Monday, October 26, 2015

The Posthuman Delusion Marches On

We're being lied to, by everyone with any degree of power or influence. That's not news. That's human nature. But what is new is a growing mythology that humanity is on some inevitable march to a glorious posthuman (or transhuman) future, one in which all of our longstanding problems will magically disappear beneath an avalanche of technological magic.

It's essentially the same line we heard during the (previous) Depression, that if we just tighten our belts and muddle through, that everything will work out splendidly. Only now our intrepid scientists are laboring as we speak to ready our robot bodies and nanobrains.

The kind of scientific evangelism we are smothered in these days has troubling precedents; both the Nazis and the Communists proffered "Science" as a salvational force meant to displace traditional religion. It has the inbuilt advantage of turning all attention back to the State, which completely controls and dictates the course of science, both through its own infrastructure and that of its crony capitalist allies such as National Geographic (all too appropriately owned by Rupert Murdoch now).

It seems a little late, now. I don't know how much of this the rubes are buying. We all see how unfair and unequal society has become, all the more so over the past five years or so. No less a firebrand than Chris Rock said that if normal working people saw how rich celebrities lived there'd be a revolution.

So no one really believes that ordinary folk will ever benefit from all of this technology and a lot of us don't really believe that this technology is ever coming to market. Certainly not in the form it's being evangelized.

Even so, the New Dispensationalists are out there, hawking their linear progress model of human history, telling us all we're inevitably evolving into technological superbeings. The latest pile of nonsense comes (inevitably) from the Royal Society.

British astrophysicist and cosmologist, Sir Martin Rees, believes if we manage to detect aliens, it will not be by stumbling across organic life, but from picking up a signal made by machines. 
Writing for Nautilus, Sir Martin said that while the way we think has led to all culture and science on Earth, it will be a brief precursor to more powerful machine ‘brains’. 
He thinks that life away from Earth has probably already gone through this transition from organic to machine. On a planet orbiting a star far older than the sun, life ‘may have evolved much of the way toward a dominant machine intelligence,’ he writes. 
Sir Martin believes it could be one or two more centuries before humans are overtaken by machine intelligence, which will then evolve over billions of years, either with us, or replacing us.
Make no mistake, this is religion. This is based on nothing at all, no science, no data, no observation. It's opinion. It's based on a linear progressive model of human history that is really not much different than the Protestant Christian model of history unfolding towards revelation. They're still stymied by what's floating around beyond Pluto, so it's best to take anything they have to say about other solar systems with a grain of salt.

But let's for a moment humor this credentialed fantasy. What happens to this glorious race of cyborgs when the Sun has a momentary case of indigestion and shoots a random solar flare at our shiny new Borgworld? 

We almost found out:

The solar storm of 2012 that almost sent us back to a post-apocalyptic Stone Age 
While you didn’t see it, feel it, or even read about it in the newspapers, Earth was almost knocked back to the Stone Age on July 23, 2012. It wasn’t some crazed dictator with his finger on the thermonuclear button or a giant asteroid that came close to wiping out civilization as we know it, though — no, what nearly ended us was a massive solar storm. Almost two years ago to the day, our most bounteous and fantastical celestial body — the Sun — kicked out one of the largest solar flares and coronal mass ejections ever recorded. And it missed Earth by a whisker. “If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” says Daniel Baker, who led the research into the massive solar storm.
Imagine all of the electronics in your body suddenly seizing up and shitting the bed? Goodbye, Borgs.

This is apparently such a concern that bogus articles are pumped on search engines reassuring tech consumers that all is well, resulting in headlines like this: Strong solar storm won't fry electronics.

But in a stunning example of how duplicitous the propaganda tech consumers are constantly bombarded with, the soothing headline was definitively contradicted halfway down the body text of the article itself:
Solar flares can damage the power grid and electronic technologies. The U.S. government regards the possibility of major solar storm as a "black swan," event that could be calamitous. In 1989, a geomagnetic storm knocked out the power grid in Quebec.

What's more, there's a growing body of evidence that technology in fact is having a devolutionary effect on the human organism. 

The data is being published and it's damning. But it's not being discussed in the major media, itself increasingly the property of the major technology concerns.

 Here's a headline for you: How The Internet is Making Us Stupid:

In a recent experiment at Stanford University, researchers gave various cognitive tests to 49 people who do a lot of media multitasking and 52 people who multitask much less frequently. The heavy multitaskers performed poorly on all the tests. They were more easily distracted, had less control over their attention, and were much less able to distinguish important information from trivia. 
The researchers were surprised by the results. They expected the intensive multitaskers to have gained some mental advantages. But that wasn’t the case. In fact, the multitaskers weren’t even good at multitasking. “Everything distracts them,” said Clifford Nass, one of the researchers. 
It would be one thing if the ill effects went away as soon as we turned off our computers and mobiles. But they don’t. The cellular structure of the human brain, scientists have discovered, adapts readily to the tools we use to find, store and share information. By changing our habits of mind, each new technology strengthens certain neural pathways and weakens others. The alterations shape the way we think even when we’re not using the technology. 
The pioneering neuroscientist Michael Merzenich believes our brains are being “massively remodelled” by our ever-intensifying use of the web and related media. In the 1970s and 1980s, Mr Merzenich, now a professor emeritus at the University of California in San Francisco, conducted a famous series of experiments that revealed how extensively and quickly neural circuits change in response to experience. 
In a conversation late last year, he said that he was profoundly worried about the cognitive consequences of the constant distractions and interruptions the internet bombards us with. The long-term effect on the quality of our intellectual lives, he said, could be “deadly.” 
I think the science is already in on that- our intellectual lives have already been decimated. Being kind. And now we have more data to mull over- all across the board, all across the world, IQ levels are dropping.

But technology is also having physiological evolutionary effects. Far from the Nephilim-like giants that Scientism advocates are predicting for our future, we may be instead looking at a race of hunchbacks.
Children as young as seven are developing hunchbacks and curved spines because of the hours spent bending over smart phones and tablets, a chiropractor has claimed.

He said patients often came in complaining of a headache but that a simple heel-to-toe test revealed that they had developed a backwards curve in the neck having spent hours hunched over electronic devices.

"The condition is called 'text neck' because it is often caused when people sit with their heads dropped forward looking at their devices for several hours at a time.
"Instead of a normal forward curve, patients can be seen to have a backwards curve. It can be degenerative, often causing head, neck, shoulder and back pain. 
"Many patients come in complaining they have a headache, but we actually find text neck is the cause of it. They often fail a simple heel-to-toe test and tend to fall over."
Sammy Margo, from the UK's Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, agreed that "text neck" was on the rise.
Now some clinicians are also wondering if smartphones are also making young people mentally ill, leading to an increase in suicides.

But there is also an alarming rise in autoimmune disorders, including those effecting the nervous system. Aside from the usual culprits such as our horrible food, could electromagnetic pollution be a silent cause of this troubling epidemic?
According to a new study the prevalence and incidence of autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, celiac disease, and type 1 diabetes, is on the rise and researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention are unsure why.  
Between 2001 and 2009, the incidence of type 1 diabetes increased by 23%, according to The American Diabetes Association. Finland also showed a similar increase. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body's own immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, while Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, occurs when the body does not produce enough insulin or cannot use the insulin adequately. 
Earlier studies have shown that genetics and environmental factors cause autoimmune diseases. The researchers discovered that children and teenagers suffering from type 1 diabetes have complications, such as nerve damage, that could lead to amputations. 
In the sales department-driven world of technohype and Science evangelism, everything is always looking brighter and everyone's lives are always getting better. In the real world, nearly every negative trend you can wave a stick at is on the rise. Blind allegiance to Scientism will not save us and the promises coming out of the hype machine are looking increasingly hollow. 

Maybe they mean well. But they have misread human psychology and history. And I don't see a lot of enthusiasm out there for what sounds increasingly like a pie-in-the-sky bill of goods.


  1. Hey Chris,

    Fascinating essay, my friend. I find it interesting that this linear progress model of human technological achievement is being pushed or accepted axiomatically in many fields of inquiry. In the alternative media conspiracy world we see the shadow version of this posthuman techno-utopia idea. Supposedly cutting-edge information concerning DARPA Nano-swarms, ancient and malevolent alien Artificial Intelligences enslaving humanity, X Files Purity-style Black Goo, MILAB-enhanced supersoldiers, weaponized and tech-based forms of Black Magick, etc. And isn’t it funny how The X Files anticipated virtually all of this shadow-posthumanism coming out of the alt-media for the last decade? How odd that a little pilot show on FOX in the early nineties would anticipate the flip-side of the kind of wet-dream transhumanism ideology that we see everywhere now.

    My own position on these matters is a little complicated. I do believe that certain power-elites have access to various forms of bizarre spook-tech, some it fairly esoteric. But I also think much of this is also classic wargame strategy – create the suspicion that you are holding far more cards than your enemy is holding. In the right contexts fear can kill an army a lot quicker or far more efficiently than tech-based weaponry. I mean to say, a colonist must appeal to both its target’s hope and fear – or the assimilation/social gene-therapy will be rejected. You must nourish their hope that the colonists/gods will let you share in their hidden magicks and knowledge and powers, whilst also explicitly or implicitly nourishing their fear that those same magicks might be used against them if they step out of line. It’s how invaders conquer indigenous peoples.

    I think this techno-utopia fantasy certain parties are selling is their bizarre petition to our hope, and alt-media’s interest in malevolent A.I., bio-mech hybridisation and militarized nanotech is their petition to our fear. Both poles of that continuum need to be satisfied imaginatively to ensure against the host rejecting the invading system. It’s not enough to frighten your slaves. To fracture them completely you have to love them once in a while, or at least dangle the promise of some future love. Straight up.

    So while certain hidden technologies may exist in either fully-functional or prototype form, and while aspects of both the hope and fear polarities of transhumanism may arguably have some truth to them, the visible evangelized discourse of these things is mostly laughable to a discerning mind and largely a useful elitist construct for all kinds of sociopolitical manoeuvring. It’s a joke, by and large, and so far removed from most human beings daily practical hardships that is essentially nonsensical. There is no singularity coming, to my mind. There is no perfect synthesis of man and machine. We’re already hybrid beings and things suck. Things suck because those who control our tech and wealth and resources are not responsible stewards. In fact, they are quite ill. Our glorious technology can interfere with subtle energies in various ways, it can negatively disrupt our biology, and is made on the cheap by overseas slaves. Literally. This is what hierarchy looks like, what colonization looks like. This is what psychopathy looks like, up close. It doesn’t have to be that way, but it has been that way for a long, long time.

    Just my two cents. Excellent work, Chris.


    1. Cheers, man. And thank you for this very long and thoughtful reply. I was just reading Popular Science today and was struck as I am every time I read it how modest and incremental what is actually going on outside the world of Singulatarian hype. Sure, there's AI but what's it being used for? Cybershopping, essentially. There's a lot of skepticism even in scientific circles over all this. The scary thing is when a new Steve Jobs gets a bee in his bonnet over Transhumanism and starts ramming a bunch of nonsense down the world's throat.

    2. Well, exactly. We don't even fully comprehend the common cold. Just because we can synthesise or back engineer, or duplicate something doesn't mean we know how it works. We can already get consciousness to do all kinds of weird shit, but we still don't know what it really is. Same with electricity, or sunlight. You're right that transhumanism hype is largely religious. It's devotional and emotive rhetoric coming out of the mouths of these reductionist materialists, not data analysis. But it's not just religious, it's evangelical and pornographic religion. We're all glazed in the mental techno-cum of some elitist horror-fantasy. It's not real, and even if it was they wouldn't share it with us. They'd have our faces in the dirt while they borg it up. Like right now, just with a few added bells and whistles.

  2. Thank you for this post Chris.
    These are big issues facing humanity.
    And they are important issues to resolve.

    What also is an unhealthy development in the conspiracy realm that is, is the everything is a hoax mentality. Even though people are being lied to on a big scale it therefore does not follow that everything is fake.
    Thinking that way leads you into solipsism and ultimately narcissism. In my opinion the everything is a hoax view of the world is gaslighting and convincing people thereof would be the ultimate psyop.

    1. Well, you can see where it's coming from but it is a kind of denial. And it does lead you nowhere, to crisis actors and the rest. It also leads you to an insensitivity to real human suffering.

  3. Well, our terrible food is, of course, a product of technological advancement in pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones, farming machine technology, etc.

    I've certainly noticed things in my life. I used to write poetry and music on a regular basis. Since getting "hooked" on the internet and computers in general, this began to decline to the point now that I don't do either of those at all. I feel the pain of this fairly often, when I want to create something yet put it off because other things are drawing my attention (usually on the computer and internet). I will say that acquiring recording software and an instrument interface for the PC has allowed me to finally record my music that I was afraid would be lost through age and neglect. I don't know why exactly, but I've always felt the need to keep those musical creations of mine alive, and this finally gave me a relatively easy way to do it. Still, I can't really say there are many other advantages to having a computer, aside from making it easier to keep in touch with old friend and family far away.

    I was reading about the dangers of cell phones and wi-fi technology before any of my friends had cell phones or wireless anything. I resisted cell phones and wireless internet as long as I could, but circumstances finally forced me to utilize them (though, of course, had I the will, I could easily do without any of that stuff.........though it is increasingly difficult to do so in our society these days). Of course, back then, when all my friends started getting their phones and wondering how they ever lived without them, the dangers of them were considered "conspiracy theory". Now we are seeing that it was always true and that profits were being protected way back then (as the money making potential was obvious pretty early on).

    Which I think is one of the biggest failings of science; not realizing that money has a huge impact on what gets researched and how that research turns out (I think a lot of scientists are unaware of the bias's that funding can subconsciously impose, and are a bit too confident of their own objectivity).

    Anyway, great post and this stuff (along with Gordon's Archonology stuff) has resonated with me since I first came across your blog years ago.

    1. Youth culture has certainly taken a dive since all this tech came in. Young men seem to vanish into the world of video games and shut the rest of the world out. I just use a flip-phone- I hate those smartphones. I can't use them. I do have an iPad so I'm not a total Luddite but those smartphones have come at a terrible cost to nearly everything, really.

  4. > Earth was almost knocked back to the Stone Age on July 23, 2012.

    Weird, as that was the very first day I stepped into a field in Germany to begin digging on a site known to date from the Viking Era, ca. 900 AD. I stepped back into the Dark Ages on a day we all nearly did.

    Anyway, the comment I wanted to make was that good ol' OMNI Magazine considered such a loss back in the late 70s and determined that, provided we merely lost electricity and didn't go all apeshit crazy or something, we could fairly quickly return to a technological level roughly equal to that of 1820 AD, the end of the Pre-Industrial Age. No idea what the requirements/burdens of population, resources, technological knowledge - can you wield an adze or build a water wheel? - and such would be, so maybe the massive die-off and subsequent waves of disease would kick that number back a few centuries.

    1. I should add that those of you who would like to wield an adze or build a water whee can learn a lot form the Foxfire series of books, which chronicled life in Appalachia in the last century. You may never need to dig a well, avoid poison berries or run a hand lathe, but can't hurt to know how.

    2. Oh, we're so totally screwed if a solar storm hits us. It's all over. It's The Road, basically. Maybe things might recover to a certain pre-Information Age level but only after some very serious bloodletting.

    3. That's creepy, Moses. My birthday is July 22nd. The world nearly ended the day after my birthday. Figures. :) There's a weird impulse in humans to symbolically link themselves to important events, I get that. It's still no less creepy though. ;)

    4. We all grew up bombarded by media portrayals of the end of the world, etc. In addition, we here are all speculative fiction fans and have seen 100 doomsday perspectives in comics and sci-fi novels.

      Those portrayals were overblown. In additio, we were all raised to believe that nature is random rather than intelligent. Not that it's what most of us here believe. It does inform our speculations regardless of our spiritual progression though.

      When one looks at history from the perspective of an intelligent nature then what one will see is that the populations of lifeforms most likely to survive rise prior to them. During recorded history human populations rise rapidly prior to global catastrophe. In the same way that obesity rates rise prior to periods of famine.

      From an individual perspective something like a Carrington event or a nuclear exchange would be horrific. However, humanity is so populous and education so common that we could easily as a species absorb a 90 or 95% loss and still rebuild Industrial civilization within a lifetime. In fact, the most recent mass catastrophic dieoff, the Black Death gave rise to the Industrial revolution by generating the Liberal or "capitalist" inflationary economic wave by inflating the per capita wealth of the average European by 200% with 70 years time by dividing the property and currency of the entire population amoung the 30% of the population that survived. Given such a scenario but extrapolation it to a 90 reduction in population within one lifetime, an extreme scenario, and factoring in say a 50% of commodities and fertile land when the dust settled then you'd have a 400% per capita increase in the basic means of production. Even factoring in a loss of 90% of all intellectual capital we'd have a far more educated population and far more scientists and engineers than in all of human history excepting our lifetime. So that if even 1% of all surviving books could be saved we could start reprinting them in a few years time.

    5. What I'm trying to say is that you are right that there is no Borg future. Linear progression is nonsense. Machines are not alive and can not intelligent or not be reasonable seen as an extension of evolution anyway. Nor can technology overcome life. Until recently when we achieved our own unsurpassed level of material comfort prophecies and predictions commonly ended in the emergence of a future utopia from the catastrophe being predicted. We wouldn't see it, but the an inventory of the vast accumulation of knowledge and physical capital would tend to suggest that there is a reason for those predictions.

      Also, please excuse any typos. I'm typing on my own smart phone and have to post my comments as quickly as possible before I lose them and have to start typing over. I guess in a sense I live through a minor Carrington event every time I start tapping on hers. Anyway, no time to edit the long ones...

  5. I'm not aware of anyone, other than you Chris, who has articulated scientistic evangelism so concisely. Sheldrake and Hancock and Gordon have made valuable contributions toward this understanding, but you just nail it man.

    It's important stuff. It's "Weltanschauungskrieg" - world view warfare - and it is diabolical. After reading your post I happened upon a podcast featuring one of these evangelicals. There's that smug and arrogant tool Tyson, who waltzes through the world unchallenged. Then there are the young good-looking semihipster types, such as Brians Greene and Cox.

    Here's a hilarious phrase from the latter: "a billionth of a second after the big bang". While you're at it, perhaps you could enlighten us as to the precise number of angels that can dance upon a pin.

    Of equal intellectual merit is the increasingly popular trope regarding our world, universe, whatever, being a computer simulation. Sure, why not? Or made of unicorn poop, maybe. I gained some insight today as to what fuels that particular silliness. It's the reductio ad absurdum of materialism.

    There is only stuff - things - matter; ergo we, and all we experience, had to have been generated by other matter. And off you go into infinite regression. But my main takeaway of the day is that the proponents of scientism are terrified of consciousness. Go figure. And it is consciousness that they strive to banish from all sanctioned discussion and analysis.

    Which is warfare. with purpose and motive.

    1. Well, I deal with science all day every day. My life is a never-ending science experiment. I think anyone with a chronic condition has a similar row to how, by CMPwFM earns its reputation as the rabid dog of pain conditions. But I think maybe it's more the Coyote, a tireless trickster that is throwing curveballs at me all day. So I pay attention to science and actually read the articles attached to those ludicrous headlines. Science hype is passe in the age of identity politics redux anyway. But when that psyop is over maybe they'll pull it back out.

  6. But technology is also having physiological evolutionary effects.

    Are we becoming the Morlocks from the far future world of The Time Machine by H. G. Wells?

  7. Take a walk in the woods. Get up from your screen every half hour and shake your booty! Do not use your smart phone as an internet device. What tomfoolery is at play here. Use geometry instead of Algebra. The devices are designed to make us imbecils. Never play call of duty or any soul crushing game that kills instead of nurtures. What more can I say? Shine forth brave souls! Dennis

  8. Whenever I catch myself thinking in terms of a linear progress model of human technological achievement, I use the Antikythera Mechanism as a mental reminder that there is actual physical proof that everyone will accept that the concept is erroneous. Also, this is reinforced by my certain knowledge that the entire record of the human past is one incredibly immense sample size problem. Often what we claim to know is indeed based on a relatively small amount of evidence.

    1. Yeah, things going is strange waves, not in straight lines. Something was definitely lost for a long time, and who know how many more of those things are out there. All those burning libraries hurt us more than we reckon.

  9. My internet usage is mostly reading (including your blog), with some listening to podcasts and a bit of things like YouTube. It's not any more distracting or multi-tasking than flipping through a newspaper or listening to the radio. And much of my web reading in recent months has been archived out-of-print 19th and early 20th century history books (currently I'm in the middle of an 1885 biography of John Brown). So I'd argue that YMMV applies to the web as much as anything else.

    1. Looks like you're controlling the technology, rather than vice versa.

  10. Despite all the hype and sand thrown into people’s eyes, the ultra-elite are building their fuehrer bunkers as fast as they can. Somehow they believe that they will later ascend to the surface to rule as unto the gods themselves* amongst the physical, mental, and psychic ruins. The music group Devo said it best, “Are we not men? We are Devo!”+ back in 1978.

    *Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield!
    Against stupidity the very gods
    Themselves contend in vain. Exalted reason,
    Resplendent daughter of the head divine,
    Wise foundress of the system of the world,
    Guide of the stars, who art thou then if thou,
    Bound to the tail of folly's uncurbed steed,
    Must, vainly shrieking with the drunken crowd,
    Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.
    Accursed, who striveth after noble ends,
    And with deliberate wisdom forms his plans!
    To the fool-king belongs the world.

    Friedrich Schiller

    +Are we not men? From H. G.Wells Island of Dr Moreau, 1896. Little of this is new, but some would present it as such.

    1. Devo was onto something. They certainly had a good vantage point for it. Just look at any popular news magazine from the early 70s and then one today and realize we are Devo.

  11. FBN's Jo Ling Kent on the new technology in Google's latest robot.