Telepresence

Readers are no doubt familiar with the nascent technology of telepresence that extends the reach of human perception to arbitrarily remote locations through the use of sensing devices at the target site, communication links, and transducers coupled to the human user's own sense organs or nervous system.

The model of remote experiencing through telepresence technology is echoed in one of the protocols used in remote viewing, dubbed "outbound remote viewing" at SRI (Schnabel, 1997), in which an "outbound" experimenter would go to some target site, and the viewer would try to describe the outbound experimenter's environment, as though through that person's eyes.

The concept of telepresence is also closely connected with teleportation, a subject recently reviewed by Eric Davis (2004) in a report to the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The proposal I make on this most audacious of the Open SETI pages, is that the principle of telepresence might be taken much, much farther--given sufficient time for an intelligent society to accomplish this--to the point that physical travel is supplanted by the ability to be present among natives of distant societies through means of consciousness transfer alone.

This idea is by no means mine alone. However, since the means of accomplishing this kind of telepresence would require several revolutions in our understanding of nature before they could even be guessed at, there is no discussion of it in any scientific or engineering literature. One must turn to some of the more excellent and provocative "science fiction", such as the Canopus in Argos: Archives series by Doris Lessing, describing the long travails of the Canopus empire with their colony on (easily recognized) Earth, in which due to certain mishaps physical contact is lost, but the link is retained through the process of incarnation here.

But what is the point of discussing a technology that is so beyond what we can understand that we resort to science fiction to describe it? Remember, Open SETI is concerned not with how we can travel the universe, but with how others might reveal their presence to us here and now. If that level of telepresence were to occur, and the target were here, in our very selves, we might detect signs of it in our most intimate space.

Here I would point the reader for once to the sphere of the religions, in which entities both great and small are said to reside in some manner in people acting as hosts. We resist considering this aspect of human experience when dealing with "scientific" issues such as SETI is supposed to be. But should we?

In this context I recommend the page Remember! by Malou Zeitlin, describing the day that our most advanced and secret scientists do achieve the kind of telepresence under discussion here, and the sense of deja vu experienced by one of them when she glimpses the awesome chain of telepresence within which we have just forged a new link.



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