Backed by billions, astrology apps are set to go mainstream in 2020

Our ancestors saw spirits everywhere. They imbued the trees and therefore the sky with personality and agency to assist explain things they didn’t understand. Nostradamus stared into the surface of a pool of water to undertake to seek out a deeper aiming to the planet. In 2019 we’ve seen an explosion in tech-mysticism, via the huge uptake of astrology apps like Co-Star and Sanctuary. And risk capital has piled into an industry valued at quite $2 billion. In 2020, the worlds of technology and spirituality will produce to an emerging set of practices that coalesce round the term “algo-seance” – a checking out a greater meaning within the output of neural networks. “The algo-seance is that the evocation of spirit contact through technological production, which is basically our materialist, technologised civilisational impulse to seek out consciousness everywhere,” says Kenric McDowell, who leads the Artists + Machine Intelligence programme at Google Research. Technologists, artists and psychics are working together within this grey space to create new techniques for divining the longer term. In ancient Greece, someone seeking guidance may have turned to an oracle just like the one at Delphi. Today, astrology apps and other technologies are fulfilling that function, as truth is increasingly conflated with mathematical proofs within our machines. AI networks make predictions about the longer term supported big data, and digital “oracles” determine the reality through blockchain-powered prediction markets. These could also be closer to ancient oracles than we wish to admit. At a 2018 conference Keiran Browne and Ben Swift, researchers at the Australian National University’s Research School of computing, argued that the way we once bought into superstitions are often compared to “our cultural and scientific understandings of neural networks”. READ NEXT Want to understand the Tory election plan? the solution lies in Facebook Want to understand the Tory election plan? the solution lies in Facebook By LAURIE CLARKE Science and technology have often overlapped with the paranormalNewtonthe daddy of recent physics, was, famously, an alchemist. For artist Jenna Sutela, the influence of algo-seance as a spiritual practice has revealed a connection to the hidden forces that govern our lives, whether they’re intractable machines or invisible life forms. Technologists Tobias Revell and Wesley Goatley have created Augury, a tool that pulls predictions of the longer term from the live positions of planes, employing a neural network trained on flight data and tweets. Next year, a 3rd psychedelic age will still form. We are already seeing an overlap between groups invested in emerging technologies like AI, and groups exploring their spirituality in ayahuasca circles and other, clandestine ceremonial practices. An increasing number of individuals are returning to those ancient systems of data through the reflective surface of their smartphones. In 2020, algo-seance and mystical technologies will still thrive, and that they will forced an entry the mainstream. We’re witnessing the disintegration of everything that wont to count as consensus reality, so we’re looking to the past, while plunging headlong into the longer term. Hans Ulrich Obrist is artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries, London. Ben Vickers is CTO of the Serpentine Galleries, and therefore the co-founder of Ignota Books

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