Towards A Non-Materialist Theory of Artificial Intelligence

non materialist theory of artificial intelligence

While true believers like Ray Kurzweil tell us that the artificial intelligence singularity is just around the corner, critics argue that we will never be able to replicate consciousness because we are unable to create the required complexity from which it arises. A common thread between the believers and non-believers is that consciousness is an emergent property of matter. This is the metaphysical dogma known as materialism, of which I write about frequently, and which permeates nearly every aspect of modern thought.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has also been addressed by non-materialists, such as Bernardo Kastrup, who works within that field. He makes a clear distinction between artificial intelligence and artificial consciousness, although most materialists tend to equivocate the two, being that they believe sentience is a product of mechanistic intelligence that has reached a critical mass of complexity. Bernardo’s argument against artificial consciousness is premised on the non-dualist model, essentially stating that consciousness is primary to matter, and so matter cannot give birth to it’s own parent. Yet within his own model, there still remains a possibility for AI.

Like myself, he has argued that consensus reality is a construct of beliefs, most of which lie in deep unexamined layers of our egoic and collective minds. Certain premises and assumptions create a framework of boundaries for possibilities within this reality. What we expect at the most primary level of consciousness becomes manifest in the universe. Yet we cannot simply decide to change a single belief and see a change in reality because beliefs are all connected and must relate consistently in order for the corresponding paradigm to emerge. That is, we cannot just decide to fly, because other beliefs like the necessity of wings, aerodynamics, atmospheric tolerance and others all negate a belief in flying. In order to fly, we would have to change every corresponding belief about flight, and those beliefs would themselves need to restructure their own corresponding beliefs, creating a ripple that spread out and changed the very structures of human belief and reality. Despite what New Age gurus tell you, you can’t just change reality with good intentions and meditation.

Change can, however, occur over time. The beliefs which program our reality change over time as we accumulate and/or replace information via new symbols and archetypes. Since a widespread belief in AI has been flourishing within our memetic landscape, all it requires is a shift in the corresponding beliefs which estimate its arrival. Strangely enough, materialism may be just that set of corresponding beliefs. Materialism provides a narrative, or mythology, from which the memetic interconnectivity of consciousness could correspondingly allow new conscious entities (AI) to emerge.

The narrative of materialism is often sanctified by it’s ability to produce novel technologies. This does not mean that the materialist narrative is true, however, only that it has great utility in producing results. Things that produce great results are often untrue, as political propaganda clearly demonstrates. The power of mass suggestion creates self-fulfilling prophecies. Scientific progress in the last several centuries may owe more to the narrative and belief in science than to the method itself.

Yet this does not mean that the materialist model is superior, either in overall truth, or in its ability to produce results. It is still very much weighed down by it’s limitations and faulty premises. To observe phenomena within consciousness under the premise that those phenomena occur outside of it means we have to create a mass illusion like materialism in order to evolve within consciousness. What would we be capable of if our narratives corresponded more closely with the nature of our existence? What sort of new methods, technologies and realities might emerge if we cut out the literal interpretations of objects within consciousness and replaced them with an understanding of those objects as interacting agents of consciousness?

The success of materialism does not indicate the truth of that belief system. At the same time, the fact that materialism is untrue does not negate the power of its mythologies. AI, or artificial consciousness, may someday appear to arise out of the complexity of matter invented by humans. Yet in actuality, those entities may owe their genesis merely to the narrative of materialism. In this way we can view materialist science as complex set of rituals whose magic appears mundane because of the symbols and archetypes we have clothed it in. A magic that only works when we can describe it in non-magical language, and believe that we are doing the opposite of magic. Again, imagine the wizardry possible when no longer require such illusory roundabouts?

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” – Arthur C.Clarke

A Non-Dualist Exploration of Genes, Memes and Evolution

memes genes and evolution

The goal of this article is to introduce the idea that memes are to genes what consciousness is to the brain. The premises I use to get there fly in the face of mainstream knowledge, but my conclusions lead to practical advice for taking control of the destinies of the individual and humanity at large.

The materialist/physicalist model of the mind states that consciousness is just a pragmatic byproduct of the complexity of our brains; that it is an illusion used to facilitate the evolutionary fitness of individuals and species, which are themselves just inconsequential vessels for the survival of genes. Not only do I find these models of consciousness and evolution to be irrational, I find them to be cynical, defeatist and self-loathing. And they are also becoming obsolete as innovative new models challenge their ideological supremacy.

Independent philosopher (my favorite kind) Bernardo Kastrup has been working within the non-dualist paradigm to illustrate a new model of the brain and consciousness that does not stumble on materialist metaphysical dogmas. His general premise is that the substance of reality is primarily consciousness and that matter is a narrative device to give form to thoughts. Where mainstream science sees the brain as an engine driving our minds and bodies, Bernardo sees it more as a speedometer. The brain, in his parlance, is the second person perspective of consciousness, a phenomena which can only really be experienced internally by the individual. Therefore when neurologists see the brain reacting to external stimuli, they are viewing conscious processes from an outsider perspective in the limited context of their own beliefs about brains/minds. Here is a short excerpt explaining this in his own words:

The elegance of this view is that it dispenses entirely with the need to postulate anything other than the obvious: consciousness itself. We do not need to postulate a whole material universe outside consciousness anymore. Empirical reality is merely the outside image – the external aspect – of the mental activity of a cosmic consciousness, while body-brains are merely the outside image of dissociated segments of this cosmic consciousness. And what is a body-brain but something we can see, touch, measure; something with the qualities of experience? Indeed, the empirical world is the experience, by an alter, of the rest of the stream of consciousness outside the alter. It is dissociation that creates the duality between internal and external aspects. But this duality does not imply or require anything outside experience: the external aspects are themselves experiences; experiences of alters. As explained in Chapter 9 of Brief Peeks Beyond, ‘everything that currently motivates us to believe in a world outside consciousness can and will be understood as the effects of mental processes outside our particular alter, which we witness from a second-person perspective.’

Now hold on to that thought.


In his book Virus of the Mind, Richard Brodie takes a philosophical look at the science of memetics. That discipline is primarily concerned with understand the phenomena of memes, which Brodie describes as:

A meme is a unit of information in a mind whose existence influences events such that more copies of itself get created in other minds.

A meme, then, is a genetic unit of an mental entity that reproduces using the evolutionary strategies of viruses. The book and its ideas are brilliant, which is why it became such a critical and commercial success. I found the book enlightening throughout, with the exception of his insistence in the natural selection model of evolution. I think that my intelligent selection model actually works much better to pull the front and back ends of his book together, since what he is essentially proposing is that our observable reality is a construct of the symbols and archetypes we use to filter reality via our individual consciousness. A process which essentially creates our personal subjective realities and contributes to the illusion of an objective consensus reality where they overlap.

Essentially, he proposes that memes are the genes of consciousness, and that memetic therapy can be used to cure any malware of the mind caused by malignant, self-replicating memes that threaten the fitness of individuals and species.


When we think of genes, we think of tiny little instruction manuals that tell organisms how to form and behave. This is the materialist/physicalist model. Genes give rise to individual organisms and species in the same way that brains supposedly generate our minds. But how should we approach genes in a non-dualist model of consciousness and reality?

Earlier we explored the idea that brains were just second person perceptions of the first person experience of consciousness. Rather than the engine, the brain was an instrument panel showing the activities of an individuals consciousness. What then if we were to similarly view genes as the second person perspective of the first person experience of memes?

In this model, instead of saying that a gene caused you to have green eyes and red hair, those traits are a part of your memetic structure. A person’s genes are just physical manifestations of the memetic components of that individuals consciousness. In other words, a gene is a thumbnail image of the symbols and archetypes that you are made of. Your physical self is the image that those thumbnails represent, yet you are not the image of you. You are the thinking, feeling and creative being who can only be experienced by other thinking, feeling and creative beings in the form of the image constructed of ideas about you. Those ideas are memes.

If a meme acts like a virus, then it has two possible outcomes. It replicates itself as wholly as possible in as many hosts as possible -or- it makes innovative copies of itself that sometimes improve the fitness of itself and its host, and sometimes make it non-viable. Learning to recognize what a memes most likely outcome is, we can make conscious efforts to resist the kinds of viable memes that have no innovative qualities, and thus no benefit to their host. If we look at evolution as the march of memes through time, and we are able filter out malignant memes and accept, share and create useful ones, then we have the capability of shaping the evolution of ourselves, our species and our reality.

At the same time, memes also present an existential risk. Toxic memes can create a viral epidemic that harms our species and environment. Our culture has adopted memes that take the form of macro images and macro slogans. These meta-memes make us susceptible to absorbing and spreading memetic information compulsively without examining its properties and consequences. What we generally call a ‘meme‘ on the internet is sort of a virus that makes us consume and spread memes voraciously without any awareness. It invites the sort of apathy that turns memes from a useful tool for willfully evolving, into viruses with no other goal than to make their hosts just as blissfully ignorant of their own existence as they are.

Memes can either infect us with intellectual zombi-ism or pave a path to the stairway to heaven. The distinction will be a result of our ability to recognize them and utilize them consciously. Our pattern for validating and reinforcing the compulsive uses of memes and meta-memes is a frightening harbinger. Yet the power of memes means that beneficial memes like this article and its concepts are able to stem that tide and put us in the cockpit of our own evolutionary destiny.

The Quran Drugs

The Quran Drugs

In his upcoming book More Than Allegory: On Religious Myth, Truth and Belief, Bernardo Kastrup continues his fascinating exploration into the depths of the human mind and nature of our existence. His newest work focuses on the importance of religion in creating and weaving together the symbolic narratives of existence into the fabric of our reality. The book will most likely be shunned by the narrow-minded community of atheist intellectuals and adherents of philosophical materialism who so desperately attack religion in the construction and defense of their own worldviews, yet who would benefit most from its ideas. These types are prone to the same thinking as religious fundamentalists, which is that of literal interpretation of the ideas, rituals and texts of the worlds various religions. A tendency to focus so much on explicit religious messages that one tends to lose sight of their implicit ones seemingly renders religion meaningless. But when we focus on the implicit messages in both specific religions and religiosity in general, we find a treasure of symbolic, archetypal and allegorical knowledge. Bernardo lays forth an argument that reconnecting with the more meaningful implicit messages in religion can save us not only from the insanity of religious fundamentalism, but from the follies of new dogmas like materialism.

While I remain a great fan of Bernardo’s work, his academic style and lack of color and humor represent a different path to knowledge than I have chosen, which is the shamanic route. While he elects to understand those old religious narratives in a purely intellectual way, I am more prone to creating my own, or turning the old on their head through satire, absurdist-deconstruction and dadaist recombination.

When the phrase The Quran Drugs came to mind, a play on The War On Drugs, I decided to follow this silliness down the rabbit hole of creative writing and see where it would lead. I ultimately decided that the best way to do that would be to explore the ideas, verses and parables through the Quran, yet replacing certain words and concepts with those you would more likely hear from lotus eaters than suicide bombers.

The first one is from the parable known as The Light of Allah, and in it I replace Allah with Cosmic Mind and Light with Consciousness and then adjust the rest of the language and syntax accordingly, while keeping the logic and linguistic structure intact. What at first looked like a boring old religious text suddenly took on the shape and feel of a late night toke session in a dorm room.

“The Cosmic Mind is the consciousness of the heavens and the earth. The parable of the Cosmic Mind’s consciousness is as if it were a nothingness containing a thought; the thought is in mind, the mind like the sum of all knowledge: imagined by a blessed being – a body that is neither of existence or non-existence, the ideas whereof would well-nigh give consciousness even though thought had not touched it: consciousness within consciousness! The Cosmic Mind guides unto it’s consciousness they that will it; and thus the Cosmic Mind propounds parables unto humankind, since the Cosmic Mind has full knowledge of all things.”

The next parable, The Spider’s Web, describes the sort of anarchism understood by those whose explorations in ego death have brought about the knowledge of the total uncertainty of all things, and the folly of battling that uncertainty through systems of governance. At least it does when I replace the concept Allah with Self, and Idols with Government.

The likeness of those who choose rulers besides the Self , namely government from which they hope to profit, is as the likeness of the spider that makes it’s net it’s nest. And truly the frailest, the weakest, of homes is the home of the spider – for it neither protects it from heat nor cold – likewise, governments cannot benefit those who are caught in them – if they only knew this, they would not get caught in them.

Materialism, physicalism and naturalism are similar ideas. They are all metaphysical propositions stating that our reality is an emergent property of objects or things within a primal physical universe. In the Parable of the Mosquito, we don’t have to do too much bending, since the original meaning will be similar to our remix. I replace Allah with Universal Consciousness and Gnat with Laws of Nature As anyone who has undergone the little death of the self in the psychedelic process can tell you, the apparent universe is not the universe itself, but a virtual narrative of the experiences of the universe and those within it.

Surely the universal consciousness is not ashamed to set forth any parable- neither the laws of nature or any thing above them; then as for those who have tuned in, they know that it is the truth from the universal consciousness, and as for those who are square, they say: What is it that the universal consciousness means by this parable of natures laws: universe causes many to err by it and many consciousnesses are led aright by it! but the universal consciousness does not cause to err by it except by the literalism of the unawakened.

I could continue this exercise indefinitely. I could take any sacred text from any place or time in history and, by skewing a few concepts here and there, use their forms to express knowledge that would be palatable by even the greatest critics of those religions and their supporting texts. That is, if they could keep an open mind long enough to comprehend the artistry of such things. Those who outright reject religious teachings are guilty of the sin of anti-intellectualism. The only things we cannot learn from are those we have decided not to. Religions and their beliefs and parables and holy books are all goldmines of allegorical information. They are full of immense truths that are potentially meaningful to people of any belief system who are willing to go beyond the surface and find the poetry of truth that lies beneath.

While many social critics take every possible opportunity to lash out against religion, they fail to understand that their reactionary response differs little from those religious extremists and radical fundamentalists. Both groups want their truths served up in easy to swallow, bite-sized pieces. Both want to reduce everything to black-and-white absolutes in order to protect themselves from the uncertainty of our existence, a task which is foolish and impossible. Absolutism is the false-sense-of-security-blanket that fools swaddle themselves in to protect themselves from the imaginary monsters in their closets.

Religion is not the problem, authoritarianism is. Authoritarianism is the institutionalization of absolutes. No human tragedy seemingly born of religion has occurred outside the auspices of authority. The ideas of religion are only harmless when they are co-opted by authoritarians for maligned purposes. Discarding all human religious notions is not just throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Besides doing that, it discards the bathtub, and leaves us without an important vessel for cleansing ourselves in the healing waters of allegorical truth. Those who believe that the only meaningful truths are the literal ones are like existential whores who have forsaken bathing for a sickly overabundance of perfumes. When death removes the clothing of the ego and spreads the folds concealing our most intimate parts, eternity can smell right through us.