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
We’re switching it up this week to present my recent talk on psychedelic futurism at the first weekly meeting of the Australian Psychedelic Society (Fitzroy Beer Garden, Melbourne, Victoria).
The Chinese have a curse: “May you live in interesting times.” The Irish have a toast: “May you be alive at the end of the world” I’m more Irish than Chinese, and I know this because even though we’re living through total chaos these days, that means unprecedented opportunity for wonder, creativity, discovery, and growth.
- How to enjoy life in an age of mass extinction and the imminent transformation of the human species through genetic engineering
- CRISPR and evolution “in real time,” within the lifespan of “individual” organisms
- The self as a multitude of distinct neural “motifs” and how each of us is a village (or a bouquet)
- Living through “a trans-technological, trans-nature” renaissance
- The sharing economy, nonmonogamy, global citizenship, access vs. ownership as symptoms of a global transition to more freely exchanged modular selfhood
- How each of us is basically the sexually mature larval form of our ancestors and how staying “childlike” has empowered us with special powers as a species
- The future of work as a world in which there are as many different kinds of work as there are people
- The spiritual and philosophical implications of “teledildonics”
- What replaces “privacy” in an age of universal coveillance and mutual accountability
- Why we shouldn’t judge the world and lives of our software based digital human descendants
- Tim Leary’s “Just Say Know” as a better approach to technologies (since all technologies are psychoactive, and so tech and drugs should merit similar approaches)
“To the extent that we recognize that who we believe ourselves to be is a story our brain is creating instinctively and automatically, we can be more conscious about that, and we can inhabit different self-concepts as it suits us.”
“What we’re learning about the origins of life is that it wasn’t like suddenly the cell occurred, with a membrane already on it, and credit card debt, and alimony payments. This happened in stages. And the first stage, what we believe the first life form to be…was a soup of self-reproducing molecules that didn’t really have clear self-other division. And even now, bacteria are very promiscuous and free about the exchange of their own genetic information with one another.”
“When everyone has a 3D printer at home, you’re not going to go to a dealer. You’re going to print your own drugs.”
“Each of us is the still point at the intersection of colliding infinities.”
“It’s not so much that we’re coming to ‘The End of Jobs’…it’s that we’re coming to a world in which everybody’s jobs is basically unique to them.
“What is a human being? A human being is a pattern that occurs within a field of organization. You’re never the same stuff from moment to moment. Even the same atoms are blinking in and out of virtual particle states. So what are you more fundamentally than a pile of soup and bones? You are the pattern of information that exists within this electromagnetic field. And then…as Gregory Bateson said, information is ‘the difference that makes a difference.’ Information doesn’t exist unless it’s observed. Unless it’s understood. Information and consciousness are two perspectives on the same thing. So to recognize ourselves as, more fundamentally, fields of information, is to recognize ourselves as more fundamentally a nonduality of material and immaterial.”
“The story that we tell about ourselves is something that can be tweaked, hacked, reprogrammed, assumed, dropped. These identities end up becoming more like costumes that we are are able to remove and wear as appropriate.”
“This is part of the anxiety of modern existence: that as we become more and more transparent to one another, as we become more connected, we’re becoming more vulnerable, and our definitions of security have to change accordingly.”
“A good idea is better shared.”
EPISODE ART BY ADAM SCOTT MILLER: http://adamscottmiller.com/
This week’s guest is travel guide Simon Yugler – named one of Open World Magazine’s “Top 30 Adventurers Under 30,” Simon facilitates initiatory experiences as the leader of experiential education journeys for young adults.
Here’s Simon talking to UpliftConnect about the difference between “wanting to help” and “wanting to be of service”:
- “What cultural exchange looks like from a place of transformation and healing.”
- Decolonizing Festival Culture.
- Right Relationship & the difference between “Citizen Diplomacy” & “Mission Work.”
- What it means to be a respectful guest.
- The difference between tourists and locals: tourists look up (novelty and wonder).
- What travel has to teach us about navigating our turbulent and transformational age.
- How rootless modern people (digital nomads, refugees, wandering Jews, and so on) can reconnect with a sense of place and become a “person of place.”
- How to RECEIVE people with respect and be a good host for travelers and displaced peoples.
- Avoiding the dark side of entrepreneurialism, the exploitation and instrumentalist thinking, and turning our hunger into the fuel for something beautiful…
The Five Principles of Right Relationship:
• Give Offerings of Respect
• Shut Up & Listen
• Know Your History (Do Research About Where You’re Going/Are)
• Love of Language
• Sharing From The Heart
“Travel will leave you speechless and then turn you into a storyteller.”
- Ibn Battuta
“I think there’s something almost archetypal and profound about leaving your home, country of origin, about leaving your comfort zone and traveling OUT into the world…let’s just start there. Initiation 101.”
“Coming to terms with my own liberal conditioning of wanting to save the world…all these things we’re raised to think in America these days, and learning to let that all go. And realizing that all I can do as an individual is build authentic relationships with people.”
“One thing Right Relationship ISN’T is wanting to come in and FIX.”
“If we don’t have anything to give – which I doubt – we can give the gift of silence.”
“Once you start on the initiatory path it continues for your whole life. Eventually, part of that is initiating others.”
“We can share stories about how the world is burning down and imploding, or we can share stories about how the world is being created. We can play a part in that.”
“For me, to put it lightly, travel has been an initiatory path.”
“Everything that could go wrong while traveling in Africa DID go wrong. I had no money, I had one contact in the town I was showing up in whose phone happened to be out of commission, my phone credit ran out and I didn’t know how to recharge it because I didn’t know how to speak Swahili, and here I am in the middle of the country in this dusty little savannah town with no-one I know in a thousand miles and no money and no language skills and nothing…”
“Knowing that people across the world are good, for the most part, and for the most part want to help you, is one of the most powerful and transformative messages that we can experience and share. Because if you turn on the news – I don’t know why you’d do that, these days – but if you were to turn on CNN, you would get barraged with information about how dangerous and terrible the world is. Travel can instill these experiences in your life that prove the complete opposite of that.”
Referenced in this episode:
Michael Mead, writer
Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift
Nelson Mandela, politician
David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous
Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding: A Guide to the Uncommon Art of Long-Term World Travel
Ibn Battuta, legendary explorer
Victor Turner, anthropologist
Bruce Chatwin, author of The Songlines
The Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars
David Dang Vu, serial entrepreneur
Paul Levy, writer
Seth Godin, marketing expert
Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek
Chris Guillebeau, author of The 100 Dollar Startup
Duncan Trussell, comedian
Debbie Millman, host of Design Matters Podcast
Drew Dillinger, poet, “The Hieroglyphic Stairway”
This week’s guest is the artist, gallery owner, podcaster, web designer, and musician Aunia Kahn! Among her many notable achievements, she curates Alexi Era Gallery in Oregon, hosted the Create & Inspire Podcast, and survived eleven years housebound with disability to emerge more creative, passionate, and powerful than before.
In one of this podcast’s more rambling conversations, we discuss:
- Internet & Cellphone Addiction (and the problem of “gameifying” everything to seize attention).
- How the internet has changed the ways we present ourselves to one another online, splintered our identities, and changed our sense of time…
- Using technology (especially social media) instead of letting technology use you.
- Comparing the Internet and Organized Religion, and how institutions serve the role of “tigers” in the modern “jungle” of society.
- Looking at the historical context of disability and the relative nature of contemporary problems.
- How disease can shock us into a deeper sense of mortality and urgency with respect to our creative work.
- How sometimes the big life events change us…and sometimes, they don’t.
—Quotes from Aunia Kahn:
“Stop worrying about people judging you. Just make it.”
“If you people don’t like it, I’m sorry, stop following me. I’m not living my life to please you…I’m not going to sit there and pretend that I’m three different people, and that’s kind of what this digital age has created.”
“Where is that fine line? I’m taking it [the smartphone] to the dinner table and I’m not even paying attention to what I’m eating, I’m posting something to Instagram while I’m shoving food in my mouth, and I’m wondering why I’m choking! It’s dinner time. We’re going to put the phone somewhere else. It’s not work time.”
“Where do you get your value? Do you get your value from social media or do you get your value from true real conversations with people, like we’re having? Where is that true interaction?”
“I don’t think a lot of people are technologically consumed yet that they realize they’re missing out on the human, the real, the not-virtual. And having already gone through that, I just want to grab people and say, ‘PUT IT DOWN AND EAT YOUR DINNER!’ Everywhere you go, it’s always cellphone-to-your-face. Nobody’s looking at the trees, at each other…over time, people will start to crave the more-real, the tangible, the touching…we need that.”
“EVERYBODY’S valid. Everybody’s creativity is valid. I don’t care if I dislike it or not. Every human being on this Earth has value. Old people…are just like, ‘I’m going to live my life and if you don’t like it, kiss my ass.’ We should adopt that earlier on.”
This week, we spend some time with Joanna Harcourt-Smith, "Swiss-born British socialite," host of the Future Primitive Podcast, and author of Tripping the Bardo with Timothy Leary: My Psychedelic Love Story.
Michael on Joanna’s 500+ Episode Podcast:
Check out her archives. They’re amazing.
"God IS A Sense of Humor"
"Know That You're Everything"
“To me, people are mushrooms. My claim to fame was the fact that I found the mushroom Timothy Leary in the forest. And I had to eat that mushroom so I could really start to flex the accordion of my being.”
“I don’t even know that there IS a past and a future. The numerous psychedelic experiences I have been gifted with by life have told me that there is NO past and there is NO future.”
“Everything lives. Everything wants to live. Nothing dies, it just becomes composted and intertwined with each other.”
“When I make a soup, it’s like painting. Getting all these ingredients together is so exciting, it’s so alive. Somebody says to me, ‘That’s so delicious. Can you give me the recipe?’ ‘I can’t give you the recipe! Don’t be crazy! It’s impossible! It just happened in this moment and it will be forever, because it’s inside of us. Okay?’”
“There are several parts of myself looking at what’s going on, and it’s like, I used to be depressed by the committee going on inside of me but now I ALWAYS have fun with the committee! I mean, I’ve got my own theater going on here…” [laughs]
“At my age, either you amuse yourself with knee replacements, or…gratitude becomes the greatest element of your life. That’s the key. I mean, THAT’S the key.”
“Instead of choosing your work, I would highly recommend that you choose your play.”
“The play, at the end of the day, is a lot more important than the work.”
“This person you are talking with, what do they long for? And how can I participate in this longing?”
On getting Timothy Leary out of prison:
“It was useful to the left because he was a martyr. And it was useful to the right because he was a scapegoat. So I quickly saw that that situation was absolutely practical for everyone involved. Except for this young woman who was LONGING for this interesting man. I’m always longing for somebody I can have a good conversation with. And just doing it in prison wasn’t enough…It was impossible. And in a sense, I love that.”
“They stripsearched me because I was the paramour of the good doctor. But it was clear to me that the best place to hide the drugs was my ‘innie’ belly-button. They never thought of that.”