I was thinking about a little tiny piece of the universe today of which I have a particular degree of familiarity because I worked for the local telephone company for 17 years between 1978 and 1995, and my mother worked for the telephone company in 1947. She worked as an operator when they had cord-boards to connect customers to their destination telephone numbers.
Manual operator connections of telephone calls were replaced with automated mechanical technology, first panel and step-by-step switches, where dial pulses directly moved selectors and there was really no intelligence built in to the hardware.
Later #1 and #5 cross-bar switches where the functions were more divided and abstracted and there was some degree of intelligence built-in but it was a wired intelligence that couldn’t be changed except by physically re-wiring the switch.
Later then program controlled mechanical switches, like the AT&T / Western Electric #101 ESS, 2BESS, #1 and #1AESS, and GTE / Automatic Electric’s #2 and 2B ESS. These operated on the basis of stored programs that could be reprogrammed changing the functionality of the hardware that the computer controlled.
Then computer controlled digital switching hardware, #4ESS, #5ESS, DMS100/200s, etc. These replaced mechanical switching hardware with digital electronic switching hardware controlled by computers. The digital hardware was more reliable, versatile, smaller, much more efficient in terms of energy usage, but what it could do was still constrained by the physical hardware design.
Now we are seeing soft switches in which rather than controlling switching hardware, computers are emulating it. Since the hardware doesn’t physically exist, besides programmable I/O interfaces, it is emulated by computers running software that behaves like physical hardware, the flexibility of this generation of switch is enormous since virtually every aspect of the emulated hardware is programmable. Soft switches are extremely cheap and energy efficient since the only real hardware is the computer doing the emulation and I/O hardware interfaces, everything else is software.
So what we’ve seen in the evolution of telephone switching is an evolution from biological entities, humans, with their human intelligence controlling their physical body to complete physical circuit connections to make calls, to the replacement of that body with a machine, physical hardware, overtime artificial intelligence was added to the machine and hardware replaced by that intelligence emulating what used to be physically implemented in hardware.
I’m really writing about this not to draw specific attention to telephone company switching technology but rather to provide an example of what I think is a general trend.
Humans invent something, a way to communicate for example, a telephone. They first implement it with minimal hardware and relay to a large degree upon human intelligence and physical labor for the functionality of what we have invented.
Then over time we replace the labor with mechanical labor; and then we eventually replace the intelligence with artificial intelligence; and then we replace a good portion of the machine and labor with intelligence.
I think there is a general trend where pure thought, intent, ‘The Word”, was the prime mover of the universe, to where it moves through a physical energy intensive phase, and then back eventually to where it is once again driven by information and intent, “The Word” all over again.
While the example I just provided was relating to telephone technology, I can see it in so many other areas, for example, travel, at first by foot, and then we learn to harness the power of domesticated animals, and then various natural forces, the wind, and then we build machines that fly; all of this is very energy intensive; but then we develop the Internet and we virtualize much of what used to be done physically.
Music has art of various forms have take a similar path; and although much of it is created physically, it is displayed, sold, and enjoyed to a large degree virtually, with nothing more than information being moved.
It seems that where we might go on a spiritual plane; we are also trying to get to on a physical plane, but eventually that seems to be a situation in which everything is connected, information, thought, non-local, instant, there seems to be some kind of a circle to the evolution of everything rather than being a linear path.
As physics explores the subquantum realm and hyperdimensions and multiple parallel universes, maybe an infinity of universes, a multiverse, it seems clear these trends that affect every aspect of our reality are going to continue. I feel like we are just on the verge of entering that reality that was portrayed in one episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation, in which The Traveler took the Enterprise into a place so distant and different than thoughts created reality; I’ve experienced elements of this myself though some might dismiss it as mere psychosis, but I really feel like we’re making a consensus entry into that reality and the potential seems unlimited.