacus. Technology has rapidly innovated and so have we. Most of the early evolutionary pressures that motivated humanity to this zenith of exponentially expanding creativity are being off-loaded to each other and to augmented intelligences (AI). We have been divesting ourselves of the primal, energy-depleting safety and survival concerns of our not-too-distant ancestors. Contemplate all the mind-consuming things most of us no longer need to think about – predators, your next meal, unpredictable environments, violence, natural disasters, etc. These burdensome tasks and concerns have been distributed to each other, society and technology. Innovation is at the foundation of our biology and evolution. Human consciousness has further accelerated this process by making innovation a conscious, deliberate process as opposed to an organic one. Acceleration of innovation is liberating civilization from the mundane, which is creating an expanding group of long-lived innovators. Innovation is the foundation of accelerating expansion, life and evolution.
Our Future Creative Story:
Accelerating Knowledge – Rapidly Rising Complexity – Exponentially Expanding Innovation
The tension between accelerating knowledge, exponentially expanding innovation, and rapidly rising complexity is propelling the structure of humanity’s future. Acceleration of innovation is how consciousness in concert with augmented intelligence (AI) is paving the way for our continued exponential expansion. We can do more, learn more and achieve more in less time than ever thought possible.
The accelerating expansion of the universe is an amazing fact; the structure of the universe is more clearly understood. A new theory of astrophysics had to be developed to explain this phenomenon. Scientists now believe that the “stuff” we know as traditional matter is less than 5% of our universe. The remainder is approximately 70% dark energy and 25% dark matter – 95% of our physical reality is stuff we know little about.
The Expansion Model of Consciousness
Let’s summarize these new insights to determine their impact on the evolution of consciousness, life, and society. Earth’s gravity and its reliable orbit around the sun help to create a long-term stable environment for humanity to evolve and for the universe to become aware of itself. We exist on a razor’s edge of physical law, environmental conditions and societal probabilities. Our rising complexity and expanding consciousness seemingly run counter to the great law of physics, entropy. As discussed earlier, Earth is not a closed system. A significant tension exists, however, in the fact that infinitely more can go wrong than right in every moment. In this context, we must strive to identify the source of our continued exponential progress.
Life and consciousness evolved in an exponentially expanding universe. Humanity has organically created an exponentially expanding socioeconomic urbanized world. Innovation is an accelerating and unpredictable process, relentlessly propelling life forward towards an ever-expanding set of new possibilities.
Our gravitationally bound system provides the stability and structure necessary for the emergence of complexity. Accelerating expansion controls the evolution of complexity. All sustainable systems – the universe, our socioeconomically urbanized world, information processing, knowledge, etc. – rapidly expand. For complex systems, they either expand or ultimately cease to exist; nothing in our universe is static. Human consciousness is no exception. The rapid expansion of human consciousness is consistent with the universe’s basic structure. With our deeper understanding of structure, the creative process, and the path of least resistance we can more precisely predict the behavior of individuals, society, and complex systems. In this context, these systems can be described more succinctly and accurately. The flow of energy and information is determined by structure. Structure creates the boundary conditions that direct the increase in entropy toward rising complexity and the development of exponentially expanding systems.
Speculation Based on the Evidence
We now have a deeper understanding of the structure of the creative process, life, and the universe. If we look closely, the evidence points to the probability that accelerating expansion is fundamental to life and to consciousness. The universe is governed by deterministic laws that are highly sensitive to initial conditions. The rapid expansion of the early universe (inflation) fine-tuned the physical constants to select for exponential growth. This would be consistent with chaos theory and the butterfly effect – “sensitive dependence on initial conditions.” If inflation did not fine-tune the constants, then we happen to be in the universe where the constants select for accelerating expansion. Either way, it is fundamental to our existence. This is, in my opinion, a missing piece to the understanding of consciousness. The correlations are obvious; our expanding consciousness is a perfect reflection of the structure of the universe. Life and evolution are a series of brilliant innovations. These innovations lead to newer and greater innovations creating a never-ending, unpredictable expansion of adjacent possibilities.
Our universe hit a threshold of evolutionary development and created consciousness to continue its expansion. Consciousness hit a threshold that required augmented intelligence (AI) to continue to expand. Society hit a threshold that required an exponentially expanding socioeconomic urbanized world to continue to expand. A growing group of innovators will continue to drive this process. Consciousness is a logical, perhaps even necessary, destination for an expanding universe.
Our Future and the Most Compelling Argument
We instinctively seek and are attracted to the experience of expansion and dread the opposite. This is perhaps the most compelling argument for the theory that accelerating expansion is a fundamental property of life and of consciousness. This program has been running since the inception of life. Contraction is universally disturbing – there is no altruism in a contracting economy, relationship, organization, religion or society. Expand or die. This is true for life, love, knowledge, organizations, economies, institutions, religions, relationships, and the universe. Expansion is the energy that binds all we hold dear and is the structure that drives life forward. It may be what has driven every civilization in history to create its own unique iteration of a deity.
This essay is about consciousness, not our collective experience. Change over the last 75 years has been so rapid and stratified that most individuals have become uncoupled from this progress. There are many victims of this extraordinary pace of change. Countless evolutionary mismatches are diminishing the experience of life for the majority. Structural conflicts permeate every aspect of life and society. Younger generations are facing alarming trends mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, technologically, economically, and environmentally. Individuals that can adapt to rapid change will define the future.
For the greatest number of people to thrive “we must consciously and deliberately realign the structures in our lives, organizations, governments, and societies so that the path of least resistance seamlessly leads us to the highest good for everyone.” We need to understand our new reality and adopt an “expansion mindset.” This is our most effective way forward. There is, in my opinion, no other way.
This is Part Two of a two-part series. Find Part One here.