I am only a half-believer in the paranormal, so taking mysteries of the unexplained at face value smacks of the ridiculous. Yet I can never shake those doubts, hanging onto my mind like burrs.
The mammalian brain fears and seeks the unknown. That’s all I want— to know. The chance any one particular paranormal or supernatural happening is real is infinitesimal. Cryptids are usually another story, save for the most outlandish, but what likelihood is there that evolution wrought a lizard man or a moth man? Or that certain dolls are cursed?
However, I won’t cast off these reports completely until I can know for sure that they either are or are not true, as unlikely as they may be.
So here are a few words on the subject of paratechnology.
Self-Driving Cars Have Ruined The Creepiness of Self-Driving Cars
Imagine it’s a cool summer evening in 1969. You’re hanging with your mates out in the woods, minding your own business. All of a sudden, as you pass near a road, you see an Impala roll on by, creaking to a stop right as it closes in on your feet. Everything about the scene seems normal— until you realize that’s your Impala. You just saw your own car drive up to you. But that’s not what stops your heart. When you walk up to the window to see who’s the fool who tried to scare you, horror grips your heart as you realize the car was driving itself.
Needless to say, when your grandson finds the burned out shell of the car 50 years later, he doesn’t believe you when you doggedly claim that you saw the car acting on its own.
Except he would believe you if your story happened in the present day.
Phantom vehicles are a special kind of strange, precisely because you’d never expect a car to be a ghost. After all, aren’t ghosts the souls of the deceased?
(ADD moment: this is easy to rectify if you’re a Shintoist)
Nevertheless, throughout history, there have been reports of vehicles that move on their own, with no apparent driver or means of starting. The nature of these reports is always suspect— extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence— but there’s undeniably something creepy about the idea of a self-driving vehicle.
Unless, of course, you’re talking about self-driving vehicles. You know, the robotic kind. Today, walking out in the woods and seeing your car drive up to you is still a creepy sight to behold, but as time passes, it grows less ‘creepy’ and more ‘awesome’ as we imbue artificial intelligence into our vehicles.
This does raise a good question— what happens if an autonomous car became haunted?
The Truth About Haunted Smarthouses
For thousands of years, people have spoken of seeing spectres— ghosts, phantoms, spirits, whathaveyou. Hauntings would occur at any time of day, but everyone knows of the primal fear of things that go bump in the night. It’s a leftover of the days when proto-humans were always at risk of being ambushed by hungry nocturnal predators, one that now best serves the entertainment industry.
Ghosts are scary because they represent a threat we cannot actively resist. A lion can kill you, but at least you can physically fight back. Ghosts are ethereal, and their abilities have never been properly understood. This is because we’ve never been fully sure if they’re real at all. Science tells us they’re all in our heads, but science also tells us that everything is all in our heads. Remember: ghosts are ethereal, meaning they cannot actually be caught. Thus, they cannot be studied, rendering them completely useless to science. Anything that cannot be physically examined might as well not exist. Because ghosts are so fleeting, we never even get a chance to study them, instead leaving the work to pseudoscientific “ghost hunters”. By the time anyone has even noticed a ghost, they’ve already vanished.
Even today, in the era of ubiquitous cameras and surveillance, there’s been no definitive proof of ghosts. No spectral analysis, no tangible evidence, nothing. Why can’t we just set up a laboratory in the world’s most haunted house and be done with it? We’ve tried, but the nature of ghosts (according to those who believe) means that even actively watching out for a ghost doesn’t mean you’ll actually find one, nor will you capture usable data. Our technology is too limited and ghosts are too ghostly.
So what if we put the burden onto AI?
Imagine converting a known haunted house into a smarthouse, where sensors exist everywhere and a central computer always watches. No ghost should escape its notice, no matter how fleeting.
Imagine converting damn near every house into a smarthouse. If paranormal happenings continue evading smarthouse AIs, that casts near irrefutable doubt onto the larger ghost phenomenon. It would mean ghosts cannot actually be meaningfully measured.
Once you bring in transhumanism, the ghost phenomena should already be settled. A posthuman encountering a spectre at all would be proof in and of itself— and if it never happens— if ghosts remain the domain of fearful, fleshy biological humans— then we will properly know once and for all that the larger phenomenon truly is all in our heads.
Bigfoot Can Run, But He Can’t Hide Forever
For the same reasons listed above, cryptids will no longer be able to hide. There’s little tangible evidence suggesting Bigfoot is real, but if there’s any benefit of the doubt we can give, it’s that there’s been very little real effort to find him. If we were serious about finding Bigfoot, we wouldn’t create ‘Bigfoot whistles’ or dedicate hour-long, two hundred episode reality shows to searching for scant evidence. We would hook up the Pacific Northwest with cameras and watch them all.
Except we can’t. INGSOC could never be watching you at all times for as long as the Party lacked artificial intelligence to do the grunt-work for them. That’s true in reality as it is true in fiction— if you have a million cameras and only a hundred people watching them, you’ll never be able to find everything that goes on. You’d need to be able to watch these videos at all moments every day, without fail. Otherwise, video camera #429,133 may capture a very clear image of Bigfoot, but you’d never know.
AI could meet the challenge. And if you need any additional help, call in the robots. Whether you go for drones, microdrones, or ground-traversing models, they will happily and thanklessly search for your spooky creatures of the night.
If, in the year 2077, when we have legions of super-ASIMOs and drones haunting the world’s forests, we still have no definitive proof of a variety of our more outlandish cryptids, we’ll know for sure that they truly were all stories.