December 25, 2013
Jaron Lanier is a veteran Silicon Valley computer scientist, programmer, a musician, and the father of virtual reality (a term he is credited with popularizing according to wiki).
Lanier is author of two recent fascinating insightful books that reveal the Internet as most of us do not know it.
The World Wide Web has caught us in its webs woven in brilliance, freedom, communication, hype, subterfuge, and deceit - and yet we don't truly grok the full depth of our own voluntary immersion, complicity and surrender to the new 'masters of the universe'.
Lanier is not against technology, far from it and he emphasizes the fact that his views are intended to be measured, balanced, and not destructive to the science he excels at and the world he helped give birth to.
However as a true insider, he sees excesses, skewed imbalances, delusion and arrogance, along with a great deal of Wizard of Oz deception, which we as 'users' need to be made aware of.
As he says, maybe this isn't wrong - but people have the right to know. We should at least be aware. We need to have a deeper look into the hidden secretive 'Cloud' realm of Silicon Valley elites.
Are we using the Internet, or is the Net using us?
"Free, as long as we don't mind
being spied on."
For as long as most of us having been enjoying the deceptive sensation of freedom we feel when we surf the web, these Siren Servers have been collecting data based on our behavior, the 100s of choices we make every day.
What is not so well known is that,
While we are encouraged to do everything for free, and our behavioral data is being collected without our knowledge - the elites with the biggest computers are making vast fortunes off our gullible trance.
The fact that this is an invasion of privacy is only part of the hidden humiliation. The collapse of our markets, western economies, and the middle class can also be traced to these Siren Servers.
In the world of high finance, Siren Servers are the tool used the quants (quantitative analyst), who play in the rarified air of hedge funds and of high-frequency trading.
These elite operations are using "stupendous correlative algorithms" to crunch the data from the Internet overnight, and this data was used to make money, but only for the elite rich and "fairly reliably."
As Lanier puts it,
No individual investor can compete with these Siren Servers, no matter how smart or lucky.
In NYC, I knew a Russian quant who explained to me that the requirement for investors allowed into his quant fund was $5 million USDs. I assume that amount was for them considered disposable income. The vast amounts of money involved in these quant funds influences, moves, and skews the market for the ordinary 'little' investors.
Jaron Lanier says that Siren Servers give their owners a "superior information position" and a financial advantage. The biggest computers and those who own them win!
This change has influenced who qualifies to get a mortgage to buy a home, our insurance policies, and medical plans that affect our health - and not for the better. The agencies know everything about you before you apply. Lanier has ideas for solutions in his books.
A rather bizarre deification of the machine appears to be fashionable as praise is given to the "automatic, evolutionary processes of the computing cloud" while the "capabilities of the individual, rational mind" are underplayed.
What kind of economy can exist when only the 1% will be able to buy anything?
The system is consuming itself...
The Matrix & the Sanskrit Texts
My focus is metaphysics and I have written about the Matrix film from the understanding of the Sanskrit texts, which contain the idea that the matrix is the mechanism by which the universe is generated.
The word 'Matrix' means 'womb'. The Sanskrit term is Prakriti - and this creative mechanism is described in the ancient philosophy Samkhya, in the Upanishads, and the Bhagavad Gita, which is the essence of all the other Sanskrit texts.
Recently I was writing a series of articles on 'Free Will' in the Bhagavad Gita and I began to realize how these Siren Servers are like projections of the Matrix.
Even more impressive was the comparison to an verse in the Bhagavad Gita XVIII.61 that states:
The Sanskrit for this machine we are involuntarily mounted on is yantrarudhani.
The Sri Yantra
The profoundly deep concept of the Sanskrit yantrudhani has always fascinated me.
Somehow over the years again and again I find myself thinking about this machine that the text says we are fixed 'mounted' on.
I often connect this invisible cosmic machine-mechanism that enfolds us in the temporal illusory hologram, to the famous enigmatic Sri Yantra, which one can meditate on and never quite grasp.
One consequence of Enlightenment is the realization that Life is an eternally repeating mechanical performance, made up of unending fantastic cycles of time, that nevertheless become familiar and tiresome.
Sages have observed that when we become aware of the repetitious and mechanical nature of life, we lose interest. The mystery has been solved.
Are we appalled and bored by a life that is totally predictable?
Mounted on a machine
This metaphysical observation leads me back to the Siren Servers which intend, it seems, to corral all of us into predictable repetitive clone-like behavior and patterns of consumption that benefit the ruling tyrants, the rich and the technocrats who serve them.
When our highly complicated thought processes are entrapped in only specific areas of the brain, Lanier asks, where will individuality come from?
From Jaron Lanier's 2010 book, 'You are not a gadget':
The over use of computers and addiction to surfing the Net has been shown to actually alter the human brain physically.
From 'The Shallows - What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains' by Nicholas Carr:
One wonders how this kind of entrainment by the machine will damage our capacity to meditate.
Surely the rapid-fire experience of zooming around the Internet, reading dozens of articles in the most superficial way, perhaps only the first paragraph if that, is the extreme antithesis of the state of consciousness one hopes to achieve in meditation.
Carr quotes the German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, who back in the 1950s said:
The frenzy of 'quantity' over 'quality', jumping from one focus to the next, using only a small part of the brain may destroy our capacity for quiet contemplation and meditation.
The state of a calm and attentive mind cultivated in silence is not only the source of all genuine creativity and innovation, but also the only Door out of the temporal illusory holographic webs we have bound ourselves within.
How much of what we surf on the Net do we actually learn and absorb - and how much is mere titillation, escape and addiction.
Where is our Free Will in formats generated by one-size-fits-all software. Are these new masters of the universe, who we are in fact allowing to transform the very way our brains operate - are they true masters of their own consciousness.
Generic formats that gather our personal information exist and are used not for our benefit, but to manipulate us without our knowledge.
The quantification of human behavior?
As Jaron Lanier says,
What kind of freedom is that?
Perhaps in this phase of our current Kali Yuga, the yantrarudhani has been projected externally into the hologram as these Siren Servers by our own lost and confused consciousness.
The Kali Yuga is the Age of Conflict and Confusion.
Rene Guenon's "Reign of Quantity" has descended into new depths. Have we created a new sort of Labyrinth to escape from, one literally and physically etched into our own brain?
Jason Lanier from his book 'You are not a gadget':
Will the next generation be more likely to "succumb to pack dynamics" because they have grown up with "crowd aggregation, as is the current fad."
The Siren Servers make it easier than ever for tyrants to herd the crowd, manipulating masses, shoals of people who never met, on paths leading to the abyss.
A godlike overview
When I am reading Jaron Lanier, I feel like I am reading about a world so far removed from me that it seems to be another planet.
And yet I am well aware that this remote arcane, rather monastic realm has taken over, and has to some degree in stealth, become the new pervasive form of power, controlling and encompassing our lives - a new form of the Matrix.
Silicon Valley is the new true-believer priestcraft, disconnected from the rest of us, in arrogant narcissism, the new 'masters' of the universe. A world I do know a bit about is finance and economics, which I have taught myself for years now.
These Siren Servers are responsible for the creation of the shadowy world of quants, derivatives and sliced CDOs (collateralized debt obligations).
Replacing the intelligence of individuals with algorithms is the source of mischief has recently impoverished and destroyed the American middle class - as Jaron Lanier fully understands.
Lanier also says Siren Servers will not go away, they allow the elite few to access too much power, a quantitative power that is real and produces results however flawed.
Such results have made billions for those who crave power and have little regard, in fact real disdain for the common man - us.
The Hive Mind
Observe the behavior of shoals in the sea, social media, and lemmings.
In his book, 'Crowds and Power' the Noble Prize winner Elias Canetti (1905-94) observed that,
From Doris Lessing (1919-2013), also a Nobel Prize winner,
Algorithmic technology as the new 'religion' so ardently being pushed on us by the true-believer priestcraft is not about giving us greater freedom.
Rather it is the same age-old racket, priests selling indulgences, hype in new clothing that benefits the elite, the powerful and the rich. Unless and until a robot can be endowed with a chakra system, it will be the permanent slave of its programmer.
No matter how killer-cool the apps, the robot is doomed to a shelf life of repetition with the Door to Enlightenment, Moksha and release slammed tight shut.
Siren Servers to me are the Borg-like aspect of the Matrix, a sort of heartless ultimate quantification of human behavior, remote, ruthless and often blindly destructive.
Who owns the future? The Siren Servers - and evidently, in the hands of greedy tyrants and their arrogant technocrats.
Is that what we want? Is mindless surfing the Internet in clueless ignorance worth an even deeper bondage. At the very least we need to become aware of how we are being used and deceived.
Jaron Lanier says it doesn't have to be this way.