Thursday 25 September 2008


Flatland is a fantasy novella by Edwin A. Abbott written in 1884. To this day it remains the most comprehensive and explicit piece of written description to explain the concept of physical dimensions. To this day it is revered to by physicists and employed by them as a must-read in instructing their students. Because of its age it is now out of copyright (The author died in 1926 so in accordance with copyright law, his copyright expired on the 70th anniversary of his death: in 1996. However his “moral rights” apply forever so if you copy and paste the book you must make sure to identify Abbott as the author.) and available free online in many locations. I recommend one of the texts with the original illustrations like this one: . If you’re a traditionalist like me, and enjoy the feel of real paper in your hands, the book can be purchased very cheaply, but there’s a new edition just published that acts as a companion to the new film of the book: The language of the book is the Victorian literary dialect which takes getting used to, but it’s worth it. Two animated films based on the book were made in 2007, completely independently, in one of the many “coincidences” that occur in the artistic world. But this short Dr Quantum clip from the extended edition of What The Bleep Do We Know!? is a faithful and stylish synopsis of the story:

The story takes place in an imaginary universe, one that like our own has nurtured complex matter, structures, life and intelligence. The big difference is that it is a universe of only 2 dimensions instead of 3. They have length and breadth, but not height. This is why it is called “flat”. To our eyes it would look like a flat sheet as thin as thin can be. In fact it is more than thin; it's thickness measurement is Zero, in any unit you like. But to the beings who live there, it is the whole world as they know it and in the same way that our minds cannot conceive of a world with more dimensions than 3, theirs cannot contemplate one with more dimensions than 2. The idea of solid objects would be beyond their understanding. The first part of the book describes the country in which the protagonist and narrator, called Square, lives. The beings all take the form of geometric shapes and their shape determines their role in their society. It becomes immediately apparent that Square’s nation is a very unpleasant one; authoritarian, dogmatic, snobbish, racist, male chauvinistic, although Square expresses no objection to that and takes it for granted. The caste system of the society runs thus: the lowliest sector are the women who are very thin parallelograms, virtually straight lines. Then come the male serf class, isosceles triangles; the longer their hypotenuse the higher their status until it matches the other two sides and they join the next caste up: the equilateral triangles. The squares are the teachers, scientists, lawyers and judges and include the protagonist; and the highest strata of all are the circles that mostly form the Priesthood. Part of the religion of the nation is the banning of any talk of higher dimensions, as the little circle in the Dr Quantum clip explains. The narrator nonchalantly describes horrific acts of social violence, for instance if an isosceles couple give birth to an equilateral baby, the child is taken from them and adopted into an equilateral family. Also some beings undergo painful and damaging cosmetic surgery to alter their shape into one of higher status. It is a wonderful satire of Abbott’s own Victorian society, and also the perennial human condition of Conformism which is as relevant today as it was in his lifetime.

The second part of the book describes the narrator’s experiences in the story: One day Square is sitting at home in his house when a mysterious circle materializes in the middle of the lounge. It’s a ghostly individual who keeps changing size! In fact it is a sphere called Sphere! A 3D object that can only appear as a cross-section, a circle as it intersects Flatland, just like Dr Quantum’s finger. The sphere tries to explain what he is, but Square is totally befuddled, even when the sphere touches the inside of Square’s stomach and shows Square objects from inside a locked cupboard, like Dr Quantum does to the little circle. The interesting thing is that Square himself had a dream the previous night about visiting a realm called “Lineland” which consisted of only a single dimension and having an identical conversation with the King of Lineland, just stepped down a dimension! The sphere eventually resorts to pulling Square out of Flatland altogether and showing him Sphere’s own 3D world. Square’s reaction is utter disbelief and astonishment transforming to wonder and revelation that Abbott very skillfully and imaginatively describes. The overwhelmed Square looks down on his own world from… above!… and sees the solid objects of Sphere’s 3D universe. He then begs to learn more. He urges Sphere to show him 4 and even 5 dimensional universes. This is the most interesting part of the book because at this point Sphere balks. He acts exactly like the ignorant Flatlanders when they want to discuss 3 dimensions! It turns out that Sphere who at first seems so omniscient and God-like is actually no more enlightened or wise than anyone else; he simply has a better view! Square is returned home and the story ends with him being imprisoned as a madman and heretic as punishment for his ravings about a 3D world.

Flatland is a parable of our own world. We may live in, not a 2D, but a 3D universe and can’t comprehend anything greater than that, but we have the same attitude to the 4 dimensional as the Flatlanders have to the 3 dimensional. What’s more, thinking and talking about worlds dimensionally greater than our own has been criminalized in the past and is still stigmatized in much of human society. There are people, sages, Shamans, soothsayers and other mystics who have had experiences very like Square’s and they’ve been persecuted, especially in modern Western culture. There’s an interesting scene in the book where Square is looking down into a sub-rosa Synod meeting in Flatland with its most senior priests. The doors have been locked and the public kept away, but of course this is no obstacle to Square while he’s in the company of Sphere. In the scene the Elite circles of the church admit that there probably are higher dimensional plains, but they can’t let the masses know that because it would weaken the power of the Elite! So they violently suppress it. This is what I believe is true in the real world. Genuine spirituality is either denied by mainstream science or subverted into the cul-de-sac of organized religion. This is why David Icke calls organized religion and mainstream science “opposames”. They’re portrayed and conventionally thought of as opposites, but they’re actually the same thing.

This is why I’m delighted when I see movies like What The Bleep... And read new books about Shamanism. The world is entering a spiritual renaissance and this is the biggest threat to the power of the Illuminati Elite. It’s important to take part in this because as Dr Quantum says: “You’d have to become it to know”. Imagine if all the flat shapes in Flatland joined Square on his tour of the 3 dimensional! The power of the circular priests would fall apart like gossamer!

Here’s another related video where the ingenious Carl Sagan illustrates the themes of Flatland:

Saturday 20 September 2008

David Icke has been to Visit my House!

I was sitting at home this morning, doing my own things and minding my own business as usual when suddenly there was a mysterious knock at my front door. I stood up, walked over to the door and opened it, wondering who it could be. I wasn't expecting any visitors. And, to my astonishment and delight, David Icke stood on my doorstep!

I invited him in and made him a cup of tea, as any polite host would do. We even broke open some beers and had a nice chat about The Bilderberg Group, the Queen, Reptilians and the Holographic nature of the Universe. We even explored the fortunes of Coventry City FC

I showed him round my garden and let him lie on my Skywatching Mattress. He then let me take these photos of him.

Then something happened. David began trembling and shaking. He started making strange noises, a kind of hissing sound, and then to my shock and horror he shape-shifted! I managed to get a very quick snap of the phenomenon just before he fled the house. The Men-in-Black then popped in and confiscated my camera, but here's an artist's impression of the terrifying thing I saw:

(Costume design and make-up by my daughter Louisa- aged 13)

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Skeptics in the Pub (15/9/08)

Last night I went to my third Skeptics in the Pub event (as recommended by TimeOut Magazine!). Here are my reports from my other two visits: and . For the first time I did not attend alone. I went there with my blog-buddy Marmite-Lover (See links column). As I’ve said in my previous reports, SitP always draws huge crowds, but this one was the most packed-out yet. It wasn’t a question of whether you’d find a seat, or whether you’d even find standing-room; the question was could you find room to stand that wasn’t on someone’s lap or under a table! They even opened the fire escape and let people sit on the stairs! Someone actually joked that it should be called “Sardines in the Pub”! The reason for the huge crowds was that the speaker is a very famous “Skeptic Knight”: Ben Goldacre; here’s his site: .
See here for my review of Ben Goldacre's book Bad Science:

Ben Goldacre made my blood freeze when I saw him. This is because he very closely resembles a man who used to abuse me when I was a child… but that’s hardly his fault! He is a doctor and medical journalist with a regular column in the Guardian newspaper. He has written a book called Bad Science that can be obtained from his site. He studied medicine at Magdalen College, Oxford and went on to specialize in cognitive neuroscience and psychiatry. He has since become famous for debunking what he sees as unscientific medicine, healthy-living scams and fake cures. I’m familiar with such “anti-quackery” from the views of James Randi and others, but I was surprised to find that Goldacre takes a different position, one that I find less intimidating and aggressive. Firstly he has no beef with treatments that are unequivocally mystical and claim no scientific values, like the hands-on healing I experience at my Spiritualist church (see: He only attacks medical treatments that he believes are not scientific but their practitioners claim that they are. An example would be the magnet therapy which is supposed to rearrange the iron molecules in your blood haemoglobin or eating chlorophyll supposedly to oxygenate your blood, when in fact chlorophyll only works during the anaerobic respiration of a plant and is useless to animals! Goldacre is to be respected as a libertarian. He concedes, unlike Randi, that in the end nobody has the right to forbid an informed public to buy into the alternative remedies he opposes; he just does everything he can to publicize his side of the story. He has been sued unsuccessfully for libel several times, most recently by the South African nutritionist Matthias Rath.

Along with his journalistic work, Goldacre is also a musician and has composed some humourous and very bawdy songs with remarkable titles like The Last Party on Earth and Fairy Gangsters! These songs are played during the intervals in a radio interview with Goldacre that is one of these (Can’t remember which one; sorry!): . He lectures in a very comic style which captivated his audience and the cellar bar rang with repeated bursts of laughter. Not everyone was so captivated though. Marmite-Lover took an especially dim view of Goldacre’s attitude. She muttered angrily through clenched teeth as he spoke and, during the interval, approached him and criticized him loudly; this resulted in a heated debate with him and some of the other SitP patrons. I must say I didn’t find Goldacre very funny. His humour is rather adolescent and at times in bad taste; a kind of intellectual Roy Chubby Brown! But each to their own, and Marmite and I were definitely in the minority last night!

Doctor-patient communication has changed in recent years. In the old days, doctors decided alone what the right treatment was and the patient was supposed to obey without question, but modern doctors are trained to explain and inform their patient as much as possible and leave it up to them to decide. This, Goldacre believes, is the loophole that “quackery” has exploited. The patient’s new right to knowledge has also left them, according to Goldacre, vulnerable to being violated by unscrupulous people. Because despite a patient being informed and empowered, medicine is still an impenetrable business that needs years of education and training to fully understand; it’s easy to mislead and bamboozle the layman with it. He names this alleged unscrupulous business “Big Quacka” in parody of the derogatory term for the conventional medical and pharmaceutical industry: “Big Pharma”. A lot of what he says is technically correct. In particular much of the nutritional advice promoted by Gillian McKeith, Goldacre’s arch-enemy, and others has been found wanting as time goes on. Goldacre sites a detailed study that questions the benefits of eating fruit and vegetables. He also claims that the Omega-3 fish-oil capsules that are supposed to make children brighter at school is a hoax. So what does cause illness in certain types of people? He said: “a complex nexus of interlocking political and social issues”, but he doesn’t elaborate on what this means! He also relishes the health-debunker’s favorite hobby-horse: homeopathy. Like Randi, he explains how homeopathic remedies are so super-diluted that to obtain a single molecule of the active ingredient it would be necessary to drink a glass of the solution 0.15 of a light-year across!

But there’s so much more to the story than that! As I said, Goldacre was technically correct in much of what he said, but the field of his analysis lacks scope. For instance: he criticized Gillian McKeith, maybe justly, but he never mentions another alternative-health and lifestyle practitioner who is far less renowned, but I think far more impressive: Lynne McTaggart. She publishes a magazine and free e-zine called What the Doctors Don’t Tell You: .There are also theorists, past and present, who give us an insight into how homeopathy works. The “light-year wide glass of dilute solution” theory is based on the assumption that the water in the homeopathic solution is simply an inert mixer. But is it? Water is a far more fascinating and enigmatic substance than we think. Two of these theorists who most impressively illustrate this are Masaru Emoto ( and Viktor Schauberger ( It’s worth asking when observing the tests that question the value of eating fruit and vegetables, what kind of fruit and veg was it? If it was just any old plastic-wrapper stuff bought off a supermarket shelf then they’re not going to have half as much vitamins as organically-grown products. The chemicals and GM crops used in modern factory farming may actually deplete the food grown of much of its goodness turning it into what my friend Ian Crane (see links) calls “cardboard food”. The Omega 3 in artificial capsules is also not the same as the nutrients you’d find in a living fish caught in an unpolluted sea, very lightly-grilled and eaten quickly without processing. Goldacre’s lack of scope is illustrated well when he explains how in many cases “Big Pharma” and “Big Quacka” are the same thing. Many herbal or homeopathic remedies, diet pills and vitamin supplements etc are produced by the same pharmaceutical companies that make antibiotics, antipsychotics and other conventional drugs. (I have personally noticed that herbal anti-stress drugs like Kalms and Quiet Life are made by Roche!) He is more correct than he knows! In one of Ian Crane’s lectures we hear of a poignant true story, written as a book called The Shaman’s Apprentice, which was adapted into a documentary film. The author is a man who worked as a scout for a pharmaceutical firm and was sent by his employers into the Amazon jungle a few years ago to investigate herbal ingredients that could be made into modern medical drugs. He comes across an unknown tribe of people, very like the ones I report on here: . They are an indigenous culture that has had no contact with the outside world. The people don’t wear clothes and live off the natural world of the forest, eating only what they hunt and gather. They very rarely get sick, but when they do they visit the local medicine man who fixes them up with a natural herbal tonic. When they’d got used to the author’s unusual appearance: white skin, clothing, technology etc, they were perfectly happy to provide him with specimens of their medicinal herbs, an act both parties would bitterly regret! The author returned to the tribe a few years later to find that in the meantime they’d had more contact with the outside world, from missionaries. Not only Christian priests, but the missionaries of that other Great God of the Western world: Consumerism. The people who used to walk happily around naked now wore jeans, T-shirts and Nike trainers. For spiritual guidance they never went to the Shamans anymore, but to their missionary’s chapel. If they got ill they only visited the village’s modern medical centre. The author was shown a shelf of conventional drugs based on the same ingredients he’d discovered, but they’d been processed by his employer! The pure, natural medicine had been cut with chemicals, watered down and redosed. The tribe members were even denied the choice of using the original natural form of the drug because the pharmaceutical company had patented it! Any Indians who tried could be sued for Copyright infringement! Even though it was the Indians who had originally discovered the herb and had been using it for thousands of years! This is the other side of the matter, the additional sphere of information that throws light onto Ben Goldacre’s phrase “Big Quacka and Big Pharma are the same thing”. Modern mass-produced alternative remedies are not alternative at all! They are a corrupted, modernized shadow of genuine natural indigenous medicine.

Goldacre becomes most passionate when he talks about AIDS in South Africa, where it is a terrible and tragic problem. Over 5 million people, 10% of the country’s population, are supposedly infected with HIV, the virus that it is generally accepted causes AIDS. Some regions like Natal have areas where the HIV- people are in the minority! He describes his conflict with Matthias Rath (Rath’s site: and his ally, Rath’s opponent in South Africa, Zackie Achmat (Achmat’s site: ) whom Goldacre deeply admires for his promotion of conventional AIDS treatment in a country where people, government and institutions are doubting and questioning the current ideas about AIDS. The truth about AIDS and what causes it is a very contentious and disturbing issue, not least because if we get it wrong it will cause catastrophic loss of human life and culture. My own views on the subject lie beyond the domain of this report and will require a whole new article.

It was a good night and I’m glad Marmite-Lover came along. She seemed quite enlivened by her passionate wrangle with Goldacre and his entourage! I hope she’ll attend future SitP’s. It’s nice to have a fellow “Woo” by my side in there! I think she sees the event differently to me though; unlike her I never question or contribute to the proceedings. I see my job as simply to gather information and report on SitP from an alternative non-Skeptical perspective. Here’s Marmite’s own report on yesterday’s Skepperama: . I want to go to future SitP’s; I’m particularly looking forward to the one with Nick Pope in December. I’ve met Nick and written about him before:

Sunday 7 September 2008

"We're Porters Through and Through!"

(In Loving Memory of Rik Clay)

I guess by now you’ll all be thinking I’m a bit bigheaded. “What a conceited sod that Ben is! Strutting around like that, posing in his uniform.” Well in a way you’d be right. I’m a bigheaded Hospital Porter, an arrogant tradesman! But I’m not bigheaded in the sense that I think I’m better than anyone else. I don’t believe I’m worth more than any other human being; I just don’t believe I’m worth any less. I think I’ve unknowingly created this image of myself as a persona that is meant to be a kind of satire of other arrogant tradesmen, simply because Hospital Portering is not meant to have them. It’s fine to be arrogant if you’re a celebrity (See: or in the forces (See:, and this satirical self-character I’ve created is a reaction to this elephant-in-the-living-room double-standard that is blindly accepted and rarely questioned. I suppose I want people to ask the question: Why, oh why is it different if you’re a Hospital Porter, or cleaner, dustman or in any of the other so-called “lowly” jobs? (See: Why are there even such things as “lowly” jobs as opposed to “non-lowly” ones? As I explain in the above article, the reactions I get from people vary from ridicule to rejection to hostility and even violence: “But you’re only a Porter! What do you mean you’re ‘proud’!? Hang your head and bow your shoulders in shame! Do it! NOW!... Please! You have to for my sake! Don’t you know what you’re doing to me!? You’re making my whole worldview fall apart! I have to reassess everything now!”

(By the way, if any female HPANWO readers find it impossible to resist me after seeing me in my uniform then, although I know it’s understandable, you’re only human after all, I’m afraid I only accept offers from ladies willing to accept me for the person that I am, not the Conformist image I project… Even if that image is “alternative Conformist!” Form an orderly queue, if you’ll excuse the pun. And no pushing in!)

(Disclaimer: The photographs in this article are not official publications of the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, nor any of its partners, contractors or clients.)

Friday 5 September 2008

Oxford Hospital Terrorist Drill

When I first spotted the front cover of the ORH News, the free newspaper for the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, it pulled me up short in my tracks! I found myself face-to-face with a huge cover picture of an emergency services operative dressed in a full army-style NBC (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical) warfare suit! My first thought was: “Why? Is the John Radcliffe Hospital hosting a special screening of V for Vendetta?” Then I read the article and remembered. A few weeks earlier we’d been told that there would be a full-scale major incident drill. We’ve had major incident drills before and they’re great fun actually; they usually involve a scenario of a massive M40 motorway pile-up or a shopping centre fire and/or collapse in town. Some of us get to play injured patients and we put on dressings, fake blood and burns; we can shout, moan and scream abuse at the staff as if we’re in real pain! What a hoot, especially if someone you don’t like very much is taking part too! But major incident drills in these post 9/11 years are different.

The drill was given a military-sounding name: Exercise Orpheus. It was organized by the HPA (Health Protection Agency- There’s an Orwellian name for you!) The government drills one general hospital in the region per year to carry out this kind of reality-training. The Division A (Medical) Director of Operations, Moira Logie said: “It was very realistic… the actors were really good and it felt like a genuine incident. Exercise Orpheus tested our logistical, organizational and personal skills in a crisis situation… how staff would respond to a nerve agent attack”. It began at 7AM and the scenario was prepared in secret. The operational crews were given no foreknowledge about what the situation would be. The police, fire and ambulance services were all involved and they practiced their techniques of washing and decontaminating patients before delivering them to the hospital ED (Emergency Department) for treatment.

I can guess the response this edition of the ORH News engendered in its readers: “Isn’t it wonderful to see these brave and dedicated life-savers at work? How great our government is for taking steps to protect us from this threat. These evil terrorists are lurking around every corner! They may even live next door to you! They could strike anywhere at any time! But your government is there to save you! These idiots who complain about giving up their civil liberties had better explain themselves to the people who die in agony from poisoned gas and radioactive shrapnel!”

Or as Adolf Hitler put it to justify setting up the Gestapo: “An evil exists that threatens every man-woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps to ensure our domestic and foreign safety and security.” How interesting that this Exercise Orpheus took place almost at exactly the same time that Spooks- Code 9 was first screened by the BBC; which I wrote about at the time here: . As I've said before, I believe less and less in coincidence with every passing day. At the end Moira says something very significant: “We hope this reassures the public that the NHS would be able to handle the effects of what we hope is an extremely unlikely event.” But the people who will read this also watch the news on TV, where the government tells us again and again that it is not extremely unlikely, but actually highly likely! They are breeding fear of terrorism deliberately to make themselves more look more important to us and make us feel dependant on them. See the quote from Adam Curtis’ film in the linked Spooks article above! These terrorist attacks are nothing to do with Islamic extremism; at least the worst ones in recent years aren’t! They are black-budget military operations organized by the very government that then preaches endlessly about the “terrorist threat”. Hitler made that quote in 1933 after an arsonist destroyed the Reichstag, Germany's parliament building. The culprit was said to be the Dutch communist Marinus van Lubbe. But it was it? Today even the Encyclopaedia Britannica admits that the Nazi’s probably lit that fire themselves to gain public support for their oppressive regime, a regime that the people would otherwise have vehemently rejected. If a scam keeps working, why not keep using it? It’s interesting that in the movie V for Vendetta, which the cover image of the paper first reminded me of, the Norse-Fire fascist regime of Adam Sutler was voted into power by people afraid of terrorist strikes that Norse-Fire itself had perpetrated.

I actually agree with one part of that article's theme: I do admire the brave and dedicated life-savers of the emergency services and (modesty-go to Hell!) I am a part of that. Even if massive terrorist incidents are false-flag government operations, and not the work of the non-existent Al-Qaida, they still kill and injure people. Those people will need to be saved and treated no matter who did it. If you’re burned, poisoned or trapped under rubble, it makes little difference what caused your predicament; all that matters to you is that someone helps you as soon and effectively as possible! So I am in no way suggesting that terrorist incident exercises should not take place! I’ll happily take part in one myself when it’s the Porters’ turn to join in. What I am objecting to is that the governments are using these activities as propaganda. “Thank God we’ve got the Fuhrer to protect us!”

The ORH News is available to read online here; make sure you have FlashPlayer installed: .

Monday 1 September 2008

Michael DiMercurio and Kevin Warwick

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about artificial intelligence since hearing Professor Kevin Warwick’s interview on Red Ice Creations Radio. I’ve written about my initial thoughts on the Voice: I also wrote a full-length article after watching a BBC Horizon film about the subject: . What Warwick has to say about AI is very interesting and in some ways he’s got his head screwed on; in others he’s deeply naïve. He can’t conceive how artificial intelligence and psychotronics could be abused by authorities and quite relishes the notion of a cashless society where there’s no need for keys to open doors because of the electronic implants in human bodies. He doesn’t understand the potential for abuse such technology has. My journey into the discovery of AI has become more intense since I’ve also been reading a series of novels by an American author called Michael DiMercurio ( He used to serve in US Navy submarines and today writes thrillers on the subject which are very good stories, if somewhat specialized towards the niche market of the die-hard sub-fan. One of the most interesting aspects of his writing is his use of the concept of artificial intelligence. In his seventh novel Terminal Run he invents an unmanned submarine called “SNARC”, which has a genetically-engineered artificial biological brain running it. It is euphemistically termed a “carbon computer” while ordinary computers are called “silicon computers” to distinguish them. This brain has thoughts and feelings of its own just like any human. These carbon computers can't be treated like any previous electronic device. They can’t be developed through upgrading, they have to grow and learn just like a human neuronet does. They suffer from the "terrible two's" and the programmers find that the only way to cope with this is to give them something to vent their anger on. They wire them up to robots with weapons and let them loose on old cars and buildings. Once the AI's have destroyed a few things they feel better and can continue to develop. Part of the plot is that the scientist who created the SNARC, and who helps the villain Alexei Novskoyy hijack the robot submarine, doesn't want the sub to come to any harm because he's begun to see the artificial brain as a friend. The programmer can actually talk to the AI brain and have a conversation, and even have a relationship with it as a real, conscious entity! Alan Turing would be jumping up and down with delight! This raises an interesting question: If you could create artificial intelligence and therefore machines with thoughts and feelings just like living creatures, then you'd no longer be able to treat them as machines as you would a car or Hoover or toaster. You'd have to consider their feelings! There would be a whole new discipline of law: robot ethics! These machines would need legal rights like animals do under today's law. Isaac Asimov addresses this question in his Robot novels. One of them was made into a film, Bicentennial Man starring Robin Williams as a robot who is unintentionally created with artificial intelligence, and although his mind is not entirely the same as a human one, he is undeniably conscious and self-aware. The film follows his poignant struggle to be accepted for what he is in human society ( In Terminal Run, Noveskoyy’s mission is to use the SNARC to attack an American submarine. Now with the electronics we know, the world of “silicon computers”, this is simple. You simply reprogram the computer; and you can do so in any way you choose because the computer “brain” is not really a brain at all and the word is used by electronic engineers in a purely metaphorical sense. But SNARC is different; it is naïve and child-like, but questions and analyses completely independently. As the brain of an American submarine it feels uncomfortable about its new mission. Novskoyy is faced with the task of reasoning with the machine, persuading it that engaging the friendly submarine is a legitimate action. He spins the SNARC a yarn about the boat being taken over by mutinous murderers, but he cannot command it! This is the big dilemma with AI, you can’t have your cake and eat it! If you design a conscious and intelligent machine then don’t expect it to be the mindless slaves that conventional computers are. I’d go as far as to say that any computer without that analytical ability and the self-will to act on its conclusions cannot by definition be intelligent.

The most interesting, disturbing and amusing part of the book is when the AI designers put a carbon computer in a torpedo! In DiMercurio's early books, he uses metaphors of artificial intelligence in relation to conventional computers. His first novel Voyage of the Devilfish has in it high tech torpedoes called Mark 50 "Hullcrushers" which he describes as having the same level of intelligence as a Golden Retriever! Does this mean it would fetch a stick if you threw it (Could be dangerous with a torpedo!)? Would it sense if you came home after a bad day and sit beside you to comfort you? It's pretty obvious that in his early writing career, DiMercurio didn't really understand much about artificial intelligence because the Hullcrusher torpedoes when fired traveled straight towards their target and detonated without a second "thought". If the human weapons controller aboard the submarine sent a signal along its guidance wire to change course it would do so as surely as a car does when you turn the steering wheel. A Golden Retriever wouldn't do that! So really the Hullcrusher torpedoes were no more intelligent than a car steering wheel. This changed by the time he wrote Terminal Run. The designers of the new torpedo, called “Tigershark”, are faced with a conundrum: As I said above, an artificially intelligent computer is by nature, independently-thinking and cognoscent. One of the inherent instincts of conscious intelligence is self-preservation. But being an intelligent computer inside a torpedo means that to do your job you have to destroy yourself! You have to swim up to a target and blow yourself to pieces. In order to override this universal natural drive against self-destruction, the designers have to make it suicidal! This then causes the AI's to become psychotic! Once the Tigersharks are launched they immediately turn around and attack the ship or submarine which launched them! Such properties make them useless, as well as too dangerous, for anything except being launched from an aircraft. This I think could be the first case that “robot ethics” lawyers would need to table. Isn’t it cruel to create artificial intelligences like that? After all to give an animal a drug that would make it psychotic and suicidal would be out of the question (unfortunately this does go on illegally). In the book the hero, the submarine captain Michael Pacino, takes his sub out to sink the SNARC armed with the new Tigershark AI torpedoes. His crew at first think he's crazy, as does the reader, and wonder if he's on a suicide mission. But then all is revealed. He gets the submarine's medic to inject a sedative into the torpedo's artificial brain to render it unconscious. He then launches the torpedo in the general area of the SNARC and dashes away as fast as he can before the torpedo's brain "wakes up." When the brain does wake up the only thing it can hear around it is the SNARC so it goes for that and sinks it, leaving Pacino's own boat alone. In real life such weapons would probably never be developed. The whole problem with the AI weapons in DiMercurio's books is that they wouldn't just blindly obey the instructions of their human masters. They'd analyze and cogitate and ask questions. They might say: "What's in it for me?" and quickly reach the inevitable conclusion: "Not a lot! When I reach this enemy submarine and detonate my warhead I'll die! Perhaps I'd better not." Not very helpful in the middle of an undersea battle! The only alternative to that would be a torpedo like the Tigershark designers eventually developed: a psychotic torpedo with a hate-filled death-wish. This, as I’ve said, would be highly dubious, both practically and morally.

And this is just one example of the disadvantages of AI. Imagine an AI car that refused to take you to the shops because it got bored of just continually driving the same route over and over again! It might be on its way to pick you up from work and decide to take a trip to the seaside instead! You could only ask it to change its mind; you would not be able to command it. No futurist or sci-fi speculator has ever considered this: That maybe we should hang on to our good old-fashioned obedient and subservient silicon computers, even when the technology exists to make them obsolete!

Despite Kevin Warwick’s apparent lack of understanding of the Dark Side of AI; he also shows a remarkable open-mindedness in other aspects of it that are absent from so many others in his field. The majority of his peers take a reductionist view; that the development of AI and its inevitable back-engineered discoveries of the human brain will simply expose all spiritual thought as a delusion. But Warwick takes the opposite view, what you might call “AI-transcendental”. He points out that far from eliminating them, AI would augment many philosophical questions about the nature of mind and consciousness itself. For example: would AI machines have a soul? Seeing as we are their creators does that make humans into God? Would they continue to exist after they were shut down, ie "killed"? Is there an AI afterlife? Michael DiMercurio’s views on spirituality are very interesting because they develop and change enormously through his writing career. In his early books they’re completely absent and hardly discussed; in his fourth book Piranha Firing Point one of the characters, Pacino’s Uncle Dick Donchez, is dying and states to Pacino that there’s no afterlife but earth and worms, but then in succeeding novels other characters start having near-death experiences, like when Peter Vornado is suffering from cancer and even Pacino himself has an NDE when he half-drowns after the cruise liner he is on gets sunk. In Emergency Deep the entire crew of a French sub gets shot by terrorists and there’s a scene where they all meet up in Heaven and ask each other if it hurt when they passed away! In the same book, the departed wife of BK Dillinger, a new character, appears before him as a ghost and gives him advice. The idea of communication with ancestors and seeking their guidance is of course a quite accepted aspect of Shamanic culture and I wonder where DiMercurio has been getting his inspiration. Has he been hanging out with Native American philosophers? He does talk on the USS Devilfish website about hard times he’s gone through, being divorced, his friend dying. Often experiences like these open new avenues of thought in a person’s life.

Michael DiMercurio has not written anything for several years now and, based on his schedule up till now, he's overdue for a new novel. I'll be watching his space very keenly for when it comes out! I'm also interested in Kevin Warwick's career and what new ideas he comes out with. Here's a recent TV spot about Warwick, and unfortunately he's still unaware that he's being used to promote the Cyborg Agenda of the New World Order: As per usual, the perceived fear of crime is the stick that beats us. The mother of the girl in the vid, and the girl herself, ironically take the chip because “I just want to be free”. This way we will not need persuading; we will demand that these psychotronic weapons be used on us. The Illuminati want to do the opposite of the AI designers: turn entities that are naturally intelligent into mindless slaves like silicon computers.