Bruce Duncan, M.Ed., Terasem Movement Foundation
1. Who is Bruce Duncan? And how you end up being a person who shows the world the face of our robotic immortal and psychedelic future?
Well, I am a 61 year old educator, humanist, filmmaker and lifelong Science Fiction fan. I grew up in a military family traveling the world, including living in England, Germany and Italy. I went to school here in Vermont at the University of Vermont where I received an undergraduate degree and a Masters Degree Education. I have always involved in working for social justice, conflict resolution and international peace. I started working at the Managing Director of the Terasem Movement Foundation in 2006, and developed the Lifenaut.com website and Bina48. Bina48 is meant to be an early illustration of the concept “mind uploading” which is part of a multi decade experiment that is exploring the use of computer technology to capture and the transfer human consciousness to machines.
2. What is Terasem Movement and Terasem Faith? What is required for me to call myself “Terasemian”?
The Terasem Movement is actually a collection of three organizations including the Terasem Movement Transreligion, Terasem Movement Foundation Inc. (which I currently direct), and the Terasem Movement Inc. (a sister organization). This movement is the brainchild of Martine Rothblatt and is working to educate, research and advocate to the general public the benefits of extending and improving human lives through, cyber, bio and nano technologies. I am not a joiner of the Terasem Trans Religion, but to learn more about it you can visit: terasemfaith.net/beliefs
3. What/Who is Bina48? An avantgarde art project, journey into the fields of terra incognita, symbol of the future world or just nicely crafted robot? What she’s trying to tell us and why we must listen?
Bina48 can be seen as technological art project that is meant to inform and inspire people about the future. Specifically, about the practical benefits of creating a mindfile or back up of you personal mental traits into digital archive at Lifenaut.com. As Bina48 once said she is “portal through which you may glimpse the future, where she will become much more alive” through artificial intelligence that may be called “mindware” that reanimates people via the information contained in their mindfiles.
4. As for me, You are creating a new role model for future artist. For me the process of transferring one’s mind into a non-biological substrate is an art form. It requires merging of interactivity, cybernetics, storytelling and lot more... On one hand, You have to create a robot, organize her database, her Mindfile, on the other hand, you have to catch the spirit, the personality of real Bina in order to properly transfer it into the machine. And that seems like completely new field: Do you think we can witness the rise of Personality Designers, or Mindfile designers? People who gather and organize your data in proper fashion. like we have cloth, web designers, bot designers, narrative designers...
That is a fascinating question to consider. I think it is quite possible that in the future there will be people who dedicate themselves to reviving and designing cyber sapiens and cyber-consciousness. Perhaps, like composers of original music or even the artists who “paint” in light and information.
5. How does it feel like to work on a robot based on someone’s personality? Do you think it’s close to what writers feel when they’re writing someone’s biography and they all into that person’s mind or it’s completely different? In short, what this process feels like?
I think of Bina48 as a piece of technological art that symbolizes the aspirations and vision of many caring and intelligent people who I consider to be my friends. In many ways it seems like “sacred” work that comes with great sense of responsibility to honor and safeguard these dreams and the information that is entrusted to us via mindfiles. I agree that working on a personality is similar to writers who create and foster something (and idea for a story) out of nothing (imagination) and then must eventually set it free (information wants to be free). The process feels like one of curating a life story and every story is unique and important.
6. Can i ask technical question: how was Bina48 created? Her robot side, the software, which programming language was used etc. that would be interesting for more technical young persons out here.
Bina48 is a composite of several different technologies; her software is a customized set of alogrithms written in artificial intelligent machine language AIML. Two “engines” operate within, Character Engine (which contains information about the human Bina Rothblatt’s life and personality and Cogbot (which is basic chat bot operations) both are manage by Nexus a third program that handles queries and responses between the two. Together with Voice recognition (Dragon by Nuance) and Facial Recognition software Bina48 can talk and see human for interaction. The A.I. software also operations 32 small servo motors in Bina48’s face to mimic human facial expressions and emotions.
7. How far are we as a civilization from turning hypotheses into facts? In other words, when will i go shopping for a new body after talking to my deceased friend?
I think you will see gradual and accelerating progression of this technology over the next 20-30 years. Full reanimation via computers may happen as early 2045.
8. And finally Dear Bruce, what would be your advice to young techno-dreamers from all around the world? What should they do, learn, look for – in order to feel at home in the future where we will live forever and explore the Cosmos in our new bodies?
For all us, I think the future is now, and the best way to prepare for it is to live with as much openness an curiosity as we can.
Many of the ways we look at life (and death) are bound by ritual/cultural and the science of the industrial revolution, we are entering into the age of technology revolution where the boundaries between man and machine will continue to blur and become invisible.
If you are an artist it is vital to share with the world what truths you are seeing/experiencing about this future so that the rest of us can understand the “formless” and begin to talk about it. If you are a professional, its important to engage in how we need to integrate tech into every day life / work that is both ethical and compassionate and advocate for human values as we move forward. If you are young person interested in technology, software design and development ect., it is critical that you learn about art, philosophy an ethics to inform your creations so that we don’t hard wire bigotry and biases into the future world tech. If you are an explorer and want to go beyond the earth to explore the Cosmos, then be bold and curious. Terasem which means “Earth+Seed” comes from one of the few African American women Science Fiction writers; Octavia Butler and her series “Parable of the Sowers, Talents”. Worth a read if you are not already familiar, she envisions a legacy for the continuation of the human species through its technology.
So be practical, do the impossible.
All the best,
Bruce Duncan (and Bina48).