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: June, 2017
Jun 27, 2017

“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

Jun 17, 2017

New essaysmusic, talks, and writing coming soon for my Patreon supporters! Subscribe here and get everything I do for free if you haven’t already…

This week our guest is Becca Tarnas, whom I caught up with at the 2017 MAPS Psychedelic Science Conference in Oakland.

Becca’s Website

Archai Journal: The Journal of Archetypal Cosmology

“Everything breathes together.”
- Plotinus

We discussed:

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.

Books Mentioned:

• Cosmos & Psyche by Richard Tarnas

Glass House by Charles Stross

Stages of Faith by James Fowler

• Promethea by Alan Moore

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Jun 7, 2017

(New essaysmusic, talks, and writing coming soon for my Patreon supporters! Subscribe here and get everything I do for free if you haven’t already…)

This week we chat with Sara Huntley – Dancer, Graphic Novelist, Tattoo Artist, Clown, and Psychedelic Futurist.  Buckle Up!

Sara’s Website:

Sara on FB:

A conversation on New Media & The Future of Storytelling, the Ethics of Digital Entities, and Treating Bots With Kindness.


>>> Topics:

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
• Prometheus
• Transcendence
• The Matrix Revolutions
• 2001: A Space Odyssey
• Samurai Jack
• The Fifth Element
• John Dies at The End
• Event Horizon


>>> Tags:

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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Jun 1, 2017

(New essays , music , coloring book pages, and recorded talks coming soon for my supporters! Sign up on Patreon if you haven't already...)

“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.

John’s Links:

• The Arlington Institute

• Berkeley Springs Transition Talks

(Climate Change Presentation is at the bottom)

• FuturEdition Newsletter

(A superb digest email list, one of my main sources for news stories to share and discuss in the Future Fossils Facebook Group)

Topics Discussed:

• 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…

Books Referenced:

• 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

Others Mentioned:

• Joe Dispenza

• Bob Monroe

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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