The Occult Aspects of Artificial Intelligence

The Occult Aspects of Artificial Intelligence
by Michael Szul on 2008-04-25 08:20:01
tags: artificial intelligence, egregore, konton magazine

Listen to me closely when I tell you that artificial intelligence will not come about from some government scientist locked away deep within a lab in some remote secret mountain complex. Nor will it come from some punk hacker extraordinaire aimlessly tripping through a cyberspace that he doesn't fully understand. Artificial intelligence will be the result of the tireless workings of a small time computer programmer with a penchant for the occult. Don't believe me? I don't expect you too, but take a moment to analyze the evidence.

What is artificial intelligence? The dictionary defines artificial intelligence as: “The ability of a computer or other machine to perform those activities that are normally thought to require intelligence” (http://www.dictionary.com). That answer is standard enough. But let's take it one step further and ask: what is a machine, then? The dictionary further states that a machine is “A device consisting of fixed and moving parts that modifies mechanical energy and transmits it in a more useful form” (http://www.dictionary.com). However, machine is also defined later in the definition set as: “An intricate natural system or organism, such as the human body” (http://www.dictionary.com).

With that said, rest assured that I would not categorize humanity as being a form of artificial intelligence, despite the many theories of UFO conspiracy hounds. However, by showing that a machine can be more than just a collection of levers and pulleys, we do move artificial intelligence out of the range of a solely computer related mechanisms, into a new realm open to the trappings and doorways of occult techniques, ages old.

An egregore is often thought of (in occult circles) as an artificial spirit - an entity created by the occultist for the purpose of doing their bidding, or performing tasks the occultist may be ill-equipped to perform. Chaos magick often makes reference to this as a servitor. In a nostalgic, Golden Dawn-style system, it may seem like the egregore begins and ends with this notion; however, even Donald Michael Kraig - a renown writer of ceremonial magick close to the Golden Dawn - admits that although we can prove that God exists (Kraig gives a demonstration of this task during his essay in The Magical Pantheons using the Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram), we cannot prove that God existed before we did. As such, many people have suggested that the various pantheons of gods in mythology could quite possibly be egregores by birth (1998).

Chaos magick then takes this one step further, deciding that it is not even necessary to know whether the gods truly exist or not. It is only necessary to know that performing operations with them produce results. In this respect, every pantheon has the potential to affect humanity through magickal means: Neil Gaiman’s Sandman pantheon, Clive Barker's Cenobites, etc.

This way of thinking brings the concept of an egregore to an entirely different level. What's more is that we no longer have to examine ancient texts to see egregores at work. We need only to look at Warner Brothers, Disney, or Nike. These companies have given birth to spirits of a new culture - through marketing and consumerism, a new spirit is born. This is not a new concept as many can attest to. Graphic novelist Grant Morrison is often seen as a champion of using such pop culture and societal symbolism in magick; and even Gaiman touches on the subject of new deities versus old deities in his novel American Gods.

Are these not artificial intelligences? Maybe not in the traditional sense, but they are according to the semantical weave-world designed by the forefathers of our dictionary provocateur.

Like many other aspects of culture, technology and magick have evolved together over the years to the point where sigils are being launched on the Internet, grimoires are finding new homes in data space, and programming can be seen as an effective form of spell casting, an idea initially studied by virtual reality expert Mark Pesce.

Pesce, in his excellent essay The Executable Dreamtime , reveals to us the shattered barrier left behind by the collision of science and magick, not necessarily through ritualistic discoveries, but through the tool of language:

Here we come to the heart of the matter, where the individual apprehension of the world as linguistically conceived becomes convergent with the increasingly accepted scientific view of the universe as a linguistic process. […]The codes we create change our personal perceptions of the world, but they also change the world around us; the more we learn about how to modify the world, the more language becomes convergent with reality, and the more our will extends over the real. […]

This places the magic[k]ian in a unique historical position, or, rather, restores him to a position which he lost during the scientific revolution. […]The magic[k]ian, master of the code, will find himself completely at home in a universe which has become linguistically apprehensible as code. The scientist will find himself completely at home speaking in a language in which his words change the world. […]The magic[k]ian will utter his spells, the scientist will speak his code, but both will be saying the same this. (p. 26)

We already have technological terrorists, but what happens when we mix occult science into an already hair-raising equation?

Viruses are infecting computers at an exponential rate. But what if someone took it one step further? What if some occultist suddenly decided to attached an egregore to a fledgling computer virus? Not only do you have a computer virus, but now you have one with a distinct presence outside of the normal data space - a virus that does not necessarily have to remain confined by the laws of computer science and the technology on which is was built. We now have a virus with a true intelligence of its own - beyond both science and magick.

Many occult traditions believe that gods and spirits evolve just as much as everyday humanity does. The only thing stopping artificial spirits from doing the same is the time limit placed on - and proper destruction of - the egregore by the occultist. These creatures, however, have been known to run wild if not properly contained. What happens when just such a creature (that has been attached to a computer virus) begins to run on its own accord because of a lack of control placed on it by a novice occultist? What happens when it evolves to a point where its science and magick are indistinguishable? What happens then?

[Publisher's Note: This article first appeared in Konton Magazine Volume 2, Issue 2 (Summer Solstice) and was reprinted in the anthology The Best of Konton Magazine.]

References

Definitions for artificial intelligence and machine. Retrieved May 1, 2005, from http://www.dictionary.com.

Kraig, Donald Michael. (1998). “Do the Gods Exist?” The Magical Pantheon. Saint Paul: Llewellyn Worldwide.

Pesce, Mark. (2003). “The Executable Dreamtime.” Book of Lies: The Disinformation Guide to Magick and the Occult. New York: The Disinformation Company.