This is what is on my mind from time to time. Here's a long reply to an email I received the other day from a like minded soul asking me some interesting and important questions. I've posted the original email(with permission) and my reply in full for anyone who maybe interested in reading it.
I'm writing an article for Contributoria & wondered if you would be willing to do a short Q&A? Forgive my presumptuousness in sending such a long mail, if you don't have time to respond, I understand.
I'd be particularly interested to get your opinions on:
- How are you currently viewed by your peers in AI? Unknown? Fringe? Maverick? Crank? Credible? Respected?
- If you are not considered credible yet, what will be the turning point, and within what timeframe?
- In your opinion, how do you think the advent of AI will resolve the key material problems facing humanity (resources & the geo-politics involved that lead to wars, over-population, etc).
- Additionally, do you think the advent of AI can help resolve the key spiritual problems facing humanity? (or do you feel these problems will need to be tackled BEFORE the advent of AI?)
- How do you view the problem of religious fundamentalism & the conflict that results (which, though exacerbated by the resource issue, would exist anyway due to the ideologies involved) in light of AI? Are these problems that exist outside the remit of AI so to speak?
William Blake said "As the true method of Knowledge is Experiment, the true faculty of knowing must be the faculty which experiences." Huxley said "Knowledge is a function of Being."
With the traditional (in the main, initially at least) outcome of psychedelics experience being a desire to return nature and a rejection of technology & progress, would it be perverse to suggest that the advent of AI would be the technology that enables us to faciliate states of Experience, or Being at will, and finally render dogmatic religion obsolete?
Alexander Shulgin said of his 'Plus 4' rating that it would single the "ultimate evolution of the human species." Could AI be the key to the Plus 4?
Can you see a solution to the problems of religion without the availability of a 100% reliable 'Plus 4' experience that shows people who they really are that renders false belief extinct?
Thanks for your email and also thanks for letting me reproduce it in full. I've taken the time to answer in full because the questions you asked have been very much on my mind the past few months.
Currently I’m mainly unknown in most of the mainstream AI and neuroscience world. But that will change in the next year or so. The only reason why most people around the world, are aware of what I do is from videos of some long talks and interviews I did in 2011 and 2012 and which have been broadcast on UK Satellite TV and are now circulating on Youtube/Vimeo etc. And these were prepared for as wide an audience as possible so a lot of technical details were left out. Still just from this output, the brain theory has been well received by hardcore techies types and some scientists all around the world. As is often the case with new ideas, it has often been the next generation of AI researchers and neuroscientists, either undergraduates or Phds, often at elite universities who have been getting in touch with me. A lot of mainstream academics, some well known, have been introduced to my work over the past year and some have written in positively. Their students discover me on youtube and then tell their professors and supervisors to check out my work which they do. The formulation of the brain theory has been a 25 year plus journey, which has taken place mainly outside of academia and the corporate world. It’s about to come crashing in.
I’m in the process of producing the first book about the brain theory and some papers outlining the most important properties of it. But most importantly there is a full software implementation of the core ideas behind the brain theory, gradually taking shape on my workstation and laptop(s). I’ve been in full time employment for 10 years working in the charity sector but quit my job in July to concentrate on the project, so things are moving more quickly now.
There are some very special aspects and powerful properties associated with the brain theory. What the theory says is that the fundamental principles of Symmetry, Self-Similarity and Recursivity can be systematically applied to understanding the brain, to produce three major tightly interrelated breakthroughs in systems neuroscience and AI. They are firstly a single unifying language to describe all the various aspects of brain and mind. Secondly the idea that with this unified description we can bring all the pieces together into a single integrated all encompassing data structure. Thirdly and most surprisingly(even shockingly), that there exists a single recursive function behind all the component processes of brain and mind, and that this process even encompasses how brains come into being, i.e. neurogenesis and ontogenesis. This last property is so ahead of the leading ideas and theories in systems neuroscience that it seems fantastical and implausible. What the theory shows is that there is a way of looking at the brain and mind, which shows that behind the myriad complexity and mind numbing detail is actually perfect symmetry, self-similarity and recursivity. The entire theory and by the same token, brain and manifest mind is reducible and derives from a single self modifying recursive function. This is not at all obvious, and at first people dismiss this idea because it’s inconceivable to them. Science really advances in a revolutionary ways when people conceive the seemingly inconceivable. So I'll explain this third breakthrough some more.
It can easily be explained that indeed every aspect of our lives, including our brains and minds, does indisputably derive a single self modifying recursive function i.e. mitosis or cell division, which starts as a fertilized egg. The brain theory shows there’s an underlying symmetry of structure and process spanning cell division, cell interaction(including neuronal axonal/dendritic branching), temporal dynamics and the evolution of spatial temporal representations in the brain/mind. When we express all this in our unifying language, then we can show how all the separate recursive processes happening from fertilized egg to all our thoughts and behaviours; are actually the expressions of the same underlying self modifying function starting from a recursive atom, and which gives rise to all the myriad complexity of body, brain and mind. So obviously everything in our lives derives from the emanations of that initial fertilized egg, what the theory shows is that everything emanating in our lives, bodies, brains and minds is a single continuous emanation which is described by and is the expression of a single recursive function. So this is what I think I’ve stumbled upon and am about to show the world.
When all this is explained to people in a way they can fully comprehend, then I think people will come to understand that this is not just any old brain theory or just another neural network, but rather a profound and fundamental way of looking at the brain and mind. There’s a mathematical elegance, parsimony and succinctness behind this way of looking at things, which when it is shown that it really does reduce all the complexity of mind and brain, will make the theory extremely compelling. When this is fully communicated and digested by the mainstream, then I think the world AI, mind science, neuroscience community will be completely blown away, I anticipate. At this stage I can explain these breakthroughs with a bit of time and loads of diagrams. It is the software simulation which will bring the theory to life and make my communications far more effective and convincing in a short space of time, and far fewer paragraphs. So this is what I’m getting ready now. Getting people to accept revolutionary new ideas is like war with competing ideas which are all the primitive brain theories and basic AI approaches in the mainstream today. My efforts in this effort are in the process of become more fully mechanized and automated.
Another ace up my sleeve is that the brain theory in its workings subsumes a lot of powerful ideas and algorithms from exisiting AI and computer science and makes them fully recursive. So I believe apart from sitting on an exciting brain theory that’s way ahead of its time, I’m also in possession of a technological innovation of great utility and practicality. It’s going to form the foundation for the start-up at the end of time. There’s immense commercial application for the brain theory. This is also another reason why the theory will come to be widely accepted in the years to come, and in a quite short space of time I believe. Some theoretical neuroscientists and AI people will be using the theory in their smart phones before they fully accept or are even aware of it, I anticipate.
So the ‘turning point’ for the theory will be the next wave of material, a lot of written stuff and the software simulation. The special mathematical and powerful properties of the theory will get people’s attention and interest, then the comprehensiveness and explanatory power of the theory will seal the deal. This will happen in the next year or so. There’ll be a gradual increase in interest over the next couple of years, and then an explosion and I believe it’ll become the standard way of looking at the brain and mind. The world’s of neuroscience and AI will be turned upside down over this time. It’ll also capture the public imagination of people worldwide.
There’s no doubt in my mind that true AI and a full understanding of brain and mind will the key factor and singular revelation that may dramatically alter the course of things, which is not going to a good place right now. The trajectory of human affairs is heading off a cliff, with no one at the steering wheel. On a purely material level, the advent of AI will so advance the human condition. It is intelligence which is the prime wealth generator and multiplier of value in this world. When this is automated then its effect would be profound. What we’re talking about here is the Technological Singularity, the idea of the positive feedback effects on humankind’s technological and industrial evolution which will radically transform materially the human condition in a short space of time i.e decades. The Technological Singularity has been called ‘Apocalypticism for Nerds’, the change will be epic and seem as like divine intervention. I see the world in pretty mythic terms. The bringer of AI and the instigator of the Technological Singularity will effectively be ‘Deus Ex Machina’.
I’m not really saying anything original here. But what is really unforeseen by most thinkers and futurists is the idea that a final understanding of mind, brain and consciousness will have a massive impact on the world of politics and religion. I’ve already made some pretty dramatic claims, that is an all unifying all explaining and encapsulating brain theory, the keys to AI and the instigation of the Technological Singularity. But probably the biggest implication of the brain theory is that I believe it holds the key to answering the biggest cosmological mysteries and also the biggest mystery of them all, which is Consciousness.
There exists a perfect extrapolation of the fractal brain theory to the idea of a fractal universe. Cosmology and physics in general, is a mass of partial theories, open questions and conflicting views. What I believe is that all the pieces of the jig-saw that physicists and cosmologists have assembled in their attempts to understand the Universe, fit together in a way that has perfect correspondence with all aspects of the brain theory. So that it is a full understanding of brain and mind that all along was the missing key to the great puzzle of what is the nature of the Universe. So that an understanding of brain and mind allows us to understand the nature of the Universe and fit together the partial solutions in physics into the complete picture. This is the revival of an ancient but recurring idea that has been supported by recent findings in science, that ‘as is the human mind so is the cosmic mind’, that the universe is as a giant brain or a giant thought; and the idea of a fractal universe. So that in the same way a fertilized egg through the unifying algorithm described by the brain theory, gives rise to our bodies, brains and all the thoughts and behaviours we emanate in our lives; so it is that the theory also corresponds to how the Universe emanates from a point to become the Cosmic Christ, Universal Vishnu or Celestial Buddha. I’m currently writing a long article on this which is steadily becoming a book but I’ll post it on the iawwai website when it’s finished in a week or so.
This perfect extrapolation of the fractal brain theory to a fractal universe apart from answering cosmological mysteries, is in turn the key to answering the riddle of Consciousness. Really the answer has been known since the dawn of civilization and is at the heart of all world religion, i.e. its esoteric or hidden aspects, Gnosticism, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry within Christianity, Sufism/Shiism within Islam, Kabbalah within Judaism, Tantra/Advaita Vedanta within Hinduism, Vajrayana in Buddhism, Taoism etc. etc. Which is essentially that we are all one consciousness, undivided and indivisible and which may be called God. What historically has been such a big secret, is not so secret anymore. So many people all over the world either fully believe it, are sympathetic with the idea, have been exposed to it or else is implicit in their beliefs; that I think it’s pretty common these days and not just in India or heavily Sufi parts of the Muslim world, but all over in industrialized countries. The trick is to fully explain it. Once we can show that our brains, minds, society and the universe are really one big fractal then what follows from this is that everything is of the same kind of consciousness, which then makes it possible to show that we are all one consciousness. This way of looking at the universe and the idea that we are all one, together with the details of the brain theory is also the return of all the key ideas in esoteric religion. It is the full return for the 21st century of the Perennial wisdom and restoration of the Prisca Theologia. I’ll be talking and writing about this sort of thing a lot in the future.
A lot of people who follow what I do, think I’m here to explain the brain and create AI, this is just a subset of a more important message, and that message in one sentence is that ‘Everyone is God and the Prophecies are Now.’ What I'm about is very much a continuation of the forbidden historical undercurrent, this esoteric religion, that the likes of Pythagoras, Plato, the Medici and Renaissance luminaries, Newton, Leibniz were so into. If they were alive today then they would be very excited by and interested in my work. There’s no doubt in my mind, I’m in the process of communicating a world historic revelation. The brain, AI, Technological Singularity stuff is merely a part of this bigger message.
So back to one of your questions, this is how the brain theory will impact the spiritual world. When we understand how historically many benign political movements and ideas, enlightened values and norms and also revolutionary movements in the past, directly came about from this hidden and banned religion, then it’s easy to imagine how its complete revival will likewise trigger a re-enlightenment and re-renaissance for the 21st Century. This will not only ‘finally render dogmatic religion obsolete’ it will also render militant atheism obsolete. But realistically the established religions and dogmatic voices in science won’t go without a fight.
I think an understanding of the truth goes hand with hand with the path to experiencing the truth. There are some schools of dogmatic thought in some spiritual traditions that believe we can only reach non-dual or ‘at one with the universe’ states through abandoning rational thought, whereas other traditions believe that thought or analytical reasoning is in itself a path to the divine. The Bhagavad Gita talks about jnana-marg and sankhaya, the tantras may involve learning elaborate cosmologies, the ancient greeks considered philosophical contemplation and mathematics as keys to divine self-realization. The brain theory and associated cosmology and metaphysical outlook will resurrect the latter idea. And like the tantras in India, modern and ancient, the 21st century ‘way’ may involved a mix of meditational practices, reasoning and learning; all coupled with use of psychedelic substances. Perhaps we may see a version of the Eleusinian mysteries revived for the 21st century or perhaps this is what the world psy-trance scene already is. And here’s yet another massive claim for the brain theory. No matter how you slice it or dice it, enlightenment is a mind game and this is reflected in processes in the brain which is itself a microcosmic reflection of the Universe. Once we understand how the brain works, which I believe the brain theory shows, then we are also able to understand what the perfecting of that process is, and so why people experience these states of oneness when perfection is attained either transiently with substances or temporary extreme bodily state else through a life journey. Of course this is a huge subject and area to explore and elaborate upon. But I can fully see a complete synthesis between the brain theory on the one hand and all the various spiritual and mystical practices on the other.
Fixing the problems of religion is the greatest prize and the greatest challenge on the planet. Fix this and everything else falls into place. Without solving the problem of religion in this integrated and interdependent world then there is no future. Religion is the fulcrum of this world. The world and all humanity is heading towards the abyss. The hidden religion is the unifying factor behind all world religion and the key to unifying religion with science. The return of the hidden religion is the Apocalypse in the literal meaning of the greek word which translates as the ‘unveiling of hidden thing’. And then this Apocalypse in turn is central factor that realizes the promise of the prophecies. It the prophecies are now, a world in turmoil, chaos and calamity, on the brink of ecological and environmental collapse and all the other major problems collective humanity faces; then the outcome of the prophecies is the redemption and salvation of humanity, the happy ending so to speak. The ‘ultimate evolution of the human species’ in my mind is bound up with eschatological hope and the outcome that the prophecies in the religions of the world talk about. I believe the fractal brain theory, its cosmology, its associated metaphysical outlook and the technology deriving from it will be a significant factor in the unfolding of this process.