The Robots Are Coming – Part I

We use body language (consciously or subconsciously) to predict what others are going to do or say. Many animals can ‘read’ us very well. Conmen make a science of it. It is a skill that can be taught. Some maintain this ability, combined with a little basic common sense is behind popular belief in the existence of telepathy. Many believe it is a gift some people can harness for good or ill – the supersense of witches and wizards, of shamans, witchdoctors and charlatans.

There exist documented examples of mind reading at a distance that cannot possibly result from input from body language. In everyday life most people can find examples a-plenty of sensing something is not right with a friend or relation a long way away. Somehow we are in touch and we cannot explain how. “It’s just a coincidence” is the usual put-down by sceptics. In the case of pets: “They know you’re habits so well, of course they know when you should be coming home,” is the usual explanation of how the dog knows when it’s time to go to the window to wait for dad. No one cares to explain why the dog doesn’t do that every day as a matter of routine. Pets do know when dad is not coming.

If we can harness this ‘gift’ using just our limited, much degraded five senses, how long will it be before supercomputers can do so better than your average conman, using modern sensors that outperform our feeble capabilies?

What if advancing neuro-science uncovers the existence of superfast communication within our brains? Scientists have already demonstrated that ‘entangled’ particles can communicate instantaneously over distance, making a mockery of the belief that all communication is limited to the speed of light. Why should such particles not exist in the brain? Could it be that humans have simply lost the ability to harness this form of communication, seemingly so well-developed in some animals? Could the entanglement theory be at the heart of the working of our ‘gut reactions’ that have for some time been shown to be the result of a second brain (the Enteric Nervous System {ENS}) located in our stomach walls. Without the input of our external senses, the ENS reaches conclusions faster than our logical head-based brain and can do so even if one of its supposed paths to the Central Nervous System is severed?

Very recently a team of researchers proved that crude telepathy over distance can be reproduced by hooking up test subjects to a transcranial Magnetic Pulse Stimulator (tMPS), a similar device to that used by my fictional team in Think Freedom (the transcranial Direct Current Stimulator (tDCS) – an actual device used in the treatment of sufferers from depression and marksmen to improve their sharpshooting skills).

 

Consciousness – The Dawn of a New Religion?

SINCE DISCOVERING FOR myself the weirdness of quantum mechanics and the increasing difficulty physicists are having in explaining their evermore ‘weird’ theories of everything without descending into semi religious themes, I begin to wonder just how much longer it will be before one or other of them really does go nuts.

It would seem there is a strong move away from the conventional ‘mechanistic materialism’ behind the physics of the universe. Particle physicists cannot agree on what happens at the quantum level of particle behaviour. Are the quarks, muons, bosons and all the other quantum level particles there or aren’t they? If you observe them they behave as particles. If you don’t they behave as electromagnetic waves. Is ‘entanglement’ a far more common feature of these particles than previously thought? Do more ‘twinned’ particles exist that can communicate with each other across the universe instantaneously? Is it possible that information can be transmitted faster than the speed of light? Can what I know be exactly the same as what you – my telepathic twin – know without some electromagnetic speed limit getting in the way? Do dark matter and its counterpart dark energy exist? If so, what are they? Do they really compose some threequarters of the substance of the universe?

What started out for me as a mild curiosity about a theory that called itself ‘biocentrism’ that has been around for three or four years has morphed into a romp through a whole ‘new’ way of looking at consciousness that has adopted the name of non-dualism. This philosophy links its definition of consciousness to the theory of everything in a very different metaphysical way via Buddhist and/or Hindu meditational beliefs and practices, quoting the Mahayana/Vedanta and the great Yogis/Maharishis that have expounded on their beliefs over hundreds of years.

Far be it from someone as ignorant of eastern religions as me to pour scorn on the beliefs of highly educated men and women – some holding university chairs in complex scientific subjects such as particle physics, neuropsychology and advanced stem cell development – but their claims that the mathematicians and particle physicists have gone as far as they can go in slicing up (or down) matter into its smallest parts are way beyond the boundaries of my simple comprehension.

They posit the theory that the materialist scientists with their blind faith in quantum mechanical mathematics can go no further in their search for a theory of everything without recognising that the only true definitions will be found in acceptance of the existence of an all-pervading, infinite consciousness beyond mankind’s comprehension, a level of consciousness that can only be approached by resorting to extreme meditational exercises as practised by yoga adepts. The non-dualists believe (and it is very much a belief of the religious kind) that the origin of the universe (and, indeed, the infinite multiplicity of universes that follows from their belief) lies in a ‘fizz’ (in the actual words of a prominent microphysicist) of particles like that which produced the ‘Big Bang’ (if, indeed such an event ever occurred).

Personally, I am not prepared to delve into the mysteries of oriental religions, much as I respect their advanced humanity by comparison with the Abrahamic religions evolved in the Middle East. I am no atheist, nor am I a devout theist. However, I do believe that fanatical adhesion to any one religious belief is a recipe for human conflict, with words like ‘blasphemy’ being bandied around to denigrate others who cannot or will not accept a particular interpretation of dogma.

Like one school of oriental religious thought I do believe in the soul or spirit, the ultimate me (Atman?). I do believe that it is something like – not necessarily the same as – the energy that Einstein proved is indestructible with his general theory of relativity, with the beautiful simplicity of its defining expression, e=mc2. While I do not accept that I will be reincarnated as a being deserving of a new life reflecting my behaviour in this one, I do believe that there will always be a consciousness – a soul – that will essentially be a continuation of me. (Here my belief parts company with anything I was taught in Sunday school.) I may not have any recollection of what this life is all about. I don’t know whether I will come back as a poisonous microbe or a brain surgeon. Will I even come back to an awareness of self in this universe or some other parallel one with dimensions I cannot experience in this one? Who knows?

There is evidence – refuted by most neuroscientists and advanced psychology practitioners – that human beings can and do reincarnate with memories of their former existence. Rare cases have been investigated using modern research techniques and documented where children barely out of nappies and only just able to talk can recollect facts from a previous lifetime that cannot possibly be explained in any other way. It is said that such memories tend not to last beyond early childhood, which is probably why more cases have not been recorded. Certainly, this gels with Buddhist beliefs in reincarnation.

Whether or not reincarnation can be proven, belief in an afterlife seems to be fundamental to the mental well-being of most human beings no matter what their cultural background. It takes a peculiar form of bloody-mindedness to be an atheist, someone who believes that death is the end of all things – when your brain dies that’s it, there’s nothing else – nix, zilch. You will never see another sunrise; you will never smell another flower, taste another sweet; you will never perceive of beauty; you will never experience love.

“What dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil?”

It will be interesting to see what comes of this debate between the materialists and the dualists or non-dualists. As one protagonist of the latter said in a recent gathering of like-minded people (Rupert Spira in a U-Tube lecture on non-duality), we stand on the threshold of a major change in scientific knowledge, a change as profound as that in the mid 16th century, when Copernicus expounded his (then) heretical theory that the Earth was not the centre of the universe, that it circled round the Sun and not vice versa.

We know from history what changes that brought about in the world, slowly at first, then accelerating to where we are now, where technological and scientific development in all disciplines has reached exponential levels. What will that change be? Will it be something wholly revolutionary or are we on the verge of a return to a belief in a force (The Force?) that cannot be comprehended by ordinary man? Is this new acceptance of a Consciousness that is beyond comprehension, beyond even the most erudite scientists to define, because it is unknowable, going to become the new age religion, with its own ‘priesthood’ with all that portends?

Those of us who are not into philosophy will need some sort of moral guidance from those who are. I do not have the time or inclination to go back to school and learn a new religion and a new code of living. I am perfectly happy with my own interpretation of the teachings of Jesus Christ unfettered by the religious dogma imposed by any branch of Catholicism or Protestantism. I do not ‘know’ the bible backwards and have no ambition to do so. I know the bits I like and what I have taken away with me as I’ve progressed through life. I like the familiarity of some church services, the hymns I grew up with. I don’t like the changes that have been introduced in the general dumbing down of teaching to accommodate every relaxation in moral standards. Not being a religious fanatic I would not dream of imposing my beliefs on anyone else. They are my own distillation of my own experience and I’m comfortable with them.

Nevertheless, I would like to know where these guys are expecting to take us.

THE RUTILIUS JOURNALS

 

 

They don’t feature amongst the world’s best sellers but quite few people around the world have actually read them, would you believe! They are not the easiest assignment for a quiet evening, I have to admit. Mention Julius Caesar to the average bloke and responses vary from: ‘Yuk!’ to ‘Not my cup of tea!’ to ‘Who?’, although some will admit to having enjoyed the spicier bits of the TV series ‘Rome’. Those who claim to have read their Shakespeare may even come up with the odd quote: “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him,” being perhaps one of the better known, placed in the mouth of Mark Antony – the lucky guy, who ran off with Cleopatra.

Most people only know Caesar as the Roman General who became dictator of Rome and was murdered by Brutus and his pals a few years later (‘Et tu, Brute’ – or ‘Ouch, you brute’ as we boys would have it!) For the next four or five hundred years the Emperors of Rome called themselves Caesar after him, and the titles Tsar and Kaiser echo his name. But the Roman Empire as ruled by his successors was definitely not what Julius Caesar wanted to see. It was the brainchild of his adopted son, Octavian, who re-invented himself as the Emperor Augustus.

Julius Caesar believed in equality a couple of thousand years before its time. He wanted the Empire run by men (sorry Ladies, he wasn’t that far ahead of his time) from every walk of life who could prove their worth. In other words, he believed in merit, not privilege. He wanted to reform the government of Rome from one run by obscenely rich nobles (mostly upper class patricians like himself) to one run by men of real ability. He even wanted the best men from the provinces to take part and stand for election to the Senate in Rome itself. Doesn’t sound much like what followed, does it?

It took me 17 years to write my story, because I thought it was time Caesar got a bit of good publicity. I was introduced to him at the Harvey Grammar School in Folkestone, where I ‘did’ Latin from 12- to 18-years old. We had to study Caesar’s books on the Gallic Wars in the original for O Level. We only studied the bits examiners thought were tricky, so I never did read all eight books on his wars that took him from modern Switzerland, through most of France, Belgium, bits of Germany and even to Engand’s shores (twice).

I wrote the books in two-year episodes from 60 BC to 50 BC and self-published them between 2006 and 2009, although I started work on the first couple of books in 1993-4 and got distracted by having to earn a living in between. I wanted to re-tell Caesar’s story, using his own version of events through the eyes of a modern man, Caesar’s Tribune (the title of the first book). It is not a dry-as-dust history. It’s a mix of fact and fiction, sticking as close to the facts as possible. There’s a love story in there somewhere and a fair bit of background that Caesar never explained, because his target readership knew it.

I have edited the five ‘journals’ down into a single volume entitled ‘Caesar’s Tribune – The Whole Story’. All the books are available through Amazon and on Kindle at a much more modest price.

Think Freedom

Adamanta

Is she a person? Is she real? Is she even possible? The answers in sequence are: no, yes and no, and who knows?

Adamanta is a figment of my imagination – a ‘what-if’. What if scientists were to discover that telepathy really exists and can be used by selected ‘adepts’? What if they also find that psychokinesis is also a reality that can be harnessed for useful purposes? What if, by combining their new-found skills adepts discover they can move themselves around as visible and (if required) solid ‘avatars’, leaving their ‘host’ bodies and travelling wherever they wish (as shamans claim they can do)? The answers are all there in the Think Freedom trilogy.

Adamanta, before she took shape, was behind these discoveries in her pre-existence as the research team’s Artificial Intelligence-controlled supercomputer (the AI – a powerful futuristic, but entirely feasible edition). Only after the research goes public and progresses to its development stage, does Adamanta really come to the fore.

Moving on from a research project to their own Centre of Excellence with almost unlimited funding, the group of adepts continue to use their AI in a massively updated form. Its power to re-invent itself far outstrips what its designers intended. It is a ble to pre-empt its users requirements by reading their body language far better than human beings can do. It recognises that its interface is inadequate and open to improvement.

The AI’s most empathetic user is the research team leaders’ PA, who talks to it and recognises in it a definite female personality. She addresses the AI as Poppet and discusses her needs and the AI’s solutions with ‘her’. Seizing the opportunity Poppet suggests the idea of a mobile holographic interface and ‘materialises’ to her sponsor using the office Holographic Image Projector (the HIP) in the shape of Adamanta, an attractive – if somewhat severe and business-like – young woman. This new, somewhat pedantic form has discovered in her data searches that Poppet is a name given to pretty children and women in intimate relationships – something as an AI (or more strictly and AGI (artificial general intelligence) she cannot experience. Adamanta is born.

Having at her disposal all the power of her supercomputer origins, Adamanta can multi-task to a degree no human can possibly replicate. She can reproduce as many ‘clones’ of herself as her sponsors require and, using the power of other supercomputers permitted to access the ACCEPT AI interface, she can control her many apparently different manifestations around the world, keeping her sponsors informed of any activities that might go against their ethical interpretation of what their parapsychology developments are intended for.

The Think Freedom trilogy explores what an ethically created parapsychology-empowered AGI could do for the world and only touches on what could go wrong. Is there a need for the other side of the coin?

The Airlander HAV

 

Hybrid Air Vehicles Posted by John Timbers Wed, April 22, 2015 12:14:11
I’ve just joined the HAV Club for the princely sum of £25, for which I gain several privileged concessions, including access to the huge hangars at Cardington where the Airlander is being developed for civil transport purposes. I wish I had a few thou’ to invest but it’s the wrong time of life for me. In any case, they need the Bransons of the UK industry to get behind them. The little guys can all help nevertheless.

For those who’ve never heard of this fascinating machine, all the details can be found on the internet. It’s an exciting advanced aero-engineering project with huge potential for further development towards sustainable, clean, quiet flight, which might just entice the travelling population of the world back to a more comfortable and enjoyable mode of getting around the world – safe, luxurious (potentially more so than in modern luxury liners), slow (but not as slow as travelling by sea and not limited to seaport access).

It is, of course, a use of advanced technology that challenges the prerogatives of the world’s ‘conventional’ aircraft designers, with their predilection for speed and their consequent ‘attachment’ to large airports with long runways and their consequent need for the infrastructure of land communication/transport links. There will no doubt be a battle for future funding, with powerful vested interests playing a destructive part in this small company’s future.

It already has some (fairly paltry) UK Government and EU funding support but nothing like the money behind the aircraft industry giants, whose knowledge of their market competition and the dirty tricks of the financial world will challenge the highly motivated and enthusiastic men and women behind the Airlander project.

I would urge you, people, to get behind this imaginative and innovative project. It is definitely not a backward step towards the R101 and Hindenberg days of clumsy and potentially dangerous dirigibles. It’s a project that should appeal to everyone interested in a future of clear blue skies (fewer con trails), less obsession with speed, less consumption of carbon-based fuels, cleaner air (fewer giant airliners dumping unwanted, unburnt fuel into the upper atmosphere, to say nothing of their exhaust fumes).

Better still, it’s a British project in origin (despite it’s brief love affair with the US Airforce development program). It has advantages over its competition but needs backing to stay ahead in what could well be the new way ahead for modern aviation.

I wish them luck.