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Sebastian Borsos (M, 31)
Northern California, US
Immortal since Oct 7, 2008
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    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.

    Tue, Nov 25, 2008  Permanent link

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    This incredible piece of architecture is built along the coast line of the 3,000-year-old city Zadar, Croatia. The Sea Organ of Zadar attracts thousands of tourists and locals each year with its soothing and “meditative” lullaby. The organ was created as an architectural object to remedy the never-ending concrete wall which was the product of post-WWII reconstruction.

    A set of thirty-five pipes run through two-hundred and thirty feet of white marble steps. The marble steps dissolve into the sea. Underneath, the pipes open to receive the oscillating energy of the sea waves. The resulting compression and decompression of air powers the sound of the pipe organ. A row of holes in the top row of steps allow the organ to breathe, while holes on top of the structure speak the sound from the resonating chambers. The organ’s harmonic pipes create a song which is “unpredictable but tuned.”

    Sun, Nov 2, 2008  Permanent link

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    A friend showed me this link. I don't have time to read it completely right now, but it was interesting to peruse, and seemed relevant. Interesting arguments to ponder. cheers.

    I am not the first, nor the only one, to believe a superorganism is emerging from the cloak of wires, radio waves, and electronic nodes wrapping the surface of our planet. No one can dispute the scale or reality of this vast connectivity. What’s uncertain is, what is it? Is this global web of computers, servers and trunk lines a mere mechanical circuit, a very large tool, or does it reach a threshold where something, well, different happens?

    So far the proposition that a global superorganism is forming along the internet power lines has been treated as a lyrical metaphor at best, and as a mystical illusion at worst. I’ve decided to treat the idea of a global superorganism seriously, and to see if I could muster a falsifiable claim and evidence for its emergence.

    My hypothesis is this: The rapidly increasing sum of all computational devices in the world connected online, including wirelessly, forms a superorganism of computation with its own emergent behaviors.

    Superorganisms are a different type of organism. Large things are made from smaller things. Big machines are made from small parts, and visible living organisms from invisible cells. But these parts don’t usually stand on their own. In a slightly fractal recursion, the parts of a superorganism lead fairly autonomous existences on their own. A superorganism such as an insect or mole rat colony contains many sub-individuals. These individual organisms eat, move about, get things done on their own. From most perspectives they appear complete. But in the case of the social insects and the naked mole rat these autonomous sub individuals need the super colony to reproduce themselves. In this way reproduction is a phenomenon that occurs at the level of the superorganism.

    I define the One Machine as the emerging superorganism of computers. It is a megasupercomputer composed of billions of sub computers. The sub computers can compute individually on their own, and from most perspectives these units are distinct complete pieces of gear. But there is an emerging smartness in their collective that is smarter than any individual computer. We could say learning (or smartness) occurs at the level of the superorganism.

    Supercomputers built from subcomputers were invented 50 years ago. Back then clusters of tightly integrated specialized computer chips in close proximity were designed to work on one kind of task, such as simulations. This was known as cluster computing. In recent years, we’ve created supercomputers composed of loosely integrated individual computers not centralized in one building, but geographically distributed over continents and designed to be versatile and general purpose. This later supercomputer is called grid computing because the computation is served up as a utility to be delivered anywhere on the grid, like electricity. It is also called cloud computing because the tally of the exact component machines is dynamic and amorphous – like a cloud. The actual contours of the grid or cloud can change by the minute as machines come on or off line.

    There are many cloud computers at this time. Amazon is credited with building one of the first commercial cloud computers. Google probably has the largest cloud computer in operation. According to Jeff Dean one of their infrastructure engineers, Google is hoping to scale up their cloud computer to encompass 10 million processors in 1,000 locations.

    Each of these processors is an off-the-shelf PC chip that is nearly identical to the ones that power your laptop. A few years ago computer scientists realized that it did not pay to make specialized chips for a supercomputer. It was far more cost effective to just gang up rows and rows of cheap generic personal computer chips, and route around them when they fail. The data centers for cloud computers are now filled with racks and racks of the most mass-produced chips on the planet. An unexpected bonus of this strategy is that their high production volume means bugs are minimized and so the generic chips are more reliable than any custom chip they could have designed.

    If the cloud is a vast array of personal computer processors, then why not add your own laptop or desktop computer to it? It in a certain way it already is. Whenever you are online, whenever you click on a link, or create a link, your processor is participating in the yet larger cloud, the cloud of all computer chips online. I call this cloud the One Machine because in many ways it acts as one supermegacomputer.

    The majority of the content of the web is created within this one virtual computer. Links are programmed, clicks are chosen, files are moved and code is installed from the dispersed, extended cloud created by consumers and enterprise – the tons of smart phones, Macbooks, Blackberries, and workstations we work in front of. While the business of moving bits and storing their history all happens deep in the tombs of server farms, the cloud’s interaction with the real world takes place in the extremely distributed field of laptop, hand-held and desktop devices. Unlike servers these outer devices have output screens, and eyes, skin, ears in the form of cameras, touch pads, and microphones. We might say the cloud is embodied primarily by these computer chips in parts only loosely joined to grid.

    This megasupercomputer is the Cloud of all clouds, the largest possible inclusion of communicating chips. It is a vast machine of extraordinary dimensions. It is comprised of quadrillion chips, and consumes 5% of the planet’s electricity. It is not owned by any one corporation or nation (yet), nor is it really governed by humans at all. Several corporations run the larger sub clouds, and one of them, Google, dominates the user interface to the One Machine at the moment.

    None of this is controversial. Seen from an abstract level there surely must be a very large collective virtual machine. But that is not what most people think of when they hear the term a “global superorganism.” That phrase suggests the sustained integrity of a living organism, or a defensible and defended boundary, or maybe a sense of self, or even conscious intelligence.

    Sadly, there is no ironclad definition for some of the terms we most care about, such as life, mind, intelligence and consciousness. Each of these terms has a long list of traits often but not always associated with them. Whenever these traits are cast into a qualifying definition, we can easily find troublesome exceptions. For instance, if reproduction is needed for the definition of life, what about mules, which are sterile? Mules are obviously alive. Intelligence is a notoriously slippery threshold, and consciousness more so. The logical answer is that all these phenomenon are continuums. Some things are smarter, more alive, or less conscious than others. The thresholds for life, intelligence, and consciousness are gradients, rather than off-on binary.

    With that perspective a useful way to tackle the question of whether a planetary superorganism is emerging is to offer a gradient of four assertions.

    There exists on this planet:

    * I A manufactured superorganism

    * II An autonomous superorganism
    * III An autonomous smart superorganism
    * IV An autonomous conscious superorganism

    These four could be thought of as an escalating set of definitions. At the bottom we start with the almost trivial observation that we have constructed a globally distributed cluster of machines that can exhibit large-scale behavior. Call this the weak form of the claim. Next come the two intermediate levels, which are uncertain and vexing (and therefore probably the most productive to explore). Then we end up at the top with the extreme assertion of “Oh my God, it’s thinking!” That’s the strong form of the superorganism. Very few people would deny the weak claim and very few affirm the strong.

    My claim is that in addition to these four strengths of definitions, the four levels are developmental stages through which the One Machine progresses. It starts out forming a plain superorganism, than becomes autonomous, then smart, then conscious. The phases are soft, feathered, and blurred. My hunch is that the One Machine has advanced through levels I and II in the past decades and is presently entering level III. If that is true we should find initial evidence of an autonomous smart (but not conscious) computational superorganism operating today.

    But let’s start at the beginning.

    A manufactured superorganism

    By definition, organisms and superorganisms have boundaries. An outside and inside. The boundary of the One Machine is clear: if a device is on the internet, it is inside. “On” means it is communicating with the other inside parts. Even though some components are “on” in terms of consuming power, they may be on (communicating) for only brief periods. Your laptop may be useful to you on a 5-hour plane ride, but it may be technically “on” the One Machine only when you land and it finds a wifi connection. An unconnected TV is not part of the superorganism; a connected TV is. Most of the time the embedded chip in your car is off the grid, but on the few occasions when its contents are downloaded for diagnostic purposes, it becomes part of the greater cloud. The dimensions of this network are measurable and finite, although variable.

    The One Machine consumes electricity to produce structured information. Like other organisms, it is growing. Its size is increasing rapidly, close to 66% per year, which is basically the rate of Moore’s Law. Every year it consumes more power, more material, more money, more information, and more of our attention. And each year it produces more structured information, more wealth, and more interest.

    On average the cells of biological organisms have a resting metabolism rate of between 1- 10 watts per kilogram. Based on research by Jonathan Koomey a UC Berkeley, the most efficient common data servers in 2005 (by IBM and Sun) have a metabolism rate of 11 watts per kilogram. Currently the other parts of the Machine (the electric grid itself, the telephone system) may not be as efficient, but I haven’t found any data on it yet. Energy efficiency is a huge issue for engineers. As the size of the One Machine scales up the metabolism rate for the whole will probably drop (although the total amount of energy consumed rises).

    The span of the Machine is roughly the size of the surface of the earth. Some portion of it floats a few hundred miles above in orbit, but at the scale of the planet, satellites, cell towers and servers farms form the same thin layer. Activity in one part can be sensed across the entire organism; it forms a unified whole.

    Within a hive honeybees are incapable of thermoregulation. The hive superorganism must regulate the bee’s working temperature. It does this by collectively fanning thousands of tiny bee wings, which moves hot air out of the colony. Individual computers are incapable of governing the flow of bits between themselves in the One Machine.

    Prediction: the One Machine will continue to grow. We should see how data flows around this whole machine in response to daily usage patterns (see Follow the Moon). The metabolism rate of the whole should approach that of a living organism.

    An autonomous superorganism

    Autonomy is a problematic concept. There are many who believe that no non-living entity can truly be said to be autonomous. We have plenty of examples of partial autonomy in created things. Autonomous airplane drones: they steer themselves, but they don’t repair themselves. We have self-repairing networks that don’t reproduce themselves. We have self-reproducing computer viruses, but they don’t have a metabolism. All these inventions require human help for at least aspect of their survival. To date we have not conjured up a fully human-free sustainable synthetic artifact of any type.

    But autonomy too is a continuum. Partial autonomy is often all we need – or want. We’ll be happy with miniature autonomous cleaning bots that requires our help, and approval, to reproduce. A global superorganism doesn’t need to be fully human-free for us to sense its autonomy. We would acknowledge a degree of autonomy if an entity displayed any of these traits: self-repair, self-defense, self-maintenance (securing energy, disposing waste), self-control of goals, self-improvement. The common element in all these characteristics is of course the emergence of a self at the level of the superorganism.

    In the case of the One Machine we should look for evidence of self-governance at the level of the greater cloud rather than at the component chip level. A very common cloud-level phenomenon is a DDoS attack. In a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack a vast hidden network of computers under the control of a master computer are awakened from their ordinary tasks and secretly assigned to “ping” (call) a particular target computer in mass in order to overwhelm it and take it offline. Some of these networks (called bot nets) may reach a million unsuspecting computers, so the effect of this distributed attack is quite substantial. From the individual level it is hard to detect the net, to pin down its command, and to stop it. DDoS attacks are so massive that they can disrupt traffic flows outside of the targeted routers – a consequence we might expect from an superorganism level event.

    I don’t think we can make too much of it yet, but researchers such as Reginald Smith have noticed there was a profound change in the nature of traffic on the communications network in the last few decades as it shifted from chiefly voice to a mixture of data, voice, and everything else. Voice traffic during the Bell/AT&T era obeyed a pattern known as Poisson distribution, sort of like a Gaussian bell curve. But ever since data from diverse components and web pages became the majority of bits on the lines, the traffic on the internet has been following a scale-invariant, or fractal, or power-law pattern. Here the distribution of very large and very small packets fall out onto a curve familiarly recognized as the long-tail curve. The scale-invariant, or long tail traffic patterns of the recent internet has meant engineers needed to devise a whole set of new algorithms for shaping the teletraffic. This phase change toward scale-invariant traffic patterns may be evidence for an elevated degree of autonomy. Other researchers have detected sensitivity to initial conditions, “strange attractor” patterns and stable periodic orbits in the self-similar nature of traffic – all indications of self-governing systems. Scale-free distributions can be understood as a result of some degree of internal feedback, usually brought about by loose of interdependent between the units. Feedback loops constrain the actions of the bits by other bits. For instance the Ethernet collision detection management algorithm (CSMA/CD) employs feedback loops to manage congestion by backing off collisions in response to other traffic. The foundational TCP/IP system underpinning internet traffic therefore “behaves in part as a massive closed loop feedback system.” While the scale free pattern of internet traffic is indisputable and verified by many studies, there is dispute whether it means the system itself is tending to optimize traffic efficiency – but some believe it is.

    Unsurprisingly the vast flows of bits in the global internet exhibit periodic rhythms. Most of these are diurnal, and resemble a heartbeat. But perturbations of internet bit flows caused by massive traffic congestion can also be seen. Analysis of these “abnormal” events show great similarity to abnormal heart beats. They deviate from an “at rest” rhythms the same way that fluctuations of a diseased heart deviated from a healthy heart beat.

    Prediction: The One Machine has a low order of autonomy at present. If the superorganism hypothesis is correct in the next decade we should detect increased scale-invariant phenomenon, more cases of stabilizing feedback loops, and a more autonomous traffic management system.

    An autonomous smart superorganism

    Organisms can be smart without being conscious. A rat is smart, but we presume, without much self-awareness. If the One Machine was as unconsciously smart as a rat, we would expect it to follow the strategies a clever animal would pursue. It would seek sources of energy, it would gather as many other resources it could find, maybe even hoard them. It would look for safe, secure shelter. It would steal anything it needed to grow. It would fend off attempts to kill it. It would resist parasites, but not bother to eliminate them if they caused no mortal harm. It would learn and get smarter over time.

    Google and Amazon, two clouds of distributed computers, are getting smarter. Google has learned to spell. By watching the patterns of correct-spelling humans online it has become a good enough speller that it now corrects bad-spelling humans. Google is learning dozens of languages, and is constantly getting better at translating from one language to another. It is learning how to perceive the objects in a photo. And of course it is constantly getting better at answering everyday questions. In much the same manner Amazon has learned to use the collective behavior of humans to anticipate their reading and buying habits. It is far smarter than a rat in this department.

    Cloud computers such as Google and Amazon form the learning center for the smart superorganism. Let’s call this organ el Googazon, or el Goog for short. El Goog encompasses more than the functions the company Google and includes all the functions provided by Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft online and other cloud-based services. This loosely defined cloud behaves like an animal.

    El Goog seeks sources of energy. It is building power plants around the world at strategic points of cheap energy. It is using its own smart web to find yet cheaper energy places and to plan future power plants. El Goog is sucking in the smartest humans on earth to work for it, to help make it smarter. The smarter it gets, the more smart people, and smarter people, want to work for it. El Goog ropes in money. Money is its higher metabolism. It takes the money of investors to create technology which attracts human attention (ads), which in turns creates more money (profits), which attracts more investments. The smarter it makes itself, the more attention and money will flow to it.

    Manufactured intelligence is a new commodity in the world. Until now all useable intelligence came in the package of humans – and all their troubles. El Goog and the One Machine offer intelligence without human troubles. In the beginning this intelligence is transhuman rather than non-human intelligence. It is the smartness derived from the wisdom of human crowds, but as it continues to develop this smartness transcends a human type of thinking. Humans will eagerly pay for El Goog intelligence. It is a different kind of intelligence. It is not artificial – i.e. a mechanical — because it is extracted from billions of humans working within the One Machine. It is a hybrid intelligence, half humanity, half computer chip. Therefore it is probably more useful to us. We don’t know what the limits are to its value. How much would you pay for a portable genius who knew all there was known?

    With the snowballing wealth from this fiercely desirable intelligence, el Goog builds a robust network that cannot be unplugged. It uses its distributed intelligence to devise more efficient energy technologies, more wealth producing inventions, and more favorable human laws for its continued prosperity. El Goog is developing an immune system to restrict the damage from viruses, worms and bot storms to the edges of its perimeter. These parasites plague humans but they won’t affect el Goog’s core functions. While El Goog is constantly seeking chips to occupy, energy to burn, wires to fill, radio waves to ride, what it wants and needs most is money. So one test of its success is when El Goog becomes our bank. Not only will all data flow through it, but all money as well.

    This New York Times chart of the October 2008 financial market crash shows how global markets were synchronized, as if they were one organism responding to a signal.

    How far away is this? “Closer than you think” say the actual CEOs of Google, the company. I like the way George Dyson puts it:

    If you build a machine that makes connections between everything, accumulates all the data in the world, and you then harness all available minds to collectively teach it where the meaningful connections and meaningful data are (Who is searching Whom?) while implementing deceptively simple algorithms that reinforce meaningful connections while physically moving, optimizing and replicating the data structures accordingly – if you do all this you will, from highly economical (yes, profitable) position arrive at a result – an intelligence — that is "not as far off as people think."

    To accomplish all this el Goog need not be conscious, just smart.

    Prediction: The mega-cloud will learn more languages, answer more of our questions, anticipate more of our actions, process more of our money, create more wealth, and become harder to turn off.

    An autonomous conscious superorganism

    How would we know if there was an autonomous conscious superorganism? We would need a Turing Test for a global AI. But the Turing Test is flawed for this search because it is meant to detect human-like intelligence, and if a consciousness emerged at the scale of a global megacomputer, its intelligence would unlikely to be anything human-like. We might need to turn to SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI), for guidance. By definition, it is a test for non-human intelligence. We would have to turn the search from the stars to our own planet, from an ETI, to an ii – an internet intelligence. I call this proposed systematic program Sii, the Search for Internet Intelligence.

    This search assumes the intelligence we are looking for is not human-like. It may operate at frequencies alien to our minds. Remember the tree-ish Ents in Lord of the Rings? It took them hours just to say hello. Or the gas cloud intelligence in Fred Hoyle’s "The Black Cloud". A global conscious superorganism might have “thoughts” at such a high level, or low frequency, that we might be unable to detect it. Sii would require a very broad sensitivity to intelligence.

    But as Allen Tough, an ETI theorist told me, “Unfortunately, radio and optical SETI astronomers pay remarkably little attention to intelligence. Their attention is focused on the search for anomalous radio waves and rapidly pulsed laser signals from outer space. They do not think much about the intelligence that would produce those signals.” The cloud computer a global superorganism swims in is nothing but unnatural waves and non-random signals, so the current set of SETI tools and techniques won’t help in a Sii.

    For instance, in 2002 researchers analyzed some 300 million packets on the internet to classify their origins. They were particularly interested in the very small percentage of packets that passed through malformed. Packets (the message’s envelope) are malformed by either malicious hackers to crash computers or by various bugs in the system. Turns out some 5% of all malformed packets examined by the study had unknown origins – neither malicious origins nor bugs. The researchers shrug these off. The unreadable packets are simply labeled “unknown.” Maybe they were hatched by hackers with goals unknown to the researches, or by bugs not found. But a malformed packet could also be an emergent signal. A self-created packet. Almost by definition, these will not be tracked, or monitored, and when seen shrugged off as “unknown.”

    There are scads of science fiction scenarios for the first contact (awareness) of an emerging planetary AI. Allen Tough suggested two others:

    One strategy is to assume that Internet Intelligence might have its own web page in which it explains how it came into being, what it is doing now, and its plans and hopes for the future. Another strategy is to post an invitation to ii (just as we have posted an invitation to ETI). Invite it to reveal itself, to dialogue, to join with us in mutually beneficial projects. It is possible, of course, that Internet Intelligence has made a firm decision not to reveal itself, but it is also possible that it is undecided and our invitation will tip the balance.

    The main problem with these “tests” for a conscious ii superorganism is that they don’t seem like the place to begin. I doubt the first debut act of consciousness is to post its biography, or to respond to an evite. The course of our own awakening consciousness when we were children is probably more fruitful. A standard test for self-awareness in a baby or adult primate is to reflect its image back in a mirror. When it can recognize its mirrored behavior as its own it has a developed sense of self. What would the equivalent mirror be for an ii?

    But even before passing a mirror test, an intelligent consciousness would acquire a representation of itself, or more accurately a representation of a self. So one indication of a conscious ii would be the detection of a “map” of itself. Not a centrally located visible chart, but an articulation of its being. A “picture” of itself. What was inside and what was outside. It would have to be a real time atlas, probably distributed, of what it was. Part inventory, part operating manual, part self-portrait, it would act like an internal mirror. It would pay attention to this map. One test would be to disturb the internal self-portrait to see if the rest of the organism was disturbed. It is important to note that there need be no self-awareness of this self map. It would be like asking a baby to describe itself.

    Long before a conscious global AI tries to hide itself, or take over the world, or begin to manipulate the stock market, or blackmail hackers to eliminate any competing ii’s (see the science fiction novel "Daemon"), it will be a fragile baby of a superorganism. It’s intelligence and consciousness will only be a glimmer, even if we know how to measure and detect it. Imagine if we were Martians and didn’t know whether human babies were conscious or not. How old would they be before we were utterly convinced they were conscious beings? Probably long after they were.

    Prediction: The cloud will develop an active and controlling map of itself (which includes a recursive map in the map), and a governing sense of “otherness.”

    What’s so important about superorganism?

    We don’t have very scientific tests for general intelligence in animals or humans. We have some tests for a few very narrow tasks, but we have no reliable measurements for grades or varieties of intelligence beyond the range of normal IQ tests. What difference does it make whether we measure a global organism? Why bother?

    Measuring the degree of self-organization of the One Machine is important for these reasons:

    * 1) The more we are aware of how the big cloud of this Machine behaves, the more useful it will be to us. If it adapts like an organism, then it is essential to know this. If it can self-repair, that is vital knowledge. If it is smart, figuring the precise way it is smart will help us to be smarter.
    * 2) In general, a more self-organized machine is more useful. We can engineer aspects of the machine to be more ready to self-organize. We can favor improvements that enable self-organization. We can assist its development by being aware of its growth and opening up possibilities in its development.
    * 3) There are many ways to be smart and powerful. We have no clue to the range of possibilities a superorganism this big, made out of a billion small chips, might take, but we know the number of possible forms is more than one. By being aware early in the process we can shape the kind of self-organization and intelligence a global superorganism could have.

    I welcome suggestions, additions, corrections, and constructive comments. And, of course, if el Goog has anything to say, just go ahead and send me an email.

    What kind of evidence would you need to be persuaded we have Level I, II, III, or IV?
    Sun, Oct 26, 2008  Permanent link

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    I stumbled onto this model early on in my studies of consciousness. The studies aforementioned were sparked with a mix of psychedelic substances, and the library of a good friend from which I got Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shae's Illuminatus Trilogy. I continued to read Wilson's work and managed to become obsessed with him, and other like-minded psychedelic utopian futurists. Ergo, I felt compelled to share my roots with the rest of this community in hopes that it will be of use to the other explorers science-future.
    The following is a brief summary of The Eight Circuits model, developed by Timothy Leary, and greatly expounded upon in Wilson's own Prometheus Rising. Enjoy!

    The Eight Systems of Consciousness
    by Robert Anton Wilson
    from Cosmic Trigger: The Final Secret of the Illuminati

    Tunnel-Realities and Imprints

    To understand neurological space, Dr. Leary assumes that the nervous system consists of eight potential circuits, or "gears," or mini-brains. Four of these brains are in the usually active left lobe and are concerned with our terrestrial survival; four are extraterrestrial, reside in the "silent" or inactive right lobe, and are for use in our future evolution. This explains why the right lobe is usually inactive at this stage of our development, and why it becomes active when the person ingests psychedelics.

    We will explain each of the eight "brains" briefly.
    I. The Bio-Survival System

    This invertebrate brain was the first to evolve (2 to 3 million years ago) and is the first activated when a human infant is born. It programs perception onto an either-or grid divided into nurturing-helpful Things (which it approaches) and noxious-dangerous Things (which it flees, or attacks). The imprinting of this circuit sets up the basic attitude of trust or suspicion which will ever after trigger approach or avoidance.
    II. The Emotional-Territorial System

    This second, more advanced bio-computer formed when vertebrates appeared and began to compete for territory (perhaps 500,000,000 B.C.). In the individual, this bigger tunnel-reality is activated when the DNA master-tape triggers the metamorphosis from crawling to walking. As every parent knows, the toddler is no longer a passive (bio-survival) infant but a mammalian politician, full of physical (and psychic) territorial demands, quick to meddle in family business and decision-making. Again the first imprint on this circuit remains constant for life (unless brainwashed) and identifies the stimuli which will automatically trigger dominant, aggressive behavior or submissive, cooperative behavior. When we say that a person is behaving emotionally, egotistically or 'like a two-year-old,' we mean that s/he is blindly following one of the tunnel-realities imprinted on this circuit.
    III. The Time-Binding Semantic System

    This third brain was formed when hominid types began to differentiate from other primate stock (circa 4-5 million B.C.) and is activated for the linear left-lobe functions of the brain, determines our normal modes of artifact-manufacture and conceptual thought, i.e., third circuit 'mind.'

    It is no accident, then, that our logic (and our computer-design) follows either-or, binary structure of these circuits. Nor is it an accident that our geometry, until the last century, has been Euclidean. Euclid's geometry, Aristotle's logic and Newton's physics are meta-programs synthesizing and generalizing first brain forward-back, second brain up-down and third brain right-left programs.
    IV. The Social-Sexual System

    The fourth brain, dealing with the transmission of tribal or ethnic culture across generations, introduces the fourth dimension, time.

    Since each of these tunnel-realities consists of biochemical imprints or matrices in the nervous system, each of them is specifically triggered by neuro-transmitters and other drugs.

    Notice how drugs that stimulate the first four circuits, which are already activated, tend to be dangerously addictive, roughly ordered ascending from the first circuit.

    To activate the first brain take an opiate. Mother Opium and Sister Morphine bring you down to cellular intelligence, bio-survival passivity, the floating consciousness of the newborn. (This is why Freudians identify opiate addiction with the desire to return to infancy.)

    To activate the second tunnel-reality, take an abundant quantity of alcohol. Vertebrate territorial patterns and mammalian emotional politics immediately appear when the booze flows, as Thomas Nashe intuitively realized when he characterized the various alcohol states by animal labels: "ass drunk," "goat drunk," "swine drunk," "bear drunk," etc.

    To activate the third circuit, try coffee or tea, a high-protein diet, speed or cocaine.

    The specific neurotransmitter for circuit four has not been synthesized yet, but it is generated by the glands after pubescence and flows volcanically through the bloodstreams of adolescents.

    None of these terrestrial drugs change basic biochemical imprints. The behaviors which they trigger are those which were wired into the nervous system during the first stages of imprint vulnerability. The circuit II drunk exhibits the emotional games or cons learned from parents in infancy. The circuit III "mind" never gets beyond the permutations and combinations of those tunnel-realities originally imprinted, or abstractions associated with the imprints through later conditioning. And so forth.

    But all this Pavlovian-Skinnerian robotism changes drastically and dramatically when we turn to the right lobe, the future circuits and extraterrestrial chemicals. The four evolving future 'brains' are:
    V. The Neurosomatic System

    When this fifth "body-brain" is activated, flat Euclidean figure-ground configurations explode multi-dimensionally. Gestalts shift, in McLuhan's terms, from linear visual space to all-encompassing sensory space. A hedonic turn-on occurs, a rapturous amusement, a detachment from the previously compulsive mechanism of the first four circuits. I turned this circuit on with pot and Tantra.

    This fifth brain began to appear about 4,000 years ago in the first leisure-class civilizations and has been increasing statistically in recent centuries (even before the Drug Revolution), a fact demonstrated by the hedonic art of India, China, Rome and other affluent societies. More recently, Ornstein and his school have demonstrated with electroencephalograms that this circuit represents the first jump from the linear left lobe of the brain to the analogical right lobe.

    The opening and imprinting of this circuit has been the preoccupation of "technicians of the occult"—Tantric shamans and hatha yogis. While the fifth tunnel-reality can be achieved by sensory deprivation, social isolation, physiological stress or severe shock (ceremonial terror tactics, as practiced by such rascal-gurus as Don Juan Matus or Aleister Crowley), it has traditionally been reserved to the educated aristocracy of leisure societies who have solved the four terrestrial survival problems.

    About 20,000 years ago, the specific fifth brain neurotransmitter was discovered by shamans in the Caspian Sea area of Asia and quickly spread to other wizards throughout Eurasia and Africa. It is, of course, cannabis. Weed. Mother Mary Jane.

    It is no accident that the pot-head generally refers to his neural state as "high" or "spaced-out." The transcendence of gravitational, digital, linear, either-or, Aristotelian, Newtonian, Euclidean, planetary orientations (circuits I-IV) is, in evolutionary perspective, part of our neurological preparation for the inevitable migration off our home planet, now beginning. This is why so many pot-heads are Star Trek freaks and science fiction adepts. (Berkeley, California, certainly the Cannabis Capital of the U.S., has a Federation Trading Post on Telegraph Avenue, where the well-heeled can easily spend $500 or more in a single day, buying Star Trek novels, magazines, newsletters, bumper stickers, photographs, posters, tapes, etc., including even complete blueprints for the starship Enterprise.)

    The extraterrestrial meaning of being "high" is confirmed by astronauts themselves; 85% of those who have entered the free-fall zero gravity describe "mystic experiences" or rapture states typical of the neurosomatic circuit. "No photo can show how beautiful Earth looked," raves Captain Ed Mitchell, describing his Illumination in free-fall. He sounds like any successful yogi or pot-head. No camera can show this experience because it is inside the nervous system.

    Free-fall, at the proper evolutionary time, triggers the neurosomatic mutation, Leary believes. Previously this mutation has been achieved "artificially" by yogic or shamanic training or by the fifth circuit stimulant, cannabis. Surfing, skiing, skin-diving and the new sexual culture (sensuous massage, vibrators, imported Tantric arts, etc.) have evolved at the same time as part of the hedonic conquest of gravity. The Turn-On state is always described as "floating," or, in the Zen metaphor, "one foot above the ground."
    VI. The Neuroelectric System

    The sixth brain consists of the nervous system becoming aware of itself apart from imprinted gravitational reality-maps (circuits I-IV) and even apart from body-rapture (circuit V). Count Korzybski, the semanticist, called this state "consciousness of abstracting." Dr. John Lilly calls it "metaprogramming," i.e., awareness of programming one's programming. This Einsteinian, relativistic contelligence (consciousness-intelligence) recognizes, for instance, that the Euclidean, Newtonian and Aristotelian reality-maps are just three among billions of possible programs or models for experience. I turned this circuit on with Peyote, LSD and Crowley's "magick" metaprograms.

    This level of brain-functioning seems to have been reported first around 500 B.C. among various "occult" groups connected by the Silk Route (Rome-North India). It is so far beyond the terrestrial tunnel-realities that those who have achieved it can barely communicate about it to ordinary humanity (circuits I-IV) and can hardly be understood even by fifth circuit Rapture Engineers.

    The characteristics of the neuroelectric circuit are high velocity, multiple choice, relativity, and the fission-fusion of all perceptions into parallel science-fiction universes of alternate possibilities.

    The mammalian politics which monitor power struggles among terrestrial humanity are here transcended, i.e., seen as static, artificial, an elaborate charade. One is neither coercively manipulated into another's territorial reality nor forced to struggle against it with reciprocal emotional game-playing (the usual soap-opera dramatics). One simply elects, consciously, whether or not to share the other's reality-model.

    Tactics for opening and imprinting the sixth circuit are described and rarely experienced in advanced rajah yoga, and in the hermetic (coded) manuals of the medieval-Renaissance alchemists and Illuminati.

    No specific sixth circuit chemical is yet available, but strong psychedelics like mescaline (from my 1962-63 "sacred cactus," peyotl) and psilocybin (from the Mexican "magic mushroom," teonactl) open the nervous system to a mixed-media series of circuit V and circuit VI channels. This is appropriately called "tripping," as distinguished from straight-forward fifth circuit "turning on" or "getting high."

    The suppression of scientific research in this area has had the unfortunate result of turning the outlaw drug culture back toward fifth circuit hedonics and pre-scientific tunnel-realities (the occult revival, solipsism, Pop Orientalism). Without scientific discipline and methodology, few can successfully decode the often-frightening (but philosophically crucial) sixth circuit metaprogramming signals. Such scientists as do continue to study this subject dare not publish their results (which are illegal) and record ever-wider tunnel-realities only in private conversations—like the scholars of the Inquisitorial era. (Voltaire announced the Age of Reason two centuries too soon. We are still in the Dark Ages.) Most underground alchemists have given up on such challenging and risky self-work and restrict their trips to fifth circuit erotic tunnels.

    The evolutionary function of the sixth circuit is to enable us to communicate at Einsteinian relativities and neuro-electric accelerations, not using third circuit laryngeal-manual symbols but directly via feedback, telepathy and computer link-up. Neuro-electric signals will increasingly replace "speech" (hominid grunts) after space migration.

    When humans have climbed out of the atmosphere-gravity well of planetary life, accelerated sixth circuit contelligence will make possible high-energy communication with "Higher Intelligences," i.e., ourselves-in-the-future and other post-terrestrial races.

    It is charmingly simple and obvious, once we realize that the spaced-out neural experiences really are extraterrestrial, that getting high and spacing out are accurate metaphors. Circuit V neurosomatic rapture is preparation for the next step in our evolution, migration off the planet. Circuit VI is preparation for the step after that, interspecies communication with advanced entities possessing electronic (post-verbal) tunnel-realities.

    Circuit VI is the "universal translator" often imagined by science-fiction writers, already built into our brains by the DNA tape. Just as the circuits of the future butterfly are already built into the caterpillar.
    VII. The Neurogenetic System

    The seventh brain kicks into action when the nervous system begins to receive signals from within the individual neuron, from the DNA-RNA dialogue. The first to achieve this mutation spoke of "memories of past lives," "reincarnation," "immortality," etc. That these adepts were recording something real is indicated by the fact that many of them (especially Hindu and Sufis) gave marvelously accurately poetic vistas of evolution 1,000 or 2,000 years before Darwin, and foresaw Superhumanity before Nietzsche.

    The "akashic records" of Theosophy, the "collective unconscious" of Jung, the "phylogenetic unconscious" of Grof and Ring, are three modern metaphors for this circuit. The visions of past and future evolution described by those who have had "out-of-body" experiences during close-to-death episodes also describes the trans-time circuit VII tunnel-reality.

    Specific exercises to trigger circuit VII are not to be found in yogic teaching; it usually happens, if at all, after several years of the kind of advanced rajah yoga that develops circuit VI facility.

    The specific circuit VII neurotransmitter is, of course LSD. (Peyote and psilocybin produce some circuit VII experiences also.)

    Circuit VII is best considered, in terms of 1977 science, as the genetic archives, activated by anti-histone proteins. The DNA memory coiling back to the dawn of life. A sense of the inevitability of immortality and interspecies symbiosis comes to all circuit VII mutants; we now see that this, also, is an evolutionary forecast, since we stand right now on the doorstep of extended longevity leading to immortality.

    The exact role of the right-lobe circuits and the reason for their activation in the 1960s cultural revolution now becomes clear. As sociologist F.M. Esfandiary writes in Upwingers, "Today when we speak of immortality and of going to another world we no longer mean these in a theological or metaphysical sense. People are now traveling to other worlds. People are now striving for immortality. Transcendence is no longer a metaphysical concept. It has become reality."

    The evolutionary function of the seventh circuit and its evolutionary, aeon-spanning tunnel-reality is to prepare us for conscious immortality and interspecies symbiosis.
    VIII. The Neuro-Atomic System

    Hold on to your hats and breathe deeply—this is the farthest-out that human intelligence has yet ventured.

    Consciousness probably precedes the biological unit or DNA tape-loop. "Out-of-body experiences," "astral projection," contact with alien (extraterrestrial?) "entities" or with a galactic Overmind, etc., such as I've experienced, have all been reported for thousands of years, not merely by the ignorant, the superstitious, the gullible, but often by the finest minds among us (Socrates, Giordano Bruno, Edison, Buckminster Fuller, etc.). Such experiences are reported daily to parapsychologists and have been experienced by such scientists as Dr. John Lilly and Carlos Castaneda. Dr. Kenneth Ring has attributed these phenomena to what he calls, very appropriately, "the extraterrestrial unconscious."

    Dr. Leary suggests that circuit VIII is literally neuro-atomic—infra, supra and meta-physiological—a quantum model of consciousness and/or a conscious model of quantum mechanics by the turned-on physicists discussed previously (Prof. John Archibald Wheeler, Saul-Paul Sirag, Dr. Fritjof Capra, Dr. Jack Sarfatti, etc.) indicates strongly that the "atomic consciousness" first suggested by Leary in "The Seven Tongues of God" (1962) is the explanatory link which will unite parapsychology and paraphysics into the first scientific empirical experimental theology in history.

    When the nervous system is turned on to this quantum-level circuit, space-time is obliterated. Einstein's speed-of-light barrier is transcended; in Dr. Sarfatti's metaphor, we escape "electromagnetic chauvinism." The contelligence within the quantum projection booth IS the entire cosmic "brain," just as the micro-miniaturized DNA helix IS the local brain guiding planetary evolution. As Lao-tse said from his own Circuit VIII perspective, "The greatest is within the smallest."

    Circuit VIII is triggered by Ketamine, a neuro-chemical researched by Dr. John Lilly, which is also (according to a wide-spread but unconfirmed rumor) given to astronauts to prepare them for space. High doses of LSD also produce some circuit VIII quantum awareness.

    This neuro-atomic contelligence is four mutations beyond terrestrial domesticity. (The current ideological struggle is between circuit IV tribal moralists-or-collectivists and circuit V hedonic individualists.) When our need for higher intelligence, richer involvement in the cosmic script, further transcendence, will no longer be satisfied by physical bodies, not even by immortal bodies hopping across space-time at Warp 9, circuit VIII will open a further frontier. New universes and realities. "Beyond theology: the science and art of Godmanship," as Alan Watts once wrote.

    It is therefore possible that the mysterious "entities" (angels and extraterrestrials) monotonously reported by circuit VIII visionaries are members or races already evolved to this level. But it is also possible, as Leary and Sarfatti more recently suggest, that They are ourselves-in-the-future.

    The left-lobe terrestrial circuits contain the learned lessons of our evolutionary past (and present). The right-lobe extraterrestrial circuits are the evolutionary script for out future.

    Thus far, there have been two alternative explanations of why the Drug Revolution happened. The first is presented in a sophisticated way by anthropologist Weston LaBarre, and in an ignorant, moralistic way by most anti-drug propaganda in the schools and mass media. This explanation says, in essence, that millions have turned away from the legal down drugs to illegal high drugs because we are living in troubled times and many are seeking escape into fantasy.

    This theory, at its best, only partially explains the ugliest and most publicized aspect of the revolution—the reckless drug abuse characteristic of the immature. It says nothing about the millions of respectable doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc., who have turned away from second circuit intoxication with booze to fifth circuit rapture with weed.

    Nor does it account at all for the thoughtful, philosophical sixth circuit investigations of persons of high intelligence and deep sensibility, such as Aldous Huxley, Dr. Stanley Grof, Masters-Houston, Alan W. Watts, Carlos Castaneda, Dr. John Lilly and thousands of scientific and lay researchers on consciousness.

    A more plausible theory, devised by psychiatrist Norman Zinberg out of the work of Marshall McLuhan, holds that modern electronic media have so shifted the nervous system's parameters that young people no longer enjoy "linear" drugs like alcohol and find meaning only in "non-linear" weed and psychedelics.

    This is certainly part of the truth, but it is too narrow and overstresses TV and computers without sufficiently stressing the general technological picture—the ongoing Science-Fiction Revolution of which the most significant aspects are Space Migration, Increased Intelligence and Life Extension, which Leary has condensed into his SMI²LE formula.

    Space Migration plus Increased Intelligence plus Life Extension means expansion of humanity into all space-time. SM + I² + LE = infinity.

    Without totally endorsing Charles Fort's technological mysticism ("It steam-engines when it comes steam-engine time"), it is obvious that the DNA metaprogram for planetary evolution is far wiser than any of our individual nervous systems—which are, in a sense, giant robots or sensors for DNA. Early science-fiction of brilliant writers like Stapledon, Clarke, Heinlein; Kubrick's 2001—all were increasingly clear DNA signals transmitted through the intuitive right lobe of sensitive artists, preparing us for the extraterrestrial mutation.

    It is scarcely coincidental that mainstream "literary" intellectuals—the heir of the Platonic-aristocratic tradition that a gentleman never uses his hands, monkeys with tools or learns a manual craft—despise both science-fiction and the dope culture. Nor is it coincidental that the Whole Earth Catalogs - created by Stewart Brand, a graduate of Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters—are the New Testament of the rural drop-out culture, each issue bulging with tons of eco-technological information about all the manual, dextrous, gadgety know-how that Plato and his heirs consider fit only for slaves. Not surprisingly, Brand's latest publication, Co-Evolution Quarterly, has been devoted to publicizing Prof. Gerard O'Neill's space-habitat, L5.

    Nor is it an accident that dopers seem to prefer science-fiction to any other reading, even including the extraterrestrial-flavored Hindu scriptures and occult-shamanic circuit VI-VIII trip-poets like Crowley and Hesse.

    The circuit VI drugs may have contributed much to the metaprogramming consciousness that has led to sudden awareness of "male chauvinism" (women's liberationists), "species chauvinism" (ecology, Lilly's dolphin studies), "type-G star chauvinism" (Carl Sagan), even "oxygen chauvinism" (the CETI conference), etc. The imprinted tunnel-realities which identify one as "white-male-American-earthian" etc. or "black-female-Cuban" etc. are no longer big enough to enclose our exploding contelligence.

    As Time magazine said on November 26, 1973, "Within ten years, according to pharmacologists, they will have perfected pills and cranial electrodes of providing life-long bliss for everyone on Earth." The 1960s hysteria about weed and acid was just the overture to this fifth circuit break-through. Nathan S. Kline, M.D., predicts real aphrodisiacs, drugs to speed up learning, drugs to foster or terminate any behavior. ... Those who were jailed or beaten by cops in the 1960s were forerunners of the Revolution of Inner Technology.

    Star Trek is a better guide to the emerging reality than anything in the New York Review of Books. The life-support and defense-system engineer, Scotty (circuit I), the emotional-sentimental Dr. McCoy (circuit II), the logical science officer Mr. Spock (circuit III) and the alternately paternalistic and romantic Captain Kirk (circuit IV) are perpetually voyaging through our future neurological history and encountering circuit V, VI, VII, and VIII intelligences, however crudely presented.

    In short, the various levels of consciousness and circuits we have been discussing, and illustrating, are all biochemical imprints in the evolution of the nervous system. Each imprint creates a bigger tunnel-reality. In the Sufi metaphor, the donkey on the which we ride becomes a different donkey after each imprint. The metaprogrammer continually learns more and is increasingly able to be aware of itself operating. We are thus evolving to intelligence-studying-intelligence (the nervous system studying the nervous system) and are more and more capable of accelerating our own evolution.

    the following is a brief introduction to some of the symbolism parallel to the model:

    Sun, Oct 12, 2008  Permanent link

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    Fri, Oct 10, 2008  Permanent link

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    I dig this one much more than the first installment, as it has solutions as well as hypotheses towards the causes of the problems facing our species today. could be old news to some, but worth sharing any ways.

    Tue, Oct 7, 2008  Permanent link

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    Sukhavati - Place of Bliss: A Mythic Journey with Joseph Cambell

    part one

    part two

    Tue, Oct 7, 2008  Permanent link

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