The Astrological Journal July 2017
Victor Olliver's Editorial
The rise of the astro-bots
Could a robot one day do your job as an astrologer, if it's not already? I am starting to think that the answer must be 'Yes'. The question is not addressed directly in Vincent Godbout's piece 'A.I. comes to astrology' in this issue, but his description of his new astrology software programme, Mastro - which uses A.I. (artificial intelligence) as part of horoscopic analysis - brings us by implication closer to the day when (to paraphrase Oscar Wilde), "Knowledge, taken in sufficient quantities, may produce all the effects of sentience".
Of course, we already have computer astrology, championed successfully by Robert Currey and others. But, as you will see, Godbout's helpful astro-bot appears to be a major advance along the evolutionary road towards human replacement. Mastro is not alone. At Astrodienst, one of the world's largest online astrology sites (astro.com), A.I. is already producing sophisticated automated reports. As far back as thirty years ago, the site's founder, Dr. Alois Treindl (a physicist who subscribes to Jungian psychological astrology) said in an interview: "When setting up a computer programme to make astrological statements on an individual, one has to ensure that the programme possesses as many abilities of a human counsellor as possible. Until recently, this was impossible for technical reasons. In the last few years however, methods of information technology have been developed which aim at imitating an expert's ability with a computer. This area is generally circumscribed as 'Artificial Intelligence', although a better name would be 'knowledge-based systems', 'knowledge processing' or 'expert systems'". Godbout's Mastro systems aim to match the human expert.
If this is 'bad news' to Luddites then comfort may still be found in the enduring mystery about the actual physical workings of astrology - a thought more likely to resonate with astrologers outside of psychological, 'science-based' approaches. This could be the one guarantee that no machine will ever better the organic practitioner blessed with psychic support or an empathetic gift for responding to nuance. After all, if there is a missing information component in programming (the 'mystery'), the robot is rather hobbled; rather third-rate. Oh, but hang on. Here comes Tony Waterfall's new book, CPI Theory: Continuous Planetary Interaction Theory (see 'Books: Editor's choice') which contends that there is a physical or scientific explanation for how astrology works. If true, the game's up for us breeding breathers and our 'art'. The computer will surely absorb the CPI factors to complete its imitation of a human astrological seer. Over to sentient bot Hal of 2001: A Space Odyssey fame!
Fashion, like the stock market, is a fidgety and reactive measure of general health and trends, be these cultural, economic, spiritual or aesthetic; or what have you. The catwalk or runway is a theatre of the lucrative absurd in which under-nourished exemplars of the human physical ideal (as decreed by often freaky-looking, ancient designers) display zeitgeist apparel to trigger next season's high street shopping wave. Behind this circus are ideas, and it is this aspect which fascinates me: to what extent can astrology reflect the notions that fuel trends? Liz Hargreaves' report does not dwell on this but tests the contention that Scorpios dominate the world of fashion. Her absolutely fabulous research produced amazing results. What is it about the Scorpio temperament that directs it to bring to the surface underlying themes in society? I think I may have just answered my own question.
Catherine wheel of time
My thanks to Natalie Delahaye for sharing the birth clock-time of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. She obtained this information legitimately. But the absence of time from Catherine's birth certificate is a reminder of the woeful situation in the UK: "Most UK birth certificates do not have the time of birth recorded [except for twins and some Scottish registrations], and so are not suitable for solely astrological research," states website bmd- certificates.co.uk. This omission is so irrational that you wonder at the state of mind of the long-forgotten jobsworth responsible for such a decision, if one was ever made. Come on UK, think of us astrologers.
This is the editorial from the September 2017 edition of the Astrological Journal, the UK's premier astrological magazine.