“If we’re ever to get to grips properly with the profound mysteries of consciousness, and with the ground truth about this thing we call “reality”, then sooner or later we’re going to have deploy the ancient technology of dimethyltryptamine (DMT) the most powerful psychedelic known to science. The groundwork was done in the 1990’s by Rick Strassman at the University of New Mexico, further important investigations of this so-called “spirit molecule” are underway today at the Johns Hopkins Center for Psychedelic and Consciousness Research, but one of the most inspired and most insightful new minds in the field is computational neurobiologist Andrew Gallimore, author of the startling and powerful Alien Information Theory: Psychedelic Drug Technologies and the Cosmic Game. I highly recommend this remarkable, deeply thought-provoking, well-written and actually unique book. The evidence and analysis presented on DMT and its role as a reality modulator will — literally — blow your mind.”
Graham Hancock, author of Fingerprints of the Gods, and of Supernatural; Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind.
“This thing IS what it seems to be, it’s a galactic intelligence, it’s a billion years old, it’s touched ten million worlds, it knows the history of 150,000 civilisations, it’s beyond the possibility of your conceiving it…” Terence McKenna
Terence McKenna’s mushroom-inspired vision of an ancient, almost god-like, super-intelligence is both awe-inspiring and terrifying. However, whilst there is no reason to assume that such an unimaginably powerful alien intelligence couldn’t exist somewhere within this Universe or, perhaps, in some hidden dimensions beyond it, few fear having to confront such a creature: these frightening dimensions can be safely tucked away amongst the more exotic branches of modern mathematical physics and their occupants relegated to the pages of pulp sci-fi novels. At least that’s the case until one encounters DMT.
DMT — N,N-dimethyltryptamine — is the strangest and most ubiquitous of all naturally-occurring psychedelic molecules, and presents something of a problem for those who would have us — like Carl Sagan — comfortably alone in our orbit around a “humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of the Universe”: within seconds of ingestion, either by inhalation of its acrid vapour or by intravenous injection, DMT hurls the user with a frightening ferocity into a bizarre hyperdimensional world replete with a diverse panoply of extremely intelligent entities, some of which bear an uncanny resemblance to McKenna’s ancient galactic intelligence. It’s reassuringly easy — some might say facile — to simply dismiss these experiences as mere hallucination, but it really isn’t that simple. From an orthodox neuroscience standpoint, it’s actually pretty tricky to explain why ingestion of the world’s simplest psychedelic molecule ought to reliably manifest hypertechnological worlds teeming with bizarre alien intelligences (Gallimore, 2013). So, what’s to be done with the machine elves, the insectoid aliens, and their ilk? Can they be filed away alongside the other psychological case studies marked “hallucinatory phenomena”? Or could something far far stranger be going on?
In the modern era, it’s pretty easy to find a cosmologist, astronomer, or any other rational individual who will happily contemplate the extremely high probability of us living within a Universe teeming with intelligent life, but many will toss their head back derisively should you suggest there might be ways of establishing direct two-way communication with them: monumental intergalactic separation and light-speed limitations are the standard weapons of choice wielded to keep such life at a reassuringly safe distance. They are there, but they will never be here. Naturally, there are honourable exceptions keen to point out that we can’t be sure that an intelligent civilisation a million or so years more advanced than us couldn’t have worked out how to manipulate the structure of space-time itself to generate shortcuts for interstellar travel. Indeed, such space-time wormholes — known technically as Einstein–Rosen bridges — fall naturally out of Einstein’s field equations. As such, we shouldn’t be too surprised if tales of UFOs hovering over rural outhouses and nocturnal alien abductions turn out to have some basis in truth.
Of course, it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, for us to imagine what an intelligent creature a thousand, let alone a few million, years more advanced than us might look like, and it would be unwise to assume that the majority of such aliens would occupy any kind of recognisably biological form. Amongst intelligent beings that evolve within the Universe, it’s likely that the biological-technological phase — the phase we’re in — is transient (Davies, 2010): estimates for the lifetime of a technological civilisation range from as low as a few thousand years to as high as a million or more. But, even at our own extremely young technological age — 100 years or so — cultural and technological evolution is already proceeding at a vastly greater pace than its biological Darwinian counterpart. According to cognitive scientist Susan Schneider (2015), once a civilisation creates the technology that could put them in touch with the cosmos, they are probably only a few hundred years from shifting their paradigm from biology to some kind of artificial intelligence, at which point they might well be transparent to any of our standard attempts at communication: As McKenna liked to quip, “to search expectantly for a radio signal from an extraterrestrial source is probably as culture-bound a presumption as to search the galaxy for a good Italian restaurant.” All things considered, the balance of probabilities suggests we most likely live in a largely post-biological Universe, “one in which the majority of intelligent life has evolved beyond flesh and blood intelligence” (Dick, 2003), and it’s a challenge to even imagine what that might look like, let alone work out how we might find and communicate with it.
Although it’s certainly something of a humbling experience to realise that the majority of intelligent life within our own Universe is likely to be beyond our comprehension, there’s little to bolster our meat-embedded egos in considering other universes: there’s no reason why our Universe couldn’t be one amongst countless others and we have no way of knowing the types of intelligences that might, or might not, emerge within them. In fact, not only do we not know anything of their nature, but it seems we also have no means of learning anything of their nature and, as such, they must surely remain squarely within the realms of wild speculation. But perhaps we shouldn’t dismiss them so hastily in this way.
MIT computer scientist Ed Fredkin, one of the fathers of digital physics, cautions us against assuming that the restrictions imposed by the Laws of Physics that reign in this Universe have any bearing on events, processes, or emergent living intelligences in places outside of it, which he simply calls Other (Fredkin, 2003). Of course, it’s a huge leap from such level-headed agnosticism to any kind of assertion regarding the nature — or even the existence — of intelligence beyond our little slice of reality. But, the crucial point is that the physical laws as they manifest in our Universe might be wholly irrelevant when considering the Other. As such, it would be extremely naive and “Universe-centric” to assume that interdimensional intelligences would be unable to somehow access or provide a gateway into their reality, whether they be post-biological beings that have left our material Universe or intelligences that emerged entirely outside of it. We can’t assume, for example, that an extremely advanced post-biological civilisation couldn’t have discovered a means of exiting our Universe entirely to a realm where the physics are incomparable. Or, it’s also conceivable that there might be life extant in other parallel realities (alternate universes) that are entirely unimaginable in their form to us, but which, for reasons yet to be understood, can be accessed using certain technologies (such as DMT). Which is more likely is difficult to say but, according to astrobiologist Stephen J. Dick, “the maintenance, improvement, and perpetuation of knowledge and intelligence is the central driving force of cultural evolution, and to the extent that intelligence can be improved, it will be improved”(Dick, 2003). In other words, knowledge is power, and if we meet post-biological beings that seem to have transcended the material realm we currently occupy, we might expect them to be extraordinarily intelligent. In fact, one could argue that the immense levels of intelligence manifested by beings so often met in the DMT space, together with the curiously hypertechnological environments they tend to inhabit, is evidence of a vast period of technological evolution and perhaps indicative of beings that were once part of our Universe but have long since made their escape into the Other. And, perhaps, DMT is an embedded technology that might allow us, one day, to follow. Since we currently have no understanding of the physics of the “DMT world”, nor of its relationship to our reality — Fredkin’s Agnostic Principle — any objection by appealing to the Laws of Physics in this Universe might well be moot.
Of course, all of this is highly speculative stuff, but there is a serious point to be made here: when you come face-to-face with astonishingly powerful and intelligent alien entities that seem — or claim — to hail from normally-hidden dimensions of reality, you must be very careful. Whether or not we can currently explain why DMT is able to grant an audience with such beings, it might be a good idea to shut up, to watch, and to listen. Because there’s a small, but very real, possibility that they’re exactly who they say they are.
Alien Information Theory — Part II: The Book
As a scientist and writer with a passion for psychoactive drugs, especially those of the psychedelic variety, I’ve spent most of my adult life so far thinking about how these molecules interact with the brain to generate their remarkable effects on consciousness, and what these effects might tell us about the strange reality we find ourselves living in. Although, to a reasonably satisfying extent, this thinking often led to something approaching understanding, when confronted with DMT, my scientific mind was left reeling and utterly confounded. I simply could not explain it. There was nothing within the pages of the modern neuroscience literature that could have prepared me for DMT, and my first experience with this astonishing molecule triggered what I knew would be a lifelong dedication to its study.
Like many coming of age just as the internet was beginning to emerge, my introduction to the bizarre reality-switching effects of DMT came via the late great psychedelic bard, Terence McKenna, gleaned from the now (understandably) dated, but still extant, HTML pages of his Alchemical Garden at the Edge of Time, as well as transcripts of lecture fragments scattered across the sparse nodes of the early web — if you wanted to actually listen to Terence speak, you either had to attend one of his lectures in person or send off for cassette tapes by mail order. From these early teenage, mid 90s, forays in cyberspace to my research and writing in the present day, Terence’s ideas have remained a fertile source of inspiration. However, there was one oft-repeated McKenna-ism that resonated particularly strongly with me, uttered during a seemingly casual conversation about crop circles that was subsequently published online:
“The main thing to understand is that we are imprisoned in some kind of work of art.”
For some reason that wasn’t entirely clear (it still isn’t), when I first read this simple sentence, something about it shook me and left me shaking. Like one of the Grand Pronouncements from the Upanishads, it seemed to import some deep and profound truth about our reality — if only I could get at it and make sense of it. Why was this the “main thing” to understand? What kind of “work of art” was Terence referring to? And how could we possibly be imprisoned within it? Although exactly what Terence was trying to convey will always be up for discussion, it was clear that this sparkling scintilla of revelation was inspired by his experiences with DMT. And I couldn’t help but think that my attachment to it resulted, in part, from my own. Somewhere inside me, Terence’s Grand Pronouncement buried itself deep and now, many years later, from that seed, my latest book, Alien Information Theory, emerged.
In many ways, Alien Information Theory is admittedly something of a strange book. Although it is ostensibly the culmination of several years of careful research, speculation, thoughtful enquiry, and diligent labouring at a keyboard, as I flick through its colourful pages, I remain partly mystified as to where the book came from. Of course, I’m certainly not claiming any kind of divine inspiration or revealed truth about DMT (and I wouldn’t recommend trusting anyone that made such a claim). But, somehow, from a heady blend of the conscious, subconscious and, perhaps, a touch of the unconscious, a coherent narrative within which DMT plays a central role finally took shape. If, as Terence McKenna asserted, we are indeed imprisoned inside a work of art, the book’s narrative describes how such a work of art might have been constructed and, more importantly, how we might escape it.
If I was forced to say what kind of book it is, I might call it a textbook from the future. The scientific basis for all the ideas discussed, from the fundamental physics and emergence of complexity to the global dynamics of the human brain and the effects of psychedelic drugs, is as accurate as I can make it (and referenced throughout), with a few deliberate simplifications to aid understanding and avoid alienating the non-specialist reader, although I allow myself the indulgence of not hedging my ideas with provisos and caveats at every turn — I am perhaps more definitive in the way I treat certain ideas than some would feel is warranted. But, after all, the book is not intended as a work of scientific rhetoric — I am not trying to convince you that it is true. It is simply my vision of reality that has emerged after incubating an idea. As far as I am aware, it is a uniquely constructed vision, and I present it only as that.
Terence McKenna also said, “the world could be anything.” Well, perhaps, it is something like this.
Fredkin, E. (2003). An Introduction to Digital Philosophy. International Journal of Theoretical Physics, 42(2), 189-247.
Gallimore, A.R. (2013). Building Alien Worlds — The Neuropsychological and Evolutionary Implications of the Astonishing Psychoactive Effects of N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Journal of Scientific Exploration, 27(3), 455-503.
Davies, P. (2010). The Eerie Silence: Renewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, p.160.
Schneider, S. (2015). Alien minds. In S. Dick (Ed.), The Impact of Discovering Life beyond Earth, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 189-206.
Dick, S.J. (2003). Cultural Evolution, the Postbiological Universe, and SETI. International Journal of Astrobiology, 2, 65–74.
Excerpt from Alien Information Theory, Chapter 1
At the ground of our reality there is a code running. It is a code from which this Universe and countless others emerge and unfold with infinite variety of form. You emerged from this code, and within this code you are embedded, for you are built from this code. It is their code.
We are a species that huddles around wood fires and speaks to machines in code. Both human and humanoid, seemingly alone in our corner of the Universe, we have begun to resemble the alien societies of our imagination. Computerised machinery crystallises from the nexus of modern human civilisations, the cityscapes exuding blinking and glistening structures that appear inexorably disjoint from the natural world of forests, mountains, and rivers. Our digital world somehow feels alien, as if implanted by an intelligence from the stars. We are a species that sits uneasily at the edge of the galaxy, at once clutching tight to the breast of sweet Mother Earth and, at the same time, reaching with a trembling hand towards shimmering metallic discs humming quietly in the dusk sky.
As life emerges on Earth-like — or unlike — planets across the Universe, the evolutionary trajectory from prebiotic soup to wet-brained intelligent beings with galactic aspirations is meandering but, ultimately, predictable. Our Universe is a resplendent twinkling digital machine for culturing conscious intelligences or, in the words of Henri Bergson, for making gods. As such, all such beings that reach a certain level of advancement must eventually confront the fact that their own dusty planet is but one amongst countless others that multitudinous intelligent beings call home. Since the earliest days of civilisation, humans have gazed into the inky night sky punctured by the blinking lights of numberless alien suns and wondered who might be out there. Whilst the ancients placed the thrones of their myriad gods amongst the constellations, modern man replaces the deity with the alien, the throne with the spaceship. And it is the alien that we are drawn towards, the alien we seek: interplanetary vehicles and unmanned probes catapulted from intermediary orbits are the toys of a young intelligent civilisation with an eye towards galactic citizenship. As we transform into the alien, we begin to feel ourselves being drawn ineluctably towards the stars. So we speak to the alien, and we speak in code.
The exponentially unfolding transformation of humankind in the last century is a transformation written in computer code. Fundamentally, a code is a set of symbols and rules used to represent and transmit information. All creatures with some level of intelligence eventually discover techniques for the encoding of information. All of our ape relatives, from the bonobo to the chimpanzee, as well as lower animals, such as birds and insects, use codes of varying complexity to communicate. Whether it’s the shrill warning cry of a vervet monkey or the intricate pattern of chemical signals secreted by social insects, these codes are unified as means of representing and transmitting information. In the form of the natural languages, it is humans that have developed the most sophisticated and flexible expression of code, allowing us not only to communicate information important to our survival, but also to encode and transmit our thoughts, our ideas, our experiences, our dreams. But, although the development of the natural languages was undoubtedly catalytic in the original separation of humans from other Earthly species, it is the constructed languages of mathematics and, most recently, of computer code, that have been transcendentally transformative, rendering us all but unrecognisable as creatures of the natural world. A digital lycanthropy mounted on silicon and light, we have become the alien we seek, re-encoding our dreams of starlight into binary form and uploading from our brains to the central processing units of ever more sophisticated computer motherboards.
Machine code binary is the most fundamental, and simplest, of codes and, yet, from this string of ones and zeros the most exquisitely complex information can be constructed and transmitted. Entire worlds may be built, and their encoding fired across the Universe with ease. Communion between humans and distant alien species doesn’t depend upon interstellar travel, but only on the transmission of code. And, as we direct our pulses of electromagnetic radiation into the glistening night sky, we hope that one day, perhaps many millennia in the future, the messages encoded in these pulses will reach the brain of an alien intelligence. We hope that one day they will hear us and, perhaps, answer us. Of course, a binary missive from an intergalactic civilisation 25,000 years in the future is little more than a dream, and few engaged in such an enterprise expect to ever have to confront the alien towards which they cast their coded messages in light.
But the code is truly transformative, not because it facilitates intergalactic communication, but because it reveals a deeper secret. We seek the alien by turning our gaze upwards, by tuning our instruments to the trembling glows that pepper the dark Universe that surrounds us. But the alien intelligences we seek communion with are not only scattered throughout the cosmos on warm and wet worlds reassuringly far from our own muddy home, but right here, right now. And they are waiting. They’ve been waiting since the beginning. Speaking with, even meeting with, these intelligences depends not upon firing code into the starry heavens, nor upon silvery supra-lightspeed discs and anti-gravity propulsion technologies, but only upon returning our gaze inwards and realising that all of this is built from code. Our cities of lights buzzing on digital code are not an affront to the natural world, but a profoundly deep expression of it. Just as everything that appears on your computer screen emerges from the processing of binary code, so everything in this universe emerges from the Code at the ground of our reality. And it is their code. And all that separates each of us from these hyperdimensional alien intelligences of unimaginable and unreckonable power is a switch of this code. This switch takes the form of a small molecule scattered throughout our world, derived from one of the 21 amino acids used to build the proteins from which all Earthly life is constructed. Galactic citizenship is a noble ambition, but interdimensional citizenship is as close at hand.
My Website: www.buildingalienworlds.com