COSMIC STRUCTURE AND DYNAMICS
Scientists have identified six distinct eras from the beginning of the Universe. In the sequence of appearance, they are inflationary, primordial soup, plasma, dark ages, stellar and dark energy. Moving on from the inflationary era that preceded and set up the right conditions for the big bang, the earth has already entered the final stage of the Universe called the dark energy era, approximately 6 billion years ago.
In this era, the expansion of the Universe accelerates pushing planets, stars, and galaxies irreversibly away from one another. Celestial changes impact the living and the non-living. Every force has a strength and a direction. However, the celestial force that we are discussing here is essentially non-directed and interacts with everything and moves in all directions.
MOON DRIFT: The moon has been drifting away at the speed of 3.8 centimeters a year. Pulled by the strong gravitational forces of the earth, the moon rotates around the earth in a certain orbit. Both Moon and the earth exert a gravitational pull on each other leading to the earth’s spin and the tidal waves.
The effect of moon drifting will not happen during our lifetime, nor during the next several generations. However, as the moon keeps on drifting away from earth, its decreased gravitational effect will decrease with earth’s spin leading it to longer days. It may be relevant to mention that 2.45 billion years ago the length of the earthly day was 16.9 hours as against the current 24 hours.
Millions of years from now, due to the weak impact of the moon’s gravitational forces (i) the length of the day will be longer (b) there will decrease in tidal energy (c) most of the cold and warm ocean currents may cease to exist (d) the earth would wobble differently due to push/pull by different planets making the conditions inhospitable on this planet.
There are both proponents and opponents linking the lunar cycle (27 days) and menstrual cycle (25-30 days) and fertility. If lunar cycle and women cycles are linked, then drifting away from the moon could possibly create an impact on the duration of menstrual cycles and fertility.
Some of the recent research linking sleep and the moon suggests that a full moon may be associated with less deep sleep and increased REM. Also, the impact of a full moon on bipolar patients has been well established.
Nevertheless, the effects of the lunar cycle on males and females are distinctly different. The changes are subtle and emerge with variations. More studies need to be performed to establish the macro level changes in space vis-a-vis impact at the cellular level.
ELLIPTICAL ORBIT: The earth’s path around the sun is elliptical with an ellipticity of 0.0167. Moving furthest point from the Sun is called Aphelion (July -Dec) and the closest is called perihelion (Jan-June). At the peak of the aphelion, the distance between the earth and the sun is 152 million km and at the peak of the perihelion, the distance between the earth and the sun is 147 million km.
When the earth is at the peak of Aphelion, it gets cooler leading to an increased possibility of body aches, fever, cough, and respiratory problems in people. Likewise, temperature shifts from colder to hotter, and the rainy season comes with a distinct impact on physical and mental health. It is relevant to mention that these health correlations are influenced by age, diet, and physical activity. In countries where sunlight is more of a luxury than a norm, a general gloom and craving for sunshine have been observed.
SUNSPOTS: The Sun has been burning and providing light, heat, and other forms of rays for the last 4.5 billion years and is expected to continue for another 5 billion years, as per some estimates.
The Sun is held together by a strong internal gravitational pull causing nuclear fusion and releasing massive amounts of energy. The energy released by the Sun travels outwards to the convective zone, followed by the photosphere where electromagnetic solar radiation is emitted as charged particles creating solar wind. The electromagnetic radiation reaches earth in about 8 minutes, covering approx. 150 million kilometers.
The surface of the Sun is a turbulent froth of plasma, magnetic fields, and gravity. At first look, solar dynamics may seem unpredictable, but a closer look reveals some interesting patterns. Solar activity is a dynamic process of the Sun's magnetic field consisting of flares, solar wind, coronal ejections, and sunspots.
The Sun has a specific rhythm lasting 11 years, leading to a reversal of polarity. Sunspots are indicators of this change and show a remarkable increase in their numerical count resonating with the cycle. Scientists have predicted the upcoming cycle Sunspot cycle 25 (year 2025) will show intense and extreme flares and may exhibit a sunspot count of 210 to 260. In comparison, Sunspot cycle 24 had 116 sunspots.
Each sunspot displays an extremely powerful magnetic field and is an indication of a strong solar flare and sudden bursts of high-energy particles shooting out of the sun at a great speed. These high-energy particles increase the possibility of geomagnetic storms on the earth. It can also damage satellites, space crafts, the earth’s magnetic field, and ground-based power systems.
Till now there is no report of the direct effect of solar flares on humans. The science of studying the connections between human health and solar activity is called ‘heliobiology’. Scientists have predicted that changes in the solar and geomagnetic environment may aggravate existing diseases and lead to more incidences of cardiac arrhythmia, increased blood pressure, and epileptic seizures
Additionally, in 2014, a comprehensive study comparing hospital reports with geomagnetic activity over two decades found a link between geothermal storms and increased stroke risk.
It has been speculated that geomagnetic fluctuations may impact circadian rhythms. Now insufficient data exists to establish a strong cause-effect correlation, given that blood vessel and heart conditions arise through a variety of well-known etiologies. It could be that the impact is subtle and shows greater visibility in the high-risk group.
Due to tremendous success in the technological space, digital life has become the mainstream life in human beings. The latest avatar, Artificial Intelligence, has amplified human effectiveness and convenience. Digital spaces are currently used as extensions of human memory and computation. Some of the force multipliers that strengthen the diffusion of AI include quantum computing, semiconductors, embedded electronics, and so on.
It is expected that in the future, the diffusion of AI in the form of smart systems will find footprints in practically every aspect of social interaction leading to a surge in collaboration and enrichment of capabilities. AI-enabled robots will find a position in a repetitive work environment that is dangerous and low paying. In the future, several new training programs and employment positions would emerge e.g., farmers who can work with big data sets, doctors trained in data analytics, administrators who are savvy in IT-based technologies
Experts have predicted that AI algorithms can threaten human freedom, atrophying intelligence, and reprograming people towards self-harming outcomes. The AI-driven models can train algorithms to build and propagate community standards without revealing the raw data or process of building a decision tree. When the decision-making authority is transferred to computers, hacking human psychology wouldn’t be challenging. Already there are algorithms that are designed to keep people engaged.
An AI algorithm built towards pestering, instant gratification, and biased data origins can produce biased results leading to harmful social outcomes e.g., data abuse, job losses, skill reduction, exploitation, isolation, depression, and self-destruction. The current social ‘safety-net’ structures haven’t been created to handle the emergence of AI. Interestingly, search engines are ‘searching us’, generating a customized version of our mind map that can be further tailored towards undesirable outcomes.
In 2014, a venture capital firm called Deep Knowledge Ventures, appointed a computer algorithm called Vital to its board of directors. The idea was to analyze big data and make recommendations in various fields like clinical trials, financial investment, and so on.
Are algorithms replacing humans in the future? Are we looking at social engineering through the massive adoption of digital technology? What will happen when different cultures develop their own ‘ethical computing protocols’ and link behaviors with privileges?
For example, in China donating to charity, volunteering, and promoting Chinese culture count towards a positive score of credit rating. Artificial intelligence methods are finding applications in neurosciences with the goal of creating a virtual sensory experience.
In the future, technology may be used to model instincts and creativity. Dumbing down intelligence and creativity may lead to the development of “Happy Morons”, as some people like to call them! How will future humans behave when technology works like a digital optimum (toning down sharpness) and a genie, ready to fulfill any requirement?
When technology takes over routine jobs of shopping, earning, and learning and generates instant gratification, a significant extra time would have to be channelized into some cause, otherwise, the person will slowly sink into a dull and dependent life, resembling a ‘zombie’. In such a scenario, the concept of ‘free will’ would need a redefinition. Computers would consider humans as a machine generating contextual and multidimensional data in space and time.
The social skills of people who are dependent upon the fulfillment of desires through machines will reach an all-time low! Technologically dependent people won’t prefer to interact with people in a social gathering. For them, meeting humans will be an interesting novel occasion. Will future humans suffer from withdrawal symptoms of technology addiction, eager to return to their nuclear family of gadgets and robots? It is already happening, and the numbers are rising. Given the way the current generation of kids is evolving, it is quite likely that digital addiction will get intensified in the coming years.
Though biological constraints do not apply to AI-powered machines, some of the off-target effects of over-reliance on digital life will be: highly reduced social human interactions, rise in unemployment, wealth inequality, the rapid spread of false news and rumors, new moral values and cultural practices propagated and installed by AI, in the human society.
The limits to the application of AI in human life are governed by the fact that machines can never become conscious. They may replicate human behavior and free will in a range of conditions, but consciousness originates from the life energy throbbing within human beings.
AI cannot replicate spiritual experiences, self-conscious machines are nice human imaginations.
HUMAN BRAIN PROJECT
The field of neuroscience is a fascinating exploration of the mesmerizing layers of complexity, control, and consciousness, intricately woven into living organisms. An ability to peep into our central command system has unrevealed secrets of how we perceive things. Given that our senses are outbound and don’t report the data within, science is the only way to grasp the final frontier of human construction.
Neuroscientists use multidimensional biological data combined with mathematical, computational, and engineering approaches to gain a deeper understanding of the mechanics involved in enhancing the capabilities and repairing malfunctions.
Technology has advanced to the extent of designing an all-purpose Brain-Computer Interface (BCI). This has many applications e.g., replacing a computer mouse with a thought-controlled cursor.
Some of the end goals of this project are: (a) enabling ‘silent speech’ among people (b) the ability to write information through cochlear implants (c) machine conversion of thoughts into speech (d) reading of the mind, and so on. Researchers are trying to develop technologies of measuring neural activity using light fluctuations, instead of electrical impulses in microvolts. Efforts are going on to develop early diagnostic indicators of neurological illnesses.
The surge in funding and competence in the field of neurotechnology has given birth to a realistic scenario of mind control technologies. Currently, EEG technology exists that can capture brain wave data and predict the core competence areas of the human brain e.g., the ability to learn music, languages, IQ, and so on.
When a patient visits the doctor for treatment purposes, tests are performed to assess the state of overall physiology, and cellular and molecular features e.g., level of biochemicals, proteins, and nucleic acids for diagnostics, effective therapy, and prognostics. We are stepping into a future where the state of the brain, monitored non-invasively, will reveal a lot about neurological illnesses in patients, the underlying wiring, and learning aptitude in normal individuals.
Furthermore, technology-enabled ‘real-time’ brain scans can reveal a lot about people’s intent and may be used at transport terminals and shopping malls for profiling arsonists, assassins, and so on. Hacking the brain may also lead to positive social outcomes e.g., preventing suicides.
All this and more go on to indicate that in the future, thoughts may not be personal human possessions. In future, if societies are psychoanalyzed and psychocivilized, who will determine the ‘normal’ range, deviation from new societal ‘standards’ and societal ‘treatment’ protocols using neurofeedback mechanisms?
Fortunately, we are at an early stage of (a) non-invasive, hand-held, and affordable brain data collection devices (b) designing accurate and sensitive neuro-standards (c) writing customized algorithms, and (d) over-the-counter mind reading technologies.
If innovation is restricted to scientific pursuits aimed at the public good, one may consider that the benefits will outweigh the risks. However, if governments invest in mind control technologies with an aim of disruption and dominance, the consequences are going to be disastrous. The outcome may be worse than nuclear disasters. Humans will not be killed en masse but probably be made to behave like zombies to fulfill a certain mission.
Psychosurgery - the deliberate modification of human behavior using the medium of sound, light, or electromagnetic pulses calls for serious discussions on the development and deployment of mind reading and control technologies. Irresponsible innovation may lead to horrendous political and military outcomes if appropriate measures are not taken early on.
There is one more serious concern in neurosciences that has yet not been addressed adequately. Brain hacking involves tampering the memory, computation, interpretation, and prediction. Nobody knows how the data is stored in the brain, and in what format, types, hyperlinks, destinations, and retrieval mechanisms. People have started using the terms like uploading thoughts, emotions, and memories, and editing and transferring them to non-native destinations. In the future, we may come across brain pacemakers, selective activation of anatomical subsites of the brain on demand for pleasure, sleep, memory rewrite, and so on.
It’s time for deliberations and white papers on how future human societies shall be organized? We need to incorporate new provisions on human rights, develop regulations on mind reading, mental privacy and build a conscious and vibrant planet.
Our cultural practices and value systems originate from family upbringing and social interactions. Human concepts, habits, and addictions are weighted memories accumulated over time, whereas the physical body is a heap of food gathered from the planet. From the very childhood, we are trained in the art of gathering, as ‘addition’ seems to be the default state of the mind. We gather thoughts, skills, money, awards, and comforts (not to forget, weight) but still do not give up till our outgoing breath refuses to return.
If we perform a logical analysis of our existence, it turns out that at least three distinct layers define humans - gross body, mind, and life energy. The gross view ranges from an external phenotype to the level of tissues, cells, molecules, and atoms. To understand these distinct layers, fields like gross anatomy, histology, cell biology, biochemistry, and molecular biology came into existence. The mind is composed of thoughts and emotions. Though both these components almost always show up together, they are in fact different. The distinct separation of these layers can be easily demonstrated. For example, when we laugh or cry, the precursor to delight or distress is a thought. However, when we are at the peak of laughter or tears we do not think. We only express an emotional intensity. The last layer i.e., life energy or life-giving substance, is a logical derivative. It is yet not in our experience.
The discipline of physical sciences (physics, chemistry, biology) was born from the tools, data, and questions at the gross layer. Humanities and social sciences originated at the level of thoughts and emotions. We haven’t yet touched the ultimate layer of life energy in terms of scientific study.
Analytical tools do not exist for capturing, displaying, computing, and editing life energy. Clearly, scientifically studying the life energy layer is a pressing unmet need for the next generation of scientists. We have almost reached the saturation point of the approach used in reductionist sciences. The challenge is not to generate data but to understand massive data in terms of volume, speed, and context.
The first three layers of our existence: body, thoughts, and emotions have been well studied, in terms of tools, methodologies, and data. The final frontier to be scientifically captured is the spiritual space.
People are going to consciously look for spiritual space due to one more reason. Currently, we are in an era of data overabundance and data toxicity. Over-reliance on digital life will render human capabilities redundant in terms of recurring tasks, memory, and innovation. The taking over of human jobs and capabilities by robots will lead to mass depression, as social interactions are key to maintaining health and well-being.
Due to future job losses triggered by (i) massive technology diffusion, (ii) emotional investment in the instant gratification platforms (iii) limitations and saturation of the reductionist approach, people are going to increasingly ask existential questions and move towards experiential space. Once the intent evolves from an interest to desperation, experiencing life energies through scientific approaches will be the new norm.
Humans have lived in a belief system for many centuries. At one point, a priest used to dictate the way of life. Priests were power centers in the world. They were replaced to a large extent by the military. Nearly 100 years ago Military was replaced by politicians in most countries and a democratic system was born. The importance of the politicians-driven power structure is now rapidly declining with businesses taking over the role of generating jobs, providing food, education, communication, well-being, and on on. From priests to politicians, emotions were explored to their fullest. Businesses are based on logic and productivity. There seems to be hardly any room for emotions.
When people get used to logic-based life, they will ask questions about cultural and religious belief systems followed for centuries. They will ask for evidence to verify beliefs.
Given the emerging scenario, religion will have to reinvent itself and a new era of spiritual sciences and technology will arrive. If the belief system is unable to keep pace with the logic-driven humanity, religions will crumble. The winner will be the one who provides a convincing story driven by evidence-based logic.
In this context, it is quite likely that yogic sciences based on the principles of “bending and breathing” may turn out to be the largest employer. Reason: No stories and belief systems are involved here. Synchronizing the bending of the body with control of breath (without involving religious beliefs) is what the yogic system is all about. In schools, colleges and universities, it is quite likely that yogic sciences will be taught as core lab activities, irrespective of the discipline.
If people take an irreversible experiential journey from materialism to the life operating system - building a conscious planet would be achievable. A conscious human being would exhibit intelligence more than compulsions. Such a life would be beautiful not only for the person but also for other life forms on the planet.