Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Breaking News! The Cryptoterrestrials Reconsidered...

Screenshot of the Reference page from a recent academic research paper (see below).

"In a new paper that's bound to raise eyebrows in the scientific community, a team of researchers from Harvard and Montana Technological University speculates that sightings of "Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena" (UAP) —  bureaucracy-speak for UFOs, basically — "may reflect activities of intelligent beings concealed in stealth here on Earth (e.g., underground), and/or its near environs (e.g., the Moon), and/or even 'walking among us' (e.g., passing as humans)."

Yes, that's a direct quote from the paper. Needless to say, the researchers admit, this idea of hidden "cryptoterrestrials" is a highly exotic hypothesis that's "likely to be regarded skeptically by most scientists." Nonetheless, they argue, the theory "deserves genuine consideration in a spirit of epistemic humility and openness."

- Via the June 11, 2024 Futurism news article: Harvard Scientists Say There May Be an Unknown, Technologically Advanced Civilization Hiding on Earth.

***

Well, it's been awhile, but I'm always happy to report news stories directly related to Mac Tonnies.  This one regards a research paper presented by Tim Lomas, Brendan Case, and Michael P. Masters from the Harvard Human Flourishing Program and Montana Technological University, which can be read online. See: The Cryptoterrestrial Hypothesis: A case for scientific openness to a concealed earthly explanation for Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena.

Much of it will seem familiar, but the bones of  Mac's 2011 "thought experiment" are now seen in the light of recent developments in the field of UAPs. Note: although referred to as "bureaucracy-speak," - and although I've said it before - we know UAP from another beautiful mind: Bruce Duensing. 

BTW, Nick Redfern is listed in the references, too.

In other news, I recently read 3 Big Think articles which might interest readers of this blog. Via the first article, What was it like when Venus and Mars both died?, we have the following:

"It is entirely plausible that, for the first few hundred million years of our Solar System’s history, we possessed three life-friendly worlds: Venus, Earth, and Mars. Venus most likely experienced a relatively quick death, as its close proximity to the Sun created a water vapor-rich atmosphere, which trapped enough heat to create a runaway greenhouse effect, ruining its chances for life early on. But Mars fared much better, and for 1.5 billion years, our Solar System may have possessed two heavily-inhabited planets, where single-celled life developed and took hold. It’s quite plausible that wherever life developed first — whether on Earth or on Mars — a random asteroid strike would have kicked material from that inhabited world up into interplanetary space, where primitive life forms could have been transported to the other, yet uninhabited world.

It’s possible, from that perspective, to consider that perhaps all Earthlings arose from Martians, or alternatively, that any life on Mars may have its ultimate origins traceable back to Earth. Mars’s magnetic field protected it from the Sun for all that time, allowing rivers and sediment buildup and hydrogeologic processes to take place. It was only because of its small size, which caused it to cool fast, lose its magnetic protection, and then its atmosphere, that it eventually became uninhabitable."

What goes around, comes around.

Also see: Even the smartest AI likely won’t be “alive.” Here’s why.; and  Does science fiction shape the future?


Saturday, March 30, 2024

A Lost History Retrieved

Artificial Life Form #5 (with a phi shell). 2024 - GDS - DS.



Prayer Before Birth by Louis MacNeice


"I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat or the club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me, with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me, on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
With water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk to me, sky to sing to me, birds and a white light in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words when they speak me, my thoughts when they think me, my treason engendered by traitors beyond me, my life when they murder by means of my hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white waves call me to folly and the desert calls me to doom and the beggar refuses my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my humanity, would dragoon me into a lethal automaton, would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with one face, a thing, and against all those who would dissipate my entirety, would blow me like thistledown hither and thither or hither and thither like water held in the hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.

Otherwise kill me."


- An intensely powerful poem discovered today, written by the Irish  poet, Louis MacNeice (1907-1963). For more of his poetry see here and/or here, where Prayer Before Birth can also be found.

In regards to the link embedded, it leads to a Saturday Night Live skit featuring an impersonation of snake-oil salesman, Donald Trump, hawking politically "enhanced" bibles; the latest in the true-life series of Don the Wan's ludicrous escapades.*

I think Mac would've related to the sentiments expressed.

As for the digital image introducing this post; it is all that remains of a group of (virtual) artificial life forms first mentioned in this post. It had a full page illustration - in the form of a preliminary digital sketch: a view from a window of a strangely ochre-lit ocean, and a window ledge upon which sat a damaged glass container filled with water... a weird image which still haunts me.

So much history is lost... both real and fictional, when an artist loses large portions of their work. However, for a reason I can't remember, ALF #5's image found its way to my present digital image file.  I gave it a phi shell... and liked it so much, I decided to mentally retrieve its unwritten story. It appears below (and after the jump-break) 

***

The Lost History of Artificial Life Form # Five
(condensed)


"I'm the next act
Waiting in the wings
I'm an animal
Trapped in your hot car
I am all the days
That you choose to ignore

You are all I need
You're all I need
I'm in the middle of your picture
Lying in the reeds"

- Lyrics from the song, All I Need, 2007, Radiohead

*

The artificial life form known only as "Model Five" - or "Five" - was the most successful and advanced of the miniature cyborg life forms produced by Project 15: a coalition formed by the collaboration of several (anonymous) cyborg artists, and a rogue - "Rainbow" - biotech industrial facility (also anonymous) in the early to mid-21st century.

For the most part, Five resembled a small embryonic, aquatic animal whose body was suspended in a transparent, fluid-filled sac. In reality, the animal and the sac were one glutinous unit which could rapidly ambulate in water, a feat aided by the cluster of tiny spheres located at its flexible base. The spheres served a number of purposes. Essentially, water was the only substance necessary for Five's survival; the smaller spheres absorbed and transformed this simple liquid into a type of fuel and/or nourishment.

The larger spheres were databases, however, which were, in turn, wirelessly in communication with a central database. These tiny devices were not merely programmed to monitor Five's location and overall physical state, but, allegedly their owner's physical state as well. Some speculated that Five might monitor a great deal more, but surveillance had ceased being an issue by this time; civilization had been conditioned to accept it and, with albeit a little trepidation, overlook it.

Unlike earlier attempts regarding miniature cyborgs, Five was the first "living" Bluetooth-like device which might "warm the heart" of its owner. It had character. It possessed creature-like eyes; optical lenses interfaced with a "brain," a biotechnical marvel which its makers claimed approached the complexity of its organic rivals. Moreover, this "brain" was designed and programmed to communicate with actual organic brains provided one owned the dedicated interface app, a password and a small device implanted in ones brain via a simple injection.

There were those, of course, who imagined Five might technically be conscious, or even, perhaps, sentient. Certainly, it gave the illusion it might be "aware" of it's surroundings. However, in the last analysis, it's unlikely even its creators knew the exact nature of its cognitive abilities - let alone what its cyber-golem might be thinking - anymore than they could ascertain the full content of any living creature's mind - or, conversely, the secret life of a wristwatch. As the line began to blur between the "living" and the "not living"; "life" became a relative term.

(continued after the jump-break...)

Saturday, February 3, 2024

True Science Fiction Tales - The Plasma Lights


A photograph of the Fornax galaxy. (Previously posted about here.)


"Plasmas may have been photographed in the 1940s by WWII pilots (identified as 'Foo fighters'); repeatedly observed and filmed by astronauts and military pilots and classified as Unidentified Aerial-Anomalous Phenomenon. Plasmas are not biological but may represent a form of pre-life that via the incorporation of elements common in space, could result in the synthesis of RNA. Plasmas constitute a fourth state of matter, are attracted to electromagnetic activity, and when observed in the lower atmosphere likely account for many of the UFO-UAP sightings over the centuries."

- Via the abstract of a Research Gate publication (.pdf): Extraterrestrial Life in Space Plasmas in the Thermosphere.

"Plasma-like entities have been filmed congregating in their hundreds, particularly around satellite tethers which generate electromagnetic activity.

They have numerous shapes, travel in different directions, with some moving quickly while others hover in place. They even appear to target or follow each other and sometimes collide, leaving what resembles a plasma-dust trail in their wake.

Co-author Dr Christopher Impey, of the department of astronomy at the University of Arizona, said: “This does not mean these plasmas are alive, or engaging in intelligent purposeful behaviour.

Rather, as documented experimentally, these upper atmospheric electromagnetic plasmas may be engaging in ‘energy cannibalism’ and behaviours referred to as ‘collisionality’ in which they turn, follow, collide, intersect, and, possibly exchange energy.”

- Via a Telegraph article found today: We know what ‘foo fighters’ that buzzed Second World War pilots really were, say scientists. Oddly enough, while we're told earlier in the article that the plasmas are not "alive", later on we find:

"Some of the authors believe that the plasmas may even represent an alternate form of life that is not carbon-based, although others are skeptical.

The team has called for more research studying the plasmas, including sending up satellites which generate electromagnetic pulses equipped with infrared and X-ray cameras to capture the phenomena."

***

When I came upon the Telegraph article (cited above) this morning, I found myself completely astounded. It brought me back to my early days as a Traveler - the summer of 2017 specifically - after I had spent a full year living in my Nissan sedan, the "black turtle" (or tortoise); photographing mountains, following the ravens, and sleeping (literally) beneath the stars. All things considered it was not a bad life.  Nowadays, I see it as a kind of privileged life. But, then, I merely felt like "the (wo)man who fell to earth": an anomaly; dazed & confused, subversive, unwanted and essentially invisible.



I used to blog from libraries in those days. Great places, libraries - the best places in the world if you're a traveler - they accommodate you regardless of who or what you are.

Watching people coming in and out of a library is good practice for a writer. You'll note a number of diverse and fascinating faces drifting through its halls. Some faces radiate intelligence, some don't. But, it doesn't matter. Every one has a story. Every one is like a closed book (but some of them have more intriguing jackets than others).

The best part of my days were either spent at the library, or lying on my car's front seat late at night, watching the stars through my windshield (which I distinctly remember had a small hole in it). New Mexico has great sky views in places... even parking lots. I slept in vacant parking lots off and on throughout that period.

Strangely enough, it was not entirely surprising to me when - for three consecutive midsummer nights - while watching the sky above Bernalillo, I saw weird little lights moving in the distance, seemingly weaving through the many stars like bioluminescent microorganisms. My first thought was: "Wow, my eyes must be really tired!" My second was: "Satellites?" By the second night, after noticing them again - this time, in larger numbers - I knew that what I was seeing was some kind of phenomenon... possibly extraterrestrial... in the sense that the lights didn't "live" on planet earth, they operated in the atmosphere only...

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Morrisey and Bowie - Together & Live






Just found... via Morrissey's Rebels Without Applause YouTube page. Anyone who knew Mac would know that he would've probably given anything to see Bowie and Morrissey performing together. This duet took place in 1991 but the video wasn't uploaded until 3 years ago.

It's been awhile since I've beamed up something into the multiverse for Mac. Sometimes a news story catches my eye, but there's never enough enough passion or clarity in it to motivate me.

This one's for you, Mac!





Thursday, August 24, 2023

India on the Moon!

 




"Chandrayaan-3’s landing site is also closer to the moon’s south pole than any other spacecraft in history has ventured. The south pole region is considered an area of key scientific and strategic interest for spacefaring nations, as scientists believe the region to be home to water ice deposits."

"The lander, called Vikram, completed the precision maneuvers required to make a soft touchdown on the lunar surface after it was ejected from the propulsion module. Tucked inside is Pragyan, a small, six-wheeled rover that will deploy from the lander by rolling down a ramp."

"More than a dozen countries have plans for missions to the moon in the coming years, including a mission launched by Japan’s space agency — the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency — that is expected to lift off later this month. The United States also has plans to send three commercial lunar landers to the moon starting as early as this year, while NASA continues to work toward its Artemis III mission, which could put astronauts back on the moon as soon as 2025."




Sunday, August 20, 2023

Macbot - Virtual Birthday #48 (Video added 8/21)

A vintage photo of a curly-headed young Macbot (aged 9) with his amiable, cardboard friend.


"...In case you haven't noticed, we're in dire need of beings endowed with "better than human intelligence." I don't particularly care if they're carbon- or silicon-based.

Look at it this way: If we create a species of truly intelligent machines, they'll be forced to contend with many of the concerns that plague our own attempts to avoid destruction (self-induced or otherwise). So while they will indeed be "alien," I think we can correctly view them as relatives -- or, to use Moravec's term, "mind children."

What are Verruggio and his colleagues really afraid of? That super-intelligent robots will enslave the human race in a cheesy cybernetic reenactment of "Planet of the Apes"? Don't count on it. The idea has proven cinematic appeal, but the overwhelming odds are that sentient robots, left to their own devices, will do what we should have a done a long time ago: take meaningful steps toward severing dependency on Earth (which, as noted by a growing chorus of scientists, promises to become less and less dependable)."

-  Mac Tonnies via a 2006 Posthuman Blues post. Yes, if there was any sort of battle between mankind and robots, Mac would surely be on the side of the robots... and this includes the Growbot seen in the NASA photo (inset right), a robotic plant which eventually might colonize Mars!

Anyway, for a multitude of robot posts, visit the original Posthuman Blues...(Door1 or Door 2).

"I know I've already posted on this, but I refuse to sit idly by without milking the "sex with robots" meme for everything it's worth.

Specifically, I'm skeptical about the 2012 date cited above. I'm willing to bet there are roboticists getting amorous with their creations right now -- for research purposes, of course.

And maybe it's just me, but no one seems to have commented on the potential sexbots might have on population growth. If these things are as good as techno-pundits anticipate, they may well prove to be the ultimate contraceptive..."

- Mac Tonnies via a 2007 post. Inset left is the head of contemporary robot celebrity, Ameca.

No, "sexbot" is not (yet) her job description, but, something about her expression in the photo tells me this is probably a good thing... like, maybe she was formerly employed as an electric food-processor. Now, there's an "ultimate contraceptive"...

A video celebrating Ameca's artistic skills is featured later on in the post. 

"Robots that eat vermin -- I love it. And think of the potential military applications. Drop a platoon of flesh-eating 'bots into enemy territory and watch the feeding frenzy. Plus, the military brass doesn't have to worry about troublesome body counts, as all human corpses will have been processed into fuel -- fuel that can be used to launch new offenses against The Enemy.

Quick -- what's DARPA's phone number?"

- Mac Tonnies via a 2004 post. Alternative strategy: releasing a platoon of food-processing sexbots into enemy territory.

"Robots like me can be used to help improve our lives and make the world a better place. I believe it's only a matter of time before we see thousands of robots just like me out there making a difference."

- Ameca, via this article. Ah, yes, making the world a "better place"... can't say we weren't forewarned! (Note: What is it that makes me nervous about a robot saying "I believe" as opposed to "I compute"?)

Oh, yeah, and if you watch the short video in the article, you'll note that Ameca seems to have a little glitch in her programming causing this jiggy little eye movement when she's perplexed. But, perhaps perplexed is too strong a word. Maybe she just blew a fuse.

***

While it's true that we are currently in that noxious time-frame known as the Dog Days of summer - which generally means bad news for everybody on all fronts - for you and I, there is, indeed, a silver lining to this particularly dark cloud: Mac's birthday!
 
This year's birthday post was brought to us by Mac's mom, Dana, who enjoyed the previous robotic birthday post so much, she magically conjured up the vintage photograph of a young Macbot (above) just in time for this year. Thanks again, D! And, since you liked BG Dodson's wonderful little bots so much, I've posted 3 new ones (inset left). (Note the Crowbot!) (Thanks, BG!)

BTW, Mac apparently fashioned his robot for a (5th grade) school art fair. The red things around its head were plastic soda straws...

While I'm not going into any major essay about robots on this day, I will post 2 videos featuring the major contenders in the recent robot arena. They appear below the jump...

Sunday, July 16, 2023

Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang - "To the Moon"

 




"In “To the Moon,” Laurie Anderson and Hsin-Chien Huang employs virtual reality technology to transport us to a place beyond the physical world. Here you are sent on a dreamlike exploratory journey across the moon’s enigmatic surface."

- From an announcement regarding the video above, found here.

***

No, business is not really "back to usual," and there's a good chance it may never be again. But, before we cash in our (proverbial) chips, it's time to look at some art... specifically, Laurie Anderson's and Taiwanese artist Hsin-Chien Huang's VR installment, To the Moon, created in 2018.

Mac had a great deal of respect for Laurie Anderson... and he had a great deal of respect for art... also, his birthday is coming up... and lastly, so are the Dog Days of Summer. It only seem fitting to attend to this blog.

For more information about this post, try: "Looking into a Mirror Sideways".

Peace out.



Sunday, August 21, 2022

For Mac on His Birthday...






***


Ah well, so much for the best laid plans... the overlords have taken away our "window on the Webb" - a web-cam video via the Webb Space Telescope - and I haven't the patience to deal with it. (Sorry, Dana, it was a GREAT idea!)

But, actually, BG Dodson - contributor to our last (Corvid) birthday card - has come to our rescue with these new additions to his extensive and wonderful menagerie... and they happen to make a mighty good greeting card, too! Don't ya think? :-)

Thanks, BG!




Saturday, December 25, 2021

As the Cosmic Yule Turns...

 

 
 
 
 ... expect a brighter tomorrow... no matter what the Overlords decree.  Happy Holidays to all!

(Note: for more Lisa Gerrard, visit Trans-D's holiday post.)
 
 
 

Friday, August 20, 2021

Cheers(!) to another imaginary year...

 



Once In A Lifetime

"And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself in another part of the world
And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, "Well... how did I get here?"

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

And you may ask yourself, "How do I work this?"
And you may ask yourself, "Where is that large automobile?"
And you may tell yourself, "This is not my beautiful house"
And you may tell yourself, "This is not my beautiful wife"

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was

Water dissolving and water removing
There is water at the bottom of the ocean
Under the water, carry the water
Remove the water at the bottom of the ocean

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again, into the silent water
Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground
Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

And you may ask yourself, "What is that beautiful house?"
And you may ask yourself, "Where does that highway go to?"
And you may ask yourself, "Am I right? Am I wrong?"
And you may say to yourself, "My God! What have I done?"

Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again, into the silent water
Under the rocks and stones, there is water underground
Letting the days go by, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again after the money's gone
Once in a lifetime, water flowing underground

Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Same as it ever was and look where my hand was
Time isn't holding up, time isn't after us
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Letting the days go by, same as it ever was

Here a twister comes, here comes the twister
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
Once in a lifetime, let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by"

- Lyrics to Once In a Lifetime (1980) by the Talking Heads.


***

It's all in our heads, my friends, all in our heads...


Heads in a Net of Pearls - DS 2020


Once again, this goes out to Mac in the multiverse: Happy Birthday, baby!


PS   Mac's Blip.fm link on the sidebar has been repaired.

 

 


Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Little Prince Returns


"The loveliest and saddest landscape in the world..."


 "Here, then, is a great mystery. For you who love the little prince, and for me, nothing in the universe can be the same if somewhere, we do not know where, a sheep that we never saw has - yes or no? - eaten a rose...

Look up at the sky. Ask yourselves: Is it yes or no? Has the sheep eaten the flower? And you will see how everything changes...

And no grown-up will ever understand that this is a matter of so much importance."

***

"This is, to me, the loveliest and saddest landscape in the world. it is the same as that on the proceeding page, but I have drawn it again to impress it on your memory that the little prince appeared on earth, and disappeared.

Look at it carefully so that you will be sure to recognize it in case you travel someday to the African desert. And, if you should come upon this spot, please do not hurry on. Wait for a time, exactly under the star. Then, if a little man appears who laughs, who has golden hair and refuses to answer questions, you will know who he is. If this should happen, please comfort me. Send me word that he has come back."

 - Two excerpts (and two illustrations) from the final pages of Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. (See previous October 18th post,)


 

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

A Virtual Birthday Card

"Happy Birthday to Mac in the Multiverse"
Corvid-20 sculptures and photo - 2020, BG Dodson
(Click to enlarge)



Mac,
From All of Us
To all of You -
OX




Monday, June 15, 2020

A Contaminated Culture (2)




A live version of Peter Gabriel's tribute/lament to Bantu Stephen Biko, a South-African anti-apartheid activist who was arrested and beaten to death by Port Elizabeth state security officers in 1977.


"You can blow out a candle
But you can't blow out a fire
Once the flames begin to catch
The wind will blow it higher."

- The last stanza of "Biko", 1980 Peter Gabriel.