Has A.I. Finally Decoded Bizarre 600-Year-Old Voynich Manuscript?
An esoteric text, discovered over a century ago has left cryptographers and linguists puzzled for decades, but now artificial intelligence may finally decipher the enigmatic content of the Voynich Manuscript.
Carbon dating shows that this esoteric text was written sometime in the 15th century by an unknown author. Its modern provenance has been attributed to an Italian antique book collector, Wilfred Voynich, whom it was named after.
The manuscript contains writings on calfskin parchment that look like a cross between ancient Celtic and some amalgam of middle eastern text. It is thought to be encrypted using a series of cyphers, including anagrams, micrographic shorthand, and abbreviations.
Since its discovery was publicized in 1912, cryptographers and even WWII codebreakers have tried to decipher its contents to no avail, leading many to label it a hoax or simply full of gibberish. In addition to the bizarre inscriptions, the manuscript contain a number of strange illustrations that have led some to believe it to be either alchemical instructions or a book of medicine.
But now, Greg Kondrak, an expert in natural language processing at the University of Alberta, is using artificial intelligence to solve this age-old mystery. The computer algorithm used to translate the text implements information from the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” which contains over 400 different languages.
Their first discovery: the script is an encoded version of Hebrew.
They believe that one of the cyphers may be anagrams alphabetically ordered, showing 80 percent of the words decoded this way as Hebrew. Kondrak and his team have also deciphered a near grammatically correct first sentence that reads:
“She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people.”
The rest of the script remains somewhat encrypted with incongruent words and phrases that have yet to be untangled. Kondrak’s next goal is to bring in someone with more knowledge of ancient Hebrew and its possible ambiguities, as he’s currently been relying on Google translate.
Secrets of Alchemy
Achieving Modern Enlightenment With Gurdjieff's Fourth Way
Around the turn of the 20th century, the mysticism movement aimed to bridge the gap between western and eastern philosophies with theosophy, esotericism, and a burgeoning interest in the occult. This spiritual zeitgeist inspired George Gurdjieff to develop the Fourth Way; exercises that can be incorporated into one’s daily life to remove yourself from a state of hypnotic waking sleep.
The Fourth Way: Hindu, Sufi, And Christian Esotericism
Deeply devoted spiritual practices often focus on either a detachment from the physical or a strict dominance over it. Georges Gurdjieff did not see these attempts to embrace a higher self as practical, believing instead that enlightenment could be achieved without asceticism.
Born in 1866 in Alexandropol, Armenia, Gurdjieff was inspired by the theosophical movement and decided to travel to Central Asia and the Middle East in search of esoteric spiritual leaders and seekers of truth. Upon his return, he penned a series of books that would become the foundation of his spiritual practice: The Fourth Way. The second book in the series and 1979 film, Meetings with Remarkable Men, detailed his encounters with spiritual leaders on his journey who were more likely fictional characters symbolic of the three “ways” preceding his.
During his travels, he was inspired by the spiritual ways of the fakir, monk, and yogi, though he saw their methods as only successful in achieving a fraction of development, with the more practical roots of their disciplines lost in antiquity. At the same time, he believed that the effects of modern technology and society were entrancing everyone into a hypnotic waking sleep.