TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.



Showing posts with label Quantum Consciousness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Quantum Consciousness. Show all posts

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Quantum Computing Rhetoric: In a Word, Supremacy


Demonstrating Quantum Supremacy (23 October 2019). Video Source: Youtube.

In an attempt to understand where advanced technology is headed in cultural terms, I will begin simply by presenting examples of rhetoric used at Silicon Valley Corporations and by other tech developers. Each word provides the vocabulary of a new priestly class. Today's word comes from Google: supremacy.


See all posts in the What's Left Over? series on materialism and anti-materialism in technological advancement.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

What's Left Over? The Materialist Algorithm for Cognition


Image Source: Morten Tolboll.

This post continues my investigation of materialism and anti-materialism as competing responses to technology. My central argument is that right-wing and left-wing descriptions of politics and the economy are misleading and obsolete. Politics and economics are evolving to mirror tech-oriented materialism and anti-materialism. The worst of the former is leading to tyrannical political oppression. The worst of the latter is leading to an alienation from the mainstream consensus about reality.

Thus far in this blog series, I have focussed on materialism as a way of seeing the world, which is grounded in empiricism, scientific exploration, rationalism, secularism, and the associated economic mode of capitalist consumption. All of these aspects concentrate on humankind's five senses and how they can measure and experience the physical realm.

More radical forms of materialism reveal where this is stance is headed. In 2013, Stephen J. Cowley and Frédéric Vallée-Tourangeau edited a collected volume of scholarly essays entitled, Cognition beyond the Brain: Computation, Interactivity and Human Artifice. The editors explain that the notion that we are free to think inside our heads is a fairy tale. They argue that the thoughts we have inside our own heads as private expressions of personal existence, and as ego-controlled responses to the outside world, constitute a bedtime story we tell ourselves about our independence as individual beings.

'Thinking,' for these academics, is not an internalized activity expressing the cognitive power and freedom of a single, rational creature. Rather, as I suggested in my post, Who Writes Your Reality?, 'thinking' is a culturally-modulated experience. It is even possibly constructed from the outside in. That is, your brain from this materialist standpoint is like a Tabula rasa, upon which the outside world may write its programs as it wishes. The editors of Cognition beyond the Brain call old-fashioned notions of subjective 'thinking' a 'folk concept,' a culturally-shaped story we tell ourselves about what we are doing:
"Like all folk concepts, ‘thinking’ is a second-order construct used to ‘explain’ observations or, specifically, how action is—and should be—integrated with perception."
This is a radical departure from the earlier Postmodern deification of the subjective mind, wherein social objectivities were demolished and everyone's personal truth was considered sacrosanct.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Can Energy Be Moral?


Scientists have begun to prove that quantum entanglement can be demonstrated at macro levels. Could the same be said for the observer effect? Image Source: Develop Good Habits.

To my readers, I have a new post up at Vocal Media, concerning 2018 scientific research which has proven that quantum entanglement can be taken to the macro level:


In that post, I argue that the endgame of the current Tech Revolution is to reach a Kardashev Civilization Level I, in which a tech-harmonized global society would be able to consume and harness the energy of the entire planet.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Hallowe'en Countdown 2018: CERN is Wonderland


ALICE project at CERN: "(A Large Ion Collider Experiment) is a heavy-ion detector on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) ring." Image Source: The Royal Society.

Today's post reveals how online researchers can take two terrifying ideas and combine them to create a new, counter-factual alt-history that is more terrifying because it seems more true, when it is actually less true.

Magic and Science, A Post-Truth Horror Mash-Up

These two frightening rumours are:

Theory 1: Evil Science
Those developing technology mean to enslave us with mind-bending and reality-altering devices that will get out of control.

Theory 2: Evil Magic
The CIA's historically-documented MKUltra program is a still-operational global scheme for brainwashing and controlling select individuals. The program's Nazi roots lead to murky accounts of ritualistic cults, black magic mayhem and murder, Satanic ritual abuse (SRA updates the ritual murder myth), prostitution and child torture. The hypothesis runs that MKUltra's malevolent techniques are now being applied wholesale via entertainment and news media to mainstream culture. A typical testimony in this genre is here.

Theory 1 seems more credible and tamer in terms of content than Theory 2. It isn't.

Theory 1: TLDR
  • The double slit experiment proved that an observer transforms an object by observing it. Scientists declare this occurs only on the quantum level.
  • Terrifying online theory: this leads to the question of whether any serious research projects have set out to understand and control that process on a large scale, thus potentially gaining the ability to shape general reality and change history at will.
  • To do this beyond the quantum level (if that is possible), researchers would have to control masses of observers in the first place; they would have to learn how to control human perception generally; and they would then have to begin to conduct experiments on that energetic field.
  • There is a hypothesis on the Internet that there may be a mathematical formula which defines how human perception affects reality. That is, this is a mathematical formula for the physics of human consciousness as it interacts with, and impresses itself upon, the material world.
  • A further hypothesis considers that the means to control human perception was already known in some cryptic way in occult or magical practices, but that means was not scientifically understood or instrumentalized in a reliable, industrial way. Thus far, the bending of space-time has supposedly been rooted in organic manifestations generated by highly-intuitive, spiritually-gifted, and esoterically-trained individuals. Some of these occult secrets have been revealed publicly through the arts.
  • Or they have been revealed through politics. Another fringe theory maintains that the murderous politics of Nazi Germany was an occult experiment in altering mass perception, thereby forcing reality and history to change, with genocidal consequences.
  • Yet another fringe theory asserts that after the fall of Nazi Germany, the Nazis' research into mass mind control was transferred to, and continued in, the USA and the UK at Project MKUltra and the Tavistock Institute, respectively.
  • Conspiracy theorists think all that work is now bearing terrible fruit and that CERN is the big scientific experiment dedicated to orchestrating human perception, thereby building a tool that will create new realities through the manipulation of mass consciousness.
  • One alt-researcher, Daniel Liszt, thinks that the map for CERN's research was originally presented in mathematical formulas embedded in the Alice in Wonderland books by British author, Lewis Carroll. The Annotated Alice reveals how Carroll did indeed insert mathematical formulas into his fiction.
  • The assumed CERN-Wonderland connection was fostered by the fact that CERN actually has a heavy ion detector called ALICE.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Space and Struggle to Become Responsible


Vice President Pence Unveils U.S. Space Force Plans (C-SPAN) (9 August 2018). Video Source: Youtube.

The news is full of space headlines. On 9 August, the American Vice President Mike Pence announced that the United States will build a sixth branch of its armed forces, a "space force" to "prepare for the next battlefield." The full statement is here.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Wonders of the Millennial World 9: The Speed of Consciousness


Image Source: pinterest.

One of the questions which I pursue on this blog is whether or not human consciousness is manifesting on the Internet, in the psycho-anthropological myth-space of virtual reality, or as an alternate way of being, or in zeroes and ones, or in the physics of quantum computing. If human consciousness operates collectively on the Internet, it raises a subsequent question of whether that online consciousness can alter actual, real world reality.

The Big Bang Theory: Schrödinger's cat from Season 1, Episode 17, The Tangerine Factor (19 May 2008) © Warner. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

This sounds bizarre, but the relationship between mind and matter remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of modern science. In my 2015 post, A Quantum Christmas, I outlined the origins of the mystery: when we measure matter, matter changes. And quantum entangled matter shows that we can measure an entangled particle, and its unmeasured twin will change too.

This means that matter has some other way of existing beyond our perception and we have an effect on matter which we do not understand. At the quantum level, matter changes from a previous, indefinite state before we look at it, where it exists in all places at once. After we look at it, it acquires a definite, measurable state. The impact our observations have on reality is exerted at a speed of three trillion metres per second. This is how fast our observations travel to transform reality into fixed states. We might call it the speed of consciousness.

Try to assess this, and find further, via the double slit experiment, that before we measure matter, when it exists in an indefinite state, it acts like a wave of energy. Measure the matter, and it becomes definite, fixed, and the wave 'collapses' to behave like particles.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Countdown to Hallowe'en 2016: Disasters, Miracles and the Mandela Effect


The wildest so-called 'whistle-blower' of 2016 is the 4chan boards 'CERN scientist,' who insisted the Mandela effect was real on 21 August 2016. (Click to enlarge.) Image Source.

In 2015, astrologer Liz Greene summarized the spirit of our times (her extended comment on the subject is here): 
"The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once wrote that nothing is certain except change. In the last two decades we have been forced to acknowledge this ancient truth, for many of our time-honoured and reliable religious, economic and social structures and definitions of reality have undergone major upheavals. Because human beings instinctively fear change, we imagine global disasters as we move into the future, or global redemption through the miracles of technology or some extraordinary new spiritual or political revolution. We are filled with both anxiety and hope. Is this really a time of great opportunity, spiritually and materially? Or does it seem so merely because we believe it to be so?"
In the spirit of understanding the power of perception over rationality and belief, I sometimes cover strange material on this blog. I discuss this material with reservations, and save the weirdest stories for the Hallowe'en countdown.

This summer, a deranged rumour on the Internet combined disasters with miracles. It is called the 'Mandela effect,' a meme which asserts that "large groups of people have alternate memories about past events." The effect is likely a jarring dyslexia of shared memory in the era of kinetic information. The Mandela effect is the creepiest meme I have ever encountered (even creepier than this one). It made me think of the line from David Lynch's 1997 neo-noir horror film, Lost Highway: "I like to remember things my own way. ... How I remember them. Not necessarily the way they happened."

The Mandela effect resembles Lynch's plot structures, especially in Mulholland Drive (2001) and Inland Empire (2006), where characters and incidents repeat, transform, and overlap in new contexts. In Lynch's most recent work, the characters share a basic story. This is the 'highway' of everyday experience, the type of historical story we all know, expect and recognize. It follows a linear chronology. Radical variations in this kind of story are almost always rationally comprehensible. They may involve one character missing a critical piece of information; or big differences in opinion or perspective between characters; or a character's tragic flaw forcing him to act in a way he should not. A larger fate, god, or mystery can play a role in these stories, but the linear highway of the narrative remains predominant, even if the characters take an off-ramp.

From the Lost Highway soundtrack. I'm Deranged. LP: Outside (25 September 1995) © David Bowie/Brian Eno/RCA. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

But in the Lynchian universe, that main highway chronology is overlaid with other narratives which follow the separate stories of symbols (or archetypes), of the individual subconscious (possibly the soul), and of a larger, collective unconscious (perhaps the group soul). Those other, eerie narratives are non-linear and have different shapes. In Lost Highway, the plot relating to death symbols was constructed like a Möbius strip. Some of those unconventional narratives may have no shape at all and may be quantum, popping in and out of the linear narrative of conventional sanity, and co-existing in many times and realities. This allows Lynch's characters to disappear and reappear, sometimes with new identities, for no apparent linear reason. It is easy to dismiss these films as crazy, but Lynch's aim seems rather to tell the complete story of reality. The characters' behaviour and the events in these films would only make sense if you could map all the different narratives at play, and understand how they were interacting.

The Mandela effect also reminds me of Dark City (1998); the time travel and tangent universe of Donnie Darko (2001); and the Matrix films (1999-2003). In these movies, anomalies are explained as the products of manipulation by higher, outside actors. This is all fine, if you are a film critic or a post-Postmodern novelist. The only problem is, believers think the Mandela effect is real.

Clip from Lost Highway (1997) © October Films. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Clip from Dark City (1998) © New Line Cinema. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Clip from The Matrix (1999) © Warner/Roadshow Entertainment. Reproduced under Fair Use. Video Source: Youtube.

Inland Empire (2006) official trailer. Video Source: Youtube.

As to the source of the Mandela effect, one woman found discussions on the effect as far back as 2005. But the effect was defined by a Wiccan paranormal researcher and blogger named Fiona Broome, during a conversation at the 2010 comic book convention DragonCon in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The conversation involved a collective belief that Nelson Mandela had died in prison on 23 July 1991, and then reappeared alive and well, and became President of South Africa and died in 2013. This led to Broome's conviction that people were dividing between those who remembered alternate histories - and those who did not.

Interview with the Vampire (1994) contains one example of the supposed Mandela effect. The film is © Warner, reproduced under Fair Use. Image Source: Goodreads

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Wonders of the Millennial World 8: The Kaleidoscope


Image Source: World Arts Film Festival.

Posts on this blog have asked about the impact of technology on traditional life, a destabilization of norms, and a dislocation from stable geographical and economic bases. The shift from static to kinetic applies in media as in life. Perhaps the dynamic Millennial existence resembles a kaleidoscope, where identity, time, memory, place, beliefs, the virtual and real, constantly tumble and lock into new realities. All elements are moving pieces which come together in a way that resembles living systems. The trick to see this is depth of perspective.

Naturally occurring fractal pattern, cells in a cross-section of a plant stalk. Image Source: pinterest.

Neuronal cells. Image Source: Eye of Science.

"Equivocal kaleidoscope. Ai Weiwei welded 150 bicycle frames into an impressive installation. The work is not only a reference to cars taking over the streets in China, but also to a prominent show trial. Several years ago, a young Chinese man was arrested and mistreated for not registering his bicycle. He was later sentenced to death." Image Source: DW.

Microphotograph of the ovary of a flower by Ray Nelson. Image Source: The Daily Polymer Arts Blog.

Image Source: Hotel-R.

Electric pulses from a human brain cell. Image Source: 123RF.

Trippy 014: Psychedelic particles randomly pulse and flow (Loop). Image Source: Shutterstock.

Human Cerebral Cortex, Alfonso Rodríguez-Baeza and Marisa Ortega-Sánchez, scanning electron microscope (2009). Image Source: pinterest. Compare with the brain cell gif in my post, Making Memories.

Marker art installation by artist Heike Weber (2013). Image Source: Bored Panda. Compare with the installations of artist Clemens Behr.

See my earlier post on Microphotography.
See all my posts on Wonders of the Millennial World.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Quantum Christmas


Jim Al-Khalili explains in a TED talk: robins may fly south in winter due to a process called 'quantum entanglement.' Image Source: Digital Photographer / Michael Williams.

Destiny and faith should be foreign concepts in the realm of science. But perhaps quantum physics will devise a formula for them. This possibility started in the 1930s, with Albert Einstein (1879-1955) and Niels Bohr (1885-1962) arguing whether or how objective reality could be measured, because observing something changes its nature into what we would call a subjective reality. Of course, the distinction between objective reality - which religious people sometimes associate with God - and subjective awareness - the world limited by our individual perceptions - is a very old problem. The 16th century French philosopher Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) wrote: "We are, I know not how, double in ourselves, so that what we believe we disbelieve, and cannot rid ourselves of what we condemn." The central question of religion asks: how are we flawed and animal humans connected to the larger order of the universe? Science asks the same question.

Image Source: Archillect.

To determine if it was possible to measure objective reality, Einstein and Bohr proposed a thought experiment to measure one particle of light, or photon, without affecting it. To do this, they proposed to measure a second particle that was related to the first one, and infer the nature of the related, but unmeasured, first particle. Then they encountered a curious problem. Their measurement of the second particle affected the nature of the first one, but they could not determine how the impact of their actions had been transferred to the first particle, especially because that information traveled instantaneously, that is, faster than the speed of light, which violated Einstein's Theory of Relativity. The distance between the photons did not matter either. They could be close together or on opposite sides of the universe. Einstein did not like this. Wiki:
[I]f a pair of particles is generated in such a way that their total spin is known to be zero, and one particle is found to have clockwise spin on a certain axis, then the spin of the other particle, measured on the same axis, will be found to be counterclockwise; because of the nature of quantum measurement. However, this behavior gives rise to paradoxical effects: any measurement of a property of a particle can be seen as acting on that particle (e.g. by collapsing a number of superposed states); and in the case of entangled particles, such action must be on the entangled system as a whole. It thus appears that one particle of an entangled pair "knows" what measurement has been performed on the other, and with what outcome, even though there is no known means for such information to be communicated between the particles, which at the time of measurement may be separated by arbitrarily large distances. ...

The counterintuitive predictions of quantum mechanics about strongly correlated systems were first discussed by Albert Einstein in 1935, in a joint paper with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen. ... They wrote: "We are thus forced to conclude that the quantum-mechanical description of physical reality given by wave functions is not complete." ... 
Following the EPR paper, Erwin Schrödinger wrote a letter (in German) to Einstein in which he used the word Verschränkung (translated by himself as entanglement) "to describe the correlations between two particles that interact and then separate, as in the EPR experiment." He shortly thereafter published a seminal paper defining and discussing the notion, and terming it "entanglement." In the paper he recognized the importance of the concept, and stated: "I would not call [entanglement] one but rather the characteristic trait of quantum mechanics, the one that enforces its entire departure from classical lines of thought."

Like Einstein, Schrödinger was dissatisfied with the concept of entanglement, because it seemed to violate the speed limit on the transmission of information implicit in the theory of relativity. Einstein later famously derided entanglement as "spukhafte Fernwirkung" or "spooky action at a distance."
In 2013, Chinese physicists clocked the speed of 'spooky action at a distance.' They proved the speed of information as it moves through quantum entangled states is more than four times the speed of light, or three trillion metres per second. Their research paper was published in Physical Review Letters, vol. 110, listed here.

Quantum entanglement. Image Source: Glitch.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Before the Ides of March


Street art by PichiAvo in Almería, Spain. Image Source: Knihovna Chrášťany.

Do you remember the year you first connected to the Internet? I have friends who participated in primitive discussion forums in 1992. I got my first email address in early 1995. At the time, it felt as though I had held out as long as possible. Happy anniversary: I have been online for twenty years.

Street art by PichiAvo at Hip Hop Street in Vicar, Almeria, Spain. Image Source: Street Art Hub.

On 7 May 2014, the L. A. Times reported how many people in the world have Internet access and how many do not:
60% of world's population still won't have Internet by the end of 2014. A report this week by the United Nations says nearly 3 billion people around the world will have access to the Internet by the end of 2014. But 4.2 billion will remain unconnected. ...
A commenter responded that Internet access should not be held in balance against commodities of basic survival - but should it?
While 60% of the world doesn't have internet, 69% won't have clean water, full medical services, low risk of war, incomes above $6900 a year, or above average infant mortality rates. You think the 900 million Chinese who are picking rice or working in sweatshops care about internet...
This dichotomy between the developed, connected world and developing, unconnected worlds, between being globally plugged in and anchored in a local reality, repeats in personal microcosm. We have connected lives online and distinct lives in meatspace. Constantly shifting from one's sea legs to one's land legs is stressful. How essential - or detrimental - is online activity to our basic survival, development and growth as individuals in the real world?

Street art by PichiAvo from Mislatas representan 2014 in Valencia, Spain. Image Source: Art the System.

It feels as though virtual life is growing at the expense of real life. When Karl Marx wrote that religion was the opiate of the masses, he could not have imagined this most potent drug, which keeps over 3 billion people pacified (you can watch them joining the Internet, one by one, here). Forty per cent of the world's population is connected. The push to get the remaining 60 per cent connected made me think about enormous budding economies and nascent power groups. With all that potential, the Internet could be a seat of freedom or the foundation of tyranny. What it will become depends on how one manages time online and off.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Problem with Memory 9: Remembering to Predict the Future


Image Source and © Traer Scott Photography.

Researchers at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior at Raboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands are studying how to erase painful memories which are the main symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. On 22 December 2013, Time reported that the Dutch researchers found that specific and recent bad memories could be targeted and erased with shock treatments. But they have not established that entrenched negative memories, typical in PTSD sufferers, could be so treated.

Image Source and © Traer Scott Photography.

This post and this post noted similar memory-erasing research currently undertaken in California and Massachusetts. All of these concepts recall the grotesque treatment dramatized in the 2004 sci-fi film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Some researchers find the notion of erasing memory to be "too invasive"; they are instead trying to decouple memory from associated negative emotions. And they acknowledge that erasing negative memories of important events is akin to erasing the primary sources of history:
Elizabeth Phelps, professor of psychology and neural science at New York University ... and other researchers have previously used far less invasive techniques to reduce the emotional charge attached to a memory— rather than eliminating the memory itself. For example, one study exposed participants to smells paired with shocks and then wafted the same scents into their noses as they slept.  The volunteers didn’t forget which scent was linked with the shock— but they no longer had a fear response to it. “If you could take away the fear associated with the memory and keep the memory, that would be more optimal,” she says.

[T]he potential uses of a technique that erases personal memories raises profound ethical questions. Our memories are deeply related to our selves and many survivors of trauma get a sense of meaning and purpose from knowing what they have conquered. If negative or challenging memories are selectively removed, what would they leave behind?

“What if we wiped out all of the memories of the Holocaust?” asks Greely, “That would be terrible.  On the other hand, the suffering caused by some memories is really powerful and I would want to prioritize letting people who want to relieve their suffering, as a general matter, relieve their suffering.”

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Symbols of Immortality 4: Snake



On 12 September 2013, HuffPo reviewed a new book of poetry, "that could very well reinvent how the world may now view poetry as an art form." That is high praise for poet Gary Lemons, and his new volume, Snake. His poems concern one character, Snake, who is the last creature left on earth after the apocalypse. According to the Amazon blurb about Lemons's book, Snake embodies everything that has gone before; and Snake reaches toward everything that will come after. The character marks the changing of an aeon (a gnostic idea, where time and existence unite in one semi-divine principle). Snake also represents the changing of an aeon's reality:
In Snake, Snake is the last thing left alive. He’s all that remains of our voices. The bodies of all living animals and plants have escaped down the Dreaming Way, leaving behind a residual ego trapped inside Snake: the sole survivor the Earth must destroy to complete the cleanse and start over. All that is gone—all that has been reduced by fire and ice and the other dynamic retributive forces of Earth—lives on in Snake. Snake is the extracted limbic brain removed from the collective consciousness and hunted across an emptied landscape. Snake is the bad ass reptile holding back the end of time by sticking himself into the spokes of Samsara. Snake is a single narrative sequence, a frontline account of pursuit, avoidance, and even friendship, forged in the heat of struggle.
The HuffPo interview with Lemons confirms the poet's awareness of contemporary Millennial themes, especially rapid change, altered values and shifting consciousness. His post-apocalyptic character is a Phoenix-like symbol; Snake describes our awareness of the significance of the turn of the Millennium and our related sense that everything will be smashed in order to create an incontrovertible transformation of the world:
[HuffPo:] Despite its post-apocalypse setting, Snake's reflections on the human condition feel thematically urgent to our rapidly changing times. What was the basis of creating a story from a far-future Earth where humanity has long been vanquished?

[GL:] ... I've come to realize ... that the narrative--or the message coming through--is about the line between life and death--how it isn't carved in stone, and how graves aren't any more than wounds that heal on a larger body--and how what we call spirit is the dream around whatever the current reality seems to be. In other words--the future that Snake describes--where life forms on Earth are destroyed in a final cleansing--is not about the death of those forms but the transformation into a new reality. Like a quantum loop world. Uncertainty rules and realities are probabilities contained inside of one another. Events hatch out of events. What dies isn't important--what can't die is.

The character Snake at times ... behaves like a physical entity, preoccupied with food and other basic needs. It also seems like a complicated stream of leftover consciousness, an artificial intelligence drawing upon leftover big data to contemplate its existence. What was the basis for creating the background for a character so difficult to pin down?

This is Snake describing itself--its physical needs are memories of the time it spent as a human being--a time when it had a wife or husband, and a child--a time when it filled the car with a fuel made from ancestors and tasted the bright flesh of cherries on its tongue--these still live in Snake and often in its exile--in the billion years of desolation--as it roams the atomized flesh of creation. It sucks on its memories like a brief neon sign flashing on the lost tavern of its tongue--memories drift into reality like they do all the time. And in Snake's world they become indistinguishable--like protons wandering into the field of electrons--new shapes emerge from this random coupling.

So though Snake is the composite of everything that is gone--the infinite hard drive where the missing data is embedded--waiting for retrieval--it's also the world around the leftover world the hard drive of humanity holds its secrets--it's the dream of the hard drive out of which the hard drive appears--and Snake is the current that runs between them, powering both of them. When it returns to the dream, and when he goes back to Berlin and watches the people walking the streets continuing their lives as if they still exist--Snake's actually present there because that world is also real--curled into the emptiness like an imaginary number inside the mind of the unborn. Snake is real everywhere--like we are--even as we hold to the conviction there is a single reality and the belief we can die in that reality forever.

Intelligence that risks everything is the entrance into creation--or one of them--according to Snake. Everything flowers out of our willingness to risk everything we know for the next step. In any direction.
See my other posts on Immortality.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Therapeutic Memory Implants


Image Source: Yahoo.

From Yahoo News:
[A] team of researchers successfully implanted false memories in mice.

To implant the memories, the researchers something called used optogenetics — the use of optics and genetics to control individual neurons in the brain. They first genetically engineering mice so that they would have light-sensitive proteins — called Channelrhodopsin-2 or ChR2 — in their hippocampus, which is the part of the brain used in forming memories. Therefore, when the mouse formed memories, the researchers could effectively see which regions of the hippocampus were activated. Also, using light they could activate those areas to have the mouse recall those memories, and they achieved that by having a thin fibre optic cable implanted in the mouse's head.

Placing the mouse into a box — called Chamber A — they let it calmly explore for 10 minutes, forming memories about its environment, and they recorded where the memories were formed ... .

The next day, they placed the mouse into a different box — Chamber B — with a different environment, and they used light through the fibre optic cable to activate the memories it formed the day before. At that time, while the mouse was remembering Chamber A, they delivered mild shocks through the floor of the box, which caused the mouse to freeze in place ... .

"Here, we were trying to artificially make an association between the light-reactivated memory and the foot shocks. We were just trying to artificially connect the two," said Steve Ramirez, a graduate student at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who participated in the research, according to Discovery News.

Then, putting the mouse back into Chamber A, the mouse froze in fear, apparently remembering that its feet had been shocked in this chamber, even though the shocks took place in the completely different environment of Chamber B (panel 3 of the image above).
"They appeared to be recalling being shocked in box A, even though that had never happened," Ramirez said, according to Discovery News. "A false memory had been formed and recalled."
Given the fictional applications we've seen for this kind of work, it's easy to see the dark side of this research and its potential use in a dystopian future, but this could have some remarkable therapeutic uses in the present day. Imagine a trauma victim recalling the memories of their trauma, and then having happier memories stimulated to alleviate their stress.
Discovery News expanded on this story with reference to therapeutic applications for veterans with PTSD:
For example, a combat veteran suffering from PTSD could be asked to remember a stressful time, while a physician stimulated a part of the hippocampus known to produce more pleasant memories.
Ramirez noted that the technique used on humans would probably not involve a fiber optic cable, since that's invasive. But it could involve some kind of drug-induced stimulation, since there are already a number of drugs that target specific brain regions -- recreational drugs, for instance, target reward centers. The trick would be making one that focused on a protein or receptor unique to the hippocampus.
The experiment also sheds light on how humans form false memories, said Tonegawa. There are some dramatic examples of people suddenly having a memory of a traumatic event, such as childhood sexual abuse. But sometimes whether the memory is true or not becomes controversial. Tonegawa said his team's most recent work provides an animal model of how false memories can appear. Further work needs to be done to show if false memories look different from the real thing.
Readers of more dystopian science fiction might ask if this could be used for mind control. Ramirez said he is conscious of that, even though such an experiment with current technology would never pass muster with an ethics review board. "It's important to be having these conversations now," he said.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Millennial Mysteries: Bizarre Twists, the Lost, the Missing

Plaque at the gate entrance to Disneyland. Image Source: Wiki.

Many people, at some point in their lives, enter a realm bounded by mystery. This is a famous theme in noir and horror movies. David Lynch's Blue Velvet (1986) explored what would happen if two 'normal,' 'everyday,' 'rational' people veered off into mystery.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ego, Time and Digital Narcissisms


Gravitation © Jean-Pierre Alaux (1925-). Image Source: Surrealism and Visionary Art.

It is a sad comment on our times that one of today's greatest challenges is how to think and act without ego. Marketing depends on fake ego-building, and it permeates nearly everything that relates to consumption and perception and therefore, to consciousness. As one friend put it last week, "even the news reports are informercials now."  On social networks and elsewhere online, highly integrated personalized branding mobilizes our lives, our birthdays, and our friends from yesterday to deliver vast economic and political potential for new business interests. Our complacency and unconsidered vanities have made this so. Every Facebook page twists the formerly reasonable human activity of socializing into an ego broadcast. Twitter is the advertising stage for countless activists, hopeful e-novelists, gurus building their names on our well-being (or lack thereof), news-monger personalities, Kickstarter entrepreneurs, and bloggers with axes to grind ...

Prisonnière des glaces © Jean-Pierre Alaux. Image Source: AMAC.

It is the Cyber-Ego, whether it is trapped in the past, obsessed with the future, or narcissistically feeding of the present, which makes it so hard to concentrate. How do we detach the ego from the way we perceive ourselves moving through time? These two issues - ego and time - are commonly discussed separately in relation to the impact of the Technological Revolution on global cultures, but rarely as two, related concerns.

Monday, December 31, 2012

On With the Old, On With the New


Image Source: Mama's Empty Nest.

As the world prepares to say farewell to the Mayan 2012 Year of Doom and the Fukushima Year of the Water Dragon and to hope for brighter and better things in 2013, I wonder how to welcome the future while retaining aspects of the past.

That got me thinking about the consistency of old attachments and friendships. The conventional wisdom is that clinging to the past is self-destructive. However, those of us lucky enough to have a person or people walk beside us through all adventures find a thread of continuity in life. They share a past with us and keep that past alive in the ever-changing present. It is the foundation we lay together, constant yet itself also evolving, that provides a thread of stability in a world that speeds to become as unrecognizable as quickly as possible.

Image Source: Super Me via Channel 4.

Even that continuity can be lost. After fellow actor and close friend Peter Cushing died, Christopher Lee remarked:
"I don't want to sound gloomy, but, at some point of your lives, every one of you will notice that you have in your life one person, one friend whom you love and care for very much. That person is so close to you that you are able to share some things only with him. For example, you can call that friend, and from the very first maniacal laugh or some other joke you will know who is at the other end of that line. We used to do that with him so often. And then when that person is gone, there will be nothing like that in your life ever again."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fountain of Youth 14: Embrace Your Immortality

Get me outta here. Image Source: Digital Journal.

People are so literal-minded these days. The staunchly faithful believe the end is nigh. The staunchly un-faithful believe the end is not nigh. Either way, the new Millennium's opposing camps of the very religious and the very atheistic seek exactly the same goal: immortality. The irony in this fact - that those who go in for the apocalypse are on the same page as those who go in for the technological singularity - derives from an excess of literal-mindedness.

Here is an example of Millennial literal-mindedness, from a Gen X neuroscientist at Harvard who is attempting to figure out how to download his consciousness onto a computer interface so that he can live forever. From a Chronicle of Higher Education report:
In the basement of the Northwest Science Building here at Harvard University, a locked door is marked with a pink and yellow sign: "Caution: Radioactive Material." Inside researchers buzz around wearing dour expressions and plastic gloves. Among them is Kenneth Hayworth. ...

Hayworth has spent much of the past few years in a windowless room carving brains into very thin slices. He is by all accounts a curious man, known for casually saying things like, "The human race is on a beeline to mind uploading: We will preserve a brain, slice it up, simulate it on a computer, and hook it up to a robot body." He wants that brain to be his brain. He wants his 100 billion neurons and more than 100 trillion synapses to be encased in a block of transparent, amber-colored resin—before he dies of natural causes.

Why? Ken Hayworth believes that he can live forever.

But first he has to die.

"If your body stops functioning, it starts to eat itself," he explains to me one drab morning this spring, "so you have to shut down the enzymes that destroy the tissue." If all goes according to plan, he says cheerfully, "I'll be a perfect fossil." Then one day, not too long from now, his consciousness will be revived on a computer. By 2110, Hayworth predicts, mind uploading—the transfer of a biological brain to a silicon-based operating system—will be as common as laser eye surgery is today.

It's the kind of scheme you expect to encounter in science fiction, not an Ivy League laboratory. But little is conventional about Hayworth, 41, a veteran of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a self-described "outlandishly futuristic thinker." While a graduate student at the University of Southern California, he built a machine in his garage that changed the way brain tissue is cut and imaged in electron microscopes. The combination of technical smarts and entrepreneurial gumption earned him a grant from the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, a subsidiary of the McKnight Foundation, and an invitation to Harvard, where he stayed, on a postdoctoral fellowship, until April.

To understand why Hayworth wants to plastinate his own brain you have to understand his field—connectomics, a new branch of neuroscience. A connectome is a complete map of a brain's neural circuitry. Some scientists believe that human connectomes will one day explain consciousness, memory, emotion, even diseases like autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's—the cures for which might be akin to repairing a wiring error. In 2010 the National Institutes of Health established the Human Connectome Project, a $40-million, multi-institution effort to study the field's medical potential.

Among some connectomics scholars, there is a grand theory: We are our connectomes. Our unique selves—the way we think, act, feel—is etched into the wiring of our brains. Unlike genomes, which never change, connectomes are forever being molded and remolded by life experience. Sebastian Seung, a professor of computational neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a prominent proponent of the grand theory, describes the connectome as the place where "nature meets nurture."

Hayworth takes this theory a few steps further. He looks at the growth of connectomics—especially advances in brain preservation, tissue imaging, and computer simulations of neural networks—and sees something else: a cure for death. In a new paper in the International Journal of Machine Consciousness, he argues that mind uploading is an "enormous engineering challenge" but one that can be accomplished without "radically new science and technologies."
Extreme literal-mindedness boils immortality down to an "enormous engineering challenge." The connectome idea also has a metaphysical side. The connectome curiously reworks the concept of fate. This is a really seductive concept in a troubled (or if one prefers, fallen) world: a proposal to alter destiny on the cellular, genetic, atomic, and sub-atomic levels. Change destiny, whether it comes from nature or nurture, like changing a spark plug.

The article paints Hayworth as a dedicated figure, a futurist ahead of his time. And in that regard, he is a great visionary. His work may inadvertently cure terrible diseases or vastly expand our grasp of neural, or even cerebral, processes. But these would be incidental to his primary aim to 'cure' us of death. There is no moment where Hayworth stops and asks: should we be immortal? If death is hard-wired into every living thing on the planet, and even non-living things die, then maybe death exists for a good reason? Maybe it is the lynchpin in the order of the universe? Aside from the possibility that an immortal human could be horrifying, perhaps conquering death would destroy the balance of nature? I am not talking about hocus-pocus. Nor am I talking about cells and synapses, genes and enzymes. I am talking about the purpose of death, which we do not understand. There is a purpose for death in the universe, because even galaxies die. For Hayworth, these are non-issues:
One hundred years from now, he believes, our descendants will not understand how so many of us failed for so long to embrace immortality. In an unpublished essay, "Killed by Bad Philosophy," he writes, "Our grandchildren will say that we died not because of heart disease, cancer, or stroke, but instead that we died pathetically out of ignorance and superstition"—by which he means the belief that there is something fundamentally unknowable about consciousness, and that therefore it can never be replicated on a computer. ...

My [The Chronicle reporter's] conversations with Hayworth took place over several months, and I was struck by how his optimism often gave way to despair. "I've become jaded about whether brain preservation will happen in my lifetime," he told me at one point. "I see how much pushback I get. Even most neuroscientists seem to believe that there is something magical about consciousness—that if the brain stops, the magic leaves, and if the magic leaves, you can't bring the magic back."

I asked him if the scope of his ambitions ever gives him pause. If he could achieve immortality, might it usher in a new set of problems, problems that we can't even imagine? "Here's what could happen," he said. "We're going to understand how the brain works like we now understand how a computer works. At some point, we might realize that the stuff we hold onto as human beings—the idea of the self, the role of mortality, the meaning of existence—is fundamentally wrong."

Lowering his voice, he continued. "It may be that we learn so much that we lose part of our humanity because we know too much." He thought this over for a long moment. "I try not to go too far down that road," he said at last, "because I feel that I would go mad."
Yes. Madness arrives, on schedule, when science heads too far into the outer reaches without support. Hayworth may see philosophers as part of the problem. But it looks like he needs one or two of them to watch his back. It does not matter whether you think the world was created by a divine being (or beings) who set in motion a grand battle between the forces of good and evil - or that the universe (or multiverses) exploded in the Big Bang and can be rationally dissected. The real cultural and historically relevant Millennial phenomenon across the board is a literal-mindedness about everything that formerly belonged to the realm of mystery.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Equinox Synchronicity


Image Source: Video Interchange.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Spring Equinox arrives at 5:14 a.m. GMT (UT); in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the Autumnal Equinox today. The Equinox is known as the time of year when day and night are equal. This is not precisely true, but it is the popular understanding of the Equinox. Rather than discuss the mythological symbolism of spring and rebirth, I thought I would blog about equal time, about the Equinox as the point when our planet finds temporal balance, because the Earth is neither tilted away from, nor toward, our star.

During the French Revolution, the French recognized that overturning social orders and radicalizing economic practices and political thought demanded a revamp of time measurement. The revolutionaries changed the French calendar and clocks. The revolutionary slogan of equality was applied to time. This move showed that there is a hidden connection between how we look at time and how we define society, economy and politics. Intuitively, we know that correlation has always existed: time was once defined by agriculture; then religious institutions commandeered the days with feasts and hours for prayer.

More recently, computers revolutionized time again. Although we did not overtly grasp this change, we certainly felt it. Millennial time is fractured. We see the cracks of the Technological Revolution - as the French revolutionaries did - in society, the economy and politics: in American schools, the concept of 'equal time' refers to the ideological split in teaching between evolution and creationism. In the workplace, the 'work-life balance' refers to home life versus money, and a host of related, politicized employment concepts. Minimum wage. Sabbaticals. Holiday pay. Maternity leave. Old age pensions.

Whether at home or work, daily life is also increasingly divided between virtual reality and actual reality: two lives; two (or more) identities; two sources of survival and sustenance; two means of explaining reality, be they scientific or spritiual.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Red Hood Walking: Biotech Android of the Sixteenth Century


The Middle Ages were more Millennial than one would think. The aim of medieval alchemy was to find the root components of matter as a means to decode the connection between the material and the metaphysical. This field was the progentior of nanotechnology, quantum physics, quantum consciousness, quantum biology, biotech, genetics, anti-ageing tech and Virtual Reality. Alchemy was the science devoted to finding the Elixir of Life and attaining immortality. Alchemy confirms that literally building a spiritual dimension was always the ultimate aim of science.

The greatest and most famous alchemy text in the world is the Splendour Solis, or, Splendour of the Sun. Twenty copies still exist. The first copy dates from the early Renaissance, 1532-1535. By 1582, the work was illustrated. That edition (British Library Harley MS 3469) is a hand-copied manuscript codex with 22 full page illuminated images. These pictures contain kabbalistic, astrological and alchemical symbols. Their mysteries are still difficult to understand. There is a repeated motif of giant glass flasks, within which birds, animals and elements are transformed into people. Test tube babies float in these glass globes with cloned, mythical beasts. Sounds very - Millennial. You can see the codex online, with its incredible illustrations which are simultaneously antique and futuristic, and its and cryptic (translated) text, here.


Among the most sinister and curious of the illustrations is folio 18r (above). A muscled figure bears the alchemical colours of black, red and white. His head is encased in, or made of, red crystal. His left arm is transluscent white, so that his bones are visible. His right arm is bright red, suggesting its chemical composition. He strides out of a dark pool of primordial muck toward a celestial lady, whose angelic wings, star and crown indicate that she will take him to heaven, to immortality - or to superhumanity. She waits to hand him a red cloak. He appears as a mighty, frightening, forceful, masculine creature incredibly born of the perfect combination of elements. The lady represents the conference of something mystical and spiritual upon this construct: a higher consciousness, perhaps an immortal soul. This is the transition point, between Antiquity and Singularity, between the atomization of matter and its hidden transcendence.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Human Consciousness: The New Survivalist Adventure

Awake. Image Source: NBC via Wiki.

This week, a highly anticipated series begins on American television, entitled Awake (thanks to -J.). The premise is that a man survives a car accident, after which his reality splits in two. He wakes up in one, red-hued reality, and his wife has also survived the car accident but his son has not. He goes to sleep at night, and wakes up in another, green-hued reality, in which his wife died in the accident and his son survived. In each reality, he has a psychiatrist and he works as a police detective solving crimes. Eventually, the details between the two realities begin to overlap. Since this divided virtual dreamscape is the only way the hero can keep his family alive, he does not want his psyche to recover. You can see the trailer for the program, which debuts on NBC on March 1, below the jump.