Why would one of the world’s most successful and innovative technology corporations research a highly controversial subject and risky future product opportunity such as E.S.P. (extrasensory perception) and then – oh by the way – tell the world they proved it existed?
Huh… unlikely? What company and why isn’t this more widely known? That’s just what I thought. I came across this fun fact while searching for information to help me understand a strange series of events that had occurred six years ago this month. Coincidentally, I happened to be working for this company when I found out.
Described as “anomalous processes of information or energy transfer”, Psi phenomenon is a very controversial subject. On one side, scientists, physicists, and PhDs attesting to its reality, and on the other, their opponents who question the methods of study, the resulting data and testimonies.
knowledge is power
The monumental power of electricity, now well controlled, was at one time an anomalous process of energy transfer. Like electricity, arguably the most significant development in man kinds history from lightning strike to cell phone, things that seem impossible to dream of today often become the reality of the future.
What does electricity, a subject so obviously understood today, have to do with other anomalous processes such as having a thought about a loved one and then coincidentally receiving a call from them at the same time? How about those gut-feelings or intuitions that so many times has saved a life – or many lives – under highly unusual circumstances? What about those unsettling accounts of communication at the moment of a loved ones death with the loved one far away?
It’s understandable that for many of us the last example appears quite fantastic, but those gut feelings and intuitions have more to them than we realize. Imagine the idea that roughly only 200 years ago most of the world had no idea that lightning could one day, metaphorically speaking, be put into a bottle (the Walkman, Android, iPhone, etc.). Wielding electricity in this sense would have been considered magic.
What might have inspired us to attempt to attempt to wield lightning like Zeus atop Mt. Olympus?
Some suggest ancient discoveries of mystical or esoteric knowledge as a good place to begin our hunt. Dr. Electricity himself, Benjamin Franklin, without any doubt studied the geometric sciences of man hidden in the archives of secret societies. He wasn’t the only one. He was preceded by other seekers of secret wisdom: people like William Gilbert, John Dee and Francis Bacon, all of whom had close connections with Queen Elizabeth I and had significant impact on the world. It’s all about who you know, right?
The same goes for many other Earth changing individuals such as Copernicus, Galileo (remember what happened to him?) and Alexandria’s bold beauty, Hypatia (Remember what happened to her?). These greats reinterpreted ancient texts and delivered the hidden messages back to the world in new form. The who’s who list is long and impressive, with each giving credit to the ones who preceded them. It was Newton who said “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Researchers of the esoteric aren’t burned alive these days, but the same can’t be said of their professional lives: Many face career-destroying ridicule.
psi world wide
In the 1970’s or thereabouts, the world was surprised to discover that the U.S. government (and many others) was investigated psychic phenomena, or “Remote Viewing.” What magicians of an earlier age might have called “clairvoyance”, this hypothetical perceptive capability enables the viewer to locate and sketch structures, objects, people and more for intelligence purposes. It might sound crazy, but one remote viewer was given the Legion of Merit Award for his success and service to the US Government. Even Jimmy Carter espoused its success.
Having a skeptical perspective is very important to maintain an objective position, and the scientific method is an excellent way to ascertain the truth behind extraordinary claims. (Incidentally, Roger Bacon, an early proponent of the scientific method, was also very interested in mystical texts and a practicing alchemist. Could it be that many of our modern discovers aren’t so new after all? To quote Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the Sun.”)
My curiosity drove me to try remote viewing on my own. I expected nothing to come of it, but left my opinion at the door and, following the recommendations of remote viewers, meditated prior to performing the required actions. The results were impressive: I was unprepared for the details that emerged in my sketches and how closely they mirrored the “target event”: the unseen photo the viewer is tasked with describing during a session. I was driven to study the field for a very long time, considering the player’s involved and their credentials, funding sources, and claims. I was impressed by what seemed to be valid evidence for the remote viewing experience.
In the technology field, most successful industry leaders are driven by a burning desire to create and innovate. It’s the strongest motivation of all, perhaps even more than profit. This desire drives leaders to follow their muse to the extent that they can tolerate the risk that often precedes new discoveries. Sometimes it pans out and sometimes it doesn’t.
Being one the of the first to develop portable and highly useful (not to mention fun) technology, Sony Corporation is a technology power center. Many have followed in the company’s footsteps, hoping to recreate the success of leaders who built the brand on the basis of continuing evolution, expanding our perception of the world through art, sound, technology and great story telling. The Sony Playstation family of products alone demonstrates the company’s creativity and innovation.
Fearless pursuit of new possibilities by necessity requires a change of perspectives. Finding ways to measure anomalous energy transference – and to uncover a commercial application for it – was something to Sony took seriously. In the company’s labs, it was objectively and empirically researched for over a decade under the oversight of Sony Senior Researcher Yoichiro Sako.
I had originally found Sako-san’s contact information by searching through old patent filings and finding colleagues who worked with him. I then able to cross-reference this information and find in Sako-san in our internal email contact list. Searching this way was the only method of making contact – imagine asking innocently about that around the office.
After contacting Sako-San regarding the archives, I booked a flight to Tokyo.
meeting the master
I arrived at Sony HQ in the incredible city of Tokyo a week before I’d have access to the documentation. Yoichiro Sako-san communicated with me through his friend and colleague Itaru Kawakami-san during this period. Sako-san himself was prevented from meeting with me due to an illness. I had been hopeful I would meet the man who inspired me so much, but access to the archives was exciting enough.
The day finally arrived and I made my way to the designated building in Sony Square and and checked in with reception. I was shortly greeted by Itaru-San who immediately struck me as a serious and intelligent person. He was very business-focused, but very generous with his time and patience.
He escorted me a short distance down several corridors until I was brought to a fairly large conference room. All of the furniture in the room had be placed against the walls to allow room for all of the research documents which were organized into thirty or so white boxes lined up row after row. It was impressive, and frankly very daunting since I couldn’t read Japanese at all and spoke very little of the language!
Itaru-San introduced me to his colleague Mitsuru Takehara-san and then left me to explore the contents of these boxes on my own.
It seemed that these boxes had not been opened since the research was concluded. I felt the sincerity, the purpose and the adrenaline of the hunt to find out what’s going on with this phenomenon. The intent was palpable. The thought came to mind of all the other great individuals on the verge of discovery.
I spent the majority of the day investigating the contents of the archive and couldn’t believe my eyes. Page after page of experiments validating human extra sensory phenomena of various kinds, not to mention the correspondence from scientists and academics around the world who communicated with Sako-san expressing their encouragement of this research. I was in awe with the depth of the study. Many varieties of experiments were conducted under highly controlled conditions. In the cases below, a tiny piece of paper with an image drawn on it would be placed in the ear of the subject who then is able to produce the mirrored images by means other than sight:
The results are amazing, especially considering that some of the remote viewing experiments were conducted with children who demonstrated powerful abilities of what can only be described as clairvoyance, to use the common term. The data corroborated the memorable statement that Sony spokesman Masanobu Sakaguchi had given to the South China Morning Post after the story about the company’s research broke: “We found out experimentally that yes, ESP exists, but that any practical application of this knowledge is not likely in the foreseeable future.”
After approximately a decade of study the ESPER LAB program was shuttered
Sako-san has written about his research and memories in the books below which were printed in Japan.
Is ESP real? Look back at the decades various corporations and government powers have spent researching ESP phenomena and decide for yourself. How would that happen unless there was something to it, otherwise they wouldn’t keep it up, would they?
Could that many people have been fooled for that long? The answer is simply no. Whatever is happening, I think that one day soon it will be understood to be just another fascinating aspect of nature. The borders of consciousness, like the frontiers of space and time, are far from being fully explored and mapped out.
Sounds like fun times ahead. Thanks for reading!