In 2018, in an article covered by multiple broadcast media outlets and retweeted by US Congressmen, HWFO laid out the “disaster preparedness” case for owning an AR-15 rifle using zombies as our test case. I stated then that zombies were “obviously pure fiction,” but now I’m not so sure.
If you’re particularly susceptible to suggestion, fantastical thoughts, horror, or violence, stop reading. If you’re a conspiracy theorist who ever plans on acting on a conspiracy theory, stop reading. As a matter of fact, if you’re anyone at all, stop reading. Don’t read this.
If you’re still here, we need to start with definitions.
The walking dead. Reanimated corpses. Bodies which used to be alive die, are infected by a disease, a possession, or other sort of animus that cause the bodes to reanimate and rise to attack those humans who are not yet zombies, converting others into zombies by killing. Zombies notoriously eat brains. They are driven by a singular groupthink to spread their animus among the living. They spread virally. They attack in mobs.
Zombies are among the “Undead.” Creatures which are alive but not. In the case of zombies, their bodies move and eat, but their power of reason is lost and they are soulless husks, controlled by the animus of their make. The viral zombie disease or curse has subsumed what once made them human and now controls their actions, bent on nothing more elaborate than spreading itself.
Egregores and AI
HWFO speaks of Egregores quite a bit:
An Egregore is the living embodiment of the NPC meme, the root of “Current-Thing-Ism,” and the next phase of human societal evolution or de-evolution, depending on your point of view. John Robb calls them Network Swarms, Patrick Ryan calls them Autocults, and they’re all just names for the same thing: humans giving over their sense making to one of several groupthink entities networked on social media, evolving to become the most viral.
We discover that it’s easier to navigate with Google Maps than road atlases, and the smart phones take over our navigation circuits. We discover it’s easier to to outsource calorie tracking, or sleep tracking, or scheduling, to our phones, and the smart phones take over our organizational circuits. We discover it’s easier to outsource geopolitics to our phones, and we all want Nuclear War with Russia. We discover it’s easier to outsource morality to our phones, and we all become Woke.
The chain of events to date looks about like this.
People become increasingly online and connected to social media, where these egregores develop. A schism develops between the people who live in the real (plumbers, roofers, truckers) and people who live in the smartphone (facebook karens, political pundits, anyone white collar in coastal blue cities). The former are insulated from egregorical capture, the latter are the beating heart of the egregore itself. When masks and lockdowns materialized, they didn’t originate with the plumbers. The plumbers remained vexed when the lockdowns disappeared into a puff of smoke and were replaced by Black Lives Matter, to reappear as vax mandates, to transmogrify into Standing with Ukraine.
Anyone who opposes the whims of the egregore, whose Overton Window resembles a flock of starlings in its lack of focus, gets cancelled. Your “37 Genders” protest sign got you in the front of the line in 2016, but got you cast out in 2018 and cancelled outright in 2020. Don’t you know trans women are women now? Plug in, watch the starlings, don’t get left out of the mob, because cancellation is the punishment for being left behind.
Major thinkers, including scientists themselves, self-censor to avoid cancellation and even join the mobs. “Yes, we all know that the chimeric coronavirus with the spike protein on the S1/S2 furin cleavage site came from the lab a mile away doing research on chimeric coronaviruses with spike proteins intentionally added to their S1/S2 furin cleavage sites, but Trump said it came from China so it came from a pangolin. Please don’t cancel me. Instead, I will help you cancel others. Medical gender transition in children is not happening except when it is, and when it is it’s totally safe and normal.”
This is where we are. Do we have full fledged zombies? Not yet. But let’s peer into the crystal ball and take a look at what the future has in store for us.
Artificial Intelligence is developing at breakneck pace. Everyone’s freaking out about AI Alignment. Some are concerned that those writing the AIs are going to use the guardrails within them to steer the culture wars, by which they mean the egregore itself, towards their own preferred answers. Overton Window Manipulation. Fly the starlings like so many kites into actions the programmers determine.
Others are worried that when the AIs hit the Kurzweil boundary, they will become the egregore itself, marshalling enough processing power to control those egregorically captured humans like automatons, and eventually the Current Thing will be to eat the brains of your neighbors.
This manifestation will differ from prior outbreaks of religious groupthink because it will have updates on the feed, and there will be an open API to their emotions and thoughts with no rate limiting, and no psycho-security. It will not simply attempt to outcompete other religions for purchase in the overall attention economy, it will evolve on the fly.
Either of these possibilities is just a different path to the same destination, a kind of a cross between the Evil Dead and the Borg of Star Trek, where the social media addicts become extensions of the machine god. Soulless techno-zombies doing the Current Thing to fit in with all the others having their brains eaten by their phones.
A decade ago, people began to be ostracized from their peer groups for being a Democrat or being a Republican. Today, people are ostracized for believing there are two genders, or believing the 2020 election wasn’t stolen. It’s hard to know where that escalatory trend ends. Will people will profess their loyalty to the egregore by performative intentional pregnancy-abortion cycles? Self immolation? Child sacrifice?
All the while the plumbers will continue to look on, wondering what the egregore avatars are thinking, indeed wondering if they are at all. NPC dialogue boxes proselytizing the Current Thing of the last five minutes. In 2016 it was 37 genders, 2022 nuclear war, 2028 mandatory furry sex, 2032 climb into your Matrix Movie electropod for the good of the Machine God.
In the darkest moments of my mind’s eye, I see mobs of these egregore zombies, soulless and without free will, demanding the plumbers plug in and get their Morality Update else suffer the wrath of the hivemind. I see cancellation extending to bank accounts, credit cards, and home buying, an attack vector already pilot tested by Xi’s China and Trudeau’s Canada. Only the zombies shall have homes or the ability to buy and sell products. I see central digital currencies overtaken by the hivemind, wielded as weapons against those who refuse to plug in. Cash becomes illegal. I see these things arising first in the Pacific Rim and spreading to Europe, then here. Chinese robot “public safety” spy dogs and automated nurses update the zombies to central egregore approved behavior scripts.
I see the United States being the last bulwark against the zombie spread in the Northern Hemisphere, purely because of our gun ownership rate. I see the plumbers unwilling to become in-pluggers sneaking south of the border and on to Chile and Peru as things get worse.
A mass of reasonless, soulless husks, driven by a singular groupthink to spread their animus to those who aren’t plugged in, attacking in mobs, alive but not. The external animus subsuming what once made them human now controls their actions, bent on nothing but spreading itself.
The zombie apocalypse.
Is this likely to happen? Probably not. Should you lose sleep over it? I wouldn’t recommend it. But are the chances nonzero?
I think yes.
The chances of the zombie apocalypse as described herein, with aforementioned caveats and semantic clarifications, are nonzero.
spending 15 minutes on any of the popular subreddits will tell you this is much closer than any of us want to admit.
1) Hail the Omnissiah
2) What's really scary to me are those who seem to leap at the chance to sublimate themselves to the Egregore (any egregore). They excitedly inform you of the new orthodoxy as if they have received another set of golden tablets. I think about how all the essential oil ladies in church became enneagram ladies overnight. And they were true believers of both.
Will there be those who willingly take the bite to join the shambling horde? Certainly. And I mourn them.