Can technology help humanity realise its full potential? Transhumanists see the merging of man and machine as a natural “next step” in human evolution, but where does consciousness fall in the equation? Instead of bringing freedom, merging ourselves with technology could chain consciousness to the physical body and material world, overriding our natural capacity for spiritual evolution.
The search for expanded states of consciousness is part of the human experience. With technology developing at a breakneck pace, people are increasingly interested in how to best “hack” their daily life for enhanced productivity, emotional satisfaction, and even physical well being. Transhumanism, or the belief that humans can use technology to evolve past their current limited physical and mental experience of life, presents an interesting question on the subject of consciousness: can technology lead us to higher states of consciousness, or is it just the opposite — a weight dragging us back into the heaviness of the material world?
Proponents of transhumanism say that humans are clearly still in the early stages of our evolution, and the next logical step forward includes using all available technologies to evolve (humans in transition or transhumanism). There’s even the potential for us to become human beings that are so radically different from ordinary folk as to deserve the title “post humans”.
This idea of human transformation is not new — there are traditions stretching back centuries dealing with how to reach the heightened state of consciousness known as enlightenment, how to attain eternal life, and how to live a transcendent existence.
So how does one transcend the pain, problems, and general clunkiness of ordinary life in the physical world? Technology offers undeniable help in day-to-day functioning, but is it enough to actually transform the human race?
Modern biohackers, also known as “grinders”, like Amal Graafstra, have found ways to develop what you might call extrasensory perceptions, akin to a sixth sense. This isn’t something like intuition or clairvoyance however; these sixth senses require implants to extend the capabilities of the human body. Whether using RFID technology to open doors, unlock a laptop, or even perceive the location of true north, Graafstra believes that embeddable tech is the next step in human evolution. He even started his own company, Dangerous Things, which allows people to order DIY implants, ready for injection, so they can experiment with embeddable tech on themselves.
From Human to Transhuman
Is the step from ordinary person to enhanced transhuman inevitable? We seem to be going in that direction, given some of the latest technological strides which blur the lines between humans and machines.
Hacking the Brain
Brain implants already exist to help patients with Parkinson’s disease control body tremors and patients with epilepsy monitor seizure activity. But what if a brain implant could enhance your current physical capabilities, rather than mitigate a health issue?
A treatment called TDCS (Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation) involves strapping electrical nodes to your head and receiving a small zap of electricity to the brain. The outcome? Proponents cite memory stimulation, reduction of anxiety and brain fogginess, and enhanced ability to solve problems.
There’s also a recent University of Barcelona study delving into a sort of telepathic email transmission. Researchers have successfully sent brain-to-brain (B2B) thought transmissions between human subjects in India, Spain and France. By strapping on electroencephalography (EEG) headsets which detected the brainwaves from the transmitter, the thoughts were able to be received via the internet to the headset of the receiver, and then electrically transmitted directly to the receiver’s brain.
Microchip Birth Control
The company MicroCHIPS is developing a contraceptive microchip that can be implanted under the skin. This cutting-edge device is capable of storing 16 years worth of birth control which is dispensed daily in a woman’s body, and is capable of being turned “on” and “off” remotely, depending on whether she wishes to conceive. Proponents cite convenience in family planning, not having to remember to take a pill, and not needing to have the device removed for 16 years, unlike other forms of contraception currently in the market which last for only 5 years.
RFID Takes NFL Stats to the Extreme
Football fans can now track all the game day movements of their favourite players. The NFL, in conjunction with Zebra Technologies, is rolling out real-time location systems (RTLS) in 17 stadiums this year. This will allow RFID chips placed in player’s shoulder pads to transmit an unprecedented level of real-time data about their speed, acceleration, and distance run. One has to wonder if it’s only a matter of time before the RFID chips make their way from player’s uniforms into their bodies.
Is Tech Shrinking or Expanding our Consciousness?
Wearable or implantable tech and transhumanism are quite loaded subjects and raise many ethical questions, along with valid concerns about privacy and safety (hackers tampering with other’s embedded medical devices comes to mind). While being able to unlock doors with the wave of your hand or swallow a pill full of medical nanobots may sound attractive to some, it’s worth considering whether these technologies are giving us more freedom, or less.
A key tenet of transhumanist philosophy is the ability to transform our normal, mundane human experience into an enhanced, even radically different way of life. The goal is to be transformed through the use of technology — biohacking your way to a new you, as it were.
Could humanity be searching for transformed existence in an erroneous way? There are no guarantees that completely revamping your material existence will bring lasting happiness for example, and some people display sixth-sense type heightened abilities like clairvoyance or clairaudience without the use of tech implants.
Anecdotal evidence of precognition, telepathy, intuition, and out-of-body experiences suggests that human consciousness is capable of experiencing a much deeper level of life than what is commonly accepted as normal. Through spiritual practice our consciousness is capable of growing and gaining knowledge of a finer type than the best technologies can offer.
For instance, if we want to feel energised and mentally clear without the need for a battery and electrical nodes we could implement the ancient practice of awareness of the present moment in daily life. Or for those who want to really push the limits of human existence and safely explore what happens after death, astral projection is a viable option.
While there isn’t an exact point-for-point correlation between the claimed enhancements biohacking offers and the potentials that exist by developing human consciousness spiritually, the premise is very similar: exalting the human condition and surpassing the limitations of the physical senses and body.
With spiritual development however, there is no reliance on an additional chip, machine, or electrode to reach profound knowledge and heightened states of being, because consciousness is not bound by the limits of the physical body. As an added bonus, unlike modern technology, no one can remove or steal the knowledge we gain from awakening, and we’re even in a much better position to recognize and deal with those who would try to manipulate us physically or mentally when we have expanded consciousness.
The body is impermanent and will eventually die, but consciousness continues after death. This is explained in many spiritual traditions and revealed in phenomena like Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). The level of consciousness we attain in life through spiritual awakening continues when our body is no more, as consciousness itself evolves through awakening, not the body – which is just a temporary vehicle for it. While spiritual awakening sets consciousness free from the limitations of the body and the five senses, depending on a body integrated with technology for evolution and heightened perception only serves to further bind our existence and perception to the the transient material realm, which is only a small part of our existence, and has a definitive end. Furthermore, altering the body with technology could interfere with our natural capacity to use our time in the physical world to awaken consciousness.
In much the same way as our hyper-connectedness can hinder spiritual development, over-reliance on technology has the potential to keep our consciousness firmly bound to the material world, only capable of interpreting information gleaned from the five senses. This is not to say technology in itself is bad, or that we should stop our pursuit of future technologies. It would just be a shame to confuse biohacking with the opportunity to truly evolve through awakening consciousness. The generation of children growing up right now immersed in technology, not knowing anything else, could easily think the only way to experience an enhanced life is through physically augmenting oneself. But non-physical spiritual evolution, through direct contact and knowledge of the divine, will trump material progress every time.
About the Author
Dara Percival has a long-held interest in esoteric spirituality and ETs, and a strong wish for alternative spiritual subjects to remain visible and freely accessible to people all over the world. She writes and creates graphics for The Conscious Reporter, and occasionally posts spiritually-themed graphics on ReachingLight.com.
“In 1984 there are four types of people, based largely on social rank… In reality there are four types of people understood according to our reaction to information. Idiots do not question substance or relevance. Zealots question in line and in accordance. Elitists question in order to advance power and finance. Patriots question curiously and openly, often enough in prevention of exploitation.” ~ from The Complete Patriot’s Guide to Oligarchical Collectivism
It is impossible to say what transpires in secret institutional meetings. Perhaps secret meetings are concerned with the orchestration of world peace, cures for disease and the eradication of poverty. Heck, maybe they are deciding when the best time would be to release their perpetual motion machine! But I doubt it. Whatever the subjects, whatever the group, they believe commoners do not need to know. And that in itself is a problem.
The notion of secret institutions and secretive decision-making are in direct opposition to the stated objectives of our free and open society, which employs institutions to serve its needs. For this reason, institutional secrets simply should not be. Institutions make plans within conceptualizations that do not recognize the individual, but which view a society as a single entity that must be controlled and influenced, dividing people according to their location, race, income or other conjured demographic reasoning – thinking which always benefits an institution, never an individual.
“The very word ‘secrecy’ is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret proceedings.” ~ John F. Kennedy
After Hurricane Katrina, when the levees broke in New Orleans, many individual paramedics and rescue institutions were sent to New Orleans to help people. However the Police Chief from the nearby city of Gretna ordered the blockade of a bridge leading out of New Orleans, without explanation. Evacuees were met with a roadblock, shotgun fire and turned around, forced to remain in the dangerous confines of New Orleans. Was this a preplanned or an impromptu decision? What benefit could it have created for the individuals affected by such disastrous flooding? Either way, institutional thinking led institutional heads to regulate these circumstances in a way that contradicted the best interests – and the will – of the individuals.
Those who believe they are elevated above others because of their role, race, social position, relation to a bridge, or other conjured concept are ignorant – and their ignorance is strength to the institutions they serve. The fact is that ignorance serves to perpetuate institutions; the ignorance of their own representatives and especially of those outside those institutions. And while institutions may serve those who serve it in the short term, ultimately commercial and government institutions will always operate from a place of self-protection, striving only for the commercial profit or political power for which they exist.
Institutions act to keep information in order to gain and maintain power. Institutionalized secrets are never needed unless gaining and maintaining power are the priorities. If happiness and benevolence were planned by our institutions, the people would let them accomplish whatever it is that they plot! Secrets would not be necessary. Secrets are necessary only when malevolent operations are planned and revelation of the whole truth threatens the plan.
Today, the unknowns surrounding the secrecy of institutions cannot remain secret, for actuality cannot be hidden. Through our observation of actuality, keeping secrets, in reality, gives them away. To keep a secret requires concealment and half-truths, and such behavior reveals that one is operating covertly. Within institutions, such covert behavior reveals not just another lying politician or corporate head, but an elitist.
The Act of Concealment
Institutional secrets are only ever kept for elitist gains. Ultimately, information in a free and open society should be shared.
For argument’s sake, suppose elitist secrets were benevolent. Rather than keep benevolent information secret, they would likely tell the world in order, to cast away any suspicion and to gain political acclaim. Politicians are popularity-seekers after all. Information would likely leak. Unless one is under the proverbial thumb of an evil authority, there would be no reason to keep a secret from a society that would benefit the individuals in that society. Ultimately, to withhold information, even about apparently benevolent activity, in itself indicates malevolence.
But a secret about something malevolent is another, more obvious form of wickedness. Keeping secret information concerning active malevolency is an exponentially greater wrong. These secrets – such as wartime activity and the nuclear destruction of our environment – are perhaps easier to keep, because institutions would admit guilt by the revelation of their malevolency. No doubt, secrets are more closely guarded by institutions when their release means one’s own demise.
The very act of concealment suggests a dark agenda. No matter what the motive, withholding information is still withholding information, and in a free and open society, that notion is repugnant.
Political, religious and corporate institutions separate themselves from ordinary people by having more power, clout, connections and wealth – all mechanisms of a man-made economic structure of power and control. But most importantly, institutions maintain power over information. In the age of information, they separate themselves, like the “nobility” of the past, by keeping information to themselves and revealing (through the media they control) only what they want you to know. And by withholding such information, they reinforce the “pyramid system” in our society – to their advantage – for information is power, and individual ignorance is strength to institutions.
Individuals are entitled to secrets, but not institutions nor institutionalized representatives – at least they shouldn’t be. The actions of institutions concern us living, breathing individuals and must therefore operate transparently, to ensure the interests of the individual are met over those of institutions. Public officials must become open and accustomed to constant oversight and overview. There should be no secrets about public policy, and no information that the “nobility” of the NWO (Nether World Oligarchy) should have access to over others. Such an imbalance in information availability creates an imbalance of power.
The fact that institutions don’t share information - and in the case of the Fukushima meltdown, actively conceal it - is proof that they put the priorities of profit and power above those of God, family, country; above principle, individual and terra firma. If corporations had to share transparent information about their operations, then they would be forced to build the best interests of our society into their structure and true progress could be achieved. Instead we only find out after they destroy a river system for a mining operation or poison our oceans in the “safe and clean” name nuclear power.
More importantly, institutional concealment is today is being sanctioned by our “legal” systems. What about the ideals that paradigm documents the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence intended to promote? Why are institutions today afforded rights that were once called the Divine Right of Kings – laws that do not apply to them, laws that provide institutional exception instead of restraint?
Proponent or Opponent?
All institutions exist as a potential proponent or opponent of individuals, and must therefore be subject to the open investigation of the public.
Perhaps, the secrets of our institutions are reminiscent of a plan like John Lennon’s song Imagine. Perhaps the elite live in exclusiveness simply to remove them from distractions, allowing them to concentrate on the betterment of humankind? Or perhaps – just perhaps – they are planning on instituting a global system of feudalism, where the People work for the elite, for hamburgers and soda pop, with valium (or fluoride!) in the water to keep people ‘happy’ and docile.
Why not quell questions and speculation about the function of today’s secret institutions by opening the doors on their secret meetings? Why not open the doors on closed congressional debates? On the annual Bilderberg Conference? If there were no secrets, there would be fewer questions, assumptions, ‘conspiracy theories’ and protests. The simple answer is – they would rather be shown to be keeping secrets than to have those secrets revealed.
It is well enough that the power of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning. ~ Henry Ford, 1922.
It is obvious, when you dissect the function of secrets that they always support malevolency, and secrets always lead to more secrets. The truth is like an elegant meal, it is ninety percent presentation and ambience. The fact that secret organizations exist is enough to question and act on. It does not matter what those secrets are, that they have secrets is enough to make institutions appear suspect, if not guilty, of treason.
“It is not my intention to doubt that the doctrine of the illuminati and the principles of Jacobinism had not spread in the United States. On the contrary, no one is more satisfied of this fact than I am.” ~George Washington, a high level Freemason.
The term Jacobinism refers to the French Jacobin Club that sparked the Reign of Terror rebellion during the French Revolution. Today, the term is used to mean any extremely violent and secretive club. The Jacobites of Scotland and England similarly rebelled and tried to oust the King with their own royalty. The Jacobites fought against the new royalty from Hanover, George I, in attempts to return the former royalty back to power. The Jacobites were unsuccessful, but many battles occurred between 1688 and 1745. Today, Jacobite cliques all bear one thing in common: secretive, manipulative operations.
If the ideas discussed within secret groups were beneficial to more than a small percentage, they would not be secrets in the first place. To conduct meetings in secret makes the discussions ‘conspiracies’ by definition, nefarious on some level, and definitely elitist. How else do you think they maintain power, even in the face of mounting social unrest? If it was well known that ideas detrimental to individual freedoms were discussed, their ability to covertly control the shape of our society would be threatened. Their need to keep their manipulative operations secretive inspires thorough secret-keeping, as it is far easier to keep a secret if revealing it means your dissolution and demise.
Institutions keep secrets from brothers and among brothers. The institutionalized hold onto secrets because it is the right thing to do for them or their crew. Just watch our political leaders or corporate CEOs in action; they are all well practised at concealment. Elitist institutionalized officials and those within ordained authorities are all trained to keep secrets, to withhold and twist information in the name of “public relations”. And unless it suits them to do otherwise, their secrets will remain so.
Many institutionalized persons exist in such a state of duality that they may always be lying, but never believe as much. Zealots choose the evil that is supportive of their cause, institution or belief. The false reality they create for the purposes of concealment becomes, in their minds, reality. They perpetuate the status quo, instigating support for their institutions by create a sense of fear in the community around the ideas of change and the “unknown”.
Similarly, many people exist in such a state of duality that they distrust the motives of political, corporate and institutional leaders overall, but still believe their individual lies. Many, while distrusting of institutions in theory, even adopt the ‘conspiracy theory’ rhetoric on their behalf in practice.
In our society, there are four roles that emerge from interactions between institutions and individuals. Idiots ignore evils in total and continue their overall support for the status quo and whatever institution, refusing to question their apparent reality. Zealots question in line and in accordance only with the prescribed social paradigm. Elitists keep secrets to enhance the power of their own institutions, flipping, distorting and influencing the perception of others, twisting good and evil in support of their own selfish agenda - whatever it may be. Patriots question curiously and openly, and do so in prevention of exploitation and injustice.
Institutional secrets exist to empower institutions, through the unequal distribution of information. Secrets create slant. Those privileged to the information have an advantage over everyone else.
Just as liberty must be offered to all or none, what is a right for one must be right for all. Everyone deserves an equal playing field without slant or systematic disadvantage.
“The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of poverty and all forms of human life.” ~John F. Kennedy
It is becoming increasingly clear that advancements in genetics and neuroscience are leading toward direct methods of mind control. An array of hi-tech methods have been announced – magnetic manipulation via “neural dust,” high-powered lasers, and using light beamed from outside the skull. As a result, scientists are making bold claims that they can alter the brain even to the extent of turning off consciousness altogether.
But it is memory research that might be among the most troubling. As I’ve previously stated in other articles, our memories help us form our identity: who we are relative to where we have been. Positive or negative lessons from the past can be integrated into our present decisions, thus enabling us to form sound strategies and behaviors that can aid us in our quest for personal evolution. But what if we never knew what memories were real or false? What if our entire narrative was changed by having our life’s events restructured? Or what if there were memories that were traumatic enough to be buried as a mechanism of sanity preservation, only to be brought back to us in a lab?
We’ve already witnessed research into the erasure of memories, the implantation of false memories, and triggering memories of fear when none previously existed. (Source) MIT researchers are now claiming to have found the specific brain switch that links emotions to memory. Once again, the temptation of helping those who have experienced trauma might open doors to very unethical applications.
I’ve highlighted and commented on some of the key areas in the MIT press release below which, to me, illustrate a clear potential for erasing many of the memories that we often associate with building strength of character, or could aid in our future development – morally, ethically, and spiritually. This research threatens to create a race of happy zombies devoid of natural emotion if a proper ethical framework is not established. In fact, much like the happy pills of Big Pharma, MIT admits that these findings could lead not only to direct intervention via manipulation of brain cells through light, but a new class of drugs to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
However, notice the very first example: bullying. I’ll admit that this can be stressful and perhaps traumatic for some, but where would one draw the line? Anyone who receives an insult or hurt feelings just takes a pill or laser blasts the memory away? It’s also a path toward literally erasing history. How about victims of torture? Sure, who wants to remember that, but what if scientists could erase that memory, thus eliminating future testimony against those committing such atrocities?
Read this press release for yourself and please offer your own questions and concerns in the comment section below.
Most memories have some kind of emotion associated with them: Recalling the week you just spent at the beach probably makes you feel happy, while reflecting on being bullied provokes more negative feelings.
A new study from MIT neuroscientists reveals the brain circuit that controls how memories become linked with positive or negative emotions. Furthermore, the researchers found that they could reverse the emotional association of specific memories by manipulating brain cells with optogenetics — a technique that uses light to control neuron activity.
The findings, described in the Aug. 27 issue of Nature, demonstrated that a neuronal circuit connecting the hippocampus and the amygdala plays a critical role in associating emotion with memory. This circuit could offer a target for new drugs to help treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, the researchers say.
“In the future, one may be able to develop methods that help people to remember positive memories more strongly than negative ones,” says Susumu Tonegawa, the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience, director of the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, and senior author of the paper.
The paper’s lead authors are Roger Redondo, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute postdoc at MIT, and Joshua Kim, a graduate student in MIT’s Department of Biology.
Memories are made of many elements, which are stored in different parts of the brain. A memory’s context, including information about the location where the event took place, is stored in cells of the hippocampus, while emotions linked to that memory are found in the amygdala.
Previous research has shown that many aspects of memory, including emotional associations, are malleable. Psychotherapists have taken advantage of this to help patients suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, but the neural circuitry underlying such malleability is not known.
In this study, the researchers set out to explore that malleability with an experimental technique they recently devised that allows them to tag neurons that encode a specific memory, or engram. To achieve this, they label hippocampal cells that are turned on during memory formation with a light-sensitive protein called channelrhodopsin. From that point on, any time those cells are activated with light, the mice recall the memory encoded by that group of cells.
Last year, Tonegawa’s lab used this technique to implant, or “incept,” false memories in mice by reactivating engrams while the mice were undergoing a different experience. In the new study, the researchers wanted to investigate how the context of a memory becomes linked to a particular emotion. First, they used their engram-labeling protocol to tag neurons associated with either a rewarding experience (for male mice, socializing with a female mouse) or an unpleasant experience (a mild electrical shock). In this first set of experiments, the researchers labeled memory cells in a part of the hippocampus called the dentate gyrus.
Two days later, the mice were placed into a large rectangular arena. For three minutes, the researchers recorded which half of the arena the mice naturally preferred. Then, for mice that had received the fear conditioning, the researchers stimulated the labeled cells in the dentate gyrus with light whenever the mice went into the preferred side. The mice soon began avoiding that area, showing that the reactivation of the fear memory had been successful.
The reward memory could also be reactivated (think social engineering – N.W.): For mice that were reward-conditioned, the researchers stimulated them with light whenever they went into the less-preferred side, and they soon began to spend more time there, recalling the pleasant memory.
A couple of days later, the researchers tried to reverse the mice’s emotional responses. For male mice that had originally received the fear conditioning, they activated the memory cells involved in the fear memory with light for 12 minutes while the mice spent time with female mice. For mice that had initially received the reward conditioning, memory cells were activated while they received mild electric shocks (trauma-based mind control – N.W.).
Next, the researchers again put the mice in the large two-zone arena. This time, the mice that had originally been conditioned with fear and had avoided the side of the chamber where their hippocampal cells were activated by the laser now began to spend more time in that side when their hippocampal cells were activated, showing that a pleasant association had replaced the fearful one.This reversal also took place in mice that went from reward to fear conditioning.
The researchers then performed the same set of experiments but labeled memory cells in the basolateral amygdala, a region involved in processing emotions. This time, they could not induce a switch by reactivating those cells — the mice continued to behave as they had been conditioned when the memory cells were first labeled.
This suggests that emotional associations, also called valences, are encoded somewhere in the neural circuitry that connects the dentate gyrus to the amygdala, the researchers say. A fearful experience strengthens the connections between the hippocampal engram and fear-encoding cells in the amygdala, but that connection can be weakened later on as new connections are formed between the hippocampus and amygdala cells that encode positive associations.
“That plasticity of the connection between the hippocampus and the amygdala plays a crucial role in the switching of the valence of the memory,” Tonegawa says.