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The Computer and the Incarnation Ahriman

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Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.

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The Computer and the Incarnation Ahriman

On-line since: 28th April, 2017

4. History of the Incarnation of Ahriman in its Macrocosmic Aspect


The macrocosmic incarnation of Ahriman just mentioned leads us to the possibility of an objective, external, physical history of the incarnation, occurring as a gradual process spread out in time. Such a history is nothing other than one self-consistent set of theorems in the form of simple historical facts that results from the fundamental axioms which have been presented in the previous section.

The history is intended to be as accurate as possible from its point of view; it necessarily contradicts equally accurate descriptions given from a contrasting point of view. No argument is being made to the effect that because Ahriman will incarnate in a non-human physical form, he will not incarnate in human form. However, Ahriman in human form will preach love and confer clairvoyant faculties on his followers, whereas Ahriman in the form described here looks more like what he truly is; so there are certain advantages to pursuing an investigation from the perspective described above.

Let us review briefly what we will be looking for in our history and why. We know that when Ahriman incarnates, there will be new physical objects in the world, which will embody Ahriman in his macrocosmic aspect; our history will consist centrally of identifying those objects and tracing their development, along with related conceptual developments. Our history is focused on physical developments because of the nature of Ahriman. The existence of Lucifer and Ahriman in their present form can be traced back to the time when the original unity of the world was divided in two, when the earth was separated from the heavens, and when spirit and matter first appeared as distinct categories; Ahriman embodied the pole of matter, while Lucifer embodied the pole of spirit, neither being higher or lower than the other. When we picture Ahriman as an individual being, we are thinking in anthropomorphic, microcosmic terms. In macrocosmic terms, Ahriman is identical to the entire material pole of reality, and so his appearance here is naturally accompanied by an intensification of the presence of material objects, and embodied in the appearance of objects especially suited to his nature. These new objects are (macrocosmically) his incarnation.

By the time of the appearance of the microcosm as a physical body, these new objects must be widespread and truly of the nature of Ahriman. But long before that appearance, there must be objects which, while not fully of Ahriman's nature, are definitely tending in that direction; this is required by the reciprocal response of the macrocosmic aspect of the physical world to the approach of the being. We should be able to characterize these objects, find them in history, and trace a development which shows their ahrimanic nature growing stronger, purer, and more broadly involved in human affairs.

The objects most purely embodying the ahrimanic presence are calculating and computing machines. The earliest of these machines was a device for adding and subtracting constructed by Pascal in 1642-4. Leibniz completed a more elaborate machine which would also multiply and divide in 1673.

At the earliest stage, the ahrimanic character of these devices is already clear, although it was not nearly so pure or so pronounced as it was later to become. [28] The ahrimanic character is shown in the function of these devices as manipulators of quantified, intellectual entities; no analog of their function can be found in nature. The other characteristics include being constructed out of familiar (albeit refined and processed) materials, and out of familiar sub-components (gears, cylinders, levers, etc.). the fact that the function performed mimics human activity and rates fairly closely, and the fact that a calculator is still closer to an elaborated tool (that is, an extension of human activity) than to a fully realized free-standing machine (that is, a device that does something like what a human could do, but in a different and usually more “efficient” way, and all on its own — it is not used by a human, but stands next to one).

At roughly the same time, philosophies appeared which vividly pictured the whole world as conforming to the nature of what could be plainly manifested only in the relatively simple and limited calculating machines.

Leibniz intuited in his youth a universal logical calculus which consisted of two parts: an inventory of all the simple, irreducible items in the world (a collection of axioms), and a method of combination and analysis which would enable all possible knowledge to be extracted from a given set of postulates. He maintained that this system was at the root of every one of his important accomplishments and was the key to building a science that would embrace all possible knowledge, up to and including theology. [29] In this he went much farther than either Newton or Descartes were willing or able to go.

These philosophies did not reflect the general state of human consciousness at the time they arose; like the calculating machines they were forerunners of what was to come. The philosophies described a vision of the world which, centuries later, would be shared in an implicit way by broad segments of the population, especially in its leading and “progressive” parts; in the same way the calculating devices foreshadowed mechanisms which would cover the globe.

The calculating machines developed slowly after their invention. Many people were able to see their potential, but something always stood in the way of realizing it even though the more general process of mechanization was proceeding apace. The programmable loom invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1805, for example, embodies many notions central to the modern computer only applied to the weaving of physical cloth rather than ideal logic. The machine, which applied pre-established patterns to the loom's operation, was an immediate success; by 1812 there were 11,000 Jacquard looms in operation in France.

The calculator/computer proper, on the other hand, remained stalled throughout most of the century, in spite of the inspiration of the Jacquard invention. Charles Babbage got the idea for his Difference Engine in 1812 or 1813 and began serious work on it in 1823. The purpose of the machine was to automate the calculation of tables of polynomial approximations to mathematical functions, especially for the purpose of constructing astronomical tables. Babbage had a nervous breakdown in 1827 and never completed the work. In 1833 he conceived the Analytical Engine, which he explained was an adaptation of the idea of the Jacquard loom to the process of numerical computation. It was remarkably similar to the Mark I computer that was eventually built at Harvard in 1944. He worked on the machine until he died in 1871, but never completed it, nor did anyone join him in the work on it, in spite of the enthusiastic support and propagandizing effort of Lady Lovelace.

The lack of a fully operational machine was not the obstacle, however, as is shown by the work of Pehr Georg Scheutz (1785-1873), who managed to construct a Difference Engine based on Babbage's design in 1834. A grant from the Swedish government enabled him to make an improved version in 1853; the machine won a Gold Medal at the Exhibition in Paris in 1855, was shown in London, and ended up being used in Albany, New York. Apparently the English government had a copy made of it. In spite of all this exposure of a fully operational machine, coupled with the prominent position held by Babbage in the intellectual life of the nineteenth century, no offspring came directly from the effort. [30]

In the philosophical sphere, there was a significant advance in the middle of the century, which, when its effects trickled down into the physical, removed the obstacles just mentioned. George Boole, an Englishman, invented what has become known as “boolean algebra,” which he understood as a sort of universal calculus, an algebra of the processes underlying thought itself. [31] All algebras are symbolic systems for the manipulation of items taken from a well-defined set of elementary, ideal, irreducible objects, without the necessity for specifying exactly which of the objects is intended at every point in a sequence of operations. The algebras most of us are familiar with have the set of normal, rational, or real numbers as their elementary objects. These sets are infinite in extent. Boolean algebra takes for its elementary objects a set of just two elements, which may be called (depending on the context) true and false, one and zero, on and off, or any other dichotomous pair of names. In this algebra, the relation that has always existed between intellectual operations and the objects of those operations was stood on its head: before, we were faced with a vast, infinitely varied world (set of elementary objects) and could perform only relatively simple (in intellectual terms) operations on it; now, the world is so simple, there are only two sorts of objects in it, and to make anything interesting out of them, we must (and with the new algebra, can) perform vast numbers of infinitely varied operations on them. The world is reduced to a minimum, and intellectual operation on what is left takes its place. And in fact it turned out that one could produce equivalents of the original variety of the elementary objects by means of complex manipulations of the binary elements of boolean algebra.

As a result of the practical necessities arising from the design of computer circuits, a similar process of analysis and reduction has occurred within the realm of the operators on numbers. It was discovered that all operations could be built up out of a combination of a single kind of operator or “gate,” namely the not-and or not-or operator. The not-and operator, for example, produces a result of zero or false if and only if all of its operands are one or true; otherwise, it produces a one or true.

In producing a practical binary logic, Boole not only explored the number and logic system on which computers would be based, but he also completed the process of emptying out the content from numbers and making them into arbitrary signs. The earliest known number systems have a high number as their base (the number beyond which one begins to use a place system and repeat the number sequence from the beginning), as high as sixty for the Babylonians. Reducing the base reduces the number of individually characteristic numbers which have their own existence, rather than one constructed out of more primitive entities. Although numbers are inherently discrete or digital (as opposed to continuous or analog), within a given number system, the numbers themselves represent the more analog end, while the place system is more digital. As one counts up the numbers, the marching is smooth and regular, but there is a sharp break at the highest number, when one changes the form of the number's representation, and the final digit leaps from the highest value to the lowest. In the binary system, counting involves as much place system manipulation as simple replacement of digits, and so the digital element, which is the hollow or intellectual end of the polarity, is at a maximum.


Text Box: base 10 base 2
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1879 was mentioned by Rudolf Steiner as having particular significance in the history of Ahriman and most specifically November of that year. [32] At that time, a battle between the being Michael (the countenance of the Christ) and Ahriman, begun in 1841, ended with Ahriman being cast out of the heavenly spheres to the earth, specifically into the heads of humans. Direct results of this event were experienced by Thomas Edison and Hermann Hollerith, and will be described shortly.

In the field of politics, Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin were born. (Lenin was born the same year as Steiner, 1861) They exemplified the bright (such as it is) and dark sides of Ahriman; Trotsky, for example, was a passionate believer in the virtues of technology, and felt that a communist society was naturally also a highly technological one. In printing, Merganthaler invented the linotype machine, which opened the door to modern printing technique. In heavy industry, Bessemer introduced his process for producing hard steel, which greatly expanded the possibilities for use of this versatile metal, and laid the groundwork for many future devices.

In our field of interest, the significant event was the hiring of Hermann Hollerith by the U. S. Census Office in October of 1879. This brought him into contact with John Shaw Billings, who was in charge of the work in vital statistics for the 1880 and the 1890 census. Billings made a suggestion to Hollerith about how the work might be made more efficient, and Hollerith responded by inventing a system of punched cards and tabulating machines.

In its modern form, the Hollerith card is a rectangular piece of heavy paper marked into eighty columns and twelve rows. One uses the card to store information by punching holes in it according to a consistent coding scheme. Machines can then be built which sense the presence or absence of holes in certain locations on a set of cards, and respond in various useful ways. For example, one could encode a card with a person's name, salary, marital status, sex, and town, and then automatically cull out from a huge set of cards the names of all single women over 50 living in Yonkers making less than $5000.

Hollerith's system was first applied to the tabulation of the 1890 census, and met with great success. [33] Hollerith established the Tabulating Machine Company in 1896 to exploit his invention commercially. After several transformations, this company became IBM.

The invention of the Hollerith card and the machines to process it was a breakthrough out of the realm of the calculator and into the realm of the computer. The difference lies in the location of the direct control over the machine's operations. A machine like a calculator is directly controlled by its operator; even though the result of a command may be elaborate, there is no qualitative distinction between a pencil and a typewriter from this perspective. In a machine like a computer, at least some of the control over the operations passes into the machine itself; even though the operator retains ultimate control, he takes a step back, and the machine acquires a degree of autonomy. The Hollerith card machines are in fact very simple computers: one wires them up, loads in a stack of cards, and then stands back while the machine carries out a sequence of operations on each of the cards.

With the advent of this first computer, the autonomous will of Ahriman first appears on earth in an independent, physical embodiment. Like a swimmer slowly entering the water, who does not feel “in” until his head is wet, so is Ahriman's body in the earth while he himself looks on from outside during the calculator phase, until the development of a machine with the technological equivalent of will makes an actual identification possible. We can look with impunity on a calculator; its autonomous nature allows the computer to look back at us, albeit weakly in these first instances.

The difference is also shown in this: a damaged tool is simply broken; a damaged control-bearing machine may be simply broken, but it may also continue to perform its intended function perfectly well, while ignoring our commands — if the control mechanism is broken, it may run amok.

Between the wars, elaborate special purpose calculators were built, mostly to solve military ballistics problems. A “differential analyzer” was built around 1930 at MIT, which was a mechanical analog computer which could solve systems of differential equations. Commercial electro-mechanical calculators were also developed and saw widespread application in business and science.

Now, at the brink of the appearance of the first truly modern computer, we will have to introduce several new streams of development which had been at work for some time, and which merged with the direct evolutionary line we have been describing to produce the next great advance. One of these streams is a line of physical development, and the other is a philosophical and mathematical development; these will incidentally provide examples for theoretical points to be made about the formal progress of the incarnation.

Although fully satisfactory mechanical calculating machines were eventually developed, their powers were greatly limited. The crucial factor which allowed the inherent limitations to be overcome and made further developments possible was electricity. Now electricity had been known by the Greeks; moreover, it is not such an unusual thing, being found in all animal nerves. But in nature, electricity plays a subsidiary function, one that is completely buried in the structure of things (inter- and intra-atomic binding) or secondary to a more basic phenomenon (the electrical impulses in the nerves come from differential migration of ions across the axon membranes).

Early in the nineteenth century, the properties of electricity as an isolated, primary phenomenon were explored. A key development was the invention of the electrical generator in 1831 by Michael Faraday. The invention was soon exploited in the form of the telegraph, which led to electricity-bearing wires being strung between all centers of commercial activity.

However, the turning point in the appearance of free-standing electricity on earth was October 19 to 21, 1879, when Thomas Edison made the first successful trial of a practical light bulb for the home. The announcement of the discovery on December 21 created a world-wide sensation, which led to Edison's being dubbed the “wizard of Menlo Park.” The invention of the light bulb led to the construction of electrical generating stations and distribution systems.

The appearance of electricity as an independent, free-standing phenomenon may be regarded as the beginning of the incarnation of the substantial body of Ahriman, while the calculator or computer is the formal or functional body of Ahriman. It is interesting that these two aspects first appeared independently of each other but at just the same time.

The incarnation process proceeds from the spiritual towards the material. At any one stage, the more spiritual a stratum one considers, the more advanced the process is, just as the process is more advanced in leading individuals or groups. Furthermore, the “advance guard” of incarnation, the first appearances of the process at a given point in the spirit-matter continuum, can seem disconnected from the movement of which they are a part; but this is only because the unity of the process lies well below the surface of things, and in any case, further development brings the advance guard into explicit connection with older, more evident manifestations of the process.

Thus, Leibniz was able to develop a full philosophical picture manifesting the advanced state of the incarnation in the conceptual stratum, evidenced also by concurrent developments in physics, astronomy, and the other sciences. But he was only able to build a machine embodying a tiny part of these ideas, and even then, one could not say that the machine in its evident physicalness embodied Ahriman, only that the machine in its functional working imitated (in a limited way) the form of Ahriman; it did what Ahriman does, but was not yet itself a member of Ahriman. Leibniz could do nothing in the final stratum.

A century later, the incarnation had proceeded far enough so that the body of Ahriman could make its first appearance, in the form of free-standing electricity. It was important at the start that this embodiment simply appear, so that it might enjoy a period of development and refinement; the relevant analogy is to the appearance on earth of physical forms like the apes and proto-humanoids, prior to human incarnation, to make possible a purely physical line of development resulting in bodies suitable for incarnation by humans. In the same way, electricity appeared and went through a period of preliminary development resulting in a suitable “body” for the progress of the incarnation to the stage of the incorporation of substance. The achievement of this stage was marked by a merger of the functional embodiment (calculators) with the substantial embodiment (electricity), the result being unified objects (electrical calculators in particular, electro-mechanical devices in general).

During the time when electricity was still undergoing its pre-incarnation evolution, the uses to which it was put were highly prophetic. These uses were communication (telegraph, telephone) and light (light bulb and all its applications). These applications seem natural to us because we are used to them, but they could hardly have been predicted. Both uses serve and embody Ahriman's chief characteristic: intelligence. In the communications applications, this is seen from a human point of view, since when we talk, we convey concepts to each other. It may be argued that in human conversation more is exchanged than concepts, but this only makes the point stand out more clearly, since the devices communicate by reducing what is said to an ordered sequence of signs, to “information”; they eliminate or greatly distort everything but the clear, cold, quantitative intellectual content. Light is the occult version of the same thing; that is, what underlies what we see as light is thought. We recognize this when we draw a light bulb over the head of a cartoon character to signify that he has had an idea. And just as the pane of glass that best lets the light into the room is “clear,” so is the head that best lets in the ideas. Future developments brought the human and occult aspects of thought together in a remarkable way.

In this century, especially since the first World War, the incarnation process seems to have advanced very rapidly. We can see this in the time separating the appearance of a new stage in the conceptual stratum from the appearance in more material strata. The first appearances of a true, modern computer on the conceptual and then on the functional levels demonstrates this quick succession. I will trace the development on the conceptual level, which culminated in the 1930's, and which was rapidly followed by the first functional computer. The equivalent appearance on the fully substantial level is very much in progress, but is not yet complete.

Leibniz' notion of a universal calculus was applied and developed in myriad ways, but the advance of imparting to it a kind of mechanical, autonomous life appeared only in this century. So long as the calculus remained eternal and timeless, it would be unable to sustain the pseudo-life which was necessary as a manifestation of the incarnation. The limitation came from the fact that humans are best able to think the pure, empty, lifeless thoughts of Ahriman in the form of mathematics; when they think about nature, these thoughts are not so easy. Even though one talks of time in mathematics, and even though certain mathematical formulations can be made of processes occurring in time, in the mathematics itself (as opposed to what we imagine it to be about), time appears as the variable “t”, a variable like any other, qualitatively indistinguishable from space. We model time as a dimension in a multi-dimensional space, and a process that occurs in time is simply a functional relation with time as the independent variable. Time is modeled in mathematics, but does not appear as such in it.

Efforts to overcome this fundamental barrier, to learn how to infuse a real time-existence into mathematical form, were undertaken in many fields. Of course, finding ways to express in mathematical terms processes observed in nature was part of this effort, but notice that the greatest progress was made in physics, in the treatment of lifeless nature. The philosophical and astronomical theories of Laplace represented an advance over those of Leibniz, in that they were more explicit and worked-out, and were based on observed processes in nature itself.

Attempts were made both to bring the ideas closer to observed processes and to broaden their sphere of application. An outstanding figure in broadening the applicability of these notions was C. S. Pierce, who made the first systematic attempt to apply the notions of logic to a full-fledged philosophical analysis of the problems of reality and knowledge. Similarly, in mathematics there were efforts to establish a foundation for all of mathematics in a fully axiomized system of logic, represented by such figures as Frege, Peano, Russell and Whitehead. This effort resulted in advances in the technical apparatus of logic which made possible the real breakthrough in the central line of evolution.

The penultimate step was the development of the predicate calculus, especially Church's development of the lambda calculus. This enabled for the first time a complete separation between the objects of intellectual operations and the intellectual operations themselves. It gave in fully developed form what was potentially established by George Boole. Boole had reduced the objects of the calculus to, the simplest possible form, while the lambda calculus showed how to create worlds of intellectual operators standing in vast, intricately interconnected structures, ready to go into action, lacking only the final push out of a universe of structure and into a world of process. [34]

This final push was provided, in a primitive form, by the creation of a theory of finite state machines, and in fuller form, by the theory of Turing machines. A Turing machine is an intellectual object that may be pictured as reading a tape of infinite length marked into squares which may be filled with either X or O. The machine may read from the tape, write onto it, move it in either direction, and changes states depending on what it reads.

For example, the following Turing machine determines whether the sequence of X's on the tape is odd or even in number. The machine starts in the state marked A, in which it reads the tape. If the tape holds O, the machine halts and reports that there are an even number of X's (zero of them) on the tape. Otherwise, it advances the tape and goes into state B, in which it again reads the tape. If the tape holds O, the machine halts and reports that there are an odd number of X's (one of them) on the tape. Otherwise, it advances the tape and returns to state A, having passed over two X's. The process continues, with the machine passing between states A and B and advancing the tape, so long as there are X's on the tape. As soon as an O is encountered, the machine halts and, depending on the state it was in, is able to report whether it halted after an odd or even number of X's.

Although Turing machines are very simple, it is possible to construct universal Turing machines which read their programs from a tape, just like a computer; and it can be shown that a Turing machine can compute anything computable, that is, that (theoretically speaking) all computers are equally powerful if they are as powerful as a Turing machine, and that no computer is more powerful than a Turing machine. [35]


Even in the conceptual realm, realizations of these ideas which were less definite were more universal. The outstanding example is the logical positivist movement in general, and Rudolf Carnap's The Logical Structure of the World in particular, which was in effect an attempt to devise a system of logic capable of expressing a human's entire experience of the world. Here, the relevant expression is: capable of sustaining a comprehension of the world as pure intellect, that is, capable of serving as the vehicle of the incarnation at its stratum. Work to complete Carnap's program has continued up to the present; witness Nelson Goodman's The Structure of Appearance. While it is the intention of this line of work to produce logical structures which are as transparent as Turing machines and as obviously mechanizable, the vast scope of their application has so far precluded any real pretensions to automatization.

Around 1930, building on developments from several years before, two events took place which, while not part of the ahrimanic incarnation process, had a decisive impact on it. One event took place at the frontiers of mathematical logic and constituted one of the greatest conceptual achievements of our time, while the other event took place at the frontiers of the solar system, and crowned the efforts of the greatest astronomical discovery program undertaken up until that time. The first event, Gödel's incompleteness theorem, [36] put an insurmountable roadblock in the path of the incarnation process, and forced it either to halt or to redirect its momentum into paths in which its true nature was more evident. This event was a direct result of the new coming of Christ “in the clouds.” [37] The second event, the discovery of the planet Pluto, mythologically lord of the underworld, expressed the appearance of a new figure on the scene, whose impact on world events was immediately evident. [38] Taken together, these two events represent a polarization of humanity into radical groups, small in membership at first, aligned with the forces of transcendent good or transcendent evil.

Gödel's result, which was anticipated by several years (but without all the technical baggage) by Paul Finsler, was a full working out of the implications of the paradox of self-reference. Russell and Whitehead had stumbled on the paradox in working out their Principia Mathematica, in the form of “the set which contains all sets which do not contain themselves;” they did not solve it, but shunted it to the side by means of the theory of types. Gödel did not shun the paradox, but grasped it firmly, and drove it through the heart of the development of nontrivial, complete systems of mechanical logic. His result showed that they could not succeed.

This result had two major implications, in this context. The development of the simple mechanical automaton was halted through the introduction of an analog of a thinking which thinks about its thinking, that is, it was halted through the power of the self-conscious knower. This was an act of redemption. However, it made possible a new and far more powerful perversion: the mechanization of the process of self-knowing. Whole theories of recursive, self-modifying, and self-reproducing automata [39] have developed from that seed, which lay the conceptual basis for the incarnation of a self-knowing entity into a machine. This possibility is currently being pursued at a more primitive level in the modern work in artificial intelligence.

The discovery of Pluto, hailed as a textbook demonstration of the scientific method, was a comedy of felicitous errors from start to finish, and is a textbook demonstration of the occult guidance of history. First of all, its position is supposed to have been deduced from observed perturbations in the orbit of Neptune, and calculations to that effect were in fact made which resulted in positions close to where Pluto was found. [40] But the recent accurate determination of Pluto's mass based on observations of its newly discovered moon show it to have been far too light to produce the effects which supposedly led to its discovery. Second, Pluto appeared on at least a dozen plates taken before the discovery plates, including four images on plates taken at Mount Wilson in 1919 while looking for Pickering's planet O; Pluto appears just outside the plate area subjected to the most thorough scrutiny. [41] Finally, aside from the necessity of coinciding with Godel's proof, certain necessities of an astrological nature were involved in the timing of the planet's discovery in concordance with the destiny of the cultural impulses which would come in its wake. By transits of Saturn and Uranus to the position of Pluto's discovery, the timing of the explosion at Hiroshima and of the detonation of the first hydrogen bomb in 1952 were determined with great accuracy. [42] This coincidence also makes clear the nature of at least part of the forces introduced through Pluto.

Now let us return to the main narrative, where we are on the brink of the invention of the first modern computer. There are several machines which vie for the designation, all built within a decade. The most primitive one, the Mark I, was conceived by Aiken in 1937, and finished about 1944. It was built at Harvard with IBM for the Navy, was completely electro-mechanical, had 730,000 parts, and could perform three addition operations per second. The famous ENIAC was also funded by the military. It was built from 1942 to 1946, contained 18,000 vacuum tubes, and could perform 5000 additions per second. Note the increase in speed, three orders of magnitude, won by replacing mechanical components with electronic ones.

John von Neumann, the great mathematician who joined the ENIAC project as a consultant, is usually credited with the decisive development which marks the difference between a calculator (however huge and capable) and a true computer: the concept of the stored program, in which the sequence of operations to be performed by the machine is not wired into it, but is read into the memory in numeric form, just as though it were data. Since the machine's program is data to it, it can operate on its own program with just as much facility as it can operate on ordinary data. This simple invention created a division between machine development and program development; programs would have to be written so that a certain machine could execute them, but this practical consideration could be delayed to the last moment. So long as synchronization was maintained, machines could pursue a separate line of development in which their general virtue as machines for unspecified purposes was improved, while programs that applied the machine's non-specific capabilities to particular problem areas were developed in synchronization but not strict conjunction with the machines. From then on, (machine independent) program development was one thing, and (machine dependent) program conversion and installation another. The first machine fully embodying the stored program concept was the BINAC, completed in August, 1950.

The significance of this development at a deeper level is revealed by the striking parallelism to the relation of humans to the lower animals. In primitive animals, the neuron nets can be shown to act like simple hard-wired calculators, each circuit with a highly limited, fixed function to perform. Given certain inputs from the sensory nerves, the nerves will “fire'' in certain ways, resulting in a characteristic patterned response. In humans, attempts to tie down the function of a given set of neurons in the brain typically fail, either because no specific function can be found, or because the function can be performed elsewhere if damage to the neurons usually responsible for the function requires it. The human “biocomputer” is always running a program, but the program is not part of the biocomputer itself (although it seems to be “stored” there), and is subject to self-codification.

This is a dangerous point. When this analogy is mentioned, it is usually taken to mean that humans (which we find difficult to understand) are like computers (which we think we understand, even though the people who make this point are rarely actual computer experts), and so we can understand people by imagining them to be computers. Carrying such a picture in one's head creates a spiritual impulsion: “may the world be true to my vision of it”; the sincere belief that the vision is already true only adds to the force to make it so. This meditation and its effects are destructive.

The point being made is the reverse: with the separation of control of function (like thought) from performance of function (like will or muscle), the computer has taken a giant step in furthering its ability to imitate the human being. In particular, the technical basis for a separate, incarnating consciousness has been laid — but a consciousness of a purely intellectual, mechanical (albeit self-aware) nature. With the achievement of the stored program computer, it begins to be possible to talk in terms of a (macrocosmic) incarnation vehicle capable of sustaining the being of Ahriman. We are not reducing the human to the level of the computer, but describing how the computer attains (in a narrow, highly particularized fashion) a level of development analogous to the human.

The first commercial computer, the Univac I, was used in the census of 1950. By 1960 there were 5000 computers in the U. S., about 350 of them very large ones. Those numbers then doubled every two to three years.

The discovery of the semiconductor phenomenon, marked by the invention of the transistor in 1947, made technically possible the tremendous advance in speed, miniaturization, and cost-effectiveness that have characterized the development of computers. Transistors bring together those two aspects of (the physical things in the world which are specifically polar to) thinking, namely, electricity and light. The vast majority of a transistor is made out of a silica (silicon dioxide), familiar to us as simple glass. Glass is the thing in the world which is transparent — it shields us from the world but lets the light through, just like our head which (one hopes) lets the thoughts stream in. Now silica, when properly manufactured and when inoculated with certain minute impurities, responds in very useful ways to the passage of electricity. In the transistor, it is electricity (ahrimanic light) instead of light which passes through the tainted glass — pure glass will not work. Because of the qualitative agreement of the material substrate used with what was incarnating, the way was smoothed, and the advances came breathtakingly quickly. There were major technical hurdles, but they fell so quickly that one lost respect for how awesome (abstractly speaking) they were.

I will pass over the many fascinating developments of the last two decades, including the entire field of artificial intelligence, and consider one last line of development in the most concrete, physical aspect of these machines. This will show how the qualities of Ahriman are finding concrete, physical expression in the very materials chosen to build computers; how the internal momentum of the field, consciously directed by no person, out of the necessities of the technical tasks leads by seeming happenstance to machines which contain more and more that is consonant with Ahriman's nature, and less and less that is not.

While transistors are superior to vacuum tubes, which in turn were superior to electro-mechanical relays, they still “resist” the passage of electricity through them. Technically, the resistance of a wire to electricity passing through it results in the kinetic dissipation of some of the energy; not all the electricity comes out the other end of the wire, and the wire grows warmer. The wire, insofar as it is a “neutral” part of the world, expressing neither the qualities of Lucifer or Ahriman to an unusual degree, responds to “ahrimanization” by 'luciferizing;” in becoming warm, it becomes luciferic, and thus rights the balance that the electricity upset. The wire is not Ahriman's own; it is only used to an ahrimanic end, and at a price. Moreover, the wire will only put up with so much abuse; pushed beyond its limits, it will melt in an excess of luciferic passion, and render further abuse useless.

This problem led to efforts to reduce the amount of material (thus also the resistance and heat generated) in electronic components. The ideal solution would have been tiny components connected by long wires, so there would be lots of space between them and they would not suffer the effects of their combined heat. But electricity does not travel along wires instantaneously; it travels roughly one foot in one nanosecond (one billionth of a second), and since modern components do their jobs (have “switching times”) in just a few nanoseconds, the length of the wire connecting components becomes a significant limiting factor in the overall speed of the machine. So the ideal solution is untenable, and the components must be placed in as small a space as possible. But then, even if you manage to cool off the components at the outside very quickly, the heat soon builds up in the center of a component block to intolerable levels.

The solution to this problem, forming the basis of the state of the art in computer hardware, is based on the Josephson effect, which allows the construction of semiconductors out of superconducting materials. You should be able to guess which of Ahriman's qualities is given physical expression in this new advance. Already measure, weight, number, intellect, and mechanism are expressed; but so far, no physical expression has been given to the fact that Ahriman is cold, freezing cold. “The more [Ahriman] achieves his aims the severer is the frost around him ...”. [43] The new advance is based on the fact that matter loses its electrical resistance (capitulates and becomes of Ahriman's nature) when it is brought to a temperature very near to absolute zero. The extreme cold destroys the natural neutrality of the material, and it loses its ability to generate heat in response to the passage of electricity. This “superconductivity1' was discovered in 1911, but only recently was it possible to make semiconductors and thus computers out of matter in this extreme state.

The fact that matter is in a peculiarly unbalanced state when it is superconductive is shown by the details of its response to electricity and magnetism. We know that ordinarily a fine symmetry expressed in Maxwell's equation holds between these two forces, just as we would expect in the sub-natural manifestations of the polarized cosmic beings Ahriman and Lucifer. But when matter is in this state (that is, is unreservedly identified with the ahrimanic sphere) and a small magnetic field is applied to it, a permanent supercurrent arises at the surface of the material, and it loses its superconductive properties.

IBM's most advanced computer, which is not yet in commercial use, is entirely contained in a cube six inches on a side, and is held at a constant temperature just a few degrees above absolute zero. Its small dimensions notwithstanding, it will be faster and more powerful than any presently existing computer. Meanwhile, large research efforts are underway to increase the amount of magnetic flux a material can withstand before collapsing into a more ordinary state, so that superconductive technology may also be applied to the generation and transmission of electric power. Furthermore, an organic compound has been discovered which will exhibit this phenomenon. The new stage of physical incarnation thus will penetrate ever more deeply (as “intelligence” is brought into it) and broadly (as widespread applications for it are found).

At what stage does the incarnation process stand in 1981? The formal qualities of Ahriman have all been embodied in machines on which the practical life of our culture depends. When the machines first incorporated electricity, they also began to embody the very substance of Ahriman, and when practical computers operating near absolute zero appear, they will be wholly comprised of Ahriman's substance; what little matter they contain will be unreservedly (albeit not irrevocably) given over to his domination. The penetration will then be as “deep” as it can be, and all that will remain is proliferation.

However, the process will then by no means be complete. What we will have will be something like retarded country cousins of the awful figure of Ahriman himself. What is now being dreamed by artificial intelligence workers will have to be made a physical reality: the incorporation of “true” intelligence into the machines. Much has already been achieved in this direction, although the end is not yet in sight. For example, machines have solved mathematical integration problems that no human was able to solve [44] ; beaten the world backgammon champion; held extended conversations in unstilted English about a severely limited “world” of blocks; [45] played ping-pong with itself, wielding a paddle with its arm and guiding it with its eye; [46] conversed with people about their personal problems cleverly enough so that intelligent people feel personally attached to it, and exclude others from the room for the duration of such a private conversation.' [47] The expert knows that these and other impressive results are based on highly specialized mechanisms which cannot be generalized easily. But the reactions lay people have when confronted with achievements such as these is part of the problem. It is proper to be respectful of the awesome technical achievement which these demonstrated capabilities represent, while it is also necessary to keep one's equilibrium, to avoid anthropomorphizing the machine, to maintain the healthy knowledge that the machines are less than they seem (a machine which can beat you in chess cannot thereby be said to “think better” than you), and the prudent suspicion that they are more than they seem (they have occult effects belied by their overwhelming ordinariness). The first signs of “free will” can be seen by whoever knows where to look, and beings of a higher order than elementals are beginning to appear within the machines. In sum, the process is rather far along, but is still decades from being complete [48]


“Man must & will have Some Religion: if he has not the Religion of Jesus, he will have the Religion of Satan & will erect the Synagog of Satan, calling the Prince of this World, God, and destroying all who do not worship Satan under the Name of God.” [49]

[28] “It is hard to look back and imagine the feelings of those who first saw toothed wheels performing additions and multiplications of large numbers. Perhaps they experienced a sense of awe at seeing 'thoughts' flow in their very physical hardware. In any case, we do know that nearly a century later, when the first electronic computers were constructed, their inventors did experience an awesome and mystical sense of being in the presence of another kind of 'thinking being'.” Hofstadter: Gödel, Escher, Bach, New York, 1979, p. 601.

[29] This aspect of Leibniz' work was first given a thorough exposition in Bertrand Russell: A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz London 1900.

[30] On Babbage and Scheutz, see H. Goldstine: The Computer from Pascal to von Neumann , Princeton, 1972, pp. 10-27

[31] Boole: The Mathematical Analysis of Logic, 1848; An Investigation of the Laws of Thought, on Which are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities, 1854

[32] See the lecture, “Christ in Relation to Lucifer and Ahriman,” given May 18, 1919, New York, 1978

[33] Leon E. Truesdell: The Development of Punch Card Tabulation in the Bureau of the Census, 1890 - 1940, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1965

[34] The lambda calculus does not stand out in the «ay indicated here when examined just within the history of logic; its special role is made clear in the way it was picked up by computer workers, especially artificial intelligence workers. In particular, John McCarthy's work on the lambda calculus gave birth to the programming language LISP, which is the language of preference for artificial intelligence work.

[35] Alan Turing: “On Computable Numbers, With an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem,” Proc. London Math. Soc. , Ser 2-42, pp. 230-265. For a discussion, see Minsky's Computation.

[36]   Gödel, “Uber Formal Unentscheidbare Satze der Principía Mathematics und Verwandter Systeme, I” Monatschefte für Mathematik und Physik, 38 1931, pp. 173-198. A translation appears in van Heijenoort, From Frege to Gödel: A Source Book in Mathematical Logic, Cambridge, Mass., 1977. A good prose description of the proof is given in Nagel and Newman, Gödel's Proof, New York, 1958, although the authors tend to downplay the extent of the proofs implications.

[37] Revelations, 1:7. Steiner describes this event in his The True Nature of the Second Coming, London, 1961, lectures given January 25, 1910 and March 6, 1910.

[38] Pluto was discovered at about the time of Godel's proof, and so would have some association with it. However, the observations of Pluto in astrological charts have shown it to be difficult to handle for most people. Pluto may be directly associated with the first appearance in human consciousness of beings that have been termed Asuras. For more on them, see Steiner's lecture on March 22, 1909, “The Deed of Christ and the Opposing Spiritual Powers. Lucifer, Ahriman, Asuras.”

[39] John von Neumann pioneered the theory of self-reproducing automata, that is, of theoretical machines resembling the Turing machines described above which contain reproductive subsystems capable of duplicating the machine in its entirety. See von Neumann: Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata, Urbana, 1966.

[40] The discovery was made on February 18, 1930, at about 4 p.m. at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, by Clyde Tombaugh. The discovery position was within about six degrees of the orbit determined by Percival Lowell, and was also close to the position predicted for a trans-Neptunian planet, “planet O,” by William H. Pickering.

[41] Pluto appeared on several plates taken In Europe, one as early as 1908. Images were taken by Gill on March 19 and April 7, 1915 in the search for Lowell's planet. Among the other images were ones taken at Yerkes Observatory in 1921 and at Harvard in 1927.

[42] It is difficult to say exactly what Pluto's position at discovery was, because it was found using a device known as a blink comparator, which allows the rapid comparison of photographic plates taken several weeks apart. The dates of the discovery plates were January 21, January 23, and January 29, 1930, when Pluto stood at 18:18, 18:15, and 18:08 degrees of the sign Cancer, respectively. At the moment when Pluto was first recognized as a planet, however, which is what I would take to be its “discovery position,” it stood at 107:46 of celestial longitude, which is 17:46 of the tropical sign Cancer. On August 6, 1945, when the atom bomb exploded at Hiroshima, Saturn stood at 18:13 of Cancer, its position having been identical to Pluto's on the second of August, a conjunction accurate to about one tenth of a percent in longitude. On November 1, 1952, the U. S. exploded the first full-scale thermonuclear bomb (the fusion bomb or H-bomb) at Enewetok Atoll in the Pacific. On that date, Uranus was nearly stationary at 18:31 of Cancer, its position identical to Pluto's on September 13 and December 6. The discrepancy in longitude amounts to about two tenths of one percent. See generally Tombaugh and Moore, Out of the Darkness: the Planet Pluto, Harrisburg, 1980

[43] Steiner: Leading Thoughts, p. 99

[44] Joel Moses, “Symbolic Integration, the Stormy Decade”, Communications of the Assoc. for Computing Machinery, vol. 14, no. 8, 1971

[45] Winograd, Procedures as a Representation for Data in & Computer Program for Understanding Natural Language, MAC TR-84, MIT PhD thesis, 1971

[46] I saw the equipment for this at project MAC in MIT

[47] Weizenbaum, Computer Power and Human Reason, San Francisco, 1975

[48] It should be noted that the timing of the macrocosmic progress of the incarnation does not allow us to determine exactly the date of the microcosmic incarnation, which could conceivably take place at any time from the present (given that the full ahrimanic ego would not immediately enter the body) to some time not long after the macrocosmic process has culminated.

[49] Wm. Blake: Jerusalem, plate 52, “To the Deists”.

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