Astrology needs a Revolution - Part 1
Updated: Aug 9
Why it’s important for astrology to progress as a protoscience (a science in the making) and ideas on how to get there.
Astrology is playing a very small game. Aided by new business, exponential technology (artificial intelligence) and data science it has the potential to contribute in a much more significant way to solving real-world problems to better serve humanity and earth. The integration of these technologies, represents a bridging of spirituality and science. My intention is not to diminish astrology’s current contribution which is necessary and valuable. Rather, what is required to become a key player and stakeholder in the future, is much more.
Key to unlocking the astrology-science debate, is to understand science as a powerful method of reputable enquiry and credible path to knowledge, rather than the misguided notion of lab experiment or straight-jacket of material reductionism. 2021 has already seen unprecedented inroads into illuminating dark matter (CERN) in physics – the possible realm of understanding the mechanism of astrology - challenging the limited, standard model of science (physics).
Astrology progressed in the 70s with the automation of the ephemeris (the trajectory of naturally occurring astronomical objects over time) and computer-generated birth (natal positions) and transit (current positions) charts. The French astrologer André Barbault leveraged this progress to access more accurate astrological data for historical events to formulate his cyclical index. Next came the internet in the late 1980s and social media in the 2000s, leveraging astrology through digital technology and increased global online accessibility.
Since 2010, artificial intelligence (AI), AI algorithms like neural net, machine learning and big data, offer advanced pattern generation, pattern sorting and prediction opportunities. This is the new untapped science and technology to enable astrology to play a bigger game.
Astrology’s Lack of Progress
While science and technology are progressing at an exponential rate, astrology is not. Astrology may be flourishing, thanks to the internet, social media and increased uptake by the millennial generation which gives the illusion of progress. Within the informed general public domain, astrology is becoming more unacceptable and unwelcome. As Jonathan Jarry so succinctly said, “Astrology is a pseudoscience due to its lack of progress and refusal to deal with a large body of critical scientific studies” (Jarry, 2020). Robert Currey, the editor of the peer-reviewed scientific astrology journal Correlation, speaks to this in the Astrology News Service (ANS) video How Sceptics distort the truth about Astrology.
The fact that there is (outside India) very limited public and corporate (private) interest in sponsorship (investment) of serious astrology research (projects) and only a handful of peer-reviewed scientific astrology research journals in the world, is testimony to astrology’s lack of progress. The reputation and credibility of astrology will not be built on a growing number of individually successful astrologers, but rather by astrology’s socio-cultural contribution to humanity and earth.
Astrology as both a Protoscience and an Art
The astrology-science debate is an emotionally loaded one for astrologers and the astrology community. I deeply resonate with what Nicholas Campion said in the ANS video The Most Significant Prediction made by an Astrologer, that he takes great personal umbrage in the way in which astrology, as an ancient way of connecting to the wider cosmos, is often ridiculed. Ridicule, primarily from the academic and scientific communities (informed general public), is an uncomfortable shared reality for many astrologers.
There is also a concern from astrologers that astrology will lose its mysterious and spiritual luminescence if it had to “become a science”. What is needed is the perspective that astrology can be both an art and a protoscience without losing anything of what it currently is. Science is a credible, reputable method of enquiry, or “coming to know”. Intuition, realisation and logical deduction are other, no less valid and valuable paths to knowledge - but we need to do both.
New Business and Exponential Technology (AI)
The task of empowering astrology to service humanity in a bigger way is not going to happen through decades of classical empirical research studies and tests, slowly accumulating evidence to support hypothesis and establish theory – we don’t have the time! Astrology needs a revolution – to embrace new business, exponential technology and data science to rapidly produce “quick wins” and success stories that will thrust astrology as a protoscience into prominence and attract interest and investment.
The difference between ‘classical’ scientific research and artificial intelligence (machine algorithms and machine learning) is that the latter generates patterns and makes correlations, imperceptible to human cognition. In classical scientific research we start with a hypothesis about a correlation which we test through research which is then either supported or refuted. The sophistication of artificial intelligence (exponential technology) with its advanced pattern generating and machine learning algorithms, is perfectly suited to the elusive mystery of astrology.
Solving Real-World problems – A Success Story
Imagine for a moment a headline in Nature or Lancet communicating a breakthrough for humanity in the form of a simple, non-invasive, free test that accurately predicts immunity to SARS-CoV-2! (Note, this is an example of a problem worthy of solving - not a statement of absolute astrological certainty or scientific fact). On closer scrutiny, the story reveals the requirement for (together with other information) a person’s birth date, place and time (optional). Everyone is curious about whether astrology is involved!
The Alchemy of the Feature Set
How would the simple test predicting immunity to SARS-CoV-2 be created using machine learning, neural net algorithms and astrology? Machine-learning is the weft that uses big data and advanced pattern generating and sorting algorithms (like neural net algorithms) to build a fabric (advance set of patterns) of what “immunity to SARS-CoV-2” would look like. Taking this analogy further, the warp threads of the loom are the foundational structure – this is the machine learning/neural net feature set.
The challenge relating to the feature set for astrology, is that astrology factors using implicitly "loaded" multi-dimensional, multivalent symbolism residing within zodiac degrees, signs and houses are too multifarious for the “computational” elegance required for the feature set. Elegance analogous to the type of thinking and method that resulted in André Barbault’s cyclical index is required – although bear in mind that face recognition is also a complex, multi-dimensional phenomenon currently being tackled by the same technology. Astrologer Renay Oshop (2017) has some ideas here (feature set), having already achieved some success in this domain. The solution would require an astrological paradigm shift in the form of the creation of a “meta" or "translation" layer that would reside above the zodiac. (I want to label this "zodiac-agnostic" which is not correct, but gives an idea of what we are reaching for).
The feature set would be customised for each (specific) project (requirement) - or problem-solving challenge. For example, for the immunity to SARS-CoV-2 research project Mercury, Hygiea and Neptune type astrology factors may “feature”, whereas solving human trafficking problems, predicting suicide vulnerability or predicting a predisposition for addiction at birth, would each use a potentially different feature set (solution).
If we can consistently problem solve and predict (probability rating) using exponential technology with an astrological feature set - in a space where all else being equal, other feature sets are not successful - then in addition to solving real-world problems, we also consistently validate the astrological "as above, so below" maxim.
The Challenge of Big-Data
Exponential technology requires big data - the next big challenge for astrology. The feature set dictates what type of data is required for the machine learning algorithm. Collaboration with other research projects has massive benefits – for example, data used by other SARS-CoV-2 research projects trying to solve the same problem – would be ideal. Research project reputation and credibility are important, giving access to this type of collaboration that comes with the benefits of valuable resources like data. If this data is not available from existing sources (or available but incomplete), there would be a requirement to build structures to gather/create/merge data, which can be time-consuming and expensive but necessary.
Let’s assume data are available from a reputable medical research project working to achieve the same goal. This includes 500 000 random records of SARS-CoV-2-diagnosed-symptomatic-ill-deceased (DSID) humans and 500 000 records of humans exposed to SARS-CoV-2-DSID family members (or friends) but not becoming symptomatic (diagnosed-symptomatic-ill) themselves.
400 000 of the 500 000 records of each group would be used to train the machine learning neural net algorithm to produce a set (fabric) of advanced patterns of what (1) vulnerability (lack of immunity) and (2) resilience (immunity) “looks like”. Once this has been achieved, the remaining 200 000 records (100 000 from each group) would be mixed and run blind through the trained algorithms to generate a probability rating (prediction) for each record (human). The calculated probability rating is then compared to the actual data which signals whether our algorithm/feature set works or not. This is where the success resides – in whether we can make predictions with significant accuracy. Once we show we can consistently predict (using existing known data), the goal is achieved. There would undoubtedly be other research projects doing the same research and predicting with their own feature sets. We would collaborate and replicate each other’s results, helping each other progress.
A Revolution in Astrology
I’ve over-simplified the project for the purpose of communicating the AI concept and making a point. The advantage of the AI approach is that it is focused on the challenge of solving a real-world problem. The astrological nature or blend of the feature set is confidential Intellectual Property (IP). All that is required for solution credibility, is to produce consistently significant predictions, initially verified and intermittently verifiable by actual (known) data. These types of initiatives will generate quick wins for astrology research projects and this type of research, leveraged by exponential technology and science is what will drive the revolution of astrology.
If successful, the identity, practice and utility of astrology will be transformed. In its new form, what will remain of astrology is an elusive translation of “as above, so below” nestled deep in the feature set. Astrologers will look back and marvel at how we "manually" generated patterns with multi-level integration of complex, multivalent symbolism without the support of advanced machine learning algorithms. Or maybe not? Astrology will need to embrace the revolution to find out.
Jarry, Jonathan. 2020. McGill.ca. " How Astrology Escaped the Pull of Science".
Oshop, Renay. 2017. NewThinkingAllowed.org. https://www.newthinkingallowed.org/renay-oshop-peer-reviewed-science-comes-to-astrology-345/.
Steyn, Richelle & Currey, Robert. 2021. Astrology News Service YouTube Channel. How Sceptics Distort the Truth about Astrology.
Steyn, Richelle & Campion, Nicolas. 2021. Astrology News Service YouTube Channel. The Most Significant Prediction made by an Astrologer.
The Astrology-Protoscience Project (TAPP)
If you're passionate about social advocacy and astrological progress from a pseudoscience to a protoscience, TAPP is a new astrology initiative with a focus on solving real-world problems in service of humanity and earth using exponential technology and data science. The goal is to organise and collaborate around a set of focused AI Projects. If you are interested in becoming part of this initiative, have innovative ideas around the idea of "zodiac-agnostic" astrology and/or have AI, machine learning, machine algorithm / neural net skills or resources, then join The Astrology-Protoscience Project group on Facebook, or email me on email@example.com (that is .co).
About the Author
Richelle Steyn is a South African astrologer and a freelance online business consultant for the Astrology News Service (ANS). Before studying astrology, Richelle had a full-time career in Corporate Information Technology (IT) as a mainframe programmer, business / systems analyst / consultant and IT project manager. In addition to information technology, Richelle has a passion for understanding the psyche and earned an Honors degree in Psychology and a Post Graduate Diploma in Community Psychological Practice, both from the University of Johannesburg (UJ previously RAU). Her professional astrology certification with Maurice Fernandez served to bridge her experience with information technology and human sciences, with spirituality.