On a day when rejected History Channel personalities J. Hutton Pulitzer (once of Curse of Oak Island) and Scott F. Wolter (of America Unearthed) teamed up to launch their own private on-demand TV programming because they said they were just too smart for cable TV, it is a bit difficult to argue that they are wrong after watching yet another installment of Ancient Aliens. Tonight’s episode, S11E03 “The Next Humans,” is another entry in the series’ ongoing blurring of the words “ancient” and “aliens” to refer to anything vaguely science-fictional or techno-utopian.
This segment discusses transhumanism and cyborgs. The talking heads are particularly interested in genetic engineering and creating artificial genomes for “synthetic” children. This material is pretty much the same as the material form the second half of an August 2015 episode, “Aliens and Robots.” I’m not sure what more I can add to what I said last time. I guess I could add that essentially that this material has nothing much to do with anything ancient or alien but is rather part of the larger “ancient alien lifestyle” that we might charitably describe as a general interest in science, technology, and especially science fiction and fantasy.
After reviewing modern technology for eight minutes, we finally try to get to something ancient and alien. The show tells us that the myth of Hatshepsut’s divine birth at the hands of a god bearing an ankh that he, to be rather crude, shoved up her mother’s vagina must therefore be an artificial insemination from space. William Henry, self-styled religious expert, calls this an “immaculate conception,” confusing the Immaculate Conception of Mary free from the taint of Original Sin with the Virgin Birth.
This segment continues the transhumanist fantasizing, asking whether genetic therapies will give humans IQs of 1,000 and unlimited lifespans. The show repeats in yet another episode the false claim that human beings use only 10% of their brains, and they speculate that we could boost our brain efficiency to using 35% or more neurons. Nootropics are supposedly substances that will someday create immortality, so the show asserts that ancient aliens fought wars for various mythic substances like amrita, ambrosia, etc. that they claim were really nootropics. Nootropics are actually brain-boosting supplements designed to improve cognition, so it isn’t at all clear how this is supposed to relate to the food of the gods and its attendant immortality. There is no indication in myth that immortality is correlated with intelligence.
This segment deals with nanotechnology, summarizing what futurists hope miniature machines will be able to accomplish in terms of medical technology. Nothing here is unfamiliar to fans of science fiction, and the types of anti-aging and healing properties that the show describes I recall seeing on the Syfy Channel’s original programs a couple of times in the past year. But the conclusion that the arrival of such technology indicates our worthiness to rejoin the aliens is straight out of “Aliens and Robots.” The show asks us to believe that the Sumerian King List, an ancient account of the antediluvian rules and their long reigns, weren’t just myths with symbolic ages of the semi-divine (their ages are multiples of key astrological numbers like 3, 6, and 12) but rather were people kept alive by nanotechnology combatting the signs of aging—for tens of thousands of years per person! Did the nanotechnology simply choose to kill off each person at a symbolically appropriate round number—36,000; 43,200; 18,600; etc.?
This segment describes 3D printing of tissue and organs. David Wilcock hopes that such technology will be cheap enough that even the poor can have replacement organs, sparing us all from the future of Parts: The Clonus Horror, The Island, and Never Let Me Go—if only we can make artificial organs more cost effective than harvesting them from clones of the wealthy, or, as we do now, paying the poor to sell their organs on the black market. All this techno-futurism has nothing to do with aliens or ancient history, but the show does use another idea I saw on Syfy last year, in which humans will someday surf the stars by neural linking ourselves to robots that would experience travel for us. Giorgio Tsoukalos tells us that Heracles’ impenetrable lion skin and a similar covering in the Mahabharata are actually impervious artificial skin manufactured by aliens to be unbreakable. So why did they put a lion’s head and paws on it? I guess it was just the fashion back then, but then again I never got into skinny jeans so I guess I don’t really understand fashion trends.
This segment discusses a global effort to build a computer simulation of an entire human brain. Futurists think that supercomputers with human conscious would gain godlike powers of knowledge thanks to their ability to correlate data. But what data? Would computers be any better than people at distinguishing high quality data from ancient astronaut theories? David Wilcock says that humans could someday upload their personalities to the internet. They might try, but it wouldn’t be “them” in the sense that their consciousness would leave their bodies and enter the computer. At best, it would be a copy, as much “you” as your clone (essentially your twin) is you. The only way it might work is if somehow your brain could have each neuron replaced one by one until only technology remained. It’s an interesting philosophical question, but one that Ancient Aliens chooses not to engage with at all. As far as they care, our minds just pop out of our bodies become super-geniuses online.
The narrator tells us that aliens might be behind all this technology, but no one bothers to offer even token evidence for it. At this point in the series’ long run, it seems that the producers simply assume that audiences fill in the gaps with their own fan-wanks, or memories of past episodes. The bottom line is that no one believes humans are able to do anything on their own.
The final segment discusses the academic paper “Drugs, Space, and Cybernetics” by Nathan S. Kline and Manfred Clynes, which suggested that to survive in space we would need to engineer cyborgs. This segment repeats claims about aliens being cyborgs from “Aliens and Robots.” If you’ve seen that episode, you pretty much saw this one, which expanded two or three of its segments to hour-length and left out all the fun parts of the earlier episode.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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