Warning: this post is only ~30% complete, the rest will be added in case of further interest from you. Hope I can incorporate comments from other humans to give a much better formulation. I am making myself intentionally vulnerable here wanting to engage in a conversation.
Imagine the following: you are living potentially not up to 100 years but up to 1000 or 10000 years as a biological being without aging related declining functionalities as technology lets you to counteract those major declines every time and reset your physiological age.
If your potential lifespan gets so close to the time-scale of many big environmental hyperobjects then ecological awareness might reach a new top as full ecological responsibility can be taken for the things you do. From this point of view this technology can be wanted as a mighty enabler of ecological thought as by achieving this aim you get to act on previously unprecedented timescales, you get to act like a fully, environmentally responsible human being. At 1000 year old with a pretty good chance you are going to be amongst the Guardians of the Galaxy. And at 1001 even more so.
What makes humans self-centered is their normal life expectancy built around a normal lifespan, not their lives per se. Removing this restriction, breaking out from these narrow limits 10fold, 100fold provides the opportunity to act on the same scale and occasionally in sync with other hyperobjects. Current life expectancy is a big limiting condition for most of humanity to act on an ecological scale.
So everybody with an exponentially extended life gets the chance to be a global human. While at normal life expectancy only a small minority of humankind can come up with decisions on scales to approximate a global human, at exponentially extended timescale this distribution can drastically change.
A global human is living on the tip of the iceberg, so there’s always many times more behind. Instead of death, at any point the main gravity of a global human’s life comes from the rest of the iceberg, the long quantities of time and space still provided. Or there’s a more dynamic analogy than the tip of the iceberg: a global human’s local manifestation is the dorsal fin of a huge Orca moving along in the spacetime cone.
Consider now this temporally extended object that is your life lived for thousands of years: wouldn’t that object qualify for being a hyperobject in the Mortonian sense? By the way let’s call this object my, your, her, his or our ‘exponentially extended life’ or ‘partially immortalised being’ or ‘exponential human longevity’. Also make note that being temporally exponentially extended grants you another huge favour: you get spatially distributed on a massive scale too cause you can explore space 10x, 100x bigger than you could as a human being with a normal life expectancy.
The briefest, most aggregated introduction (not using the term definition here) of hyperobjects by Timothy Morton is that hyperobjects are ‘things that are massively distributed in time and space relative to humans’.
Make a quick note here that makes my philosophical inquiry tricky, delicate and hopefully provoking rational debate: hyperobjects are defined explicitly to be devoid of objects in the usual human scale, particularly of human objects as their spacetime distributions are defined ‘compared to’ or ‘relative to’ humans. Morton’s objective is part of speculative realism a philosophical movement focusing on the ontological deliberation of non-human objects, entities after a long period of correlationism and anthropocentrism. So seemingly what am doing here goes against mainstream speculative realism. Personally I don’t think this at all and will elaborate on this. I was writing this little essay while listening to Poor Moon and Interstellar Overdrive many times to put myself in an ecological state.
Going back to the main argument: My ‘exponential human longevity’ is by definition massively distributed in time and potentially and derivatively can be massively distributed in space throughout the exponentially extended lifespan. And this makes ‘partially immortalised being’ an awful lot like a hyperobject.
Let’s now briefly explore the 5 qualities of hyperobjects in the context of ‘exponentially extended human life’ to see whether these qualities apply. These are viscosity, nonlocality, temporal undulation, phasing and interobjectivity. I am now playing the ‘What Rita wants‘ game for ‘exponentially extended human life’ to potentially pass the hyperobject exam and possibly join the crowd of global warming, internet, evolution, bamboo forests, black holes, plutonium and countless others.
As the proposed hyperobject candidate has been specifically defined with exponentially extended temporality some of these qualities seem to follow quickly, while others do not.
In the current published draft only viscosity and nonlocality are covered but the rest will follow soon.
The viscosity metaphor: ‘Viscosity here means that the more you know about a hyperobject, the more entangled with it you realize you already are.’ or from the book Hyperobjects (HO from now on): ‘They are viscous, which means that they “stick” to beings that are involved with them’.
Another description: “The pervasiveness of hyperobjects is what Morton calls their viscosity,”
This is trivial not because of the temporal stretch but because of what is being stretched here: There’s no distancing opportunity from my exponentially extended life for me. Nearness, proximity are guaranteed as we are always inside of our lives but on the other hand the next phase of my life is a strange stranger, see my earlier post.
A global human is living in the tip of the iceberg, so there’s always many times more behind. Instead of death, at any point the main gravity of a global human’s life comes from the rest of the iceberg, the long quantities of time and space still provided. What sticks to the global human is her big container spacetime cone life out of which only a small fraction is available at any time point or can be considered retrospectively. The global human can’t escape her hyperobject projection. As opposed to this the current local human with normal life expectancy >40 can act as an outsider in her life thinking with good reason that the bigger chunk of her life is already behind.
Epistemological phrasing in the Hyperobjects are Nonlocal post: ‘Any particular (local) manifestation never reveals the totality of the hyperobject.’ Or ontologically put in HO: ‘any “local manifestation” of a hyperobject is not directly the hyperobject.’
An ‘exponentially extended human life’ can have many spatiotemporal localities, snapshots but those won’t capture the totality of it. Comes from the definition. Also here it is assumed that a life with a normal expected lifespan can be captured in totality from the …. deathbed.
In HO Morton acknowledges the metaphor status of this quality admitting that: ‘Nonlocality means just that—there is no such thing, at a deep level, as the local. Locality is an abstraction. Metaphorically this applies to hyperobjects.’
Another description takes the quantum theory principle behind seriously:
“But at the other levels that Morton explores, things are indeed not quite what they seem, and he needs non-locality to explain how a hyperobject can act simultaneously at more than one place.”
What do you think, Tim?
Disclosure: I wrote this piece after only a ~14 days exposure to Hyperobjects, speculative realism and related online sources. My only other exposure to Morton so far was the excellent Guardian Long Read I read earlier this week. I have spent a long time though studying human lifespan extension both from a scientific and a philosophical point-of-view. My philosophy MS thesis was about the ethical, moral, political consequences of a robust lifespan extension technology. So the rookie meets here with a seasoned thought experimenter.