This is the first of a series of posts examining the a number of potential real life influences on the conception of the Dharma Initiative.
SRI International (previously known as Stanford Research Institute) is the clearest influence on the DHARMA Initiative (though DARPA is closer in name. Incidentally, SRI has been known to work for DARPA). SRI is a non-profit research institute working in a broad range of fields including, according to Wikipedia: “communications and networks, computing, economic development and science and technology policy, education, energy and the environment, engineering systems, pharmaceuticals and health sciences, homeland security and national defense, materials and structures, and robotics.”
Things got weird for SRI during the 60s and 70s, when it was engaged in parapsychology and LSD research. They hired L. Ron Hubbard, tested Uri Geller’s claims, and experimented with remote viewing.
They also compiled a report called The Changing Images of Man, contracted and funded by The Charles F. Kettering Foundation (the real life equivalent of Alvar Hanso?). The states purpose of Changing Images of Man:
First, we attempted to identify and assess the plausibility of a truly vast number of future possibilities for society. We next followed a method of analysis that determined which sequences of possible futures (that is, which “alternate future histories”) appeared to be the most plausible in light of human history and to most usefully serve the needs of policy research and development. Lastly, we derived a variety of policy implications, some of which dealt with how best to continue this type of inquiry.
The document allegedly comes to some creepy, fascist conclusions (I’ve not read it), and has been fodder for conspiracy theorists for years.