The world is transitioning from an industrial revolution to an age of technology driven information. Whether you call it natural progression or technological evolution, it is an undeniable, self-sustaining, immoveable force, propelled by infinite moving parts. As hardware becomes smaller and yet more powerful, the possibilities of what can be achieved are becoming just a little more amazing.
There is no reason that astrology should remain a mute spectator to the achievements of the computer age. In fact, astrology makes the perfect candidate to be subjected to a technological makeover.
Astrology Applied Computer Technologies
Back in the day when a computer the size of a small town house, harnessed all the power of an older generation smartphone, astrologers had to chisel out horoscopes the hard way. This involved making a number of manual calculations and the referencing of almanacs, just to hammer out one, sometimes not very accurate, natal chart.
Snap forward to the '90s, the 486 and to when computers started putting down 'Personal' as their first names. This was a time when relatively less expensive, user friendly PCs brought professional grade astrology software, right to the desks of the average astrologer. This meant that for the first time, the labour intensive, manual process of casting a horoscope could be done away with in favour of an automated, instantaneous method. As a result, complete horoscopes were now whizzing out of printers faster that you could say, 'Dot Matrix'.
This was the real technological revolution of astrology because this meant that astrologers were now able to provide quick, cost effective services to anyone, anywhere. Astrologers haven't looked back since, in fact they now look straight into their smart devices and analyse horoscope details in full HD glory.
The Internet has Changed Astrology
Yes, it absolutely has. But, let's put things in perspective here. The Internet has changed the world and the way astrology is practiced, is just another one of those things that has changed along with everything else.
The Internet is a medium like no other and it allows goods, services, information, ideas, messages and a million and one other things to be exchanged globally. An astrologer only needs to be armed with the right hardware, software and awareness of the online world, to make their services available on the Interwebs.
Nowadays content about astrology is available in every conceivable online form, be it blogs, groups, mainstream media content, podcasts, Youtube channels, ecommerce stores, you name it, astrology has it covered. The Internet has taken something that used to be quaint and off beat and made it mainstream.
Astrology and other alternative practices have benefitted from the Internet in another, deeper way too. It has allowed for a comparison and exchange of concept amongst the different forms of astrology, such as Vedic, Krishnamurthy Padati, Chinese, Hellenistic and Babylonian astrology. There are now many people out there who not only have an understanding of different types of astrology, but who understand the mechanics of different predictive techniques in general.
There is a flip side though. Along with all the genuinely useful information, there is also a lot of garbage content, mostly mass produced by large media websites. The content that is churned out 24x7 by sites like Buzzfeed, Yourtango, Bestlife and Refinery29 to name a few, is responsible for a wholesale dumbing down of astrology. This type of content serves no purpose other than to damage the image of this ancient discipline, by perpetuating stereotypical misconceptions. Regrettably, Google Search rewards trash content produced by corporate sites, furthering the myth that such articles are popular.
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Why is Gen Z So Obsessed with Astrology?
But are they really? Even today, how many boomers actually know that astrology is more than just their daily horoscope? The ones that have learnt that it isn't, aren't about to let the millennials and Gen-Zs monopolise this knowledge, or its benefits.
The media often waxes lyrical about why millennials and Gen-Zs are turning to astrology, citing everything from “The uncertain times we live in” to “People losing their religion”, or words to that effect. Well, which time in history has been marked down as a “Certain time”? None that I know of, times are always uncertain, that's why astrology exists.
Occam's Razor dictates that the simplest explanation is the most probable explanation. Today's generation is paying greater attention to astrology simply because they are children of the Internet. They are here to take advantage of anything that the Internet has to offer, astrology just happens to be there for the taking.
How will Technology Change Astrology?
You'll find a lot of talk around the Internet about how exotic techniques like artificial intelligence are being used to revolutionise astrology. As you've probably realised by now the fact is, the power of consumer level hardware and software are presently the real revolutionary factors.
More than an astrologist, it would probably take a futurologist to predict what the next big change might be. Having said that, processing power is destined to always become more powerful and efficient, that's the (Moore's) law. More processing power allows for more complex programming and potentially, more unimaginable possibilities.
In order to assess just what those possibilities might be, we have to take a closer look at how astrology predictions are made and where the opportunities for automation lie.
Astrology predictions can broadly be divided into three parts:
The input of data to take a snapshot of the heavens, at a specific point in time, otherwise known as a, 'Birth Chart'. A simulation of future planetary movement with respect to this chart, otherwise known as, 'Transits'.
An analysis of the planetary positions of the main birth and divisional charts and the referencing of transits. That is, a study of the horoscope.
Interpretations and predictions of this analysis, based on the principles of astrology.
Astrology requires an exact form of data from which it outputs an exact result. This is something that present day astrology software handles very well. Also, astrology is based on a set of well defined principles that can be replicated in computer code. This allows astrology based software to not only produce accurate horoscopes, but to also provide some degree of analysis. Hence, present day software can already compute about 2.5 of the above three factors. This is only bound to improve as their level of sophistication increases.
Correctly analysing a horoscope and making valid predictions are processes that rely on judgment. An astrologer does this by applying their understanding of the context of a situation, assessing the given astrological factors and by providing an interpretation. These are subtle skills that the human mind is quite capable of dealing with. This is however, an art that the binary world of computer processing hasn't been able to master yet. Artificial intelligence is getting there though and in the not too distant future, a computer could be starring in the role of your friendly neighbourhood astrologer.
How Would an Astrology AI Algorithm Work?
There are many hyped up apps that claim to provide astrology predictions through AI. These apps mostly fire off cryptic messages, supposedly based on the user's horoscope and have no real value beyond entertainment.
A serious artificial intelligence based astrology programme should be able to provide a definitive answer to a specific question, based on the user's horoscope.
We already have the basic building blocks required to construct such an application. Artificial neural networks are routinely used to make forecasts for weather and financial markets. They are used in facial recognition, profiling of all kinds and can even be used to compose music.
If PowerFortunes were to construct such an astrology AI, this is how we would go about it. We would first create a model that incorporated all the rules, laws and factors used to make successful predictions. This would be used to determine how the layers of our neural network would be organised and weighted. We would then have to breakdown each step of horoscope interpretation and forecasting, into functions that would activate neurons in subsequent layers.
The methods adopted by the best astrologers could be used to design these two steps. It would also be possible to incorporate different forms of astrology and even numerology, into our algorithm.
Data from a database of successful astrology predictions could be propagated through the network, in order to train it. Populating such a database would not be difficult, as we could call upon the many thousands of successful predictions that we have made in the past.
Our AI would employ a process of machine learning to make adjustments, to continuously improve its accuracy. A natural language processor (NLP) would probably also have to be integrated, so that our AI would be able to convey its output in an intelligible manner.
It would take a small army of experts to even attempt such a task. However, this idea may not be as far-fetched as it sounds. Large tech companies such as Alphabet, have already made available open source AI libraries like TensorFlow that make the task of creating such AI powered applications, less daunting. So, get ready to seat yourself in a 'Captain Kirk' style swivel chair to ask 'Computer', to beep, bop and bip out your latest horoscope predictions.
How do you think technology has influenced alternative practices like astrology? Would you want your horoscope to be read by a robot? Let us know your thoughts by sending us your comments via Twitter or any other social media platform of your choosing.