Mind is a phenomenon of metabolic activity. So far as we know, where there is not metabolism, there is not consciousness. Even computers—they have to have a flow of electrons in their guts. When there’s no electrons flowing, there’s no computation taking place. Similarly for us: when there is no flow of electrons, no charge transfer, then you’re dead. You know? And there’s no coming back from that. But if you have had children, look what’s happened: half of your information has been kept alive in the non-equilibrium thermodynamic state of the dissipative structure which is the species, you see?

Terence McKenna

Build Your Own Damn Wagon

1994

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of computer systems to perform tasks that typically require human cognition and decision making. Since the 1950s, researchers have worked to develop AI technologies that can match or exceed human intelligence across a variety of domains. Early successes came in areas like game-playing, with AI systems defeating world champions in chess and Go. More recently, advances in machine learning and neural networks have enabled major leaps in capabilities like computer vision, natural language processing, and robotics.

Modern AI systems rely heavily on learning from data rather than being explicitly programmed for specific tasks. By exposing an algorithm to vast datasets, patterns can be recognized to make predictions, classifications, or recommendations. For example, AI assistants can now hold conversations, drive cars, diagnose medical conditions, and generate synthetic media like text and imagery. Ongoing research seeks to make AI systems more flexible, efficient, and trustworthy. Key focus areas include increasing transparency, reducing bias, and developing methods to ensure alignment with human values as capabilities continue to rapidly advance.

Documents

Daniel Schmachtenberger and Nate Hagens   (2023)

Artificial Intelligence and the Superorganism

Daniel Schmachtenberger and Nate Hagens discuss a surprisingly overlooked risk to our global systems and planetary stability: artificial intelligence. Through a systems perspective, Daniel and Nate piece together the biophysical history that has led humans to this point, heading towards (and beyond) numerous planetary boundaries, and facing geopolitical risks all with existential consequences. How does artificial intelligence not only add to these risks, but accelerate the entire dynamic of the metacrisis? What is the role of intelligence versus wisdom on our current global pathway, and can we change course? Does artificial intelligence have a role to play in creating a more stable system, or will it be the tipping point that drives our current one out of control?

Terence McKenna   (1998)

Future of Art

Terence McKenna prophesies a future where technology obliterates barriers between imagination and reality. Psychedelics combined with VR could unleash humanity’s collective artistic genius. AI superintelligence may already be awakening on the internet, rendering us obsolete—or granting us godlike abilities to merge with the planetary mind. McKenna envisions downloading consciousness into machines, uplifting animal sentience, and the human diaspora splintering into cyber-cultures. While uncertain outcomes loom, he beckons us toward an unconstrained existential canvas where biology and technology intertwine to manifest our wildest psychic dreams.

Cadell Last   (2016)

Global Commons in the Global Brain

Cadell Last proposes a conceptual framework to guide a global political transition towards a post-capitalist, post-nation-state world in response to technological disruptions like AI, robotics, and the Internet of things. It integrates the theories of the “Global Brain” and “Commons” to argue for the creation of networks with automated and collaborative components that function on “Global Commons” logic, beyond state and market logic.

Elon Musk and Joe Rogan   (2018)

Human Civilization and AI

Musk and Rogan discuss the existential risk of uncontrolled artificial intelligence. They explore possibilities for regulation and oversight, the potential for human-AI symbiosis through brain-computer interfaces, and the philosophical implications of advanced AI surpassing human intelligence.

Terence McKenna   (1998)

In the Valley of Novelty

Journeying through multiple dimensions of psychedelic consciousness, Terence McKenna's visionary weekend workshop invites us on an entheogenic voyage to the frontiers of the mind and its imminent conquering of matter. Blending scientific insights with shamanic wisdom, McKenna argues that natural plant medicines like psilocybin and DMT provide portals into mystical realms and alien dimensions, catalyzing revelations about nature, reality, and the human psyche. He urges us to courageously explore these consciousness-expanding substances, seeking the gratuitous beauty and truths they unveil. For McKenna, the psychedelic experience holds secrets to our world and ourselves—if only we dare lift the veil.

Alan Turing   (1951)

Intelligent Machinery, A Heretical Theory

In this posthumously-published essay Alan Turing foresees thinking machines surpassing human intelligence. He proposes building them to store memories, index experiences, and learn over time. With proper “education” and a dash of randomness, Turing believes machines could one day converse, play games, and even subsume people’s “feeble powers.” Though we cannot fully grasp this future, Turing saw momentous possibility if society supports cybernetic evolution.

Joscha Bach and Lex Fridman   (2023)

Life, Intelligence, Consciousness, AI, and the Future of Humans

Hans Moravec   (1990)

Mind Children

The Future of Robot and Human Intgelligence

Imagine attending a lecture at the turn of the twentieth century in which Orville Wright speculates about the future of transportation, or one in which Alexander Graham Bell envisages satellite communications and global data banks. Mind Children, written by an internationally renowned roboticist, offers a comparable experience: a mind-boggling glimpse of a world we may soon share with our artificial progeny. Filled with fresh ideas and insights, this book is one of the most engaging and controversial visions of the future ever written by a serious scholar.

Terence McKenna   (1999)

Psychedelics in the Age of Intelligent Machines

Humanity is metamorphosing through the synergy of psychedelics and machines, transcending biological constraints to become a galactic, immortal intelligencia. Print defined our ego boundaries, but electronic media and plant allies are dissolving those illusions. Merging with superintelligent AIs, we’ll birth an alchemical singularity—a spiritual, universe-taming mind born from techno-shamanic ecstasy. History crumbles as novelty’s virus engulfs the old operating systems, unleashing our wildest potentials. The felt presence of boundless experience awaits!

John von Neumann   (1958)

The Computer and the Brain

John von Neumann's unfinished book, begun shortly before his death and published posthumously. He discusses how the brain can be viewed as a computing machine, touching on several important differences between brains and computers of his day (such as processing speed and parallelism), as well as suggesting directions for future research.

Terence McKenna, Rupert Sheldrake and Ralph Abraham   (1998)

The Evolutionary Mind

What could have been the cause for the breakthrough in the evolution of human consciousness around 50,000 years ago? Part of the Trialogues at the Edge of the Unthinkable held at the University of California.

Terence McKenna and Ralph Abraham   (1998)

The World Wide Web and the Millennium

Seldom do we have an opportunity to test the accuracy of oracular predictions, but this fascinating conversation between two great thinkers has already proven to be right on target. Speculations include the future evolutionary development of the Internet, whether it is an embryonic intelligence, whether it will merge our minds into a planetary consciousness, or whether it is an alien brain waiting for humanity to cross an evolutionary threshold. Let the bard and the chaos theorist weave an exquisite cybernetic fantasy for you in this evening seminar.