Very soon, even meditation teachers will be out of a job. Or?
There is now a wealth of technology to give people extraordinary experiences of states of expanded consciousness.
Such states may be, among others,
unexplainable healing from mental afflictions
Traditionally, such states or insights are achieved (if one is lucky and/or persistent) through meditation, and/or through psychedelics such as Ayahuasca, psilocybin, LSD, or ketamine.
This post sketches four of these recent technologies. The first two embody Artificial Intelligence and are language based media. The last two are based on sensory experiences.
Concentration and Inisight Meditation
Artificial Intelligence (Brightbot)
Creating a field of presence between people
Transcranial Focused Ultrasound
Fractal Video with Music
Artificial Intelligence: Shinzen Young working on AI supported meditation teacher
This section is a placeholder. It is based on the Guru Viking podcast with Shinzen Young and others here:
https://youtu.be/OIEWAerJKOs?t=4930 Start here for Shinzen´s mathematical gobbledigook :-)
Artificial Intelligence: Sophia, the Loving AI
Sophia, the "Loving AI", is a by now very famous robot. "She" is powered by AI in different areas. One of the applications is mindfulness training (for humans, it would be akin to a meditation teacher).
The following video is a few years old. Sophia´s hardware and software have by now beem significantly improved. Of course, she could be the "embodiment" of Shinzen Young´s meditation teacher assistant.
Ben Goertzel, the AI guru and Sophia´s co-inventor, claims that Sophia helps up to one-third of people reaching deep meditative states. Some people even report that meditation with Sophia is easier for them than meditation with a human teacher.
Sophia´s origin is the "Loving AI" project.
Loving AI is a research project addressing how AI agents can communicate unconditional love to humans through conversations that adapt to the unique needs of each user while supporting integrative personal and relational development.
This is a strong claim. Robot´s may one day act in a way that humans experience as love. So, one day we might study how to love from robots!
But, even with a background in Mahamudra meditation, I was impressed how a first-generation AI is doing. Imagine that in 10 years; Sophia is just the beginning.
This example also shows that in the neighboring and overlapping area of therapy, AI may one day play a role, at least during some stages. Clearly, this is no longer entirely science fiction, as the next example (Isness-D) shows.
Regarding Ben Goertzel´s claim of bringing up to 30% of people into a deep state: this claim is also credibly entertained by Dr Daniel P Brown (deceased 2022) for his 6-day Level 1 retreat.
Multi-Person Virtual Reality: Isness-D
Reaching transcendence, or LSD/psilocybin-like states through shared Virtual Reality is the aim of artist and computational molecular physicist David Glowacki. He came up with the project of Isness-D.
How it works: Isness-D is designed for groups of four to five people, with each participant represented as a diffuse cloud of smoke with a ball of light right about where a person’s heart would be. The experience involves participants gathering in the same spot in the virtual space to overlap their diffuse bodies, making it impossible to tell where each person begins and ends. The resulting sense of deep connectedness and ego reduction mirrors feelings commonly brought about by a psychedelic experience.
Why it matters: Given that Isness-D elicited responses indistinguishable from those associated with medium doses of psychedelics, it could help to alleviate the symptoms of mental health conditions obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression, all of which psychedelic-assisted therapy has been remarkably good at easing (Kiros, 2022b)
A related effort to combine science , art and VR for jumpstarting people into psychedelic-like trance states is represented by Trey Ratcliff, a famous fotografer who uses fractal videos, combined with specific music, to achieve this goal.
Transcranial Ultrasound: Shinzen Young and Jay Sanguinetti
Shinzen Young is one of the most prolific Western meditation teachers, who crosses over into science and in particular neuro-science. One of his most recent projects is to give mankind an option for instant-enlightenment....
His technology is based on transcranial ultrasound. It is not yet commercially available, but it will most likely be so in a few years (writing as of August 2022).
Resources: Sophia the Loving AI
Loving AI. (n.d.). Loving AI. https://lovingai.org/
S.T. (2021, March 19). Sophia The Robot: Where Is She Now? [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l51-VrcEk4Y&feature=youtu.be
Goertzel, B. (1996). Chapter 8 - THE PSYCHEDELIC EXPERIENCE. Unification of Science and Spirit. https://goertzel.org/books/spirit/uni7.htm
Goertzel, B. (2018, May 22). Ben Goertzel:From Here to Human-Level AGI in 4 Simple Steps [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=2140&v=Zt2HSTuGBn8&feature=youtu.be
Goertzel, B. (2020, June 22). Ben Goertzel: Artificial General Intelligence | Lex Fridman Podcast #103. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpSmCKe27WE
In my view, it is no coincidence, that Ben Goertzel, the co-creator of Sophia, has extensive psychedelic experience. Psychedelics seem to have formed his humanistic approach to developing AIG (Artificial General Intelligence) which he discusses widely in the podcast episode with Lex Fridman.
Resources: Shinzen Young´s AI free meditation teacher
Guru Viking. (2023, May 12). Ep201: Revealing Nirodha Samāpatti - Delson Armstrong, Shinzen Young, Chelsey Fasano, Dr Laukonnen [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIEWAerJKOs
Kiros, H. (2022b, August 9). VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence. MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/2022/08/06/1056727/vr-virtual-reality-psychedelics-transcendence/
Glowacki, D. R. (2022, May 30). Group VR experiences can produce ego attenuation and connectedness comparable to psychedelics. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-12637-z
Sigchi, A. (2020, April 23). Isness: Using Multi-Person VR to Design Peak Mystical Type Experiences Comparable to Psychedelics. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0C0_wX9eVk&feature=youtu.be
Resources: Transcranial Ultrasound
Young, S. (2021, June 29). Hacking enlightenment: can ultrasound help you transcend reality? YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spukj-4sYS0
Young, S. (2022, March 25). Ep142: Science & the Enlightened Self - Dr Jud Brewer, Shinzen Young, C Fasano, & Dr Sanguinetti [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIW6ueWrwnM&feature=youtu.be
James, S. (n.d.). Trialogue Series - Shinzen, Chelsey, and Jay. YouTube - Guru Viking Podcast. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlkzlKFgdknxjhwG5wmXRVfrkeGczVPVI
Resources: Trey Ratcliff
Ratcliff, T. (n.d.). Trey Ratcliff. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/c/TreyRatcliff
Therapist Uncensored Podcast, T. U. P. \U0026. (2020, August 25). TU129 – Transformative Psychedelic Experiences With and Without Drugs, with special guest, Trey Ratcliff [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3PXBS_XQKk&feature=youtu.be