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Accepted Paper:

Consciousness Hacking, Technodelics, and Inside-out Change  
Aleena Chia (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines how 'technodelics'—psychedelics, virtual reality, and neuro-wearables—engineer transcendent experiences at the confluence of New Age spiritualities and conspiracism, and its broader implications for democratic cultures.

Paper long abstract:

Consciousness Hacking is a San Francisco-based community of practice dedicated to the use of 'technodelics'—psychedelics, virtual reality, and neuro-wearables—for the engineering of transcendent experiences. Proponents of consciousness hacking include venture capitalists, neuroscientists, and Silicon Valley tech ethicists. Technodelics strive for the reliable induction of ego dissolution and transpersonal connection with the universe, which have been promoted by popular science writers as having remarkable therapeutic, spiritual, or creative effects. Like New Age cultures, consciousness hacking adheres to perennialism, which designates different beliefs as equally valid because they worship the same divine source that emanates throughout the cosmos. Just as New Age perennialism allows disparate spiritual ideas and noetic experiences to cohere into a movement, conspiratorial perennialism enables connections between online snippets and statistics to feed confirmation biases. In this context, 'conspirituality' refers to the confluence of New Age spirituality and conspiracism that frame reality through holistic thinking—-connecting events and energies, the inner self to the outer world in unseen ways. This paper presents an anthropologically-oriented meta-critique of the social meanings of mediated stories that connect technodelics and conspirituality through what consciousness hackers call 'inside-out change': transforming the social and physical world by shifting one's interior landscape, both individually and collectively. Examining five years of recorded talks by Consciousness Hackers, this paper critiques how the confluence between technodelics and conspirituality cultures the high-tech New Age into an interior experience that is beyond interpretation, verification, and deliberation.

Panel P07a
Travelling to Other Worlds and Altered States of Consciousness: Human-Artificial relational interactions and living worlds in the Age of Aquarius
  Session 1 Wednesday 8 June, 2022, -