Manifesting, Artificial Intelligence, and Genies

You found my old blog. Thanks for visiting! For my new writing, visit

Manifesting sometimes succeeds in unexpected ways. The canonical example, which probably never happened: Someone requests money and their uncle dies, leaving an inheritance.

But why? Why does manifesting sometimes find unexpected path? No, not the simple answer, don’t say that’s just how manifesting works. Look for the deep answer, the answer that explains this bug, lets us avoid it, and just maybe lets us update our ethereal software to eliminate it.

Discussing unexpected manifesting results with friends this week, I recalled an article on genies, written by artificial intelligence researchers. The genie fails not because of malice, not because of user error, but because the genie doesn’t understand human values, can’t align itself to the user’s true intent. It’s probably the best explanation of unexpected results I’ve seen.

(The AI researchers are concerned about an intelligent machine that wants something different than what humans want, by the way.)

The rest of this post assumes you’ve read that article. It’s short and fun and you’ll be glad you did.

Read it? Excellent.

That explanation feels right to me. It’s not that some gods / spirits made this useful tool, then occasionally create bad results to spite us. It’s not that the forces we’re using misheard us (“I’d like a 12 inch pianist”). It’s that understanding human values, and eliminating paths we wouldn’t ever consider, is a really hard problem, and the forces we’re using don’t perfectly align to human values.

Wherever forces are behind manifesting, they seem to understand some of what we value, but also miss some of it. They value some goals too highly, others not enough, and some not at all. The forces aren’t being tricky or spiteful or malicious, they’re trying their best at a really hard problem. We don’t need to specify an iron-clad goal that can’t be weaseled out of, but we do need to help them in figuring out what we actually want. Notice how those goals (iron-clad agreement vs clear guidance) result in different approaches.

In my own work, I find that manifesting over-prioritizes my progress in magick. Sometimes it’s small, like wanting me to stay home and work instead of going to a fun-but-not-amazing party. Sometimes it’s big, like recommend staying in a relationship with someone who supports my work, but is not a great partner otherwise. It’s never malicious, it’s just a failure to understand my full priorities. And when I talk with the spirits who made that manifesting ethereal software, they misunderstand human needs in similar ways.

What to do about this? A few ideas:

1. Specify good goals. This is an art — I can’t tell you exactly what “good” means, but there’s a sweet spot between flexibility and precision, and a certain way of expressing goals that these forces seem to understand. I like to ask for paths that “I will be happy with,” so it knows to look for my happiness and not just a state of the world. And in my current work, I’m watching my manifesting requests, asking the ethereal software what phrasing it uses internally and what data it accesses, so I can develop a better sense of how these requests function.

2. Make a request, then ask how that request is likely to come about. Note that this gives the highest-probability path, which may still be fairly unlikely: With a dozen possible paths, the highest-probability path might only have 20% probability. But it gives me some idea of how the ethereal software will approach my request, which is useful for debugging my phrasing. Note that this requires techniques to receive information from these forces, not just sending out one’s intent.

But the real reason I care is because, eventually, people are going to understand how these forces work well enough to reprogram them, fixing these bugs. And the first step is understanding where the bug comes from.

If you liked this post, consider visiting my current blog at

Tags: ,

9 Responses to “Manifesting, Artificial Intelligence, and Genies”

  1. Julie says:

    Interesting article. I like how it starts out almost like an affirmation for health. Yes, it’s important to ask for what we want, which increases the probability of getting it. Sometimes, out of fear of rejection, we don’t ask for what we want, and then ironically we feel rejected anyway. Funny how that works.

    “I want” might work for well manifesting. I’ve read that “I want” is not a good affirmation because it puts you in the state of wanting. A better way to phrase an affirmation is with “I have.” This helps to create the reality you want to have by acting as if you already have it. Instead of saying I want to be happy. All that does is create more wanting. You could say, “I have the tools to be happy, and they are… I am becoming happier day by day. Happiness is my current state of mind.”

    I have a question from last week’s blog. You say you’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. What are the new techniques you’re learning?? Like you said, in time, they will become easy as well. Have some faith :)

    • Thanks! I like to phrase it with “cause me.” So, “Cause me to find a job that I’ll enjoy, that pays well and leaves time for magick, in the near future.” I could imagine other pieces of ethereal software that respond to other phrasings, though.

      The work… I don’t recall which I had in mind, but most of what I do is at the very edge of what I can do (because that’s how we get better, after all). All the work around erotic energy and connecting to my whole body. All this work around watching the information that the manifesting software uses (which involves more difficult communication than I’ve done before). And putting together Healing Lab, writing the vision and the offerings and all that. Thanks for the encouragement, yes it will all be easy eventually.

  2. Julie says:

    You’re welcome! I like the phrasing, “Cause me to…” I’ll have to try that. Yes, my ethereal software friends must like affirmations, lol. Although, I haven’t been saying them like I used to, my mind is a bit distracted. Perhaps now they are just for maintenance.

    Sounds like your work keeps you busy, and if you’re passionate about it that’s the best kind. Things I used to find tedious about book marketing are now becoming fun. You forgot to mention your book, I have a feeling it’s further along than you think. And I know it would be enjoyed by your readers. Here’s to making creative progress!! :)

  3. Yvonne says:

    Hi Mike,

    I love these kinds of discussions.

    I agree with a lot that has been said here, except the assumption that any problem or miscreation in one’s manifestation has to do with the software or anything/anyone outside of the user. What if manifestation goes wrong not because of bugs or the genie, but because of us? Lack of clarity, imprecision, karma, our own doubt, non havingness, contradiction, distraction, negativity, lack of belief, guilt, physical affliction, exhaustion, fear, and unworthiness are all human factors that can impact Why We Don’t Manifest What We Want. Perhaps the mage needs to prepare to manifest before picking up the tool?

    • Thanks Yvonne, that’s a good point. There can definitely be those things — what I’d call “user error,” coming from the computing world.

      In my own work, I’m pretty solid on transmitting messages to the manifesting software. So I tend to focus on ways it could go wrong despite clear communication: Phrasing the message wrong, errors in the manifesting software, etc. But your point is well-taken, that many people are still learning the communication side of manifesting, and could use help there.

      (Also, this grew out of a conversation where people personified the manifesting software as being a “trickster” or “when the gods want to punish us, they grant our wishes,” and I wanted to present a different model specifically for those cases where the manifesting succeeded just not in the expected way.)

  4. Kevin Chambers says:

    Could manifesting be affected by people who try to manifest opposite to you, for example, if two persons going for the same job, both might try to manifest it in their favour, but it would only work for one of them.

  5. Kevin Chambers says:

    I think I have had a successful manifestation, it took a time scale of about a month.
    The situation was work related, I work in a small butchery unit with an independent owned supermarket. Our refrigerator which hold our meat are old and when the weather warms up they break down, this happened first time this year about 6 weeks ago, they were fixed temporary and the parts required never arrived. Also some other stores have got new equipment which would b a big help to us in our store but was not on list to getting one.

    So after reading your post on intent on manifestation, I spent a few minutes on four Or five consecutive nights, sending my intentions of 3 things needed for our unit to the company no2 As we call him, by picturing his face thinking his name and the repeating my 3 wishes. Which were. 1 fix fridges, 2 new machine 3 new flooring.

    About 2 weeks after, an area manager turned up same day fridges broke down again to announce we were to have a new machine, and ordered the fridges to be fixed properly, unfortunately no new floor, but 2 out 3 ain’t bad.

    So coincidence or result of manifestation? A few days later I thought could that have been down to me, I like to think so.
    Any thoughts on this would be welcomed especially on the intent technique,

    • Hi Kevin, that’s a great result. How much was coincidence? No way to know from one trial. But good job getting started and doing some manifesting. Now do a few dozen more trials, keep track of which ones pan out, and you’ll start to see the evidence for yourself.

Leave a Reply