A Tour Through the Transhumanist Academy

Anahi attempted to form curly brackets with her eyebrows. “Why are we in a Catholic church? I thought this school was supposed to be all sciency.”
“It’s not a church. Those paintings are not religious. The triangle with the three figures represents the forces of the Standard Model when they were unified. And that demon-like creature is dark energy stretching the universe. All the paintings represent an epoch of the universe. If you look closely you’ll see the time in Roman numerals inscribed under the frames.”
“Oh, wow that’s kind of cool. They made it all dramatic.”
“Yeah, from left to right, it’s the history of our entire universe.”
Anahi let out a sweetly loud laugh, “No wonder I thought the Virgin Mary looked weird. Like what’s going on with the design protocol – did they come up with a new model?”
I tried laughing with her and said, “No, no, that’s Artificial General Intelligence, the final creation of humanity.”
What I was explaining was so serious, that it almost bothered me that she kept laughing about everything, although I liked how her eyes reminded me so much of stained glass.
“Okay, to the project hall.”
As soon as we stepped out from the Core, and into white, sleek light, I felt the shadow of profundity release me, like I could suddenly enjoy talking with her now – we’re just a normal boy and a girl who go to school because that’s what young humans do.
“The view is nice,” her attention locked through invisible glass into the dark green forestry outside. “Yeah, we often do things outside too. People associate this school just with technical math and science – as the polar opposite of a hippie, free-spirit Montessori, but they couldn’t be more wrong. We even have mindfulness meditation classes in the Rationality and Personal Development department – RPD for short, we call it.”
“I’ve always loved nature. Running through the rain as a child, and collecting all kinds of critters to archive in my little notebook, so what you say makes me really happy.”
I felt intensely proud for being the object catalyzing her happiness, ignoring the fact that I wasn’t the mastermind who designed this place. Then I reigned in our excess excitement by taking on my role again. “Okay, you see this entire thing? This is all the project hall. There are no boundaries here between academic subjects. You just use the touch screens on the walls and the tables, and everyone is using the same software, so you can work with anyone and contribute to anything you want. Of course, there are no grades, as the point is not arbitrary rankings but rather mastery. And because of your fingerprints, they’ll know how much you contributed specifically. If you are slacking or falling behind in contributions, they’ll bring out a mentor to get you up to speed.”
“So what about the lectures, or normal class?”
“There are no one-size-fits-all lectures.”
She looked at me half-joyful, half-suspicious, and then almost let down.
“What’s wrong?”
“Well, my parents will probably change their mind once they realize how this really is. They want me to go to a really, I don’t know, overachieving, try-hard kind of school. When they find out this is so loose, they won’t like it.”
“Well, we still learn in that way too – consume information and all. But it’s been proven that people learn better at their own pace, so we have video lectures and game modules to do at home or in the dorms. These are not administered forcefully upon your current cognitive constitution, rather, it’s more like a search engine that contains useful knowledge that matches our philosophy. You can learn anything, but it’s not useless trivia or anything like that.”
“So how do I ever actually become good at something if I’m not being forced to keep to a single set of subjects?”
“The idea is that you will naturally develop a personal rabbit hole through what is initially a free field of information. As your habits are tracked, and you prove your learning, more is revealed in that particular area. You won’t have access to things you cannot understand but you will be able to move horizontally, say from some cognitive science you find interesting to some algebraic topology you find interesting. It’s a very gameified system but also very structurally sound, in terms of laying down new content only upon established foundations. It is also very free and very driven. You are free to be you, but you are not free to be wasting your valuable life. So it’s a carefully tailored freedom, not just painting with crayons and reading comics.”


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