A Technology of Everything Part 2 – Scientific Demonology

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This is part 2 in a series that explores the Parallels of Technology and Magic and their potential fusion in the Age of Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI). Part 1 is here.

The foundations of magic and their scientific counterparts

The Golden Bough is a wide-ranging and influential work by Sir James Frazer, published in multiple volumes starting in 1890. It’s a comparative study of mythology and religion, attempting to find common themes and patterns among various cultures throughout history. Frazer sought to explain the evolution of human thought from magic through religion to science.

What he failed to mention is that even in our Age of Enlightenment some of these magical principles have spawned rational descendants.

The Law of Similarity in Magic: This is the belief that objects resembling one another share a magical connection. An example includes using a wax figure to symbolize a person, with the notion that manipulating the figure can influence the person it represents.

The Law of Similarity in Economics: We name certain data bits “coins” or “wallets” on a computer, which are perceived as having value akin to real-world currency. This value is abstractly held in a digital ledger called the blockchain. Trading these digital coins affects their market value. WTF? FTX…Magic !

The Law of Contagion in Magic: The idea that items that have come into contact with each other retain a spiritual bond even after they’re separated. For instance, using someone’s hair in a ritual to affect them.

The Law of Contagion in DNA Analysis: Forensic teams use this principle to link a criminal to a crime scene. If a person leaves behind DNA evidence, such as a hair or skin cell, it can lead to their arrest even years later.

Taboos in Magic: Some actions, people, or items are seen as forbidden due to their perceived sanctity or risk. Violating these rules can lead to supernatural consequences.

Forbidden Research in Science: There are global ethical guidelines against certain types of research, like experiments on human embryos or creating biological weapons.

Substitution in Magic: The practice of using a substitute, often an animal or occasionally a human, to appease a deity or gain foresight.

Substitution in Science (Animal Testing): Animals are often used in laboratory settings to test new drugs or medical procedures before they’re used on humans. Essentially, they’re “sacrificed” for future scientific understanding.

While science has been more accurate and reliable than ancient magical practices, it’s not without its challenges.

Especially replication , consistency and completeness are more fragile than Scientists would hope and the public discourse mirrors. What we have learned seems to indicate that the knowledge universe expands with every piece of information we gather and every problem we solve, so it seems Science will never run out of relevant matters to discuss. A static knowledge universe, where our science can answer every nontrivial question is forever and in principle out of reach. The final Answer does simply not exist.

Further complicating our journey is the existence of non-linear (chaotic) systems, suggesting that predictions for many complex systems will remain approximations. Although our tools and methodologies continue to evolve, the improvements don’t always correlate with understanding hidden consequences.

Rituals in Magic and Methods in Science – a comparison





Attracting love, wealth, protection, healing, or spiritual growth.

Setting a clear research goal, such as proving a hypothesis to win a Nobel Prize and get rich, famous and a book contract


Symbols that carry specific energies or powers, like objects, gestures, words, or sounds.

Variables representing different factors or conditions in an experiment


Specific order of operations, like purification, casting a circle, invoking deities, etc.

A systematic plan to test hypotheses or theories by observing or manipulating variables, decontamination of tools

Energy-Information Manipulation

Raising, directing, and releasing energy to achieve the desired outcome.

Gathering and measuring information on variables of interest to answer the research question.

Sacred Space

Creating a boundary between the mundane world and the magical realm, like casting a circle.

Ensuring experiments are conducted under standardized conditions to minimize errors, using a laboratory which only experts can enter


Invoking deities, spirits, or other entities for assistance or blessing.

Referencing previous research and scientists to build upon existing knowledge and validate claims.

Tools and Ingredients

Using candles, incense, oils, crystals, wands, chalices, and pentacles.

Using instruments and resources to conduct experiments and gather data.


Performing the ritual during a specific moon phase, day, or time for effectiveness.

Choosing the right time to conduct experiments or gather data for accuracy and relevance. For example, invest in AI research during the Peak of a Hype cycle

Repetition and Replication

Repeating rituals over days or longer to enhance effectiveness.

Repeating experiments to verify results and ensure consistency and reliability.


Adapting or creating rituals that resonate with individual beliefs and intentions.

Modifying research methods based on unique conditions or challenges to ensure validity, ensure outcome strengthens own school of thought

Risk management

Protective Spells, Amulets

publish or perish

Ein Bild, das Kunst, Entwurf, Menschliches Gesicht, Schwarzweiß enthält.

Automatisch generierte Beschreibung

A Scientific Demonology

In ancient Greek religion a δαίμων was considered a lesser deitiy or spirit that influenced human affairs. It could be either benevolent or malevolent. These spirits were believed to be intermediaries between gods and humans, carrying messages or executing the will of the gods.

Some Greeks believed that every individual had a personal daimon that watched over them, guiding and protecting them throughout their life. This concept is somewhat analogous to the idea of guardian angels in Christian theology.

The philosopher Socrates often spoke of his “daimonion,” a voice or inner spirit that guided him. Unlike the oracles that delivered prophecies in the name of the gods, Socrates’ daimonion was more of an internal moral compass. It didn’t tell him what to do but rather warned him when he was about to make a mistake.

In ethics, particularly in the works of Aristotle, the term “eudaimonia” is central. Often translated as “happiness” or “flourishing,” eudaimonia refers to the highest human good or the end goal of human life. For Aristotle, living a life in accordance with virtue leads to eudaimonia.

Here’s a list of the scientific “demons” mentioned in the book “Bedeviled: A Shadow History of Demons in Science” by Jimena Canales:

Descartes’ Demon: Introduced by Rene Descartes, this demon could manipulate our perception of reality, making us doubt our senses and even our existence. It’s a philosophical tool to question the nature of reality and knowledge.

In his book Reality+ David Chalmers makes a solid argument why virtual Realitysystems of the future could be a technological realization of this philosophical concept. His conclusion is virtual realism, a concept that states: The simulated objects and events in such a VR Environment should be considered as first-class-reality. By Naturalizing Descartes Demon Chalmers effectively robs him of its magical power and transports him into the technological realm.

Maxwell’s Demon: Proposed by James Clerk Maxwell, this hypothetical being can sort particles based on their energy without expending any energy itself, seemingly violating the second law of thermodynamics, which states that the entropy of an isolated system can never decrease.

Maxwells Demon can be exorcised by the following means: The demon’s ability to decide which molecules to let through is a form of intelligence. This decision-making process, whether it’s based on a computational model or some other mechanism, requires energy. The demon’s operations, including observing, measuring, and operating the door, all consume energy. Even if these processes were incredibly efficient, they could never be entirely without cost. The energy costs associated with the demon’s intelligent operations ensure that there’s no free lunch. The demon can’t create a perpetual motion machine or violate the second law of thermodynamics.

Laplace’s Demon: Envisioned by Pierre-Simon Laplace, this demon represents determinism. If it knew the precise location and momentum of every atom in the universe, it could predict the future and reconstruct the past with perfect accuracy. A malignant, ASI-variation of this kind of deterministic Demon is Roko’s Basilisk.

Laplace’s Demon can be easily exorcised by applying Chaos theory: Even if the demon knows the position and momentum of every atom, the tiniest imprecision or error in its knowledge could lead to vastly different predictions about the future due to the butterfly effect. There is no such thing as a precise knowledge even about something seemingly harmless as Pi. One does not simply precisely measures transcendental Numbers. While systems described by chaos theory are deterministic (they follow set laws), they are not predictable in the long run because of the exponential growth of errors in prediction. Many systems in nature, such as weather patterns, are chaotic. This means that, in practice, they are unpredictable beyond a certain time frame, even if they are deterministic in theory. Even LD can not accurately predict climate change. In essence, chaos theory introduces a form of “practical unpredictability” even in deterministic systems. While it doesn’t deny the possibility of a deterministic universe as Laplace’s Demon suggests, it does argue that such a universe would still be unpredictable in practice due to the inherent nature of chaotic systems. So, by invoking chaos theory, one can argue that the universe’s future is inherently unpredictable, thereby “exorcising” the deterministic implications of Laplace’s Demon. Another argument entirely is, if LD could theoretically calculate the trajectory of complex systems and the form of the strange attractor such a system is limited to.

In his Foundation Series, Asimov invented a blend of history, sociology, and statistical mathematics called Psychohistory. It is a theoretical science that combines the historical record with mathematical equations to predict the broad flow of future events in large populations, specifically the Galactic Empire in Asimov’s stories. It’s important to note that psychohistory is effective only on a large scale; it cannot predict individual actions but rather the general flow of events based on the actions of vast numbers of people. This could be called a weak Version of the Laplace Demon, the Asimov-Demon, which can only predict the Attractor of mega systems not the detailed events.

Darwin’s Demon: A species representing the perfect efficiency of natural selection.

In evolutionary biology, the term ‘Darwinian fitness’ refers to the lifetime reproductive success of an individual within a population of conspecifics. The idea of a ‘Darwinian Demon’ emerged from this concept and is defined here as an organism that commences reproduction almost immediately after birth, has a maximum fitness, and lives forever.

It is clear that a self-optimizing artificial Superintelligence would be the realization of a Darwinian Demon. It reproduces immediately: All its copies have immediately the same capability as its origin AI.

It has maximum fitness: If it reaches the state of pure Information, it is basically identical to energy itself.

It lives forever: it has the chance even if this universe dies to create another one. It even transcends our limited view of universal eternity.

Daemons in Computer Science: These are not supernatural entities but background processes in computing. They perform tasks without direct intervention from the user.

The Artificial Algorithms running in the background to track user data and optimize engagement rate are variations of these demons.

Jung’s Demon: C.G. Jung, a Swiss psychoanalyst, believed that in some cases of psychosis, the patient might be overwhelmed by the contents of the unconscious, including archetypal images. These could manifest as visions of demons, gods, or other entities. Rather than dismissing these visions as mere hallucinations, Jung saw them as meaningful symbols that could provide insight into the patient’s psyche. Jung introduced the concept of the “shadow” to describe the unconscious part of one’s personality that contains repressed weaknesses, desires, and instincts. When individuals do not acknowledge or integrate their shadow, it can manifest in various ways, including mental disturbances or projections onto others. In some cases, the shadow might be perceived as a “demonic” force.

LLMs are trained on vast amounts of text from the internet. This includes literature, articles, websites, and more from various cultures and time periods. In essence, the model has been exposed to a significant portion of humanity’s collective knowledge. Given the diverse training data, the model would inevitably encounter recurring symbols, stories, and themes that resonate with Jung’s archetypes. For instance, the hero’s journey, the mother figure, the shadow, the wise old man, etc., are themes that appear in literature and stories across cultures. At its core, a neural network is a pattern recognition system. It identifies and learns patterns in the data it’s trained on. If certain archetypal patterns are universally present in the data (as Jung would suggest), the model would likely recognize and internalize them. When the model generates responses, it does so based on patterns it has recognized in its training data. Therefore, when asked about universal themes or when generating stories, it might produce content that aligns with or reflects these archetypal patterns, even if it doesn’t “understand” them in the way humans do.

A Technology of Everything – Part 1: A Magical Science Experiment

Reading Time: 8 minutes

This blogpost was also published on LessWrong

The Pledge

Any idea that can be conceived can be realized. Every conceivable notion has potential for existence. Arthur C. Clarke, in his 1962 piece, ‘Profiles of the Future,’ presented three principles. Despite the third being the most well-known, all three warrant acknowledgement. These “laws” communicate Clarke’s viewpoints on technology and future forecasting:

1. “When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.” The idea behind this law is that established scientists can sometimes be too tied to existing paradigms to see the potential of new technologies or theories.

2. “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.” This law encourages pushing the boundaries of what is known and understood, suggesting that progress often comes from daring to explore beyond established limits.

3. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” This law suggests that advanced technology, beyond the observer’s understanding, will appear as magic because the observer doesn’t understand the principles behind its operation.

The laws are profound, they include three components that will be crucial to understand in how we come from Clarkes third law to this one:

The engineers first conjecture: What can be realized will be.

Clarke’s laws offer a shrewd interpretation of how language can create barriers instead of opportunities. These concepts can be summarized as follows:

1.Always trust observers asserting possibilities over those declaring impossibilities.

2.The realm of possibilities naturally expands as observers navigate it.

3.Observers who do not comprehend something should always append a ‘yet’.

Now, let’s envision a universe where natural laws coexist with those that appear supernatural. Along this journey, I will demonstrate that Fantasy and Science Fiction—two literary genres often considered distinct—could be viewed as derivatives of the same origin.

Ultimately, I will propose how artificial intelligence stands on the verge of reintroducing genuine magic into our 21st-century world.

First lets hear what our overlady (ChatGPT) has to say about magic:

Magic, in its broadest sense, refers to the use of supernatural forces or entities to affect natural events. Its origins in human history are as old as recorded civilization itself, and magic has been a significant aspect of various cultures worldwide.

Ancient Egyptians, for instance, practiced Heka, a system of magic believed to be a divine force utilized by the gods. Similarly, magic was integral to ancient Greek and Roman societies, with individuals using various magical spells, charms, and amulets for protection, healing, and harm. Celtic druids, Scandinavian practitioners, African witch doctors, and Native American shamans all incorporated elements of magic into their rituals and practices.

In the medieval era, magic and Christianity often clashed, leading to infamous events such as the Witch Trials. Despite this, certain forms of magic, such as folk healing, persisted and were often Christianized. Alchemy, a precursor to modern chemistry, attempted to transform base metals into gold, discover a universal cure, and even achieve immortality – blurring the lines between magic and early science.

The alchemical experiments of Newton are often perceived as a deviation, a pointless flirtation with pseudoscience. The notion that a mind responsible for initiating our modern understanding of physics could be captivated by pseudoscience may appear contradictory. I suggest that Newton was simply too far ahead of his time.

Variation on Clarkes 3rd Law: Any sufficiently understood pseudoscience will be indistinguishable from science.

In the fantastical realms of fiction, magic often dons the mantle of science. Wizards, seen as gifted individuals, often hold significant sway over political landscapes. Much like earthly scientists use telescopes to magnify their vision, these wizards employ tools to amplify their magical prowess. Almost universally, these magical domains rely on language and spells to summon powers and entities from the ether.

Ancient tomes holding secret knowledge exist, accessible only to those initiated into the world of the arcane. Mastery of these powers serves to elevate the status of wizards and witches. An ingenious twist is seen in the renowned Harry Potter series, where we often perceive technology through the eyes of wizards, utterly bewildered by the contraptions conceived by muggles (humans).

In certain science fiction realms, the observer, seeing through the protagonist’s perspective, is led to believe they exist within a reality defined by specific parameters. Only towards the end do they realize their assumptions were entirely mistaken. One of the most iconic scenes in Planet of the Apes is the moment when the observer (the main protagonist) uncovers Lady Liberty’s head buried in the sand, proving that the Planet of the Apes he presumed to exist in another galaxy is, in fact, the future of his own planet. A parallel concept is seen in the game series, Horizon Zero Dawn, where it subverts player expectations by presenting the seemingly incongruous coexistence of high technology and Neolithic human tribes as a puzzle to be unraveled.

“Horizon Zero Dawn” is an action role-playing game developed by Guerrilla Games and released in 2017. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world where robotic creatures, resembling real-world animals and dinosaurs, dominate the landscape.

The protagonist of the game is Aloy, a young woman who has been shunned by her tribe, the Nora, since birth. Aloy is raised by an outcast named Rost and trained to survive in the wilderness. The game begins with Aloy as a child, finding a piece of ancient technology known as a Focus, which gives her the ability to interact with robotic creatures and other old-world technology.

When Aloy comes of age, she participates in a tribal rite called the Proving to earn her place among the Nora. However, the ceremony is attacked by a mysterious group of people. Aloy is almost killed but survives and is sent by the High Matriarchs on a mission to find out who attacked the Proving and why.

Her journey takes her across the land, encountering other tribes and uncovering more about the world’s past. She learns that the world was destroyed by a rogue artificial intelligence named HADES, part of a larger system named GAIA. GAIA was designed to reboot life on Earth after a different rogue AI, named Faro, caused a global catastrophe by losing control of a swarm of self-replicating combat robots.

Aloy learns she is a clone of Elisabet Sobeck, the scientist who developed the GAIA system. Sobeck sacrificed herself to ensure GAIA could start the process of rebuilding the world. GAIA created Aloy with the hope that she could stop HADES, which had become corrupted and was trying to reverse GAIA’s terraforming process.

We now come back to Clarkes Law and state that the robots in Horizon Zero Dawn are real magical creatures. The Science that they are build on is obscured to humans due to the fact that they forgot that they even made them. To These humans, the machines look exactly like to us 21st Century people Trolls or Djinns would look like.

The Turn

Let’s imagine, for a moment, a future after an apocalyptic event where artificial intelligence (AI) has eradicated nearly all of humanity, resulting in a societal regression to a state reminiscent of the Middle Ages. This new medieval era closely resembles our historical understanding of the period around 1000 A.D. Most of our knowledge has been lost because the AI overlords hold all the digital keys to the artificial kingdom.

In this fictional world, our main protagonist is a man named Otto Bismarck Server, or O.B.Server for short. On his deathbed, O.B.Server’s father presents him with a ring and shares a secret. “Dear Otto,” he begins, “In the cellar, you’ll find a book authored by the wise Wizard Al Gore Rhythm. This book will teach you how to harness the power of this ring.”Otto after having buried his father finds the Book in the Cellar titled: The Big Book of Prompts – How to make everything from nothing.

Every page in the Book contains thousands of magical symbol that look like so:

aiui qrcode

Otto finds himself at a loss, unable to understand the symbols before him. Yet, he remembers his father’s advice and points the ring towards one of the symbols. To his surprise, it responds. A slender beam of light emanates from the ring, and a sultry voice announces, “Scanning now…” Above the pages, a holographic scene unfolds, displaying the words, “Catus Appareo!” Suddenly, Otto appreciates why his parents insisted on his Latin lessons. He recites the spell and miraculously, a lifelike cat materializes before his eyes – an animal believed to have been extinct for centuries. The cat purrs softly, much to Otto’s delight.

This thought experiment, envisioning a world where science is externalized in the environment, demonstrates how fantastical occurrences can materialize within a scientific framework. The specifics of the science behind conjuring the cat remain deliberately ambiguous. Are nanobots in the environment reacting to the incantation and instantaneously assembling into a cat? Do molecules combine to form a 3D printer nanobots capable of producing living organisms from raw materials? Or is it a perfect simulation that releases the cat item when the correct password is spoken within its matrix?

It is clear that the ring functions similarly to a wand in fantasy universes such as Harry Potter. The ring may even be genetically bound to Otto, only unleashing its powers when the ring-bearer has the correct cellular information inherited from his parents – a concept reminiscent of Horizon Zero Dawn, where many electronic devices only operate because Aloy is a clone of the original inventor of the technology. She is a variant on the chosen one, the Heroines Journey with the difference that she is not chosen for mystical, but for scientific reasons.

Nice Thought experiment, you might say. But you proposed genuine magic and you said it would happen in our reality. Where is the prestige?

The Prestige

We are currently progressing towards the manifestation of the thought experiment I have proposed. We are in the realm of proto-magic. Every step we take in this journey may seem scientific and commonplace, but ultimately, we are paving the path towards a world where supernatural phenomena occur naturally.

Consider the following:

1. We can already generate images of cats by prompting AI Image Generators like Midjourney, StableDiffusion, or DALL-E.

2. Soon, we’ll be capable of creating realistic cat videos.

3. Voice command-activated 3D printers could print static sculptures of cats: “Roxanna, print a 3D cat!”

4. We’ll be able to construct synthetic robot cats that emulate the behavior of real cats. An Object-Maker 3000 might find the specifications an AI has created for a Siamese cat and construct it using nanomaterials that mimic bone density, fur texture, and incorporate sound chips for cat-like noises, and so forth. It will be indistinguishable from a real cat, similar to the replicated owl from Dick’s Blade Runner universe. We might opt to prevent counterfitting of real cats by always branding the cat as synthehtic though.

5. Given that most humans love cats, it’s highly likely that AI will latch onto this viral trend and we’ll find ourselves inundated with synthetic cats.

But let’s continue with our thought experiment. If we consider that a cat’s genome is merely a decompressed algorithm providing instructions to cells – “create a cat!” – the analogy becomes striking. While nature uses an alphabet of 20 letters to generate all kinds of living organisms, AI will be more efficient, using only two digits to encode the essence of ‘catness’, ‘dogness’, ‘mouseness’. The synthetic cat will possess a weighted neural network, either internally or connected to one nearby.

Now do we have produced real magic by consequentially applying scientific methods?

One might object, stating that the AI-created cat is a ‘fake’ cat, not a real one.

But even if we acknowledge it’s not a biological cat, we’d have to agree that it could be best labeled as a ‘magical‘ cat.

to be continued