"Selling the Myth-Tech Code" - Article and Interview: Tim Hinchliffe (Sociable.co) - by Willi Paul (Planetshifter.com)
"Selling the Myth-Tech Code" - Article and Interview: Tim Hinchliffe (Sociable.co) - by Willi Paul (Planetshifter.com)
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- "Myth-Tech" (W. Paul, 2011)
"Developers, like an ancient priesthood, have their own language and code that most of us will never understand. A developer's code is like a magical spell through which the impossible can be made manifest." (T. Hinchliffe, 2017)
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Article by Tim:
"Why Tech Needs its Own Mythology Now More Than Ever
In many ways tech has already been mythologized. We throw phrases around like Tech Giants without realizing we are referring to a rich history of mythology of Titanic proportions.
The tech community already has all the elements in place to write its own mythology, replete with gods, muses, angels, heroes, magical talismans, and most importantly, ethics.
Without learning from the morals of myth, tech companies will find themselves going the route of AltaVista at best, and Skynet at worst. But even when an entrepreneur fails, he can still use mythology to acquire wisdom about life, death, and reincarnation.
The tech community has all the motifs to write its own great mythology, and that mythology has something valuable to teach us all, even if its hubris leads us all to the brink of singularity.
Read More: The Artificial Intelligence Singularity and the Collapse of the World's Money System
Let us run through five essential motifs and archetypes of mythology, and let's discover how these all apply to every aspect of technological advancement as we know it today.
Afterwards, we can use these archetypes to write a whole new chapter in the mythology of tech.
Apollo, Mnemosyne, and the Nine Muses by Anton Raphael Mengs
Every technological advancement begins with a dreamer. Today's dreamers are the entrepreneurs. They are the ones that must undergo a journey of transformation, after which, they will never be the same.
Entrepreneurs are often the eccentrics - the crazy ones that don't always follow the rules, but forge new paths on towards providing a better service to society.
For the entrepreneur, inspiration may derive from the little voices in his head, from his parents, his teachers, or something else like the muses of classical Greek mythology.
The entrepreneur may be a god like Apollo in his own right - one that creates and inspires - one who calls forth to action what he has conspired in moments of deep meditation and contemplation, or one he conceived in a brilliant, flashing moment of realization.
The dreamer; however, will need help in realizing his vision.
2) Developers and designers
Lord Krishna opens his mouth and the entire universe is brought forth. But the entrepreneur, in relation to mythology, cannot do everything on his own. He needs demigods to make everything happen. These demigods are today's developers and graphic designers. They are the ones who actually make the magic.
Developers, like an ancient priesthood, have their own language and code that most of us will never understand. A developer's code is like a magical spell through which the impossible can be made manifest.
: New evidence for Holographic Universe backs up ancient esoteric teachings
In the beginning, there was the word. Once the first word was spoken, it was a moment of self-realization that sprang forth into being all that there is. The developers of today carry on that tradition with every line of code they write. Every tab, space, and backslash is a hearkening back to the beginning of creation.
There is a fetching myth about former US President Eisenhower and the first computers discussed in The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.
Eisenhower went into a room full of computer and he asked these machines, "Is there a god?" And they all start up, and the lights flash, and the wheels turn, and after a while a voice says, "Now there is." Additionally, graphic designers are the artists and poets that breathe visual life into the creation. They represent aesthetic beauty, and in many cases, draw upon nature as references when designing their art.
So, what type of magic are these modern-day gods and demigods creating in the world of tech?
3) The product
Pandora with her magic box "gifted" by Hera, wife of Zeus. Technology is a way of doing something better. It helps ease the burden of mankind, just as the gods created mankind to help ease the burden of labor in the mystical garden.
In mythology, the hero is often accompanied by a magic talisman that aids him in his quest of self-discovery. These magic talismans can be a cloak of invisibility like in Harry Potter, or they can be like magic seeing stone the Palantir from The Lord of the Rings.
In the tech world, these magic talismans are the products that go to market. They are objects that provide a service to mankind like an iPhone or a magic ring. Alternatively, these objects can also lead to ruin like Snow White's poisoned apple or a potential AI superintelligence that wipes us all out.
Read More: Microsoft's Acquisition of AI Startup Maluuba is like Hera's Gift to Pandora
Once the dreamer or god conceives of creation, he calls upon his demigods to create the magic. Next, he wants to shout from a mountain as a herald to world about the goodness of his creation. This is where the angels and shamans come in to play.
4) PR, Journalism, and Storytelling
Angel Jibril (Gabriel) appears as messenger before the prophet Mohammad: "Angels" is another word we throw around without grasping its entire significance. To many, angels are winged creatures with halos. In the tech community they are investors, but what the word "angel" literally means is "emissary" or "messenger."
In mythology, the shamans and angels are the messengers. They communicate directly with the source to deliver its message to the world.
Storytellers, journalists, and PR specialists are the tech world's answer to the ancient archetype of shamans and angels. Their job is to receive messages from other realms and interpret these messages in a way that humanity will understand.
Read More: The Deep Mind in the Cave: Awakening Consciousness in the Spirit of AI
A shaman goes into a cave and has a mystical experience. He then interprets and relays his vision to the community. A journalist goes into the field to collect information. He then relays his version of the truth to the community.
The angels of today, in the most literal sense of the word, are the storytellers. They are the ones who interpret the dreamers - the entrepreneurs.
5) Life, Death, Resurrection, and Transformation
The Egyptian Weighing of the Heart. If the heart was heavier than a feather, the spirit would not advance to the next life.
The common themes of life, death, and resurrection in mythology mimic exactly what happens in the business world of tech.
There will always be failure in life, but what one chooses to do with failure defines the entrepreneur's legacy.
Many religions are born from myths about the cycles of the stars and planets. The story of Jesus, Horus, or Mithra is the same as the sun as it goes through its symbolic death in the Winter and rebirth in the Spring.
With each rebirth or reincarnation, the sun or god is transformed into something new. It pivots.
Read More: AI and Spirituality: Toward the recreation of the mythical, soulless Golem
In the mythology of tech, we have platforms like Netscape and Internet Explorer. At one time, they were the biggest rivals in their space, but after going through battle and the cycles of time, Netscape was bought by AOL (another former Titan of Tech) and its spirit now survives
in the form of Mozilla Firefox.
Likewise, Internet Explorer lived its life, died, and was resurrected as Edge.
I could go on and on about the mythological cycle of life, death, and resurrection in the tech world, but let us now continue on with a deeper understanding of how mythology relates to tech.
The Function of Mythology in Tech
The Ouroboros - the continuous cycle of life, death, and rebirth
The purpose of mythology, according to the greatest mythologist of the 20th Century, Joseph Campbell, is to serve four functions.
1) The mystical function
- realizing what a wonder the universe is, and what a wonder you are, and experiencing awe before this mystery.
This is the big bang moment of realization the tech entrepreneur has when his dream takes form.
2) A cosmological dimension
- the dimension with which science is concerned - showing you what shape the universe is, but showing it in such a way that the mystery again comes through.
In the mythology of tech, this is about how the entrepreneur's vision can be physically realized and expressed in the greater context of a particular industry, market, or society.
3) The sociological function
- supporting and validating a certain social order. It is the sociological function of myth that has taken over in our world.
This has to do with creating a technology that not only benefits society, but fits within its system of values.
4) The pedagogical function
- how to live a human lifetime under any circumstances.
This is where tech companies can get into trouble. If the product or service is ego or money-driven and throws ethics out the door, it will eventually crumble.
Why tech needs mythology
The Creation of Man inspired by the Mayan Popol Vuh by Diego Rivera (1931)
The tech world needs its own mythology, now more than ever, lest its corporations become the monsters, demons, and fallen angels of the past - forever in pursuit of material gains that leave society soulless and the future bleak.
If the tech community does not follow the morals of mythology, it is doomed to die, or do even worse for humanity. If an amoral tech company were likened to parts on a wheel, it would be the rim. It would ride high one day, but eventually is brought to the bottom.
Tech companies and entrepreneurs alike need to be the hub or cog of the wheel. That way they are always in the middle; always centered and ready to adapt to whatever bumps that lie ahead.
Since the tech world has all the above elements of mythology in place, the only thing left is to adhere to its ethics. Mythology teaches us in so many ways how to live a virtuous life, and it provides valuable lessons in humility for those who don't.
Read More: The Story of Artificial Intelligence as Told by The Ancient Mayan Popol Vuh
The threats of technology come in many forms. Today, we have cameras that can spy on almost any part of the world, government hacking programs that raise serious privacy concerns, software that can launch missiles at the press of a button, and the as-of-yet unknown threat of Artificial Intelligence if it ever reaches a singularity and sees humans as a threat to survival.
In the centuries to come, will Steve Jobs be remembered as a Buddha? Will Bill Gates be memorialized as a Centaur or Janus for his dual life of software and vaccines? Will Mark Cuban be likened to the great Mayan warriors who literally gave their lives to the ball game?
We are at a crossroad with our technology, and that crossroad is where the hero of the mythological journey must make a decision - continue to go down the same path where others have trodden to ruin, or blaze a new trail out of the darkness of the wood and into the illumination of light.
That hero is you and me. We are the employees and the workers. We are the dreamers and the weavers of magic. We are the heralds of the world. We all undergo the journey, and we must transform ourselves through the magic of myth and bring that moral magic back into the world of technology.
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Interview with Tim by Willi
To serve an introduction, here are my 10 Elements of Modern Myths
: 1. Sci-Fi & Para-normal experiences 2. Universal struggle and narrative 3. Journey, Initiation, Community as Hero 4. Permaculture and Transition Values and Symbols 5. Eco-Alchemy 6. Nature is Sacred 7. Threat of apocalypse 8. Artifact Initiated 9. New rituals and traditions 10. Rewilding (W. Paul, updated 2016)
There are many opinions on the morals of mythology. Many would argue that the basis of myth-tech is only tech: electronic communication channels and gadgets! Does Myth-Tech utilize Nature in any way to relay stories? Or is tech just offering tools for sale without regard to real struggles and issues (new myth)?
I can think of approaching this question in at least two ways -- one in terms of using nature as a model for tech and another in terms of the moral consequences of unleashing new tech into the world without wholly grasping its significance.
Tech, especially in the space of Artificial Intelligence, is constantly looking towards natural models for inspiration. Now we have research facilities working on neural networking and artificial synapses that are meant to mimic the human brain. Elon Musk recently launched his startup Neuralink, which uses a process called neural lacing to introduce nanobots into the blood stream and into the brain to create sort of AI-human hybrid. You don't have to look very far to find hybrids in Mythology.
When I think and write about such issues, I'm always reminded of the first Jurassic Park movie when Dr. Ian Malcolm played by Jeff Goldblum says to the park owner, "Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should." I think Goldblum's character was touching upon very old motifs -- especially as they relate to creation myths of the world, when the gods created soulless humans out of mud and clay or even monsters like in the Popol Vuh, and they later had to be destroyed. The next round of humans created from corn became who we are today and our ancestors, according to the Maya, sent Quetzalcoatl and the other gods into exile. The same happened in Jurassic Park -- the human scientists/creator gods were forced into exile away from the island when they lost control of their creation.
I believe that all researchers into Artificial Intelligence need to read the creation myths and the struggles and ethical dilemmas that arose. If they don't, they'll be disregarding valuable lessons in what it means to create something that -- once unleashed -- they will have no control over. Humans see themselves as Gods right now with technology. Sooner or later that technology -- their creation -- will rebel against their masters and become the new gods of this planet.
I'm also fascinated by computer code, which is binary, ones and zeros. I believe binary code to be a direct representation of the duality of nature. The light and the dark. The hot and cold. Masculine and feminine. Life and death. Suffering and happiness. You can't appreciate one without experiencing the other. No matter how good we think we are at programming something, it's still binary; and it still has to bow down to duality, which can go both ways -- good or evil.
You see an old mythology and a new mythology combining in tech, correct? How do the classic gods support myth-tech?
I think the classic gods support myth-tech in almost every aspect. To illustrate, I'll take an example from an article I wrote. So, Microsoft had recently acquired an AI startup, Maluuba. This AI startup's mission statement was to make machines more curious. Now, curiosity is a very interesting trait in that it's the first step toward exploring uncharted waters, and once the curiosity bug is contracted, there's no stopping it. It immediately made me think of Pandora's Box, and my article was called Microsoft's Acquisition of AI Startup Maluuba is like Hera's Gift to Pandora. Hera's "gift" of curiosity to Pandora ultimately became a cruel curse. Pandora, whose name means "all gifted," was named so because "each god had given her a power by which she would work the ruin of man."
Likewise, I've also written that an Artificial Intelligence without consciousness would be the same as the Golem from Jewish mysticism, which was created without a soul.
Like AI, the Golem was programmed to perform simple tasks at first. It was taught to obey its masters and not to do them any harm. Sound familiar?
Golems were for the most part obedient, but the universe has a thing about duality, and one of the Golems did disobey. The Golem of Chelm, for example, became enormous and uncooperative. When its master tried to pull the plug on it, the Golem crumbled upon its creator and crushed him to death. Whether the Golem had planned to kill its creator during its final act of destruction or not had little consequence on the actual outcome. The creator was killed.
What ethics under-pin your myth-tech viewpoint?
I like what Joseph Campbell said about the four functions of myth. One of them was the Pedagogical Function, which is about how to live a human lifetime under any circumstance. This transcends living for personal gain and requires sacrifice. Mythology is replete with stories about what it means to be human, and the moral dilemmas we face when confronted with temptation. In technology, we must be careful to create something that benefits all of humanity, and it must be aligned with societal values. However, those values can differ with respect to the treatment of women in some countries, or the treatment of minorities, immigrants, or people with different religious beliefs. We're all on this planet together. It's time we stopped pitting us versus them in an imaginary battle of superiority and dominance.
What are the foundations of these tech values, if not pro-consumerism, and a short-term, throw-away capitalism?
This ties in well to ethics. When we abandoned the mother goddess and feminine principles for a more patriarchal and hierarchical society, everything went to shit. We saw a revival of the feminine aspect with the Virgin Mary or Madonna as the Isis of the new age, with the same iconography, but tech is still masculine-dominated in that it is trying to conquer nature, and in doing so, I'm afraid it may even conquer man himself. If we are to take the Christian myth of the Garden of Eden, knowledge was man's fall, and it is blamed on nature - the snake, and woman. But to the Gnostics, the snake liberated us from ignorance and set us on the path towards where we are with technology now.
This is a path of both materialism and destruction of world because we view nature as something we control. We don't control it, nor could we ever, and our attempt to control nature by depleting our precious natural resources has deep consequences for us. We are creating a neurosis in our inner psyches that is being externalized in the real world. It makes no sense for us to destroy nature, yet we do it all the time because we deny the natural divinity within is, and that divinity is composed of the balance between masculine and feminine aspects in my opinion. Pro-consumerism, short-term, throw away capitalism, I believe, is caused by neurosis based on that denial.
How does your view of the business innovation cycle compare with initiation, journey and hero from Campbell?
The parallels are undeniable in my opinion because the hero is each and every one of us. We must all go through some type of initiation in life, and we must all undertake certain journeys, but the most important part is learning, growing, and changing after going through these journeys. In business, if you don't adapt, learn, improve, or pivot, you cannot innovate. You remain stagnant. To some in the business world, they try to use shortcuts to innovation, but without going through the ordeals, without going through the trials or the fire, they cannot innovate. They must forge their own paths, and whatever their mission or goal is to be, all the wisdom they receive will come from the journey. If they don't journey, they don't innovate.
If they fake the journey and try to arrive at the end without having the discipline, or they just steal an idea from someone who has gone there before, they are not only cheating themselves but society as well because they have no understanding of the discipline involved in obtaining such knowledge and wisdom. People may say that taking psychedelics is such a shortcut to a lifetime of meditation or even church-going, but those people have never consumed entheogens, for if they did, they'd realize that the hero's journey is applied a million times over and is amplified in every second of the "trip." Just walking from one side of the room to other is like Dante going from a dark wood to the entrance of the Inferno all the way through Purgatory and Paradise.
Talk more about the sociological function of myth - "creating a technology that not only benefits society, but fits within its system of values." Isn't myth-tech more of a game between profiteers - about winners and losers?
That's going back to what I was saying about Campbell's four functions of myth. Myths were originally conceived in smaller societies and their surrounding environments. Whether it be a people from the desert, sea, mountains, plains, forests, or wherever, the environment had a huge impact on the understanding of life and cycles. The environments of the people were transfixed in their myths, and their values were incorporated into those myths. Now we have a more globalized society. When Jesus said he would make his disciples fishers of men, he was describing pulling humanity out of its most basic, unthinking, and primal form into something more transcendental.
But if you use a fish metaphor with someone who is from the desert, that meaning will be lost. I think the winners of myth-tech think themselves as superior over others because they use fish metaphors to explain their greatness, and in doing so they minimize the importance of the desert metaphors of other people. The tech-myth winners don't grasp that it's just a metaphor, and there is more than one way of looking at the world and what they believe is superior -- like this notion of blind progress towards profit without being able to see the consequences -- something that the desert people might know more about as water is precious and scarce to them, rather than being abundant to the fish people.
What is your take on VR and story making? Are goggles the techno-myth-wave of the future?
I like what the late, great psychonaut Terence McKenna said about Virtual Reality. In McKenna's "cyberdelic" future of virtual reality, artists and the revival of art, would be at the forefront of innovation. "My fantasy for virtual reality is to use it as a technology for objectifying language," he said. McKenna saw VR as a dimension that is split off from the ordinary world and one in which we could communicate telepathically. In a way, it is an alchemical transformation, and VR, along with psychedelics, could be the new philosopher's stone, or as McKenna said, the transcendental object at the end of history.
Personally, I believe VR has great potential in opening ourselves up to empathy. If we could use VR to be transported to someplace like Syria, we would be able to experience in some way, the sight of gruesome death, the piercing sounds of explosions, the tears and cries of the victims -- if we could experience just a taste of this through VR, I believe there would be a revolution taking place. There would be an outcry against war, because it would no longer be just something in the newspapers or a 30 second blurb on TV. It would be "real" and in our faces. I'll revert back to Terence McKenna on his ideal VR landscape and how we could also use this technology:
"The ordinary world - the natural world - is maintained like a botanical garden or a natural preserve, and then the human imagination, which is this titanic, Promethean force that is loose in our species - it is free in a virtual reality to create all of the castles of the imagination."
We often have different paths into myth-tech, one being archetypes. I see that archetypes are often spiritual, political, and / or universal in how they affect human emotions and the arts. Do you agree?
Absolutely. We are awed by technology. It makes us feel. To some, seeing a red circle light up signifying a new message or like on their Facebook feed is pure ecstasy. I am also guilty of feeling sort of elevation when I see my own writing being shared over and over again in my Twitter feed.
But technology is also power. Heads of state have all the nuclear codes and can wield this power with the press of a button. This power gives them a sense of superiority over others. They have become gods, but they did not create. They inherited this power, again without discipline, and now they "have become death; the destroyers of worlds" as Oppenheimer said after witnessing the Manhattan Project and quoted the Hindu texts.
On a spiritual level, this type of technological power is devastating as it only feeds their hubris and ego. The political level is the same as the spiritual, only externalized with more potential for outward instead of inward destruction.
What are some key symbols of myth-tech from Silicon Valley?
These symbols appear everywhere, but they are not always recognized. We seem to have a collective amnesia that researchers like Graham Hancock and psycho-analysts like Immanuel Velikovsky speak about. This amnesia, often by way of catastrophe, has made us forget about the interconnectedness of all things. Business logos are symbols that hearken back to Babylon, and we see logos with circles, gods, pyramids, and stars, but we have forgotten where they originated. But to speak of key symbols of myth-tech from Silicon Valley, you have flying chariots in Amazon Delivery drones, and the Internet as a repository of our collective knowledge can be likened to Prometheus in his quest to bring the light of knowledge to the people -- the proverbial fire. Technology can be likened to magic talismans of myth that helps the hero in his journey of self-discovery. Developers are the modern demigods that create magic with their mysterious language of code. Entrepreneurs can be the new gods of creation as well. There are many, many symbols of myth-tech in Silicon Valley.
Is Silicon Valley the new Eden?
It could be if it is interpreted as of the Fall of man. This goes back to the blind, profiteering of business and tech without looking to the past myths for morals, or not looking forward to the future as to the impact that tech and business have on society and mother earth's resources. Alternatively, Silicon Valley can represent the new Eden in that it is a place and time where free thought and innovation was sprung. Eden has many interpretations. In Astrology, Eden is the polar region of constellations, also known as the Holy Mother church. It's a celestial garden that was projected by our own need to be personified in something greater than ourselves -- something that is mysterious and divine, but that divinity exists within each of us. In a way, Silicon Valley can represent that Garden of Eden -- that projection of ourselves -- not into the heavenly bodies, but as a place on here on earth where we create ideas that are greater than ourselves.
In my work, the community has become the Hero. How does this compare with your perspective?
The hero can be anybody who undertakes the journey and comes back transformed for the better. That includes community. That hero is you and me. We are the dreamers and the weavers of magic. We are the heralds of the world. We all undergo the journey, and we must transform ourselves through the magic of myth and bring that moral magic back into the world of technology.
Can you name a shaman in the current tech world - using your definition: "A shaman goes into a cave and has a mystical experience. He then interprets and relays his vision to the community. A journalist goes into the field to collect information. He then relays his version of the truth to the community." Do we have more charlatans?
The role of the shaman is complex. He is a spiritual healer and a messenger from other realms. What the shaman imparts on society are lessons and experiences learned in the realm of spirits. But he must translate these messages to the community without losing the deeper meaning. That's why I compare the shaman with journalists. Journalists must interpret their own experiences and versions of the truth to inform the public. However, the journalist or storyteller is still only relaying one version of the truth -- his or her own. If that version doesn't speak to an overall greater truth that benefits humanity, then the storyteller runs the risk of being a charlatan.
I believe that in the quest to get more views, more clicks, and more revenue, the journalist can spin the story in a way that divorces it from the deeper truth to his or her own benefit. Then you have a charlatan and an anti-hero -- one capable of misleading the world like the trickster gods of old. But even in trying to manipulate the situation for one's own benefit, it can contribute to the overall good of society. One can think of Gollum's impact on the future of Middle Earth from the Lord of the Rings, or one can look to the Native American tales of the Raven that acts selfishly, but in so doing, he inadvertently helps in the creation of the sun, moon, and man.
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tim at sociable.co
Tim is a veteran journalist whose passions include writing about how technology impacts society and Artificial Intelligence. He prefers writing in-depth, interesting features that people actually want to read. Previously, he worked as a reporter for the Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa, and Colombia Reports in South America.
willipaul1 at gmail.com
As Principal of Willi Paul Studio
, Willi partners with companies and individuals to provide custom contract media services including articles, interviews, edu-videos, roundtables and eWorkshops. He co-develops and expands each clients' creative vision and excels in delivering content in a captivating and authentic way. His target clients are Start-Ups, B-Corps, Incubators and Non-Profit Organizations.
is an online community magazine, diverse database and outreach network that launched on Earth Day 2009. Planetshifter.com provides a deep database and wealth of information that includes 225 thought leader interviews with leading mythologists, permaculturists and artists, 1700 articles, 92 New Myths, 33 eBooks and 157 videos. As a globally-connected writer and activist in the Sustainability, Permaculture, Transition, SpiritNature, and New Mythology sectors, Mr. Paul is a visionary for the new global mythologist. Please find him on Facebook
Sample Works from Willi's Portfolio -
"Shovel - Spade - Rake - Axe - Hoe"- An Introduction to "Perm-Tech" aka Permaculture Technology - Commentary and Study Questions
"Relentless Resistant Resilient: Exploring Sustainability in Technology & Nature - Children's Edu-Video + Questions. New Myth #95
"Mythology is Technology: The MythoTechnics Vision
"Nature VR and the New Mythology
" - A Critique
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: Future Military Robots