Oddcast episode

Karin Valis on Magic and Artificial Intelligence

A House with Many Rooms Interview 2

We are delighted to speak with Karin Valis, machine-learning engineer and esoteric explorer, on the vast subject of how the fields of artificial intelligence and magic overlap, intertwine, and inform each other. We discuss:

  • The uncanny oracular effects and synchronistic weirdnesses exhibited by large language models,
  • Conversations with ChatGPT considered as invocation,
  • AI as the fulfilment of the dream of the homonculus (with the attendant ethical problems which arise),
  • AI as the fulfilment of esoteric alphanumeric cosmologies (and maybe, like the Sepher Yetsirah, this isn’t so esoteric after all; maybe it’s just science),

And much more.

Interview Bio:

Karin Valis is a Berlin-based machine learning engineer and writer with a deep passion for everything occult and weird. Her work focuses mainly on combining technology with the esoteric, with projects such as Tarot of the Latent Spaces (visual extraction of the Major Arcana Archetypes) and Cellulare (a tool for exploring digital non-ordinary reality for the Foundation for Shamanic Studies Europe). She co-hosted workshops, talks and panel discussions such as Arana in the Feed (Uroboros 2021), Language in the Age of AI: Deciphering Voynich Manuscript (Trans-States 2022) and Remembering Our Future: Shamanism, Oracles and AI (NYU Shanghai 2022). She writes Mercurial Minutes and hosts monthly meetings of the occult and technology enthusiasts Gnostic Technology.

Works Cited in this Episode (roughly in the order cited):

The homonculus passage in the Pseudo-Clementines: Homilies 3.26; cf. Recognitions 2.9, 10, 13–15; 3.47.

On the Book of the Cow/Liber vaccæ: see e.g. Liana Saif. The Cows and the Bees: Arabic Sources and Parallels for Pseudo- Plato’s Liber Vaccæ (Kitab al-Nawams). Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, LXXIX:147, 2016.

‘The Measure of a Man’, Star Trek: The Next Generation Season 2, Episode 9, first aired 13 February, 1989.

Doctor Strange, dir. Scott Derrickson, 2016 Marvel Studios.

Recommended Reading:

Karin has a substack where she posts interesting things. Her recent essay Divine Embeddings is particularly relevant to the discussion of alphanumericism in the interview.

A scarier image produced by the same AI system as the one above, but with the slightly-different prompt ‘occult, magical artificial intelligence’.


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