The Saga Of Our Destruction: When Dreams & Alternate Realities Mix With Real Life
From July 2015
This is going to be a very long post, so if you just want the tl;dr, skip way down. This is obviously a true story— and that's the scariest thing about it.
I still have the dream journal following this mental series as it unfolded.
Starting on May 22nd, 2014, I began experiencing ultra-bizarre dreams, with at least 2/3 of them having a common theme. From the very first one, I "remembered" a history I did not live. This history went back to roughly May-June 2012. That first dream had me dropping an Oculus Rift into a deep puddle, losing it. I understand that this was a consumer model, but was about as developed as the first devkit. I didn’t have a devkit in 2012, and, as I will mention later, this actually fits with the narrative because I almost bought the DK2 last Christmas. The only reason I didn’t was because of all the other cool tech toys coming out, and I decided the consumer version would be infinitely better anyway. In other words, this dream took place around today, 2015, in a timeline where the Facebook buyout never happened. Why didn't it happen? Palmer Luckey just wasn’t lucky enough? A dream a day later deepened the backstory— my city was flooding under days of rain. There was this terrible feeling to it all— that we humans were responsible for it. So I'd watch dilapidated apartments get drenched.
Power is scarce, the internet is spotty, and I'm a very angry, suicidal individual because my personal novel series is stagnant, never having developed further after a certain plot point. At this point, the story is losing my interest as I come close to blowing my brains out trying to figure out why the story isn't going anywhere. Society feels shaky, like we're losing our balance. But with limited news sources, I can't know much about the outside world. A later dream revealed why— apparently, a solar storm of epic proportions (think “bigger than the Carrington event” epic) completely wiped out our grid. It was a $10+ trillion dollar disaster on a scale we can't fathom. The internet all but collapsed. The global economy is so ruined, the Great Depression would be compared positively to the current crisis. Corporations are just trying to rebuild; they can't filly around with risks. Governments cannot tolerate dissent. Extremists have used the chaos to their advantage. Think the Democrat vs Republican culture wars are annoying? Imagine openly Stalinist death cults and ultrafundamentalist theocrats vying for power— and getting mass support. Greece’s Golden Dawn is a pack of liberal pinkos compared to who holds power over half of Europe in the dreamworld.
Money is directed towards rebuilding rather than building up on what we have. The Ukrainian Revolution and subsequent war, ISIS crisis, East Asian disputes, Israel-Palestinian crises, Ebola, and other flashpoints all work against us. They lead to World War III. In our time, I dunno. I have this... innate feeling that they will all defuse. Yes, they will obviously create history, but things are unfolding in my life here, in this universe, in this timeline, that leads to transhumanism/Singularity/AI development/cosmic expansion and exploration, whatever you want to call it.
Technology stagnates. There's no deep learning revolution in artificial intelligence. Driverless cars never get past the drawing board. Solar energy meteors to record lows. Cybernetics lose funding as unnecessary fluff. Virtual and augmented reality remain a dream for the 2100s. Every major development in science and technology doesn't happen. And by 2015, the world is a mess. They wish ISIS and the Ukraine crisis is all they have to worry about. The dreams faded, and I had this overwhelming sense that this world will, within a decade or two, turn on itself with nuclear weapons.
Because of what the solar storm knocked out, carbon emissions differed. Here, they remain on pace with what we expected, but change is coming and is arguably already occurring. There, fossil fuel use increases 500 fold. Whether or not you believe in anthropogenic climate change is irrelevant, because the sheer amount of acid rain, water acidification, and deadly smog this creates is ungodly. It’s like Beijing, but on a near global scale. And you can’t be against it because how else are we going to rebuild our shattered civilization? Solar and renewable growth stopped. They were demonized as excessive fluff that detracts from creating what’s necessary. You see, in our timeline, solar by 2012 was definitely a growing industry, but nothing like it is now; that is, growing so exponentially that it can actually be called ‘Big Solar.’ And with Tesla’s home batteries coming out, it’s all over for the fossil fuel industry in terms of long-term growth. Yeah, short term they’ll still be extremely relevant, but after 2020-2025, we’re going to view burning coal the same way we view burning whale oil for energy, or using wood to build the entirety of important structures. As it was, climate change was occurring. That's why it was raining so much. From what I've read, if we warm up too much, permafrost will melt and release methane. You think global warming alarmists' prediction of a 6°F warming is dire? Try potentially 60°F, within a lifetime. To put that in perspective, in Siberia, temperatures during the dead of winter average about -4°F. In the alternate timeline, if when runaway global warming peaks? You'd be lucky to get a night time low in the 80s° in January. Daytime temperatures during the summer in Death Valley, or the Sahara, would equal some 300°F. If it weren't for everything else, that would have been this Earth's fate. So it was doomsday regardless. We, here, won't see that because we're moving into renewables.
Note my words, or lack thereof. I didn't say "because of solar or wind" or even "because of renewable's incredible growth." Simply because we use renewable energy at all puts us well ahead of this alternate Earth.
The Oculus Rift never comes to focus. Because of this, we don’t see stuff like the HoloLens, Morpheus, Valve’s Vive, etc. This VR and AR boom we take for granted? Never happens. The Rift never really gets past the first developer’s kit because Facebook can’t afford to buy them. Various other advanced technologies I take for granted (as I stay on the bleeding edge of sci-tech news, and you wouldn’t believe the stuff we’re making now) are ignored totally, if they're ever created. Facebook as we know it declines to near nothing because no one can actually use it.
By 2025, their AI isn't close to ours from 2014. Deep learning was never adopted en masse and neuromorphics never took off, partially because of rebuilding, and partially because Moore’s Law stagnates since chip makers such as Intel have all but gone bankrupt. Before 2014’s end, we even create very simple AI from worms. They still brag about Watson (the 2011 version), but have not gotten any further. By 2015, when we’re creating bee-level AIs to put in drones, we’re more advanced than they are in 2040. Their supercomputers stagnate and decline, and the replacement to silicon doesn't come at all since no one can afford to look into it. (Check out this subreddit to show you just how crazy it's getting) Our supercomputers have stagnated as well, since 2013 IIRC, but are about to get a massive kick in the rear and reach exaFLOPS speeds possibly before 2019 all because we have many different replacements for/enhancements of silicon.
Several trillion dollars move out of science, technology, and artificial intelligence/robotics, and into very conservative politics, coal, oil, luddism, etc. (with welfare the only ‘progressive’ policy that remains unchanged since we need to kickstart our economy somehow). And it’s not necessarily a terrible thing for them because they have to rebuild. We’re only relentlessly pushing forward because we have not faced any existential threats.
Economic collapse. The storm wipes out some entire tech companies, such as Deep Mind (which is never bought by Google). Kurzweil leaves Google. Google crashes. Musk is broke. He already almost sold Tesla to Google in 2012 at his lowest point, so losing Google means he has absolutely nowhere to go. No SpaceX. No Tesla. No gigafactory. Intel can’t stay in the game? HP can’t either because all our electronics are fried. Computer science regresses.
The stock market takes weeks to get back up and running, and by then, it's too late. You think the Great Recession of ’08-’09 was bad? Your granpappies think the Great Depression of ’29-’36 was bad? Honey, the shit this alternate world is in… we’re talking 3/4s of the world’s wealth completely wiped out.
As for me, I hold my depression. I don't let it become known. I never get help. As in this timeline, I fail my Fall ’13 semester. Unlike this timeline, I don’t bring it back up above a 2.0 in Spring ’14 or get it to a 3.0 by Summer ’15. Very certain I drop out of college by this point. I don’t know what happens to me, but I think I may be still alive by this point in 2015. How much longer I choose to suffer, I don’t know. Maybe I already tasted a shotgun barrel. The dreams stopped after I stopped taking GABA, St. John's Wort, and stopped listening to binaural beats, so…
Just a nightmare, right? (Actually, it felt more like a dream than a nightmare. Take that as you will)
Here's where it transcends creepiness and becomes flat out horrifying.
In July of 2012 (the exact same setting as the dream crisis), a solar storm narrowly missed Earth. If it had hit, the calamity wrought would have done our civilization in. Trillions of dollars in damage. Global catastrophe. The West reverts to the 1800s for months, if not years. I had absolutely no knowledge of the solar storm until July of 2014, near the end of the dreamwave. In fact, no one outside of astronomers and astrometeorologists did because it wasn't even reported until the midsummer of 2014. In case your attention span is short, the dreams that set up this world took place in May. I didn't even consider the idea it could have almost actually happened because I'm used to narrative-intensive/image-heavy dreams, being a creative writer. I figured this was just another freaky idea I could use in a future story or two.
What did I bear witness to? Did my mind slip into an alternate history where a cataclysmic solar storm KO'd the human race? Or perhaps it was all just chance, one of those ethereal mysteries of the mind... We may never know. All I know is that I felt good things involving this timeline, like we're in a race against our own extinction. Here, after a long time of being in second place, we've exponentially sped up and have taken the lead all the way to the end. There, we stumbled, and Doomsday won.
It's haunted me for a year now. The very atmosphere of the dreams was... unexplainable. I've long been fascinated with dreams and lucid dreaming. As aforementioned, I've used dreams, dreamworlds, and dream atmospheres for stories, which in result has led to my dreams becoming a bit 'specialized' for that purpose. But then I started taking GABA and Saint John's Wort, plus paroxetine, and went to sleep listening to binaural beats, and boom— this terror happens.
Something about that saga just felt... different, if that's the right word.
The real thing, this motherfucker, would have set us back $2 trillion at least. At least. Carl Sagan only know the peripheral costs— perhaps a third world war borne out of desperation? Obviously, the impacts would have been staggeringly beneficial for religious, Marxists, and fascist groups who wait with wet lips for a crisis to exploit.
This may be why I've felt like I've experienced a glitch in the matrix. In some alternate reality closely mirroring our own, we were struck and it leads to terrible things for us. In our timeline, we got lucky— and get to enjoy AI & transhumanism & green energy & societal success and cosmic growth because of it.
In other words, as sad and sorry as our current affairs are, we're actually living in the successful timeline. The failed timeline is too horrible to imagine. I guess you can only dream it to experience it.
So if you ever feel like humanity just sucks and should die or is dying, remember this post.
PS— Check this out
Saturday, January 14, 2006 Full Spectral Dominance (Part One) As I said in an earlier post, I'm finding the correspondences between boundary experiences a fascinating and instructive study. And an aspect which almost always appears present, whichever boundary is breached, is the electrical. Perhaps not surprisingly so, since the electric is also a irreducible aspect of physical life. It's not only out there, but it's in us. (In other words I suppose, wherever you go, there you are.) Our brains are not just grey matter; they also carry a frequency. And it seems, or so we're told, when we tune it just so, we can pick up other stations of reality's broad band. It's what Bob Monroe was talking about, as he detailed his 40-year astral travelogue. Monroe developed a technique he called "hemi-sync" for inducing altered states of consciousness by entraining the brain towards certain frequencies. In the early '80s, INSCOM officers and the military's remote viewers were visiting Virginia's Monroe Institute every few weeks for it's five-day "Gateway Lifeline" program to hone their paranormal skills, though for their sake it was given the less squishy title of "Rapid Advancement Personal Training." (Monroe's military-intelligence connections might have been a birthright: it is said that his father was James Monroe, Executive Director of the CIA's mind control cut-out the Human Ecology Society.)
Monroe's first book, Journeys Out of the Body, includes a number of diary entries from the late '50s and early '60s which recount his early experiences with astral projection before hitting upon hemi-sync. For instance:
6/12/63 Gasoline is unavailable, electric power has been shut off. there is a great sense of fatality among everyone. It doesn't seem to be the product of atomic war, and there is no concern as to radioactive fallout. There is principally a feeling of doom and the breakup of civilization as we know it due to something momentous having taken place, a factor beyond human control.
tl;dr: In May 2014, I had a series of dreams where a super-Carrington event solar storm hits Earth circa July 2012 and leads to Earth's demise. Turns out a super-Carrington event solar storm nearly hit Earth circa July 23, 2012. Didn't discover any of this until well after I had the dreams. Haven't had anything like the dreams before or since.
I've come to call this the 'Ether Dream' because, whenever I think about this ATL, the whole atmosphere has this weird, milky, dreamy, ethereal quality to it. Something about that ATL just felt... off. The imminent break-up of civilization felt like a real possibility, and it would be due to a factor beyond our control.
Just imagine a partly cloudy day. Nice, bright blue skies, puffy white clouds... but there was something a tad unsettling about it. An indescribable feeling of deadness, doom, and calm at the same time, coupled with a sense of the paranormal.
And I think I understand why. I kept emphasizing how badly the tech industry was doing in the Ether Dream ATL. How Elon Musk is a failure, how Intel and AMD and all of them are out of business. How Google is weak. How Watson beating humans at Jeopardy is the best they've done, still to this day. Basically, AI research stalled in 2012, and it has yet to restart. Thus, if it seems this ATL's computers seem much stupider compared to ours, it's because they are. They're 5 years behind us.
"Wait, but you said 2012."
I did, but the fact of the matter is, their computer science is regressing. The cutting edge of 2012 was too expensive to maintain, so they had to roll back a year or two.
What about deep learning? That is a double whammy for them. Deep learning was shown off, but the June 2012 solar storm ended any chance of deep learning taking off. Thus, deep learning remains a fringe thing not used by more than a few start-up teams. Let alone deep reinforcement learning.
So what does this all mean? Well, for one it explains why alternate me felt so hopeless.
This alternate timeline will never achieve artificial general intelligence. And it's doomed to self-destruction via nuclear war within a couple of decades.
My personal belief is that ASI is a failsafe for any civilization. Once you have ASI, that's it. Go ahead and start up a good ol' round of thermonuclear war. Go ahead and turn the planet into a wannabe Venus. Go ahead and trigger Yellowstone. Go ahead and let an asteroid impact the planet. As long as we have ASI, we'll be okay. And because our timeline is so close to creating ASI, I feel optimistic. Compare this to the ATL (alternate timeline, for those wondering), where AI has slipped away from them for good.
If you brought DeepMind to the ATL and told them it was from the same year they're living in, but from a different timeline, they might actually believe that the Singularity happened in our timeline sometime between when the solar storm was supposed to hit (June 2012) to the present day. It isn't just 5 years of difference between us. Factor in deep learning and assume they would be representing traditional machine learning, and you have a solid 15 years of difference between us, and growing every year. I just read somewhere that AI is approaching human-level literary talent. Yet in the ATL, 2011's Watson is still the peak.