5 February 2013


Micah Hanks. The UFO Singularity. New Page Books, 2013. 

Ray Kurzweil is greatly respected as an inventor but his predictions for the development of technology in the near future are rather more controversial. His book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, predicts that artificial intelligence will continue to be developed exponentially until it exceeds the capacity of the human mind, and will involve direct communication between our brains and such technology. This is called the Singularity.
This has apparently inspired Micah Hanks to play with the idea that "... any advanced race that might care to visit Earth would likely have progressed through such an intelligence explosion or Singularity". He thus tries to link speculation about the Singularity with speculation about UFOs. Not only does he consider that some UFO reports might be sightings of craft from other planets, but he even takes seriously the idea that they might be humans from our future "having harnessed a technological ability to displace temporality", whatever that might mean.

Mathematician and physicist John D. Barrow has remarked: "Time travel is the thinking man's UFO". However, Hanks's ideas on the subject don't show much coherent thinking, as his awareness of some of the time travel paradoxes should make him realise that the notion of UFOs as manifestations of of time travellers is nonsense.

Although the aim of this book is to consider the possibilities with a view to explaining the UFO enigma, the obvious one which is not considered is that the various UFO reports and incidents can be shown to have various likely conventional explanations, whether physical or psychological, or both. For example, Hanks considers the "mystery airship" reports of the late 19th century and agrees that a majority of them were fabricated stories. But if most of them were fabricated why not all of them? If some were genuine, which ones were they and where is the convincing evidence of their reality?

The difficulties of interpreting UFO reports are well illustrated in a chapter which is mainly devoted to discussing a sighting described to the author by the principal witness, Mike Reese, who spotted a strange light while driving with members of his family one night. This was said to have hovered over an electricity substation for a few minutes at a low altitude and was described as a "flying saucer, with its coloured lights rotating along its outer edges", and was estimated to have been at least 100 to 150 feet in diameter. Most readers will probably find this sighting rather less impressive when they learn that it was described to Hanks in 2011, but occurred in 1973.

It should also be noted that Mike Reese initially recalled that the only child present in the car was his newborn daughter, but his sister said that her two daughters were also present. He also said that he remembered reading a very similar UFO story in Fate Magazine a few years before his sighting. Also, he had always been interested in various esoteric subjects, having been strongly influenced by his father's interest in such matters.

There is a great deal of speculation about the idea that UFOs and abductions are concerned with the activities of a post-Singularity technology, which is somehow being kept secret, or that they are extraterrestrial, or from the future. It is all rather convoluted and would be tedious to summarise, but if you like this sort of thing then why not read it and see what you make of it? -- John Harney.


Anonymous said...

I'm reading it now. It is very good. Also, the "time travel" idea makes sense. Just image if the human race is all but destroyed in the far distant future, then maybe after say, a million years a new evolved race reaches "its" Singularity. It somehow makes time travel possible and uses it to travel back to see the previous race "us" and what happened.

Micah Hanks said...

Greetings Magonians... there's also this:


I think we could all benefit from trying to think a bit more broadly on the subject, which includes not limiting our ideas to the "expected" paradoxes you mention in the review which, time and time again, become less restricting as new scientific interpretations and ideas cause us to have to revise those old notions.

Then again, when some of us do try to engage this subject more open-mindedly (and attempt to articulate these concepts in manuscript form), the ideas can tend to go right over many people's heads... much like the proverbial UAP at the heart of this entire debate. This is merely cause for more debate, discussion, and critical thinking... in fact, I look back, more than a year after publication, and see areas where I wish to revise my own theories, rather than becoming beholden to them.

And thank you, John, for reviewing the book on the Magonia blog.


Micah Hanks