Paua 23 Rant – Tokenizing Indigenous Culture, Drawing Spiritual Seekers Into Behaviorist Blockchain Protocols

The following is a guest post about blockchained wellbeing metrics promoted as an inclusive, emerging tech spiritual practice.


May 2023

Hi Alison,

A couple of days ago a friend of mine sent me a screenshot of a conference being held in Paris that a member of the alternative health and freedom space was promoting on her instagram account. My friend’s comment was; “This looks shady, no?” I assured her that yes indeed, it was very shady, and I went straight to the website of the conference and started speed reading my way through it. 

Alison, you have been saying all along that this new paradigm of AI-run extended reality inhabited by a digitally-twinned, re-brained, blockchained, semi-lobotomized populace would ride in cloaked in the mantle of spiritual evolution. I have long been pretty grossed out by aspects of the “spiritual” community for many reasons, but this conference takes it to the next level. The fact that someone from the “resistance” (you’re right, everything does need air quotes now) was gushing about it on her instagram account was a depressing reminder of how when a wolf is wearing the right outfit, even really smart people fail to see the disguise.

The conference is coming up on May 12-13, 2023, and it will be live-streamed. I wish it was free, that way I could sit there and watch and listen with my face all contorted without giving them any of my hard earned fake money. I may bite the bullet anyway. This conference is called PAUA, which interestingly is a Maori word for the shell of a mollusk or abalone. It makes me think of the term ‘ a shell of a man’. An empty shell of a man…a robot maybe? Or someone so removed from themself that they’re no longer recognizable? I don’t know.

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The two-day program ping pongs back and forth between artificial intelligence, ancient wisdom, Web3, Mother Earth, the metaverse, planetary consciousness, conscious capital, and of course…psychedelics. There is also a strong, and exploitative, emphasis on the Kogi people, a very private indigenous tribe who live deep in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains of Northern Columbia and have been dodging colonization and clinging to their sacred and traditional way of life since at least the 15th century. The dragging of two of their leaders to Paris to help woke-wash their next-gen colonization tactics is weirdly reminiscent of the Native American chiefs put on display at the world’s fairs of the late 1800’s. It seems the token economy extends itself to include the tokenizing of the native people used as hood ornaments for the robotic Trojan horse.

From the event’s homepage:

“As we enter into this new decade of the twenties, we have the opportunity to reintegrate ancient knowledge into our modern civilization to create a new narrative for humanity that offers a positive view of the future of our civilization. PAUA is about creating connections between the material world and the spiritual realms, making visible the invisible while featuring an exploration into a wide range of ancient knowledge. PAUA will explore the future of Web3, the Metaverse, and AI, as well as how consciousness can be the fundamental basis for conducting business, Apps, and self transformation” 

I don’t know about you, but for me reading that paragraph felt like all of a sudden a turd bobbed up from the bottom of my cup as I peacefully stirred it. 

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So let’s get into the speakers. The lineup starts off with a bang.

Yat Siu is the co-founder and executive chairman of the global blockchain and gaming leader Animoca Brands. Yat has many accolades including being a World Economic Forum Global Leader of Tomorrow. This should have triggered a pause for many in the alternative sphere if they had taken a few moments to look into the first highlighted speaker of the event. 

Animoca has many blockchain gaming projects in its portfolio, but a few of the standouts for me are TinyTap, bringing education to Web3, with over 200,000 activities and courses, like “math path” and “my life skills box” that feature such lessons as “I go to the bathroom” and “I blow my nose.” Educators own their content by minting their course as an NFT which they can host or sell on a subject domain. 

“Learners” from childhood to college will be able to store their certificates in their blockchain wallets, gain a lifelong record of their achievements, and earn access passes. Imagine having a token for having mastered “how to blow your nose” follow you around for the rest of your life. 

Other projects are the Mocaverse where the dreamer, builder, angel, connector and neo-capitalist tribes converge to learn, play, do good, and build a more “equitable and inclusive” Web3 together. It also features “Life Beyond” where you buy land, start your own society, and try to keep the nanobot invasions from wiping out your civilization. Other games involve speeding hotrods through city streets (Animoca teamed up with Google to utilize google maps (and I’m sure soon Google Earth, right?), so the speeding frenzy could take place in real time on real streets. It makes me wonder if one day in the near future  someone from the open metaverse crashing into you as you rumble along in your physical reality could have a real world impact? Like those helmets where you die in real life if your avatar kicks the bucket. I could go on and on, but I need to keep moving. 

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Tim Chang is a partner at the Mayfield Fund, focusing on venture capital investments in consumer internet, digital media, ecommerce/marketplace, and health/wellness. He has twice been named on the Midas list of top 100 VCs. Tim led Mayfield’s investments in MOAT (acquired by Oracle), and Basis (acquired by Intel). Tim was previously a partner at Norwest Venture Partners where he led NVP’s investments in Playdom (acquired by Disney), and AdChina (acquired by Alibaba). Tim received a MBA from Stanford School of Business. His venture capital specialties include quantified self/life, digital communities/media/gaming, digital health and wellness, smarthome and connected devices/IoT.

Tim also sits on the board of Reimagine, a non profit that “exists to help people of all backgrounds face adversity, loss, and mortality, and channel the hard parts of life into meaningful growth and action.” They understand the “science” of PTSD” and have come up with a “virtuous cycle” where you’re taught “five steps to becoming the hero of your own journey.” First you’re “educated” on how to flourish. Then you learn how to “regulate” your emotions with the help of a coach. Next you share your grief in a “safe environment,” while AI hoovers up your agony like a meth addict in the background. Finally, you chart new goals and become of service. 

To do this God’s work the Reimagine team hired an external software development team to create mock-ups of the entire user experience. Implementing an on-going “co-creation” process with members of their community. The firm incorporated feedback from surveys, interviews, and focus groups into the design; and then they partnered with a renowned game designer to craft a seamless user experience for the traumatized data sources. Through this interface subjects wo;; write down the most difficult and intimate details of their anguish, along with goals and actions intended to “snap them out of it” and create new “journeys” on digital dashboards. Once that program is in place, participants will be nudged back to their forced happy place. The Reimagine board alone is worthy of several pages of analysis, but I need to stay on track.

Here’s a link to their 2021 Impact Report.

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Next up is Nichol Bradford. Nichol is the founder and CEO of the Willow Group working to trigger “transformative collisions by providing the most effective and accessible technologies for creating permanent, positive shifts in peace of mind, mental balance, life satisfaction, and happiness.” Their mission is to permanently move a billion people into a state of fundamental well being and flourishing by 2030. Nichol also founded a company called Transformative Tech that claims to be the only global platform connecting founders with investors, resources, and tools to succeed in the “well being tech industry.”

Nichol is a graduate of the Singularity University global solutions program, has an MBA from Wharton School of Business in strategy, and a BBA in marketing from the University of Houston. Bradford is also a fellow of the British American Project. See the quote below taken from that organization’s website: “I want to make the case that a trans-Atlantic leadership network like BAP is exceptionally well positioned to exert a potentially game-changing, tipping-point influence in the future that is unfolding.” The statement was made by Dr. Barbara Stephenson, Dean of the leadership and management school of the Foreign Service Institute who is on the board of the Brandon Marshall foundation for Mental Health and a former member of the Council on Foreign Relations. 

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So far so good right? I feel closer to ascension already.


Moving right along to Linda Adami, founder and CEO of Quantum Temple. Her interests include: Cultural Heritage Preservation, Web3, impact, and inclusion. Linda is an impact strategist who spent 10 years in emerging markets across Central America, South-East Asia, and the Gulf. She graduated with honors from King’s College, London and completed a three-month program at MIT Media Labs. Her company, Quantum Temple, is a Web3 platform “preserving” cultural heritage. Their mission is to develop the first decentralized record of cultural heritage and unlock regenerative impact funding powered by Web3. “We enable equitable exchanges between conscious collectors and ancestral communities through blockchain technology”. 

So I checked out Quantum Temple’s website. In the simplest terms this is what I see. It’s selling NFTs of the essence of cultural heritage sites. You login and connect your wallet, then you validate your identity and start bidding on the little slice of cultural heritage you wish to stick in your wallet. An example of how this works is “On the full moon of the fourth month.” That’s the name of the NFT. 

Here’s the full story:

Once a decade, on the full moon of the fourth month a stone is brought from the village of Manukaya to be bathed in the waters of the sacred pool of Tirtha Empul. The stone is carved with an inscription in old Balinese, a language no longer spoken, deciphered in the 1920s. It records King Chandrabhayasingha Warmmadewa’s construction of the bathing pools in the year 962 AD, on the full moon of the fourth month. Thus the connection between the stone and the pool has remained unbroken for more than a thousand years. The waters from the pool flow to the ancient royal tombs and monasteries. 

Right now the bidding is at 1.0633 eth ($2,000). 

What does one get, and who makes the money from that sale? Forty percent goes to Quantum Temple and another forty percent goes to the “culture keepers” of the temple. In this case it is a young man and his father who keep the temple clean and lead the guests’ sacred cleansing experience. Ten percent goes to the filmmakers who shot the 33 second Mp4, which is the NFT. Five percent goes to the “curator of the experience.” I guess he’s the culture scout. The last five percent goes into an impact fund. So the temple experience, now digitally twinned, lives in some collectors wallet and cultural history is preserved forever. 

The End

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My plan for this piece was to look into the Web3/AI personalities and point out what should be obvious incongruities between what they’re espousing and the idea of spiritual “up-leveling.” I wanted to sort of glaze over the meditation/consciousness camp with a one-size-fits-all wrap up of their usual bag of labels and objectives. I was trying to get this letter finished, so it didn’t drag it out for multiple days. I guess I was hoping on some level that at least a few of these speakers were actually what they claimed. What I found is  that the Web3 crowd is pretty honest about the role they are playing in this grand comedy of horrors. They’re simply draping themselves in the sexy sheer nightie of ultra spiritualism for this particular gig. When they show up at the blockchain bro expo next month I’m sure their language will change, but their objectives will remain dead on. My point being, I was trying to skate quickly past the barefoot, micro-dosing, sound bath whispering light goddesses and just leave them alone, but it wasn’t meant to be. 

I stuck Amandine Roche’s name into my search engine, and this is what came out…

Amandine Roche is a human rights lawyer and International peace keeper who promotes wellness through meditation and yoga. The list of people who she’s studied her multitude of practices under is like a who’s who of mindfulness and bliss. 

She studied mindfulness with Jon Kabat Zinn, who created the ‘Stress Reduction Clinic’ and ‘The Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society’ at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Kabat Zinn earned a PhD in 1971 at MIT in molecular biology. While at MIT, Kabat Zinn was campaigning against the school’s military research, so in order to quell the student protests, MIT appointed him alongside Noam Chomsky and George Katsiaficas to an advisory panel on the future of the university’s military labs. Kabat Zinn is on the board of the Mind and Life institute.

Roche studied altruism and compassion with Mathieu Ricard (also on the board of the Mind and Life Institute). Ricard received his PhD in molecular genetics from the Pasteur Institute in 1972 before deciding to shuck his scientific career, move to the Himalayas and study Tibetan Buddhism. Ricard has been called the “happiest person in the world’ by several popular media outlets, because they all got the same memo. He volunteered to participate in a University of Wisconson-Madison study on happiness. Sufficeth to say, he scored significantly above average. Ricard has spoken at the United Nations as part of the Gross National Happiness Resolution, the Global Economic Symposium, The World Government Summit, and has been invited to the World Economic Forum ten times.

Roche has also studied with Deepak Chopra, who needs no introduction, but I did take a quick glance at his website and saw that the two most recent additions to his archive are a piece he wrote titled “How AI could set us free,” which was an overly simplistic and incredibly tone deaf piece that concludes “’If AI takes over all the jobs, then that frees up humanity and the obstacles to human potential would be radically lessened… this could amount to a leap in the evolution of consciousness.” His other article was about wireless sensor technology that monitors an individual’s responses while meditating. 

With Roche’s mentor roster and resume of working with the UN, the European Commission, Unicef, UNESCO, UN Women, and USAID, it’s clear to me she’s as big a player in this game as the rest of them.

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Ok, I think I’ve made my point.

I’m not even close to halfway through the list of speakers, but I’ll leave the rest for anybody else who can stomach it. I really just wanted to point out that many folks in the “higher consciousness-focused” community aren’t grasping the disconnect between what they’re absorbing from their gurus and spiritual teachers and what lies on the other side of that gauzy ethereal curtain. How can a conference of this stature, one with an Web3 mindfulness agenda trumpeting from every line of text and every speaker bio, not set off alarm bells for “the resistance?” 

Seeing someone who’s so embedded in the alternative sphere practically getting the vapors over this glossy, highly funded, Deloitte-sponsored, change agent-driven performance piece swathed in all the right newspeak “justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion,” where phrases like “sacred ancient knowledge” and “higher consciousness” are nothing but clickbait…

This conference was the low hanging fruit I needed to finally write something again. To try to draw some eyes away from the influencers on stage, and bring them round back, to the shit show where they might get a glimpse of the gamified, tokenized cybernetic ant computer. Pull back the gauzy spiritual curtain and see the plan is for everyone to live on blockchain and respond to nudges from wireless sensor networks – from their iPhones, from their tutors, from their health coaches, and from their doctors. 

I want people to see that “wellness” is the base layer cost offset for their impact investing. That they want us “happy” in tiny house communities, fifteen-minute SMART villages run by nuclear reactors airdropped in shipping containers at the edge of town. In this future a majority of people will sit in haptic suits and compete for global gig work, because they’ve been convinced that we live in a “post knowledge” era where humans have few skills that can outperform artificial intelligence. In this future our spiritual ascension comes at a high cost –  the complete capture of our every thought, emotion, and desire so the machine can manipulate us into “bliss.” These smug, arrogant change makers from every corner of academia are juicing us up on the idea of there being a utopia around the next corner even as the “open metaverse” stealthily closes in around us. 


Your Farming Friend Verityhound


5 thoughts on “Paua 23 Rant – Tokenizing Indigenous Culture, Drawing Spiritual Seekers Into Behaviorist Blockchain Protocols

  1. margie says:

    I love this guy! Such poetry:
    “I don’t know about you, but for me reading that paragraph felt like all of a sudden a turd bobbed up from the bottom of my cup as I peacefully stirred it.” Beautifully said!

    “As we enter into this new decade of the twenties, we have the opportunity to reintegrate ancient knowledge into our modern civilization to create a new narrative for humanity that offers a positive view of the future of our civilization. PAUA is about creating connections between the material world and the spiritual realms, making visible the invisible while featuring an exploration into a wide range of ancient knowledge. PAUA will explore the future of Web3, the Metaverse, and AI, as well as how consciousness can be the fundamental basis for conducting business, Apps, and self transformation”
    “I don’t know about you, but for me reading that paragraph felt like all of a sudden a turd bobbed up from the bottom of my cup as I peacefully stirred it.”

    • Neil Taylor says:

      Thanks for this useful illustration into the nature of the beast.

      This is what psychopaths trying to learn how to fake being fully human look like, and it reminds me of the hairdressers et al in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, perched on a hillside determining to reinvent the wheel and arguing about what shape it should be and the colour, while Ford Prefect looking on has an OMG moment of revelation that this is how our species becomes extinct.

      They charicature themselves far better than anyone else could, yet we really should try. The more they try to use digital technology to learn and mimic humanity, in order to teach the humans how to be humans, the more they reveal their catastrophic human deficit.

      This transhumanist mentality is centuries old amongst the human bits missing ones. Here’s Yevgeny Zamyatin in his 1921 dystopian novel ‘We’:

      “….you are not to blame. You are sick. The name of your illness is:
      This is the worm that eats out black wrinkles on the brow. This is the fever that drives you to run farther and farther, even though that “farther” began in the place where happiness ends. This is the last barrier on the path to happiness.
      But rejoice: It has already been demolished. The path is free.
      The latest discovery of State Science: The imagination is centered in a wretched little brain node in the region of the pons Varolii. Expose this node to three doses of X rays—and you are cured of imagination.
      You are perfect, you are the equal of the machine, the path to 100 percent happiness is free. Hurry, then, all of you, young and old, hurry to undergo the Great Operation. Hurry to the auditoriums where the Great Operation is performed. Long live the Great Operation! Long live OneState! Long live the Benefactor!…..

      ……Inside, one was already lying on a blindingly white table. The soles of his bare feet could be seen sticking out at a yellow angle from beneath the white; white medics were bending over his head; a white hand was passing to another hand a syringe filled with something.

      Work will be suspended tomorrow—all Numbers will report for the Operation. Those not in compliance will be subject to the Machine of the Benefactor.

      A true algebraic love of mankind will inevitably be inhuman, and the inevitable sign of the truth is its cruelty. Just as the inevitable sign of fire is that it burns.”

      They aspire to be “the equal of the machine”, because with the human bits missing, that’s what they in effect are, and so should we be in their eyes. But they can harvest our souls with their machines, the better to be able to fake us. Psychopathy is a dissociative condition. It splits and projects its own issues onto the external world, (that’s us folks), and seeks to control them there. In this way we have to become like them, and every institution there is is dedicated to that goal, and has been for ever. Now its on steroids, and 10% of us are on SSRIs which are but one of the ways of converting the species into them.

      Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’ from 1816 is on my reading list next, and someone recently pointed out Dostoyevsky as predicting the 4th industrial revolution!:

      Know thine enemy.

      And share that knowledge.

  2. Z says:

    Wow! Excellent piece. When they are sucking in the ultra spiritual crowd, you know we are in for a helluva ride.

    It sounds like your Farming Friend has more to tell, I look forward more on this topic.

    I recently discovered one of my favorites thinkers and author, James True, has veered into the VR and AI shit storm, this piece makes me wonder who is next?

  3. Christine Francis says:

    This Paua initative has been on my radar for awhile… same with the Quantum Temple.
    I had been following Sarah Drew for awhile as I read her book ‘The Gaia Codex’ back in 2016.

    It’s amazing to me how the burning man mystique has become the airbrushed exoskeleton that’s greasing the wheels of a lot of crypto/NFT/Web3 spaces.

  4. d says:

    It’s amazing to me how the burning man mystique has become the airbrushed exoskeleton that’s greasing the wheels of a lot of crypto/NFT/Web3 spaces.

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