Saturday, February 2, 2013

Guest Post: Micah Hanks author of The UFO Singularity

Micah Hanks, author of the book The UFO Singularity, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote.

UFOs:  The Trans-Human Connection
by Micah Hanks

When it comes to the serious, technical study of UFOs, for the last several decades it seems that we have been largely left in the dust.

It’s almost disheartening when we look back to review the words of Edward J. Ruppelt, who had overseen the Air Force’s Project Blue Book during the years shortly after World War II; while he was able to come to no definite conclusions about the greater UFO mystery, in his book The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, it was made clear by the time the conclusion rolled around that Ruppelt felt certain the UFO mystery would be solved sometime within the next few decades. Arguably, had he been told that by 2012 we still would have few definite answers regarding the strange and mysterious objects seen in our skies, he would have felt disheartened, too.

What, precisely, has contributed to this sort of “stalemate” that remains as a cultural barrier between humanity and the greater UFO problem? Are these craft simply so advanced that we have yet to reach technological potentials that allow us to even come near enough to glimpse their inner workings? Or is it that we’ve simply been going about our inquiries all wrong? Could it even be a combination of the two?

One idea that remains intriguing when paired contextually with Ufology, and yet which remains largely disassociated from the idea of advanced, unidentified aircraft, is that of a coming technological “Singularity.” Defined roughly, this entails a point where humankind essentially merges with technological systems we design, which eventually leads to the creation of varieties of super-human intelligence.

Singularity has become a hot topic these days. The general concept has been around for the better part of the last century, thanks to the ideas of writers going as far back as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and more recently science fiction author Vernor Vinge. However, these days it is most often associated with inventor and transhumanist advocate Ray Kurzweil. Having emerged as the modern godfather of the Singularity movement (near-religious in several of its facets), Kurzweil’s book The Singularity is Near represents, without question, the most thorough and comprehensive analysis of the subject to-date.

Interestingly, when we look further back at the roots of Singularity, we find references to remarkably similar concepts that appear in the work of computer scientist and UFO researcher Jacques Vallee. A 1975 essay, coauthored with Vallee’s associate Francois Meyer, appeared in the journal Technological Forecasting and Social Change in the year mentioned under the title “The Dynamics of Long-Term Growth”. Here, the ideas expressed were very similar concepts to notions of Singularity expressed by Kurzweil and others today, so far as the long-term growth of human technological systems was greater-than exponential. Though the term “Singularity” was never used specifically, Vallee, like Kurzweil, predicted that some time in the first half of the twenty first century, we would see the rate of growth of technology begin to expand so quickly that a sort of “singular point” would be reached; Vallee feared this could have grim consequences, when paired alongside steady increases in population growth over time. Specifically, Vallee and Meyer estimated that the target year for this transitional singularity would occur in 2026, whereas in his The Singularity is Near, Kurzweil casts his forecast for what he calls “the knew of the curve” at only three years later.

As noted previously, unlike the more optimistic attitudes toward Singularity expressed by Kurzweil and many in the transhumanist camp today, Vallee and Meyer’s paper is more concerned and skeptical, stating that, “the forecast of infinite growth in a finite time interval is absurd. All we can expect of these developments is that some damping effect will take place very soon. The only question is whether this will be accomplished through ‘soft regulation’ or catastrophe.” One could speculate as to what the authors could have meant by the use of such terms as “soft regulation” paired with “catastrophe.” Are we to envision Orwellian micro-management of a populace, or perhaps long-term geo-economic collapse that would stem from issues surrounding overpopulation, combined with the poor management of our banking systems? Catastrophe might also represent such things as the harmful after-effects of an EMP weapon, or even coronal mass ejection by the Sun (the likes of which agencies like NASA and NOAA have warned might occur by around 2013). Vallee and Meyer’s final statement is perhaps the most cryptic: “It is clear that the rate of growth must eventually decrease. A discussion of the mechanism through which this decrease will take place is beyond the scope of the present study.” Vernor Vinge, largely credited with coining the modern use of the term “Singularity,” was less nebulous when he wrote for Omni back in January 1983 that, “To write a (science fiction) story set more than a century hence, one needs a nuclear war in between … so that the world remains intelligible.”

With all this discussion of dangerous and earth-quaking possibilities that could await us in the future, it is interesting that many have seemed to look to UFOs as a proverbial agent of grace, sent to Earth from lands afar to save us from ourselves. Robert Hastings, author of the book UFOs and Nukes, has noted in interviews that, while these craft indeed seem to be not only more highly-advanced than what humans are capable of producing, they are also capable of disarming our weapons systems; thus, this might be a good thing in terms of preventing wide scale destruction as a result of nuclear proliferation. Indeed, this may be the case, but we also must recognize the alternative potential here, too: what else could a technology capable of disarming our weapons systems do to us, besides rendering us virtually defenseless from an oncoming attack? Perhaps the notion of the “UFO savior” isn’t all it’s made out to be.

Clearly, when it comes to UFOs, we are dealing with some variety of technology that exceeds those sciences known to us today. To compare this again with Singularity, we see that The Singularity Institute has defined the term as literally representing, “the technological creation of smarter-than-human intelligence.” With UFOs, perhaps we are already dealing with some technological manifestation that exceeds natural human intelligence.

Let us return now to examine again the apparent lack of progress that has taken place over the decades in terms of understanding more completely the UFO enigma. To proceed further from where we stand at present, it appears that we may indeed have to revise our methodology, which up to now has largely consisted of studying past UFO reports, and trying to extract details, documents, and government files pertaining to these past occurrences. Should we instead cast our gaze in the other direction, and begin to consider whether there might be emergent technologies—perhaps even futuristic sciences in development today—that will help to bridge the proverbial gap between where we stand now, and those awe-inspiring aircraft we’ve pursued since the days when the literal dust of the Second World War had yet to settle? Regardless, if Kurzweil and others are right in their expectations for how science of the coming years will change humanity as we know it, there may be little that could be done in terms of preventing technological leaps that will, if anything, place us directly before the enigma known today as Ufology… and perhaps within reach of an apparent technology that far exceeds us.

About the book:

Why and how are past unexplained phenomena changing our future?

Where will transcending the bounds of current thinking lead?

How near is the singularity?

The UFO Singularity finally reveals what UFO phenomena can tell us about greater-than-human intelligence, and offers provocative theories of where such intelligence might originate. You'll explore the most challenging metaphysical questions and the latest scientific thoughts about them, including:

  • What is the singularity, and how does it relate to UFOs?
  • Could some UFOs be from our plane? Could they actually be time travelers from our future?
  • What current scientific trends are leading us to the kinds of advanced technology we've observed in various UFO reports?
  • Are there other ways in which UFOs could be considered "extraterrestrial visitors" in our midst, even if they didn't get here in the way that most people think (via interplanetary space flight)?

About the author:

Micah Hanks is a writer and researcher whose work addresses a variety of unexplained phenomena. With regard to UFOs, Hanks has studied the more esoteric realms of the strange and unusual, but also researches cultural phenomena, human history, and, of course, the prospects of our technological future as a species through science and transhumanism. He is author of Magic, Mysticism and the Molecule, and writes for a variety of magazines and other publications such as FATE Magazine, Fortean Times, UFO Magazine, The Journal of Anomalous Sciences, and New Dawn. Hanks has also appeared on numerous TV and radio programs, including Travel Channel's Weird Travels program, National Geographic's Paranatural, the History Channel's Guts and Bolts, CNN Radio, and The Jeff Rense Program. He also produces a weekly podcast that follows his research at his popular Website, Hanks makes his home near Asheville, North Carolina.


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