by Alex Vikoulov
"Psychedelics are illegal not because a loving government is concerned that you may jump out of a third story window. Psychedelics are illegal because they dissolve opinion structures and culturally laid down models of behavior and information processing. They open you up to the possibility that everything you know is wrong.”
As shortcuts to spiritual and transcendent experiences, psychedelics played an important role in human evolution and galvanized pre-historic ritualistic cultures. In modern times, banning psychedelic drugs has proven to be counterproductive. Just as banning sexual activity does not stop sexual desire, outlawing psychedelic drugs does nothing to suppress the innate human urge for transcendental experiences. Besides, prohibition rarely works as we saw with alcohol or marijuana. Despite their classification and the legal hurdles around working with Schedule I substances in the U.S., psychedelics have undergone something of a renaissance among researchers, and for good reason.
by Alex Vikoulov
“The basic pattern of life is a network. Whenever you see life, you see networks. The whole planet, what we can term 'Gaia' is a network of processes involving feedback tubes. Humans are part of the larger whole, Gaia.” -Fritjof Capra
When studying Earth’s global biosphere, Lynn Margulis and James Lovelock recognized that it has certain qualities of a life form. Many of Earth’s life‐sustaining elements display phenomenal stability, dynamic equilibrium and self-regulation, known in biology as ‘homeostasis’. The temperature range of the climate; the oxygen content of the atmosphere; the chemistry and salinity of the ocean – all of these are biologically mediated. All have, for hundreds of millions of years, stayed within a range conducive to life. Lovelock and Margulis hypothesized that the totality of life is interacting with its environment in ways that regulate these global properties. They realized that Earth is, in a sense, a living organism. They named this creature Gaia after the ancient Greek Earth goddess.
by Alex Vikoulov
"Capitalism does not permit an even flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level. That's the way the system works. And since we know that the system will not change the rules, we are going to have to change the system." -Martin Luther King, Jr.
On May 6, 2010, the Dow Jones index opened lower than the previous day, falling slowly over the next few hours in response to the debt crisis in Greece. But at 2.42pm, the index started to fall rapidly. In less than five minutes, more than 600 points were wiped off the market. At its lowest point, the index was nearly 1,000 points below the previous day’s average, a difference of almost 10% of its total value, and the biggest single-day fall in the market’s history. By 3.07pm, in just 25 minutes, it recovered almost all of those 600 points, in the largest and fastest swing ever, what professional market participants would call a “black swan” event. I was trading on that roller coaster 'Flash Crash' historical day and saw it with my eyes -- the rapid decline and just as rapid rebound of the markets and my own portfolio. I remember watching commentator Jim Cramer on CNBC hysterically screaming from the bottom of his lungs: "This is unreal! This is not right! The system obviously broke down! The machines broke down!" What a wild ride that was! I'll tell you!
by Alex Vikoulov
"We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related; the eternal One. And this deep power in which we exist, and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are the shining parts, is the soul.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Over-Soul" (1841)
I'm always leery when some neuroscientist comes along and says: “We are the brain. There’s nothing besides it. If something is wrong, it’s physical.” No, you are not a "brain in a vat", and if we are to deconstruct human intelligence, it would make sense to apply the so-called top-down “holistic” analysis — when we work from the general to the specific — the big picture to the smaller details, from the superset to the subset. So, in this type of analysis we should not start with the brain. Instead, if viewed collectively, human intelligence is a networking phenomenon based on technology and culture that we call civilization; individually, it's an operating system of the person's mind. The Darwinian model of evolution has assumed that life advances thanks to mutations in the genetic code, and that errors in copying genetic code inadvertently lead to adaptations that get passed down generations. But that traditional mutation-based model of evolution has transformed as of late, due to what geneticists are learning about DNA replication process. Evolution is not as random, or solely mutation-caused, as we previously thought but rather epigenetic, or environmentally responsive, and in case of our species, it is an emergent networking process we can call 'civilizational development'. In short, biological evolution of our species has been overtaken by techno-cultural, ‘epigenetic’ evolution ever since the invention of language.
The Physics of Information: Quantum Potentiality to Classical Actuality of Your Experiential Reality
by Alex Vikoulov
“A quantum possibility is more real than a classical possibility, but less real than a classical reality.” -Boris Tsirelson
John Archibald Wheeler was one of the first prominent physicists to propose that reality might not be wholly physical, in some sense, our cosmos must be a “participatory” phenomenon requiring the act of conscious observation — and thus consciousness itself. Wheeler also drew attention to implicit connection between physics and information theory, which was invented in 1948 by mathematician Claude Shannon. Just as physics builds on elementary particles, the quanta, defined by measurement, so does information theory. Its “quantum” is the binary unit, or bit, which is a signal represented by one of two choices: yes or no, plus or minus, zero or one. Ironically, Wheeler’s 'it from bit' implies that a “theory of everything” will always be a work in progress, and that truth is something subjectively created rather than objectively apprehended. “I do take 100 percent seriously the idea that the world is a figment of the imagination,” Wheeler used to remark.
Twisting your mind to see reality from the quantum gravity viewpoint is no easy task. It might be quite a stretch to see the physical world made up of space-time-mass-energy as a formless fog of potentiality. Physicists face the same hard problem as neuroscientists do: the problem of bridging objective description and subjective experience. Physics has encountered consciousness. Quantum theory says an object remains in a superposition of possibilities until observed. We can consider a quantum state as being about our knowledge rather than a direct description of physical reality. The physics of information just may be that bridging of quantum-to-digital reality of subjective experience. We are now at the historic juncture when quantum computing could reveal quantum information processing underpinnings of subjectivity.
by Alex Vikoulov
"If the doors of perception were cleansed then everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern" -William Blake
When we apprehend 'reality' as the entirety of everything that exists including all dimensionality, all events and entities in their respective pasts and futures, then by definition nothing exists outside of reality, not even "nothing". Once we apply the Principle of Sufficient Reason – the one that states that there’s a sufficient reason for any fact, including the fact that reality exists – it would lead us to conclude that the first cause for reality's existence must lie within reality itself, since there is nothing outside of it. This self-causation of reality is perhaps best understood in relation to the existence of your own mind. But what might be the purpose, or the teleology (Greek τέλος for 'purpose'), for the creation of a universe like ours? If the Universe serves a purpose, does that mean that there is an intelligent creator? So, what is the Omega Point Cosmo-Teleology?
"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” - Bill Keane
Temporal philosophy is a fascinating but eerily difficult topic. Correctly answering the philosophical questions and paradoxes of time paves the way to unlocking one of the last remaining mysteries of mind since our perception of time and consciousness, as you know, are simply inseparable. A new theory of time, Digital Presentism, comes from the triangulation of temporal physics, digital physics and experiential realism. In this Part II of the essay "The Origins of Us" I'm answering the flaming questions in philosophy of time: "Is time fundamental or emergent?", "How does time exist, if at all?", "How can we update the current epistemological status of temporal ontology?" For starters, let’s recap what we’ve learned so far about physics of time. Here’s a quick summary: in Time Series essays, we dissected the nature of time through the prism of these 7 common misconceptions:
“Two extremes of the Universe span a jaw-dropping 63 orders of magnitude. To be fair, though, this isn't an immutable constant of Nature. Turn the clock back more than 13 billion years and you'd be able to find a moment when this number was merely one. Over time, the expansion of the cosmos and the passage of light has unlocked all of those other scales, each one a new opportunity for novelty and complexity.” - Caleb Scharf
While speaking of the origins of us, most people usually envision origination in time, in linear time to be exact, notably in the deep past. In purely scientific terms, our origins can be traced back to the Big Bang, first prokaryotes, primordial mammals, first hominids, first humans, the first civilization, depending on a pertinent perspective one wants to take. In this part I of the essay, I'll discuss our origins based on today’s widely accepted scientific knowledge with a few novel interpretations of my own.
by Alex Vikoulov
“If we accept that the material universe as we know it is not a mechanical system but a virtual reality created by Absolute Consciousness through an infinitely complex orchestration of experiences, what are the practical consequences of this insight?”
Just like absolute idealism, solipsism certainly defies our common sense but the deeper layer of truth is not what first meets the eye. Here's what Richard Conn Henry and Stephen Palmquist write in their paper “An Experimental Test of Non-local Realism" (2007): "Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the illusion of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism." One can extend their line of reasoning by arriving at pantheistic solipsism as a likely revelation to ponder about.
by Alex Vikoulov
"All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.” - Max Planck
This is Part III of my essay “Is God the ultimate computer?” where I formulate the Argument for Digital Pantheism, our existence as God. Part I and II could be summarized and reformulated into these three basic premises for further discourse in order to articulate the Digital Pantheism Argument: (1) Universality of Computation; (2) Evolutionary Emergence; (3) Universal Causal Diamond. Let’s reiterate the three foundational axioms before proceeding further: