This week, we take an hour to explore the frontiers of the human experience with Trevor Goodman of the Body Hacking Conference in Austin, Texas.
Here’s a bit about the conference from NPR:
• Cybernetics, prosthetics, nootropics, body modification, bionics…
• The origins and history of “body hacking.”
• Body modification as an answer/solution to body dysmorphia (feeling out of place “in your own skin”).
“Frankly, we have no clue how things are going to be in ten or twenty years. Twenty years ago we weren’t carrying our memories around in our pockets like we are now.”
• How modern transhumanism is just an extension of the ancient human project that includes clothing, fire, and other technological augmentations.
• How the freedom of the body is also the freedom of the mind.
• Ethical issues of body modification as personal expression and identity and interactions with other people…
• Unfortunate discovery about our evolutionary history: Our skulls are shaped to take a punch, and our fists are shaped to punch a human skull. That’s why it’s so hard to scan the brain through the skull…
“If only we had punched each other less, maybe we could have giant robot bodies already.”
• Where do I begin and where do you end? Hacking my body is always a political act because it’s always interfering with the commons and the expectations of the system.
• The continued breakdown of consensus reality as we hack ourselves into having all kinds of different new senses that we do not share with everybody else – and how we hopefully begin to CELEBRATE this, celebrate diversity of body forms beyond just whether they depart in minor superficial details from the normal human image or some magazine-made simulacrum of it.
“Sensory augmentation and sensory substitution have the biggest opportunity to fundamentally change who we are as people and how we interact with our environment. And I also think it’s the biggest thing that’s going to blindside people, because some of this stuff is right around the corner.”
“In the past year, DARPA [said] they are getting touch to work in prosthetics. They hooked up a paraplegic woman to a jet simulator and she taught herself how to fly the jet, just by having her brain connected to it, in a day or two.”
“What we’ve learned is that it’s a lot more simple than you might have expected to just plug a thing into the right part of the brain and let the brain figure out how to communicate with it.”
• Trevor raps off a truly impressive list of precedent-setting body hacking experiments starting in 2004 and continuing through utterly crazy science in the present day…
• Will expanding our senses to see or feel the rest of the electromagnetic spectrum help keep us safe from all the wireless information and energy transfer that society requires?
• Will everyone have access to it, or will it create a further divide?
• Project Hieroglyph: Vandana Singh’s short story “Entanglement” Karl Schroeder's short story "Degrees of Freedom" and its feature of sensory substitution vests for ecological and political influence.
Prosthetic Indigenous Animistic Awareness
Living in a Postliterate Rumor Society
“You will probably have groups of people who are all about the visual senses, I’m sure, though, too - they’ll all commune together and Look At Things Very Closely.”
#dualplatformidentity // #mindclones
“A lot of us are so not ready to process the changes of twenty years ago, much less process the changes of now.”
• What Does It Mean To Be Human?
Michael’s essays from the Body Hacking Conference Blog:
Best Seat in the House: Being Every Drone
Body Alchemy: Let’s Hack The Microbiome!
US Supreme Court: You’re A Cyborg
0014 Michael Phillip (Special Episode: Westworld Problems)
With special guest, host of Third Eye Drops Podcast and fellow esoteric dork extraordinaire, Michael Phillip. We go deep into the layers underneath the layers of HBO’s awesome new show Westworld – its future angst and wonder, and what it can teach us about the value and meaning of human existence.
SPOILER ALERT! We get into details of the Season Finale, so don’t listen to this unless you’ve seen it.
The show is worth it, though, so watch it and then come back to this conversation – in which we totally ignore the precedent of Battlestar Galactica while discussing Westworld’s awesome treatment of “Am I actually a robot?” and its evolution from the original 1970s version – and speculate on the world OUTSIDE of Westworld, the missing context for this robot violence playland that to us makes very little economic sense.
Michael Phillip echoes majestically from beyond the void as we talk about:
• William Gibson’s argument that AI isn’t robots but a “coral reef” in which all internet-connected human beings are participating;
• Magic Leap and other paradigm-shattering technologies poised to arrive on the scene simultaneously and challenge our very sense of what is real;
• Branded mixed reality universes shared by fandoms as AI testbeds;
• The danger of projecting our modern values into a fictional world at least 60 years ahead of the present – one where overpopulation may reduce the value of a human life, or might be jaded with the virtual and really want a “flesh and blood” experience of virtual reality (Is Westworld the equivalent of “artisanal small batch” or “analog aficionado” for the not-so-distant future?);
• How being able to 3D print new body parts might one day inspire a carelessness with physical harm, or possibly even new arts of consequence-free self-mutilation;
• The importance of feeling something REAL, feeling like your consequences MATTER, and how comfort sometimes is the enemy of evolution;
• Is human life losing its value?
• Sentience / Sapience & Panpsychism, Complexity
• The project of creating our own machine gods and their seemingly inevitable project of creating their own gods – Dan Simmons’ amazing Hyperion Cantos (science fiction novel series) talks about this – and how we might move into a kind of rainforest of different kinds of artificial sentience…
• Moore’s Law and entropy and evolution – will we run faster people in smaller bodies? (Fraggle Rock, Fractal Rock)
• If we’re data then of course we have duplicate versions of ourselves running around out there…
• The FOMO-ularity, when the risk of printing out a body to run at one millionth of your society’s consensus digital reality is unthinkable.
• Uploading only copies, does not transfer a continuous stream of, qualia – you aren’t immortal, just your pattern (maybe)
• Martine Rothblatt’s idea of “dual platform identity” and the light and dark sides of being able to train a computer to think and act like you.
• Can we use the ancient techniques of ecstasy employed by shamanism to more adequately navigate the turbulence and overwhelm of (post-post-)modern life?
• What else do Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, and JJ Abrams have in store for us with this? We know they’re into archetypes and layers…
• MP proposes that Arnold is the heart and Ford is the mind, leading MG to bring up Set & Osiris, Christ & Lucifer…you know, classic pairs that descend through involutionary layers of being into ever branching polar incarnations. Paradox resolved dissolves as dyads in the Fall. Ford is Lucifer and Arnold is the Christ. BAM.
• What are people going to be dissatisfied with in the future?
• Next World Problems