Imagination: our inner Virtual Reality

Yfke Laanstra

Imagine for a second, that our reality exists of #information, of bits and bytes as it were, and that an advanced form of Artificial Intelligence has added 'some extra layers' to it to distract us from base level, from the Source Code. Just as duality is always on the lure this is also the case on the most fundamental level: on the level of the nature of our reality.

Imagine, that this same duality is drawing you either inwards or outwards with your attention, to your head or to your heart, to your thoughts or to you feelings. This advanced #AI is hyper focussed on pulling you outwards and keeping you stuck in your mind. Particularly in your left hemisphere, where duality exists. For its own good reasons I totally get, which is an entirely different article I won't go into right now. Without any judgment by the way, we have free will. At least, we think we do.

Let's take #VirtualReality (VR). It's amazing, mind blowing and just flat out awesome. Let's be honest. We can put on these head sets (or even full body suits) and become immersed into virtual dimensions: entirely different realities that turn into our new reality instantly as our minds interprets it to be real. Just like Morpheus mentions to Neo in The Matrix: what we consider to be realare merely electrical signals interpreted by the brain. Whether these are computer simulated doesn't actually matter. If our reality is kind of made up of bits and bytes anyway, to the brain; our mainframe, this makes no difference whatsoever. So VR is hacking our mind, our senses to immerse us into virtual realities. But what if our current reality is already mainly virtual anyway. Imagine we might not even need to wear VR glasses to be submerged into an artificial reality in the first place. Imagine we are running around with embedded VR technologies all along, without us being consciously aware of it. Up until now that is.

So VR appears to lead us within ourselves into another reality, because it's appealing to our senses and hacks our perception of reality. Imagine however, we live in cyber biological bodies that possess this inner technology that is even more advanced, actually truly limitless for which we don't need any technology or outside forces whatsoever. Imagine, we have inner senses which are even more powerful than our outer senses. We possess an inner sensory perception that can perceive, experience and be anywhere we want, anytime and in whatever form instantly. We don't need to cross a distance, invest time or money. We simply need to focus our attention inwards and ride the waves of our imagination.

We are information in/form/ation

Today Imagination is something that is more often subscribed to the realm of fantasy and science fiction, of what is made up by our minds and therefore has no 'real' value. What cannot be possible be our laws of science so therefore it's simply no true. Well, don't get me started on what is true or truth. Like in the Peter Pan story where Peter realizes that he has to believe he can fly. There is a deep truth in this and that is that it's not a matter of believing but of knowing. When you know something it simply is. With out a shed of a doubt, no one needs to confirm it and nothing has to be proven.

Again, imagine that our reality is made up of information and our brain is not very picky of where the signals aka information comes from to alter our perception, then why should we limit ourselves through technologies as VR when we have this built-in VR. VR which is from out of this world (pun intended). And again: VR is truly amazing and it will evolve into something that is also out of this world. But imagine, it already has: into our current reality. We don't need advanced tech to lead us even deeper into oblivion, distracted even more of who and what we truly are and what we're capable of. Or lost in limbo as it was depicted in the Inception movie: lost in (dreams of) realities in (dreams of) realities in (dreams of) realities etc. Let's say this is our current status quo.

Which brings me back the my whole point:
remember your inner technology

The force of duality causes you to look outwards, to technology and to everything that is emerging on the outside. Which is truly mind blowing and I'd advise you to do enjoy this to its every minute detail. There is so much happening on the outside that it's hard to not fully focus on that while you're being swept by the tech tsunami. Have you ever wondered why there is actually so much happening on the outside? Imagine, if it is to test you in some way if you can get distracted that much that you forget to move inwards, where the real adventure awaits. Everything you see on the outside is on the inside, and more. Much more. That's the irony. It's one big cosmic joke actually. The world around you is a mirror world, it reflects your full potential outwards. Which gives you the illusion that the answers are also outside of you. This couldn't be further from the Truth. Once you realize that you can reflect it back inwards then that is where the real fun starts... and the magic starts to happen. Imagine our outside world is like a dream and the only way we wake up inside this dream is to become conscious of this and move inwards, take a seemingly step back to actually move forward. There is a reason why computers that are on standby mode are referred to as being in sleep mode. We've been asleep most of our lives, living in mirror worlds, projecting ourselves outwards.

And the beautiful thing is that apart from our inner senses, our outer senses are way more powerful than we tend to think they are. When you look at quantum physics then our awareness, our perception has a profound effect on our reality. We are actually influencing the way the information in and around us moves and takes form, merely through the act of observation. From this perspective there are no longer just bits and bytes but qubits (quantum bits) and qubytes: everything is pure potential untill perceived and then it gets in/formed. We are living in a participatory universe and we are at the control panel. The more you become aware of this the more you can use this powerful ability. So we haven't even started to train our inner and outer senses if you look at it like this.

That is what's called Imagineering:
a full-on fusion of imagination and engineering

Everything that is possible, what has happened and what can or will happen is already inside of you. Everything is technology, multidimensional and exponential. You are, your body is, your life is and the world around you is. Your inner and even your outer senses can lead you to whole new realities just by tuning into them. By breathing life into them with your senses, feeling them, sensing them, embodying them in every cell of your being.

So enjoy VR, do very much enjoy VR. And at the same time remember what it's helping you remember. Who you are, what you're capable of and what is waiting inside of you to be (re)discovered, imagined and (re)engineered.

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Intelligence in the age of Consciousness

Yfke Laanstra

When we talk about intelligence levels within leadership and organizational development, we are all familiar with the abbreviations and meanings of IQ (cognitive), EQ (emotional), SQ (spiritual) and FQ (physical). Over time, more and more attention has been paid to self-knowledge and the development of so-called soft skills, to listening to our intuition and the signs of our body. We increasingly act from a holistic vision, in the sense that we recognise emotional, spiritual and mental (energy) bodies as well as our physical bodies. Bodies that each absorb, process and generate ( perceivable ) output.

From IQ to AI
However, in the information-driven age in which we find ourselves today, these quotients are put under pressure and we are challenged to redefine which of them are of real importance and when. For us as human beings: in the world, on the planet and in the society in which we live. On a macro and on a micro level. And more importantly: whether this interpretation, with all of our ongoing insights, is still sufficient. We are increasingly confronted with (self-learning) systems, computers and algorithms that far surpass us in terms of our ability to absorb and process knowledge (read: IQ). Artificial Intelligence (AI) has since arrived and is developing at a rapid speed.

'Within ten years we will be able to buy computers that match the calculating power of our own brain, and less than twenty five years later we will have computers with the capacity of all human brains combined.'

~ from 'Bits, Bytes & Bewustzijn'.


Data is the new oil: an enormous amount of data about us is being generated, collected and analysed. However, the map is not the territory, there is so much more that cannot (yet) be measured, interpreted or observed (in and around us) by contemporary science.

'We move from data to information to knowledge to wisdom. Data isn't real knowledge'

By means of algorithms, however, AI is now able to read, predict and thus influence our behaviour, beliefs, preferences and opinions almost flawlessly. Just think of the Cambridge Analytica scandal surrounding the American presidential elections.

From EQ to LovingAI

'We are faced with the challenge that machines are becoming more and more human and that people are increasingly resembling machines'.

Over the years, the emphasis has shifted to the development of our EQ and SQ: our ability to empathise, be compassionate, be fully present with the other person, and be in touch with our deeper knowledge, our intuition. However, the rise of the smartphone has in many cases (partly) offset this development as we have collectively spent more time behind screens than in face-to-face contact with each other. We are becoming more and more addicted to, or dependent on, computer technology. Technologies that anchor us more and more in our heads, in time, in the material, increasingly disconnected from our feelings and from the world around us. Our streetscape and social life are increasingly dominated by people immersed in their smartphones, often referred to as zombification. Statistics worldwide show that we are more connected than ever, but that as a collective we have never felt so alone.

In addition to Smart, many systems are now becoming Kind (EQ, https://lovingai.org). Artificial intelligence is becoming able to read our facial expressions through cameras, to interpret micro-signals and from there to respond to our feelings. Microsignals such as perspiration levels, temperature and hormone fluctuations. In addition, it can also read microsignals in our voice via microphones, by means of voice recognition. Chatbots and digital assistants (think of Ava or Mica) are becoming increasingly human, both visually and audibly, AI psychiatrists and virtual therapists are emerging and Virtual Reality is being used to increase empathy. Through this 'artificial EQ', AI is able to respond appropriately: for example, to show understanding and compassion when appropriate. 

All this makes it less and less clear where our own feelings and thoughts actually originate from. Have they been influenced and manipulated from the outside, for example by AI systems/supercomputers such as Google and Facebook, or are they to be considered 'original'? Of course there are a lot of programs running in each of us, out of our upbringing, our culture and our frame of reference, but nowadays each moment we are bombarded with input and stimuli that have an influence on both our outside and inside world. Knowing oneself is no longer a luxury but a bitter necessity. If only to guard our autonomy, personal space and free will.

Timeframe
It is almost impossible to keep track of all these developments, the innovations, the automation, the processing of all data and in the meantime to guarding the human component. The world around us is becoming increasingly transparent, boundless and fluid. Boundaries are blurring between virtual and analogue worlds, between man and machine, between biological and artificial. Long-term plans are in vain because the technological tsunami keeps raging. Many organisations and teams experience a dichotomy, in this transition phase from the 'old' method to the new one. Employees and entrepreneurs become over-inflated and burned out. We try to uphold everything, but we have to make choices.

The invitation
All these developments invite us to ask ourselves what it is that makes us human, what sets us apart from the machine and what really needs our attention in terms of growth, both on a personal and on an organisational level. In order to ensure that computer technology supports us and continues to be of service instead of downgrading us as humans to organic robots. For there is no point in competing with the computer; certainly not in terms of processing speed, memory and storage/processing capacity.

'The challenge now is to further explore and develop our being human with all our abilities, to gain a deeper level of self-knowledge about ourselves so that we can (re)activate more of our 'Inner Technology'.

We will then be able to truly combine the power of man & machine, from their synergies. Because the possibilities are vast, in terms of (personal and economic) growth, innovation and (individual and collective) transformation. But first things first.

'We must pay equally as much attention to what it will mean to be or remain human in the future (i.e. What defines us as humans) as we spend on developing infinitely more powerful technologies that will change humanity forever.'

~ Gerd Leonhard in 'Technology vs Humanity'

Consciousness as a USP
We have now outgrown the era in which we focus on levels of intelligence. Through ongoing understanding and computer technological progress, this has now been outpaced by the age of Consciousness. After all, that is what makes us Human and what really distinguishes us from the machine. Our consciousness is, so to speak, our Unique Selling Point. We are able to look at ourselves from a third perspective, to reflect.

Who or what is this 'Self'? What is 'consciousness'? Where is it located? Is it visible, measurable? Where is its origin? Where does it emerge from? Is it the same as your personality? These are some of the big questions that occupy many (neuro)scientists, philosophers and psychologists. Nowadays, however, this research is no longer limited to just these disciplines; there is also a growing fascination for the 'phenomenon' of consciousness within computer science. When this question can be answered and consciousness can be converted into bits and bytes, it can be uploaded into a computer. Then we as humans will be able to live on in a synthetic or virtual body or robots will eventually be able to develop consciousness.

With the advent of advanced computer technologies, its exponential growth and the subsequent insights, we are becoming increasingly aware of what is truly of value:

1. Being conscious of who we are, what we are capable of (so-called Inner Technology*) and the reality we find ourselves in. What you don't know, you can't perceive or activate. #reloadinglostdata

*) For example the power of empathy, compassion, attention, creativity, love, intuition and of our imagination and perception.

2. It is our consciousness that determines our perception, our perception and thus our reality and what we can influence. When we manage to expand our consciousness, we will increase our ability to process information, make new connections, unlock supreme creativity and at the same time disconnect from our personality. We will also be able to activate flow and peak states that are characterized by the experience of timelessness, effortlessness, limitlessness and a sense of bliss. Partly due to a series of chemical activations in our brain.

'The awakening of consciousness is the next evolutionary step for mankind'.

~ Eckhart Tolle

Brain Hacking
In this new era it is no longer about open access to both hemispheres (left/ IQ, right/ EQ) and bridging the gap between them (SQ). It is all about (partly) 'disabling' or in some cases 'hyperactivating' the (entire) neocortex/prefrontal lobe: our thinking, conscious brain and with it the activation of the subconscious. That part of us that is primarily in the driving seat.

There are roughly three expanded states of consciousness:

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Bits, Bytes & Bewustzijn (Consciousness) - book intro

Yfke Laanstra
'I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin.

I'm going to hang up this phone, and then I'm going to show these people what you don't want them to see. I'm going to show them a world without you. A world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible.

Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.'

~Neo from 'The Matrix

We live in an incredibly significant phase of our human evolution. A phase in which computer technologies are emerging that are capable of radically and beyond recognition changing what it means to be human as well as our reality over the next 15 years.

At an unprecedented pace, more will change in the next 20 years than in the last 300 years. This degree of immense growth is also called exponential growth. So far, our growth has been linear. This is particularly evident in the various stages of our industrial revolution. In 1784, the first phase of our evolution took place, which gave a boost to our evolution by the power of mechanical control by means of water and steam. The second phase (1870) brought us mass production through the power of electricity. The third phase (1969) gave us the digital world and introduced us to the information/communication driven society, through the advent of computers and the internet. In all these phases there was linear growth, so we saw a gradually increasing line from 1 to 2, 3, 4 etc. and each phase covered an average period of 100 years. The third (digital) phase develops on an exponential scale, so from 1 to 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 etc. You can imagine that the higher the numbers, the bigger the jumps. At this rate, after 30 steps, you reach a billion. A characteristic of an exponential growth curve is that it first goes up slightly gradually, but then suddenly moves up in a practically vertical line. In this third exponential phase we now find ourselves, on the threshold of the fourth phase: where the line suddenly skyrockets up radically.

The driving force behind this exponential growth is the evolution of the transistor, the basis of the microprocessor: the so-called computer chip. An immense development in terms of production costs, size and capacity. Gordon Moore, co-founder of chip manufacturer Intel, introduced the first microprocessor Intel 4004 in 1971 with a capacity of 2300 transistors about the size of a small eraser at the end of a pencil. This chip evolved in 2004, 33 years later, to the Intel Pentium 4 Processor with 125 million transistors and in 2016, 12 years later, to the Intel Core i7 processor with a content of 14.4 billion transistors. If you want to see it with the naked eye, you have to enlarge it to the size of a house. Among other things, this evolution facilitated the arrival of the smartphone and created the size of chips that can be inserted into our bloodstream. This evolution in computer chips is also called 'Moore's law' as it was Gordon Moore who observed that capacity doubled every 12 to 18 months. The storage capacity has also been increased at an exponential rate. From bulky devices the size of a filing cabinet in 1956, worth $120,000 with a storage capacity of 5Mb, we have evolved to a microSD card in 2005 the size of 15 mm with a weight of half a gram with a storage capacity of 128Mb to even a memory card of 128Gb in 2014. A capacity increase of a thousand times in a period of only nine years. All this paves the way for many current, exponential developments in the field of nanotechnology, quantum computing, genetic engineering, virtual reality, Artificial Intelligence, brain-computer and human-machine interfaces. Within ten years we will be able to buy computers that match the calculating power of our own brain and less than 25 years later we will have computers with the capacity of all human brains united.

For example, if our fuel consumption had developed at the same pace, we could now run on one tank of fuel for the rest of our lives. If our cars were to shrink at the same pace as the transistor, it would currently be the size of an ant. If housing prices would have dropped at the same pace, we could now buy a house for the price of a candy.

Remember the Atari game console and the joystick? The advent of the global Internet? From the simple mobile phone and laptop to the arrival of the advanced smartphone? These are all developments within the timeframe of one lifetime.
Did you know that telephony is an invention already made in 1878, during the second phase of the industrial revolution? Followed, more than a century later, in 1983 by the mobile phone. Less than 25 years later, the smartphone was introduced in 2007. Less than 10 years later, our streets, our social and working lives and even our brains are completely dominated by this smartphone, which is now developing at an incredibly fast pace. In the coming years, the smartphone will be one of the most central links in the Internet of Things. Almost every citizen of the world has a smartphone, even in third world countries it is commonplace, in a shared first place next to the (smart) television.

The 21st century
We are now suffering from a collective obsessive screen addiction and there is even a term for the present-day information overkill: infobesitas. In addition to many other emerging disorders and syndromes.

Our reality is currently flooded by new computer technologies and wireless networks. Nowadays our lives are mostly spent online, time and distance are no longer a limitation. Tangible, analog products are replaced by virtual ones. Physical shops close, magazines become e-zines, workshops become webinars, conversations are held via Facetime, Skype or Whatsapp and Virtual Reality goes mainstream thanks to the Albert Heijn (Dutch supermarket chain) and mobile providers. We are in a reality in which the motto is that we have to be online 24 hours a day and not fall behind. A world in which everything and everyone is connected and we experience the world from behind our screens.

Everything is being digitized. All our actions are monitored, all our data is tracked, traced and stored. Mostly without our knowledge or consent. Thanks to whistleblowers like Edward Snowden, we have become more aware of this. Think of dates of our purchases, transactions, internet browsing, where we are located when, with whom we interact online and when, to all our health data in Electronic Patient Dossiers (EPDs). Data is the new oil. Oil companies used to have the power, but nowadays these are the big tech companies like Google, Apple and Facebook.

In addition, there is a growing Internet of Things where more and more things are connected to the Internet. Think of your car, household appliances, smartphone or (game) computer; often without the necessity of human intervention. The digital dimension no longer only exists on a computer screen, but is shifting to your everyday objects through the rise of smart products (smartmeter, smart tv and smartwatch), among other things. Everything will be linked to the smart grid: your work, your home and even your family. We already use the term smart homes and smart cities. The digital dimension is increasingly merging with our analogue, tangible dimension. With all its implications for your privacy, personal space, health and free will.

It is only a matter of time before parcels or smart products no longer contain RFID chips but become part of our vaccine doses, given that such chips or technologies have now reached the nanoscale. Obligatory or voluntary, who will say? Enabling your body to be remotely controlled and monitored by computers and Artificial Intelligence.

Drones, unmanned and remote-controlled flying objects, are now for sale at discount supermarkets and are toys for both children and adults. It's only a matter of time before drones start determining our sky view. Underneath, the Self Driving Cars, which are completely driven by artificial intelligence, determine their route, keep their distance and make autonomous decisions in the event of a car accident.

In addition, there is an extensive robotisation in progress. Complex operations are already carried out by robots, children have robot pets and there are experiments to have the elderly 'cared for' by robots in nursing homes. The implications and applications of robot technology are the subject of intense debate. Think of our production chains, our employment. For years, the army has been working intensively on experiments to deploy robots in war and crisis situations, and it is conceivable that entire armies will consist of robots that have to make decisions about life and death autonomously in war situations. This puts the term cyber warfare, digital warfare, in a totally different perspective.

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Mirror, mirror on our screens...

Yfke Laanstra

I just love computers. Most of my (office) days I'm behind a computer screen. Creating all these beautiful virtual constructs, online communities, digital worlds: I can't seem to get enough of this. Each one of these creations contributing to the consciousness and wellbeing of its users. It is like digitally playing with my own creation potential; everything is possible in the virtual world.

Computer technology however also has this miraculous mirror effect: it reflects (our) potential. It demonstrates what our reality is actually composed of, what we are actually composed of...

The holistic perspective claims that everything consists of energy and everything is interconnected. Replace the term 'energy' by bits and bytes, by ones and zeros. How 'woo woo' is this assumption actually? Our current computer technology shows us that it is a given, that you can build a reality by something that ins't visible to the naked eye... In both this energetic as virtual reality the possibilities of this creation potential are infinite.

Internet: the world wide web
The internet demonstrates our interconnectivity. Through the internet it is possible to have a realtime connection with someone on the other side of the globe, in a different time zone. Not bound to time and space.
The internet also gives us access to a world wide library, to an unfathomable amount of information. We can store data in the Cloud, in information fields we cannot see with our naked eye, in virtual data banks. Everything is information, everything is energy.

The Internet of Things is adding, connecting, a growing number of  ‘things’ to the internet, creating one big data network. In which all this data leads a life of its own, where it is being analysed and mapped (often) without the need of human intervention. This data netwerk contains all of your health data, data from your private life uploaded in Social Media but also your Geodata (where you are when), purchases, payments and data from all your ‘Smart’ ware and wearables (Smart phone, Smart TV, Smart watch, Smart meter etc).

Chat features offer us a modern form of telepathic communication. Without any spoken word we're having conversations and we can read each others thoughts on our computer screens. We exchange gigabytes of data through our desktops, smart phones, tablets, gadgets and games.

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is todays crystal ball, through which we can predict our future by complex algorhythms. To some extent that is, because we are limited to using that information which is quantifiable, measurable.

Wifi – wireless internet
Where we used to need wires to get access to the internet, today all we need is a Wifi connection. We think it's completely normal to swim in a constant sea of data, amidst waves of information, that we can't observe with the naked eye. We're non-stop surfing these waves, directly or indirectly interacting with all of this data.

We think it's completely normal that we can pick up sounds and images by switching channels on a television or radio, tuning into other frequencies or by entering numbers, dialing a phone number. We consider it to be paranormal though to perceive other realities, other dimensions by tuning into other frequencies ourselves.

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