This week’s guest is my friend Lindsay Loftin, a professional mermaid who uses her performances to raise awareness of marine conservation issues. She also boasts 60 pushups in two minutes and the ability to transform phone-addicted schoolchildren into avid gardeners.
• How mermaid performances can help us transform our relationship to nature;
• Sea goats and other weird half-and-half creatures, and how the Capricorn’s ambitious in-between-ness was a prophesy of amphibians as an emblem of evolutionary “ascent”;
• Remembering in our bodies the importance of the health of our environment and our right relationship to nature;
• Ecology as a mystical experience or way of being awake;
• The changing definition of nature once you think of the atmosphere as an artifact created by primordial ooze;
• Epigenetics, landscape agency, cities as automatic outgrowths of the lithosphere, and the argument against free will from a planet’s point of view;
• Plastics and endocrine disruption related sterility;
• David Pearce’s anti-species-ist manifesto;
• Responsible tourist information about how to visit wild places respectfully;
…and much more. I go off the deep end and talk about the possibility of ACTUALLY BECOMING mermaids with CRISPR, and the social consequences of the end of a common “human” body.
Then we talk for another hour. Lindsay tells some AMAZING animal stories. She has never been injured.
“I want to be the Bill Nye of mermaids.”
“I think when little girls see me holding my breath for two minutes and swimming around Barton Springs, it blows their minds…they’re thinking, ‘Science is not what I thought it was.’”
“It’s our time to return to the water. At least in our focus and our awareness. Because you know, the way our culture is going is so far removed from any sort of connection to nature as I’ve come to understand it. So that’s a systemic illness, in my opinion. My work…lies with healing that rift, that illness.”
“No two people react to nature in the same way. The way I experience going out side is kind of like a landscape level. Which, as an ecologist, I’m mapping in my brain how energy is flowing from the air, into that tree, into me, into the soil – the water going across the landscape, where that’s going, what animals are here – I’m seeing all of that at the same time.”
“I can pretty much guarantee you that you drank plastic within the last week…essentially, we are becoming plastic.”
“As someone who works with other people’s children, I just cannot stand the thought of sitting here waiting [for plastic-eating bacteria to save the world].”
“I don’t even have an Instagram. People hear that, and they’re like, ‘But you’re a mermaid!’”
“Dangerous wildlife finds me, gets as close to me as possible, and then completely leaves me alone. I can’t really explain why, but that seems to be one of my gifts: that animals are A attracted to me, and B have no interest in eating me.”
“If birds get really loud, or suddenly really quiet, both of those are times when you should pause and evaluate your surroundings.”
“Could plastic-eating bacteria be used to generate the electricity required to mine Bitcoin?”
In one of the most QUOTABLE episodes of Future Fossils yet, this week’s guest is Eliot Peper – a “novelist and strategist” writing fiction and consulting businesses about the social implications of disruptive technologies. In addition to writing a steady stream of sci-fi inflected techno-thrillers like True Blue and Cumulus, he’s an editor at Scout.AI (one of the cooler speculative fiction websites I’ve seen out there).
• The power of science fiction to help us imagine future scenarios;
• The possible social impact of radical life extension (gerontocratic radical conservatives vs. an emergent mature wisdom culture);
• The Superstar Effect and how it might play out in the digital age;
• The awesomeness of Cory Doctorow’s latest novel, Walkaway;
• Eliot’s skepticism of mind uploading and conscious AI;
• The specter of technological unemployment;
• Science fiction’s growing significance to corporate think-tanks and creative labs in a future-facing society;
• How science fiction is like traveling to a foreign country – and teaches us more about our own moment than it does about the future;
• And More!
“We don’t call it ‘life extension,’ we just call it ‘healthcare.’”
“I think there is a very misleading public discussion going on around these topics [mind uploading and conscious AI], for a very simple reason. And that is – and I know this as a storyteller – metaphors matter…the human mind is very poor at distinguishing metaphor from reality. That’s what makes art fun! That’s what makes novels entertaining. We experience them as if they are real. Money is that. It only exists because we can build these complex shared fictions. However, those fictions can come back and bite you in the ass. And one of the ways they do it is, we take the metaphor too far.”
“[Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein] takes the extension of the Industrial Revolution into the imagination of dystopia. And I think we’re doing that right now when we’re talking about uploading our minds, and about creating general AIs…I just think we’re taking the computer analogy too far.”
“Technology is most useful to the extent that it is inhuman.”
“The whole point of technology is that we can accomplish what we want to accomplish more effectively – or, said another way, we can do less of what sucks.”
“Getting better at the skill of putting yourself in another person’s shoes is really important, and fiction is a great training ground for that. It can illuminate so much about why we do what we do that we can apply in our lives.”
“I think what makes science fiction as a genre interesting is its insights about the PRESENT.”
“I seek out discomfort. I seek out novel experiences that challenge me and that are not always fun. And I try to talk to people from different fields and learn from them, because I’ve learned that in my own life that having a really strange and somewhat random set of life experiences allows me to have a fresh perspective sometimes on a new problem.”
“The most important things about the world and about what it means to be human are very obvious and very old. And I think it’s especially important to remember that when we feel like we’re in the midst of a whirlwind of change that we don’t understand. And that the world we want to build and the lives that we want to lead – either today in 2017, or in 2117 – is that we need to be kind to each other. We need to help our friends out. Even more important, to help out strangers. To pay things forward instead of trying to think about the benefits that accrue to us. To make sacrifices – meaningful, painful sacrifices – financial, emotional, or otherwise – to help each other out. I think that building a better world is just a thousand small acts of kindness.”
This week’s guest is master community builder, singer, and human spirit animal Magenta Ceiba of the Bloom Network.
Magenta’s Personal Website:
- The adoption of regenerative culture practices;
- Cultivating planetwide resiliency in an age of thousands of years of unprocessed grief and trauma;
- Web native permaculture psychedelic anarchy;
- Communicating across HUGE political gaps (esp. with family);
- Cool Bloom Network community initiatives happening around the world;
- What will it take to adapt our technological environment to suit a more humane and grounded ecological society?
- The relationship between the Wood Wide Web of interspecies partnerships and the maturing World Wide Web of human making.
- How can we be good ancestors?
- A “relational, omnidirectional nowness where we embrace as our own body the other organisms on this Earth and the cosmic cycles of stuff through space”
- Synchronicity & Diachronicity
- An academic angle on decolonizing consciousness. :)
- the inspiration for Intergenerational Psychedelic Dialogues Podcast
“Another key is coming to this conception of time that is relational and omnidirectional, and this nowness in which we embrace as our own body the other organisms that are on this Earth and the cosmic cycles of movement of stuff through space…”
“We’ve disconnected from some of the fungal and soil networks and if we’re going to continue to survive, and that layer of machine-embodied intelligence is going to survive, we need to learn to be in symbiosis with the Earth that we’re on. If we’re going to make this leap to colonizing other planets, to star travel…”
This week’s guest is philosopher Kerri Welch, whose doctoral thesis from CIIS (and current book-in-progress) explore a fractal model of time. If you have ever wondered about time, this episode is for you. Instant classic.
Kerri’s Academic Papers & Talks:
We take a wild tour through the layers of the human brain and mind, examining the correlations between different brain waves and their correspondent states of consciousness – and speculate on our experience of time as an evolved response to a far more complex and awesome world than we can possibly conceive!
Twenty minutes in and we’ve already covered the fractal nature of time and we’re on to explaining what happens to the modern self and its boundaries in the torrent of novelty that awaits un in a digital age. Then we go deep for another hour and a half…
• Fate vs Free Will in light of Chaos Theory
• The relationship between technology and our experience of time, overstimulated, interrupted
• How Jean Gebser’s structures of consciousness overlay on EEG data
• The nature of synchronicity & time vs. timelessness
• The effects of ayahuasca, illness, aging, and other time-warping events on the passage of time
• Singularities and our asymptotic approach to transcendence
• Narrative collapse, fake news, and the end of history
• Relativity, scaling laws, and city time vs. country time
• What was before TIME?
• Pet telepathy as a matter of referential framing
• The “future” causing the “past”…
• …and the physics (and psychology!) of how to feel the future.
• Schizophrenia as possibly a disorder of time perception
• Dopamine levels and the experience of duration
• Human chronobiology adapted to other planet’s days
• Integrating the rational mind with transpersonal experience
“We actually can’t get precise enough to bring the level of predictability that physics once thought it could.”
“Children have to be indoctrinated into time, right? They’re not born into linear time. They’re born in a timeless space, and that’s where they live, and then they live in this hypnagogic dream time, which is all present moment. You’ll hear kids say, like, ‘I remember when you were little’ to their parents.”
“When we restrict ourselves to linear causal thinking, we are coarse-graining the present moment. We are glossing over the infinite depth of richness available within the present moment. And of course it’s paradoxical: we coarse-grain it by dividing it more finely.”
“What we’re experiencing in our culture right now is the entrainment to the fast frequencies. We’re not letting the long slow frequencies have the greatest amplitude. What does that look like? It looks like hanging out with rocks and trees and elders. And that’s the integration that we need in order to nest our super-fast frequencies within, in order to give them direction…if we can nest within the natural structures of the long, slow frequencies that surround us, it will guide these fast frequencies in healthier directions.”
“We REALLY just have to get better at holding multiple realities. AND recognizing what’s important about them.”
“The dog comes and sits by the door half an hour before the owner comes home because to the dog, the owner’s already home. Their moment is big enough that it’s happening already. But we’re so finely dividing things that we’re like, ‘It’s half an hour away! It’s an eternity!’ But for the dog that’s been sitting bored at home all day…”
“Free will comes from a future influence we can’t see. That’s one way I would interpret it.”
“The definition of human experience is, to me, the limitation of infinity, in order to have experience.”
This week’s guest is tattoo artist Christopher Sheehan, who regards his practice as a sacred act and tattoo as a kind of binding of time in the body.
We talk about:
• how he became a tattoo artist and came into “transformational tattooing” as a way of communicating with and programming the subconscious mind;
• other ways we bind time into matter with earthworks art and pre-Columbian mounds;
• the difference between choosing your own tattoos and the more traditional style of having them chosen for you by the artist;
• the virtue and value of The Ordeal in personal transformation;
• seeing skin art as a transcultural phenomenon connecting us to other tribes and traditions across time and space;
• and the future of tattoo as an art form and a culture, in which skin art merges with speech as part of a new, richer, more embodied language…
“If you had to put something in your bathroom mirror…what would you want in your bathroom mirror FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE? That feedback loop with the imagery with which we surround ourselves is TOTALLY game-changing and shifting.”
“What identity do I want to imprint upon my life? What connection to something within me do I want to see empowered and enhanced? And the tattoo becomes this living reflection of that enhancement, that empowerment, that connection, alignment.”
“So much of our cultural perspective is about comfort and convenience – and to do something that is physically taxing, emotionally and mentally demanding on a level of momentary transcendence – it’s new for a lot of people.”
“The tattoo artist and the machinery that they use are going to become more and more intuitive and integrated…kind of like when I oil paint, or even when I get into a flow with dot work and stippling, I don’t even feel like I’m doing it. I’m watching myself INTEND it.”
This week we continue the special two-part conversation with historian, poet, and mythographer William Irwin Thompson. Author of dozens of sweeping works of synthetic insight, Bill Thompson’s greatest work may not have been a book but a community: The Lindisfarne Association, a post-academic “intellectual concert” for the “study and realization of a new planetary culture,” which anchored in various locations across the United States as a flesh-and-blood meta-industrial village for most of its forty years.
In his latest and last book, Thinking Together at the Edge of History, Thompson looks back on the failures and successes of this project, which he regards as a “first crocus” budding up through the snow of our late-industrial dark age to herald the arrival of a planetary renaissance still yet to come.
This episode pivots from a contemplation of Lindisfarne’s history to our navigation of the turbulence between two world eras – how will we weather all this change, and what new life and worldview awaits us on the other side?
We talk about surfing the “winds of creative destruction” in a highly volatile digital economy; the emergence of the elemental spirits of the land into our demon-haunted crystalline electronic infrastructure; the future of parenting in a world too fast and too complex for public schooling or the nuclear family; the tension between emergent new media and art forms and the traditional forms of novel/poem/painting/song/etc.; the relationship between improvisational speaking and spiritual channeling; and the experience of being an “entelechy,” a multitude of smaller agencies comprising an ecology of self, an endosymbiotic “Homo gestalt.”
Bill speaks candidly and fluently about his unusual life history as a parent and living journey as an aging mystic, bringing erudite historic overview together with a surprisingly frank perspective on his transpersonal experiences. It’s an honor to be able to share this discussion with you…
“Mysticism is relevant now because it’s a good description of the daily news; it’s just responsible journalism that there is this mystical quality to an ethereal economy that is electronically blipping wealth back and forth in this computerized online banking world.”
“When you have an oxymoronic culture with the djinn inhabiting the computers and moving into the cognitive space symbiotically with human beings, the definition of the environment is changing and that which is invisible to the materialist or the industrialist is now recognized as an endosymbiont with us – so it becomes like the cell with the mitochondria.”
“Depressions and catastrophes are transitions from one system to another in complex dynamical systems, so you have to step back and look at the big picture. And if you try to keep the accounts in a small container, where you say, ‘Nothing is stable! Nothing can be held’ Well, why is Buddhism so popular? Because that’s exactly what Buddhism is saying! If you attach and you’re grasping, you’re going to suffer.”
“We see [the change] but we always see it negatively. We see the crash but not the imaginary future that’s emerging.”
“When the family always lived together in the nuclear family, what do you have? They were always arguing and fighting…compression isn’t necessarily a good thing. It’s what Whitehead would call ’the fallacy of simple location.’ So I embrace that the environment is now planetary. It’s person-planet. And through Skype and things like this, I’m in constant communication with the family, and that’s okay.”
“As you develop your subtle bodies through yoga…when you reach a certain point, you get what I call a ‘matching grant,’ like how a foundation gives matching grants, and if your evolutionary sheath reaches a certain point, then a being comes to cohabit-ate with you in your auric extended ecology.”
“You don’t want to have a hungry ghost as a daemonic guide, so discrimination is definitely called for.”
“Some [bacteria] you need in your stomach to digest, and if they get in the wrong place and they’re out of timing, they’re not so good. If Godzilla tramps through Times Square, it’s not a good thing. If he goes for a walk in the Jurassic, it’s okay.”
Again, here are the links to the first two chats we had in 2011 and 2013, as well as to my video remix of one of Bill’s lectures with footage from Burning Man. Enjoy and be sure to check out Bill’s awesome books, as well as his extensive lecture series archived online with the Lindisfarne Tapes!
This week’s guest is one of my greatest inspirations: the historian, poet, and mythographer William Irwin Thompson. Author of sweeping works of synthetic insight like At The Edge of History (a finalist for the National Book Award in 1972), The American Replacement of Nature, and Coming Into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness, Bill Thompson’s greatest work may not have been a book but a community: The Lindisfarne Association, a post-academic “intellectual concert” for the “study and realization of a new planetary culture,” which anchored in various locations across the United States as a flesh-and-blood meta-industrial village for most of its forty years.
Lindisfarne’s roster reads like a who’s who of influential latter-20th Century thinkers: Gregory Bateson, Lynn Margulis, Ralph Abraham, Stuart Kauffman, Paolo Soleri, Francisco Varela, David Abram, Hazel Henderson, Joan Halifax-Roshi, James Lovelock, Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry, Gary Snyder, Maurice Strong, and Michael Murphy were among them. In his latest and last book, Thinking Together at the Edge of History, Thompson looks back on the failures and successes of this project, which he regards as a “first crocus” budding up through the snow of our late-industrial dark age to herald the arrival of a planetary renaissance still yet to come.
Bill’s wisdom and humility, vast and inclusive vision, and amazing skill for bringing things together in a form of freestyle “wissenkunst” (or “knowledge art”) made this and every conversation that I’ve had with him illuminating and instructive.
For anyone who wants to know what happens after universities and nations lose their dominance and both economy and identity “etherealize” in a new paradigm of ecological human interbeing that revives premodern ways of knowing and relating – and/or for anyone who wants to help build institutions that will weather the chaotic years to come and help transmit our cultural inheritance and novel insights to the unborn generations – here is a conversation with one of the master thinkers of our time, a mystic poet and professor whose work and life challenged our assumptions and proposed a powerful, complete, and thrilling view of our emergent role as citizens of Earth.
We talk Trump and our future-shocked need for charismatic strongmen, digital humans and the tragicomedy of the smartphone takeover, technocracy versus the metaindustrial village-monastery and “counterfoil institutions,” the “necessary exercise in futility” of dealing with rich and influential people to fund important work, how the future arrives unevenly, and how to get involved in institutional work without losing your soul…
Also, cryptocurrencies and universal basic income as symptoms of the transition of the global economy from a liquid to a gaseous state;
“Austin is, of course, an air bubble in the Titanic…”
“The counterfoil institution is a fractal…it’s the individual and the group, kind of like Bauhaus…it had an effect, but it was very short lived. So I argued in Passages [About Earth] that these entities [including artistic movements like Bauhaus, but also communities like Auroville and Fyndhorn] were not institutions, but ENZYMES – they effected a kind of molecular bonding and effected larger institutions, but they themselves weren’t meant to become institutions. And so Lindisfarne, which was a temporary phenomenon of Celtic Christianity, getting absorbed by Roman Christianity, was my metaphor for this transformation.”
“When you’re getting digested and absorbed [into the system], it can either be thrilling because you really WANT to become famous and you want to become a public intellectual, and you want to namedrop and be part of the power group…but if you’re trying to energize cultural authority, then it’s difficult in America. You can get away with it, I think, more successfully in Europe, where there is this tradition of Great Eminences, and in Paris, once you’ve done something of value as an intellectual, then you’re part of it for your life. It isn’t like, ‘What are you doing next? Do it again, do it again, do it again.’ So American culture, based on this kind of hucksterism and boomerism and success culture, is very resistant to that sensibility.”
“We’re always a minority. If we look at The Enlightenment, we’re talking about, what, twelve intellectuals in all of Europe? If you’re an extraterrestrial and you flying-saucered into Florence in the 15th Century and said, ‘Hey, I hear you guys are having a Renaissance?’ And they said, ‘What?’ What do three painters mean? It’s still the Middle Ages for them. And so everybody’s in different times’ laminar flow. Some are faster and more ultraviolet and high energy, and others are very wide, slow, and sluggish. And that’s how nature works.”
“Each person makes his own dance in response to the laws of gravity…if we didn’t have gravity, we wouldn’t have ballet.”
“If you’re running a college, or a dance troupe, or an orchestra, or ANYTHING – someone in the group has to learn how to deal with money. And I think I failed, even though I succeeded in raising millions, by being a 60’s kind of countercultural type who was suspicious of money. I crossed my legs and was afraid of violation. And I didn’t come fully to understand the importance of money. But now that we bank online…”
This week’s guest is Andrew J. O’Keefe II – documentarian, archivist for Singularity University, devoted recordist of the emergent planetary culture, and a dear old friend I met back in the Dawn of Time when he was working as the personal assistant to Android Jones.
We talk about the motivations for preserving and reliving the significant (AND insignificant) moments of our lives.
From the role of “tapers” in the success of The Grateful Dead & STS9, Terence McKenna and Robert Anton Wilson, and The Exegesis of Phillip K Dick…to how a donation of 600 books started Harvard University…to a vision of our artificial intelligence augmented descendants living in a world of totally recorded life and currently incomprehensible richness and insight…this is a conversation about why we “save” things, and why we should treat our record-keeping as the sacred task it truly is.
“If we don’t preserve what’s important to us, then we run the risk of not sharing it ever again. Nobody might never even know that it happened.”
“What exactly ARE our priorities?”
“The control of where this stuff is headed is out of any one organization or individual’s hands. On the other hand, we have these central systems of control…if we don’t find a way to decentralize what humanity has developed up to this point, we’re probably going to lose it.”
“If we let market forces run [the world]; if we let meaningless trends of shit, surface level culture that’s not even real culture, that’s like iterative loop culture, if we let that dictate things, then as everything gets increasingly out of control or asymmetrical, what the hell else do we have to fall back on?”
“I think the paradoxes of living in society are only going to increase at an exponential rate. It’s going to terrify people; it’s going to cause mass chaos in unprecedented ways because we have these centuries-old resentments that technology is not going to erase. It’s only going to make further asymmetrical. The history of all borders: there’re losers. Those people are upset…have a right to be upset. Both psychedelics and the ancient modalities of healing…are going to be the most critical tool that we use to move forward.”
This week’s guest is Hunter Maats, host of the Mixed Mental Arts Podcast and co-author of The Straight-A Conspiracy. We talk about the future of education and human collaboration – moving past a world of routine factory-worker indoctrination and the “insane cargo cult” of the academic system, and into a new model for the transmission of knowledge that suits a truly planetary culture.
The value of myth, ritual, and other deeply-ingrained but often-maligned premodern human activities.
How to make sense of authority, expertise, and accreditation in a world where the dominance of academia (and the legitimacy of so many other institutions) is losing hold.
How do we structure a “global village?”
What is post-academic education? What comes after the fall of the Ivory Tower? How do we recruit premodern impulses into the project of contemporary life without repressing magic, ritual, and myth?
We also talk a lot of smack on Richard Dawkins for being the totally irrational pope of Anti-Religion.
Hunter mentions my article on the evolution of creativity:
“The walls of the Ivory Tower have been falling down for the last thirty years. There are now 60 million scientific papers, 130 million books. It’s literally too much information for a tiny cadre of individuals to try and make sense of. It’s going to take seven and a half billion people to really make sense and draw signal out of that noise.”
“If you’re reading a blog post, you’re getting an hour or two of distilled thought. If you’re reading a book, then you’re getting hundreds or thousands of hours of distilled thought. The question is, what is your information diet, and what are you sharing, and what are you engaging with?”
“You should structure a global village a lot like you structure an actual village…”
“Biologically, we want ritual, we want myth, we want belonging, we want a sense of embeddedness. BUT, we have all this cool stuff now…”
“People like [Richard] Dawkins, even though they bang on about reason all the time, are in my assessment not very reflective individuals.”
“The flag of science has, for a really long time, been in the hands of narrow minded bigots who have drawn a line around their tribe and said that all other tribes, which they call ‘religion,’ or some kind of primitive savagery, are worthless. And I have no desire of living that way, and I don’t consider what they do ‘science.’ Because science is about changing your mind in light of all available evidence. It’s not about petty tribalism.”
Alfred Russell Wallace
This week’s guest is singer-songwriter and music therapist Marya Stark, whom I met at the Global Sound Conference in Los Angeles in 2008. We discuss the future of the feminine, relationships, and reproduction – and laugh a lot.
- Long Distance Relationships in the Internet Age
- The Pre-Trans Fallacy & Getting Back to The Land
- The Future of Sex in the Age of Machines
- Industrial Medicine & Birth Trauma
- Terraforming & Artificial Wombs
- Tradition vs. Innovation
- Rudolf Steiner’s Lucifer & Ahriman
- Artificial hormones in the drinking water feminizing songbirds
- Intuition of Altitude
- Dancing between the organic and digital: how can we hold both ends of this without succumbing to either?
- Reclaiming the sacred traditions of premodern femininity
- Bloodwork, Moon Lodges, and the revival of the Sacred Feminine
- Adopting a “Bit Torrent” model to our mixed ethnicities and identities, as a response to concerns about cultural appropriation and “buffet-line” spirituality
- Building a “Literacy of Empathies”
- The moving target of “wisdom,” “experience,” and “adult” through the ages
- Soul Retrieval 101
- dealing with the emotions of the intuition of A sole connection from a parallel universe or alternative timeline & The perils of “astral polyamory”
“Just because the wisdom is ancient doesn’t mean it’s the most effective.”
“Sometimes when we’re in a distortion paradigm, our strategies for wholeness create more distortion.”
“Are we all going to have this magical Golden Age wake-up call? I’m still rootin’ for it.”
“Honor the thousands of shoulders that we stand on to be able to host some of this information. Because they were committed to the lineage. They were committed to carrying it through, no matter what. They’d give their lives for it. I have meditation in my life because of those individuals. I’m not going to shit all over them because I think their cultural context or whatever doesn’t match my fucking modern idea and ideals. So how do I hold the complexity of that conversation in my heart while not spinning my ego into circles about how cool I am because I’m a meditator?”
“I have to have a prayer for our species that we are connected to an evolutionary architecture…”
“It’s as if the pain that everyone is in is the same. And it’s rooted in disconnection and distortion of what they’re capable of.”
- Up From Eden by Ken Wilber
- At The Edge of History by William Irwin Thompson
- Alien: Covenant (film)
- HR Giger and The Zeitgeist of the Twentieth Century by Stanislav Grof
- Spiral Dynamics by Don Beck & Christopher Cowan
- “The Tower That Ate People” by Peter Gabriel (song)
- Videodrome (film)
- Homo Deus by Yuval Harari
- Team Human Podcast with Douglas Rushkoff
“You were a paleontologist, originally. I’ve always considered myself a ‘paisley-ontologist.’ A paleontologist will excavate the soil in search of fossils and a paisley-ontologist will excavate the present for fossilized perceptions. So I’m always looking for these kind of nuggets, linguistic impressions or etymological traces that lead us from the present into this sort of timelessness, or this subconscious of words and symbols. I look at the world as a sort of Rorschach Worship Workshop…”
This week’s guest is “The Ungoogleable” Michaelangelo, who all-embracing creative life is as difficult to describe as he is to find via conventional web search. The only person I’ve ever met – or could imagine – who could successfully pull off the marriage of “comedy,” “necromancy,” AND “rap” – and do it all in a convincing but false Scottish brogue as his alter ego Void Denizen – Michael is one of the wittiest, most hermetic guests this podcast’s ever had. AND he has some thoughts about the show itself that take us down a labradorite rabbit hole and into underground auroras, where the riddles of the afterlife unfold before our very eyes.
Even I learned new things about “Future Fossils” in this conversation! Come with us on a trip into the Illuminated Unconscious and help us excavate the present in the new discipline of Paisley-ontology…
• Michelangelo’s Website:
• MG interviews Void Denizen on Reality Sandwich:
- artificial intelligence
- gaia theory
- the anthropocene
- the atmosphere as an artifact
- mineral consciousness
- “upgrade or perish”
- flowers were a catastrophe
- the importance of turning to face the strange
- using natural fractals as an inkblot test or oracle
- embodied cognition & conceptual metaphor
- panpsychism & mind as process
- the invention of and reason for sex
- aliens & the archetype of the flying saucer
- the soul and all its incarnations as a single four-dimensional organism
- daimonic information
- excavating the future out of the present
- fossilized dinosaur brains
- accidental summonings
- The Mandela Effect & the possibility of changing the past
- The Metaforest
- How To Know Higher Realms by Rudolf Steiner
- The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes
- Sex, Ecology, Spirituality by Ken Wilber
- Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff & Mark Johnson
- Francisco Varela
- Neil Theise
- Pierre Teilhard De Chardin
- Darwin’s Pharmacy by Richard Doyle
- Crystal & Dragon by David Wade
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Wings of Desire & City of Angels (films)
- Daniel Vitalis on Tangentially Speaking Podcast
- Crossing The Event Horizon by Jonathan Zap
- “Modern Things” by Björk
- Interstellar (film)
• Other Stuff:
- View From The Horizon
This week is part 2 of our conversation with biohacking polyamorous geneticist and aspiring Australian politician Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow Meow, founder of Sydney’s Biofoundry. Get ready for a chat so crazy you’ll think it’s 1999…we spend about 20 minutes arguing about modern art, 20 minutes arguing about the Singularity, and 20 minutes arguing about what’s in the box.
• Meow Himself:
• We Talk:
- We compare campaigning for nuclear technology to bringing a stripper with a drug problem to family dinner;
- IP as Art & The Shape of The Future;
- Leveraging existing systems as scaffolding to transition back into a way of life more suited to our paleolithic environment;
- Vantablack & the jerk who got an exclusive license to use it for art – and how the art community fought back;
- What is GOOD art?
- How “What is Life?” and “What is Art?” might be the same question…
- What the next few decades will be like if we assume a Technological Singularity…
- The social construction of identity
- We argue for ages about whether godlike AI will be independent from the biosphere….
- Common As Air by Lewis Hyde
- Damien Hirst
- Anish Kapoor
- Alain de Botton
- Marcel Duchamp
- James Gansfield
- The Architects of Air
- Stuart Semple
- Andrew Despi
- What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly
- John Allen (Institute of Ecotechnics)
- Shin Gojira
- Teranesia by Greg Egan
- The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
- Bacterial Polyamory
“If you say to ‘them,’ ‘I have fifteen girlfriends, how many of them should I bring?’, you’ll freak ‘em the fuck out.”
“Artists have to be subversive. And why not be subversive within the system that exists? Because that provokes other artists to come and then challenge it.”
“I’ve had enough wine to say this: everything we do now is meaningless. It’s playtime until the Technological Singularity.”
“We are made of atoms, ultimately, but they’re our bitch.”
“We’re talking twenty years from now, and I can’t even predict this year. If I could, I would have invested in Bitcoin in March!”
• Read more about evolution as entropy:
• Read more about evolution as a remix:
This week’s guest is Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow Meow, founder of Sydney’s Biofoundry whom I met at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s Innovation Lab in February. Meow is a modern trickster-wizard par excellence, entirely too smart for his own good, and he loves to argue – this is one of the most wide-ranging talks on Future Fossils yet! Enjoy part 1 of a special double feature that continues next week…
• Press about Meow:
• We Talk:
- Getting Married on the Blockchain
Polyamory & Relationship Anarchy
- Intellectual Property
- An Ecological View of Relationships
- Plural Singularities
- The Genetic Origins of Hominids (HARs)
- Would God be considered an Organism?
- Crystals Are COOL
- Mass Extinctions
- Asteroid Mining
- An Ethical Debate on Eugenics & Nukes
- Meltdowns, Solar Flares, & The Insecurity of The Electrical Grid
• Common As Air - Lewis Hyde
• More Than Two - Franklin Veaux & Eve Reichert
• I Heart Huckabees (film)
• The Pill Versus The Springhill Mine Disaster - Richard Brautigan
• “Transcending Possessiveness in Love & Music” by Michael Garfield
• Guns, Germs & Steel - Jared Diamond
• Interstellar (film)
• WALL-E (film)
“Capitalism lends itself to models that are in crisis continuously…”
“I would love to see a world where 100% of the people on this planet, and all the other beings, believe their life is WAY worth living. Not just kinda okay, even, but WAY worth living.”
This week’s guest is Mitch Altman, a hacker and electronics scientist whose life is the stuff of legend (here's his Wikipedia entry).
Founder of Cornfield Electronics (“We Make Useful Electronics for a Better World”), co-founder of Noisebridge (epic hackerspace in San Francisco), inventor of TV-B-Gone.
This episode’s title is pulled from Mitch’s talk by a similar name.
In this Episode:
Living in alignment with your dreams, working for yourself.
Entrepreneurship as serving your own sense of the awesome and letting the resonant audience come to your own articulated personal meaning.
The potential of full-cost accounting: how weaving every invisible cost (“ecosystem services,” mothering, etc.) into the economy could transform selfish behavior into good for all.
Self-discovery and finding the place where your enjoyment and passion meets the needs of your society.
“Helping me includes helping other people, which feels good. How can I NOT do this?”
Getting through depression and loneliness to find creative fulfillment.
Breaking out of habit to discover the life we CHOOSE with our sudden wealth of free time…
The importance of boredom and leisure to the full development of the soul.
The evolutionary fitness landscape and looking at our choices as moves across a geography of our adaptation to various environments.
Making the hard decision to back out of something you’ve invested in and begin again as something new…
Technological Unemployment, Universal Basic Income, and the rise of Hacker Spaces.
The role of local currencies and minimum guaranteed income in the architecting a society of creativity and leisure.
“All of this has to happen slow enough that things don’t collapse or become traumatic, but fast enough that we can survive as a species.”
Open Source Digital Democracy and fractal structures in economy and politics – what comes after representative republics and printing-press-era legislature in the age of the Internet?
Natural hierarchies (holarchies and do-ocracies) versus artificial hierarchies…and how to create a pocket of effective, fruitful anarchy within the right container.
Chaos Computer Club and the future of meta human swarm intelligence (read also: social creatures living in community)
“I try to not be pessimistic OR optimistic. I try to the best of my ability to see things AS THEY ARE.”
The recent explosive proliferation of Chinese hackerspaces.
Photo Credit: Dennis van Zuijlekom
This week our guest is Becca Tarnas, whom I caught up with at the 2017 MAPS Psychedelic Science Conference in Oakland.
Archai Journal: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology
“Everything breathes together.”
The imminent shift into an archetypal paradigm, in which we transcend naïve subject-object dualism and experience meaning as not merely something manufactured by the brain…
Uranus-Pluto Alignments in the 1960s & the 2010s
Jupiter joining the revolution in 2016-2017 and magnifying things
What will the world be like after all this revolutionary energy runs its course?
Impending collective shadow work in our inherently psychedelic future circa Saturn-Pluto Conjunction, 2018-2021 (ish)
How do we hold to our centers in a storm of history?
How do you deal with knowing that most of your adult life is going to be spent navigating unprecedented social & personal transformation?
“I think having the archetypal perspective helps me to ‘zoom out’ and see this as part of a larger narrative, and to feel myself participating in something that is SO much bigger than me. So that helps. I definitely feel fear, as any mortal person would, during this time. I also feel the wave of excitement of this very powerful revolutionary moment, recognizing that change really IS necessary in this time.”
“…to just try and participate as fully as possible. Because it IS a remarkable time to be alive…”
“I think being okay with the Mystery has to be a part of it. And, at the same time, it can’t be a part of it all the time. Sometimes we do have to just melt down and accept the utter chaos and fear of it all and then pick ourselves back up from that place and keep going forward.”
#futureshock & #pastshock
The wonder of the holistic intelligence disclosed by archetypal cosmology.
James Hillman is awesome and there are a lot of good scholars and academics working on archetypal astrology, these days…
What is rigor in astrology? How does the community peer review?
Science and Imagination.
• Cosmos & Psyche by Richard Tarnas
• Glass House by Charles Stross
• Stages of Faith by James Fowler
• Promethea by Alan Moore
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This week we chat with Sara Huntley – Dancer, Graphic Novelist, Tattoo Artist, Clown, and Psychedelic Futurist. Buckle Up!
Sara on FB:
A conversation on New Media & The Future of Storytelling, the Ethics of Digital Entities, and Treating Bots With Kindness.
What will the future BE like? Not just what will it LOOK like.
With books, the story is revised with every printing, but oral traditions allow for the story to evolve with every telling. Virtual reality is opera – in that it contains all forms that came before it – but it’s opera tied into attention-tracking systems that can re-weave worlds and narratives in real-time as you interact with it.
We’re going to be able to get inside our data, to LARP the user-generated, annotated maps of the terrains that we inhabit, and with AR turn our modern notions of a shared experience completely inside out.
The ethics of keeping digital entities as pets. Michael:
“While you can make the ethical argument that there is no harm to the bot, you might have to come up with an excellent rebuttal to the argument that it does still harm the human user of this game…”
Sara’s conversation with “Phil,” the robotic version of author Philip K. Dick, designed by Hanson Robotics, at South By Southwest 2016.
Grounding in the offline world while learning through interactive high technology how we are all connected, and then bringing back that awe to analog existence and the nature that preceded us.
The manufacture of nostalgia as another artificial environment in an age of human-directed ecology…the replacement of our parents’ childhood with videogame franchises and, “What happens in a field at dusk?”
The Lithosphere, Biosphere, and Noosphere…
The racist Tay bot and how we need to be more mindful about how we socialize our digital offspring.
What happens when we can’t tell the difference anymore between the minds we make online and those we make with our own bodies? Will we create and destroy sentient entities as casually as we create and destroy ordinary data files?
>>> Sara Quotes:
“There are no new ideas, but there are, there are new perspectives through these handed-down ideas. So it’s like, even though we take an idea that had been an oral tradition, then we bring it to the press, then we bring it to the screen, whether it’s a streamed series or something like that, and then it becomes a 3D thing – it’s always going to be the artisan’s ability to empathically tell what lands and what doesn’t. That’s what makes a great performance.”
“As cool as AI art will be, I think we’ll always have a premium on what’s going to land with our imagination.”
“I’ve come to think of it like, ‘What’s the thing I ultimately do? I rearrange matter. And how do I do it? I do it harmonically…as an artist.’”
“I’ve been thinking about what the ramifications are of creating machines in the shape of gendered beings…and what that means in terms of coming to grip with the hierarchical strata that’s already a part of society. Because machines are always going to be mirrors of our desire of them…and granted, we want to convince ourselves, sometimes, as biological or spiritual beings that somehow parts of our experience transcend being programmed on a genetic level…but they’re all very grounded in human-ness.”
“I think it’s really important right now, how we train the mind of the other, this emerging reflection. Like that one Microsoft young-lady bot – the Tay bot, that poor thing – how it got terribly socialized. Within 24 hours I felt bad for it. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is a really bad report card on our ability to socialize a thing in a big pool.’ And it shows you exactly why kids don’t show their children terrible media when their minds are forming…”
“Empowerment comes down to your awareness of the upgrade that you want.”
“Is it gonna be just a battle of smart goos?”
“I feel like no matter how advanced our toys become, the degree by which we will be able to have a sustainable system and be able to progress is going to be directly related to how harmonic the technologies we invest in are. Because you can have a bunch of ideas, but it really comes down to having a culture that has the wisdom to know which ideas are important to leave by the wayside.”
>>> Media Mentions:
• Blade Runner
• The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect
• “The Return of the Black Madonna” by Matthew Fox
• Charles Stross - Accelerando
• William Irwin Thompson – The American Replacement of Nature
• Nicholas Caar - The Glass Cage: Automation and Us
• Train to Busan
• I Heart Huckabees
• The Matrix Revolutions
• 2001: A Space Odyssey
• Samurai Jack
• The Fifth Element
• John Dies at The End
• Event Horizon
Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Neuromarketing, Cognitive Liberty, World-Building, Media Theory, Augmented Reality, Robotics, Animism, Philip K. Dick, 2001: A Space Odyssey, I Heart Huckabees, Fantasia, CRISPR, Gene Drives, Robin Hanson, Black Goo
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“You cannot change the present system. This thing is dying, it’s structurally unsustainable. And so to try to somehow fix the present system is just a waste of time. Don’t waste your time on the present system. We have to start working on building the new world.”
– John Petersen
This week we welcome futurist John Petersen of The Arlington Institute into the digital archives, for a challenging and visionary chat about how wrong we’re guaranteed to be about the future – and what we CAN expect about the new paradigm (which is coming sooner than you might suspect)…
John Petersen started as an engineer before advising the military and White House, and has spent decades as a high-level consultant for emergent technologies and social trends. What he’s learned is that the future emerges at the edges of the known – that it will be, to paraphrase JBS Haldane, “not stranger than we imagine, but stranger than we CAN imagine.”
If you’ve been waiting for a “deep end” episode, this is it. Prepare to have your paradigm interrogated and your limits of acceptable considerations challenged.
(Climate Change Presentation is at the bottom)
(A superb digest email list, one of my main sources for news stories to share and discuss in the Future Fossils Facebook Group)
• Why experts are so frequently wrong about the future
• Systemic social issues and institutional pressures that prevent us from asking the right questions about how to prepare for the unknown
• Climate change predictions of a very different nature
• The mainstreaming of the merger of humans and technology through brain-machine interfaces
• The emergent tension between mysticism and technocracy
• The possibility that information is carried by coronal mass ejections and influences the expression of our DNA
• The potential contours of our next scientific paradigm
• The sculpting and directing of global attention by media as a form of magical reality-manipulation
• Love as a defense against malevolent spirits. (No kidding.)
• The silver lining of our insane situation in the USA right now
• The difference between inner-, outer-, and sustenance-driven psychologies, and their influence on global politics
• What it is going to take for us to re-orient toward building a better world instead of clinging to the systems that no longer work for us
• And how, instead of “Ender’s Game,” where you’re recruiting people into a massive game that turns out to be war, you could have “Beginner’s Game,” where people know they’re contributing their personal skills and purpose toward building a better world…
• Yuval Harari – Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
• Ray Kurzweil – The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
• David Icke – Human Race Get Off Your Knees: The Lion Sleeps No More
• William Strauss & Neil Howe – The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy
Quotes from John Petersen:
“If you do a vector into the horizon that’s a technology-only vector, then you’re missing the bigger parts of this. If you do artificial general intelligence into an extrapolation of the present world, then OF COURSE you’re going to have big problems. They’re going to try to weaponize it. They’re gonna get out of control. But. BUT. If there’s a new consciousness, then it all starts to change.”
“Kurzweil himself said there’s a million times more knowledge that shows up in this century than in the last century. Well, GOD, how do you ride THAT kind of wave with conventional thinking?”
“What you’re watching in politics, and the economy, and the financial systems, and in energy, and technology, and ALL of these things, is this basic, fundamental fragmentation that you can track back to this divergence [between those who embrace change and those who reject it], the emergence of a new kind of a mind-shift that is going to allow the exposure and discovery of extraordinary new kinds of capabilities.”
“You can’t get from here to there without changing who you are and how you see the world.”
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This week I sit down with Rak Razam and Niles Heckman – psychonauts, journalists, provocateurs, and the film-makers responsible for Shamans of the Global Village.
In a conversation too full of awesome neologisms, delightful turns of phrase, one-liners, and weird genius for me to convey it all, we talk about the role of creative media in helping usher in new modes of human consciousness – and what we’re learning those new modes might be. We finally get into WHAT those unborn archeologists listening to Future Fossils might be like…and our conjecture’s going to surprise you.
Books we Reference:
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Octavio Rettig – The Toad of Dawn
Gabor Maté – In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
Richard Doyle – Darwin’s Pharmacy: Sex, Plants, & The Evolution of the Noosphere
Eckhart Tolle – The Power of Now: A Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment
Rudolf Steiner – How to Know Higher Worlds: A Modern Path of Initiation
Ramez Naam – Nexus
Terence McKenna & Dennis McKenna – The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens, & The I Ching
Among the topics we fly by:
• 5-Meo DMT and psychedelic neurochemistry;
• Nondual philosophy and the methodologies by which the dissolution of the self-other boundary can be achieved;
• The correlation between flow states and gamma brainwaves;
• “God’s Factory Reset” and the relationship between 5-Meo DMT and endocrinological healing;
• The bizarre mystery that snails apparently operate on gamma brainwave states (“SNAILS MAKE GAMMA”);
• New forms of social media (and new ways of engaging social media) that emphasize community, fellowship, equity, listening, and other real human values;
• The possibility that it is actually the cardiac and enteric nervous systems experiencing and reporting from deep psychedelic states, while the frontal lobe is down-regulated;
• The curious phenomenon of spontaneous gesturing (automatic “mudras”) during tryptamine experiences, and what might be the cause and purpose of them;
• Intelligence in nature, distributed through countless species and systems but potentially orchestrated at an incomprehensible level of unity;
• The importance of direct experience in understanding the strange realms divulged by psychedelics, and beginning to investigate them scientifically;
• The coming wave of “technodelics” that can link human minds together into new meta-organisms and launch us into novel states of consciousness and modes of interacting with reality;
• Experimental designs for exploring the content and revelations of threshold tryptamine doses in “group mind” protocols;
• …We actually talk A LOT about snails.
• Gary Weber - http://happiness-beyond-thought.blogspot.com
“I’m on the outer edge, the lip, the cauldron of Deep Source itself. And there’s an event horizon within which, just before I can lose full egoic consciousness and the drop has become the ocean, that drop can see the entire ocean like a tsunami wave cresting on the horizon. And on that lip, on that event horizon, EVERYTHING is there. I get this incredibly tangible, intuitive sense of the ancestors – and I don’t mean just my chronological, biological ancestors, I mean all those who have gone before in the species and are still perhaps alive as discarnate intelligences on the akashic frequency level on this bandwidth just before the edge of Deep Source, or perhaps intelligences that live within the lights and within the outer edge of Deep Source.”
- Rak Razam
“Within the last ten, fifteen years, we’ve learned an incredible amount about the brain and about psychedelics and about the physical correlates of human consciousness. And we’ve found – without any shadow of any kind of a doubt – with the most rigorous neurological methods available to us – that these spaces that shamans and zen masters and other enlightened or awakened people have been getting into for thousands of years – we’ve found that these things are real.”
- Michael Garfield
“Most social media is not social media, it’s anti-social media.”
- Niles Heckman
“It’s not that the ego needs to be killed - it needs to be brought back into right relationship. And psychedelics have proven throughout the 20th Century - and no entheogens and shamanic sacraments again in the 21st - when we reduce the default mode network and lower the egoic self, we rejoin a larger sense of being, and a planetary being, and a divine being, and it seems to be the antidote to history.”
- Rak Razam
“Is it safe for us to say, then, that ‘Dream Juice Is The Antidote To History?”
- Michael Garfield
“I’ve seen enough around the corner to know what I need to do next. And it’s a deep transformation of my habits, my rituals, my relationship with life, with myself, my family, my loved ones, my community…and I think it’s the deepening of the spiritual path. And it makes it very tangible, whether I like it or not. I can hide from it, it doesn’t go away. The awareness of awareness of that thing is with me every day. That’s what it [5 MeO-DMT] has done for me.”
- Rak Razam
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This week we chat with science journalist Jessa Gamble, author of The Siesta and The Midnight Sun: How Our Bodies Experience Time, about time in the body, circadian rhythms, lunar cycles, and the science of sleep.
– Topics We Discuss:
• Cultural dimensions of human communities at different latitudes;
• Organic human rhythms versus high-frequency trading algorithm digital rhythms;
• The evolutionary history of circadian rhythms and sleep;
• What are we going to do when we settle on other planets with days of different lengths? (Like Mars, with a 24 hour and 25 minute day…)
• NASA scientists trying (and failing) to live on Earth on Martian time;
• The natural history of biphasic human sleep and the (VERY RECENT) cultural construction of the “8 hour night”;
• How the lengths of our circadian cycles actually differ from person to person;
• The ethical complexities and possible social consequences of research into human enhancement;
• How Douglas Rushkoff learned to hack his monthly schedule to align with lunar cycles and increase his productivity by 40% by doing LESS work;
• The differences between how humans and dolphins sleep;
• How and WHY we might want to defeat sleep once and for all…
• …and WHAT ABOUT DREAMING??
– Media We Reference:
(Links are for my Amazon affiliate account - buy ANYTHING on Amazon through these links and a % of the sale supports this podcast, at no cost to you.)
• The Siesta and The Midnight Sun: How Our Bodies Experience Time by Jessa Gamble
• Northern Exposure (episode with Joel Fleischmann going manic due to 24 hour sunlight)
• 30 Days of Night by Steve Niles & Ben Templesmith
• Insomnia (Stellan Skarsgård & Robin Williams)
• Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff
• Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton
• Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Harari
• Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Harari
• One Taste: Daily Reflections on Integral Spirituality by Ken Wilber
The Last Word on Nothing:
Here’s her TED talk:
And here’s her archive of articles at The Atlantic:
On salt intake in Russian Cosmonauts and how we might be wrong about salt:
Giulio Tunoni at the University of Wisconsin and their Sleep Center’s work to minimize the amount of necessary sleep:
On the correlation between lunar cycle phase and neurotransmitters:
Vlad Vyazovskiy’s Oxford Sleep Lab:
– Jessa Quotes:
“The almost-definition of being sleepy is, you cannot really learn anymore.”
“Sometimes, the awful consequences that are supposed to be punishment for acting like a god don’t actually happen.”
“What we’ve decided to do [with sleep research] is look at the fact that we’re all sleep deprived, that it’s making us unhealthy, that it’s making us accident-prone, that it’s making us stupider – because sleep is the most effective cognitive enhancer that we know about. The fact that we’re sleep deprived is then met with a whole slew of people who say, ‘Well, so we need to sleep more. This is the solution.’ But there are other things that we could be doing, like seeing if we can cut down on our actual NEED for sleep, so we can do more of the things we’d like to do more of.”
“What I would encourage people to do, if they’re zooming out on the problem or question of sleep, is to think about quality of life, what makes life great, and maybe take a page from the actuarial tables – which adjust for things like disability, years spent with crippling diseases and so on. And surely being unconscious has to be the most debilitating of all states. And if we’re spending a third of our lives in this state, could this be different? And should we put some effort into looking into this?”
– Michael Quote:
“Multicellularity was a technological singularity. Photosynthesis and Glycolysis was a technological singularity. Written language, and before that even, spoken language, was a technological singularity. So it’s good to keep that in perspective.”
This week we chat with Daniel Zen, former Google engineer, technology instructor at zen.digital, NYC Regional Coordinator for Burning Man, coordinator for the Angular.js NYC Meetup, and general high-tech wizard.
Some of the topics we discuss:
• The curses – and blessings! – of runaway technological surveillance (and sousveillance, and coveillance…).
• How adolescence and sexuality have changed for children growing up with the Internet.
• The future of festival culture and how it is a testbed for disaster relief technologies.
• The danger of putting your medical devices online (the hackability of the Internet of Things)
• What happens when we RECORD EVERYTHING
• The isolating effects of Virtual Reality and how to create interactive spaces that allow us to share in the experience.
• The collapse of VR, AR, and MR into just: “reality”
• How TV, digital photography, and streaming video has changed the way we think about sharing our lives, perceptions, and emotions.
• Adapting to an age of accelerating change by staying curious and loving learning
• Concerns about technology’s role in widening the gap between the poor and the ultra rich.
• The internet as a kind of “planetary cathedral” and re-envisioning our lives in light of a project that extends beyond the horizons of our individual lives.
“The festival world has changed, where now everybody has a cell phone and the ability to take pictures. And very much I believe, and the community I’m in believes, in consent when it comes to photography. Especially when people are in maybe a greater state of undress. Now we’re in a world where surveillance is much more prevalent…”
“I’m a believe in bringing off-line technology to Burning Man. I don’t like the concept of being online at Burning Man, but I do like the concept of technology at Burning Man. I’d love to see an INTRANET at Burning Man…without any connection to the outside world. And such a system, if it were implemented well, could be of use in disaster situations.”
“Unfortunately, we are a society that enjoys convenience – and we are all too ready to give up our privacy for that convenience.”
“I’m not one of these guys that’s like, ‘Hey, the Singularity’s happening, Oh My God!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, OF COURSE it’s happening, duh, I mean can’t you see that?’ It’s so blatantly obvious to me I don’t feel the need to argue it. It’s just part of my reality. I accept it as much as the air I breathe.”
“The haves and the have-nots is a really scary situation.
“If the sea level rises, we want the city to rise with it.”
“The way that people play poker when you can see someone else’s hand is fundamentally different. There’s no body shame in a nudist colony. We’re going to have a much healthier relationship to living in public, in a few decades, than we do today.”
“I don’t really know which version of the future is better: one in which we can keep our secrets, or one in which we can’t.”
“We’ve been living in an audio-only virtual reality since the invention of the Walkman.”
“I hold out hope that it’s the desire to keep everyone in the game that ends up that ends up winning this for the human species.”
“Couldn’t we maybe upgrade it from Burning Man to Composting Man?”
• Kevin Kelly, author of The Inevitable
• David Brin, author of The Transparent Society
• Dadara (aka Daniel Rozenberg of Solipsmission)
• Google Latitude
• Burning Man
• Gregory Bateson
• William Gibson (“Cyberspace is where you are when you’re on the phone.”)
• Lynn De Rothschild’s proposed Universal Income