THE CLOUD – OUR NEO-AKASHIC RECORD
I was thinking
about writing a piece on how our electronic devices have enslaved us, and to
trigger my thoughts I did a Google search on articles related to the subject. In
the search box I typed “are we enslaved” and automatically the Google search
macro offered “to technology” as one of three automatic options. And I
immediately felt like the victim of miserable irony. There are so many ways that
humans can be enslaved, and yet Google’s response seemed to me to indicate that
some considerable slice of the querying population must put technology at the
top of the threat list. Strangely, they get that thinking from their computer,
or whatever device they use to get information from Google searches or Wikipedia.
And most alarming, those people I describe are me, which is pretty humbling for
a guy who fancies himself a one-off thinker. It turns out that I am a sheep,
after all, or a clone.
is said to have believed that human beings are some form of organic robot. Hard
to imagine why he didn’t have any friends.
And yet, at
the same time, what does the way we interact with each other, and with our
electronic devices, say about us? And what technology has ever been developed
that has so much potential for controlling the way we think?
I work for
companies in the technology sector, which has given itself over entirely to
Cloud technology. They are putting the entire world in “the Cloud”, and I’m not
even sure that is a metaphor. Cloud technology is all about storing data on
remote servers, the integrities of which are ensured by virtue of their network
connections to redundant backup servers. Cloud administrators manage their Cloud
operations through Application Programming Interface (API) code using whatever
computing device they use to access the World Wide Web. It couldn’t be more
convenient, for users with access privileges and otherwise.
There has been a less-than-subtle inclination on the part of technology
companies to force their customers into this new world, where often the software
that you once bought, stored on your hard drive, and owned, has now become
something that you rent access to through a website. It is still general
practice for people to save their files to their own machine, but there are many
encouragements to use Cloud storage, because something will eventually go wrong
with your hard drive and if your stuff is backed up in the Cloud you can recover
what you will lose. It’s a data health insurance policy, like all backup
options, and like any form of health insurance you’d be ill-advised to do
sector is forced through constant change to keep up with the intrusions of those
who can find ways to circumvent the access privileges granted to their data
systems, operating systems, applications, and websites. Each revised version
addresses known security issues, while also offering new opportunities to create
improved user experiences (e.g., improved GUI, added functionality), and new
versions eventually force the obsolescence of user equipment. They force new
computing environments upon their users, present them with new cost paradigms,
and they also redefine the relationship between the user and the technology.
There has been
a revolution in application software, and a parallel revolution in data
analytics and storage.
obvious examples of how this has worked would have to be Google and Facebook, a
couple city-sized companies that have their headquarters in the South San
Francisco Bay enclaves of Menlo Park and Mountain View, California. Those two
companies are the standard setters in app development in the new age. The web
developer tools they offer free of charge are driving the Cloud and cementing
its acceptance with device users.
provides the most popular search engine used for accessing the World Wide Web,
and their talented developers have made a science of “big data” analytics. That
is why Google is so cannily capable of knowing what you are searching for before
you can type your query completely. They have found patterns in your behavior,
and many others just like you, and it turns out that even our most
out-of-the-box thinkers are typically thinking within some other well-defined
the other side. It invites its users to volunteer information about themselves,
which then becomes part of the virtualized pool of data that is so expertly
parsed by the folks at Google, and also Microsoft, and every other company that
offers a search tool.
LinkedIn and a few other popular social network sites have become special access
points to all manner of other web portals. One can sign-in through Facebook,
which automatically collects additional information for user profiles, all of
which becomes data in the Cloud to be analyzed for a variety of purposes.
commerce is the primary reason for the serious attention given to human
behaviors that are made apparent via our interaction with our devices. Data
aggregators collect information about us, and data providers feed information
back to users based on reported patterns; the trail of crumbs we leave that tell
investigators where we are at in our minds, and these days even physically.
think, is Alice’s rabbit hole.
users, we are constantly fed a stream of data that is, to some statistical
degree, valid to our user lives. But human experience and motivations are a
many-faceted and complex thing. We have inbuilt mechanisms of our own that
gather, parse, and compare data, and we are strongly motivated to value most
that data that helps us to survive within our herd or tribe.
If you think about it, even as the networked world grows wider and more
comprehensive of the world’s citizens, the portals through which we draw our
information are surprisingly few. There are millions of media networks and
websites that provide information, but as a whole we visit a relatively small
number: Facebook, YouTube, Google, Baidu, Yahoo, Amazon, Wikipedia, Instagram,
Reddit… One could say the same of the hundreds of media outlets available
through cable and satellite services. We have a thousand choices, but
individually we watch only a handful of those outlets. This is true even if you
are one of that rare species that still reads books. We can’t consume data fast
enough to take from any sources other than those that efficiently support our
personality, or data type. We voluntarily reduce ourselves to generalized
avatars: revealing characterizations of who we are.
also makes it easy to compare ourselves to others, and it facilitates the
regurgitation of excepted responses. It provides messages that are decoded by
your brain, which based on your lifetime of observing behavior patterns in your
social group, make it highly likely that you are going to playback those
messages verbatim if fitting in with your social group depends upon doing so.
recent times there was a study that showed that in a state of civil war,
individuals will tend to behave in whatever way is the dominant behavior within
their home group, even if that behavior is not a reflection of their personal
point of view. People tend to take the long view if it behooves them to do so;
otherwise put, they bet that civil war will eventually end and they will act
with the attitude that once it is over they are going to want to live peacefully
with their neighbors. They comply to survive.
forgive social critics, and speculative philosophers like David Icke, for
suggesting that this characteristic in humans equates to the mindless behavior
of sheep, or neutralized thinkers.
the big data world provides the select sets of data that we need to perpetuate
our kind, or data type, even when our options are limited by our own cyphers to
include only those that safely fit within the perceived norm.
exists nowhere so strong as it does within professional groups, like scientists
and academics, whose viability depends upon studying only low-risk subjects,
building on accepted thought versus considering things outside of the
established canon of their professional groups. Those higher-risk ventures may
eventually prove to be dead-end pursuits, and prove to have been a waste of
time, which can be fatal to a career in a field of discipline. Smart people are
as vulnerable to programming as anyone else, and may possibly be even more
cautious. After all, where do you go if you lose your job as a college lecturer?
Or if as a highly-paid scientist, you have a reputation for wasting precious
grant money on fruitless investigations? For the most part, the only people who
risk spending time on outside-the-box thinking are people who have nothing to
lose. Anyone with any skin in the game plays to stay in the game.
All of these
aspects of gathering and analyzing data from a hugely diverse set of users of
our current technologies feels almost perilously democratic. Our technology
tends to treat all data as if it is equal, just tagged in different ways. Valid
or not, in the Cloud it lives on forever. Your Google search is going to return
relevant data based on your search words and your user profile, but it is going
to return a far higher body of data that is peripheral to your interests,
including a lot that may be peripheral to truth itself, however that is
The Cloud Is
becoming something like our living Akashic Record, a concept that was referenced
in ancient Sanskrit and adopted in the theosophist philosophy. Theosophists take
heart in their belief that all of our answers are to be found in the records of
the ancient civilizations – proof that humans have probably always thought to
themselves, “I am surrounded by idiots”, and the wan hope of this being a
recent, hopefully transitory development.
Writing in the
mid-19th Century, a lady theosophist named H. P. Blavatsky brought the Sanskrit
term akasha into the language of theosophy. (An anti-Semite, Blavatsky’s
occultism provided a basis for aspects of the Ariosophy embraced by the Nazi
regime.) Existing in non-physical form in the astral plane, akasha was described
by Blavatsky as "indestructible tablets of the astral light" recording both the
past and future of human thought and action…
that somehow the answers have been known and recorded, but for some reason
become lost to us in the present, is at the heart of every religion. And it is
also at the heart of every human experience, because our lives are consumed by
the need to parse the data we receive to determine its value in view of our
desires. We have no desire greater than understanding who we are in the
universe, because we want to know if we are meeting the reasons for why we are
technological age, the ways that we explore the world are captured and stored in
the Cloud, as if we are building our own Akashic Record in our own time. It may
well be considered an occult development – have you noticed the way people
cannot avoid constantly gazing at their smart phones? – requiring the
understanding of a trained mystic to decipher its meaning. In her 1927 book
Light of the Soul on The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – Book 3 – Union achieved and
its Results, Alice A. Bailey put it this way:
akashic record is like an immense photographic film, registering all the
desires and earth experiences of our planet. Those who perceive it will see
pictured thereon: The life experiences of every human being since time
began, the reactions to experience of the entire animal kingdom, the
aggregation of the thought-forms of a karmic nature (based on desire) of
every human unit throughout time. Herein lies the great deception of the
records. Only a trained occultist can distinguish between actual experience
and those astral pictures created by imagination and keen desire.
I can’t lie. I
copied that quote right out of Wikipedia, because it supported what I wanted to
think and say about the Cloud – our mystifying neo-Akashic Record, yet to be
fully understood in all that it says about who we are at this point in our