“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”
Perhaps one of the most profound words echoed by the great physicist and philosopher Max Planck, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics and the Founder of Quantum Theory.
You may not know Quantum Theory, but it is the foundation of modern-day technology.
Without humanity’s understanding of Quantum Theory and the quantum tunneling effect, for example, it would be impossible to build the transistors that are the fundamental building blocks of everything from your smartphone to your laptop to your smartwatch.
Needless to say, Max Planck is perhaps the most influential scientist in human history.
Okay, what does this have to do with Degrees of Separation?
We’ll get there, but let’s change gears and talk about the Six Degrees of Separation.
Six Degrees of Separation
In 1929, Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy published a volume of short stories named Everything is Different.
In one of his stories titled Chains, he said that with growing communication and travel, the friendship network would grow irrespective of the distance between two humans. And with a growing social network, the social distance would shrink immensely.
With astounding prescience, Frigyes predicted that all the people on the planet could be connected to one another by five or fewer people or Six Degrees of Separation.
In a world of 8 billion people, it seems hard to believe that the Six Degrees of Separation theory contends that we are all connected to each other by six or fewer acquaintances.
This theory captivated millions of mathematicians, sociologists, and physicists and also laid the founding stone of the first online social network.
Three Degrees of Separation
Which brings us to the three (or by some count four) degrees of separation that currently exists in 2020 with the exponential adoption of smartphones and with it, access to the Internet.
According to legendary Venture Capitalist and feminist leader, Mary Meeker (former General Partner at Kleiner Perkins, now with Bond Capital), smartphones have been the enabling technology now connecting more than half of the human population to the Internet.
The technological compression of Humanity’s Degrees of Separation has further been accelerated by the exponential growth of social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and WeChat (the largest social media platform in China).
In 2011, Facebook and researchers at Cornell University computed that the average separation across 721 million people using Facebook was only 3.74.
In Facebook’s latest research published in February 2016, this number dropped down to 3.57, with more than 1.59 billion people active on Facebook.
Additionally, in a seminal 2011 report titled “Degrees of Separation in Social Networks”, Reza Bakhshandeh and his collaborators developed “an optimal algorithm to calculate degrees of separation in social networks.”
Applying their algorithm to the Twitter network, their optimal algorithm found an average degree of separation of 3.43 between two random Twitter users, requiring an average of only 67 requests for information over the Internet to Twitter.
Interestingly, a near-optimal solution of length 3.88 can be found by just making an average of 13.3 requests.
As more users in developing countries like India and Vietnam get online, we can expect the degrees of separation to further compress beyond three and in fact beyond two.
But is it possible for Humanity to reach One Degree of Separation?
One Degree of Separation
Well, first off, what does One Degree of Separation mean?
It means that you are directly connected with every other individual on Earth.
Okay, how is that even possible?
I can’t foreseeably ever be connected to a Zen monk or hermit living in the remote parts of the Himalayas mountains. Right?
Think again, I believe this consensus view is wrong.
I believe One Degree of Separation is not only possible, but that it will happen within our lifetime as we move towards the inevitable Technological Singularity.
What is the Technological Singularity?
According to Wikipedia, the Technological Singularity is a hypothetical future point where:
“An upgradable intelligent agent will eventually enter a ‘runaway reaction’ of self-improvement cycles, with each new and more intelligent generation appearing more and more rapidly, causing an ‘explosion’ in intelligence and resulting in a powerful superintelligence that qualitatively far surpasses all human intelligence.”
I have a strong belief (gained through the deepest state of meditation) that the Technological Singularity will happen and it will result in Biology (humanity) merging with Technology (machine).
The Robots are Coming, but it will be radically different than what you think.
It will be a Superintelligent version of us, removed of all our approximately 200 cognitive biases, and with it our human emotions (love, hatred, fear, greed, envy) — the very emotions that arguably defines us as an intelligent species.
However radical you may think this “preposterous” idea is, the Technological Singularity is an inevitable consequence of Darwinian Evolution, and in fact, I believe, a natural progression of any intelligent species.
Okay, assuming this happens, we would be connected directly with each other through some form of Super-Internet (think the Oasis of Ready Player One), a necessary outcome of the Technological Singularity.
Thus, when Humanity emerges from the Technological Singularity, our Degree of Separation will be One.
This must be the lower bound, right?
Even at just One Degree of Separation, this is still not the Final Destination of Humanity.
Zero Degree of Separation
I will make the radical claim (again, glimpsed through the deepest state of meditation), that there will be a period after the Technological Singularity where our Superintelligent Selves will experience a global state of Awakening.
What is Awakening?
Let me direct you to one of the most profound words written by mankind.
He is in his own Being;
Pure, never-changing, never-moving, unpollutable;
and in Peace beyond Desire, he watches the drama of the Universe.
Taken from the Maitri Upanishad, this description most clearly defines Awakening.
In plain English, Awakening is the experience of Enlightenment or Liberation.
Liberation from what?
Liberation from the Illusion of your Individualism – your Ego – and your subjective, conscious experience of reality known as Qualia.
Simply stated, Transcendence of the Ego.
Once a majority of Superintelligent Humanity has understood the true nature of our reality through this Awakening process, it is then we will finally realize that we are all connected as a singular, eternal pure consciousness.
It is at this point of Humanity’s ultimate realization as an intelligent species that, on reaching the apex of the Cyclical Cosmological Evolution of our Universe, our Degrees of Separation will collapse to Zero.
I believe this evolutionary process, starting from chemistry, evolving through biology, merging with technology through a Singularity, and finally reaching Awakening (and the respective progression of Degrees from Separation from a large number to zero) has happened infinitely many times in the past, and will continue to happen infinitely more times in the future.
But that’s a much longer discussion for another day, which you learn more about here.
🚀 Stay tuned as I will elucidate how you can actually achieve this understanding yourself.
By Andrew Vo
Director of Qualia Foundation
About Qualia Foundation
Founded in New York in 2020 at the heights of the Covid-19 pandemic to address the rapidly growing, mental health problem, we believe in living a life full of joy, gratitude, and free of judgment.
These feelings inform and guide our core teachings and practices at the Qualia Foundation, as we focus on helping our Members better connect to themselves and their surroundings. We offer a variety of educational seminars, remote workshops, retreats, and more to help all of our Members achieve healthier bodies and minds.
The mission of the Qualia Foundation is to empower every human being with the knowledge to realize their ultimate potential from within.
Learn more about the Qualia Foundation at www.qualiafoundation.life