catvincent talking all things pagan and science fiction. Breaking down the hyperreal; weaving together fact and fiction, magic and history in under an hour. All narratives are wrong, but some are useful and this is his. Watch. Understand the high strangeness of the science fictional condition and its occulted mystical lining. Click. Play. NOW

Footnotes at

Read more

So are we alone? Well, there is one other possibility, at this point. I’ve lately been trumpeting my revision of Clarke’s Law (which originally said ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’). My revision says that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Nature. (Astute readers will recognize this as a refinement and further advancement of my argument in Permanence.) Basically, either advanced alien civilizations don’t exist, or we can’t see them because they are indistinguishable from natural systems. I vote for the latter. This vote has consequences. If the Fermi Paradox is a profound question, then this answer is equally profound. It amounts to saying that the universe provides us with a picture of the ultimate end-point of technological development. In the Great Silence, we see the future of technology, and it lies in achieving greater and greater efficiencies, until our machines approach the thermodynamic equilibria of their environment, and our economics is replaced by an ecology where nothing is wasted. After all, SETI is essentially a search for technological waste products: waste heat, waste light, waste electromagnetic signals. We merely have to posit that successful civilizations don’t produce such waste, and the failure of SETI is explained. And as to why we haven’t found any alien artifacts in our solar system, well, maybe we don’t know what to look for. Wiley cites Freitas as having come up with this basic idea; I’m prepared to take it much further, however. Elsewhere I’ve talked about this particular long-term scenario for the future, an idea I call The Rewilding. Now normally one can’t look into the future; in the case of the long-term evolution of technological civilization, however, that is precisely what astronomy allows us to do. And here’s the thing: the Rewilding model predicts a universe that looks like ours–one that appears empty. The datum that we tend to refer to as ‘the Great Silence’ also provides the falsification of certain other models of technological development. For instance, products of traditionally ‘advanced’ technological civilizations, such as Dyson spheres, should be visible to us from Earth. No comprehensive search has been done, to my knowledge, but no candidate objects have been stumbled upon in the course of normal astronomy. The Matrioshka brains, the vast computronium complexes that harvest all the resources of a stellar system… we’re just not seeing them. The evidence for that model of the future is lacking. If we learn how life came to exist on Earth, and if it turns out to be a common or likely development, then the evidence for a future in which artificial and natural systems are indistinguishable is provided by the Great Silence itself.

Read more

based on Pyramid of Technology:

While some technologies are implemented immediately after being envisioned, others remain indefinitely stuck in this stage. Cold nuclear fusion, teleportation, time traveling, or human-powered wings have all been a feature of our collective imagination for some time, but due to their infeasibility, they have yet to rise to a higher level on the pyramid. Although many technologies never make it out of the envisioned stage, they are still valuable as reference points for our imaginative capacity and desire to augment our bodies and minds. More than any other, the envisioned level is a dream stage, the province of artists, poets, science fiction writers and other visionaries. Although more practically oriented people sometimes underestimate this stage, it is in fact the birth chamber of all technological innovation.

Although young children still need extensive time and effort to master reading and writing, it’s difficult to imagine modern life without it. Writing technology is so successful that we don’t even recognize it as a technology anymore. Money, clothing and agriculture are also technologies that have become invisible. While they were invented thousands of years ago, and had a noticeable impact on the lives of our ancestors, today we no longer recognize them as technology. Within the invisible stage technology moves from the conscious realm – where we recognize it as a tool that we deliberately use – into the realm of the unconscious, where it becomes an invisible partner in our existence.

Naturalized technologies have moved beyond being a vital tool or habit within our society: they are so integrated in our lives we consider them part of our human nature. Perhaps the best example of a technology that is entirely naturalized is cooking. Here, cooking doesn’t refer to specific baking technologies like the microwave, but to the basic principle of heating food. Today we think of cooking as a universal aspect of human nature, but some 200,000 years ago, when early humans first started cooking, it was an innovative new technique. Without cooking a modern human being would have to eat five kilos of raw food to get enough calories. By pre-digesting our food before it is eaten, cooking allowed us to absorb more calories from the food we ate, and to expend less energy in the process. According to the gut-brain swap hypothesis, which has been described by Aiello & Wheeler, the human digestive tract shrank while the brain grew, as successive generations of our hominid ancestors relied on cooking (Aiello & Wheeler, 1995). The work of cooking and tending a fire may have even given rise to pair bonding, marriage, the household, and even the division of labor (Wrangham, 2010). Cooking changed the course of human history. Second nature became first nature.

Since the origins of humanity we have employed technology. We are technological beings by nature (Gehlen, 1988; Plessner, 1975) and similar to the bees and the flowers that co-evolved in a symbiotic relationship – the bees spread the pollen from the flowers and help them propagate while gathering their nectar – humankind is intertwined in a co-evolutionary relationship with technology.

This brings an entirely new perspective on the relationship between people, nature and technology. While we traditionally see nature and technology as opposites, like black and white, we now learn that our technologies can be naturalized over time. Throughout human history we practiced technology to emancipate us from the forces of nature – this starts with building a roof above our heads to protect us from the rain, or wearing animal furs to survive in a colder climate – yet, as our technologies become successful they in turn constitute a new milieu, a new setting, that may eventually transform our human nature.

If we can put our minds to creating technologies that have the potential to one day mature and rise to the summit of the pyramid, this will give us a clear guideline on where we want technology to go. As these technologies mature and climb the pyramid, they will in turn transform us. Hence, we need to project the best of our humanity onto them. We will not immediately get it right. There will be pitfalls, but at least we will know where we are going. Luckily, we can already be sure of one thing: in the long run, any sufficiently advanced technology will be indistinguishable from nature.

Read more

In Kubrick’s own words:

[Extraterrestrials] may have progressed from biological species, which are fragile shells for the mind at best, into immortal machine entities and then, over innumerable eons, they could emerge from the chrysalis of matter transformed into beings of pure energy and spirit. Their potentialities would be limitless and their intelligence ungraspable by humans. These beings would be gods to the billions of less advanced races in the universe, just as man would appear a god to an ant.

They would be incomprehensible to us except as gods; and if the tendrils of their consciousness ever brushed men’s minds, it is only the hand of god we could grasp as an explanation. Mere speculation on the possibility of their existence is sufficiently overwhelming, without trying to decipher their motives. The important point is that all the standard attributes assigned to god in our history could equally well be the characteristics of biological entities who, billions of years ago, were at a stage of development similar to man’s own and evolved into something as remote from man as man is remote from the primordial ooze from which he first emerged.

Read more

“are we just not going to talk about the magically charred bodies?”

“it’s not magic, but it might as well be… must be what God feels like”

Read more

Long-range communication stones are palm-sized, triangular devices with rounded edges and intricate designs on the top. They work by forming a psychic link to the last person to make physical contact with them. A second link is established with a nearby stone if applicable, allowing the two users to share thoughts, either conscious or not. The link from the stone to its user requires close range, not being able to extend much further than an adjacent room, but the link between two stones has much greater range, at least a few thousand miles.

In physics, nonlocality or action at a distance is the direct interaction of two objects that are separated in space with no perceivable intermediate agency or mechanism. Regarding the unexplained nature of gravity, Isaac Newton (1642-1727) considered action-at-a-distance “so great an Absurdity that I believe no Man who has in philosophical Matters a competent Faculty of thinking can ever fall into it”. Quantum nonlocality refers to what Einstein called the “spooky action at a distance” of quantum entanglement.

The starting point for McFadden and Pockett’s theory is the fact that every time a neuron fires to generate an action potential, and a postsynaptic potential in the next neuron down the line, it also generates a disturbance in the surrounding electromagnetic field. McFadden has proposed that the brain’s electromagnetic field creates a representation of the information in the neurons. Studies undertaken towards the end of the 20th century are argued to have shown that conscious experience correlates not with the number of neurons firing, but with the synchrony of that firing.[9] McFadden views the brain’s electromagnetic field as arising from the induced EM field of neurons. The synchronous firing of neurons is, in this theory, argued to amplify the influence of the brain’s EM field fluctuations to a much greater extent than would be possible with the unsynchronized firing of neurons.

McFadden thinks that the EM field could influence the brain in a number of ways. Redistribution of ions could modulate neuronal activity, given that voltage-gated ion channels are a key element in the progress of axon spikes. Neuronal firing is argued to be sensitive to the variation of as little as one millivolt across the cell membrane, or the involvement of a single extra ion channel. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is similarly argued to have demonstrated that weak EM fields can influence brain activity.[citation needed]

McFadden proposes that the digital information from neurons is integrated to form a conscious electromagnetic information (cemi) field in the brain. Consciousness is suggested to be the component of this field that is transmitted back to neurons, and communicates its state externally. Thoughts are viewed as electromagnetic representations of neuronal information, and the experience of free will in our choice of actions is argued to be our subjective experience of the cemi field acting on our neurons.

McFadden’s view of freewill is deterministic. Neurons generate patterns in the EM field, which in turn modulate the firing of particular neurons. There is only conscious agency in the sense that the field or its download to neurons is conscious, but the processes of the brain themselves are driven by deterministic electromagnetic interactions. The feel of subjective experience or qualia corresponds to a particular configuration of the cemi field. This field representation is in this theory argued to integrate parts into a whole that has meaning, so a face is not seen as a random collection of features, but as somebody’s face. The integration of information in the field is also suggested to resolve the binding/combination problem.

In 2013, McFadden published two updates to the theory. In the first, ‘The CEMI Field Theory: Closing the Loop’ [10] McFadden cites recent experiments in the laboratories of Christof Koch[11] and David McCormick[12] which demonstrate that external EM fields, that simulate the brain’s endogenous EM fields, influence neuronal firing patterns within brain slices. The findings are consistent with a prediction of the cemi field theory that the brain’s endogenous EM field – consciousness – influences brain function. In the second, ‘The CEMI Field Theory Gestalt Information and the Meaning of Meaning’,[13] McFadden claims that that the cemi field theory provides a solution to the binding problem of how complex information is unified within ideas to provide meaning: the brain’s EM field unifies the information encoded in millions of disparate neurons.

Susan Pockett[1] has advanced a theory, which has a similar physical basis to McFadden’s, with consciousness seen as identical to certain spatiotemporal patterns of the EM field. However, whereas McFadden argues that his deterministic interpretation of the EM field is not out-of-line with mainstream thinking, Pockett suggests that the EM field comprises a universal consciousness that experiences the sensations, perceptions, thoughts and emotions of every conscious being in the universe. However, while McFadden thinks that the field is causal for actions, albeit deterministically, Pockett does not see the field as causal for our actions.

Among his early influences Sheldrake cites The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. Sheldrake says the book led him to view contemporary scientific understanding of life as a paradigm, which he called “the mechanistic theory of life”. Reading Kuhn’s work, Sheldrake says, fixed his focus on how scientific paradigms can change.[7]

Although there are similarities between morphic resonance and Hinduism’s akashic records,[114] Sheldrake says he first conceived of the idea while at Cambridge, before his travel to India where he would later develop it. He attributes the origin of his morphic resonance idea to two influences: his studies of the holistic tradition in biology, and French philosopher Henri Bergson’s book Matter and Memory. He says he took Bergson’s concept of memories not being materially embedded in the brain and generalised it to morphic resonance, where memories are not only immaterial but also under the influence of the collective past memories of similar organisms. While his colleagues at Cambridge were not receptive to the idea, Sheldrake found the opposite to be true in India. He recounts his Indian colleagues saying, “There’s nothing new in this, it was all known millennia ago to the ancient rishis.” Sheldrake thus characterises morphic resonance as a convergence between Western and Eastern thought, having originated in the West and developed in the East.[6][115]

Sheldrake has also noted similarities between morphic resonance and Carl Jung’s collective unconscious with regard to collective memories being shared across individuals and to the coalescing of particular behaviours through repetition, described by Jung as archetypes.[6] However, where Jung assumed archetypal forms were transmitted through physical inheritance, Sheldrake attributes collective memories to morphic resonance and rejects any explanation of them involving what he terms “mechanistic biology”.[10]

Read more

Clarkean Magix

Magic from Technology “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” — Arthur C. Clarke’s Third Law The science-fiction equivalent of magic. Magic does not derive from an actual mystical or spiritual source; rather, it is technology in disguise. The characters using this magic may or may not be aware of its true origins.

Read more "Clarkean Magix"