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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Virtual Reality - reality or illusion?

Yfke Laanstra

One of my favorite movies of all time is ‘The Matrix’. I still remember the day like it was yesterday in which I (back in 1999) left the cinema after watching this movie: I was flabbergasted but also hugely inspired. I felt this movie was about much more then I could grasp at that time and my system, my whole being was in overdrive. It triggered so much in me but I couldn't comprehend it back then…

For those who haven't seen this movie: the hypothesis is that we're caught in a illusory reality called ‘The Matrix’, a computer simulation with its main program being about enslaving mankind into a constant ‘buy, consume, die’ mode. Every individual has the choice to awaken from this so called 'reality'.

One of the fascinating quotes of this movie is in which Neo , the main character, asks himself this question about reality:

‘This isn’t real?’

Morpheus answers: 

‘How do we know what we experience is ‘real’? What is ‘real’? How do you define ‘real’?’

‘If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by the brain’.

This hypothesis hasn't left my brain, my system ever since…

Fact or fiction
In our 3D reality (let's simply call it that) we mainly assume that what we observe with our five senses is our reality, and we also collectively assume this is the only reality. 

We however do talk about the existence of a six sense, the third eye. Which can observe that which is outside our visual spectrum: like clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience etc. The so called extrasensory perception. 
There is a lot of controversy about this amongst (the classical) scientists, because they tend to focus on what is measurable, visible and can be seen with our eyes. 

What is observation?
Maybe therefor it's a better idea to focus on the term observation.

Wikipedia says 'observation is the active acquisition of information from a primary source. In living beings, observation employs the senses. In science, observation can also involve the recording of data via the use of instruments. The term may also refer to any data collected during the scientific activity. Observations can be qualitative, that is, only the absence or presence of a property is noted, or quantitative if a numerical value is attached to the observed phenomenon by counting or measuring.'
Again it is referring to the use of our five senses (with or without the help of instruments), as if this is the only means of observation. 

The Quantum Theory adds another dimension: in which the observer seems to have influence upon that which is being observed.

Perception deception
Observation is also called perception. And this seems to demonstrate a closer link to the subjective element of observation: the interpretation of the triggers. How objective is our so-called reality...?

You are probably familiar with the drawings in which you can observe multiple elements (see image): do you see the old or the young woman? The art of M.C. Escher is also brilliant with regards to this perception deception.

Your frame of reference also plays an important part in your interpretation; often times we consciously or unconsciously draw all kinds of conclusions to what we assume we're observing through our lens of perception at that certain moment in time. This influences our view of the world, of humaniy and this is being taken advantage of by mainstream media and politics. All be it in a seemingly innocent product marketing to the level of collective (subliminal) brainwashing that is called the News...

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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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Biohacking, Lifehacking versus Consciousness Hacking

Yfke Laanstra

Nowadays ‘Hacking’ is one of the newest buzz words. You've probably heard of Life Hacking, Biohacking, Brainhacking or Neurohacking.  'Hacking' in this context actually means finding ways to make processes run smoother, faster, more efficient and more effortless. In fact each one of these are catch-all concepts, which contain many different aspects.

Life Hacking is about day to day things, about how to go about your life in a smarter and more effortless way so you can do more in less time. This does not have to be achieved by means of computer technology and the term "hacking" herein refers to finding clever ideas, tricks and shortcuts.

Biohacking is about the application of gadgets, wearables (gadgets you can wear on your body like eg. smart watches and heart rate monitors) to improve your health, your biology. According to wikipedia it is about looking at biology from the perspective of a hacker. Think of pedometers or gadgets that monitor and map your heartbeat or brain frequencies. This is also where you'll see The Quantified Self movement which is all about generating and mapping data, creating measurable data about yourself. From simply measuring your daily calorie intake to personally measuring your blood values, blood sugar, brain waves, mood, hormone levels, etc. With the aim to optimize your body and your life. Here you will start noticing a gradual symbiosis between biology and technology.  

Measuring your calorie intake is like the Light version of Biohacking and Transhumanism is like the Advanced version. You'll come to see that the 'Die Hard' version is maybe even a more appropriate term considering the context.

Transhumanism
This movement represents the continuing fusion of biology and technology. Where Biohacking is promoting wearables, wearing gadgets on your body, transhumanists actually advocate implanting, applying computer technology within your body. This can start in a (seemingly) harmless way by implanting a chip but can go as far as creating bionic limbs, application of genetic/ nano technology, 3D printed organs, cloning to uploading your mind into a computer and continue life as a cyborg in an immortal and indestructible robot body. Which is all about actually TRANScending biology.

As you can see there is not always a clear distinction between the different types of Hacking and some elements are represented in multiple types of Hacking. A common thread running through these movements however is the need for improving and optimizing life and wellbeing, with or without using computer technology. Which, in essence, is a wonderful intent.

You can imagine that the more and the deeper you enter into these types of Hacking the more ethical, moral issues will arise. To what level should we be able to take on the role of becoming our own doctor, to 'fiddle' with our own DNA and what are the actual implications of implanting computer technology, like nano particles in our blood stream that are remotely controlled by artificial intelligent computer systems. What is done with all this data, who has access to it and do we actually want to become more interconnected, linked to a global Internet of Things. How about our privacy, self-determination, our own responsibility etc.

Consciousness Hacking
Looking at my fascination for the cutting edge of consciousness and computer technology I came across a Ted Talk last year about Enlightenment Engineering which lead me to Consciousness Hacking. This community is founded in 2014 in the US by Mikey Siegel, a Computer Engineer who worked in Silicon Valley on projects that dealt with Robotics Engineering in MIT Media Lab. Until at some point he realized that we are more than just our physical bodies, that there is something like an inner reality and that it is important to explore how computer technology can be of service to our consciousness and wellbeing. In other words: how you can improve the quality of life, create inner harmony instead of focussing solely on improving processes, making them cheaper, more efficient etc.

How can you apply computer technology in such a way that it shifts your attention from outwards to inwards, triggering introspection, facilitating meditation. Instead of keeping your attention focussed on all of your gadgets and computers, in an almost compulsive obsessive manner. So moving from outside to inside instead of the other way around.

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