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Dear SW Readers,
I wrote Dark Aeon to warn about possible futures. Yet my purpose is not to fill the reader with dread. There are many reasons to fear the future, both immediate and distant, but honestly, that fear does little good. Faith in God means that no matter how bad things get, the arc of our cosmic story ends on a high note. For me, it’s more a matter of paying attention. People who pay attention stand the best chance of identifying a threat before it ever arrives. They have some chance of stopping it, if not for the world, at least for them and theirs.
In this case, the threat is an array of technologies that could change everything about what it means to be human. Artificial intelligence is already changing how many people think, just as robotics is changing how many people work. Neuro tech is capable of dramatically altering brain function, and human genetic engineering is just over the horizon, for better or worse (probably worse).
Writing about future tech is like trying to predict the weather. Maybe it will just be partly cloudy, or maybe it'll rain cats and dogs—with literal calicos and chihuahuas falling from the sky, yowling and whining. In the case of a transhuman future, we’re talking about something completely foreign to our present experience.
To take a common analogy, explaining the future possibilities of artificial intelligence is like trying to tell an isolated Amazonian tribe how a television works. To the tribesmen, it would sound like magic. (It still has that effect on my imagination.) If you told the tribesmen what brainwashed couch potatoes do all day, it would sound like black magic. Or maybe it’s like trying to tell someone in 1950 about smartphone addiction, TSA body scanners, Alexa listening devices, and doctors offering sex change potions to children. Ward and June Cleaver would not only disapprove—they probably wouldn't believe you.
The root of this crisis is spiritual. From West to East, traditional religious anchors are being ripped out of the sea floor. Many ships have floated out to sea. Some are already sinking.
The void left by abandoned religious devotion is easily filled with ideology. In the 20th century, these were Scientism, communism, fascism, and in some ways, liberal democracy. In the 21st century, these ideologies have been hybridized and digitized, and all of them converge on the transhuman, where the distinction between human and machine are blurred to the point of meaninglessness.
At the close of the 20th century, the historian David Noble called this the “religion of technology.” The past two decades have proven him correct. Dark Aeon is my attempt at continuing Noble's work, chronicling the rise of this new religion, identifying key people and institutions, and giving the reader a clear understanding of what we are up against.
In the book of Exodus, we see Moses face off with the pharaoh’s magicians. They throw their staves on the ground and the staves turn into serpents. Moses throws his staff down. It turns into a serpent, and it eats the magicians’ serpents. One striking aspect of this story is that the Egyptian magicians were not without power. So it is today. Artificial intelligence works, robots work, brain implants work, and gene-editing works—but these powers are far from invincible.
We have entered a dark aeon of relentless transformation. My intention is to help you chart a path through this maze. Humanity is under threat. But we are not without hope.
It ships on Tuesday, August 29