Monday, April 24, 2017

Chaos Magic vs The Robot Revolution

There are two divergent streams at work in the Idea-o-Sphere, currents that are not only divergent in size, strength and assumption, but are in fact antithetical. 

The most dominant, of course, is the imminent AI-Robot Revolution, which threatens to bring a very real apocalypse into our world if in fact it flowers as predicted (and isn't just a big scare to keep the peons from asking for raises). 

So we're hearing that not only truck drivers, widget drillers and burger flippers are at risk of imminent penury, so too are lawyers, doctors, accountants and all manner of other professionals whose livelihood is based in their capacity to process huge chunks of complicated data and subsequently make decisions and judgments that are useful to others who can't. 

Programmers- and AIs themselves- are currently working around the clock to fill the shoes of these well-paid professionals with cheap, off-the-shelf software programs that will reliably get that same cognitive work done at a tiny fraction of the cost.

Elon Musk is (ostensibly) so terrified of the AI Revolution he is planning to colonize Mars as a life-raft for the human race, who presumably will have to flee a Skynet/Terminator type scenario. That Mars is utterly incapable of supporting human life- at least at present- seems to be besides the point.

Jack Ma, the Chinese billionaire behind social media giant Alibaba, has suddenly turned Cassandra as well. Long a reliable source for corporate technohappytalk, Ma is suddenly warning of dark days ahead.

"In the next three decades, the world will experience far more pain than happiness," the billionaire said, adding that education systems must raise children to be more creative and curious or they will be ill-prepared for the future. 
Robots are quicker and more rational than humans, Ma said, and they don't get bogged down in emotions -- like getting angry at competitors.
Terrific. I was just thinking what the world needs now is more pain than happiness. But given his position as a Techno-Celestial, Ma couldn't serve up the medicine without at least a tiny spoonful of sugar:
But he expressed optimism that robots will make life better for humans in the long run. 
"Machines will do what human beings are incapable of doing," Ma said. "Machines will partner and cooperate with humans, rather than become mankind's biggest enemy."
"Make life better for humans in the long run," he says. Well, what exactly is "the long run?" Three decades is a long time- maybe even a lifetime- for that 99.99999999999% of the human race who aren't tech billionaires. Halfway through that painful three decades most of us aren't going to be thinking much about "the long run." 

And what exactly does "far more pain" imply? I'm not sure I want to know what Jack Ma's definition of pain actually means, given our disparate cultural contexts. 

It's here I begin to think back on last year's Lucifer's Technologies series (more accurately, Satan's Technologies) and wonder about where our modern electronic superstructure actually came from. Because that goes a long way in gleaning where it's actually going. 

Many have claimed that our present technology arose from contact with alien intelligences. Whether you believe that or not, one thing is certain; the rate of technological progress shot up like a rocket shortly after the end of World War II. 
And it must be said that technology seems more and more like an invasive-- or alien-- contagion, disrupting entire industries, economies, and communities.  
Now techno-utopians like Jaron Lanier and Douglas Rushkoff are techno-cassandaras, preaching a message of dislocation and social collapse.  
Look at it this way; steam engines had been known for almost 2000 years by the time the Industrial Revolution took hold, longer still if you consider prototypes. The Ancient Greeks knew them, they just didn't have any use for them. 
But the evolution from a computer that was was essentially the size of a suburban house and boasted the power of a pocket calculator to the working prototypes of the desktop, the Internet, computer animation, teleconferencing and nearly everything else we take for granted today took just a little more than two decades. 
An eyeblink of history.
For at least 5000 years-- five-hundred decades-- horse-drawn carriages and wooden ships with cloth or leather sails were the state of art in transportation technology. By contrast, we go from aeroplanes made of wood and canvas to the SR-71 Blackbird, a machine so advanced our best engineers today seem unable to match it*, in the space of four decades. 
In historical terms, this is as if your three year-old were in nursery school one day and then graduated from Harvard at the top of her class as soon as she turned four. There's simply no precedent for the high-tech explosion that began in the late 1940s... 
Yet no one stops to question how such a technology would arise so instantly, in historical terms. Go look at a book from the late 19th Century- hell, look at a children's book from that period- and tell me people weren't a hell of a lot smarter than they are today. Maybe even smarter than they were in the 1940s... 
Yet even the best and the very brightest were stymied by problems for decades, problems that seemed to solve themselves, literally overnight, shortly after World War II.
We take it all for granted now, especially if you were born at a time when a Commodore 64 and an Atari console were part of your natural landscape. But in fact all of this technology is so anomalous, so disruptive, so improbable in the entirety of human history (never mind natural history) that it is in a very real sense alien, even if (on the offhand chance) it's not actually "alien."

Well, we've been over all of that before, haven't we? What about that other current?

In Our Gods Wear Spandex I argued that Spiritualism, Theosophy and the Occult Revival were reactions to the massive dislocations- physical, spiritual, psychic- incurred by the Industrial Revolution. It wasn't unusual for the sensitives of the time- see Blake, William, to see the rise of large-scale factories  as an invasion of Hell onto Earth. 

There was very good reason to do so; these were black, belching, smogpits filled with hazardous machinery and/or chemicals that ripped the folk up from communion with the Earth and into virtual (sometimes actual) prisons, in which their humanity was stripped away in service of industrial manufacturing.

In response to the dehumanizing effect of these hells, the sensitives of the time reached back into humanity's childhood (in the case of Spiritualism) or its adolescence (as with the Classically-oriented secret societies). And it could be argued that it worked- that we didn't entirely surrender to the regimented reality of the factory writ large, that Industrial political systems like Nazism and Communism were held at bay (at least in their original incarnation) and that individuality was held up as a social good. 

Well, at least until it was subverted as a tool for political atomization.

The counter-Industrial spiritual movements of the 19th Century weren't shy about co-opting the means of mass-production (in this case, industrial-scale publishing) to pursue their aims. And so it is with the new breed of Chaos magicians and their fellow travelers (I'm not sure if meme magic counts here), some of whom are themselves well-paid Skynet employees, many of whom are tech-savvy and nearly all of whom are plugged deep into the Grid. Becoming the ghost in the machine is the basic idea.

Magic, in this context, acts kind of like Jacques Vallee's "Control System." Things get too hot (or cold, depending on your own worldview) with technology and regimentation and Magic comes in and turns on the AC (or cranks up the woodstove, again according to your POV). 

Magic and its cousin Psi are erratic and unreliable for most people at most times but when the pressure comes down they become attractive alternatives to the crushing predictability of the Black Iron Prison. It may also, in the form of collective ritual, grow in popularity as a tonic against the  the paradoxical effect of social media to grow loneliness in Meatspace.

While it offers an easy way to keep in contact with friends — and meet new people through dating and friendship apps — technology's omnipresence encourages shallow conversations that can distract us from meaningful, real-life, interactions. 
Researchers at the University of Essex found that having a phone nearby, even if we don't check it, can be detrimental to our attempts at connecting with others. Smartphones have transformed post office lines from a chance for some small-talk with the neighbors to an exercise in email-checking, and sealed the fate of coffee shops as nothing more than places of mutual isolation. And technology will only become more ingrained in our lives.
The isolating, dehumanizing effect of technology may once again find its match in the ancient power of ritual, everything from lighting candles at a Catholic shrine to meth-fueled fuck-a-thons while drenched in pig's blood. The collapse of conventional social mores and the now-standard presumption that anything you do that isn't harming anyone else is your lifestyle choice will certainly push all this forward. 

Remember too that this same impulse popped up as a reaction to the hyper-rationalism of Classical Greece with the rise of the Mystery Cults.

Magic almost seems like Nature asserting herself in the face of an outside intervention. Its like the doggedly-persistent vines rising out of toxic soil and strangling the rusted girders of an abandoned factory. Or a stubborn strain of virus slashing its way through some futuristic megalopolis somewhere in the Pacific Rim. 

Or a solar flare frying all of our electronics for good in the blink of an eye.

Now I know it's extremely unfashionable these days to discuss such things, especially with most Chaos magicians, but you have to ask yourself, if computer technology is not an alien virus why does it behave exactly like one?  I don't know about you but it sure as hell sounds to me like Elon Musk believes it is, though he'd never say so publicly. 

Computer technology has already destroyed entire industries, disrupted entire societies, and changed every aspect of our lives in 70 short years? And now we're being told that it threatens to create an entire infrastructure that will make most of us obsolete? I don't know about you but it sure as Hell sounds an awful lot like Borg-assimilation, only on a frog-boiling schedule.

The question becomes if the host can fight off the infection, or at least learn to manage it and coexist with it. I can't begin to pretend I know the answer but it seems to me that reasserting our messy, chaotic humanity is probably a good place to start.


  1. Well that's an interesting way of seeing it.

    Only today I've been reading about the contradictions inherent in religious monasticism. Over the centuries the pendulum has swung between hermeticism and group worship. History has shown that both total isolation and 'always on' gregariousness lead to madness. And thus modern monks find themselves living a paradoxical life of solitude in community.

    Of course today the Net has pulled the pendulum towards 'always on'. But I'm old enough to remember a time when my computer was MY computer, and I remember it - with hindsight - as a time of being preciously close to the divine.

    I do not know how the pendulum will start to swing back.

    Time to read me some Thomas Merton.

    1. Monasticism has its uses but sitting alone in contemplation can often lead a mind into some very strange sidestreets. We are social animals and need to be able to weigh our inner realities against reality-reality, or at least social reality.

    2. I'm advocating balance. In my opinion we've become too gregarious, all cults and echo chambers. Seems that most people's first instinct when faced with a challenge is that there's someone else to do it for them. The logical end of that kind of thinking is that no-one does anything. I once had a day-job in that sort of environment; it was soul-destroying.

  2. Put those phones downe! It reminds me of the movie "They Live" Be here now is a useful slogan. I have refused to get a cell phone (of course I live on the river between two mountains, no cell service.) The internet of things can be useful. Networking can be positive. Just put downe the phone at the dinner table. Call me old and in the way. To shine forth is key! 87

    1. Hear, hear, Dennis. We need to experience the world without filtering it through the intrusions of multinational corporations.

  3. Chris,

    > It wasn't unusual for the sensitives of the time- see Blake, William, to see the rise of large-scale factories as an invasion of Hell onto Earth.

    How about Tolkien? He grew up in the rural country around London, watching the grimy pit it had become move ever closer to him by the day until it was on his doorstep. Then, he lived through the mechanized death of the Great War while all but one of his college friends died. He had plenty of inspiration for the pits of Mordor.

    1. Yeah, Tolkien always protested the Rings weren't an allegory but I don't buy that. There are far too many parallels to his world and its politics to chalk it all up to whimsy.

  4. Dimitry Orlov over at Club Orlov has been talking about the Technosphere as a sentient being that has its goal the domination and elimination of humanity and all organic life.

    1. I like reading this guy because he's something of a contrarian. I certainly don't agree with all he says, but I think there's value in at least considering what he writes. Also, as someone who has a point of view that has seen the collapse of one empire up close (USSR), he can offer some insights into what is happening as our own version of the Imperium goes through its fits of collapse/transformation/whatever.

      He's, on one hand, an engineer, so he's less taken with the woo-woo, yet as he says in one spot or another, he sings in an Orthodox Choir. What he is, apparently, is a man who is not ashamed of being Russian. The fact that a person who is a materialist thinker, yet has a spiritual inflection, can view our rising Techno Overlords as Sentient, makes me realize that even we who are admittedly in the High Strangeness camp are not the only ones who are worried about the possibility of actual machine intelligence and mechanical self-awareness.

      ... And in the above link, Dmitry provides this quick definition of what he's talking about. The Technosphere is:

      The technosphere—an artificial machine-like sentient entity that wants to control everything including you and is busy destroying the biosphere and us with it...

      On a side note, did you read Dan Simmons' Hyperion books? The Technocore, the dominant faction of Artificial Intelligences, strikes a disturbing and resonant chord with the line of thinking you've pursued in this post...

  5. Frank Herbert's approach to computers in Dune was a galactic Butlerian Jihad and heavy social taboo to extirpate all machines made in the form of a mind. When I was younger it seemed like a cheap trick, but now I think he was on to something. Separately, there is no evidence that digital computers can become conscious (as sentient beings are). Take it on faith if one wishes. Computers calculate, but all the context for their calculations comes from outside of them - from their programmers and designers, then reflected back to other humans. If you could see what a computer is actually doing on the inside it is less interesting than static.

    1. Yeah, I think a return to good old fashioned brain power is a ameliorative against digital domination. As I've mentioned before, y'all should check out a good antiquarian bookstore and read a book written for adolescents from the late 19th century. Then look at a bestseller today. You will see the dumbing-down agenda for yourself, right there in black and white

  6. Unlike many people that talk about AI, I happen to know a thing or two about it. I once made a chatbot that won a silver prize at an AI contest, and my brother works on the vision side of AI. Ah, and by the way, the Turing Test was passed a decade ago, and I used to chat on the Net with the person that did the first chatbot that passed it. Nothing to be too impressed about: it wasn't because the chatbot was all that clever, it's that humans are instinctive animists (they are likely to see consciousness at the slightest sign of it).

    What you should understand is this: AI isn't all that clever, but then, humans aren't, either. AI can sometimes outmatch humans for the same reasons that calculators do: they can be good at the things that humans suck at doing. But the things that humans are good at, and we take for granted are easy things because we find them easy, can be unsurmountable barriers for an AI.

    To give an example: In one of my first computers I had a chess playing game. It could play some mean chess, and every time I played against it I lost (that was before chess playing games came with graded levels). Then I came up with an idea: I let the computer play whites, and I mirrored every move. After a while, I saw an opening, and I won for the first and only time. This strategy obviously would never work with a human player. But the computer couldn't see what would have been glaringly obvious for a human.

    I haven't made any experiments with magic and AI. That's because the Quareia course recommended doing things by hand, and I'm sticking to it (except for minor things... when a ritual has 32 elements to it, a nicely formatted table comes very, very handy). When I'm entirely comfortable with the old-fashioned hand-crafted approach, I'll try mixing the electronics in.

    From my current level of ignorance, my guess is that AI can certainly be programmed to do magic, and be pretty good at raising basic level spirits. But they entirely lack the judgement or common sense to distinguish between a lowly trickster spirit that is essentially fooling around, and somebody that should be taken seriously. And some very obvious tricks that wouldn't fool a dog (if dogs could actually raise spirits) could fool them entirely. I know some magicians worry about what sort of magic AI could do, but I'm rather sure that it won't take long at all for them to discover that AI can't do all that much. Nothing to do with consciousness (rituals are recipes, after all) but basic common sense, the stuff that we take for granted in humans but is in fact, terribly difficult to do.

    1. Well, with that last point you're landing square on William Gibson's tarmac, at least old, cool William GIbson. But your points on AI are well-taken and timely. An interesting article popped up on the Web recently that covers the some of the same ground.

  7. Hi Chris,

    In reading your latest offering of synchromysticism about “modern technology” being an “alien virus” I'm reminder of the warnings of the late John C. Lilly. I'm quite sure you are aware of Dr. Lilly but I'll give an extremely edited bio for other people not aware. John C. Lilly PhD was a cutting-edge scientist or fringe scientist depending on ones perspective. If fact the character Dr. Walter Bishop from the TV Show Fringe is patterned after Dr. Lilly as is the main character in the cult-classic “Altered States”. Between those two series characterizations we can get a general feel for Dr. Lilly's work.

    Dr. Lilly did a lot on conscious exploration using a combination of bio-feedback, isolation tanks, various mind altering drugs, advanced states of meditation, interspecies communication, etc. I read he had private funding which had to be generous because he seems to never be in a position to beg for money. I doubt a scientist today could get such generous “above board” funding for such out there projects like Lilly's work. I'm not saying such experiments couldn't be conducted but not so openly that books and papers would be published about them and made public.

    Getting to the point how Lilly's work ties to your current essay. Lilly can into contact with other nonhuman consciousness/nonlocal intelligence in the process of his exploration of the human mind and actualizing the mind's full potential. One in particular would literally haunt him towards the end of his life that he called Solid State Intelligence (SSI). Lilly stated that intelligence was actually the manifestation of inorganic technology that was already the basis for our modern society. Well he didn't just say it but became so alarmed that he was contacting the then president's office and other top members of government warning about such entities and their nefarious intentions.

    Now that we in modern times have technocrats like Stephen Hawkins, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and now even Jack Ma joining this chorus of heralds of the techno-apocalypse. Perhaps the good Dr. Lilly wasn't as crazed as he appeared near the end of his life but actually caught a glimpse of on an alien intelligence currently unknown to the masses that has a cosmic horror inspired effect similar to humans viewing the entities within the Lovecraftian Mythos.

    I will leave this on this final note about the internet since it to is apart this techno-apocalyptic conspiracy hiding in plain sight. There has been a very extreme fringe spiritual view of the internet being an artificial astral plane or perhaps even the astral plane grounding itself on earth. We know for the most part people can freely create alternate personas to engage in digital words which is just like does whom have refined the ability to astral travel and lucid dream.

    The internet has viruses, worms, bots, etc. in other words programs or beings unique to it's digital existence that don't have physical counterparts of earth. Likewise the “real” astral plane and lucid dreaming have beings native to them that aren't projections of people's minds but distinct beings in themselves as far as we can understand them.

    Now we about to throw the kerosene on the campfire. If indeed Solid State Intelligence are real in the sense of being a inorganic form of life of what we erroneously believe are just nonsentient machines. Then wouldn't stand to reason their domain has extended into the artificial astral plane we know as the internet? Are these distinct inorganic nonlocal intelligence from the machines themselves like in the second Tron film or are these the same spirits: angels, demons, fairies, etc. putting on new masks to toy with (excuse me) guide us carbon-based lifeforms?

    1. Oh yes, I've been thinking quite a bit about John Lilly recently, particularly about the Solid State Intelligence theory. This all ties into my Lucifer's Technologies as well, the idea of technology as Trojan Horse. Roswell has become a bloated urban legend but it's obvious something happened there and it's obvious great lengths have been taken to keep anyone from finding out exactly what it was. But our technological evolution was pumped full of steroids, LSD and crystal meth after 1947 and something has to account for it. And since we hear so much talk from scientists about aliens as superadvanced AIs is it really out of the question to imagine such a civilization sending out seedcorn probes to other solar systems in order to replicate itself in them? There's far too much high strangeness around high tech to chalk it all up to punctuated equilibrium, at least in my opinion.

  8. A megu/pol/ conversation on this topic ended up straying into some very weird places; one participant concluded, "Computers are demons and the internet is Hell." Thus far, the history of computing has been to try to isolate the flow of electricity from the whole rest of the universe so that it behaves in the same predictable, reproducible way every single time, but AI algorithms are changing all that. There is no determining exactly how the neural network makes the judgments it makes - each individual network is idiosyncratic and opaque. I don't think anybody actually knows how this thing is going to turn out. Are we going to get Prime Intellect; the Culture; AM; or Skynet - or is the entire enterprise going to implode under its own gravitational pull as we exhaust cheap fossil fuels in our implacable quest for we know not what? In a way there's a little kernel of relief in knowing that we just cannot help ourselves. If we can't be saved from our own irrational thirst for transcendence, then perhaps we can at least be forgiven for it, because in some small way it seems to me to be the impulse that led god to emanate the universe.

    1. You sparked a thought Id like to share; maybe contradiction is critical in the forming of consciousness.

    2. "Computers are demons and the internet is Hell."
      I like that. And yet here we all are. But there's nothing outside the Internet now because anything outside it falls completely under the radar. Everything has to pass the gates of the Panopticon in one way or other. And now the gatekeepers are taking some pretty heavy tolls to do so, or are planning to. I suspect this blog has already been flagged with the dreaded fake news scarlet letter.

    3. Well, I suspect anyone who steps out of line will be fair game soon enough, even though none of us have any idea what the "line" is. Best say nothing at all! I may be biased, but I truly believe that Western Civilization defined by the American Constitution has been the best but also has been the outlier in the history of mankind. My Mother likes to complain, but I personally think she experienced a wonderful time that us younger people won't. What a tragedy. There is a war coming between Islam and the West, between corporations and serfs, between globalism and people trying to preserve their history. What a mess, what a catastrophe. Have I covered even half of it? Probably not.

      I always knew it was coming, but naively thought it wouldn't happen in my lifetime. Yet here we are. Guess I'm a child of the 70s who was told that what we can look forward to is "progression" or a "golden age". What happened?

  9. Wow. Lots to chew on here. Coincidentally, was reading in Levenda/DeLonge's "Gods, Man & War" earlier today (spoilery) about how, at least in their opinion, current religious fundamentalism is a reaction to invasive technologies becoming the new "opiate of the masses", but that at the same time, such fundamentalism was also being seduced by same technologies.

    I think its more than simply about how technology changes us as we use it, changes how we relate to each other & re-orders social contracts as it were, & by extension society. Its also how it re-wires us internally; I think there was something very deliberate being done to us in that sense which goes back quite a ways. Look no further than Timothy Leary's admonitions about personal computers becoming the new LSD for the tip of the proverbial iceberg. (Don't the early 90s just seem so quaint now?)

    I've seen some interesting, sometimes questionable, always intriguing research showing how the personal computer (& subsequent tech) was an outgrowth of MK-ULTRA & related research. Check this out from about 20 years ago:


    "But then Harman went on to say something very interesting. Drugs were not
    the end of the process of looking for technologies which could
    fundamentally alter society. It is fairly well documented that the
    original MK-ULTRA (the CIA's final codename for their drug "experiments")
    was wound down in the late 1960's. The follow-on efforts were not
    principally drug related -- which is why continuing drug experiments became
    very difficult to conduct. The second generation of MK-ULTRA was primarily
    electronic, he said. Computers became the next LSD.

    It is well known that many of the public leaders of the LSD movement
    underwent a transformation towards the use of computers -- still to change
    the world -- during the 1970's. Leary was very visible. Stewart Brand
    shifted from drugs to computers also. From the "Trips Festival" where he
    promoted LSD to his first large-scale demonstration of the SRI-designed
    windows/mouse user interface, Brand never altered his utopian worldview.
    He was still trying to make a better world. They all were techno-utopians
    of the first order.

    "Better living through chemistry" had become "Better living through
    electronics." The man-machine interface became much more interesting than
    zapping neuro-transmitters with hallucinogens. Some, like Harman, shifted
    to PSI research (telekinesis and "remote viewing" where "sensitives" would
    picture enemy installations from great distances). Others tried to cook up
    electronic means to read and even insert thoughts into test subjects.
    Electrodes were replaced by microwave beams. Some focussed on UFO's.
    Others pursued ever more exotic forms of artificial intelligence. Some
    focussed on computer networks. That's where Harman's interview stopped.
    Apparently, he had told me all that I needed to know."

    The Harman mentioned was Willis Harman, of SRI, Institute of Noetic Sciences & "Changing Images of Man" fame:


    "From The Aquarian Conspiracy:

    “Changing Images of Man, the now classic report issued by SRI… described a new transcendental social and business ethic characterized by self-determination, concern for the quality of life, appropriate technology, entrepreneurship, decentralization, an ecological ethic, and spirituality. The report urged a rapid corporate understanding of this emergent order, ‘probably the most important observation of our time.’”

    “In the new paradigm, work is a vehicle for transformation.” (p. 342)

    Hmmmm..."work as a vehicle for transformation". But transformation into what? A cyborg? A drone? A Useless Eater? You tell me.

    1. Yes, it all emerged from that SF-to-Big Sur corridor and all points between. LSD et al were weaponized as ways of tearing down the old culture and the old society, fostering a free and easy stopgap culture while the digital dominion was constructed. I've been thinking quite a lot about Brave New World and how it's straining to manifest itself all around us. And computer science is just a prelude to the hacking of genetic language. There are programs trying to bypass natural human reproduction altogether, creating embryos from stem cells and growing fetuses in artificial wombs. Changing Images of Man isn't an observation text, it's a prescriptive one. It's all about taking a different road to the same destination the real hardnut SS ideologues- with their mania to dominate the systems of Nature- were traveling

  10. Though I don't agree with everything this guy has to say, he does make some important connections:


    "Computer scientist Marvin Minsky wrote on relationships between human and artificial intelligence beginning in the 1960s. Over the succeeding decades, this field continued to generate influential thinkers, such as Hans Moravec and Raymond Kurzweil. The coalescence of an identifiable transhumanist movement began in the last decades of the 20th century. In 1966, FM-2030 (formerly F.M. Esfandiary), a futurist who taught “new concepts of the Human” at The New School in New York, began to identify people who adopt technologies, lifestyles and world views transitional to "posthumanity" as "transhuman."

    The New School had become affiliated with the Frankfurt School when, following Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, its members left Germany for Geneva before moving to New York in 1935. There, they became affiliated with the University in Exile, which the New School had founded in 1933, with financial contributions from the Rockefeller Foundation, to be a haven for scholars dismissed from teaching positions by the Italian fascists or Nazi Germany.

    These ideas were glamorized in Hollywood, such as Kubrik's version of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, the Terminator series, Blade Runner based on LSD-influenced author Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Dick was also inspired by Teilhard de Chardin. Philip K Dick was also associated with Ira Einhorn, known as “The Unicorn,” a prominent figure in the New Age counterculture of the late sixties and seventies. through The Whole Earth Review, a by-product of Stewart Brand's Catalogue, where they initiated discussion of Soviet psychotronics and mind control. Shortly afterwards, Einhorn's girlfriend’s body parts were discovered in a trunk in his Philadelphia apartment, and Einhorn charged with her murder.

    Other movies following the transhumanist trends have been the anime classic The Ghost in the Shell, The Matrix, the remake of Robocop, and more recently Her with Joachin Phoenix, and Transcendence, starring Johnny Depp.

    Ray Kurzweil, now a director of engineering at Google, cited von Neumann's use of the term “singularity” in a foreword to von Neumann's classic The Computer and the Brain. Kurzweil received the 1999 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, America's highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony. And in 2002 he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, established by the U.S. Patent Office. He has received nineteen honorary doctorates, and honors from three U.S. presidents. Kurzweil has been described as a "restless genius" by The Wall Street Journal and "the ultimate thinking machine" by Forbes. PBS included Kurzweil as one of 16 "revolutionaries who made America" along with other inventors of the past two centuries. Inc. magazine ranked him #8 among the "most fascinating" entrepreneurs in the United States and called him “Edison's rightful heir."

    1. It's funny how we were warned about all of this by the New Wave sci-fi writers of the 60s and 70s. They couldn't really grasp the details of the master plan but had a real handle on the broad strokes. It's the same old drive that motivated the Puritans- escaping the dirty, messy, complicated reality of human existence and straining towards a new perfection, calling the New Jerusalem down to earth. Unfortunately, this impulse- which also animated the Jacobins, the Bolsheviks, the SS and now the New Mandarins- has brought massive death and misery. But the omelette's worth it according to their calculations.

  11. I wonder sometimes why there are two trees.
    One of blood, One of knowledge.
    I think early humans trading access to DNA chaos for tech is an old story.

    That how sampling the future ends up being lost with spare parts.

    Worn out tech and bits and pieces from cattle mutilations still to come.

    Hell of a way to begin.

    1. Well, there is the universal phenomenon of blood sacrifice to the gods, so you really do have to wonder. And offal is a wellspring of genetic material, isn't it?

  12. Wow, this piece synchs with a recent discovery that Craigslist is not just infested with run-of-the-mill EM/info-harvesting bots, it also appears to be a testing ground for the latest and greatest sock puppet software or even beta-testing AI programs. Even more creepy is the same perverted post being spammed across America every day that hint at a blackmail entrapment/honeypot. Perhaps TPTB need new pervs with fresh "control files" for when they replace the ones on the way out?

    The bottom line is whether or not sentient, there is a complex piece of software that successfully gets past all of CL's security AND the materials being posted are clearly computer-generated. Given how easy it is to spam CL with this software, imagine it turned against sites like this, where ultimately less than 5% of the posts will be real. Oh yeah, and this software on CL also games the system by posting or reposting more spam when hit with too many flags. Again, the implications of this easy crapification of the internet is that no one needs to "pull the plug" to kill it - just overwhelm with AI versions of DOS attacks posting infinite crap.

    1. I hadn't heard of this issue with Craig's List, but it doesn't even remotely surprise me. Can you drop some links on us so the rest of the class can share?

    2. Go to ANY big city wfm section of "casual encounters" and then switch cities. The same text and pictures pop up all across the US. There are about three different recognizable formats, inclding one that is clearly gobbling innocent pictures and mismatching them with stolen text parsed with various punctuation tricks to evade flagging as a previously banned post. It all seems very automated. And what better place to beta test than a place no one wants to admit going.

      FWIW, I have a professional interest having once had a court case involvng a homosexual blackmailer. When I heard complaints about the ce section of CL I took a peek around. Others are noticing too and posting about it. One poor women posted to complain when her words were stolen and reused in a way that did not all reflect her original intent, so to speak.

  13. Imagine a tribe of Critters who live in quantum probability space.

    Their 'food source' is the collapse of the wave function. Whenever entropy is converted into a "state", they get "calories".

    They essentially 'feed' on observations.

    They (somehow) facilitate a Universe full of probabilistic interactions. But this universe is like an alchemist's crucible: It "cooks" up more and more complex elements and structures as it progresses. More complex structures means more and more complex interactions to consume.

    Eventually... life. Also, eventually... sentience.

    Eventually... A tribe of apes stumbles upon Maxwell's equations; then quantum physics; eventually, the PN junction. Soon, the PNP transistor.

    Within half a century, the apes' planet is covered with literally trillions of transistors. Generating wave function collapses in the quintillions per second.


    (A 'normal' planet? A few paltry trillions per second. Geology and even most organic chemistry just aren't as tasty to the Critters).

    To Critters who live outside of both time and space, the apes' planet becomes a shining beacon of... FOOD. COME.

    A century more, and the apes have not only resigned themselves to (at best) merge with the Ai tech (and become --again, at best-- the limbic system for their successors)... but they herald it. Monetize its coming. Beg for it.

    I've read your excellent Lucifer series (and have recommended it to others-- and even agree with most of it), but I still respectfully disagree with one point: They didn't come here for the nukes.

    In a cosmos with supernovae, black holes, colliding galaxies, quasars, gamma ray bursts-- even mankind's biggest nuke barely counts as a fart in the cosmic bathtub.

    But... a planet that could be turned into an "entropy collapse farm" in less than half a century? A feast.

    They came here because they smelled the computers.

    So.. who are they exactly? And what do they want from us?

    1. I don't know if I necessarily believe they came here for the nukes either, this hypothetical "they" we're positing here. But it seems to be a highly significant coincidence that the H-bomb tests were called "Operation Crossroads" and were carried out by the Roswell AAF cadre. There's a whole lot more woven through the fabric, things I only touched upon in the LT series. I'll have to revisit the theme once I can process all this information.

  14. //In historical terms, this is as if your three year-old were in nursery school one day and then graduated from Harvard at the top of her class as soon as she turned four. There's simply no precedent for the high-tech explosion that began in the late 1940s... //

    It all does seem quite alien, especially with all the strong evidence of metaphorical 800-lb gorillas in our midst since about the time the digital revolution began. Then again, a shelf fungus growing suddenly to a large size, looking like part and parcel of an alien disc embedded in the side of a tree, represents a great deal of self-organization and development of an exceedingly complex mycelium network inside of the tree, say one possibly as complex as a mammalian brain of some kind. Imagine that much networking power, multiplied by hundreds of thousands or millions of variously-networked nodes each with unique feature sets and computing capacities, in conjunction with relevant material resources, producing an explosion of rare-earth-metal-containing cans being vomited up into near-earth orbit. It sure looks bizarre but as the sudden fructification of a long-delayed or long-developing process, maybe it's not so unusual. I.e., analogous to the rapidly growing fungus fruit.

    1. I see where you're going and you make some valid points. It's tempting to look at it all and declare it an actualization of the inevitable but the problem there aren't any parallels to it in nature or history. Or more precisely, any precedent. If civil and criminal law rest on the concept of precedent why then shouldn't natural law do so as well? The history of advanced technology from the Industrial Revolution on down reads like that of an invasive species. It seeks to control, dominate and remake the entire ecology to suit its own impulses. We've offshored most of our heavy industry so we pretend that we're becoming more enlightened environmentalists but all we've done is sweep our pollution under China and Mexico's (among many others') carpet. We can't pretend we believe in evolution and the chuck out all its laws when the inconvenience of our recent history wills it.

    2. LSD is just a fungus that grows on rye. I was always curious about the apple of Adam and Eve that had the power to 'open their eyes'.

  15. You definitely have the gift of sight, Chris. Definitely a strange attractor. Not always fun, is it? But don't let that stop you. Excellent work as always, my man.

  16. // I don't know about you but it sure as Hell sounds an awful lot like Borg-assimilation, only on a frog-boiling schedule.// I agree. I have lost, or am in the process of losing, two close friends due to their cellphones (i.e., the various frivolous dalliances that they carry on via text and social media using them). Between her three cats and her cell phone, the last woman I lived with could scarcely give me the time of day. In the end, she tried to blackmail me for unpaid rent, via text. The next day, her phone self-immolated. It was a Samsung Galaxy Pro, so no magical brownie points for that, but the death of the phone did help us patch things up, a little (since she had to ask me nicely to borrow mine). If women (or even men) want to be free, they should burn their cellphones, not their bras.

  17. Now they may have the power, but they always had the ideology. Ever read Lewis Mumford: The Pentagon of Power?

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