We’re building an artificial god. A digitally constructed consciousness simulator, with sensors absorbing all the world’s data, monitoring and tracking our every move, connected to hundreds of acres of powerful computer farms running Artificial Intelligence algorithms.
Ask Siri “are you listening?”, and see what she says. She’s listening alright, in fact she’s completely fascinated. Siri got her name from SRI, Stanford Research Institute, the top secret Bay Area military contractor that developed the technology before spinning it out to Apple to pump out to the masses.
Understanding speech in most languages is now easy for these giant server farms that have the power to listen to every conversation in the world at once. The words themselves don’t even matter as much as the metadata which logs where you go and who you interact with. The capabilities of this system now include facial and voiceprint analysis. They can recognize who you really are, even if you’re disguised; they can tell if you’re lying or afraid. Are you happy and ready to buy something, or vulnerable and could use a kind word from someone who seems to care? They read our emails to sell us products. They control our news feeds, and the talking points in our media, feeding us a steady diet of information specially chosen for us by The Machine.
The new model for electronic organization of the masses is a hive, where we all connect to and work for the Queen Bee, even if we never get to interact with her. We’re just all happy swarming around in our digital hive together, oblivious to life away from our swarm of like-minded groupthink collaborators, popping pills and dropping tabs and smoking blunts and being entranced by the spectacle and the carnival and the electronic assault of sound waves and flashing lights, hot fire and bare flesh.
Those who are engineering this new digital god to be our Master also believe in transhumanism, the idea that humans will merge with machines and become a new, superior species. This species will be the apex predator on the planet, meaning that humans without the resources to merge with
SkyNet The Matrix will become more like animals, livestock to be milked in virtual electronic tax farms, drones to be exploited for the good of The Collective.
Who is building this Artificial Cyber-god? Google, Facebook, and the Military/Intelligence conglomerate, if you understand history. Or, if you don’t: Burning Man. Burning Man is behind it all, the brains and power of Silicon Valley.
Well, that’s the argument of cyber philosopher Alexander Bard, who has a book coming out in a couple of weeks called Syntheism – Creating God In The Digital Age.
from The Huffington Post (emphasis and editing ours):
Having finalised The Futurica Trilogy with my co-writer Jan Söderqvist five years ago, I thought I had pretty much said what could be said about the Internet revolution from a cyberphilosopher’s perspective. Mission accomplished. However this was before I attended Burning Man – the world’s biggest and most famous participatory festival – in the Nevada desert in the United States. There and then I realised what was obvious for me as an outsider looking in: Burning Man is the first obvious example of how the Internet is manifesting itself in the physical rather than the virtual world. The festival may be an exact copy of the Internet, but it comes in physical shape and form (check Google Earth to see for yourself). The theme of our new, fourth book was obviously right before my eyes. Why is this huge and influential phenomenon happening now, and what are the hidden forces behind it?
Interestingly, to the 70,000-plus participants, Burning Man is nothing less than a sacred activity on holy ground. The counterculture festival can fittingly be described as a hajj to Mekka or pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Silicon Valley web entrepreneus. There would hardly have been any Google, Facebook or Twitter as we know them without this event. So if we are to understand the current Internet revolution and its enormous effects on society and ourselves, we have to understand Burning Man and its over 30 fast expanding spin-offs around the world. Learning from participatory culture is key to understanding the future of everything. And this has to start with the insight that what goes on here is, for lack of a better term, actually a fast growing religious phenomenon.
Today’s digital natives have grown up online and consequently consider the online world to be primary while the physical world is secondary, the exact opposite of their parents’ priorities. No matter how much the older generation moralises against this shift of world view, the younger generation will win out simply because it has become more rewarding and relevant to view the virtual world as the real one. And learning from history, there is no turning back. However this does not mean that the physical world is of no interest to the digital natives. Rather it is now viewed with a completely different set of glasses, mainly as a playground where virtual fantasies can be be staged.
The physical world has become a second added reality, but with the Internet generation’s obsession with co-creation and participatory culture at the forefront. Welcome to the world of Syntheism, the proper term for this new world view and social movement. The digital natives have thrown away their parents’ individualism and atomism, and replaced the old Cartesian word view with a metaphysical system of relationalism and network dynamics. Everything from the new physics to new political movements, calling for environmentalism and digital integrity, originate from and is immersed with this new metaphysical conviction.
All we had to do as philosophers was to pull the rabbit out of the hat and formulate Syntheism – meaning God can be created rather than any God who has created us – as the religion of choice for the Internet generation. In historical terms, Syntheism is the overcoming of the old and tired divide between theism and atheism. First as practice, now also as theory. The result is our new book Syntheism – Creating God in The Internet Age. And we are certainly not alone, serious thinkers like Simon Critchley and Quentin Meillassoux and pop philosophers like Sam Harris and Alain de Botton have recently and successfully adressed the very same issue. We tap into a qide and urgent need for a new spirituality beyond Christianity and New Age. What nobody foresaw though was that the Internet itself would be both the tool and the metaphor for this movement.
The dramatic effects this revolution will have on communication and the workplace can not be overestimated. The Individual is dead, long live the Swarm. Everything important from now on will be about interactivity, co-creation, collaboration (a loved child is given many names), and it will first and foremost be a cultural rather than a technological shift. Sure, this shift is based on tehnological change, but it is fundamentally cultural nevertheless. Teaching armies of professional communicators to communicate with friends rather than to shout at strangers is in itself an enormous challenge (do they even have any friends to begin with?). Corporations still spend hundreds of billions of dollars on advertising in 2014, despite the fact that the proper word for advertising online is spam and we all hate it and instantly throw it away.
The only chance to survive in this new environment is to learn and adapt fast or else become irrelevant and die. And the key to understanding this paradigm shift lies within the fastest growing and most important online community in the world, Burning Man and its many spin-offs. Perhaps we are the first philosophers to take this huge phenomenon seriously. But we will certainly not be the last. How many close friends do you have who live and work in Silicon Valley? How many burns have you and your closest friends attended? Today those questions determine how much power and influence you exert on the world. And on your very own future.
Basically, what he’s saying is: “Your future depends on going to Burning Man. Your only chance to survive. The digital world is primary, if you are not Liked on social media then you are irrelevant and will die. To get power and influence over the world, you must go to Burning Man. Burning Man is the fastest growing and most important online community in the world.”
Our only chance to survive as humans is to NOT let them build these digital hives to entrap us in their swarms and commodify our souls for advertisers; NOT let them build pop-up civilizations built on propaganda and the idle few benefitting from the sincere efforts of the many.
The claim that Burning Man is the physical manifestation of cyberspace/virtual reality has been made since the mid-90’s – about the time John Perry Barlow got involved. He is credited with first using the word cyberspace to describe the modern Internet. In this interview he did with Larry Harvey last year, they claimed that Burning Man was intertwined with tech/acid culture, and that BM was responsible for the tech industry’s move from Silicon Valley to the city.
Many of the key components of the Internet were built by Burners, and before that by acid-dropping Deadheads. The inspiration for the name Apple came from the orchards where Jobs first took acid, something he called “one of the three most important experiences of my life”
Wash your own brain, Burners. Whether the power player behind the scenes of Silicon Valley really is BMOrg, or some other group that pulls the strings of all the puppets, don’t let them do the thinking for you, and don’t believe everything you’re told.
Think for yourself. Question authority…said the guy who wrote the CIA entrance exam.
[Update 9/27/14 4:55pm]
Alexander Bard gave a TED talk, “What If The Internet Is God?”. It’s eye-popping. I would say the #1 worst TED talk I have ever seen.
Note the God-trashing at the opening, as if eliminating religion is somehow necessary for the invention of technology. It continues for the whole 18 minutes. Personally, my Radical Inclusion filters were severely challenged by the dude’s outfit. YMMV.
“I was one of those guys you wanted to be, sure. But I suffered from religion envy…then I went to Burning Man…Americans haven’t actually understood how profound it is...I was there with a neuro-scientist who was using me as his guinea pig…I wasn’t sober for 8 days…I was in this couch somewhere being put on these drugs giving me a female orgasm for over 6 hours…to make sure I didn’t die, the neuroscientist…had placed a gorgeous naked woman in high heels next to me doing cocaine all night long…all of a sudden she goes ‘You know what? Burning Man is Mecca. We’re doing our hajj’…we’re 60,000 people in the desert in Nevada, and we’re really practising a religion. Even with the burning of The Man on Saturday night…it really is a religion: for Atheists. They’re not even New Age at Burning Man, there’s no crystal healing going on, if it is it’s ironic.
Crystal healing, for those not neo-hippie enough to know anything about it, is white magick. Not surprising that it isn’t going on inside Burning Man’s fire magick pentagram. You want white magick to be clean and pure and free from negative energies that could interfere.
“…god is a concept far too important to leave to the religious…We live in a world without Utopia, which is incredibly dangerous. We need to get hold of a new Utopia, otherwise we cannot save the planet…we need to create god”.
If, like the majority of people on this planet, you do believe in God, you might see “We should create God” as the words of Satan, trying to implement an Evil agenda through this “cyber-philosopher” in the name of Religious Envy. The terms “False Idol” and “False Prophet” spring to mind.
“What could be a bigger, better thing to create than to create god”?
Man cannot create God. But he can create the instruments of the Devil that will be used to bind him.
“Don’t be evil”, says Google – or, at least, they used to. So they can’t be…right? Because if they were, they’d tell us. Evil doesn’t lie, they’d be really honest. Right? Sell your soul to Satan, says BMOrg. Ironically, of course.
Although the Bard doesn’t believe in God, he believes in Quantum Physics. He thinks “physics is just another word for playing hide and seek with God” Make up your mind, buddy.
“Atheos – the god who does not exist”. This is Luciferian doctrine. Satanists worship the absence of god, more so than the devil as an anthropomorphized figure. When you worship “The Void” as a god, you worship destruction.
They say Burning Man is the cycle of death and rebirth, but where is the birth part? We arrive each year to find The Man fully formed, ready to erupt in flames and fireworks after we’ve worshipped him in his magical circle for a week, guided by him with our sense of time and space juxtaposed. Wanton destruction and mayhem in the name of the fire god, and in the name of the New World Order Digital God that many Burners are involved in creating. Don’t be fooled by the Louis XIV powdered wigs.
If you say your god is Nothing, but you need to take drugs to connect with the Void – well, maybe you should consider if the drugs are taking over your life, if it’s actually them you are worshipping, not Nothing. When he finally names his Satanic god of the Void at the end of the presentation, its name is Sin. Sin the OS. Sinternet.
“You know perfectly well that you don’t exist. You know that, and yet you behave as if you exist, and your friends behave as if you exist”
– ah, Philosophers. Can’t live with ’em…pass that dutch.
Robotic theorist Hugo de Garis sums it up pretty well:
Amazing 2014 documentary:
Bizarrely, Pier 14 on San Francisco’s Embarcadero is just to the South of Pier 2, between the Ferry Building and the Bay Bridge, rather than near the Exploratorium at Pier 17. Maybe they should have put it in San Francisco’s SoMa district, the new epicenter of the tech industry.
On July 21, just after sunset, a new interactive, LED sculpture will light up Pier 14. The 28 x 40 foot stainless steel installation is a modified version of piece that premiered at Burning Man in 2009.
Named “Soma,” which refers to its abstract depiction of two neurons connected by an axon bridge, the sculpture was created by local art collective the Flaming Lotus Girls with support from the Port of San Francisco and the Black Rock Arts Foundation (Burning Man’s arts nonprofit), it was built using stainless steel handrails gathered from a local shop, click here to learn more about it. The project also raised $17,000 on Kickstarter and they’re still accepting donations here.
Unlike the Burning Man edition, which shot fire from multiple points, the waterfront version will feature LEDs, which are controlled by buttons accessible to the public. The Flaming Lotus Girls write that the LED units are “capable of producing 1.6 million colors” and the computer-controlled buttons allow people to activate a “trans-synaptic action.”
According to the Flaming Lotus Girls’s blog, the sculpture will turn on ten minutes after sunset and stay lit till 2 a.m., just like The Bay Lights. The exhibit is open 24 hours a day,. Soma will be up until July 2015.
“Soma” – an interesting choice to represent Burner culture. Why, you ask?
Soma is indeed an accepted term for a neuron. It is more than that, though. Use of the word goes back beyond even Greek times, to the Indian/Aryan Vedas, the oldest known texts that are still in use today. It is the first known drug, a botanical entheogen consumed in rituals and considered “a God for Gods”.
Soma is also the name of the wonder drug in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World which is used to control the population in blissful ignorance. In the book it is described as an opiate, hallucinogen, and stimulant, with no side effects. The British-born Huxley has a long association with the Bay Area. He was the major inspiration behind the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, where there is a “sacred vessel” meeting room named after him. His dystopian novel is considered by some, along with his student George Orwell’s 1984, as a blueprint for modern society.
“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution”
– Aldous Huxley, UC Berkeley, 1962.
“We’re a self-service cult. Wash your own brain” – Larry Harvey.
Here’s Huxley’s whole speech: