Provocative, profound discussions at the intersection of art, science, and wonder with "paleontologist-futurist" Michael Garfield and a growing list of artists, scientists, philosophers, historians, comedians, and other weirdos. Explore the evolutionary landscape and our place in it through unconventional, bizarre, irreverent, and thoughtful conversations – an auditory psychedelic to get you prepared for living in a wilder future than we can imagine. Join our discussion group and meet like minds: Support this podcast and get rewards:
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Now displaying: July, 2017
Jul 27, 2017

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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…


• Biofoundry:


• Press about Meow:


• We Talk:


- Cryptocurrency

- Biohacking

- 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…”

Jul 21, 2017
This week we talk about what the oldest fossils in the world have to teach us about life’s origins and destiny with Tara Djokic of the University of New South Wales. Tara’s a geologist and astrobiologist whose team and work just appeared on the cover of Scientific American for changing our ideas about the beginning of our story…
“Thinking for humanity, moving forward and prospering as a global community – a lot of people in power aren’t thinking that way.”
“We can only base what we know about life, and about intelligent life, on what we know here on Earth, because we’ve got no other sample. And until that happens, we can only make hypotheses.”
“I can only speak for me. And when I think, okay, well, we all just came from goo, and maybe one day the universe won’t be here anymore, I find that pretty humbling. And that’s pretty much the reason I got into this field. Relationships come and go, friendships come and go, life changes and evolves…and the society we live in is so distracting, and we get caught up in trivial things…when you put that all in perspective and think, we all just came from goo, it just makes you a little bit HUMBLER. Because I do get caught up in the same stuff that everybody else does. We’re humans; we’re governed by our emotions and our biology…if I can look outside of that biological box as a human being and put things in perspective, then I’m going to. And that’s what I think astrobiology does, and that’s what I think studying the origins of life does.”
“We’re really just a macro-sized version of a microbial community on the planet.”
“We’re a community. But unfortunately, for some reason, humans all seem to think we’re individual and the pocket over here can do whatever they want and it won’t affect the pocket over there.”
“The one saving grace we have for humanity is hope. Hope is what drives anybody to do anything, right? The hope to achieve something. The hope that they’re going to succeed.”
“The key difference between science and religion is that science gives you the information and then you can make your own decision, whereas a lot of the time it’s, ‘This is the information; take it or leave it.’ For me the beauty of science and the beauty of education is that you’re able to make critical decisions FOR YOURSELF.”
- What are the oldest fossils on the planet?
- What was the environment in which life emerged on Earth?
- Explaining scientific research to strangers.
- The relationship between scholarship and leisure.
- How she become an astrobiologist
- Fermi’s Paradox & The Great Silence (or, “If life is so likely, why don’t we hear anybody?”)
- Have we not encountered intelligent extraterrestrials because they tend to wipe themselves out, or because they’ve learned to encrypt all of their communication to look like radio noise?
- The two kinds of scientists: concepts first, then hypothesis; or data first, then hypothesis.
- The mystical experience of doing paleontological fieldwork in the Badlands.
- How does this research help us understand where to look for life elsewhere in the solar system?
- What the study of ancient life reveals about overarching patterns in every part of the cosmos.
- The Great Oxygenation Event 2.4 billion years ago and what we can learn from this ancient catastrophe.
- The importance of good science writing in an age of “alternative facts.”
- The difficulties faced by science in an age when so much of discovery is made with the assistance of sophisticated machines.
- Edgar Mitchell
- Bruce Damer & Dave Deamer
- Paolo Soleri
- The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter
- Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Suess
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
- Ready Player One by Ernest Kline
- The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch by Philip K. Dick
Jul 13, 2017
This week's episode is brought to you by Visionary Magnets, the refrigerator poetry magnets that turn your boring old kitchen appliances into the substrate for woke invocations, tantric pillow talk, and other occult goofery. Support their Kickstarter and "enlighten your fridge" today! Or tomorrow.
This week is part one of a special double-length episode with Jon Lebkowsky, founder of EFF-Austin – one of the unsung heroes of Internet culture, whose tale stretches through the earliest web communities and reads like a list of landmark moments in the history of digital rights and culture.
We talk about the early days of hacking in the Wild West of the 1990s, how the World Wide Web has changed since then, and the promises and perils of the Internet in the 21st Century.
It’s a winding tale of pseudonymous keyboard-slingers and federal raids, roleplaying game empires and sci-fi visionaries, centered on the unsuspecting hippie cowboy outpost of Austin, Texas, Once Upon A Time.
Enjoy this special conversation on the history of the Internet we know today, and a snapshot of the hopes and fears of life online in the dawn of our digital era…
- The threat of Internet-empowered fascism and “participation mystique” (or maybe worse, a corporate plutocracy) eroding rational civil discourse and the dignity of the individual
- The problems with “Net Neutrality” and how it makes more sense to focus on “The Freedom to Connect”
- Connectivity vs. Interdependence (OR) Networks vs. Buddhism
- Does the Noosphere already exist, and we’re just excavating it?
- The History of Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin and how it was connected to the secret service’s raid of legendary role-playing game designer Steve Jackson (GURPS)
- The hilarious, troubled Dawn Age of e-commerce before secure web browsing
- Jon’s work with a Gurdjieff group and his encounters with esoterica as an editor of the Consciousness subdomain for the last issue of the Whole Earth Review
- Cybergrace, TechGnosis, and Millennial concerns about the mind/body split in the first Internet and our need to humanize technology with whole-body interfaces and MOVEMENT
- Embodied Virtual Reality & Other Full-Sensory Immersive Media
- Cory Doctorow’s new novel Walkaway as a banner book for the maker movement and a new form of cyber-social-liberation.
- The movement of political agency back into city-states in a digital era
- “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.”
- Shaping the future of wireless infrastructure in the early 00s of Austin
- Getting our values right before we imprint the wrong ones into superhuman AI
- Putting together diverse conversation groups to solve “wicked problems”
- New forms of participatory open-source politics suited for an internet age
Whole Earth Provisions, Whole Earth Review, The WELL, Whole Foods, William Gibson, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hakim Bey, William Irwin Thompson, Alien Covenant, Terminator, John Perry Barlow, Mitch Kapor, Mike Godwin, Bruce Sterling, Clay Shirkey, WIRED Magazine, Fringeware, RoboFest, Heather Barfield, Neal Stephenson, Terence McKenna, Church of the Subgenius, Mondo 2000, Erik Davis, GI Gurdjieff, The National Science Fiction Convention, Rudy Rucker, Greg Bear, Jon Shirley, Jennifer Cobb, Robert Scoville, Greg Egan, Ernest Cline, Octopus Project, The Tingler, Honey I Shrunk The Kids (Ride), Charles Stross, Glass House, Rapture of the Nerds, Cory Doctorow, Alan Moore, Project Hieroglyph, Arizona State University, Jake Dunagan, Plutopia Productions, The Digital Convergence Initiative, Chris Boyd, South By Southwest, Boing Boing, Make Magazine, Dave Demaris, Maggie Duval, Bon Davis, DJ Spooky, Forest Mars, OS Con, RU Sirius, Shin Gojira, Open-Source Party,
“The Noosphere can certainly have pathologies…”
“The Internet was originally a peer-to-peer system, and so you had a network of networks, and they were all cooperating and carrying each other’s traffic, and so forth. And that was a fairly powerful idea, but the Internet is not that anymore. The Internet has, because of the way it’s evolved, because it’s become so powerful and so important and so critical, there are systems that are more dominant – backbone systems – and those are operated by large companies that understand how to operate big networks. That’s really a different system than the system that was originally built.”
“SO FAR we’ve managed to keep the Internet fairly open…the absolute idea of net neutrality might not be completely practical.”
“Science fiction is a literature of ideas, but a lot of those ideas do not manifest in exactly the way that they did in the book.”
“I don’t have a real high level of confidence that anybody understands exactly what the fuck is going on.”
“You couldn’t get a consumer account to get access to the Internet at that time. And in fact I think the first companies to do that were here in Austin.”
“At the time, we were the only game in town for internet stuff…”
“One thing I learned was, if you’re at the very cutting edge, it’s hard to make money.”
“There are a lot of people who aren’t in touch with themselves internally. Because it’s hard. It’s hard to do that.”
“I know that that’s sort of the goal in VR development: to give you a fully immersive experience where you’re really in a completely other reality, like in the Holodeck. But, you know. I’m still dealing with THIS reality. I don’t want another one.”
“In an online community, people are always itching for ways to get into real human proximity with one another. They’re always looking for ways to meet.”
“That’s my idea of what works now: is to have events that are experiences, you know, versus people just like, going to movies, or watching television, or going to a concert and watching a band play.”
“I keep thinking that we won’t be able to solve our problems with bureaucracy or the kind of governance structures that we’ve been living with, but I look around me and see people who are doing just fine, and doing great work, and living their lives…and I’m sort of feeling hopeful and a little bit confident that those people will step up and do what they need to do to make things work, even if our so-called elected officials aren’t doing it.”
Jul 6, 2017
“I think we’re at a real crossroads. I’m an old guy, I may not live to see a whole lot more of the changes that are undoubtedly going to happen, but I would sure like to. I try to be an optimist. I’d like to hope that through education and science and clear thinking and good communication we come to sort of a passive understanding of the stuff we need to do – rather than having any ‘conspiracy’ organizations shoving it down everybody’s throats. We can have creativity and BETTER lives, rather than just more and more and more.”
This week our guest is visionary artist Mark Henson, whose highly detailed and frequently erotic landscape paintings portray the full spectrum of human experience, our greatest dreams and most disturbing nightmares.
Mark’s been a friend and elder to me since we met in 2010 and I was delighted to catch up with him at this year’s Psychedelic Science Conference in Oakland – please excuse the background noise in this recording as you enjoy this festive and far-ranging conversation about art, life, and creativity!
- Viewing and making art as time travel.
- Will artificial intelligence replace artists?
- Can we understand the universe?
- Altered sense of time self in dreams and psychedelic experiences.
- How technology has crept into our memory and dream lives.
- The necessity of Universal Basic Income AND Life Purpose in an automated post-work world.
- “The Work” of ayahuasca users and telepathic post-humans (on social media) of being open to the intensity and burden of collective experience.
- The importance of an intentional media diet.
- How Mark got to collaborate with Jimi Hendrix as a teenager!
- Mark’s thoughts on the history and evolving intersection of Street Art, Fine Art, and Live Music.
- How different musical styles and intoxicants contribute to different media ecosystems.
- How Mark and his stepson almost got one of his paintings into the White House.
- Projected art as graffiti and political action; augmented reality graffiti as the future of dissent, and geospatial metadata as a new cyberpunk Wild West – metagraffiti.
- Defacing ads and reclaiming public space, a polite How To.
- The future of the family.
- The Golden Oecumene Trilogy by John C. Wright
- Blood Music by Greg Bear
- Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research
- The Teafaerie’s Erowid Ibogaine Article
- Ayahuasca Coloring Book artist Alexander Ward
- Michael’s appearance on Comedy Central’s Problematic with Moshe Kasher
- Darwin’s Pharmacy by Richard Doyle
“My overall project here is to create impressions of what life was like, in these days…”
“By 2000, we were supposed to be flying around in little personal cars and live in a peaceful world where the big issues had been resolved. That didn’t happen, so I’m not going to hold my breath on a Singularity.”
“Sometimes I have fairly vivid dreams where, if the dream is strong enough, later on when I’m awake I might confuse that reality with something that happened in my waking moments. Did I dream that, or did that really happen to me ten years ago. What about this little experience? Was that a dream, or…I can’t quite remember. Sometimes that happens to me, and I actually like that, because if I can blur the boundaries between that world and this one, I think it’s more interesting.”
“Maybe if the Singularity happens, or Artificial Intelligence gets intelligent enough to be a frustrated, nervous wreck over wanting to express itself to the point of absolute fanaticism where it has to create something new in the world…I would love to see that, actually. See what comes out.”
“Do I want to live in a Borg mind where I know what you’re thinking and you know what I’m thinking? No, I do not, because that’ll clog up my thoughts.”
“Everybody is radiating self-expression some way or another. It’s one of our basic human desires. How do we not be swamped in all the static? It’s like we’re running 300 radios at one time. It’s hard to listen to one particular song. So somehow we have to filter things out. It’s sort of essential just to keep sane.”
“The essence of our culture war is an economic war, in a sense…if you have a good psychedelic experience, you realize that the beauty of a sunset is of more importance than a pallet full of $100 bills.”
“I think if the humans manage to manage ourselves, we’ll be able o accomplish managing nature so that nature can still be nature…and maybe we’ll have a few friendly helpful robots as well.”