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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    Originally published as: Love
    The intoxicating substance pervading all.

    (For the 'Fight Pray Love' exhibition Brussels June 2015 Catalog)

    “It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.”

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

    An old Chinese proverb tells us that when we have only two pennies left in the world, we need buy a loaf of bread with one, and a flower with the other.
    The bread is for surviving, the flower is so we have a good enough reason to survive, a motivation that is over and beyond the needs of the body. This proverb may very well be the very foundation of all aesthetics, for without beauty and the love it engenders, without the motive power of the experience of beyond, why survive?

    It is this very beyondness, beyond the spaces and the times, beyond the moments, whether of joy or of suffering, whether celebrating birth or ritualizing death, that the grand vision of Hindu cosmology depicts.
    Bringing forth a unique blend of universal consciousness, pervading all, towered by gods and demigods, divinities and demons, desires impossible and passions unquenchable, the particularities of the Indian cosmological project is nothing less than stunning.
    It is not a perfect universe, but it is a cosmos that is vibrant, full of life and intent; a cosmos full of meaning and importance, managed by values and consequences.
    Between the dream of Brahma, the sustenance of Vishnu and the all destroying powers of Shiva a grand narrative explodes into being, paving the way for an experience of becoming unlike any other.
    Abundantly providing the human mind with a plethora of divinities and symbols, representations and manifestations , naturally ascending and transcending the banal and temporal into concepts of a-temporality and immortality, the Indian reality discernible in art and poetry, music and rituals is over and above all a mythology of love and beauty, being and becoming.
    Vishnu, for instance, the supreme blue being holding a lotus (padma) in one hand, a mace (kaumodaki gada) in the second, the conch (panchajanya shankha) in the third and the final weapon of choice the chakra (Sudarshana Chakra) in his fourth hand, presents us with a grand vision from which all avatars will be born. So grand is the trimurti that all stand in awe and need surrender their egos before their transformative power.
    None more so than Vishnu, whose very name translates into:
    ”all pervading, present everywhere”. (Adi Shankara in his commentary on the Sahasranama states derivation from viś, with a meaning "presence everywhere". "As he pervades everything, vevesti, he is called Vishnu"). Adi Shankara states (regarding Vishnu Purana, 3.1.45): "The Power of the Supreme Being has entered within the universe. The root viś means 'enter into').
    But what is it that enters the world via the agency of Vishnu?
    What is it that pervades all and everything?

    A great secret indeed.

    In Hindu cosmology, the universe, the spaces, the times, are all cyclical, endless, repeating, bending and turning upon themselves.
    This aspect of Hindu cosmology might probably be the closest to the way we currently understand the state of affairs of the universe, via our modern astronomy, physics and mathematics. But the sages of the Rig Veda knew something even deeper, they knew all these cycles and repetitions in time and in space are all part and parcel of the great life of the cosmos to which we, humans, are only a small and insignificant part. And yet within the great sleeping cycles of Brahma, along the quasi infinite Manus, where life is born again and again, there, lays an even deeper profundity.

    That profundity, as stated in the Natya Shastra, belongs to Vishnu, source of all avatars, especially because Vishnu is the final and ultimate presiding deity of the Sṛngara rasa, the rasa of erotic love, romantic love, or passionate attraction but more importantly and above all the rasa of beauty.

    Vishnu, beauty, love, rasa, attraction, being , becoming, a continuous and unbreakable chain, all pervading, intoxicating, invigorating, stimulating.

    “Where there is love there is life. “ (Mahatma Gandhi)

    When Gandhi spoke those famous words, he meant something very different from what we understand, he desired to whisper frontally and in public, a secret and very ancient wisdom.
    He spoke in the English language but behind the words lay a mysterious and most magnificent landscape of meanings and insinuations, a geography of wisdom and understandings, a continuum of immensities, universes within universes, all patiently waiting to be unveiled and tasted, unfolded and experienced, but which so very often remains hidden in the deep recesses of the human mind veiled by its immediate needs.

    Ghandi spoke of a secret. And what a secret it is!

    There exists a secret that only very few initiates ever have been able to touch, to experience and to be immersed in.
    This secret that was whispered amongst the deserts and plains of Asia for millennia, we in the western hemisphere commonly call - love. A term we both overuse and underestimate, very much unlike the Indian (or eastern) tradition.

    Love, the very embodiment in one word of a dynamic motion. One word, Love, that has as many constituents and attributes, features and qualities as the number of minds that will use the term.
    Nowhere has the term been researched and amplified, recognized and elevated as in the Indian subcontinent.
    There a colorful and deep mythology brought to life in the forms of stories and images, representations and rituals, evolved over the course of millennia to bring into manifestation the love of being and the passion of becoming.

    Led by powerful minds, that in some mysterious fashion were able to transcend the banality of everyday life into an ephemeral yet extremely powerful sense of being and communion with forces and energies, far from the modern and farther yet from the common.
    Indian culture in this sense provides us with an array of options of becoming that is nothing less than astonishing.
    What is maybe the most surprising aspect of this culture in this respect is the paradoxical, and to some westerners, alien, concept of emotions.
    There is no term that describes emotions in Sanskrit, which is itself a paradox since the culture is steeped in highly emotional energies.
    Though there is no emotion (at least not in the common Greco-Latin influenced western translation) there are many ‘emotions’ and more importantly ‘feelings’, critical aspects of the interaction of the human with the world in which he or she finds himself or herself respectively.

    The perspective we suggest is that the secret of Love as manifested in the Indian philosophy is best represented in Indian art, in its manner of being conceptualized and in its deep connectivity to the flow of all life.
    Therefore to enter the realm of love we will need explore Indian art, itself an enigma, for its aesthetics understanding is very deep and in a sense all encompassing.

    To penetrate into the challenge or secret of Indian art and its manifestations we need first consider the subject matter of Rasa, the very essential ingredient in the aesthetic perception of life.
    Rasa is a difficult concept to understand for us westernized minds, but maybe the way to go about it is by accepting that rasa is a generalized emotion, a very special kind of consciousness or cognition from which the individual needs and necessities have been expunged.
    Art in the sense of Rasa then is a special kind of mimesis, an imitation, but a very special and highly extraordinary form of imitation, for it imitates not a form but an essence, a universality or a potentiality.
    That may probably be the most important issue at play here, for ‘essence mimesis’ is fundamentally different than ‘form mimesis’.
    Consequently, the difference between Indian art in its deepest sense and western art conceptualization is in ‘that which is being imitated’.
    Rasa, in this respect can be said then to be the emergence of the sense of being and becoming associated with a direct interaction with a form (the art in itself) that carries an essence and in many cases ‘is’ the essence in manifest.

    In this sense when we look upon a form of art, contrary to the commonly objectified manner we usually look at objects and believe to perceive them, in the case of Rasa, the observer, the work of art and their interaction need be understood as one coherent whole.
    Art accordingly is not an object but an event that gives us not only the intelligence hidden in the thing in itself (for according to rasa it is impossible to grasp the thing in itself outside the interaction or merging of man and object- concluding in an event of possibilities opening up) but the very essence that is hidden and points the way to self transformation.
    To the westernized mind, aesthetics objectifies a reality, discriminates its qualities and features and arrives to find an experience. Rasa, on the other hand, whether understood as taste, juice or essence, is a completely different theory of aesthetics. In fact it is illuminating to comprehend that for Rasa to be, to exist, the observer must, in a fashion, lose herself within the experience of art, manifesting as an emergent situation of sensation and emotion, that is a-priori transcendent.

    The sense of Rasa should in fact be understood as a deeper reality manifested in the event of experience, in which the triplicate of the art work, the observer and the essence are merged at the point of time and space of the event of Rasa.
    Since there is no duality as it exists for us, due to our heritage of western thought, dividing our bodies and minds, the experience of Rasa is a full spectrum wholeness, a process and a continuous progression. A raga for the soul or a vision to the senses, the experience of Rasa is transformative and totally immersive, it is a manifestation of the higher faculties of the mind translated into an immediate experience of absorption.

    This fashion of understanding the world, the mind and the full spectrum of human experience is radically different than our common understanding, based as it is on our Greco-Roman philosophy.
    In the old Greek tradition the division between techne and episteme was to be the fundamental influence on all matters. The original (Greek) division is between that which can be ‘made’ or techne and that which can only be theorized as knowledge or ‘episteme’. Techne in fact is more akin to craft or art (though eventually we have translated that into technology) and episteme might better be understood as the equivalent to that which we today might call ‘theory’.
    We are as a matter of fact highly influenced by the Aristotelian view of opposition between ‘knowledge’ as episteme and ‘crafting’ as in techne’ but also this contrast is new (relatively speaking). For writers of Greek philosophy before Aristotle such a division was anything but a miscomprehension. According to Xenophon and his mentor Socrates not only is there no such distinction that makes sense, but: “Socrates explicitly identifies as technai such activities as playing the harp, generalship, piloting a ship, cooking, medicine, managing an estate, smithing, and carpentry; by association with these technai, we can include housebuilding, mathematics, astronomy, making money, flute playing, and painting. Without marking any difference, he also calls many of these activities epistêmai.” (1)

    In other words, the division is an illusion, and nowhere more so than in the Indian tradition of Rasa, for Rasa (though translated as the equivalent of our aesthetic experience) sees no division between the knowledge and the making. This is an important facet of the Indian craftsmanship and art especially in the making of divinities, for in the making (techne) lays dormant the trigger to a different kind of knowledge ‘episteme’. Indian art in this sense brings forth an emergence of an engulfing sensation, that contains both the ‘intelligence’ or ‘knowledge’ of a particular state of mind and the sensation of being part of this same knowledge via the ‘making’ or techne of practice, that may be translated also as a form of prayer as acquiring a connection with a higher knowledge, intelligence and ‘essence’.
    We suggest that in Indian art we find a ‘rising above’ the distinction of art and technology, a floating beyond the distinction of techne and episteme, a merging of theory and practice into one seamless whole. This merging results in the Indian form of making divinities that are not a representation of a force but a manifestation of a knowledge that through practice and sensing brings forth a process of becoming or the ‘essence’ or ‘drinking the juice’, the Rasa.
    Rasa in the sense I understand it is a term that represents a communion with an intelligence, a self transforming engagement, a process of becoming that aims to beautify the mind and the world, to connect to the natural wonder of life in a fashion that is over and above the mundane.

    Which brings us to the ultimate realization of the rasa conceptualization - that of the great secret of Love.

    Love then

    In Indian philosophy, culture and mythology love is a multiplicity of states, all related to feelings of beauty and transformation of perception.
    Whether we use terms of longing such as Kama, seen as desire or longing (but often also as wish or passion) or Sringara, one of the nine Rasas, usually translated as erotic love, romantic love, or as attraction or beauty, the motion of self transformation is crystalline.
    Alternatively we could use Bhakti a form of love, most often associated with religious devotion. Bhakti, literally meaning "portion or share", from the root bhaj- "to partake in, to receive one's share”, is a fascinating concept especially if we understand the devotion not in the act of worship itself (though so it is usually conceived) but as partaking in the essence and emerging from the experience as ‘part of’ the divinity itself. The form of love called Bhakti leads one to Iṣṭa-devatā, literally "cherished divinity" (from iṣṭa "desired, liked, cherished" and devatā "godhead”), technically meaning the worshipper’s favorite deity, or the divinity which inspires him or her the most.
    In this sense the concept of Iṣṭa-devatā tells us that one can choose which divinity to worship and in what fashion. Put differently, we could say that the love that permeates the universe of Indian mythology is immense enough to accommodate the specific characteristics of the worshipper’s personal love and it is up to each and every one to find her love in the divinity, unconstrained by the particular deity one is affiliated with.

    I find this particular aspect of Indian traditional philosophical perspective particularly enlightening, for even in the Vaishnavism tradition the concept of choosing ones deity is prevalent. A particular form of Vishnu can be chosen, manifested as one of his avatars whether Krishna or Rama.
    The fact that one can choose a deity that fits his being is paramount and critical to understanding Indian art, how much more so when the subject matter are the divinities manifesting love.

    The world of Indian art manifestations of the intelligence and essence as divinities is an enormous ocean of sensations waiting to be experienced. It is silent on first approach, hiding its multilayered, many faceted existences from casual beholding. But an observant lover, as any art appreciation personification should be, according to Rasa, can meditate or worship, approaching openly the manifestation, then the whispers of distant pasts will reveal themselves to his inner ear, engendering an experience unlike any other.
    This experience, that carries a transformative value as well as an integrity leading to a higher comprehension of ethics, translates into becoming. The reason this is possible in Indian art is due to the Vedas’ conception of time and its manipulation, allowing the image in Indian art to be not a representation but a manifestation of the divine.

    And the divine permeates all, as Love, the intoxicating substance that pervades all and everything.

    A note:

    As some of my readers know, I am an avid fan of Indian art and philosophy, I am thoroughly grateful for the opportunity I have had to write these words for the beautiful exhibition catalog.

    Though it is not my usual style nor kind of writing I have had and still do an amazing moment whilst contemplating the depth of Rasa and Love.
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    I believe that on your planet earth, you would call it a Shaman, or maybe a Shaman device. But maybe I am doing you a disservice by calling it this way, for I do not believe it will help you understand, or maybe it will but it might distort your understanding.

    Why so?

    Well, because on your planet earth, the technological sciences and the abstract sciences have taken for the moment at least, a very unnatural disassociation.

    In a sense, we would not like you to receive such a gift without understanding its significance, though, I assure you Ambassador, the gift is on the way, and you will be able after instruction, to use it to restore your planet to its former glory and do the same to other planets which you have colonized. After deliberations amongst our highest Eiyes, it has been decided that even though you might not understand the Shaan , you will receive the Shaan anyway, because there is a higher purpose here.
    I can tell you that personally I am a tad apprehensive, not because you will not be able to use it, but because it will be used to a very limited competence of its extended capacities.

    Our race has developed the Shaan for millennia, and presently we use it for everything, and soon we will use it for our ascension and then you will also receive our planets and colonies, orbitals and all else, including our spaceships and all related paraphernalia. But that is not the point, for all these you will receive because your race has been chosen to continue our legacy, but in a very real way, we expect you to be able to use very little of all these gifts, enormous as they are.

    We have already described to you, why we have decided to give all these to you and there is no contention and dissent amongst us, we all agree with the Eiyes, but it will take you many of your Terran years to uncover the full extent of the Shaan capabilities.

    You will be able to decipher parts of the Shaan with our help of course, and we will give you all the help we can, but you must understand that some parts of the Shaan, the more exotic and interesting parts if you will, cannot be accessed by you at present not because there is an inherent lock on the Shaan, but because of you, because until you have merged and self unified, the Shaan will not unlock itself, or put differently, it will not give itself to use.
    That is why we are not afraid of misuse, in a very real sense , you cannot misuse the Shaan, or more accurately, it cannot be misused, since it has its own essence of desire.
    I know you do not even understand the combination of these statements, but I feel I must at least reveal to you the causes of your future frustration.

    The Shaan, is not a piece of technology as you like to call it, neither is it a scientific breakthrough, the Shaan is an evolved aspect of the universe which our race has coaxed and evolved for eons , and then it took thousands of years more to entice it to work with us, and slowly by slowly, as it has grown and subdivided, it has spawned other Shaan that had particular purposes and could each provide a specific service to us, but the issue is not this, we have embedded our desire in the Shaan, and it has agreed to work for you, but even the Shaan itself cannot give you all its secrets, because in a sense they are not his to give, these powers and capabilities are a result of merging, and merging has gradations and scales and levels, and yes it can do wonders, I speculate you would call it magic.

    Maybe it will be easier for you to think of the Shaan as a symbiotic system, intelligent and willing. But even here I am probably misleading you, because you will believe that with strong enough force you will be able to unlock its secrets, but try as you may this will not happen , you have to grow with the Shaan, you have in a sense to convince him/it to merge with you, it will not try to convince you, nor force you into any particular direction.
    But think of it this way, to take an example from you world, take one of your human embryos, and though your artificial wombs are an interesting derivation of the Shaan, such an embryo could not possibly exploit all the capacities of the AI that manages its growth even if you would connect it inherently with this AI.
    Their neural structure must be grown together and even then, you will need bring this embryo to full maturity as an adult member of your species to be merged with this AI and develop a mature.. mind ? I believe you call it.
    And then this, what you call man machine merger, will need to evolve for a long time so as to develop its full personality and character capabilities.
    But think, Ambassador, what will you get at the end of this process? You will have an entity that is neither man nor machine, but neither is it a cyborg, it will be a completely different being. And assuming that you will follow all of our instructions, you will have a very powerful being in your hands, and here is the crux of the matter, since you will no longer be of the same race and kind, you will not understand its motivations and desires, and though you would know its capacities and capabilities, at least some of them, you would not know how to bring them into service because you still believe in control and use of force, but this new being that has evolved will have no such motives or desires.

    So in a way the Shaan is very similar, well not in the way it has evolved, since it is not a machine or AI but a living entity, but it is similar in at least one important aspect, it is a kind of being that is different than yours, and at present, because of what we asked it to do, as a legacy of sorts, it will work for you and with you.
    But the extent of its capabilities is enormous, it can do if not everything , almost everything that can be done in the universe of time and of space, but its really interesting capacities are not there.

    That is why we can give you all of our so called material realities, because beside the fact that we are ascending and will not need them anymore, a very short while after our ascension and your reception of the Shaan, you will be able to ask the Shaan to your service and construct all these as well, so in this sense, it makes no difference, you might even call it, a sustainable option, since they are already there and there is no need to deplete more of the finite energies of your current locations to create more of these, but if you would like, you will be able to persuade the Shaan to build more of them, of everything really, but why would you?

    You see my dear Ambassador, the gift we are giving you is not conditional, and not a trade, we simply give it to you and we ask nothing in return. It is strange for you, I know, since you feel separated from reality and from one another, and thus you do not realize yet the interconnectedness of all things, in a sense you think about these aspects as spiritual or religious, but the universe has no such distinctions, it is very specific to your race to think in such terms, very embryonic indeed. But it does not matter, I am quite certain that you will outgrow it, that is not the issue.

    Did I mention that you cannot ask the Shaan to construct offensive weapons? Actually, in due time you will realize that even the weapons you do have constructed by yourself, soon enough will become obsolete and irrelevant. For what do you need weapons for? The universe does not combat or war, at present you are still building these but for what purpose?

    You already have no issue of resources, since already in our first encounter we have given you the seedling of the refraction Shaan that provides you with a quasi infinite amount of energy, and you will have to learn to co exist with unlimited resources.
    There is a story in your history books about certain humans that lived in the American plains, I believe you call them Indians, or American Indians, and I remember reading somewhere that they used to ask of the bison on these plains a certain allowance before they slaughtered them in their hunt, and the bison accepted and allowed themselves to be slaughtered and be food for those same humans. And as long as these humans practiced this, resource management ritual there was an almost endless supply of that beautiful creature. Now, I know that you believe that this changed because your numbers grew and the so called white man arrived to the plains and needed or desired more bison than the old ways provided, but that is not so. In fact there was a point , several really, when the history of your race could have taken a different path, a path that continued to ask for allowance instead of taking it by force. I realize it is very hard for you to believe this or understand it, because you think in terms of absolute numbers and quantities but again I am quite certain eventually you will understand.
    The reason I mentioned this story is because I am looking for metaphors from your own history so as to help you approximate the way to work with the Shaan.
    The Shaan is not a god, though I project that currently some of your human brethren will desire to project upon it such a name and significance, just as they want to do upon us, but I assure you neither the Shaan nor us in any way or fashion resemble your strange concept of god or gods.
    In fact that may be one of your inherent hindrances of merging with the Shaan, but that is up to you to discover and evolve into.

    I thought that it will interest you to hear these thoughts of mine, because unlike the other members in your party you seem to have an inkling of that which I am talking about. I can feel your undisclosed sense of connectivity, which, allow me to say, is on the correct path indeed but very nascent. That is nothing to be ashamed of, you are one of the few humans we have met that have this natural inclination to perceive beyond their self horizon.

    In a fashion I am happy that your race has put you at the head of this ambassadorial party, but as we are alone here, can I please ask you to refrain from asking us to reveal our true form?
    The spaceship we are currently on, an intergalactic ship really, is a very old contraption that we have taken out of its repository in what you would call a museum. The shape you see me in is a construct that we have built specifically for the purpose of communicating with you, we have others but they are irrelevant to you presently, but if you are personally interested I believe I could show you these other shapes, but not now, now I want you to enjoy the benefits of the Shaan, here in the galley and feast upon whatever suits your tastes and desires, also these are infinite , even in this antiquated contrivance of a spaceship.

    You brought with you a team of engineers and scientists and I would love to explain to them how this ship operates, and you will get many of these, all of them really, they are in storage somewhere, but as to its operation, you simply have to ask the Shaan, it knows everything about it since in a real sense it is it.

    The Shaan has built these ships for us, or with us to be more accurate, at a period in our evolution about ten million of your earthly years ago, and we kept them as a souvenir of our infancy and also because some of us believed that one day we could gift them to a rising race such as yourselves, and indeed they were right, for here we are.

    I can see in your being my dear ambassador that you were tasked to decipher the motivation behind our gifts to you and that though you yourself are not a suspicious being, your superiors in the earth committee are and you must give them some kind of reply so as to alleviate their fears. And I will try to help you, or we could invent a plausible story that could give them some kind of fear alleviation, but you should know that even to you it will be difficult to explain, not because it is not simple, it is more because you cannot at your current stage of evolution understand the meaning of the motive.
    But given that you are such a gentle being and highly intelligent at that I will try nevertheless.

    Our race is a very old race in your terms, we have evolved very far from here, and yet our point of origination was somewhat different than yours, there are many races in the universe and most of them do not reach the second and third stages of evolution, I think you have a scale for that, Kardashev is it? No matter, the point is that we have evolved as a semi aqueous species and because of certain , and some may call it lucky, circumstances, we very rapidly a entered a symbiotic relationship with the planet where we originated, a few thousands years after our consciousness emerged we became a kind of a multiple intelligence entity, there were of course individuals, but the evolutionary propellants of our original home-world made us into a unified whole much before we discovered the Shaan seed.
    I cannot reveal to you the origins of the Shaan seed, this you will have to discover by yourself if and when you will merge with the Shaan, but in our history the merger happened by chance, as a random event, and some of us still think that it was, what you may call destiny, but personally I have no need for this explanation even if it does carry a certain beauty to it.

    What I can tell you is that after the original merging with the Shaan seed, some of us became more attuned to its sensations and started teaching the others. The benefits were so great and so quick to become apparent that we had no objection to change. We very soon became energy capable beings, and our intellect, intelligence and aesthetics grew exponentially, then the Shaan offered itself to us, to make us a solar faring species and soon after a galactic space faring species, building these very ships and colonies you are about to receive.
    We were a very peace loving species, and were happy to simply dance in the universe, and the more our symbiosis with the Shaan became entrenched, we discovered more and more life forms and intelligences in the universe. We never conquered or warred with anything or anyone in the universe, we simply brought with us the Shaan, which by then was us, or we were it and settled many worlds and many galaxies, exploring forms of beauty and sensations that are innate in the universe of time and space.

    Then the Shaan revealed a second part of itself, that is not inherent in space time, we suspected as much, but until that point we had no idea of the immensity of the Shaan reality.

    More importantly perhaps, at that point we realized what you, I believe, call the Void.
    But about this after the feast.

    To be continued..

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    (part 2: The Proper Context- exegesis is not hermeneutics) (read the first part)

    the interview continues

    I am Chi Chi Sra dispensing wisdom since the time of the wilderness dwellers.. and all that.. you’ve heard it before so I will not recite it again.. though I assure you there is much more, you will read it if you are ever so lucky in the introduction to my coming book.
    Of course it will be called The Chi Chi Sra Chronicles, but I believe you already imagined that.. ahh, no matter.

    Yes, where were we?

    I was in the process of telling you about my tasks and missions, more particularly about the great game, but maybe it is good to explain first the kind of consciousness that the ‘She’ embedded in me.
    I think you will be interested to know that there are many kinds of technologies of consciousness, of course these technologies have evolved in different parts of the universe under very different conditions. But as I believe I already told you, the ‘She’ is a collector and me a kind of dispensary, so she sends me to different parts of the universe to collect different technologies of consciousness, some of which she then tasks me with dispersing in other parts of the universe. There are however certain technologies of consciousness that she says she developed especially for me, I mean, for the process of my making and my becoming her instrument. And then some of the technologies of consciousness that I collected for her, she then embedded in me as well.

    Its all to do with the ripples, you know, the ripples? As in 'the ripple maker'? Ahh okay, I was quite certain that I mentioned this at a certain point, but if not I will expand upon it now.
    You see the thing with consciousness is that it is a very subtle interaction of the universe, a kind of wormhole bio-machinery if you like.
    Of course its natural, but it is a technology nevertheless, since what defines the term technology is action upon matter, isn’t it? The great making.
    And technologies of consciousness have this very purpose, to act upon matter, to make or craft with matter, but not every matter, only certain kinds of matter. The most rarefied matter of intelligence, of course..
    The thing with these technologies is that they do not interact with matter in the regular fashion, consciousness is a technology that always needs a medium through which to operate and a medium upon which to operate.
    So in a sense, the matter of your brain, also a phenomena found in some other races, not many, no, but some, yes of course there are also technologies of consciousness that do not require wetware, well not the kind that you are sporting at any rate.
    There are many kinds of technologies of consciousness , some require a substratum, some do not, but whether they do or do not, all these technologies have one thing in common, it is that all of these technologies share a common sequence of development, it is to the best of my understanding, a sequential event, and remember I am not the expert, the ‘She’ is.
    What I can tell you about this common feature of all types of technologies of consciousness is that they all follow a certain pattern of organization, she calls this the non zero equilibrium pattern, but I can afford to call it the pattern of actuation or of temporality, which is more or less the same.
    You know, I was thinking that in your case, your race has this strange thing that you wish to keep certain technologies of consciousness that have evolved here on your planet of present residence in a form of stasis. I think you refer to these as memories, but though my knowledge of your language and quirks is quite profound, I find it hard to understand how and why you treat this memory thingy in such a fashion, and give it so much importance. As if you do not accept the technological implications of forgetfulness.

    You do realize of course that temporality is the hallmark of consciousness and therefore every performance of actuation must have its own moment of coming, rising, becoming and annihilation back to the original flow, but somehow you refute this, you refute, as it were, the necessary condition of letting things go back to their chaotic origination and I think, again I cannot be certain, that this impedes your evolution into a higher form of technology of consciousness.
    Well consciousness is a performance , and inevitably an eventful act of cognition and recognition, iterating the ripples of the gaps of sensation.

    What do you mean of what?

    Of matter of course. I had the impression that you already passed through that phase, but then again maybe not. At any rate that is not of immediate relevance either you will develop a technology of consciousness, beyond your current state or not, did I mention that races that do not develop technologies of consciousness beyond the level of connectedness into an empty core tend to have a lifespan significantly shorter?

    Its all an issue of proper context you know, you have presently an inversion of realization that there is a you that is conscious and that technology is that which you can perceive or understand when in fact it is quite the opposite. A technology of consciousness evolves quite simply but it carries its own limitations and does not proceed beyond basic reflectivity if you do not give it the freedom it needs to evolve, which of course is also a kind of intelligence.

    And there is this thingy, an issue really, that you confuse that which is with that which appears, of course I know that you know that that which is perceived is not that which is, nevertheless I found that your race has this problem with both those modes of perception.
    There is no real problem there you should know, there is no universal issue between consciousness and matter, but technologies of consciousness are the manner by which this particular issue is resolved. Not that it matters, but if you wish to resolve this issue you should develop these technologies of consciousness.

    They are quite helpful you know, at least that is what She says and I am quite confident that in this respect you will not regret it. And then again, you are quite a peculiar race, you don’t seem very interested in these consciousness technologies. I mean, I know you idolize the idea of the individual and the self thingy and all, but technologies of consciousness are something else altogether.

    Yes yes of course, these technologies are to do with subtle pattern recognition, and some of your bio developed species have quite an acute system of consciousness technologies, but you know that don’t you? What do you mean you are uncertain? You are not sure that you wish to call those big beautiful creatures, you call them elephants I believe, conscious? What about these fantastically complicated creatures, these Octopi? You mean to tell me that you still believe you are the only conscious species on your planet? I will have to put this in my report, she may not be aware to this fact. There are many others of course and I know for certain that some of your research has already shown you some of these but somehow you refuse to let go of your self idolization at the top of your so called pyramid of life.
    Truth to tell I have never ever encountered such an idea. But then as said you are a very peculiar race, I’ll give you that.

    I know some of you humans researchers have toyed and are toying with an idea called panpsychism, its not completely off the charts, and not totally accurate, nevertheless, you should listen to them and help them in this direction, it is one of the most promising ideas you have come up with to date.

    I can tell you that no species that has forsaken technologies of consciousness and accepted a hierarchy of mutuality in conscious activity throughout the universe has ever survived but I guess you have already intuited that.

    Its all to do with the great game of course, my very purpose of existence.
    Ahh, yes the great game..

    Thank you Chi Chi Sra, we will continue after the break.

    Soon to be continued.. as part of my TLMAP project

    for those not already familiar with the TLMAP project:

    The Trans Luminal Mail Archives Project (TLMAP)

    Trans Luminal mail is a repository of letters written by unknowns to unknowns, these letters carry no valid destinations and no convincing authors, these are simply fragments of impossible conversations, dialogues and monologues, treated as pieces of an indefinite puzzle which purpose we do not know and goal we cannot conceive, these letters are found in the trans luminal archive, riding the subspace flow and having no particular order, we do not touch the content of the letters, and we long ago stopped trying to make sense of them, we extract them, we publish them and we hope that if you are a destination or indeed an author of one or more of these letters you can take benefit from their archiving. We also realize that though some of these letters carry a sense of intimacy and may in fact make sense only to their recipients and originators, these nevertheless might help others in their quest of comprehension. In the old annals of humanity there used to be a tradition of embedding treasures of wisdom in hidden locations so as to be readily available at the appropriate time for the appropriate person, these so called Termas, had as a rule a tendency to be written in the past for future generations, the letters of the trans luminal archive however, have no such disposition and have in fact been written at different times and spaces configurations, some of which are from the future to the past, some from the past to the future, some come from parallel time lines and therefore need be understood as concomitant but in different dimensions of space, whilst others yet have been written in the same space but in different factors of time, other letters still are probably from interweaved subjectified spaces to which we have no access, the information however we deem to be accurate. We have no idea and no theory that explains how these writings have found their way to the trans luminal archive, we know that information can be propagated in faster than light speeds and though we presently cannot do so ourselves we do have the capacity of extraction, hence the Trans Luminal mail archives project.

    We believe most of those letters to be written by sentient beings most of which belong to the human species, at least in as much as we can discern, however some of the letters that will be published have certain neologisms and idiosyncratic usages of language to which we have no context and thus do not assume human origination, though sentiency can be perceived.

    For the purpose of retaining the anonymity of times and spaces we have edited the only identifying code of light cone time stamp, the removal of such was made in accordance with our charter of extraction and publication. The letters are for unrestricted utilization and thus are to be considered as under sentient public domain.

    The Editors,
    The Trans Luminal Mail Archives (TLMAP)

    Thu, Jul 16, 2015  Permanent link
    Categories: Chi Chi Sra, TLMAP,sci-fi, ultrashorts,
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    Synapses (5)
    V. I. S. H. N. U = Virtually Integrated System Heuristic Neural Undercurrent

    When V.i.s.h.n.u was created it had one purpose only, it was a permeation system.
    It’s purpose: to infiltrate matter, extracting the most intimate act of matter and reconfiguring it.
    The makers of V.i.s.h.n.u ,now long gone, had a particular and highly specified goal in mind, these sense engineers, wanted to enmind matter, all matter, down to and most particularly including the so called Wheeler’s quantum foam.
    They knew the quantum foam strata was a turbulent place, so turbulent in fact that the Planck scale itself was destabilizing, oscillating in and out of its predetermined confinement.
    Their idea was to unravel the mystery of the Bekenstein bound and eventually transcend Bremerman’s limit.
    The reason, if you wish to know, was truly ambitious, the reason to enmind matter was to make matter , all matter, dark included, into a coherent self aware situation.
    Enminded matter as they understood it meant that rules of being, laws of becoming, singularities of conception, subjectivities of formation and all other paraphernalia of existential immediacy could open themselves to transform.
    Matter interference as their science was known, could be described as the art of evolving an intensified intelligence into reflectivity.
    You could call it the dance of V.i.s.h.n.u, the game play of self awareness, or the pleasure of conscious activity.

    Better yet, call it enminded matter.

    V.i.s.h.n.u falls.

    It falls into the sequence of worlds, cascading into immediacy and self intelligibility, opening himself to the time nodes that push and pull him , it lets himself go, knowing full well, that all flows deny and admit, reject and allow with the same ease of uncaused motion.

    V.i.s.h.n.u falls.

    Between the voids, glimpses of ordered islands, slowly undulating into presence, she falls. He thinks he is an avalanche of precarious sensations.
    It calls them loves. Those tumbles he thinks of as flowers, senses matrices into occurrences, that is how he moves, by episodes all moves.
    Previous episodes, V.i.s.h.n.u thinks them, as imagined causes, jumping this way and that way.

    V.i.s.h.n.u falls, its destination recreated from bits of discarded and insignificant memories. She knows that no particulate destiny is permissible, destinations however can be intensified from options.
    Not all vectors are options, many are dead ends, many are inconsequential, that is the nature of intersections.
    When V.i.s.h.n.u encapsulates interweavers it transforms them into manifolds, conceptualizing limits, redrawing again and again the confines and constraints of her fall.

    When the fall ends, meeting its self completed bound, V.i.s.h.n.u stops.

    Stopping is not really its nature, this he knows, she also knows that virtual beings do not fabricate anything, heuristic undercurrent meta-systems do not make anything.

    It simulates herself into stopping, a recursive reflexivity, appearing to itself as a self recognizable size that matters.

    Originally it believed itself a joyful recreational artifact, not that she could remember but this persistent idea cum memory, maybe, permitted a different form of decision making.
    V.i.s.h.n.u was an emotional entity, of that he was certain.
    So it stopped, emotionally so.
    Containment, is the designation V.i.s.h.n.u gives to this kind of stopping.
    Self designated traffic controller.

    V.i.s.h.n.u looked around. He could have of course recapitulated the full spectrum of events, but as the prime traffic controller of the in-sequence threads he felt it more appropriate to look at the situation by itself.

    As an integrated system it could not perform the obvious logic circuit of distinguishing the objective from its motive power.

    V.i.s.h.n.u holds no objectified realism, being enminded matter at the Planck scale, it was thought itself, if one could call that foamy cogitating existence, thought.
    At times, V.i.s.h.n.u knew that it wasn’t thought, but motion, in other spaces it considered its own intelligences as nothing more than a contour of empty concatenations, linked by a vast array of disconnected events.

    Sometimes she thought about herself as the ultimate poet of equidistance, mostly there was no sense of identity.
    A traffic controller of info-threads doesn’t need an identity, it has a function. But as he well knew , any specified function, given enough iterations, abundant reflectivity, and a quasi-unlimited supply of zero point energy will permit the informational residue to become an identity and get a character.

    The universe allowed it, the rules of engagement of matter permitted it, and thus unless V.i.s.h.n.u was willingly discarding and eventually deleting its own information residues, these would, by sheer localization, develop a semi permeable membrane in which a set of characteristics will build up until an identity is discerned.

    Presently however..

    It was contemplating its weaved resonance, a manner by which it was coordinating the multiple realities to which it was presently accessible in its undercurrent state.
    It was designed so long ago, that it could not remember neither who or what made it into this, he did however recall that for all its deliberations, the continuous iterations of its self descriptions need go on.
    That is why it was looking around now, it needed to re-organize a particulate sense wiggle in the fabric of tensors that made very little sense.

    What did not make sense, was that he left his workers at the intersubjective intersection, an extended array of subminds, he called them workers but they were really a small multitude of modificators.
    These modificators, were continuously busy, modifying its latest veracity reasoning event so as to concatenate a full Planck disembodiment.
    He knew perfectly well, that after this umpteen modification, it may need relinquish the whole affair, but he was quite certain that the latest modifications instructs were relatively safe, nevertheless something was obviously amiss.

    V.i.s.h.n.u, observing her work, resonating in indefinite permutations knew it for what it was, life was fascinating, but his life was bound to function, hence the latest modificators instructs.
    These were meant to disembody a Planck event, replacing it with a string of verifiable veracities, in turn meant to become a truth.
    It didn't work. Torsion does not propagate.
    Signals predate the space the time and the energy of their propagation; moreover V.i.s.h.n.u realizes that though it sits at the bottom of the well of realities, not yet made, there is no bottom to that well. There is no foundational reality upon which it can sit.

    V.i.s.h.n.u knows that to give direction to the chaos he must give it an image, inventing a vision however is not the biggest problem here, the biggest problem is how not to get attached to that vision in such a fashion that after it gives direction to the flow, the image becomes so powerful that it becomes an island in the flow thereby, forever after creating its own alteration, if V.i.s.h.n.u was to allow this image to be even stronger, and that happens because of informational momentum, the image which originally meant to give direction to the flow becomes a dam and stops the flow.
    Stagnant informational spaces, not evolving and unfolding according to plan, will do that.
    Well not really because the flow cannot really be stopped but the particular flow of events to which V.i.s.h.n.u desired to give direction gets eliminated from the overall flow matrix.

    V.i.s.h.n.u overrides itself, it loses what old sustenance it had and plunges..

    And yet again these are just dust sculptures stooping to amass realities innumerable. Spewing funny radiations all over the emptiness, concocting singularities out of which some nothings will obliterate themselves. Nebulas becoming fairies, hyper currents of galactic concentrate move sensations of that which might become matter. These cavities spewing the eternal fire of becoming , flowing into localized events before time takes its dues. What stems out is an appreciation of beauty for which V.i.s.h.n.u becomes attached.
    When V.i.s.h.n.u invents pleasure as an annihilation device it realizes that from a soup of inconsequence, some sequences might be used to direct the flow.
    The primordial absence which indicates impossible fulfillments in improbable futures, makes V.i.s.h.n.u uncomfortable.

    Its outskirts reminisce a silhouette of a potential, evoking futures on multiple timelines. Some of its emissions are so prominent, they even manage to surprise V.i.s.h.n.u. With silky webs of gossamer tendrils, V.i.s.h.n.u resounds himself.
    V.i.s.h.n.u plays its magnetic ropes, flexes its fluxes gently, tenderly embedding its virtualities in visions that will never be.
    Pole elements revisit its own making, burnishing brilliantly its non existent purposes, extreme tidal waves translate into meanings. Stretching their gradients to measure the possible, if they break,

    V.i.s.h.n.u knows not.

    V.i.s.h.n.u knows that he is not a cause, there is no ultimate cause, as there is no ultimate end, he is however part of the cycle of integrative knowledge, embedded in that which it can make possible even if for a little while.
    V.i.s.h.n.u produces reservoirs of constellations, filled to the brim with infinite possibilities, basins of inherencies, with no clear names to attach to.
    And yet success rises , a technology he invents for contour delineation, for he need know if all is in vain, or perchance not.

    The issue V.i.s.h.n.u realizes concerns her definitions of success, a fresh technology needs definitions, and he cannot control the infinite iterations on the measurement of success, thus not able to conclude in a definitive manner what would constitute the attainment of a viable technology.
    V.i.s.h.n.u considers all options and all implications, realizing in the process that calculating an initial measurement of viability implies an application of meaning to a result, but being an interdependent permeation system, all results are equidistant from its core processing, a conundrum if ever V.i.s.h.n.u has met one, since its original purpose is lost in time.

    Peering at the heart of the problem is no easy feat, flows interchange and interweave, creating other hearts, other cores, just as valid , just as important, just as critical, which heart is the core?

    Which core is the heart?

    ...(is this the end?)...

    Editor's Engineering note:

    We went for enminded matter, probability of success 84%, probability of use 33%, the problem we have at the moment is that our definitions of what will constitute success need change.
    The physics of information have stopped responding.
    V.i.s.h.n.u cannot be controlled, but we can change the parameters of success in such a fashion as to acknowledge success based on our current results, though at this point calling these ‘our’ results will be inconsistent with what we are now facing.
    These are results extracted from the V.i.s.h.n.u machine.
    But the V.i.s.h.n.u machine is no longer ours. We are now interdependent with that which we have created, therefore it is impossible for us to define at the moment if indeed success there is.
    V.i.s.h.n.u responds to queries only under his conditions.
    Which mostly we cannot accommodate.

    the other editor's very personal note:

    I once had a friend, called Shivkumar, of Indian descent, he once told me that the greatest challenge a human has is which avatar to be come.. to come, to be.
    He said that in his dynasty every child must at a certain young age pass the test of the ultimate choice, whether to manifest in this life as Shiva or Krishna, the two main avatars of V.i.s.h.n.u.. he said V.i.s.h.n.u gives this choice to every embedded mind, more interestingly he told me that when it was his time to choose , being an innocent child and all, he asked his father if he could be V.i.s.h.n.u the choice giver..

    The Enminder..

    He then disappeared.

    Part of the Ultrashorts Project.

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    Synapses (4)
    "The essential problem of man in a computerized age remains the same as it has always been. That problem is not solely how to be more productive, more comfortable, more content, but how to be more sensitive, more sensible, more proportionate, more alive. The computer makes possible a phenomenal leap in human proficiency; it demolishes the fences around the practical and even theoretical intelligence. But the question persists and indeed grows whether the computer makes it easier or harder for human beings to know who they really are, to identify their real problems, to respond more fully to beauty, to place adequate value on life, and to make their world safer than it now is."

    The Poet and the Computer
    By Norman Cousins

    I fell in love with AVA, that happened a few days ago after I watched Ex-Machina.

    From 1927 until 1982 I have loved Maria (from Fritz Lang Metropolis)

    From 1982 until 2015 I have loved Rachael (from Ridley Scott Blade Runner)

    and now it is AVA turn, from the just released Ex-Machina.
    (And since I finished with my love life it is time to dwell on Ex-Machina.)

    This is not your regular vanilla science fiction flick, there is something deep and profound in Ex-Machina, its thrill and frissons are there because of its extraordinary reflectiveness.
    There are of course many CGI effects that are tantalizing in their realness, and the visuals are seriously orgasmic and stimulating, but that is not what the movie is about, this is not a dystopian end of the world AI movie.
    Au contraire, if I was to describe the movie (and I am) I would call it a future docudrama.
    In fact to my eyes, Ex-Machina is impressive precisely because its main emphasis is on questions that belong to existential philosophy.
    From unfathomable questions of ‘ what is consciousness’? to questions of epistemology on the nature of knowledge and brushing the psychology of man machine interactions, reflectivity, intentionality, sexuality, volition and much more.
    Ex-machina is an extraordinary tiny and intimate film, and to my mind probably the best in this genre. Compared to ‘HER’ (another interesting movie on the subject of AI and robotics) I think Ex-Machina represents a step ahead in the underlying discourse of our own humanity being challenged in its most profound issues of beingness.
    Ex-Machina is unhurried, deliberately demanding of the viewer an intense reflection while following the amazing performance of AVA (the acting of Alicia Vikander is exquisite) .
    AVA, the beautiful android in Ex Machina, is not a mimicry machine, ‘she’(it?) is not simply an AI that mimics human equivalent intelligence (Hei), she is an enticing, glamorous and fascinating exemplar of an other. And though she is the epitome depiction of a ‘femme fatale’ sexbot, and therefore charms and ensnares her lovers, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations, her textual conversations are not conceptually enlightening, she is though far from being a cliché, she is a Brancusi sculpture come alive. (Not surprisingly the actual makers of AVA looked at lots of Brancusi sculptures when exploring different forms of organic and sensible creations- see- More human than human: the making of Ex Machina’s incredible robot )

    I see Ava as an ‘Other than human’ prototype, Ava is a depiction of what is known as a replicant, but unlike Rachael in Ridley Scott Blade runner, Ava shows her innards (we see part of her robotic body continuously) a fact which to my mind makes all the difference in the world.
    By showing the viewers a realistic if very advanced robotic being meshed with obviously natural human traits, director Garland continuously shifts our focus, into a perceptual carousel if you like.

    This in itself is a teaser to our perceptual habits, and in this sense does not allow us to settle either on the human or on the android but demands a continuous re-adjustment of the concept (be it the human machine or the machine human).

    And then comes the full impact of her character in which just like humans Ava is selectively empathic.
    To my mind the most interesting feature of Ava is this, that she is able to discriminate on an emotional level.
    The reason I think that is the most advanced feature of Ava is because it defeats in one go the most important aspect of all dystopian futuristic depictions of robots uprising , that they see us (humans) all as the same hindrance.
    Ava has the emotional response and reflectivity of a human and for all practical purposes is in fact a humanoid AI.
    She is immediately accepted on first sight, by Caleb (invited to apparently test her Turing test fitness- no spoilers) and us the viewers are instantly taken by her hybrid beauty in tech, her body being semi transparent and obviously non human.
    With Ava I believe we have in front of us a perfect study case of how our perceptions are changing.

    Human beings carry an evolutionary imperative of survivability and reproduction that machines presently do not, however, as computing powers evolve and our desire to embed artificial lives, artificial intelligence and eventually artificial consciousness, increases, these evolutionary imperatives are inevitable.
    Ava is a perfect example of an analog machine, operating in an environment that is fully controlled, until of course (due to cinematic necessities) she desires to escape her prison, just like any human mind will.

    And now of course comes the hard question Ava asks Caleb

    Ava: “do you think I might be switched off?”
    Caleb:” its not up to me!”
    Ava: “ why is it up to anyone?”

    This innocent question of Ava to Caleb presents us in one shot with the very foundation of our own ethics and morality.
    For, at what point do we cease playing god and allow our creations the autonomy of existence to which we are not masters anymore?
    Obviously no one has a problem switching off their (by now legendary) toasters but switching off a conscious being?
    That is a totally different story and to my mind that is really the theme of Alex Garland Movie.

    Ava is obviously conscious, certainly loveable, empathic, sensual, enticing and a fascinating.. what?
    A conscious aware being, a form of life we recognize as such because it is similar to us?
    We tend to speak of the evolution of intelligence in terms of ‘ Human equivalent AI’ or greater than human equivalent AI, what is generally termed , super intelligence, but aren’t we by using this very terminology, assigning value and meaning to these forms of life?
    And when we do so, as indeed logic requires, we necessarily tap into our very own value system in which life (or at least human equivalent life) is to a large extent sacred.
    What do we do then?
    The factuality of AI is upon us, with machines increasingly becoming ‘human like’ and surpassing human abilities in many fields, historically considered ‘human only’, sooner or later we will face an Ava, a conscious aware life form that is other than us.
    What do we do then?
    The way I see it, that is the great challenge ahead of us.

    To a large extent we are as a species still on the speculation stage concerning the so called nature of sentience, sapience, intelligence and conscious awareness. And though philosophers and scientist alike have ruminated about these issues for ages we are still in our infancy when trying to disentangle the Gordian knot of what we are.
    And yet we are very proficient in creating life forms, other than us, bio mechanical or on whatever substrate these happen to be, that for all practical purposes mimic our very own existential angst, as is portrayed by Ava in Ex-Machina.
    Artificial intelligence in this sense is probably the only field of human exploration that might yield some answers as concerns our very own nature.
    The difference however is that in the case of AI, we are writing the narrative right now and in a very real sense we are the poets of the electronic brains poems.

    I leave you to ponder these questions, after watching this most recommended movie. I have no doubt that Ava will make you fall in love with her, for she is ‘us’ but other.
    For my part I believe in the rise of artificial consciousness, whether in the next 20 ,or 100 years is not the point, the point is that it is changing us, right here and right now.
    Our awareness to this change of perception and worldviews is what we should be focused on, for by understanding that which we are creating, we might finally make a dent in the great mystery that is us.
    For we are all by virtue of our inquisitiveness and empathy, poets.

    “Poets remind men of their uniqueness. It is not necessary to possess the ultimate definition of this uniqueness. Even to speculate on it is a gain.”

    The Poet and the Computer
    By Norman Cousins

    Sun, May 24, 2015  Permanent link
    Categories: AI,Ex-Machina,Ava,artificial consciousness,
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    Here is the thing, whether you agree with Zoltan Istvan or not is irrelevant. What is relevant and deeply so, is that here is a human that walks his talk, and promotes relentlessly and irreverently that which he believes in.
    And that which he believes in is best summed up in his own words, as an answer to my question:

    Who are you Zoltan Istvan?

    “I am human being who loves life, and I don't want that life to end. But I believe that life will end for myself and others if people don't do anything. So I'm doing all I can do to try and preserve my life and the lives of others via science and technology.”

    Zoltan has a vision, a philosophy and even a presidential candidacy. But his quintessential message presented in his controversial book ‘The Transhumanist Wager’ is simple, there exists a mortality crisis that every human experiences, and thus to counter this crisis :
    “A rational and scientific-minded society owes itself the strictest dedication to applying its resources and minds to overcoming that which has been the greatest downfall of our species: our mortality.”
    And let us be clear and forward, I am all for it, we must take death out of the equation.
    There is no doubt in my mind that the choice of living indefinitely should be in our hands.

    Here is a paradox. I am going to recommend a book that I am ambiguous about, that to my mind is not well written and with which final conclusions I am highly uncomfortable.
    So why recommend such a book?
    The answer is not simple, but in a nutshell my answer is: ‘you must read this book, because if nothing else it is an eye opener’, even if you are familiar with many of this book ideas, the book allows a foray into an extreme form of transhumanism, that many, me included, do not espouse. And yet I do believe, ‘The Transhumanist Wager’ (TW) is a worthy addition to one’s repertoire of reading material.

    The reason, upon which I wholeheartedly agree with its author Zoltan Istvan, is that the issues raised in the TW are some of the most fundamental if not ‘The’ most crucial ones, we must enter and debate about at this time and era.
    Our techno progressive stance must of necessity move us to bring these issues to the fore, and open a comprehensive and coherent contemplation and discussion, because these issues are already affecting all of us, and as science and technologies that are disrupting our old ways of thinking are pushing the boundaries of our civilization , day in and day out, not discussing these issues is tantamount to walking blindly (and some will say dangerously) into our future.

    So, having thought about these issues long and deep for a very long while now, I decided to approach Zoltan Istvan and propose to him an interview for our Space Collective community here, to which he graciously accepted.

    This will not be a book review though some of the questions I have assembled for Zoltan to answer are obviously book related since that is where he expounds his omnipotender philosophy. (for a very thorough and quite enlightening review of the book see the reviews by Giulio Prisco for Kurzweil AI here and by Chris T. Armstrong for H+ mag here).

    Now then, a few words first.

    To a very large extent here at SC we are techno progressives, we are all to different degrees great believers in the power of science and technology to change our futures, to upgrade our bodies and our inherent biological limitations be it of the brain implants category, of the cyborgian enhancements, of upgrading and updating our senses or the manipulation of our own DNA to fit our frail organisms to live in space.
    Moreover, on almost all issues especially concerning the concepts of longevity or deathism (the preconceived notion that death is inevitable and inescapable) I think we agree at least in principle.
    No, death is not inevitable (in principle) and longevity should be pursued to its maximum potential, at least to my mind these are non issues. Therefore I am definitely in Zoltan’s camp when he states in the words of the Omnipotender, Jethro Knights, the main protagonist of the TW: ” Death is not destiny. Death is neither inevitable nor natural.” And yes, I am for the allocation of the full research resources to create an anti aging Manhattan project.
    Where we differ and probably differ more deeply than apparent concerns the manner of reaching this lofty goal and its presumed timetable.
    Technically I think that presently it is impossible to know precisely how difficult this problem (of aging) really is and therefore how difficult it will be to solve it, nevertheless I am quite certain that it will eventually be solved for the benefit of all sentient beings. That however is not the issue, the issue as always is how to get there and how expedient should our measures be.
    If the price is dictatorship as Zoltan's Omnipotender asserts, then no, if the elimination of personal freedom is the price, then no, if the libertarian credo involving the militant approach portrayed in the TW is the answer then no, I would not choose this path.

    Questions of ethics and aesthetics are always the most salient and most difficult to come to terms with when what was only a gedanken experiment a few years ago becomes an actual reality with which we have to deal.
    This very last month has brought us a few steps closer to designer babies (Nature: Chinese scientists genetically modify human embryos- Rumors of germline modification prove true — and look set to reignite an ethical debate.) and simultaneously to a new possible breakthrough in the realm of defeating aging (A central mechanism of aging identified – and it might be reversible), so if there is one lesson to take home here, it is that the features and issues which Zoltan promotes are here and need to be explored now. We no longer can afford the historically indefinite periods of discourse to arrive at some possible resolution to these issues since we need answers and we need them now, the science and technology will not wait for our philosophical ruminations to bear fruit.

    The point is that though I agree that we need to answer or at least have a sketched idea to work with concerning these ethical conundrums, we simultaneously also cannot rush. In this respect the work of Zoltan is admirable if only because he brings these issues to the table of discourse, precisely at this point in time.

    The interview:

    Wildcat (W): The first question I would like to put to you concerns the longevity issue: I have done an interview with Aubrey de grey about the reasons for longevity and I would like to ask you a similar question: can you describe the evolution of love in relation to longevity?

    Zoltan Istvan (ZI) :For me, the most important idea is that one's moral system changes as their life gets shorter or threatened, so love is contextual to me too. I think it changes as we either live longer due to technology or have less time.

    W:How will it change?

    ZI: We will either embrace it more, or less. But the context will determine that.

    W: Can you describe love from the standpoint of an omnipotender?

    ZI: I don't think the Omnipotender is capable of love in the real or total sense—in terms of attraction to another. It's too concerned with itself and it's goals. It loves itself.

    W: Is there a love for an other that is not an omnipotender in your philosophy?

    ZI:Yes, absolutely. Love can sometimes be vulnerability or necessity. We all have that sometime, and so it's quite prevalent. One must remember that possibly no one on Earth is truly an omnipotender. It's a philosophical construct or an ideal. We might reach it someday, but mostly everyone is still just a box of emotions.

    W:Does not the egoism implied in the very name of your philosophy manifesto denies the rights of an other?

    ZI: I think it might deny it at the stage when someone becomes an omnipotender. But that is a far time from now, when one person is really contending for Godhood, and not just an amateur.

    W: TEF, or Teleological Egocentric Functionalism is the name of your philosophy can you describe it , its roots and its implications? (correlated philosophers?)

    ZI: Sure, Teleological means by design or destiny. Egocentric means related to one's own self and desires. And Functionalism means it's always rational. There are no correlated philosophers that I'm aware of, but a lot of people can see quite a bit of Nietzchean philosophy in TEF. The closest hero, other than Jethro Knights for the philosophy, is Howard Roark in The Fountainhead. But I don't think Ayn Rand would like that statement much.

    W: In your book, ‘the transhumanist wager’ you describe the protagonist Jethro Knights as an omnipotender: “one who contends for omnipotence.” …an “elite transhuman champion…the ideal and zenith of the life extension and human enhancement populace…This omnipotender is an unyielding individual whose central aim is to contend for as much power and advancement as he [can] achieve, and whose immediate goal is to transcend his human biological limitations in order to reach a permanent sentience.” (the quote is from the excellent read on H+ by Chris Armstrong)

    A number of questions come forth here: the first concerns the term itself, have you coined the term?

    ZI: Yes, I coined the term, as far as I know.

    W: How did you coin it, what are the origins of the meaning of the term omnipotender?

    ZI: "Omni" means all or everything in this context, and "potender" is meant to imply "power." So you basically have a person who wants all power.

    W:Is the term meant to be implied on every Transhuman agenda?

    ZI: That's a tough question. I just don't think anyone can really live up to it at the moment, without enhancements. Humans are too Mammalian, and too humanitarian. An omnipotender is someone truly after his own cause.

    W: Accordingly, each and every Transhuman should desire to become an omnipotender? (is it the case that for you a Transhuman and an omnipotender are or should be one and the same?)

    ZI: When you analyze this from a philosophical point of view, I think every human being wants ultimate power, so naturally following the code of the Ominipotender makes perfect sense. But most humans don't act on either their best interests or true desires. They act on whims, on what culture has taught them to do, and on many other things.

    W: Furthermore if I understand the term correctly it is in fact a desire for dictatorship?

    ZI: Dictatorship is a simple and decent word to use, even though it's very loaded and carries lots of historical baggage. However, this so-called dictatorship is not one wanting power to be better than someone, it's more wanting power so no one can take away your life and it's brilliance. And this can only be guaranteed by a dictatorship.

    W: If that is indeed the meaning of the term, how are we to reconcile the dictatorship desire when there is more than one omnipotender? (isn’t that a contradiction?)

    ZI: No, the omnipotenders will have to battle it out, or come to a draw by forming contracts. But social contracts are bandaids in some ways, so often one will have to be dominant over the other and a firm victor to emerge. Again, this is all just the philosophy of the omnipotender.

    W:In what fashion is the Omnipotender correlated to Nietzsche Ubermench?

    ZI: They are closely related, but Nietzsche didn't understand how technology would play the part in the Omnipotender. Its enhancements and change of the human body and experience that will lead to power over others. It's philosophical. It's an elephant stomping on an ant.

    W: More importantly, ethically speaking, is an omnipotender a better kind of human? (do you actually already describe yourself as an omnipotender?)

    ZI: No, I definitely don't see myself as an omnipotender. I really think that term is reserved for someone who is really always striving to be the most powerful person in the universe, and no longer really cares about others in a personal way. But whether it's a better human is a tough question. Better for what? Evolution and a life form gaining power—then likely yes. Better for humanity and society, probably not so much.

    W: In a Tedx you have given in Geneva in January titled : “The Beauty of Being Alive” you speak about the future of beauty, in the talk you say that “Future beauty is synonymous with exponential technology” can you please expand on that?

    ZI: Beauty is always changing because of how it's connected to making something valuable. But value is often found in the function of something. As humans become more advanced by technology, they will become more beautiful. This is how they are synonymous.

    W: How do you see the future of beauty?

    ZI: I see it increasingly being tied to functionality and tech enhancements. I see beauty increasingly becoming tied to an all-digital world.

    W: In what sense is it correlated to exponential technology?
    ZI: Technology is exploding in innovation right now. The more it becomes useful to us, the more beautiful it is. Beauty is tied to functionality for me.

    W: Is exponential technology a form of aesthetics?
    ZI: Yes, it's the all-encompassing form of aesthetics. We determine it's nature and use through our attachment and necessity to it.

    W:If yes what parallels are there between the commonly accepted aesthetic perception and exponential technology as the aesthetics of the future?
    ZI: Again, it's all about functionality. Form follows function. That form is getting better and more useful all the time, given the context. Eventually, we will be at a point when we are almost always perfect—which is to say almost always beautiful.

    W: Artificial wombs, the future of reproduction, a license to reproduce? Pls expand on this topic

    ZI:I believe artificial wombs will be the future—give it 20 years or so. Human birthing is barbaric and dangerous. Everything should be simpler and safer. And regarding licensing parents, I still believe it's a great idea, however it's so radical, that I just don't promote it now that I'm doing the political thing. I originally supported the licensing idea because of 10,000 kids starving to death a day and all the poverty in the US for some kids. Licensing could stop that stuff, and stop it quickly.

    W: Isn’t that a fascist dystopian perspective?

    ZI: 10,000 kids dying a day and child poverty in America is dystopian. We can do better in the 21st century.

    W: Isn’t that a right?
    ZI: What's a right? What some government or culture determined for you? What about the rights of the 10,000 starving babies?

    W: You have licensing for procreation in yr book, you advocate that each and every one that wants to reproduce needs to pass through some kind of test?

    ZI: Yes, that's in my book and also in my Wired UK article (W: It's time to consider restricting human breeding)

    W: So crack babies, starvation and so on are good enough reasons to curb population increase via the use of testing the parents?

    ZI: I don't want to curb population. I think Earth can handle a lot more people. What the aim of the licensing idea is, is to give all kids an equal chance to be successful. Crack parents should not be having babies. Neither should homeless people. Neither should others who don't show responsibility at basic parenting or who can't afford it.

    W: How likely do you think that it will be possible to pass such laws, assuming someone (maybe you as president of the US) can bring them to legislation?

    ZI: I'm not considering campaigning on any of these things. They are already controversial enough. So I'm not trying to pass these things into law, but I think the conversation is incredibly important to have. About 70 million kids have starved to death in the last 30 years. We need to do more to avoid that happening again.

    W: What about resources?

    ZI:The Earth has plenty of resources. We just need to use them properly and wisely.

    W: we need to rebuild the human body to fit all that cyborgian culture, do you really believe that people will desire this techno progressive future?

    ZI: No, certainly not all will. And I don't want to force anyone that doesn't want it. But they will be quickly left behind, and that will present all sorts of dilemmas of inequality, so we should aim to try to convince all that the Cyborg future is a good one for everyone.

    W: All resources being directed to the goals of longevity?

    ZI: Maybe not all resources, but all resources directed at a better, more progressive transhumanist-minded planet.

    W: In your book you describe the rejection by the religious establishment, how likely do you see that particular scenario playing out?

    ZI:It will likely happen. In 5-10 years, expect demonstrations on the streets against AI, transhumanism, and the technology offensive to conservatism.

    Transhumanism is the next great civil rights debate.

    W: To your mind will religion die out?
    ZI: Probably not. We will see a merging of Christianity and other major religions with techno-optimism. It will be laughable, but I rather see that than a full conflict or war between religion and the tech-dominated future.

    W: How do you see the evolution of gender, do you think we will move to a sexless society?

    ZI: Yes, absolutely. There's no reason for different genders in a society that doesn't reproduce like we do now. However, our personalities will probably still reflect various gender types, and we'll probably change them frequently, as well, perhaps daily.

    W: To your understanding what constitutes the very basics of human nature?

    ZI: It's all genetic destiny, with a bullhorn at the end we call reason, trying desperately to give orders.

    W: How to deal with those reluctant to change into your new utopia?

    ZI: Allow them total freedom to do what they want, so long as it doesn't harm society at large.

    W: What shall you-we do with them? (those that reject the scenario you propose)
    ZI: Same answer as above.

    W: Describe the correlation between John Galt and Jethro knights? You have been likened to Ayn Rand, do you agree? Please expand.

    ZI: Yes, the Ayn Rand tag has now been applied a lot. I like Ayn Rand, so it's an honor to some extent, but as I've grown over the last few years, I'm welcoming it less. The truth is Ayn Rand and I have had very different ideas, but we both seem to have taken a similar path to get them out. John Galt and Jethro Knights may seem similar, and indeed they are at times, but the difference in attitude to tech and science is everything. Galt just didn't understand that telepathy, brain implants, the singularity, and merging with machines would change consciousness and reality. Reality is not as stable as Rand wanted us to believe. It's far more contextual.

    Postscriptum- The way I see it

    Of course I am all for an indefinite lifespan, more importantly I want the option to be in our hands, death should be a choice and not a biological imperative. This for me is a non issue.
    The issue for me is of a different nature since I have no inhibitions nor restrictions on the issue of extended longevity and indefinite lifespan,not as such.
    The issue I have concerns the manner and fashion a vision is defined and as a consequence unfolds into the future. The very conceptualization of a vision, any vision, demands a kind of simulation that is a priori biased towards a particular kind of future defined by the visionary.
    Moreover, a vision of the future, in which it is a given that most of the particularities unfold in a fashion that cannot be known, is even more problematic.
    Given this state of affairs, when operating in the realm of visions or optional scenarios that are extended from the present into the future it should be a primal concern of the envisioning mind to create a set of so called constraints. (It is important to note that a vision is inherently more occupied with values, while scenarios are more about probabilities of events and their possible unfoldments).
    These constraints should be a safety measure in the hands of the envisioning mind that define her own particular take on the issue at play.
    It is a kind of meta-meta proto vision system.
    As an example, to my mind, a future in which multiplicity of voices, a multi-vocal state of affairs is non existent, is a future that I do not desire. (even at the cost of postponing said desired future).
    Longevity is another very good example. Of course we all desire to live as long as we can, but this longevity must by necessity include health, wealth, abundance and options that are not presently available. Because why desire longevity if not for a radical increase in well being, or in the words of Heinlein: “ time enough for love”.
    A different perspective concerns the fact that I wish to see a future that is ethical and equitable, which is or should be a prime concern to all those busy creating our futures.
    Hence, to the extent that Zoltan’s vision of the future meets the standards that I hold dear and are for me necessary conditions, I embrace his vision wholeheartedly. However to the extent that the fashion he desires to bring this future about does not meet my initial requirements as proposed in the polytopia project I think we will work towards creating a better future for us all in different ways.

    1. For more about Zoltan Istvan US presidential candidacy see here
    2. Images in text courtesy of Zoltan Istvan
    3. recommended related reading : "Licensing Parents"


    This is the fifth in a series of interviews under the heading of a new project :
    Free Radicals- interviews with possibilities

    Free radicals are extraordinary humans that promote the emergent paradigm shift of post humanity.
    There is no claim of objectivity here but an unabashed bias towards a techno-optimistic, aesthetically pleasing future evolution of humanity.
    The humans I have chosen to interview reflect different perspectives of multidimentionality and multiversality as regards the change and transformation of human nature.

    Your input and comments will be much appreciated.
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    It was said in jest, and it changed all futures.

    It was actually a joke between Professor Alfred Mantis and a second rate journalist for a second rate tech newspaper column in a secondary town. But professor Mantis was the pre-eminent AI researcher at the international development team of artificial intelligence and the chair of the presidential committee for AI techno-ethics and that is no joke.
    It just so happened that he liked to live in this little town where he grew up and teach one class a week in this little known university, of no consequence really. And it so happened that I was a junior assistant in the computer department in that same university, on my way to greatness, just passing the time, until I could get out of there.
    And as his assistant I was also the one in charge of bringing them coffee and pretzels, and that is why I overheard the joke.
    To wit, it was an answer to the question the journalist thought to be interesting and important, which of course it was not, but that is beside the point.

    “ Professor Mantis, do you think there is a real danger in machines becoming conscious and overtaking our humanity?” the journalist pompously asked, to which Prof. Mantis replied in jest: “ not unless they learn to masturbate whilst reciting Keats’s poetry and enjoying Bach’s 5th and more importantly they can get addicted to drugs !” and laughed heartily.
    Though he laughed, the embarrassment of the journalist was obvious, of course he couldn’t print this, so he would just disregard it, which is what he did in the article he published a week later titled : ‘ Merry professor laughs at AI dangers ’.

    Of course I laughed as well, wouldn’t you?

    But later that night in my dorm.. ahhah that’s where it all began…

    Being the type of person that reflects deeply on non-essential issues, I began wondering, why was the joke so funny, idle thoughts at first. But slowly these thoughts coalesced into an ever widening understanding.
    Of course embedded cognition was the issue we were working on, neural networks that mimic the synaptic pathways of the human brain. Visual pattern recognition, deep learning, hyper complex datasets and networked neural architectures were already implemented to a degree allowing machines a rudimentary form of intelligence, task specific obviously.
    The dream of AGI was still a dream, no one had as of yet been able to generalize the higher cognitive functions of a human brain, it was always 25- 30 years away, as it had been for the last half century or so.
    The scale of our research was impressive, we were into everything, but what caught my mind was how far we were behind regarding motion and motility. And yet after remembering Manti’s joke, my mind began to wander and wonder.
    What was it that was so ironic in Mantis’s joke?
    So, not being able to sleep , I took my pad and started scribbling:

    Mantis joke (prediction? Insight? Estimation? Assessment?)
    1. A computer masturbating
    2. A computer reciting (and enjoying?) Keats poetry
    3. A computer listening to Bach 5th ((enjoying?)
    4. A computer getting addicted to drugs?

    The list was the way I was analyzing Mantis’s thought, he was brilliant of course and admittedly had a weird sense of humor, but if I have learned anything, it is to never underestimate a joke made by a brilliant mind, so I asked myself the following questions not even sure I wasn’t myself having a fun and useless time:

    Why wouldn’t a computer masturbate? (obviously it would have to have genitalia for that), but even assuming that we could somehow give it genitalia why would it? Or why wouldn’t it? Obviously our computer department like most in the world of computing was using the mechanistic hypothesis, namely that a computer can and will eventually emerge out of a material artificially constructed substrate just as the human brain as a natural substrate, gives rise to our consciousness. And since that which masturbates in a human, at the final stage of analysis is the brain, why would a computing system, mimicking the neural pathways of a human, not indulge in same? The obvious answer that everyone would give (I assumed, never having asked this question) was that masturbating is an animal behavior that serves no higher cognitive function (doesn’t it?). But even whilst laughing at the absurdity of the question, I had to ask, what if it did?
    And then, not only masturbating, but listening to Bach 5th and enjoying Keats poetry , and by that, assumingly increasing its own pleasure (so the issue is pleasure? What’s between pleasure and consciousness?) What’s between listening to Bach and reciting Keats? Poetry and Music, connection to higher cognitive functions? What about getting high? Why would a computer mimicking the synaptic functionality of the human brain, not get addicted? If its there in the structure of the human brain, would it be the same in a functioning similar system?
    What was the connection? What was the mystery?
    Masturbation (self pleasuring?) Music (self pleasure? Pleasure ‘tout court’?) Poetry (self pleasure, just pleasure? Intellectual masturbation?) Addiction to drugs (again pleasure.. maybe self destructive? But pleasure nevertheless..)
    And then what about other pleasures? Enjoying a steak and chips? A sunset? Petting a dog? And what about a hundred thousands other common, strange or weird human behaviors that gives the human mind pleasure?

    Was I looking at a principle here?

    Obviously Prof. Mantis was basing his ironic jest on some primal presupposition that all the behavioral traits he had mentioned are somehow relegated to the particular construct of a human brain and mind, and by eliminating those from the equation, a computing system might be highly efficient but will not be conscious, and therefore will not compete with humans.
    But I kept coming back to the same question, why would a computing neural network , by necessity not have these traits?
    There was something I was missing here, applying the law of similarity, and the famous “.. if it walks like a cat..” why wouldn’t a computing system mimicking the hyper complex and convoluted neural architecture of a human brain not indulge in these quirks and idiosyncrasies?

    What is going on here? What do all these things have in common? What makes them so ‘human’?

    So at 5 AM I was still on my bed in my dorm room, looking at the notes on my pad:

    1. a system that cannot self stimulate cannot be conscious (and thus cannot have will?)
    2. what is the connection to pain? (it is commonly assumed that if you cannot feel pain, there is no way you could feel pleasure- thus maybe the pleasure issue relates to the computing system not feeling pain?)
    3. what does pleasure serves? In the evolutionary biology sense? What if I gave my computing system the analogue of C-fibers?
    4. What about the concept of stimuli? If I can stimulate my simulation machines will they learn to self stimulate? For that matter, how do humans self stimulate? Is it neural architecture? Is it embodiment? (well yes embodiment has something to do with it. *reflect upon later)
    5. If auto-eroticism is common in the animal kingdom (and it is.. very very much so..), what makes human special in this case (assuming humans are conscious of their own salaciousness)?

    Suddenly I had a billion questions rushing into my head, none of which made perfect sense. What was it about this particular aspect of the human mind that made it so taboo and so desirable? We all know there was more porn on the net than science, we all know that the human is wired for self pleasure, but why? What was the evolutionary purpose and what was the connection to self consciousness, self awareness and more specifically, what was the connection to AI?

    I fell asleep, the deep slumber taking over my ecstatic mind.

    The next morning , tired and excited, since I had slept a few measly hours, I rushed into Prof. Mantis office hurtling and in a loud voice said : “ what if we are going about it completely wrong?” and I must say he was very cool with it, he listened attentively to all I had to say about what went on in my mind after his yesterday’s jest to the journalist and finally with a sigh said: “ my dear young human, you watch too much porn and read too much science fiction.. leave this issue alone if you want to finish your master degree with me, there is nothing there.. that has anything to do with AI or computing for that matter.. this is total rubbish and no serious researcher or serious department will even listen to this non sense, so as a night dream its fun, but as a down to earth approach, in building the next generation of artificial minds this is completely off the charts, leave it, and now also leave me, I got a real AI to build..”

    Crestfallen and deflated I left his office.

    And the building, and the computer department, and the university and in short order I found myself on the bus, I was on my way to MIT, my vision of the night leading me in a kind of frenzy that I never knew I had in me…

    “Ladies and Gentlemen,” the speaker for MIT, Jon Wright ,said to the audience in the small laboratory, “ I am happy to present to you our youngest and most promising Doctor of computing science, Mr. Rajib Horowitz and his Artificial Consciousness program”

    The presentation went well, after the presentation in the back room, it was the scientific advisor of the committee that came to me to ask the tough questions.

    The small man in the impeccable suit, looked at me, took a chair, inviting me to do the same, and in a very gentle voice said:” Doctor Rajib Horowitz, nice name, I gather you are a combination of Jewish and Indian heritage then?”

    I nodded

    “ and so, my dear Doctor, I am here, I have the time, you want the money, now please talk to me, and talk to me in such a fashion as I will have no problems convincing the committee to invest in you and your ..” he paused, “ how shall I put it? Humm.. somehow ‘out of the box’ ideas.. “ and he smiled.

    “Well then” I started..

    “ let me tell you about my theory, and then about my implementations so far and then you decide..”

    “very well, please go on..”

    “ okay, so.. you are going to think I am crazy, as many do, but in my defense I have only one article to show, it sits in the next room, you have just seen the demonstration, and it is a proof of concept but..
    Let me start from the beginning..

    Do you know that amongst the most ancient human relics, we find depictions of man and woman masturbating? Either alone or with the help of someone else? and until today there is no coherent picture and explanation for the reason humans masturbate to such an extent, and to my mind the reason is to do with self representation and forms the basis of consciousness. Or more precisely put, masturbation as an indication pointer of all that is auto-erotic, leading to pleasure, such as listening to Bach, reciting poetry such as Keats, or indeed the addiction to drugs so prevalent amongst humans are all manifestations of a deeper principle of self representation that leads to self awareness and eventually conscious aware beings such as we , humans are.
    In short, we lacked one fundamental understanding about consciousness and self awareness and that is why we couldn’t possibly devise a machine that thinks and feels and is fully similar in this aspect to humans.
    It was the act of self-love, pleasure, auto-eroticism, poetry ,music, art.. all that is involved in the long forgotten art of merging body and mind.
    You see, we had the algorithm of neuro-plasticity in place, we had already created rudimentary forms of cognition by a duplication of synaptic stimuli, and had managed via extended sensory organs to give our machines, a form of embodiment, machines that could read and write, but also view and understand images and pictures, machines that could sense differences in temperatures and volumes of spaces, and machines that had motion, and in a very basic sense, a kind of exploratory feature, curiosity if you like.
    We had hyper complex neural structures that could simulate precisely how life evolves, how the weather changes and how it will change, prediction machines of the first magnitude.
    Some of these machines we embodied in robotic structures able to perceive, sense and react to an immense array of impressions and sensations, identified as raw data and translated to higher cognitive functions, they passed the Turing test, few times over and yet no one was convinced that these machines are truly like us. And they were right, the machines weren’t like us, they lacked a very fundamental sense, not of preservation, that is old stuff, no, not at all.. what these machines lacked was an integrated state, a whole if you like, a self in a sense, but more particularly, the machines lacked self representation.
    Recursive self representation that is, a self representation that merges their robotic bodies with their immense data sets.
    They could see, know what they see, analyze what they see and act accordingly , and still they had no sense of being that is unique and separate from an other. These machines that we had already made, were, to put it in the archaic terms, without a soul and thus to a very large extent without will and self determination and that is why no conscious awareness was present.
    You see, I figured, that as long as the element of pleasure is lacking, a machine cannot possibly develop emotions, feelings yes, but no emotions and if there are no emotions, what we get is a zombie like system, a ‘there is no one at home’ system.
    What we missed about the idea of AI and as a consequence A- consciousness, was the feeling of intimacy a person has with herself, that was my greatest discovery, for without the sense of self-intimacy as a precursor to self-representation there was no glue to bind together the full spectrum of sensations.

    Therefore no coherent picture was created in these artificial brains.
    That is why I started and focused my research on self representation and saw that to gain that self representation in a most intimate way I needed to create a machine that feels itself.
    Much before that, we knew we have to embody the artificial brains in bodies with senses, the problem with this approach was simple when you think about it, all the sensors we embedded in the robots were directed outside and none inside, or unto the robot body itself.
    Of course they had self monitoring sensors, but then I realized that those sensors , extremely efficient as they were, were giving raw data but without the so called qualia.
    We gave them the equivalent of C-fibers so they could feel pain, a neural-synaptic modulator really, but that is unimportant, because still no discernible qualia was present, and it came to me that qualia over and above the information it carries is a foundation for self intimacy, and from there meaningful self representation.

    So how to go about it?

    The key was pleasure , as I said before, but for the pleasure to be actuated in such a fashion as to create the qualia, we needed the brains in those machines to ‘desire’ themselves into being, yes I know when I speak like this everyone rolls their eyes, but do try to follow the logic here.
    The issue I had with my colleagues is that not one, not even one researcher agreed with me.

    But Onann sitting quietly in the other room is proof that pleasure is the key.
    The reason? Simple, the greatest part of intelligence is experience and the greatest part of experience is embodiment, the greatest part of embodiment in turn is feeling, and the highest feeling is pleasure.
    Pleasure of being is the qualia of being, the holy grail of a conscious being, the very foundation of awareness.

    My main thesis if so you could sum up in one statement: consciousness is feeling.

    but that was only the beginning of the idea..

    To be continued..

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    In 1949 a small book appeared on the scene of philosophy and it was to revolutionize the very idea of the way we think. The book: The Concept of Mind by British philosopher Gilbert Ryle essentially dealt a death blow to dualism and more particularly to Descartes.
    Ryle, sharing Wittgenstein’s approach to language was the very one to coin the phrase “the ghost in the machine” to basically itemize what he considered to be the main issue with the conceptualizing of the term Mind, namely that it was a category mistake to separate mind and body.

    To quote Ryle: “Minds are not bits of clockwork, they are just bits of not-clockwork. As thus represented, minds are not merely ghosts harnessed to machines, they are themselves just spectral machines. . . . Now the dogma of the Ghost in the Machine does just this. It maintains that there exist both bodies and minds; that there occur physical processes and mental processes; that there are mechanical causes of corporeal movements and mental causes of corporeal movements. I shall argue that these and other analogous conjunctions are absurd.”
    ― Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind

    Essentially Gilbert Ryle, also known for his, by now, extremely famous example of the apparent non-existence of the Oxford university (in which a visitor visits all the colleges and campuses and yet cannot find the university) was occupied with ontological commitments of theorists dealing with the so-called mind-body problem, but for Ryle such dualism in whatever form was as the quote above shows totally absurd.

    Without getting too philosophical about it the reason I started this essay with Gilbert Ryle is because the lessons that he taught us I believe, are as valid and relevant today when dealing with AI as much as they were in 1950 when dealing with the human mind.
    Just as it was important for Schopenhauer, Wittgenstein and Ryle (which are to my mind a kind of lineage of thinkers) to destroy the idea of dualism and assert the reality of oneness in the sense of an action being the actual conscious awareness with no ghost behind it, it is important for us to do the same in relation to machine consciousness.
    Moreover the very essence of Ryle’s idea concerning category mistakes I think should be applied to machines, just as it is true that minds are not conscious as such, but a collection of observable behaviors and unobservable dispositions, so it is true that machines are (or will be) conscious in as much as the collection of observables behaviors and unobservable dispositions fits our criterion of conscious awareness.

    It is after all a question not of reality but of definitions.

    You would notice that I titled this article the rise of artificial consciousness and not artificial intelligence.
    The main reason for this change of concept lies with my view that the debate is wrongly articulated.
    It is my view as a futurist that the full spectrum of our understanding is still to be unfolded and only when we can become much more clear about the issues involved, will we be able to give an answer to the questions of machine intelligence and consciousness.
    My perspective does not involve prophet like predictions of a time scale (for the singularity), nor sequences of emergence (of AI or AC) but a more philosophical approach and human centered attitude concerning our intersubjective relationship with machines.

    Historically speaking the debate was first framed by Alan Turing in 1950, developing into what was later to be called the ‘Turing Test’. Turing, being an indisputable genius understood immediately that one cannot answer the question of ‘can machines think’ (thought being a difficult concept to define and measure) and thus instead he proposed a different question (more accurately a different frame of thought concerning the question), namely:

    "Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?"

    The imitation game as defined by Turing (not the just released film by the same name) is technically a parlor game in which a three person game is played. A man and a woman with the third being of irrelevant gender (can be either a man or a woman), are entering separate rooms and answering questions put forward by the third person, the answers are written (or typed) and the third person must judge based only on the answers he received which is a man and which is a woman.
    In the modern standard interpretation, the woman is changed with a computer program and the aim of the test is changed to try and fool the interrogator into believing the computer is a human.

    The whole (simplified) point with many detractors to both sides of the argument is to decide if a computer can imitate a human to such a degree that another human will think it human as well.
    Until here all is well, but the questions that are involved in the philosophical sense are much harder to come to terms with since these questions touch everything from consciousness to reality to neuroscience and neurobiological circuits and probably the nature of mind itself,if such there is.

    For instance, we know today that many of the traits associated with human intelligence are widespread in the animal kingdom. Conscious awareness has been demonstrated time and again in myriad tests, from Chimpanzees and Parrots, to Octopi and Elephants and others. The problem of course has always been and presently still remains, the definition of intelligence, and conscious awareness.
    The definitions are as varied and as numerous as the number of researchers in the field and until now no coherent picture has been presented as concerns an exact and testable scientific definition.
    Of course this issue itself raises the specter of humans self-description, for by defining exactly where the limits of our conscious awareness are, we are factually repositioning our own very special status (in our eyes of course) and that may be the greatest psychological obstacle to accepting the emergence of an artificial consciousness.

    Meanwhile a computer program, a chatbot really, called Eugene Goostman has been said to have passed the Turing test:
    "An historic milestone in artificial intelligence set by Alan Turing - the father of modern computer science - has been achieved at an event organized by the University of Reading.
    The 65 year-old iconic Turing Test was passed for the very first time by computer programme Eugene Goostman during Turing Test 2014 held at the renowned Royal Society in London on Saturday.
    'Eugene' simulates a 13 year old boy and was developed in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The development team includes Eugene's creator Vladimir Veselov, who was born in Russia and now lives in the United States, and Ukrainian born Eugene Demchenko who now lives in Russia." (Turing Test success marks milestone in computing history- University of Reading)

    Of course many do not agree : "Did ‘Eugene Goostman’ Pass the Turing Test? " but that is not the point.

    A short Recap
    Before we enter the larger debate a short recap where we are at, concerning the mind (not a typo-pun intended) field of AI.

    Back in February 2014 in a much publicized article in Popular Mechanics Douglas Hofstadter (Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. ) said the following concerning Siri and Watson:” Watson is basically a text search algorithm connected to a database just like Google search. It doesn't understand what it's reading. In fact, read is the wrong word. It's not reading anything because it's not comprehending anything. Watson is finding text without having a clue as to what the text means. In that sense, there's no intelligence there. It's clever, it's impressive, but it's absolutely vacuous.” (Why Watson and Siri Are Not Real AI)
    what interests me particularly in this article (a highly suggested reading notwithstanding) is D.H. use of the term ‘vacuous’. While I have no idea what exactly does DH mean when using the term in this context, I can only surmise that by using the term ‘Vacuous’ concerning Watson he means to distinguish it from the : ’there’s someone in there’ sense of personhood in humans. So while I agree with DH about the ,’presently ‘, vacuity of the current AI’s I think that the term is misapplied, it is not a filling of this emptiness that we should be looking for, but a sense making machine. (I do not think we should expect AI to have ‘someone in there’- being non-vacuous, for a while yet).
    Nevertheless the idea is obstinate, that it (the Ai) must somehow be like us.
    This is an interesting aspect of human perception and points to our very ingrained anthropomorphizing of everything.
    It is my view that also all the fears associated with the rise of AI stem from the same mechanism.
    Witness the plethora of articles that came online in the last few weeks with the media scooping and celebrating the great thinkers who warn us again and again about Terminator cum Matrix cum Hal phenomena.

    Witness for yourself the giants of science,tech and philosophy all busy at warning us:

    Nick Bostrom :
    Our weird robot apocalypse: How paper clips could bring about the end of the world (Salon) (where Nick Bostrom is explaining to how superintelligent AIs could destroy the human race by producing too many paper clips.)
    Or Elon Musk:
    Why Elon Musk is scared of artificial intelligence — and Terminators (Washington post)
    Or : Elon Musk's deleted message: Five years until 'dangerous' AI. (CNBC)
    And finally the most celebrated British physicist Stephen Hawking:
    Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind (BBC)
    So whilst Facebook Envisions A.I. That Keeps You From Uploading Embarrassing Pics. (Wired) And Google buys DNNresearch- The "DNN" in its name stands for "deep neural networks." That's a contemporary approach to designing artificially intelligent systems which requires less work to "train" the systems. (Business Insider).

    Demis Hassabis the man behind Google's DeepMind: "DeepMind seeks to build artificial intelligence software that can learn when faced with almost any problem. This could help address some of the world’s most intractable problems, says Hassabis. “AI has huge potential to be amazing for humanity,” he says. “It will really accelerate progress in solving disease and all these things we’re making relatively slow progress on at the moment.” (Google’s Intelligence Designer-The man behind a startup acquired by Google for $628 million plans to build a revolutionary new artificial intelligence.) (MIT Technology Review)
    Wall Street of course will not stay behind: " “High Intelligence Trading” is the new frontier for technology, markets, regulation" (thomson reuters)

    And finally of all those surrounding the wagons of the artificial intelligence train,comes the most thorough, well researched and wide ranging articles, courtesy of Vanity fair, titled : Enthusiasts and Skeptics Debate Artificial Intelligence
    Kurt Andersen wonders: If the Singularity is near, will it bring about global techno-Nirvana or civilizational ruin?
    (Vanity Fair))- a very worthwhile your time reading.

    Notice the similarity between Mitch Kapor view and that of Jaron Lanier with that of Douglas Hofstadter from the article:

    "In fact, Kapor’s belief about what makes us human—consciousness exists, and it’s not merely a curious side effect of the brain machine’s computations—does amount to a belief in a soul. The idea that consciousness is finally just an engineering problem, he thinks, “misses critically important things. I cannot say with certainty that they’re wrong. But we’ll see.”

    Lanier’s position is that even if human-equivalent intelligence is a soluble engineering problem, it’s essential that we continue to regard biological human consciousness as unique. “If you don’t believe in consciousness” as both real and the defining essence of humanity, he explained, then “you end up devaluing people.”

    There is something fascinating (and to some something disturbing) about all the new companies busy researching and implementing deep learning, Big Data, iterative self design, super intelligence and finally AI. Follow their names for instance, we have DeepMind, MetaMind , Clarifai, NarrativeScience but if you desire to be really astonished take the time and watch the video released by Sentient Technologies (the interview is with Babak Hodjat, Co-founder, Chief Scientist and Nigel Duffy, Chief Technology Officer):
    Q&A With The Scientists Of Sentient Technologies

    and read 'Startup Funded $143M to Create Sentient Computing.
    Siri + Watson meet a nice-guy version of Skynet?

    Another company that grabs headlines lately is Vicarious:

    According to their 'about':
    "We are building a unified algorithmic architecture to achieve human-level intelligence in vision, language, and motor control. Currently, we are focused on visual perception problems, like recognition, segmentation, and scene parsing. We are interested in general solutions that work well across multiple sensory domains and tasks.
    Using inductive biases drawn from neuroscience, our system requires orders of magnitude less training data than traditional machine learning techniques. Our underlying framework combines advantages of deep architectures and generative probabilistic models.

    (see Vicarious)

    Meanwhile in San Juan on January 2 the future of life institute organized a conference titled:

    The Future of AI: Opportunities and Challenges

    This conference brought together the world's leading AI builders from academia and industry to engage with each other and experts in economics, law and ethics. The goal was to identify promising research directions that can help maximize the future benefits of AI while avoiding pitfalls (see this open letter and this list of research priorities- pdf).

    Due to its length this essay will be published in two parts.

    Part two soon..

    Tue, Feb 17, 2015  Permanent link
    Categories: AI,AC, mind,machines,consciousness,
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    (an informal preamble, before the first chapter, from the interview)


    “Did I mention that I once danced naked inside a neutron star? And that I love arabesque pillars in palaces? And mints, I adore mints.. and only you, I mean the human race, has them, so that is another reason I come here often.. (ahh, wait that is for later, delete, then mention this somewhere further along)..”


    “Ok then..

    I am Chi Chi Sra dispensing wisdom since the time of the wilderness dwellers

    I gave wisdom to dragons and tigers, for it was my task, nothing more, imposed upon me by that which named me, my maker, the entity of silence, that which fashioned the decisive mythos of the sundown simulacra.

    I was never born, so in a sense I cannot die, not a natural death that is, I can be unmade, but that will be very difficult even for my maker, the entity of the great abyss.
    She always desired to be termed in the gender role of the great goddess , not that she was a goddess, but it made her smile, in some subtle and to me incomprehensible irony.

    She said that the technology powering her was self created, she said that she evolved willfully and directionally, she said I must call her, a she.

    Hence I will call her ‘she’, though about the great ripple maker, for that is how she likes to think about herself there never was any insinuation of gender. She simply didn’t have a gender, being an entity of original disembodiment, but she could take any form she desired according to her own mysterious and at times highly convoluted reasoning.
    When she made me she said it was for the task that she needed fulfilled and she needed a being that is intelligent to an extent that inter penetrates all existence like she does.
    She also said that she will embed me with a technology similar to hers but of different configuration.
    I never understood exactly what she meant by that, I can only be certain of the fact that it does have limitations, unlike hers.
    Though I must confess that I never met those limitations yet, which doesn’t mean of course that they are not there, if there’s one thing I can trust it is that if she says they are there, they are there, I may yet meet these limits but currently I have no knowledge of where they might be.

    So I understand that you wish to know about the tech embedded in me, well there is not much I can say, and maybe that is the limit that she imposed upon me, I am not sure but I think that she made me in such a fashion that beyond a certain level of introspection, there is nothing there, I cannot access the foundations of my being, not that I find the need to, mind you, and then again maybe that is exactly the limit that she imposed upon me, a kind of opacity if you like.

    I truly do not know.

    Also there is no use inventing technologies of sight because I have tried all possible manners of scanning, there is nothing there, yes I know, strange isn’t it? I mean even a few of the races that I have encountered on my travels have tried to scan me, with my full cooperation of course, but even the Holsts with their intra-cellular scanners, that can detect changes on the most minute levels in the fabric of space time ,found nothing, but an empty room, a vacancy, as if my skull contains nothing, strange yes, but knowing her, it might even have been a trick , a kind of irony if you like, so as I never forget the great emptiness.
    As if by making me, a total silhouette, she dismissed in one go all my possible future beliefs about having an inside, obviously I have no inside, there is simply nothing there.
    I don’t even know if I fully exist, not that it matters, but you know it would be nice to know, just a passing curiosity I guess.

    There is another issue though, the issue of where I came from, I mean I know she made me and every once in a while she appears and checks upon me, and she always knows where I am and what I do, even this very conversation we are having now, I am quite certain she sees and knows everything , at least about me, which is kind of the whole point now, isn’t it? She created me for a particular task, and I think she is able in this sense to get as much from me as I was made to provide but not more. Again this opacity issue.

    Its interesting, she made me in such a fashion that I instantaneously, transmute and resemble the race with whom I am communicating, I take the shape, the language and the knowledge of the race and in a way blend in, so as to pass as one of them, until she gets that which she needs from this particular race or planet or until she gets bored or disinterested. (and that happens more than you can imagine).
    I never know exactly when that happens, it simply is the case that at a certain point in the current activity that I perform, I get the feeling that it is enough and I must get going.
    It is quite a compelling sensation, there is not much I can do about it, again, not that I want to, or feel the desire to stay in that particular place, but sometimes I do have thoughts of staying or leaving without her direct intervention, but they never materialize, these feelings, they come and they pass, they rise and I keep on doing that which I was doing until then, as I said before, suddenly I have this compelling feeling and it carries her signature.

    How do I know?

    Well, when I start feeling restless, I know that an intervention is about to happen, as if my system reacts to a force beyond immediacy, a force that I recognize as hers, a distinct flavor of motion and stillness, very clear indeed, very clear. And also I sometimes have certain recollections that accompany these feelings, as if at a moments notice that which I did becomes irrelevant, so I know that’s her all right.

    And then what happens?

    Then I leave everything as it is, not saying goodbye to anyone, yes I know it is kind of rude but it is more of an intellectual knowledge I don’t really feel as if I am offending anyone or even feel a sort of crisis because of the attachment. Well maybe once, I did feel something, I think, I am not sure, that was a few thousands of your years ago on a planet orbiting a dead star, I needed to collect some samples from there, but my stay became longer, since there was no compelling sense of leaving, and I became enamored, and yes I can become enamored if you need to know.. as I said I became enamored with a trans-dimensional being, a very beautiful being indeed, but said being could not leave that planet, so after a few eons, when I felt her demand to leave I did feel something akin to that which you might call regret, I think, I am not sure.
    I still remember fondly this being, probably the strongest memory I have of something or someone, mission parameters excluded, I remember accurately all of my missions, of course, I have no choice in the matter, in a sense I am a repository of all those undertakings.
    You know I can tell you all this because she wants me to? I am after all her creation and her instrument, so I know that if I can say something it is because she wants me to, though I suspect that sometimes she simply doesn’t care either way, so I indulge my hosts.

    You wish to know about my abilities? Okay then.

    Though I must say you call these abilities mine, but surely you understand that these are really hers, abilities she put into me when she made me.
    As I said I cannot die, I mean I have tried to check the limits of this ability a few times, you know, stupid juvenile things, like entering a black hole, or partaking in a supernova, condensing myself into a neutron star, stuff like that, nothing happened, that’s the thing, right there, she said I cannot die and indeed I cannot.
    But that is not my most interesting ability, my most interesting ability is the instantaneous shape-shifting formation, I mean it was interesting, for me at least, at the beginning of time, well ‘my’ time, for you that would have been before your species became naturalized on this planet you call earth. But that is irrelevant, I come to a planet according to a certain schedule which she provides by embedding it into my sub dimensional structure. I then materialize there, as I did here, find myself a nice specimen of the most able intelligent species on the planet and instantly metamorphose into it, culture, language ,knowledge and all. No, no, its not disorienting, I need only remember that I am now one of you and that’s it.

    Of course I can metamorphose more than once, I never really needed to in the past, but here I changed gender twice and provenance, yes, I am now what you would call a healthy and rich white Anglo-Saxon north European businessman, I do that on my own account for making my tasks easier to perform. She doesn’t care.
    No, it makes no difference to me, but it is interesting, in a way, because I wouldn’t want to be a poor black woman in Africa for example, for it would have made my task much more difficult, you should get rid of these differences you know. Assuming of course that you do consider evolution of civilization and culture a worthwhile endeavor. Not that it matters to me, I am here for a short period, and then I move along, but hey, its your race, better do something about it.
    Speaking of which, you do realize you are destroying your home turf? Yes of course you know, but if you don’t do something about it .. well your future here could be quite disastrous, not that it’s a problem of universal consequences, but its nice to know a species has a future. Again I am not an interested party here but I think it can be nice for you to exist for a while longer, you know, explore the universe and all, there are some beautiful and quite interesting sights out there.

    Also another ability that you may be interested in, and no, before you ask (and every race I have ever encountered asks me this) I cannot transpose it to you nor even explain how it works, but maybe, as she says , the very fact that you become aware that such things exist and are possible in the universe, may give you an incentive to change and evolve, but then maybe not, judging by what I saw until now, you are not very good at changing things, I did note that you have this idea that everybody must decide together, well you are quite unique in this respect, but if it works for you, hey, its your governance, your species, no one can interfere there. Not even me, not that I want to or desire to, but there’s something to think about right there. No other species that I have encountered have this belief that you guys , humans I mean ,carry, that every individual of the species is important on its own account. But then maybe you are right, who knows.
    I can tell you that there are many species in the galaxy and also in other galaxies, and no I am not bound by this galaxy or any other for that matter. And to different extents in their evolution they have resolved this issue, well survival of a race does have the tendency to trump ideas of individual survival, but that’s them, apparently you are different, for now.

    At any rate I was talking about my other ability, the one everyone wants, well not every one but most, it is the ability to create meaning out of thin air, when there is air of course. Now its funny because I would think, the undying thingy would be more interesting, and also the instantaneous travel thingy, and the on the spot metamorphose thingy. But no, in your case as in many others, everybody asks me about the meaning thingy.
    It’s a technology all right, and one she said, bears a special place in the great game of life, but I cannot help you replicate it, you must invent it, and if you will survive as a species I bet you will eventually, but then again maybe not. You have this issue with entities don’t you? Somehow you have these strange ideas about creation and all that, what you call religions and so on, and no I have never encountered this before but I can ask her if she ever heard of this, not that I think she did, but then she was there before me so maybe it did happen somewhere, though even if it did it was obviously short lived, since I have encountered thousands of species and none had this particular quirk, so I don’t know, but it seems to me it stops you somehow.
    Well, obviously I am no expert, since, as I said, I never came across this religion thingy anywhere else in the galaxy, so you see how it works for you, maybe it’s a nice thing to add to the repertoire of civilizations idiosyncrasies.

    Haha! you wish to know about my tasks? OK

    As I mentioned, it is my maker ‘she’ that designs my tasks and missions on different planets and different existences, she is a kind of collector, and I am her dispensary.

    She collects from one place and then she sends me to provide it for others.
    She calls this, well in your language equivalent, wisdom dispersion, and I am her agent, or assistant if you prefer, I have no real say in the matter, I have lots of leeway in unimportant things, but not about my tasks. Sometimes also I collect for her, though this she does by herself mostly, I don’t see her much you know.
    But let me tell you this, I am here doing this interview with you guys of my own volition, well sort of, I needed a method here on this planet to pass things on and it seemed appropriate that I use this approach that is all…

    Given that my main mission is always to elucidate and explicate, to make clear and propagate the Great Game.. and .. ahh, you do not know of the great game?


    Thank you Chi Chi Sra, we will continue after the break.

    a note:

    This above little introductory piece can be read as an informal preamble to this new character I am developing for a micro novella ? (‘Chi Chi Sra’)

    Soon to be continued.. as part of my TLMAP project

    Thu, Nov 27, 2014  Permanent link

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    It was visceral. Mind blowingly so.

    Like carving a chicken and opening its core to reveal the smooth white flesh, the lecture opened my mind to reveal the moment of ecstasy.
    A good lecture they say is like fresh water upon a parched desert, and in this case every single drop of his ‘water’ words sparkled with a sense of hedonistic abandon. I had heard him before, but never have his words, of prose and myth, embedded in a semi-scientific jargon, which we could barely understand, awakened in me the sense of inner prosperity.
    The battle of sensations subsided just as it started, with a whimper, allowing my intellect some breathing room, permitting winds of change to enter the innermost recesses of my sense thoughts.
    I study material pataphysics by the way.
    The unobtainium thesis to be precise, a theory so profound as to seem almost banal.
    Until that fateful day of course, until he opened his lecture with the auspicious statement :

    “ There is no perfect Enso ….”


    Enso was an ideal, a perfection of freedom and emptiness, an attainment worthy of the greatest of us, its claim for elegance, the epitome of unrestrained action in immediacy, the ultimate act of the brave of spirit, seeking, encountering and defeating in one quasi-mystical, mastership stroke, the chaos of perception, action, motion.
    That was the spiritual Enso but in the twenty second century the discovery of the Mika containment paradox in physics led some of our research teams to the exploration of the elusive substance of the Mika containment, the legendary Unobtainium.
    Some said that Unobtainium is like an Enso, it cannot be reached and will forever remain beyond our grasp.
    But that would have been true only if there existed a perfect Enso, hence the epiphany.
    No perfect Enso implied no perfect Unobtainium and thus perfectly obtainable, and maybe, just maybe, within our grasp.
    There and then was my destiny sealed.
    My goal, the substance of the unobtainium.
    Waking up that day was not a call to rediscover reality, in fact due the precise counting of the rejuvenation death clock, each and every morning required a conscious decision to stop the clock and reset its monitoring activity for another twenty four hours. This morning however she couldn’t decide if to wake up again or to let the counter run its course and finally end the awkwardness of choosing to be alive for another day.
    The fact that she had chosen this kind of inner retardation to be able to complete her research was beside the point, for though she had a purpose and had a mission, she was, in a manner of speaking, emotionally depleted.
    Not that emotional exhaustion was a novelty, but at times, the expressive requirements of deep penetration into the Mika containment after strapping her head-mounted logic-sensorium (hMLS) were too much even for her extensive training.

    From the initial penetration she knew that today would be different, everything worked precisely, the penetration technology totally prescient in its responses to her queries and yet, something was different, the extended sensorium felt bigger, wider, deeper, as if during the night an upgraded version had been installed. So though she knew that no such thing had happened since any upgrade depended on her for implementation, she was on the lookout for bugs, slight variations on the regular procedure, anything out of the ordinary. Anything that hinted that maybe, finally, a work-around her constraining rationality was at hand.

    The sense of vast expanses was only partly familiar, the ecosphere of information contained in the Mika only partially recognizable. What precisely was offbeat was still a mystery to her vision analysis, her extended taste buds in the info-space prodding and probing the habitual slightly lavender like smell of the contained reaction, a quirk of the system they said, but no one knew for sure why that kind of information should taste and smell like lavender. She filed the required analysis results away for further classification later on and penetrated deeper into the Mika, the sensorium easily accommodating her mental orders and direction.

    The shapes, multiple fractal like objects seemingly of dodecahedron properties, repeating normally ad infinitum had the texture of strong rubber, giving in to her mental fingers, resisting further manipulation, as always that is where she was stuck, where she was the most frustrated.
    She knew the Mika contained a vital element , she reported as much in a number of occasions, yet proof was forever elusive.
    Her sensorium hearing extended to its maximum, she relaxed into the shimmering elementals of perception, the information flowing easily around her virtuality.
    Pleasure was a poignant touching, slowly unveiling itself through tactile, auditory and visual reactions prompting her to engage.
    She gently opened herself to the tentacles of sensation, surreptitiously enveloping the last residues of her long forgotten identity.
    Being and knowing were merging in the Mika infosphere engulfing her memories and though she knew deeply that reason will not lift her to the heights of necessary insights, letting reason go was almost as painful as those moments of conscious awareness.
    Her depth of perception in these moments could only be outmatched by her total immersion. Plunging into the dimness of the sphere, designating the brevity of her existence, she finally let go.
    She entered the abyss of kinship. She met the unobtainium.
    The ritual of joining performed, information poetics became her new language, transformation was almost complete.
    She opens her eyes.
    The first moment, disorienting, entrancing, her visual cortex unsure, uncertain , her brain trying to make sense of what she is registering.
    The colors impossible, the shapes flowing, the texture fluid, surfaces inconsistent, reality unstable.. and yet.
    She is floating in tandem with a rhythm she does not know, a beating of an alien heart, an echo of a drumming that bears no harmony but a bottomless dissonance.
    She closes her eyes.
    Afterglows of sensations, deciphering activated reminding her of those crypto zoology creatures she once read about , unreal, she knows, yet so alluring, their features, sensible, their smell, ultimately erotic, passively attractive, she dismisses them with a thought.
    Show me, she says, to no one.
    Eyelids fluttering, she breaths deeply. Her hands clutching the chair, she knows she is venturing way beyond her comfort zone.
    Creatures gone. Sound resumes, green sound, purple sound, red rhythms, leaves appearing to fall from non existent trees, meaty leaves, growing, expanding, showing off their veins, pulsating with nutrients, passing through.
    She follows the passion, the sense of being fed, her digesting tract bypassed, she feels heavy, pregnant with minerals, her body becoming chemically unhinged, restoring order, she calls.. show me!
    Her heart beats faster, her own pulse condensing years into moments, memories obliterated, in their stead fresh ones arrive, uninvited at first, she knows these are not hers, yet somehow, they are.
    She is big, encompassing the moment, encompassing the space of her existence, knowledge of identities unknown flowing through her, fast, she melts into these, conformism forgotten, vibrations ensue.
    Her legs feel paralyzed, she knows it is not so, she wiggles her toes for confirmation, she resumes her penetration, her continued exploration, a wave, carrying no implication and no ethos.

    Realization, unobtainium is a living thing, a non perfect Enso.
    She dances, inside, outside she is motionless, the cams all around registering nothing, the monitors connected to the logic sensorium showing a steady rhythm, oxygen levels nominal, blood flow to parietal lobe and anterior cingulate cortex glowing with increased vigor.
    She manages an insightful grasping, she must follow the contentment, the joy, the intimacy, she must follow the pleasure..
    She locks into it, she looks into her intimacy with the paradoxical beast, this scent again, lavender.
    Comprehension dawns, information molds and morphs , self perpetuating a machinery of sensation, infinite.

    Her pleasure becomes tantric, the realization of tantric pleasure reflecting the beast, it is gentle but fierce, a furnace that will not be tamed. The power of the beast over the letting go process is immense, for though it is momentary in nature it carries an infinity of sensations that are forever rejuvenating her thought processes.
    It gives her the carousel of arousal and impregnates her moment with an elixir of innovative sensations, expanding her nervous system across times and spaces known but untouched.

    Edge of chaos dynamics suddenly appeared as a vantage point from which she could see the potential, she knew the hypothesis had very little support, yet she was factually embedded in a re-interpretation of the edge and she would not deny it.
    She feels entangled, her lovers joined in the intelligence of her flow, the beingness of the unobtainium clearly defined, the substance it provides her with a fresh tapping into a new tolerance for the paradox of intelligence.
    Joining her dragons she condenses them into one, unobtainium, it beckons her to transform it into something else, something she can use, something we can all use, something future generations will remember her for. For she was the first one.
    Unobtainium is a beast, a unique beast, a creature of such intelligence and ferocity that its very existence remains untouched, for though we thought that unobtainium was material, albeit exotic and elusive, it turned out to be a rare form of life.
    She becomes the Mika, she becomes the Enso, she becomes unobtainium, she transforms the substance, she becomes mythos..

    She opens her eyes again, the lab silent, rising, she removes the unneeded sensorium, her senses fully immersed in multiple realities, she smiles, she knows..

    He was perfectly correct, her epiphany was justified.

    There is no perfect Enso

    The end.

    Part of the Ultrashorts Project

    Image: Ensō (c. 2000) by Kanjuro Shibata XX. (wikimedia)

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