Screenshot City of Heroes, approx. 2004

Randomly diving in the enormous archives of my Chaos Node, I think I found the first entry that outlined my belief in the Coming Change and the parallel to the arrival of the current mind. It was more than a year before the longer series in 2005. And it was in part based on an even older entry, but one that only contains the seeds of the idea, not yet sprouted. (There is a link to that entry too.)

A super future, if any (Idus Martiæ, 2004).

THIS is a summary??

Screenshot anime Date A Live

You probably have many questions, but I am terrible at explanations. And here I prove it once again.

I will try to summarize the thing I have been babbling about most of the month: The Human Operating System version 3.

The operating system on a computer decides what kind of programs it can run, and some are better than others in certain situations. In the same way, humans have a set of basic abilities that are necessary for us to use our brain in the normal way. This “operating system” is not something we are born with, but we acquire it very early in life. The most obvious part of it is language.

Humans like us existed for a long time – a hundred thousand years, perhaps much longer – using an earlier operating system, basically the same as the Neanderthals used. Their culture was focuses squarely on survival, and the tools were fire and the hand axe, which they made exactly the same way for tens of thousands of years. Invention was practically unknown. Any form of art or decoration was absent. And we believe language as we know it was not part of their abilities, although they had the physical ability to make any sounds we can make.

I call the stone axe survival culture “Human Operating System version 1”. It worked: These humans slowly spread all over Africa, and races with the same mindset (Neanderthals and Denisovans) roamed Eurasia in the depths of the last Ice Age.

As you may have noticed, humans are different now. This is because we have a new operating system, which we download when we are infants. We are able to talk, we are creative and imaginative, we cooperate on a larger scale and usually without the use of hand axes.

Outbreaks of the current mindset (Human Operating System version 2) appeared in the most densely populated areas of Africa, first briefly showing some limited aspect of culture, and finally with a broad range of features that seems to have spread like wildfire to all human populations.Those that did not change, went extinct quickly. While we have improved on this steadily, the basic abilities today are still the same.


I believe that a great transition is going to happen again, and humanity will once again get a new operating system that is suited to the large number and the power we now wield on Earth. The new operating system will allow us to cooperate much more seamlessly, to use our resources much more efficiently, and to understand our world much more deeply.

And like there were outbreaks of version 2 before it spread everywhere, so I also believe there have been “beta tests” or early deployments of version 3. I believe ancient legends, and the world’s great religions and philosophies, are the memories of individuals and small groups who had this new operating system, this new way of thinking and feeling and relating to everything.

We need to bear in mind that in the form we know these legends, they have been transmitted to us by people like us, who have the version 2 mindset. As such, we tend to “translate” the thoughts of the higher minds into the familiar patterns of our own mind. This is similar to how you translate a globe into a map, and when the globe is lost, you think the map is the real thing, and that the world has four corners and edges from which you will fall off. But when you start to explore the world, you will realize that the map was a projection of a globe all along.

I believe that those with the Human Operating System version 3 also had access to one more dimension of the mind, the fifth dimension. We humans cannot directly sense time: We can only experience moment by moment with our senses. But in our minds, we reconstruct the dimension of time. We are not born like that, it is an ability that gradually becomes solid during our early childhood, and is improved on for a long time. In a similar way, the New Mind has the ability to mentally intuit the fifth dimension, a second time dimension at right angles to the first.

Just as the current Human Operating System version 2 brought amazing, almost miraculous abilities that were not present in version 1, so also version 3. This does not necessarily mean that every miracle reported in every religious tradition of the world is literally true, of course. But something about these people made it perfectly natural for others to expect them to be able to do pretty much anything. So it seems likely that they did show abilities not known before. It may even be that some of our modern technologies are inspired by those stores, and are in effect a kind of “copy”, similar to how the Neanderthals made imperfect but still usable copies of some Cro-Magnon tools just before they died out.


I believe the most important trait of the Human Operating System version 3 is openness, or unity as it is more commonly called. Under version 2 we have a lot of walls inside, that divide us into rooms, where different aspects of ourselves hide out and work each toward different goals, sometimes sabotaging each other outright. This can seem useful in the short run, as we can get material benefits by being different people in different situations. In particular, it helps boost reproductive success, especially in men, so it is natural that this trait has persisted so long. But getting rid of those walls frees up a lot of energy, and ending the internal squabbling gives a great strength to accomplish what a divided self could not.

Next is overcoming the walls between ourselves and others. This is rather hard to achieve when we have walls internally in ourselves, and this is why this should be a priority: Before all else, to avoid self-deception.

From time to time there are people who – randomly or after seeking it for years – experience a wordless unity with everyone and everything. They perceive the whole world, the known cosmos and beyond, as a single connected unity of which they are a small part. This changes everything… or so they think. But despite their experience of no-self, or no-distinction, after a passing of time the outside observer will notice that they again manifest egoic traits. The New Mind is not “fire and forget” – it is something that must be worked on, expanded, lived and cultivated. You may think you now have a Buddha mind, but you don’t really have any Buddha accomplishments. People don’t feel a Buddha compassion radiating from you, or sense a Buddha purity of mind. The experience of Enlightenment or Liberation is actually just a break-through into a new and larger open field, into which you will grow for the duration of your lifetime at the very least.


I have rambled about this for weeks, and it could be that some of it is just science fiction. The part about the fifth dimension will certainly seem like that. Science cannot even say for sure whether the fourth dimension, time, exists objectively or only in our minds. But the concept is certainly useful. For instance, when I bake a cake, the logical observer will be right to point out that the cake only exists in my head. I imagine a future in which there will be cake, somewhere ahead of me in the mental dimension of time. But the cake does not exist, so the skeptic is right. And imagining it will not make it magically appear. But this imagination allows me to work toward the goal of bringing a cake from the unseen and private “future” of the fourth dimension, into the 3-dimensional now where the cake is edible and delicious.

If you talk to a toddler, skepticism toward the fourth dimension is rampant: “Chocolate later” is almost indistinguishable from “chocolate never”. This is strikingly similar to how adults perceive eternity. “In eternity” means “pie in the sky when you die”, to them. They are not yet aware of eternity as a dimension that exists here and now, a dimension they will be able to intuit as clearly as if they actually perceived it, just like they have come to do with time.

The benefit of having more dimensions in your mind is that your model of the world becomes more realistic. To the toddler, the cake appears in mysterious ways. There was no cake, there may have been mention of cake, the Parent does something and cake appears! And it was good. The toddler may then implore the Parent for more cake, over and over and over again, and eventually more cake appears, so it seems that words do have power to cause cake, when directed at the proper target, often enough and with enough emotional intensity. But sometimes the cake does not appear as expected. Life is full of disappointments! But during this process, the child gradually begins to get an idea of TIME and how it works, and eventually the mental model snaps into place. The child has become One Of Us.


Since the wisdom of the current age is to show “newest first”, I shall finally post links to each entry in turn, so as to make it easier to read the ramblings in the almost random order in which they were rambled. Just press Back in your browser to get back here if you actually read any of them.

Human Operating System 3.0

The end of this world

Beta-testing eternity

Caution: Religion!

Surpassing fate while alive

Downloading eternity


The Harbingers

The Open Field

Here to help you – sort of

That said, I still suspect I said it better the first time, during the week-long series starting June 18, 2005:

The Next Big Thing

Downloading eternity

Screenshot anime The Laws of Eternity

Ignoring the text for now, this artist’s image of the Sixth Dimension may symbolize the intricate web of Light and more and less Enlightened souls across the fourth and fifth dimension, the first two time dimensions.

This is part of a series about the Human Operating System version 3, which is slated to replace the current mindset (version 2) much like this again replaced that of our speechless, handaxe-wielding ancestors of 100 000 years ago. Or perhaps not. Think for yourself. It is just a thought experiment, remember.

According to Buddhist tradition, there are three main types of Buddhas: A Buddha who becomes fully enlightened on his own but does not teach others; a Buddha who becomes fully enlightened on his own and teaches others; and a Buddha who becomes fully enlightened after being guided by a previous Buddha. (For more details, Wikipedia has an article on Buddhahood.)

It is not uncommon for a superior mind to have disciples, apprentices, students, sincere followers seeking to obtain the same mind as the Master. Indeed, to establish a great and lasting tradition, this may be essential. But an apprentice is not over his master; if he is perfected, he becomes like the master. This rarely happens to a lot of people for a long time. The tradition starts to falter, losing depth as it grows in numbers. At some point, it becomes a doctrine acceptable to the normal mind.

We have to understand that it is possible to be elevated beyond the usual measure of Human Operating System version 2, and yet be incomplete, partial, in terms of the next level. If there is someone more complete than you, they can guide you, but otherwise you may even miss some of it.

There are those who have an exceptional experience of Enlightenment and change radically. But because they think this is final, this is perfection, this is being “god”, they do not continue to grow, and eventually may trip in the fragments of the old self and fall down. It is not such an easy switch to flip.

Living as an apprentice of someone who is stabilized in H.O.S. version 3 is an extraordinary opportunity. You do not simply get to listen to their teachings, you get to observe them in their daily life, and this is the truly amazing and overwhelming part. To see with your own eyes is an exceptional privilege, and yet for many this is not enough. There must also be a resonance inside.

When there is no such Great Teacher around, but you do have the resonance, the words of the past Masters can still move you, and the stories by those who saw them. It is not a knowledge like memorizing vocabulary or formulas, but more is by nature the knowing of a person, even though that person is long gone from this world.

I mentioned that there is a fifth dimension involved, a second time dimension to be more exact. Through learning about those who went before, and the awakening of a resonance inside yourself, this connection is established. Even if you do not see them, they still see you. In their age and time, they not only “saw” into the past, but also into the future. The link between you and them is mostly of their making, or rather made by That which they incarnate; but there must be a seed, an opening, a hook.

I have used the analogy of the file sharing network BitTorrent. When a file is shared on such a network (for instance a new release of Ubuntu Linux, to take a common example) there must at first be someone who has the whole package. Various people around the world then begin to download, but they don’t all download the same part at the same time. Each downloads many small parts. Once they have done so, they can also upload that part to someone else, but of course they cannot share what they do not have themselves. After a while, the original can stop “seeding” (as it is called) and yet, even though nobody has 100% at the time, they can gradually re-assemble the whole by getting the missing parts from each other.

This is of course not a perfect description of a Tradition, but it is one aspect of it. Even if the Master is no longer present, it is possible to download more than anyone around you, and at least in theory it is possible to regain the fullness of that which has left the world.

As you can see, I believe there is both a “natural” part to this (understandable by someone with a purely Version 2 mind) and a “supernatural” part (which can only be understood by the new mind – I do not mean literally supernatural necessarily, because nature is far more super than most people know.)

You can assemble a certain amount of Version 2 knowledge by hearing, reading and thinking. But to absorb the Version 3 Knowledge (with a capital K), we need to spend time in timelessness – meditation or some other suitable spiritual practice, as it is called. I cannot think of any way in which one can become sensitive to the fifth dimension without such practice.

Once you have begun to sense the fifth dimension, it requires less to maintain that sensitivity than it took to reach it in the first place, but it can be gradually dulled.

Again, if you are familiar with a religion, and you want to explore the Human Operating System version 3, I am not sure you should do so within your own religion. It could destroy your simple faith at a time when you have nothing else to support you.  Of course, if you have already lost your simple faith and now hate that religion with a searing hate, you will definitely not gain anything from it. So I think sometimes it may be useful to explore a different tradition. But also risky, and perhaps best suited for the agnostic.

That is, if you even want to go this path. I am not sure why you would do that. The price is unimaginably high. There is a period during your Awakening when you can still return to the Dream, but it will not last forever.

Beta-testing eternity

The Buddha, from anime The Golden Laws

In the West, Buddhism is known as an agnostic philosophy. But in Asia, millions worship the Buddha as a savior or something similar to a god – seemingly in spite of his best attempts to dissuade them.

In software development, and important phase is the one we call “beta-testing”. After we have tried to code the software correctly, and tested it in-house, outsiders are allowed to test it in a real-life environment. It is not yet ready for final release, but it is very similar to the final version, if all goes as expected.

We saw that something similar seemed to happen with the modern human mind, version 2. There were scattered outbreaks of it here and there over a period of a few tens of thousands of years, where you could see some of the features of the modern mind. But then one day the finished version was rolled out, and in the blink of an eye (at least geologically speaking) everyone adapted the new operating system of the brain, or died out.

If, as I think, we are approaching the final release of Human Operating System version 3, it stands to reason that it has been tested in the field for quite a while already. But what is it? What could it be that makes all things new?

To get an idea of the scale of the change, I want us to think about the difference that the previous major upgrade made. By all accounts, our ancestors 100 000 years ago looked like us (probably dark-skinned since they lived in Africa) and had the same basic instincts as us. But their behavior and thinking (if we can call it that) lacked many of the elements that we now consider essentially human. They seem to have had no learned language, no art, no imagination. Their ability to plan ahead seems to have been quite limited, although there was some. They created stone handaxes ahead of time, after all. But problems that could not be solved with a handaxe were generally just avoided.

The new mind must have seemed like a miracle to those of the old mind, except they had no concept of miracle or the supernatural. But suddenly there appeared people who could communicate with a language of thousands of words, even in the dark and through walls. Their mind was also able to travel in time, making detailed accounts of the past and plans for the future. They were able to create a wide and ever growing range of new and better tools. The amount of change that could take a hundred thousand or even a million years, could now happen in one generation. The magnitude of the change is enormous.

I expect this to happen again. The New Mind is going to be miraculous, able to do things that seem utterly impossible to the old mind. Not just impossible, but unthinkable. Things that are beyond the concepts of the old mind. It is not just that you won’t believe them if told, but there is no way of telling you. You don’t have the holes in which to put this knowledge. In order to have the New Mind explained to you in any way that makes sense in the least, you first need to have the New Mind itself, at least in part.

Human Operating System version 2 added a new dimension, the dimension of Time. Our ancestors, despite their big brains, seem to have had very little understanding of time, since there was no language in which to think about it. Certainly they could remember something from the past when they saw it, and repeat successful actions from the past, and make simple tools before they needed them. But they seem not to have had an understanding of what time was, or the ability to use it to the fullest. We do this from childhood onward as a matter of course. We travel almost too much in time, dwelling on the past or the future or even alternate versions of these. We live in the fourth dimension like fish in water, so to speak.

The New Mind then might have another dimension added, a fifth dimension that we are vaguely aware of now, at least some of us, but are unable to use at will. As it happens, such a fifth dimension is mentioned in esoteric texts. It can be called vertical time, as it is in a sense at right angles with the usual time dimension. Another word for it is eternity, but this word does not mean what you think it means. Because the untrained human mind cannot imagine a second time dimension, they have instead redefined the word to mean “an endless stretch of time”. Perhaps that is the original meaning in some languages even, but the way it is used in esoteric teaching is to refer to the Fifth Dimension.

Now, where can we find people who have beta-tested a dramatically new mind, a completely new approach to life, the universe and everything … people who as a result of this got the ability to perform miracles because they had a second time dimension added to their mind? I think the answer is pretty obvious. The founders of several of the world’s great religions and philosophies match exactly these criteria, and sometimes their students for a limited time. In the cases where enough of the original teachings were preserved in some form, mystics in the same tradition much later would sometimes develop some of the same abilities.

Specifically, if a second time dimension was involved, one of the miraculous abilities would probably relate to time in some way, for instance by having impossible knowledge about the past or the future. Let me give you one example.

At the briefest instant following creation all the matter of the universe was concentrated in a very small place, no larger than a grain of mustard. The matter at this time was very thin, so intangible, that it did not have real substance. It did have, however, a potential to gain substance and form and to become tangible matter. From the initial concentration of this intangible substance in its minute location, the substance expanded, expanding the universe as it did so. As the expansion progressed, a change in the substance occurred. This initially thin noncorporeal substance took on the tangible aspects of matter as we know it.

The Big Bang for dummies, complete with the rather important notions that the universe itself was expanding and that matter only appeared later in time, things that are still hard to grasp for high school students. It was definitely harder to grasp in the year 1270 when the Ramban died, the Jewish Rabbi who wrote that passage. How in the world could he write an up-to-date description of the Big Bang as we understand it in the 21st century, when he lived in an age where it was generally assumed that the world was less than 6000 years old and there were no more continents west of Spain?

I believe that, apart from any supernatural explanations, mystics are connected across time. This is actually the stance of the Orthodox Church (not affiliated) except they apply it only to the church. But they believe that the church when assembled for service is accompanied not only by the deceased saints, but also by those yet unborn. Obviously most churchgoers even in the Orthodox churches are mainly bench fillers. But to those few who have attained higher consciousness, the experience of co-existing with the past and future is surely more than just theory.

I happen to believe this also applies to mystics of other schools. I also happen to believe that these various schools and branches and mutually suspicious religions and philosophies will vanish with the coming Change. It is the primitive, ego-centered H.O.S. v.2 mind that wants to hoard the truth, like it wants to hoard everything else. An amusing example is found in Christianity, where Jesus’ disciples comes and tells him: “We saw some other guys doing miracles in your name! Tell them to stop it!” Never mind that people who have been suffering for a long time are being helped; it is more important that we maintain our monopoly on Jesus. Ours! Only ours! Not wanna share!

But sharing is at the heart of the New Mind. In fact, the heart is itself shared, its doors thrown recklessly open. But to serve all, you must first be free from all, and who is capable of this? Who can love without attachment, give without keeping a balance, achieve without pride? You can certainly try to copy the effects of the New Mind, and if you are smart and have a strong will, you can get a ways, like the Neanderthals copying the new tools of the Cro-Magnon before dying out.

Or you could download the New Mind now. But not exactly from the Internet.

The end of this world

Screenshot anime Yuyushiki

“It’s the end of the world!” Well, it is almost certainly the end of anime, tragic as that may seem to some of us.

It is a widespread belief that the world that we know will come to a sticky end. Today it is “global warming”, when I was a child it was “nuclear winter”. We simply don’t know what will do us in, but we feel that the current civilization is living on the edge of the abyss.

Since I write in English, my readers are probably vaguely aware of the Christian “apocalypse” (the Revelation of St John) which predicts a horrifying end to the current world, and the establishment of a new and vastly better. They may even remember that Judaism makes a similar claim (book of Daniel). They may have heard that the ancient Mayans likewise predicted a sudden end to the world, although recent research has found a calendar continuing after 2012, so that date may be off.

But you may not know that the old Norse religion of the Vikings also predicted a future destruction of this world (in Voluspa) and the birth of a new and innocent one. Even the Hindu religion predicts that the world will go to the dogs and start over fresh, although they believe this happens cyclically over immense eons of time; still, the end of the current age should not be that far away.

Perhaps this global agreement simply stems from the observation that young people are not living up to the standards of their parents and grandparents, as already the ancient Egyptians noticed. But in the cases I know the best (Christianity, Judaism and the Norse Asatru) the disaster was foretold by prophets.

Now there are always people going around claiming THE END IS NIGH! so that doesn’t say much.But these prophets were deemed credible by those who listened to them. They seemed otherwise sane or even more than sane: They would predict things that actually came to pass in the near future as well, or reveal secrets, or speak with such clarity and coherence and wide sweep of knowledge that people sensed that not just were these people sane, they had a supernatural wisdom. They were each someone their people looked up to. These were the men and women who foretold a dramatic end to the world.

I believe that mystics through the ages have told of the same event, but it is not actually a physical destruction. Rather, it is the destruction of the human mind as we know it, in the sudden emergence of the New Mind, the Human Operating System version 3, on a global scale.


In my previous entry, I pointed out that humans like us once had no culture, no language, no art and seemingly no imagination. Then, at a speed many times faster than biological evolution – so fast that it seems to have spread like a rapid contagion – they either converted to the current way of being human, or died out. Every single one of them. It was the end of their world. I believe it is going to happen again. Not just because the prophets of three continents (at least) have foretold it, but because it is our only hope.

When population density reached a critical level for the hand-axe people, a change happened in their way of thinking that made it possible for them to exist together. Through the new practice of talking, they were able to organize larger groups and more complex societies, with specialization. Their newfound creativity allowed them to use resources that were not available before. We have continued down that path, but no matter what branch of human endeavor you look at, change is happening faster and faster. We are headed for a singularity, as if the river of time has gone from a leisurely flood to foaming rapids and is heading for a waterfall. Or as if the water that was slowly warming is starting to bubble and will soon boil the frog that has adapted to the heat until now.

We no longer need prophets to tell us that the world we know will change beyond recognition. But most of us still don’t know what is going to end and what is going to begin. Like the ancient mystics, I believe that what must necessarily change is our mind, because the old mind cannot handle the world we are beginning to live in. We need to level up.

Why is this a disaster? Isn’t it a good thing if we rise to a higher level of consciousness? Yes, if you ask those who have actually experienced this as an individual, they will tell you that it was the best thing that ever happened to them, without a doubt. But they can also tell you of the fear and confusion they faced, of the total sacrificed they were called to make before entering into the new life. It is hard for almost everyone to give up everything they own. But to give up everything you ARE, this seems like death itself.

The old world will not be happy to just lie down and die. Despite our best preparations, I don’t think we can awaken the New Mind in everyone at the same time. And while at least the early users of Human Operating System version 3 will be able to understand those with H.O.S. v.2, this is not mutual. Watching every institution crumble, every tradition, every nation and power of the old order, they will not feel they have much to lose. They will find themselves in the spot of the Neanderthals, and not everyone will yield their world peacefully.

Add to this the destruction of the natural world which will have been wrought by mankind in the last stages of the current world order. We have already eradicated many species, with new ones following on a more or less daily basis. The climate is getting erratic. Rapid communications means terrifying diseases like Ebola or SARS can spread around the world in weeks, each of them capable of killing a majority of us. It seems that we have to either change or die. And the change, as I said, will seem only marginally less like the end of the world than would death.

The afore mentioned prophet Daniel has a description (based on a dream by someone else, strangely) which describes it better than I could:
While you were watching, a rock was cut out, but not by human hands. It struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and smashed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were all broken to pieces and became like chaff on a threshing floor in the summer. The wind swept them away without leaving a trace. But the rock that struck the statue became a huge mountain and filled the whole earth.

Daniel then explains that the huge statue was the civilization that descended from Babylon. At some point, an outside force of a completely different nature will hit and utterly demolish it, taking its place and growing even much larger.

There can certainly be different interpretations to what this means – the Jews thought it was the nation of Israel which would conquer and destroy the other nations, while various Christian churches have thought it referred to them or to the Return of Christ. Not saying anything against it – a good text should have several layers of meaning – but one understanding that actually makes a lot of sense is that it is the next version of the Human Operating System. For make no mistake: Just as the world of handaxes and simple instinctive language has passed utterly from Earth, so the world of cultures and nations will be forgotten once the next version of humanity becomes the norm.

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.


(Indeed, the reason why I wrote about this in the first place in 2005 was that my world seemed to be nearing its end. I had a temporary cancer diagnosis (was later rescinded) and the relevant hospital staff had summer vacation for a couple months, which would have been plenty of time for a fast-growing cancer to establish itself. So I listened to this Japanese song, The End of the World by Angela, where she says (in Japanese): People are bewildered that life must end, and time strikes them harshly. But even if this world ends today, I will still protect you. And I thought, if my world ends, how can I protect my friends through the time that will come? So I decided to write it down, even though it was still not quite clear to me.)

Here’s the song The End of The World on YouTube, as long as it lasts.

Human Operating System 3.0

Screenshot anime Kokoro Connect

“It felt like I was watching people from a different planet.” Our ancestors 100 000 years ago were so similar to us, if you managed to restrain them long enough to cut their hair and put clothes on them, they would blend in with the crowd. Yet they were utterly alien to us, and we to them, even though we were their children. It is about to happen again.

I wrote about this in summer 2005, and it may still be the most important thing I have written. But various things have happened since then, and I have decided to write about this again from the start.

There is a lot to be said about this topic. It changes everything. Things that seemed absurd will make sense if one “gets” this, and things that seems to make sense to ordinary people will seem absurd.

Although this topic has probably not been expressed this way by anyone else, the topic itself has been introduced into human history again and again in various forms, and is an important part of all the world’s high cultures.


I am talking about the upgrade of the human psyche, the software that runs on our brain. And not just the business applications, like learning a new language or another skill. Rather, I talk about the “human operating system”, the fundamental way in which we relate to the world, the way we think and feel about life, the universe and everything.

In the past, we did not have computers. Therefore we could not make this analogy. It is just an analogy, perhaps even a metaphor. The human brain is not a computer in the sense that we know them today, the blocks on our desks. But it has certain elements in common with them. There is a physical structure that serves as a basis for an information structure. The physical structure is the hardware, which corresponds to the brain. The information structure is the software, which corresponds to the psyche, or the mind and the subconscious. The most basic part of the software is the operating system. When you turn on a computer and use it, the operating system is active in the background and interprets every input, conveys every output. It decides the format in which information is stored and retrieved at the most basic level. We also have this in our psyche, but we do not have a name for it.


The “human operating system” has come in two main versions that we know of. The human brain has been largely unchanged in size and shape for something like 200 000 years. (It has shrunk just a little the past 10 000 years, or so I read.) But for most of the time, humans were Not Like Us. They had no culture, probably because they had no language. They made hand axes of stone, which they probably learned to make by watching. There was nearly no variation or improvement on these for several thousand generations. The Neanderthals, which parted ways with us about 600 000 years ago, made roughly similar axes.

Somewhere around 90 000 years ago, we start seeing some weird stuff happening here and there in Africa. Egg shells are collected on a string. Stone with a strong pigment has been scraped. Thousands of years later, elsewhere in Africa, fishing nets show up for a while, and elaborate bone tools. Elsewhere again, rare stone is freighted across long distances, implying some kind of long-distance barter. Somewhere between 65 000 and 40 000 years ago, it all suddenly seems to come together in an explosion of creativity. Cave art, sculptures, new tools and weapons that were both more efficient and elaborately decorated. Intricate ritual burial that speak of a spiritual tradition. While not as refined as later civilization, these tribes were fundamentally similar to us, compared to their ancestors who were utterly alien.

The change happened so suddenly and totally, it seems from our remote distance as if every human on Earth suddenly one day changed from the old version to the new, or else died. It probably did not literally happen that fast, but it happened faster than anyone has been able to track, and none of the old humans have survived even in the most remote parts of the world.

I refer to the stone hand-axe time as Human Operating System version 1, and the later use of speech, art and imagination as H.O.S. version 2. This is not controversial, although the naming is original. The controversial part is version 3, which I claim has been in beta for several thousand years, and is slated to replace the current mind as completely and irreversibly as the Ice Age revolution replaced the world of hand-axes and grunting.

The Human Operating System version 3 is basically what we now call Higher Consciousness. I believe certain people in our past have had this to a high degree. Those who saw them and listened to them realized that they were deeply different, but could not understand them. So they tried to emulate them and explain them using the tools of H.O.S. v 2, somewhat similar to how the last Neanderthals copied imperfectly some of the new inventions brought by their African cousins before they disappeared.

They may have been “beta testers” of a new mind that one day will utterly replace the old, like it happened once before, consigning to oblivion the old way of being human.

And there’s a mighty judgment coming … but I may be wrong.
You see, you hear these funny voices, in the Tower of Song.
-Leonard Cohen.

Flynn periods?

It is a hamster, and it is highly unlikely to have built the Great Pyramid.

Hopefully you know of the Flynn Effect. It is one of the more amazing facts in modern history, but not everyone is aware of it yet. And I can see how it may be hard to believe. But it is documented beyond reasonable doubt, or even unreasonable doubt. Unless there is a worldwide conspiracy that somehow overtakes even those who set out to disprove it, humans are getting rapidly more intelligent. Not just educated: The effect is greatest in forms of intelligence that are not specifically trained in school, and starts before school age. The speed of the increase varies from one part of the world to another, but they are all rising, and fast. The global average is about 3 IQ points per decade or 10 points per generation. That means that each generation is genius compared to their grandparents, basically. (Your grandparents may vary.)

The Flynn Effect has been going on for as long as there have been IQ tests, about a century in the first places that started. Now you may think the obvious answer is that people have become more adept at taking IQ tests, but it works equally well on children the first time they take such a test. And while there is an improvement in each individual with repeated tests, this is a fairly small improvement that is long since overrun and left in the dust by the collective progress of the Flynn Effect.

Yet if we try to prolong this effect into the deep past, madness ensues. We would then have to assume that the great cathedrals of Europe were built by people who could not tie their own shoelaces if their lives depended on it, and that Plato spoke to people with the mental capacity of chimpanzees at best. The Pyramids were presumably built by the intellectual equivalents of hamsters, and the Stonehenge perhaps by guppies. Something is definitely wrong with this picture.

Perhaps the progress began early in the 19th century? The period from 1850 to 1910 saw the invention of the pedal bicycle, the motorcar, the airplane, the telephone, the electric light and radio. While far more inventions have been made since then, most of the 20th century can be said to have been shaped by the inventions of the previous two generations, which were gradually deployed around the world and made more and more affordable. But if we go back to 1850, we find a world that is just plain alien, little more than the Middle Ages with added steam engine and telegraph. Not that these are small things, but still. Some kind of mental quickening seems to have happened around 1850 and accelerated to this day.

But the IQ scores of people in that age remain speculation. Perhaps the geniuses came first, and their example somehow triggered the great masses to begin ambling toward the heights. We shall probably never know for sure. Although it would help if we knew the cause of the Flynn Effect. We don’t. There are hypotheses, but none is an obvious winner.


But what if this is not the first time? Well, it probably is the first time we have a global Flynn Effect that is sustained for a century. Actually, this is the first era that we know of that has a global anything – globalization did not exist in the era of the longboat, not for lack of trying. But there is no reason why a sufficiently large local population could not experience its own Flynn Effect in the past, if some of the hypotheses are correct such as better food supply, or hybrid vigor from people breeding outside their local community, or a Zeitgeist – spirit of the times – that rewarded intellectual prowess. Several such possible triggers may have come together numerous times in human history.

Most people today tend to think that the ancients were stupid. Certainly people in the distant past did not have telescopes and computers, and the ordinary worker was not even literate. But there were pockets of intellect in many cultures at various times. China had several such, with an intellectual class poring over great libraries. Even ancient Sumer, one of the earliest civilizations, had large libraries ranging from myths to tax records. But harder to quantify are the oral traditions. Masterpieces such as the Iliad were composed and handed down entirely by mouth and ear before eventually being written down. The same holds for the great epics of India, or for that matter my Norse ancestors. Most of this tradition was probably never written down but faded away due to harsh times or competition from literature.

So what I mean is that there may have been pockets in time where people grew more and more intelligent for each generation for a hundred years, as has now happened here. Or for two hundred or even three hundred years. But if their Zeitgeist did not run toward technology, architecture or sculpture, we would be hard pressed to find any sign of it.  Some ancient religious texts are amazing in their clarity and depth, but were they the product of a single author or editor, or were they simply the crowning glory of a temporary religious or spiritual civilization that may have been far ahead of our times?

Some remnants from these times have made their way to our own. The benefits of proper meditation to the health of the individual and society, for instance, is something we have only recently begun to rediscover. And while the theory of acupuncture seems to be off in the far left field, the practice is surprisingly effective. Who knows how many other great inventions have existed, only to be swallowed in the mists of time?

We should not assume that our modern global civilization is possible because we are biologically more advanced, that our brains have evolved over the last centuries or millennia. There may be some traces of such evolution, according to some scientists, but by and large every tribe of humanity has enough brains for the modern world, no matter whether they have a long and distinguished history of civilization or just came out of the rain forest buck naked. So there is no reason to think that we have superior brains to those who lived 2000, 3000, or even 4000 years ago. All we have is the benefit of learning from their example. But there may be many things that once were known that have become unknown again in the meantime, as Dark Ages swallowed each civilization in turn.

I wonder, if our own civilization must fall, whether we can convey its splendor to those who may follow. Or will they simply see us as madmen, destroying our world, ruining nature’s beauty, building vast prisons of iron and concrete, and leaving behind twisted sculptures of metal and silicon of no conceivable use?

Universal genius

Yozora is not desperate to have friends, because she has books and an invisible friend. Clearly a case of genius! Also note how many thin books there are on the shelf behind her. That’s because they are written in kanji, a much more compact script than ours. Yes, all these things appear in today’s little essay.

“Universal genius” is a literal translation of the Norwegian word “universalgeni”, which is roughly equal to “polymath” in English, but easier to understand. It is actually based on a Latin phrase (“genius universalis”) and is also used in nearby languages.

A related term is “Renaissance man”, as the ideal at the time was a person who was thoroughly familiar with all the arts and sciences. The world had recently emerged from the Middle Ages and retrieved the knowledge of the Classical era of ancient Greece and Rome (with a little help from our Muslim friends, or sometimes enemies). At the same time the printing press had made knowledge easy to spread, and the era of great discoveries had expanded the world greatly. It was a time of opening of the human mind in space and time, leaving the cloistered garden of the previous era. It seemed that nothing would now be impossible. That turned out to be a bit optimistic, of course.

In our modern age, nobody can be an expert in all sciences. In fact, it is probably impossible to be an expert even in one science, such as history or physics or chemistry: They each cover so much ground that you can only have a moderate knowledge of each sub-field, and there will be many, many people who know more than you about the details.

Even so, some of us feel that a broad overview of human knowledge is important. Without it, we cannot easily – if at all – understand our own place in the world. There are those who don’t care: As long as they get paid and preferably enjoy their specialized work, it does not matter to them whether it is meaningful in a broader sense. But not all of us can be satisfied with this. We want to see the world as if from a much higher place, where it becomes obvious how all things are connected. Luckily this is still possible, but perhaps not common.

Universities were founded to give a universal education, as their name implies. I think it is fair to say that things have changed a bit since then, although there is still an element of this expansive role of higher education. Even a century ago, a “liberal education” did not mean being indoctrinated in leftist politics, but rather an education that was free from attachment, a study of knowledge for its own sake or for the sake of the student, rather than associated with a particular career. The original meaning of the “liberal arts” were those that were considered suitable for a free citizen. So universities would teach universal truths with the purpose of setting the student free, to make his own decisions and choose wisely how to contribute to society. (Your university may vary.)


Myself, I don’t even have a university education. I have two school years of college-level education, paid by my employer, and it was (unsurprisingly) mainly about economy and law, not philosophy. I have read randomly about the sciences from my early childhood, but did not really think hard about First Principles until middle age. Still, already for many years I have seen the sciences as a vast dome, where there are no lines (much less walls) between each science and its neighbors. For instance, astronomy seamlessly changes into cosmology as the scale of things increases. But cosmology is not the end of the world (except in the most literal sense). It wraps around to quantum physics, which again is fundamental to chemistry, which again cannot be separated from biology and medicine…

I don’t see many people who are even officially interested in seeing the world like this, as an organic unity. It is not something I have striven to achieve, cutting out parts that did not fit in or adding controversial fillers. It is a natural result from grazing all over the place since I was little. My father has a similar attitude, I think, but he grew up in an age where knowledge was hard to come by. So did I, for that matter, but not for as long. Today, the place where I had to dig wells for information is so flooded with it that people are striving not to drown. Information overload.


As I said, it is probably not possible to be a universal genius today, but one who still tries is your would-be god and savior from Venus, Ryuho Okawa. Those extraterrestrial and religious aspects may be somewhat creepy, but you can’t go wrong with reading 1000 books a year. Of course, I can’t prove he actually does that, but it certainly looks like he has an extremely wide-ranging knowledge. And it just may be possible in Japan, because Japanese books are mainly written with kanji, signs that represent a basic concept.

There are a bit over 1000 kanji in modern Japanese books and newspapers; most words consist of two kanji, some common words of only one. For grammatical particles and words that lack modern kanji, Japanese use hiragana, a syllabic script (each letter is one syllable rather than one sound). This makes for extremely compact books compared to English, and particularly well suited for speed reading.

When we speed read, we don’t look at the individual letters but use the brain’s amazing pattern matching ability to recognize words or even groups of words by their shape. Expremients have shown that we reogcnize words, epseically long words, mainly by their first and last letter and the length of the word. (Teachers are probably an exception to this as they are conditioned to become very agitated if every letter is not in the right place.)

Japanese, and Chinese even more, skips the whole letter phase and teaches the shapes of the concepts that are the building block of the language. As such, once you know all the signs so well that you don’t have to stop and think, you can read these languages at a ferocious speed. The more you read, the better you get. So 1000 books a year is definitely doable.

For the same reason, I believe that the West will inevitably fall behind in the information age. China, Japan and Korea will dominate the world unless they manage to get themselves into yet another war with each other. It is too late for us to change to a pictographic language now, and we also lack the culture of reverence for learning. We had some of that, but not to the same extent, and it seems to be fading now. Japanese children do as much homework in a day as American children do in a week, according to The Economist. Here in Norway it has been proposed to abolish homework entirely.

To return to what may be the world’s strangest man, Ryuho Okawa, you can (and almost certainly will) be wary of his claims to be a god from outer space and able to summon the spirits of everyone who has ever lived on Earth (and probably Venus as well). But anyone who has written 800 books and reads 1000 books a year is definitely a genius, and probably the closest we come to a “universal genius” these days. Although the words of Aristotle come unbidden to mind: “No great genius has ever existed without a touch of madness.”

It may be that the price of being a universal genius is a touch of universal madness. That would be a high price indeed. Of course, madness may be partly at least in the eye of the beholder. According to the Gospel, Jesus’ family thought he had lost his mind when he was out preaching. I have acquaintances even today who hold the same view on him. And while I am just barely extraordinary myself, I would not be surprised if people are already getting suspicious. Not least after an entry like this. ^_^


Tech levels and gender roles

Women warriors in plate male, from the game Skyrim. I’ve seen less realistic things. But also more.

In the current era, gender roles are a lot more loose than they used to be. The career choices, for instance, are actually choices. Female soldiers may have a tough time getting along with their male comrades (this varies a bit from country to country) but there are still a bunch of them. More and more doctors are women, although the number of male nurses have not risen to the same degree. And while most carpenters are still men, this is now largely a personal choice: You won’t become an outcast if you take an unusual job, at least if you are a woman.

When kids these days play sword and sorcery type role playing games, they are as likely to run into a female warrior or thief as a male, even though the setting of the game is “medieval”, and in the actual Middle Ages this was extremely rare. Is it simply a projection of our modern ways of thinking into the past? Why didn’t women become soldiers and adventurers in the Middle Ages?

If you think it was because of the particular religion in the Middle Ages, you are way off. The religion may have made up a cultural framework for the era, but all religions had to adapt to the real world to some degree. And in the real world, women needed to have children, lots and lots of children, to even keep the population steady.

The era of rapid population growth started only a couple centuries ago. Part of this was progress in agriculture, of course. But if starvation was what limited population size, it would have made perfect sense to have female soldiers. That way, in the unfortunate case that they fell in battle, there would be no children of them henceforth and fewer mouths to feed.

But in the real Middle Ages, and before and later as well, there were other factors that checked the population growth. One was war itself, of course. From time to time, a king would decide to invade a neighboring country which he thought he had some claim to, and armies rode off (or marched off, in the case of peasants) to do battle. While there were no weapons of mass destruction at the time, battles were quite savage. Many died on the battlefield, and others died afterwards from the wounds. (Even minor wounds were often fatal because of infections.) Thus, in order to have enough warriors at all times, it was necessary for the women to stay at home and give birth to more boys. A woman would generally be much less useful than a man on the battlefield, due to the difference in size and muscle, but if she stayed at home she could give birth to several boys who would grow up to strong warriors in the wars of the next generation.

Basically, if there were any societies that sent their women to do battle, these societies were conquered and replaced by those who did not.

In addition to death by sword, there was also death by plague. From the High Middle Ages onward, bubonic plague was a recurring scythe over Europe. Other horrors like typhoid fever and diphtheria ravaged the land later, and not least smallpox. “A pox on your house” was a curse that was quite likely to come true. While starvation made all these worse, even the well fed could not stand up to the Great Plagues. It was not uncommon in a village for farms to be empty as everyone in the house had died, or only a child or two remained to be taken in by relatives elsewhere. So if you had more than your fair share of kids, there was a decent chance that they could take over someone else’s farm, or smithy, or fishing boat. Usually a relative, of course, but for a while after the Black Death there was land enough for pretty much anyone who could work it.

With germ theory and improved hygiene, death by plague began to dwindle. While it is still a threat, we don’t think much about it right now. Maybe a new super-plague will wipe out most of the human population, in which case I suspect gender roles will begin to revert to their earlier form. I am not eager to see that hypothesis tested in practice, though.


 If you are planning to write a fantasy novel, or for that matter a science fiction novel, you should keep the above in mind. Basically the question is: Your population, is it limited by free will? By starvation? By plague? By war? Alien abductions? Infertility viruses? Any combination of the above?

The first of these – contraception and starvation – encourage sexual equality, as this brings population growth down. Any other limiting factors will encourage women to stay home and give birth to babies and raise them.

If food supply is the limiting factor but only temporarily, there may be other ways for society to bring down birth rates, such as women becoming nuns in large numbers. A more drastic solution is to kill female babies, to ensure that most children who grow up are warriors who can expand our lands.

So you see, if you want to have lots of chicks in chain mail, you need to do your worldbuilding right. Or you could target a stupid audience, I suppose.



Christmas Evolution

"There should not be a barrier between Buddhists and Christians"

“There should not be a barrier between Buddhists and Christians” says the Buddhist monk in a Santa Claus costume. Christmas has become a widely celebrated holiday in Japan, among other places,  far from its snowy home in Bethlehem… wait…

Here in Norway, Christmas Eve is the high point of the Yule holiday. Around 5 o’clock, more precisely, though it may perhaps be later now that both adults and children stay up longer in the evenings. But it used to be 5 PM, if my memory serves. Church bells would ring, Christmas songs would be played on the radio, and families would gather around the Christmas Tree. A long evening of heavy food, gifts (usually already placed under the tree) and sugary treats would follow.

(A large number of Norwegians also celebrate Christmas as if it was not about the miracle in Bethlehem but rather the miracle in Cana, where Jesus turned water to wine. My family never took part in any alcoholic celebration, and I personally am not influenced by alcohol on a personality level, only in a purely physical sense.)

Living alone, I don’t celebrate Christmas in any outward way, although I enjoy classic Christmas songs all through the month and more frequently turn my thought to the mystery of the Incarnation.

I have a running joke about Christmas Eve, going like this: “Why is everyone talking about Christmas Eve? What about Christmas Adam?” Of course, arguably Jesus Christ is the “Christmas Adam”, as the Bible says elsewhere, “The first Adam became a living soul; the second Adam became a lifegiving spirit.”

This year, however, the voices in my head had a little fun. I hope it is not too blasphemous.

“Why is everyone talking about Christmas Eve?”
“It is short for Evolution. Like in Adam and Evolution. That sounds too long, you have already forgotten Adam when you come to the end. So people use the nickname, Eve.”

(At the time of writing, I was unaware that generations ago, the story of Adam and Eve was in fact performed as a prelude to Christmas, and presumably is one of the roots, as it were, of the Christmas tree. Whoa.)

Christmas certainly has evolved! The first centuries of Christian history has no sign of celebration of Jesus’ birthday. Although the relevant parts of the gospel were in place already in the earliest known manuscripts, nobody made an attempt to celebrate it or even set a date until the Age of Martyrs came to an end. When Christianity was accepted by the Roman emperors, Jesus’ birthday was quietly aligned with the celebration of Sol Invictus. Christianity has after that gradually absorbed various pagan Solstice rituals, and this evolution has continued into my own lifetime.

The Christmas tree appears as late as the 15th century, and did not become widespread until a century later. Christmas trees in homes appear a couple hundred years ago.

Santa Claus is named for the bishop Nicholas of Myra, who was famous for his timely gifts. However, the modern character is merged with Nordic mythical creatures who protected the farms, often thought to be the spirits of the farm’s founder, or underground gnomes. Santa Claus has only gained his current form very recently, in my lifetime, and is taking over Christmas from Jesus to some extent, being less controversial. (Not that this says much.)

But while Christmas itself has evolved, it has also played an important role in the evolution of our society. For the celebration of a helpless child as God has year by year, generation by generation, increased our respect for children. It still has a long way to go for many people, but you will hardly believe the callous disregard for children that was common by the onset of the Christian Era. Both the Greeks and the Vikings allowed a man to kill his infants at his own whim, with no repercussions of any kind. (One theory of the Viking expansion is that it stemmed from a search for wives, as too many girl babies were killed by their fathers as useless in war.)

The bonding of babies and parents that is universally accepted as a good thing was often deliberately avoided in the past, something that may have made sense on a practical level with the high infant mortality. But the importance of this early bonding for healthy emotional and intellectual development is a major part of modern psychology. In a manner of speaking, the relative humanism of modern western civilization can trace its evolution back to the little child in the crib.