Carl H Smith‘s work is at the intersection of VR, psychedelics, and esoteric contemplative practices. He’s the director of the Learning Technology Research Center at the Ravensbourne University London, co-founder of The Cyberdelic Society, co-founder of The London Experimental Psychonautics Club, and founder of Holotechnica Academy as well as Technomancy.club. Smith has been researching different experiences of Double Consciousness, including lucid dreaming as well other liminal states of consciousness, as he’s trying to explore the extent of our consciousness through the combination of immersive tech, psychoactive substances, and ancient wisdom traditions.
I had a chance to read a pre-print of a paper on Double Consciousness that Smith wrote, and talk to him about his idea, how these approaches could help us move from an individualistic frame to a more collective orientation, and we talk about some of the larger technological trends towards this “New Screen Deal” and living through technologically mediated mediums, and how we can preserve our nature as social creatures who are connected to each other and the planet.
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[00:00:05.452] Kent Bye: The Voices of VR Podcast. Hello, my name is Kent Bye, and welcome to The Voices of VR Podcast. One of the things that I get the most excited about VR is its potential to be able to shift and modulate our consciousness. Last year, I had a chance to go to the consciousness hacking conference. It was called the Awaken Future Summit, and it was very fascinating how they brought together different people from Burning Man psychedelic community with the contemplative spiritual practices and meditators and a whole range of different traditions. And then there was the technologists who were trying to use technology to be able to modulate our consciousness. And so I had a chance to talk with Carl H. Smith. He's within this larger transformation technology or consciousness hacking movements. He's the co-founder of the Cyberdelic Society, the co-founder of the London Experimental Psychonautics Club, Holo-Technica Academy, and Technomancy.club. And so he teaches actually at this learning technology center at the Ravensbourne University in London. So he's at this cross-section of psychedelics, contemplative spiritual practices, and technology, and he's been doing lots of really interesting stuff in the field. There's actually a whole profile that was done in The Guardian back in March 26, 2019, called Acid Test, how the psychedelic virtual reality can help society's mass bad trip. So he's been working on all sorts of really interesting areas, and he's been writing about this concept of double consciousness, kind of like this liminality that we slip in and out of these different streams and modes of consciousness. For me, I think of it more of altered states of consciousness rather than maybe a bifurcation of a double consciousness, but he's taking existing terms and trying to put forth how we navigate into these different liminal realms and what that means for our individual selves and how we're connected to the larger collective. So we talk a lot about that, but also these larger issues of right now with the coronavirus and the new screen deal, which I think is coined by Naomi Klein, talking about the people who are really sustaining themselves and surviving are interfacing with technology in a certain way. And so we have this evolutionary impulse that's driving us towards this matrix-like future? And what are the implications of that future? And what are we creating collectively as a society? So thinking a lot about both the psychedelic influence, but also this larger context of the new screen deal and how we relate to it. So that's what we're covering on today's episode of the Voices of VR podcast. So this interview with Carl happened on Wednesday, May 20th, 2020. So with that, let's go ahead and dive right in.
[00:02:39.122] Carl H Smith: So I'm Carl H. Smith. I'm director of the Learning Technology Research Center at Ravensbourne University, London. I'm also the co-founder of the Cyberdelic Society, the co-founder of the London Experimental Psychonautics Club, about to launch Holotechnica Academy, and also Technomancy. So Technomancy.club, which is all around the combination of magic with a K and technology. So my background is, yeah, I started out doing history of art, then I did computer science, ended up being an architect for seven years, reconstructing ancient buildings around the world. First job was in Iran, reconstructing the Palace of Darius in Persepolis. And doing so much 3D modeling in my younger years transformed my brain. I started to realize that I was able to program my dreams because I was programming these 3D models and I ended up dreaming about them. And also it did other things. It improved my peripheral vision because I was creating these large structures. I could see further down the road as I was driving as one of the side effects. I was super interested in what was going on there in terms of the impact of the virtual to alter the actual. So from there I got more interested in e-learning. I got involved in virtual reality 20 years ago because of those 3D models. They were World Heritage sites, so I was putting them into VR space. VRML was what we were using back then. And then also early augmented reality experiments when we were using the same models to put them onto the ruins so that you could see in situ the reconstructions very early, 15 years ago, looking at smartphones, early smartphones, and how we could use augmented reality for heritage contexts. Realized that was very niche, so then I got involved in much more traditional technology-enhanced learning, so looking at cognitive sciences, looking at all of the multidisciplinary approach that's needed for any sort of VR experience. Then I got interested in sensory augmentation, how do we create new senses, how do we enhance the mixed reality experience with wearables, with everything else.
[00:04:40.996] Kent Bye: Okay. So this, this conversation is a long time coming. I, I think I first heard of what you were working on and the guardian, I think did a whole piece on what you're working on. And so you you're have this whole thing about double consciousness. So you sent me this paper and I have a lot of questions about it. I mean, I have a sense of it, but maybe you could explain to me a little bit of like what your vision for what double consciousness is and why you're doing it. Cause not sure if I fully understand.
[00:05:11.227] Carl H Smith: Yeah, well, it's not my term. As you may have seen in the paper, it's a historic term. And I suppose I'm interested in the Roy Ascot instance of it, where he's reminding us that the shamanic trance, the shaman goes into the astral to fix the issues with whatever patient. If you're going to go into the Amazon and actually have a shaman to help you with your ailment, whatever it is, they sort of take the ayahuasca themselves. You don't take it. yet they go through your body, your light body, and then they arrange things accordingly. But they're both in the physical world and in the astral, for want of a better word, at the same time. And then Roy actually mentions how similar that is to virtual reality in the sense that you're in the physical world, and you're also in this virtual space, very much embodying both spaces. So perhaps consciousness isn't the correct term, because as you rightly say, there is consciousness and everything arises, in my opinion, everything arises from consciousness, including matter, rather than it being a product of the brain. So I'm definitely not a materialist. But then I've started to see a lot of other instances where you're seeing these opportunities for living elsewhere, for want of a better term. So, you know, this idea of lucid dream states, you could argue, are a form of double consciousness, because you're consciously controlling your dream. There's a part of you that's in the three-dimensional sphere, and there's a part of you in the astral, if you're talking about dreams taking place in the astral plane, for want of a better term. So, again, you're seeing a need for both parts of the equation to be present, whereas normal dreaming you believe your dream is happening and blah, blah, blah. You're not really in the everyday world. You're not in your consciousness as such. You're not in your current state or your waking state of consciousness. And then you think of states like hypnagogia or hypnophobic states where you're in a waking state. You're in a liminal state between waking and sleeping. I've often had quite amazing experiences upon waking. I tend to write a lot when I'm waking up. I'm still half asleep. And Edison with his ball bearings, holding ball bearings and as he falls asleep they drop into a pan beneath and then they wake him up and then he would get all these ideas. So there's something precious, something special about entering this liminal state between two states of consciousness. And then another example would be the DMT Extended. I reference this in the paper because I'm involved with imperial and I have been in the DMT study as a participant now looking at it from the research side as well. So in the DMT extended study, Andrew Gallimore is one of the leading researchers on it. He suggests that it's now possible to have a constant drip feed of the DMT. So DMT is the active ingredient in ayahuasca and it produces incredible, we know from the study that it puts you into a brain signature of dreaming, but it's certainly nothing in my opinion, like dreaming, it's almost like a North Londoner world that you enter. And you can certainly say that a DMT extended, which means that you can be given a dose of DMT continuously to keep you in the peak of the DMT state for the first test is going to be 40 minutes. So that's roughly four times the average. And then you can go to four hours, four weeks, four days, whatever. So you can extend it. And Andrew Gallimore is very interested in this becoming a permanent state. where your body's kept in a pod, waste management is taken care of, and you enter hyperspace permanently. And so the third dimensional space is just a launch pad for going into the fifth dimension, which is commonly what the DMT state is described as. So again, arguably, that's not a state of double consciousness, because your body is no longer used, only used in the sense that you have to have a body to be launched into the hyperspace. But when you're in a DMT state, It's quite all-encompassing. It's not quite as powerful as a 5 MeO DMT experience where your body is completely discarded. But yeah, it's arguable how much of the body in the third dimension in the physical space is utilized and therefore nourished and therefore part of the equation. One more example is the Cordyceps fungus, the Cordyceps mushroom, which infests all sorts of creatures and zombifies them. As an example, the common ant can be infected by the fungus It doesn't know it's been infected. The fungus infects its muscles and around its brain but not into the brain until the fungus decides it wants to reproduce and then remote controls the ant and the ant climbs the tallest nearest tree and it gets onto a leaf at a certain angle and at exactly noon bites down onto the leaf where then the ant is no more. The ant is then dissolved by the fungus. Mushrooms grow out of the ant and then the spores are released. and as soon as the ant is taken control of, there's no longer really anything going on with the ant. And so a counter to that would be the synergy between the psilocybin mushroom and the human species. So we know that there are 200 psilocybin-containing mushrooms, after much research, we know how to cultivate those mushrooms. we know that we're spreading those mushrooms throughout the world so we're kind of in service of the mushroom but in return the mushroom is also we're consuming these magic mushrooms and they are then enabling us to see the world in a more mushroomy way so there is a synergy between the human species and mushroom species and therefore there is much more of an equal balance there between the two and we could argue that is a proper form of double consciousness so to your point about This idea of creating a duality when we know that there is, through many of my experiences, a non-duality is much more of a reality for me. I'm not really saying that we have a double consciousness, I'm just using it as a framework to actually describe these opportunities, and I know that one of my friends, Mark Farid, is using virtual reality as a way of living in two places at once. So he's leaving his normal reality and entering somebody else's and he's going to live for a month through somebody else. So that's the Seeing Eye project. So again, you can see many opportunities for people to escape their everyday life and you think of Ready Player One and all the scenarios around virtual reality. I know you're very I play with all these sorts of scenarios where the danger is that people just use this world as a dystopian wasteland as a way of launching into the virtual where they can be whoever they want to be, they're not limited by their gender or their sex or their body type or whatever and they can be whoever they want to be so I suppose I'm utilizing this idea in order to understand what that is all about and actually to sort of create an awareness of it that these things are happening that there are many different ways to live elsewhere and what we can do about it and what we should be doing about it and how we can make the world a richer place so that people don't want to exit it and
[00:12:33.908] Kent Bye: Great. Yeah, that's a great overview. And I think I have a number of thoughts that come up in response to that. First of all, just the name virtual reality within itself has embedded within it this metaphysical assumption that there is reality and then there's a virtual reality, which is an augmentation of reality. And I see there's so many problems with that because it, you know, in a lot of ways it creates this false bifurcation. Maybe it's just all human experience and it's irrelevant as to how that's modulated through technologies or whatnot. So that's one point. Another point is Jaron Lanier has this theory that our brains will always perceive that difference between the virtual and the real. Right now, when you go into virtual reality, your perception can know that there's things that that's not actual quote unquote reality. And there's something about our perception that we kind of know at a, even if it's at a subconscious level, but we may be tricked and immersed, but yet there's still a part of our cognitive brain that's like, that knows the difference between the virtual and the real. And so Lanier's hypothesis is that our brains will always continually evolve to be able to perceive that difference between the virtual and the real and the simulated and the real, which is an interesting idea because it's like, you know, if you see the technological progression, that means our perceptual input is going to be able to have more finely grained ways of being trained to be able to perceive levels of reality that we currently can't see right now, which I think is a fascinating concept. And then that I look to people like Ken Wilber, who has done this whole taxonomy of these different states of consciousness. And for me, personally, I prefer the phrase altered states of consciousness because I don't know if it's metaphorically like a punctuated equilibrium where you're in one state and you phase shift into another state like this quantum leap into a different state of being and that it reminds me of this myth of multitasking that people talk about multitasking but really you can really only focus on one thing at once and you can be doing things in serial but you are doing this context switching and maybe consciousness is kind of like that where you do these phase shifts. And so for me, I guess I prefer the term altered states of consciousness, because I totally believe a lot of these states are altered states. I just have a hard time believing that you're able to exist in each of those at the same time to create a true double consciousness as you are putting forth. And so it kind of gets back to this, the language that we use creates these metaphysical assumptions of bifurcation to some degree. And it gets back to what Alfred North Whitehead, his big critique around the subject predicate structure of the English language itself creates that substance metaphysics where things get concretized into a fixed object when he is trying to strive towards this process or relational philosophy that is trying to look at things, how they're related to each other, rather than fixed into these static objects. And so. Anyway, that's some thoughts that come up as I read through your paper and I hear you kind of describe it.
[00:15:38.656] Carl H Smith: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's, it's absolutely fascinating what you say about, you know, how you started off there with talking about identifying when you're in a simulated reality or the real reality. I mean, if we think about deep fakes and the prevalence of deep fakes and the, and the conversation around how we're going to identify the deep fake. and actually using AI to actually identify whether what you're watching is a deepfake or not. So that was one comment. And then the other one would be around the whole idea of moist media. When people are, I mean, there's a group on Reddit called Rift into the Mind, when people are trying to combine psychedelics or disassociatives with VR, especially if you're taking some sort of ketamine-like substance and then going into a VR experience, it's quite easy. according to the chat, to forget that you've taken a drug, to forget that you're in a virtual reality, and therefore to actually augment your ability to dissolve into that space. So that's another point. And yeah, I suppose I'm mindful of a lot of the narratives coming out of science fiction and shows I'm watching like Devs and Westworld and Altered Carbon and all of that sort of stuff. I mean, I'm really interested in one of my friends when I told her about the Seeing Eye project, She was saying, oh, I had a dream where I was actually in a new form of prison, and that form of prison was virtual reality, where you're not able to take it off. And she was actually in a terrorist's body and experiencing what the terrorist was doing as a form of punishment, as a form of purgatory. You know, one of the points of cyberdelics, you know, I'm a co-founder of the Cyberdelics Society, is that a lot of people will never want to do a psychedelic because there's a lack of control. And the point of cyberdelics is that you can democratize the altered state, if you like, because they do have the ability to try these things and actually remove them. And that's part of the appeal. But I'm talking a bit of a tangent now. So the point I'm trying to make is that I'm not proposing that you, and this is why the term may be problematic, and I'm always up for evolving the coined term. And as I said, it isn't my term. I'm very interested in the pluralism. how I can sort of say unity and diversity. I've been in these non-dual states and for me they're so utterly absorbing that in the words of Eric Davis, you forget about the other and then you're sort of dismissing the other. And I think that's a dangerous route as well. So it's kind of like, I'm always trying to evolve my own consciousness and through my transformative experiences. And I've had all sorts of nested consciousness experiences much like my life review where I stopped going forwards in life and I experienced my entire life episodically in reverse. So I hit 40 and I had this experience where everything was recorded, I was able to experience everything in my normal state of consciousness in reverse and I was basically not only able to experience, so I was in a double consciousness immediately because I was in my consciousness there in the experience, just as my normal consciousness, and then I was in my consciousness going backwards So I was able to have two in parallel, but then I was able to go into anything else in the scene. I had to have lived it for me to be able to access it, but I was able to go into any object. The first thing I tried was a table. I went into a table and it became wood. So I was in a triple consciousness, in a wood consciousness, in my consciousness going backwards, and in my current consciousness. And then I was able to go into, I thought, well, let's try a person. So I went into a person. And I was able to be them, me, and me. So I was in a triple consciousness. And it was, to your point, it was obviously all in one consciousness, but it very much felt like I was in three different consciousnesses, especially when I was entering other people. And not only that, but one of the people I was in was an ex that I had been with a few years previous. and she basically had got pregnant by mistake and basically I in the experience I knew what was coming so I decided when she told me she was pregnant she phones me up I'm in London she's in Berlin says I'm pregnant the abortion's on Tuesday puts the phone down so I could do nothing about it I went over there to support her Sure enough, she was very newly pregnant, took a pill and had an abortion in the toilet in her flat. And I went into her body in my life review and I experienced the abortion at a cellular level. I was experiencing it like as a waterfall, like being in a waterfall going into the toilet. So I was in four, quadruple consciousness in that instance. And that really profoundly transformed my understanding of what consciousness is, almost as much as my first out-of-body experience where I realized my consciousness isn't behind my eyes looking out, it's everywhere. So like you I'm very interested in altered states of consciousness and you know maybe I am talking about altered states of consciousness rather than doubling or tripling or quadrupling but like I said in the life review it very much felt like I was entering the consciousness of others and you could argue that that's just part of the overall consciousness. Absolutely and I'm not precious about that and like you say we can't multitask We can only focus on one thing at a time, but then when you look at a lucid dream state, when you're consciously controlling something which is in the astral or whatever, I mean, like you say, and I had this very interesting conversation with a friend of mine who's studying altered states and says very much the same thing about space. It's not like there are different dimensions. It's all here. It's all happening here. It's just that we're given the perceptual tools to access those other spaces which are overlaid potentially over this space. So yeah.
[00:21:24.158] Kent Bye: Wow. That has so many, so many things there. Well, first I want to just say that a lot of these experiences that you're describing, I have not had, I have not gone through a lot of these things. And I've, I've gone through breath work and I've been on a number of different psychedelic journeys that I would categorize all those as just altered states of consciousness. I've practiced Mavadi Sufi turn. So the whirling dervish turn in the same tradition as Rumi, and I've certainly got into different altered states of consciousness there. But I just want to say up front that your range of experiences that you're talking about are a lot more deeper and in depth into this. So I'm coming from this place of epistemic humility where I don't have that same knowledge. I'm just merely coming up for more of a philosophical perspective. But one of the things that come up as you talk about this Michael Pollan's book and talking about turning off the default mode network and having this experience of ego disillusionment, I wouldn't classify any of the experiences I've ever had of really truly achieving this non-dual state. I feel like I've slipped into some of these more psilocybin-induced altered states, but not a true unity of all consciousness. But I really am drawn towards this Chinese philosophy concept of the yang and the yin, and using it as a metaphor for storytelling, where the hero's journey of Joseph Campbell is all about this individuation of the ego. So a lot of the story structures that we have in the West of the hero's journey is all about you overcoming all of the obstacles and coming into this real individuation of yourself, which is that you're developing your character by overcoming these obstacles. And I think the corresponding yin archetypal journey is all about the ego disillusionment. So you're dissolving your ego. And part of that journey is more about seeing how you as an individual is connected to a larger whole. And it's about seeing how you're in relationship to your family, the culture, the community, the world. And I feel like a lot of the more Eastern stories tend to be around that more communal, don't be a nail that's sticking out. You're part of something a little larger, kind of like this real humbling experience. And I feel like the psychedelic journey seems to be getting into this more yin archetypal journey of that ego disillusionment. And if I abstract that out in between the yang and the yin, the yang and the yin are interdependent. Like you always have some degree of one or the other, just as a metaphor, there's two days of the year when there's exactly equal yang and yin on the equinox points of the spring and fall equinox. And then on the summer solstice, it's the maximum amount of yang. And then the winter solstice is the maximum amount of yin. But in any given day, it's in constant flux as to what the balance is. And it sort of goes back and forth over the course of a year. And I feel like maybe there's something there in terms of the underlying nature of consciousness where we do have our ego. And it's not about completely surrendering all of our ego because we still need to actually survive, but it's trying to find this balance between the young in the end, and maybe through these psychedelic journey and the psychedelic experience, you're able to tap into those other aspects that with all of our language and understanding and trying to make sense of our mental frames and our models that maybe we're able to escape a lot of that. And it's allow us to kind of get into this different channel of perception, a reality tunnel from Robert Anton Wilson, talking about these reality tunnels. So that's at least some of the thoughts when I hear you talk about some of that, that comes up.
[00:24:47.600] Carl H Smith: Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, I suppose I'm really interested in, you know, and I've done a lot of interesting research with 5-MeO DMT, and this is very much a reliable way of inducing a non-dual state. And just to describe that, I know Michael Pollan had a horrific 5-MeO experience, and I've been with him and tried to encourage him not to just be stopping there with the one experience. But yeah, I don't think, I mean, it was, yeah, too traumatic. I think that once you take the 5 MEO, your consciousness expands so rapidly, it just pops, and you literally become everything. It's remarkable, and how I mean you become everything is you become light itself. And for me, that's something that I find super interesting, the idea about light and how we're experiencing light. in different types of consciousness if you like. So in this non-dual state you become the light source, you are the light, you become infinite and you become eternal and you return home, you kind of recognize it as home. And when you take ayahuasca or changa or crystal DMT you invariably see this new orthogonal parallel reality which is made of, it's made of light. Light is emanating from the objects that you're seeing. It's normally holographic. It looks digital. It looks like VR to a certain extent, but much more sophisticated than the VR we have at the moment. And light is coming from the objects. The objects are made of light. And this seems to be a degradation from the 5 MEO state where you become light itself. There's no content, you're not seeing objects, you are light, you are all of consciousness. And then if we think about the third dimension we're in, we have the light source from the sun. illuminating objects. So you have very different states of the experience of light in those experiences. And you know, I'm still understanding what that means and why that's significant. But for me, it again, goes back to that question of what is consciousness and is consciousness light? Are we are we expecting to talk about The astral being your light body, and you go into the astral plane, you go into the dream state, and you're experiencing a copy of this world almost, whereas the DMT state is very much another, like a very alien world, where you can look at your body, you have a different body and whatever. So I suppose I'm yeah, and then to go back to that point about the 5meo, so this non-dual state I've been having some interesting conversations around the Buddhist point of view and the Hindus point of view and Apparently the Hindus point of view is that that white light that clear light is actually also temporary It's not a permanent state And this is where the stuff from Eric Davis and the pluralism stuff kicks in. It's because this idea that you've reached the ultimate reality, you've unveiled the ultimate non-dual space, and that's all there is. And I'm always interested in, we live in existence, but what created existence? What is outside of it? If we have existence and non-existence, then what produced those things? And are there things else other than life? that exist is hard to grasp but what else is there that could be other than the non-dual space and this is where Eric Davis talking about the other is super interesting because you know I think it's kind of rude to ask what's beyond the white room what's beyond this non-dual state but you know this is where my my explorations and my research takes me to explore all of what consciousness has to offer. And I believe it is our birthright to be able to explore these spaces. And this is what we've been robbed of for so long. And I think that now more than ever, when we're all sitting contemplating while we're in lockdown, what is it that we do on Earth in our average life of 29,000 days or 1,000 months? What is it that's important to discover? And for me, it's all about pushing the boundaries of what consciousness is and can be.
[00:28:52.549] Kent Bye: Well, that same thrust, I guess, is a big catalyst for me to be able to understand consciousness through the lens of virtual reality. I do think that consciousness is one of the most profound open questions, both philosophically and scientifically. And I feel like VR is potentially allowing us to have this more phenomenological frame into understanding different models of consciousness. And I feel like there's going to be a matching of experiential design that comes through the modulation of consciousness by coming up with different combinations of how to add more of this metaphoric ingredients or less of that. So experiential design has a connection to the modulation of consciousness that I find really fascinating. And to unpack some of the essence of consciousness into what I think is maybe some of the primitives So first of all, there's a question as to whether or not consciousness is fundamental, whether it's universal, whether it's emergent from our physical phenomena. So this question of consciousness is embedded within these different polarities as to whether or not it is an epiphenomena of a physical phenomena or whether or not it's a fundamental fabric of the universe itself that precedes matter itself. So even within consciousness, it embeds this polarity point between those two options that are impossible to falsify one way or another. So you kind of have to pick one set of metaphysical assumptions, but whatever metaphysical assumption you pick is actually going to dictate different language and ways of you making sense of it. Like even the world virtual reality is embedded into a substance metaphysics, rather than saying that, well, consciousness is just being modulated through all different ways, regardless of whether or not it's through virtual technologies or not. and you put consciousness at the basis rather than substance. But that's part of the reason why I'm so drawn to process philosophy is because it's saying that the underlying metaphysical basis of reality are these dynamic processes that are unfolding, that all of reality, the essence of it is that flux and that shift and that change. And there's a number of different process thinkers, whether that's Hegel, Heraclitus and different alchemical principles, Jung, Groff, Hillman. I mean, there's different philosophers that have taken this more process orientation. And I think the essence of that process orientation are these polarity points, but also seeing the difference between the quantities and the qualities. because I feel like Aristotle was really into more of the qualities of the experience. And then at some point, once we had this Cartesian split of the subject object, then the substance metaphysics took hold and it became more about those objects than it did about the qualities of those experiences. And so if anything, I feel like it's these contrasts, like consciousness is being able to see the contrast between qualities of experience. So like at a most primitive level, hot, cold, wet, dry, or if you're drinking wine, then you're able to taste the flavors. And it's like, as you taste the flavors, then you're able to create language that in your mind is able to differentiate different subtle natures of flavor or consciousness or sensory experience. And that we come up with the language in part to be able to describe those different polarity points. And so I guess that's part of the way that I've been thinking about it broadly. And so I've been trying to come up with what I see as trying to abstract this experiential design framework as much as I can to be able to sort of fit into as many of these different polarity points as I can, knowing the limits of Gödel's incompleteness theorem, saying that any theory that I'm going to have is going to serve a specific function, it's going to illuminate some parts of human consciousness, but there's also going to be other parts that I can't see. And so part of what I see what you're doing with double consciousness and the frameworks you're trying to develop is maybe you're exploring some of those things that I can't see within my framework, but it talks to this deeper question as to like the intention that you have for your double consciousness framework and what you are trying to achieve with it.
[00:32:44.220] Carl H Smith: Yeah, I mean, I suppose I'm very much looking at societal, the destruction of society in the sense that the virtual space is very alluring. What is it that we can do to make the site-specific more attractive so that people don't choose to exit it? And I studied the Hikikomori in Japan and, you know, it's a very hard thing to study that because those people are already locked away, they've already logged out of society and I don't believe that it's a Japanese problem anymore. I think that we're seeing the new screen deal, you know, this scary reality of the matrix really, like this idea that we know in mixed reality that you just do this, you're just touching space, you're not touching anyone else. and therefore it's a very attractive thing for the dystopian design of the new world order where we all stay in our boxes and we all have everything delivered by drone. That's part of it. I'm very much interested in society and tech for good, human downgrading. How do we avoid all of those things? And it's partly about self-improvement, empowerment. How do we explore our own consciousness? And to say that there's more to consciousness than the one consciousness, I suppose, is one other aspect of that. And I'm very much interested in the multiple personality disorder and all those instances where people are living more than one life in their one life, you know, and the individual is scaffolding that needs to be removed. if we're to evolve, because the individual leads to a cul-de-sac, and that we're not meant to just be living in this Hollywood narrative where Jamie Will spoke at Wake & Futures a couple of weeks ago, and as he rightly says, that up until COVID, a lot of people were living in this immortal delusion of, what's the best life for me? What do I deserve? How can I live the best life for me? And as he rightly says, now we're all facing our own mortality. and realizing that maybe that was utter delusion and maybe we won't be living so much for ourselves in our lives now but we're actually living to make sure that there is another generation after us.
[00:34:48.603] Kent Bye: Yeah, I really feel like, you know, looking at COVID-19 through that lens of the polarity, there's the individual and the collective. And in some ways, the coronavirus and COVID-19 is the stress test to different ways of organizing society. And to see what governments have different public policy in place to the relationship to science, their ability to garner support from the entire culture, to be able to take collective action for the good of everybody. And it seems like the Eastern cultures have been able to really do that and that the actual Western cultures have liberty as such a fundamental primitive for the foundation that everything is built upon. There's people like the World Health Organization, the executive director, he said, look, COVID-19 and coronavirus, this may be an endemic thing. It may not be going away. Even if we do find a vaccine, you still have to produce the vaccine and give it to everybody in the world and convince everybody in the world that this is a thing that's worth doing forever. otherwise it's going to be here. So I think that we're in this dilemma right now, collective dilemma as an entire world where it's a bit of an opportunity to see what is our relationship, not only to ourselves, but to the collective. And it feels like the more collectivist oriented societies have been able to find a way to handle and deal with the coronavirus because they have been able to, you know, in China's case, they just take a pure authoritarian approach. But South Korea is a great example because it doesn't require the heavy hand of an authoritarian country. It just requires good public health policy, good awareness of what needs to be done. Everybody's wearing masks. They do contact tracing. They're willing to give up certain aspects of their individual liberty of surveillance in order for the benefit of the collective. And what's happening in the United States right now is there's people who are like literally protesting to be able to express their rights of the individual to express their liberty. Yet there's, I guess, a deeper question that I have is like, well, in order to actually go back to the state of normal or defeat the coronavirus would mean that you actually kind of have to dissolve your ego and be willing to let go of certain amounts of your liberties. But in order to do that, everybody has to do it. It doesn't work if there is even just a handful of protesters that are not doing it. And it's almost like this time right now is in this extreme polarization. And with that polarization, you have these completely incompatible ways of looking at things. And one of the ways that Young would look at it is taking this alchemical principles of having these competing polar opposites that are completely opposite. You can't resolve it. the individual and the collective, like you can't do both of those at the same time. There's trade-offs between those two. And you have to hold the tension of those opposites in your mind and in your presence until you find the reconciling third, which allows you to overcome the limitations of each of them and to integrate the benefits of each of them as well. And so you get to this point where up to that point, you see that it's only about personal liberty. And that's the only thing that's true. And then it's only about collective action. That's the only thing that's true. And if you only come from those limited perspectives, you're never going to have a resolution of that polarity point. And I feel like there's a collective drama and story of this polarity between the individual and collective that's happening right now and that we have to find a way to hold the attention of the opposites and to see actually we need both. We need to find ways that we could preserve our individual liberties, but also be willing to let go of some of those liberties if it means things like contact tracing. or in the United States, there's no universal public health care. And so every other country that has coronavirus has the ability to have some sort of public health system that is going to take care of them. But that's not the way it is here in the American system. It's basically every man, woman, child, and non-binary person for themselves, that there's no sense of like, we're all in this together. And that in order to overcome something like the coronavirus, we really need to slip out of that center of gravity of that individualism and into the center of gravity of that collectivism. But from the early indications that I'm seeing, I think we're so far away from that, that it's going to have to be, for many years, the United States have millions of people die and it's happening nowhere else in the world before people start to question, maybe this is something about this fundamental assumption of what is the most important primitive of reality.
[00:39:03.280] Carl H Smith: Yeah, I mean, you're right. And absolutely, it comes down to the operating system that you're living within. And like you say, like, measles still exists, even though it's a vaccine. So I mean, a few points. I mean, I'm very, very aware that this crisis is a shot in the arm for virtual reality and mixed reality and these technologies and telepresence. My phone is ringing off the hook with calls from people like Deloitte going, can you help us with our 280,000 employees? Because we basically need to know how we can do data visualization with our clients in the virtual space because now we can't physically meet them. We can't take them into our wind labs or whatever. We need to do this stuff. in the virtual space. I think this, and I'm kind of struggling with the fact that I'm twice as busy as normal and those people that are still in the analog world like the hairdressers or all the people that are doing physical jobs are kind of really being disrupted and those that have already migrated into the digital, into the matrix are safeguarded so it's kind of seems very very cruel and difficult to deal with and I'm always like very aware of the technologies that we can create will actually encourage remoteness. You know, I did a lot of work in Japan and I did a lot of work looking at the cyber labs, you know, Keio University, Tokyo University, looking at the kinds of things that they were already developing then, which is like these huggable pillows where you could hug a pillow and your partner from thousands of miles away would actually feel the hug. and kissing app, so you put your tongue in your mobile phone and you're kissing your partner. And now, like, the whole thing around touchable holograms, you know, I'm doing a lot of work around volumetric capture. We built a holoportal, like, five years ago at my uni. And, you know, I think 3D Skype, where we're all sitting around with our, looking out of our holographic eyes, listening out of our holographic ears. And especially if you can actually create touchable holograms, so you can actually have this sort of feedback, this sort of force feedback from your own and you could potentially hug each other as holograms. And I think that this stuff is all great in the sense that we did a project called Harrison's Fund with Playlabs guys at my uni, and they created a holographic grandpa, you know, so a granddad could visit his grandkid who's disabled and couldn't get out of the house. So 100%, you know, that sense of presence was there, and all the associated benefits of presence were there. But the danger is, like I say, with the new screen deal, is that we encourage remoteness. We create a new world where social contact is no longer needed or no longer warranted. And we know from the team human guys, Rushkoff, et cetera, you know, we are social creatures. We absolutely thrive. Without that, we're no longer human.
[00:41:55.881] Kent Bye: Yeah, as you say that it makes me think about the larger economic context and the dialectic between the closed and the open and the ways in which that the market dynamics of capitalism have drawn things towards these closed walled garden dynamics where there's five major tech companies that own 80 to 90 percent of the assets, whether it's the servers or the whatever it ends up being, it's like the economies of scale of the internet are such that it drives this consolidation of wealth and power into the hands of a very few number of people. And I've actually gone to the Decentralized Web Summit, Decentralized Web Camp, because I've seen that there's this counter acting decentralized web, which up to this point, and still to this point, we haven't seen a really compelling catalyst to be able to really have people dive into the decentralized approaches. I mean, we're starting to see a catalyst into people drive into the virtual context with virtual and augmented reality, which is great for anybody who's already been believing in the future of spatial computing. And it's under these horrible circumstances that we're all trying to make the most of it. But it's really catalyzing this more resilience into, you know, maybe we don't need to fly across the world to be able to have a face-to-face meeting. Maybe we can actually be in more harmony with the earth in a way that we could still have the same level of interaction And we're still going to have a long way before we're there with adding lots of facial capture, biometric data. I mean, the technology is going to get to that point, but my fear is that in this larger geopolitical and economic context where a handful of companies own everything and that they are harvesting all of our private biometric data to be able to exploit us and control us in new and different ways, then we're creating the foundations of what you describe as the new screen deal, as living in the matrix. And I think that there's going to be needing a philosophical push towards these decentralized systems that have more resilience, that don't have those types of entities controlling everything. And when I was at the Decentralized Web Summit a couple of years ago, I had a chance to talk to Vint Cerf, who is one of the architects of the internet. And he was working at Google. And it was such a paradox to me that somebody who was the founder of this amazing thing is working for one of the leading surveillance capitalism companies out there. And I was like, metaphorically, I was like, maybe Google should stop doing some surveillance capitalism. And his response was really profound. He said, in essence, he said, you know, well, if you can find a better way to give all human knowledge to everyone in the world, be able to sustain it and pay for it, then let me know. Let me know if there's a better way that you could find a new economic model that gets beyond what's essentially the economies of scale of it being cheaper and easier to have these centralized systems deliver everything to us. And so part of the other polarity point, you know, looking at these dialectics of the centralization is the decentralization. And that means open standards, that means the decentralized web, that means mesh networks, And I actually start to see the early inklings of this decentralized future when you look at something like VRChat. Because there's public worlds in VRChat, but the real action that's happening in VRChat is happening in the private worlds. Because you have to know somebody to know where the cool party is. And you have to be on their friends list to be able to get in. And sometimes you have to be explicitly invited even to get in access. So we have this new decentralized model, which means that there's like the unbounded constraints of the virtual world, but in virtual reality, there's actually still the bandwidth limitations that you can really only have like 20 to 50 people of right now, and that'll get bigger. But that technical constraint actually is a forcing function to some of these more decentralized dynamics, which means it becomes more about your peer network and who you're related to one-to-one rather than it is to having universal access of a platform. But not only that, but this new economic models that are into platform cooperatism that actually has people being not only like an owner of the platforms, but actually being able to, with their votes and with their energy, be able to help shape the future trajectory of that platform itself. And so experiments like Decentraland that uses aspects of cryptocurrency to be able to vote on things. And all of this is still not immune to the dynamics of, you know, civil attacks or essentially market dynamics coming in and being overtaken by a handful of rich people having all the different votes. But I think that there's a overall thrust of this decentralization and these new economic models and starting to think about how that starts to actually expand out to all of society, because what we need is platforms where everybody is a co-owner, that they're able to voice their full democratic voice. These platform cooperatives that have new economic models that are actually able to sustain everybody having the young and the yen balance that everything is so shifted towards the young, then what is the more yen currency to be able to really sustain everybody, which I think is the deeper geopolitical and economic context for us escaping what is essentially a dystopic future where a handful of companies are controlling our entire future.
[00:46:58.431] Carl H Smith: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. And I really, uh, I take the point about other models being needed. Justin Harris was also speaking at Awaken Futures and did a fascinating presentation about human downgrading and the model and the plans to help with that. I really think it's a huge undertaking because of exactly that, because of the systems that we're living within. But for me, I'm very anti the whole transhumanist agenda. I'm very much looking for different models of how we go forward with the combinations with AI. How does AI mix with mixed reality? What is the hyperhumanist model, which is actually using technologies as a catalyst for actually building on your own innate human abilities. And one example is a friend of mine that's looking at the brain signatures of long-term meditators, people that are having reliable out-of-body experiences, people that have near-death experiences, and actually then using that and reverse engineering it so that you can actually use certain techniques that don't involve substances, that involve minimal technology, to actually reach those states yourself. And I think that there's so much in terms of the human system that's untapped potential. And we've used technology as a crutch, and it's atrophied our own muscles. And I really think that we need to learn from other species as well, learn from the non-human. I'm really interested in the mycelium and the fact that the mycelium is clearly more intelligent than us because the mushrooms survived five mass extinctions, and yet we're causing the sixth. So what can we do to learn from the non-human and actually apply their behaviours to create this sort of metaprogramming, this systems change that we so fundamentally need?
[00:48:47.813] Kent Bye: Yeah, I totally agree with that. And I think that your work that you're trying to do is that it sounds like you're trying to both map out this landscape, but also create different protocols to help people maybe induce what I would say, altered states of consciousness. Maybe you would still stick with this double consciousness, but there's ways in which that we could slip into another mode of being that gives us a new perspective that then allows us to, the way that I think of it is Michael Mead talks a lot about how We all came here on the earth with a certain gift. And how can we get in touch with that gift to be able to do what we came here to do? Like each individual on this planet has certain gifts that only they can give. And so how can we orchestrate not only our own lives, but everybody on the planet to be able to create this context where everybody can start to live into their gifts? and going to the Waking Future Summit last year. I missed this year, the virtual version, but it was this combination of the psychedelic movement that has been on the underground forever and then the Burning Man and also that culture, but also the meditators and the contemplative practices that people have had these altered states of consciousness and they start to embody it day to day through these different practices that they're doing. And then the whole technology angle, which is that how can the technology start to help mediate and facilitate this larger consciousness hacking venture, which is to have us live into our deepest potentials and to achieve these deep flow states of what it means to be alive and to live into our gifts and to start to create these deeper structures that creates this flourishing for everybody, not just the flourishing for the few, but to really have like, in order to have really global flourishing, we have to really take that Buddhist approach, like in order to be truly enlightened, you have to have everybody enlightened. And so it's this larger consciousness hacking movement So I'm just curious, like you've written this paper, the double consciousness, but I'm just trying to get a sense of what is it that you're doing to help make this happen with the work that you're doing day to day and your vision for how to actually get there.
[00:50:40.272] Carl H Smith: Yeah, so I think that's a great point to end on. I mean, I think the key thing for me is what I've learned from running the Cyberdelic Society with my colleague, Jose, is that it's very niche. You know, we're looking at the technodelics, which I was on a panel at Awaken Futures around technodelics, and technodelics is any external stimulus that can create an altered state, a reliable altered state. And again, how do you measure that? Well, you know, I'd say all of art is a technodelic in that sense, because it doesn't necessarily involve technology. Cave paintings are technodelics, according to that definition. Cyberdelics, however, are related to digital or internet, cyber. specification, you know, then you've got the psycho technologies from Viveki, you've got the transformative tech movement, you've got the consciousness hacking guys, you know, you've got all of these things mushrooming up. And for me, I think I'm very interested in Jamie Will's stuff around the stack, because I realized from the cyberdelics stuff, that actually, it's a combination, the magic is in the combinations. We're all aware of the power of VR, but it's when you combine them with the psychedelics, much like the theme that you say Awakened Futures was the psychedelics, the technologies, and the meditation, the spiritual practices. What happens when you combine these and then stack them? So for instance, you start with a meditation, you do some holotropic breathwork or some breathwork, and then you do a VR experience, then you may do a psychedelic, and then you come back out of the psychedelic and you do some more breathwork. And you go in and you do another VR experience. So it's creating these stacks and these recipes. Recipes isn't the greatest term, but these cookery books for consciousness augmentation, which are reliable, which take into consideration cultural differences, gender differences. It's a huge, huge citizen science project that needs to happen. And I think we need the frameworks for that. And I'm starting what's called Holo-Technica Academy, which is exactly that. So holo from the Greek means to combine into the whole, and technica is techniques. So different techniques combined to create different outcomes. And I think that's the kind of work that needs to happen. And that's what I'm learning from all of these movements is that we need a unified science around this stuff.
[00:52:49.669] Kent Bye: Wow. So I'm so glad we've, we finally had a chance to talk in so much similarities in our interest of consciousness hacking and similar backgrounds and sort of our journey into seeing where this can all go. And just wanted to give you a last opportunity to see if you, if there's anything else that's left and said that you'd like to say to the broader immersive community.
[00:53:06.676] Carl H Smith: Well, I mean, I think we've covered a lot. I mean, I suppose my main thing is, yeah, it's our birthright to explore our consciousness. And for me, that's context. And we're living in a content-based economy at the moment. And I believe we are moving to a context-based economy where our ability to separate from this massive content disease, you know, we're completely immersed and submerged in too much information. And I believe that the ability to change our perception as the new content is what's coming. For instance, like, you know, I've worn 360 vision for like a week, being able to augment my hearing. So, you know, changing our focus from an absorption of content to a creation of context where we're able to, just like the meditator, step away from the thinker brain and become the observer of the thinker, and actually turn down the volume on all the information and actually become the observer. And I think that we need to desperately do that, because if we can change the way we perceive the content that already exists, we have infinite ability to adapt that and to transform it as we wish. You know, there's something like six, seven, eight billion shoes produced every year. So if we can have a base shoe and change the way we perceive that shoe through mixed reality, then we don't need to keep consuming constant stuff that ends up in landfill.
[00:54:30.672] Kent Bye: Awesome. Well, Carl, thank you so much for all the work that you're doing, and I'm sure we'll have many, many more conversations about all of this, but yeah, thanks for all this work and thanks for joining me on this discussion. So thank you.
[00:54:41.475] Carl H Smith: Thank you so much, man. It's a real pleasure.
[00:54:44.048] Kent Bye: So that was Carl H. Smith. He's the director of the Learning Technology Research Center at Ravensbourne University, London. He's the co-founder of the Cyberadelic Society, the co-founder of the London Experimental Psychonautics Club, the founder of HAL Technica Academy, and Technomancy.club. So I have a number of different takeaways about this interview is that first of all, Well, we cover a lot of really fascinating topics here. I'm really curious to see where Karl ends up taking a lot of this work that he's doing. And I'm really quite fascinated with this approach of looking at these altered states of consciousness. You know, I'm still hesitant to dive into the double consciousness because, for me, I have trouble saying, okay, this is actually a separate consciousness than our original consciousness. You know, he's talking about these different phenomenological experiences of having nested inception-like experiences where he's going into a life review and then embodying other consciousnesses within this experience that he's had, and these different psychedelic journeys and indigenous traditions that talk about practices of shamans who are trying to embody your consciousness in different ways. And, you know, there's a number of different approaches here, and, you know, philosophically, as I look at the topic of consciousness, it's really unknown as to whether or not it's an epiphenomenon, just a result of our physicality, and that if you look at it through a reductive materialist lens, a lot of this could be just phenomenological experiences that is our brain making sense of something, but it doesn't actually represent a whole other ontological reality. But then if you look at consciousness as this fundamental fabric, and then you are looking at some of these different phenomenological experiences, not as just something that is an epiphenomena, but that you're tapping into not only altered states of consciousness, but also alternate dimensions that are orthogonal realities that you're able to tap into once you're under the influence of some of these different substances. So, whether or not these are actual realities, other dimensions in these light bodies, or whether or not it's just our brain attaching metaphors for these different experiences that go beyond whatever else we've experienced in our lives, you know, I'm sort of agnostic and suspended judgment as to which one of those realities are actually happening. I think sometimes when it comes to these types of experiences, you can fall into one camp of another. And if you have a set of metaphysical assumptions that are driving you towards a specific type of reality, then you have different types of design decisions that you are able to then make. So if you do believe in this, then you are able to then cultivate different experiences that are trying to hone different subtle experiences of that reality. And whether or not the reality exists or not, you could still have a direct phenomenological experience of whatever is created, even if it has a philosophical impulse to shine a spotlight on something as an idea to look at. And if you don't have those metaphysical assumptions or that ontological reality, you don't have to buy into it, but you can still enjoy what comes out of that. So that's a little of my approach of this agnostic, pluralistic approach of trying to be as open and inclusive as I can from a variety of these different perspectives, and then to, at the end of the day, see what kind of experiences are able to be born out of these sets of different assumptions. So, with all that said, I think that there's lots of different fascinating aspects of what Carl is involved with, with this cross-section of the psychedelics and all the research that he's doing there, the Cyberdelic Society, and then the Holo-Technica Academy, where he talks about this stacking up of these different experiences, and so he talked about this latest iteration of the Awakened Futures Summit by the Consciousness and Hacking Group. They had a whole virtual gathering, and he spoke there, and there's a number of different conversations that he was coming out of and referencing, whether that's Tristan Harris's and the downgrading of humans. So, you know, trying to untether ourselves from some of the addictive loops that we have with our technology or Jamie Wheal with this concept of stacking. You would have a virtual reality experience combined with psychedelics. So there's a whole community on Reddit called the Rift into the Mind, which is really looking at these different intersections and taking ketamine or other psychedelic substances to be able to actually allow you to more deeply feel immersed within these virtual experiences to really suspend your disbelief and suspension of judgment and to be able to just really immerse yourself into these virtual worlds. But Carl was talking about stacking up these different things together. So maybe starting with meditation, doing some holotropic breath work to go into a VR experience, maybe take a psychedelic substance to do some more breath work to go back into VR and to go back and forth between all these different types of experiences, and then to see what kind of overall experience that you're able to get out of that. And so that's what he's doing with the Holo-Technica Academy, blending together all these different aspects and creating these cookbooks for sensory augmentation. And that, you know, he sees it as our birthright to be able to explore the extent of our consciousness in these different ways. And he had given me a preprint publication where he was covering a lot of these different aspects of what he was calling this double consciousness and all these different instances of that. Again, as I look at it, I think it's hard for me to say, okay, that's definitely a case of double consciousness versus what I would refer to it more generally as an altered state of consciousness. That to me just feels like more of a inclusive term without putting forth any unnecessarily metaphysical assumptions as to singular versus double and whether or not they're actually happening at the same time because really I think there's many different layers of things that are always happening all at the same time and how much can you pay attention to at the same time. But I think the heart of this double consciousness maybe is this like liminality this being in between one consciousness or another or getting into a state of consciousness that's qualitatively different than our waking consciousness whether it's lucid dreaming or in between spaces or he was talking about DMT extended which is kind of like the matrix in some sense where you tap in and put the DMT which is the psychoactive substance within ayahuasca, but it also can be a but it's also reduced down into some sort of chemical that is put into an IV and so they're able to extend the DMT trip. An ayahuasca trip is maybe like six hours, a DMT, like smoking it is like 15 minutes or something like that. It's very quick and so they're able to extend like even beyond that and to put people into these extended states of altered states of consciousness. And so he was just kind of like thinking about the different ethics around that. Where is this all going and citing some of the science fiction out there like devs or Westworld or altered carbon where they're talking about some of these different themes of the moist media, you know, rifting into the mind. So to me, the thing I come back to is like, okay, where is this going? What's the point? Like how this gets grounded into what are people actually doing? And it seems like there's this larger question of the dialectic between the individual and the collective and our relationship to each other. And that there's something about the psychedelic experience that has this aspect of ego disillusionment that Michael Pollan has talked about on this book on psychedelics called How to Change Your Mind. He talks about the default mode network and, you know, our sense of our ego and there's something that gets shut off of that default mode network and that our sense of ourself and our ego gets dissolved into this unity consciousness, our non-dual states of awareness, which I personally haven't had a chance to actually experience that directly and that Carl was saying that the 5 MEO DMT was one of the most reliable ways to induce this type of non-dual state. But, you know, there's lots of different meditative practices that you can do for many, many years. In my interview with Ken Wilber, he's experienced a number of these different non-dual states and has a certain taxonomy from these different contemplative traditions, whether it's Buddhism or Hinduism or whatever else. There's like a whole mystical set of literature that talks about these non-dual states of altered states of consciousness. But what Carl is saying is that when you go into these states, you have your individual scaffolding that's removed. And he says the individual kind of leads this cul-de-sac metaphorically and that some folks at the Awaken Future Summit were talking about this immortal illusion of the best life that you could live for yourself. And that that is an illusion because we are fundamentally interconnected and related. And that part of this current time that we're in right now is really seeing how we're in relationship to each other more than as these individual islands that are able to live into this best life just for ourselves as an individual entity and separate relative to the collective. So that brings up lots of other different aspects of the ethics of right now and the relationship between ourselves as individuals and the collective and how we move forward as a collective society and trying to you know, in some ways work out this dialectic that's happening between the self and the other and the interest of the self and the interest of the community and how to really bring about a balance in this extreme context that we have in this moment right now and how that's really catalyzing a lot of the deeper shifts of how we are organizing ourselves as a society, especially as we don't know at this point, you know, how this is going to continue to play out over the next number of years in the future here. But he talks about this new screen deal of people who are already embedded into this future where we're working with virtual reality technologies and we're able to work remotely that those are the folks that are really thriving in this reality right now. And that, you know, what's it mean as a collective society to be able to move towards this new screen deal? And then how can we start to preserve those different aspects of what we understand what it means to be human, citing different people like Douglas Rushkoff and Team Human and Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari, talking about how we're fundamentally these social creatures that we need to be connected to each other. And is these virtually mediated technologies, is that going to be a replacement from the different types of ways that we gather with each other right now? And what's that mean as this continues to unfold and evolve? you know, if this is the new reality that we're moving into, then how do we make it sure that it's inclusive of everybody and is able to really make sure that everybody can be an equal participant into this new reality that we're moving into, if that is, in fact, what is going to be happening here. So just this concept of the new screen deal and all the ethics around that, I think, is some interesting points that he's bringing up. But also just like going back to these different paradigm shifts that we're having and the role of these psychoactive substances and psychedelics of being able to get out of seeing things through just the individual and what's it mean to be able to either through these psychedelic substances directly or in combination with VR or VR alone be able to start to induce these other levels of awareness of the relationship between ourselves and the rest of the world. So this is a very fascinating conversation and I look forward to see how this continues to evolve and grow and whether or not this concept of devil consciousness, if that continues to be iterated and evolved upon or if it goes on to a separate direction. I think for me, you know, what's interesting is seeing how there's going to be a variety of different people that have these different approaches and different trade-offs that they're trying to really optimize for, whether that's from the individual to collective, or it's tapping into these subtle nuances of these experiences, and seeing how you could have an altered state of consciousness that's induced by a substance, and are there ways to start to recreate that within virtual reality? And so you're really trying to look at what is it about the essence of that experience, and do you actually need to have some Parts your brain that's turned off through either a psychoactive substance or some type of altered states of consciousness that is induced through Meditation or something that doesn't require some sort of external influence onto your brain And as you start to combine all these things together, then what does that start to allow for people? What type of things can you achieve? How do you describe it? What are the metaphors that you use and how do you do it is essentially this peer review process when it comes to direct phenomenological experiences because know, some of these mystical traditions that are happening within Buddhism or Hinduism, they've been able to have these different practices and people go off and they do it and then they report back on their experiences and then over time that knowledge is embedded into what is essentially non-falsifiable religious and mystical practices. And when we start to look at virtual reality as this new possibility to be able to invoke these similar types of altered states of consciousness, then are you then able to start to replicate what is generalizable from everybody that goes through this? And can we start to actually apply some of the principles of science to our direct phenomenological experiences and our subjectivity? Whereas as before, you know, there's no way to repeat or falsify our phenomenological direct experiences. But when you start to, you know, have things like this, then maybe you start to create a whole new realm of science when you start to be able to induce these different types of experiences and start to potentially have a consistency of being able to replicate them. So you are able to move into this replication but also to democratize it and give it access to other people to be able to have them as well and be able to see what their experiences are and to be able to see what is the universals amongst all of those. Anyway, I think this is a new beginning of a lot of potential when it comes to the fusion of the psychedelics and immersive technologies, as well as, you know, these existing contemplative practices. So that's all that I have for today. And I just wanted to thank you for listening to the Voices of VR podcast. 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