|"Tudásszomj" by Sipos Ferenc|
Is technological singularity the long-anticipated, AI driven, yet zealously prophesized end of the world as we know it? Are we about to enter into a “rise of the machines” version of the apocalypse? Can an eschatological spin be put upon the human/machine dichotomy to suggest some messiah/antichrist geek rapture? …or is this just more of the same apocalyptic fever?
In our first installment, we investigated the hypothesis that the exponentially accelerating evolution of technologies such as artificial intelligence will soon cause non-human intelligence to exceed human intelligence. The singularity camp contends that when we reach this omega point… this timewave zero… circa: 2045ce… the human era ends. The emerging AI entity that brings about this epoch ending event will likely be a sentient network of technology, such as the World Wide Web.
We further explored the “Big Three” desert religion’s preoccupation with the Messiah/Antichrist eschatology and overlaid this mythology upon technological singularity. If singularity is indeed the event prophesized in the Old Testament and elsewhere, who or what would be the personification of this event? For entertainment’s sake, let us propose a symbolically potent candidate.
The Fruit of Knowledge
The Apple 1 computer went on sale in July, 1976. The initial units were hand-built by Apple co-founder, Steve Wozniak. Approx. 200 units were assembled in the first 10 months and were sold with a price tag of… $666.66 each. The original Apple Logo featured Sir Isaac Newton, the last great magician, sitting under the proverbial apple tree. Interestingly, in a manuscript he wrote in 1704, Newton describes his attempts to extract scientific information from the Bible, wherein he estimated that the world would end no earlier than 2060.
Newton’s eschatology aside, the broader connotation of the apple tree, is its association with the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This is, of course, the tree situated in the Garden of Eden, which, it turns out, is co-inhabited by that rascally old trickster, the serpent. After some spirited discourse, the serpent convinces Eve and Adam to eat the fruit of knowledge. This enrages the local Deity, Yahweh who sends down an Angel with a flaming sword to evict the impertinent first human couple.
And so out our mythical progenitors go… into the cold, hard world… to find their own way.
Almost immediately after introducing the Apple 1, Steve Jobs replaced the “Newton” logo with the rainbow apple. Those of you who know ancient Hebrew mythology will remember that the rainbow was sent to Adam’s direct descendant, Noah, as a sign that “never again” would his angry God destroy the Earth… but I digress.
As you know, the now-famous apple logo has a bite taken out of it. The bite out of apple’s logo signifies knowledge stolen from an angry and deranged God, as offered to humanity by the snake, or the old wisdom, which was entwined around the tree of life.
John Sculley, the executive of the Apple Company from 1983-93, was asked about his thoughts on the logo. He answered: "One of the deep mysteries to me is our logo, the symbol of lust and knowledge bitten into… all crossed with the colors of rainbow in the wrong order. And you couldn't dream of more appropriate logo pointing (toward) lust, knowledge, hope and anarchy.”
Culture historian,Theodore Roszak made the point that the Apple Computers emerged, from within the west-coast counter culture. It is widely held that Steve Jobs was an “Acid Head” …in that he not only used LSD-25, he advocated it’s use for deep, personal processing and introspection.
“Taking LSD was a profound experience, one of the most important things in my life. LSD shows you that there’s another side to the coin, and you can’t remember it when it wears off, but you know it. It reinforced my sense of what was important… creating great things instead of making money, putting things back into the stream of history and of human consciousness as much as I could.”
- Steve Jobs
The Anthropologist, Jeremy Narby said in his book “The Cosmic Serpent” states that select plants, carefully prepared, communicate directly with humanity through imagery, feelings and language, during Ayahuasca ritual sessions. The hallucinogenic thorn apples, the fruit of the Datura Plant, might be the real fruit from the 'Tree of Knowledge', from the Garden of Eden mythology. He further stated that the hallucinogenic drug has a long history of getting the user in contact with the Cosmic Serpent.
But more interestingly, let us the look at the stolen bite… or more significantly, the byte… in the Apple's Logo…
The byte is a unit of digital information in computing and telecommunications that most commonly consists of eight bits. Historically, the byte was the number of bits used to encode a single character of text in a computer.
8 (Eight) bits… equates to one binary digit, which can be used to represent… two states of information...
ONE/ZERO… ON/OFF… TRUE/FALSE… MALE/FEMALE… IGNORANCE/KNOWLEDGE… GOOD/EVIL.
The more bytes, more intelligence, the more information you can store or process faster.
Thus does the Byte of intelligence align with the ancient “law of eights” as illustrated in everything from the musical octave, the i-ching’s eight bagua, to Dr. Leary’s Leary’s Eight Circuits of Consciousness. In this way, computer science, through its smallest symbol of communication, aligns with humanity’s most ancient eight-fold quest for knowledge. Computers become the most recent artifacts of intelligence.
The binary nature of ignorance/knowledge… on/off… yin/yang… good vs evil… brings us back to the topic at hand… Singularity as Antichrist. Humanity’s original sin has progressed, as told through the medium of myth, from the Garden to technology run-amok. It is the same fear of the snake that invokes dread in “the coming” of technological singularity.
No single tech company can better represent the current state of humanity’s technological advances, than Apple, Inc. Apple is the epitome, the apex of human’s quest for knowledge… technologically, culturally and symbolically. Nobody does it better than Apple… the “Prometheus” of the tech world.
What does all of this have to do with the Antichrist? I don’t know… yet. I’ll have to ponder these questions for a... bit. In our next installment, we will more fully examine how computers, as an artifact of humanity, could be equated with ancient prophecy. Stay (i) tuned.
Note: Much of the material herein was inspired by and taken from materials presented by vishanth V Panakkal