President Jack was now able to see the glorious Hastinapura Campus, as the aerocopter accompanied by manned and unmanned aircraft entered the Gulf of Izmir. The campus was built behind the hill greeting the bay, formerly known as Kadifekale where the 2300 years old castle used to stand until a massive earthquake that demolished it in 2059.
He always loved to visit this city, which had a history of 8,500 years, and to experience its magnificent culture, outstanding Mediterranean cuisine, the company of warm, liberal, and open people, and the role model tolerance to diversity and the emphasis on the freedom of thought. With a long history since the early Neolithic Period, Izmir, which was named Smyrna in the past, was re-established during the reign of Alexander the Great in 340 B.C., and, after the earthquake in 178 A.D., was rebuilt by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. This region was the home to Ionian people 3000 years ago and hosted Miletus, the city where western philosophy started in 6th-century B.C. with Thales and other nature philosophers following him. It used to be an important gateway on the ancient Silk Road from Anatolia and to Italy.
As the aerocopter started to land, Jack slightly opened the window by his side with a voice command to breathe in mindfully the fresh smell of this beautiful city of freedom, liberty, tolerance, cultural diversity, respecting human beings. He understood once again why Victor Hugo had called this city "the princess" and why Homer, the author of Ilyada and Odysseia 2500 years ago, said its weather is the best in the world. He inhaled the iodine smell of the gulf and watched the seagulls dancing in the sky. How nice would it be if he had a chance to visit the remarkable touristic city of Cesme again and dine in one of the beach restaurants of Alacati.
This region was home to many other things in the world history.
2500 years ago, the 2nd biggest library, after the Library of Alexandria in Egypt, was the one in Pergamon which in the north of Izmir. The 3rd biggest library of that period was the Celsus Library in Ephesus. Driving more to the north, one would find the city of Troy. Before arriving to Troy, there was Assos, the suburb by the city where Aristo lived and established a philosophy school. The first seven churches of revelation were in the Aegean region, two of them being in Izmir. Moreover, Virgin Mary`s House was located on top of a mountain near Ephesus. Two of the seven wonders of the ancient world were in this region, The Temple of Apollon in Ephesus and the Mausoleum in Halicarnassus. Priene, the first city organized city structure in grid form, Sardis, the city which invented coins in the ancient western world, Xanthos, the city of the brave that resisted against the brutal Persian attack, Knidos, the city that housed the world`s first sun clock, and the list would go on. What a pity it was that many people in the world were not aware of these treasures and ancient heritage. He would not be aware of them either unless he lived in Izmir for 2 years during his first military assignment in NATO base there before WW3. He had great memories in this city and the fantastic touristic cities in the region from these days.
Opening his eyes, he noticed that they approached the landing area on top of the Delphi building on the Hastinapura Campus. The lowering aerocopter was now allowing them to see the crowd at the entrance to the campus.
His assistant, Jeroen, started giving explanations for the big gathering below in front of the campus. "Mr. President, trans-humanists are protesting the ceremony at 12:00 with the permission from the governor's office. But don't let the crowd in front of the door mislead you because the other half of this crowd are neo-humanists. They are also protesting today's ceremony."
"We're watching the dance of opposites again," the President said as he smiled with humor.
"Yes, Sir. As you know, trans-humanists are firm believers in the next step of human evolution. They believe that we are halfway through our evolution as Homo-Sapiens. They think a more advanced human species, half-human and half robot, supported by artificial intelligence, unaging body, is possible. Therefore, they support the Phoenix Project. They want to prolong the human life span and even become immortal, be exempt from diseases, increase our physical strength, intelligence, and memory, enhance our consciousness, enjoy richer experiences by improving the capacity of the senses, and be 24/7 connected to the internet. According to them, technology is nothing but an extension of humans, and it has helped us to exceed our physical limitations. Now it is time to develop new capabilities and exceed the limits of intelligence and the mind with advanced technology."
"Looking at the momentum of technology in the last 100 years, it seems all these could be possible after a while. However, making this a belief is not for me. Yet, I have respect for different ideas. Do they advocate cyborg-like humans?"
"Yes, Mr. President. They advocate a technologically-enhanced version of humans. On top of all of this, some believe and think that genetically modified human generations could live on the water-containing satellites of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune, such as Europa, Enceladus, Mimas, Triton, Callisto, Ganymede, and Dione. Then we can travel beyond our planet and protect humankind against a cosmic or global disaster."
"As far as I can understand, there is an effort to reach immortality with cutting edge new technology. For example, being able to live longer with mind-transfer technology or healing illnesses and physical defects. All these fantastic ideas originate from the stories of ancient alchemists who used to talk obsessively about immortality.
"You are right, Mr. President. Before Armageddon, the 2045 Avatar Project and the 2050 Immortality Project were already part of that dream. Who knows what would happen if all these projects did not stop during the WW3?"
"Maybe they didn't stop but only slowed down and changed shape," President Jack commented. "In my opinion, our organic robot Adapa, produced in 3D printers with the Phoenix project and equipped with the organic quantum chips, is based on these projects and the information inherited from others. Weren't all those robots of war developed through these projects during Armageddon? Didn't we produce and use Captain America-style superhuman soldiers on the battlefields in WW3 against robot warriors? How painful it was to see people going crazy or develop psychiatric problems during the war.`
"I did not think in this regard, Mr. President. Maybe if we hadn't 3D-printed foods for people and organs for soldiers, injured during the 2-year cosmic winter triggered by the devastating arrival of Nibiru, today, the human population would have fallen even below 1 billion."
The President posed a difficult question to his assistant as he stopped looking at the crowd below. "Would you ever want to be immortal, Jeroen?"
"Sir, this is a complicated question. Even if we saw it in the movies, I never thought about it," Jeroen replied slowly, as he was thinking and talking at the same time. "I don't know whether I would be bored or not. Is it possible to get bored despite all the differences and diversity to discover in the world and in the universe? I don't know that either. I would not be able to withstand a scenario where my loved ones died, while I still lived."
"Beyond that, immortality could even be a punishment. Imagine the life of a physically or mentally disabled immortal person. If a person without the strength of character lives a miserable life due to making poor choices and cannot improve further, an immortal life would be nothing but slavery in a world of fewer possibilities. `
"This is an interesting idea, Mr. President. If you allow, we can take your thought a step further and perhaps consider that physical immortality is not the best evolutionary environment for the immortal soul. In fact, if there is reincarnation, as the Hindus believe, death & rebirth cycles will renew the mind-body of the soul such that they will provide more opportunities for the soul to learn from and to grow."
Aerocopter had already flown over the protesting crowd and approached the Delphi Building during this deep mystical and philosophical conversation that Sufis would call sohbetullah.
Jeroen made another small contribution to the philosophical discussion. "Last month, I watched research done before the Armageddon period. There is an endless football match simulation between mortals and immortals in a virtual environment. At first, the immortals are victorious over the mortals who die in the field easily. Later, the mortals reborn with new learnings beat the immortals because they become stronger at each birth. In short, evolution provides the soul with more learning opportunities than immortality offers."
Happy with the profound ideas of his intelligent, curious, and hard-working assistant, the President wanted to ask a few more questions before he landed. As a student of a life dedicated to learning in every breath, he asked, "So what are the neo-humanists after?"
Neo-humanists believe that robots in the world pose a risk to human generation and social life and that we should eliminate the need for robots by unleashing our untapped human potential. While approving the use of modern technology, they are against human and machine integration as trans-humanists believe. Because they believe that perfection is inherent because of the Creator who granted us a soul. According to them, what we need to do is to reveal the light within us. They believe reaching our higher-selves and love everyone and everything in the universe are enough to make the quantum leap in human evolution."
"Actually, both trans-humanists and neo-humanists seem to aim at human development, but in different ways. There were also Meta-humanists, right?"
"Yes, Mr. President. I see you have also examined this issue."
"Not as much as you. Tell me a little more about this group."
"Meta-humanists believe that humans will evolve into a new generation of people with superhuman powers like those comic books heroes of the 20th century. According to the latest intelligence, they joined the neo-humanist group below and are protesting the trans-humanists."
"How interesting creatures, we humans are. All people below strive for the good of humanity. This diversity is a testament to the richness and diversity of human thought. However, we are very good at shadowing our high human qualities with our ego and turning our disagreements into conflict. Whether the name of these groups starts with trans, neo, post or meta, all these groups are humanistic in common and think of the best of humanity from their point of view."
Jeroen's calm smile was like the silent reply of a dervish. President Jack continued with a question.
"Jeroen, what are the premises of meta-humanists?"
"Throughout history, people always wanted to reach superhuman powers. In the period after Armageddon, they began to be influenced by the Sufi beliefs, mythological stories, and Vedic philosophy, which said that the human being was the caliph of God and that it was possible for everyone to show miracles with the permission of God. "
"So how will people reach such higher levels of existence? Our Project Phoenix is already using advanced robotics and artificial intelligence technologies to help people invest and inform their souls."
"Yes, Mr. President. However, they see artificial intelligence and organic robots as threats because, according to them, humans can evolve only by defeating their ego. Therefore, they now agree that man needs to invest in himself to evolve. Only post-humanists think differently."
"What do you mean by post-human?"
"They think that humanity has completed its duty in the world. Those who dream of humanity will be free from matter and abstracted from the limitations of the body with technology like mind transfer, argues that in this way, people will open to the infinity of the universe more easily. A group of trans-humanists also thinks that genetically modified or accelerated evolution will be superior to Homo-Sapiens like an Arian race. Another group is dreaming of a human reality interconnected to each other, such as bees or ants living together in a hive, by linking people's minds together. An enhanced version of the old Industry 4.0 revolution but inter-connecting people this time."
"Do these last groups of post-humanists see the risk of the loss of free will or the threats of centralization? Humanity has suffered heavily throughout history from those who wanted to dominate people's wills. The powers these people dream of seemed very inhuman to me. Only Allah and his angels possess such powers."
"I agree with you, Mr. President. It possesses very big threats and dangers, such as the development of a developed human race to dominate others and the emergence of slavery again. It can end up with the rise of elites controlling others with fewer capabilities. Nevertheless, there are also innovative ideas such as traveling beyond the universe by simply transferring the mind or going beyond the limitations of our physical existence."
"Is this group also a supporter of Homo-Machinus?" The President brought the subject back to the Phoenix Project.
"They just believe we should be the last human species and have no firm belief in what will happen next. Homo-Macchinus is just an alternative scenario like any other. Some of them even call it Robo-Sapiens."
Thinking that there are different interpretations of divine truth as much as the number of people in the world, President Jack watched the crowd below the landing aerocopter.
As he approached, he could hear people's voices better. There were screaming loudly while another group was chanting. A smaller group was singing in a remote corner. A bigger group closer to them was busy laying flowers on the road and sitting with banners in their hands, waiting for the birth ceremony. However, no one was harming anyone. That was the important thing. Different ideas and opinions existed side by side and everyone accepted these differences of each other with utter tolerance.
As a Muslim son of an Iranian mother who married an American man, he remembered the famous saying of Mawlana Jelaluddin Rumi, whom his mother loved very much.
"Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come, come."
As Jack thought about the meaning of these words of wisdom, his empty gaze was lost in propellers of the landing aerocopter. Each propeller melted into a single circle, as they spun quietly and rapidly casting a slight shadow on the ground. All propeller was seemed like one now and would soon dissolve into separate entities when the engines stop. This reminded him of the oneness of plurality, e pluribus unum.
ROBOT WITH A SOUL: AWAKENING IN A SKIN CAGE
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