FUTURE FOSSILS

All Episodes

2019-8-23

123 - David Weinberger on Everyday Chaos & Thriving Amidst the Complexity

Ep. 123

This week we’re joined by David Weinberger, Senior Researcher at the Harvard Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Technology exploring the effects of technology on how we think. David’s led a fascinating and nonlinear life, studying Heiddeger as a young philosopher, working in marketing for high technology, working as a journalist, and authoring four books on technology, creativity, and knowledge. His new book, Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We're Thriving in a New World of Possibility, explores what changes for us in the age of machine learning.


I have to admit, I was worried this was going to be just another technocratic puff piece when I started. Certainly it’s a Harvard Business Review Press volume, speaking largely to a business audience; but this is a book that doesn’t flinch at the weirdness of a world in which we know things we don’t know how we know. David’s argument is for a creative embrace of the complexity and mystery that has always surrounded us – that we are in fact made of – and that is becoming much more obvious in light of superhuman but opaque machine intelligences that rehab us from the delusions of our modern pretense that the world is knowable, transparent, and controllable. But unlike the doomsayers of the AI conversation, David has an enviable peace about the fact that we never actually had a lock on what is really going on – and argues eloquently for a fresh encounter with a world of wonder, possibility, and the unknown.


David at Harvard:

https://cyber.harvard.edu/people/dweinberger


David on Medium (“Machine Learning Might Render The Human Quest for Knowledge Pointless”):

https://onezero.medium.com/machine-learning-might-render-the-human-quest-for-knowledge-pointless-5425f8b00a45


With open APIs, open access journals, game modding, and other empowering information technologies, we are purposefully making the world less predictable.


Laws are not necessarily the most accurate way of describing reality.


The death knell for the theory of everything - letting go of unifying universal frameworks.


“It’s not really a three-body problem. It’s an every-body problem, because everything with gravity effects everything else.”


“Everything - EVERYTHING in our lives we basically don’t know, and can’t predict. But the picture of our lives has been, until recently, ‘It’s simple and law-like.’ The chaos, this is our lives. The laws, they are real, they are helpful, but they don’t govern as much as we like to think.”


“We think out in the world with tools. There’s no shame in this, but it does mean we’re not locked in our own heads. And now we have new tools.”


“…it depends on what you count as an explanation.”


“We need to leave room for the accidental, because that is the stuff of our lives.”


“I don’t know what a transparent algorithm is.”


Are we willing to trade a thousand auto deaths a year for the explicability of autonomous vehicle safety algorithms? Or fuel efficiency?


“An explanation is a tool. It’s not a state of the world.”


• Relatedly, we just read Liu Cixin’s The Three Body Problem in the Future Fossils Book Club:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/book-club-3-body-29353389?cid=26063131


• Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield).


• Additional Music: “Single & Feeling” by Michael Garfield.

2019-8-14

122 - Magenta Ceiba on Regenerative Everything

Ep. 122

This week’s guest is Magenta Ceiba, Executive Creative Officer (ECO) for the Bloom Network, a worldwide constellation of regenerative design hackers working in ecology, economics, civil engineering, software design, restorative justice, organizational development, and more. Bloom is hosting Pollination, an “unconference” or immersive in-person hack-a-thon, this coming weekend in San Francisco – a place for this amazing extended international network (including you, potentially) to convene for design sprints for new practices and systems to restore the health and value of our world.


I hope you’ll treat this episode as a gateway into an amazing profusion of awesome ideas and people, just the very tip of a very deep and well-furnished rabbithole.


Here are some leads to get you started: 


• See the Pollination 2019 program on Bloom Network’s website.


(If you have friends in the Bay Area who might like to come, here’s a promo code for a $50 discount: BLOOM50 so they can join for just $195. The Bloom Network also has low income/scholarship tickets available: please fill in the form here. I am not an affiliate and get no reward from this, other than knowing that you attended and got to participate.)


Magenta’s personal website.


• Another excellent conversation with Magenta (plus copious resource links) at Abundant Edge Podcast.


• Mark Heley interviews Pollination 2019 MC (and Future Fossils guest) Maya Zuckerman.



These three quotes came in Rob Breszny’s email newsletter today and couldn’t be more appropriate:


“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

—Buckminster Fuller


“We have to encourage the future we want rather than trying to prevent the future we fear.”

—Bill Joy


“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

—Dan Millman



Related Episodes:


Episode 46 - Magenta Ceiba’s first appearance on Future Fossils.


Episode 56 - Sophia Rohklin on the inter-relationship of ecology & economy.


Episode 61 - Jamaica Stevens on crisis, rebirth, and transformation.


Episode 98 - Decentralization Panel at Arcosanti w/ members of NuMundo Project, Unify, & The Institute of Ecotechnics.



Credits:


• Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield).


• Additional Music: “Single & Feeling” by Michael Garfield.


• Episode Cover Image: Concept Art for The Fifth Sacred Thing by Jessica Perlstein.

2019-8-7

121 - Divya M. Persaud on The Ethics of Space Exploration

Ep. 121

This week we dive into the troublesome, urgent, and underdiscussed issue of space ethics with planetary scientist and artist Divya M. Persaud. Can we transcend the traumatic conflict and exploitation that characterize human history, come together in compassionate mutual understanding and respectful discourse, and leave our children with better and more interesting problems? Or are we doomed to transmit the legacy of violence we inherited into fractured futures even more disparate, tragic, and unequal than our own time? A deep dive into the real stakes of space, and a preliminary exposition of the ethical discussions we will need to get there…


Divya’s Website:

https://divyampersaud.wordpress.com/about/


Selected Writings:

https://phdvolcanology.wordpress.com/2018/10/08/space-and-time-for-diversity/

https://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/2018/02/talking-about-tesla-by-emily-lakdawalla.html

https://twitter.com/Divya_M_P/status/1080310839465467909


Intro Music: Evan “Skytree” Snyder feat. Michael Garfield, “God Detector”

https://skytree.bandcamp.com/track/god-detector-ft-michael-garfield


Outro Music: Divya M. Persaud, “Orogenesis” for Voice, Violin, Saxophone, and Piano

https://soundcloud.com/divyamp/orogenesis-for-voice-violin-saxophone-and-piano`


Additional reading on the ethics of space exploration:

https://www.bmsis.org/the-ethics-of-space-exploration/

https://theconversation.com/eight-ethical-questions-about-exploring-outer-space-that-need-answers-98878

https://www.scu.edu/ethics/focus-areas/bioethics/resources/articles/articles-on-the-ethics-of-space-exploration/

https://www.hbs.edu/faculty/conferences/2017-business-and-economics-of-space/Documents/John%20Rummel.pdf


Support Future Fossils on Patreon to get access to our science fiction book club calls, secret episodes, and more:

https://patreon.com/michaelgarfield


Join the daily conversation in the Future Fossils facebook group:

https://facebook.com/groups/futurefossils 

2019-7-30

120 - Ramin Nazer on Cave Paintings for Future People

Ep. 120

This week we surf the fun-gularity with the brilliant artist, standup comic, and podcaster Ramin Nazer! This episode is significantly less a heady philosophy-of-science discussion than usual and significantly more a wank-fest of two people who love each other’s shows going on about all the mind-blowing visionary notions contained therein. Kick back, light some incense, and prepare for a juicy conversation about where we stand in the Cosmic Order and what to do with all of our creative possibility…covering everything from universal basic income to celebrity schadenfruede, visionary art and science fiction to to the psychological impact of trying to stay original in the midst of a tech singularity. If you’re anything like I am, Ramin is going to inspire the hell out of you. Enjoy…


Ramin’s Website:

https://rainbowbrainskull.com/collections/prints


Michael on Ramin’s podcast, Rainbow Brainskull:

https://www.raminnazer.com/blogs/rainbow-brainskull-hour/michael-garfield


Mentioned:

Archan Nair, The Teafaerie, Nikola Tesla, Onyx Ashanti, King Raam, The Rock, Andrew Yang, Yuval Harari, Bill Gates, Star Trek Discovery, Charles Stross’ Accelerando & Glasshouse, Black Mirror, Esperanza Spalding, Duncan Trussell, Richard Florida, Jeff Bezos, William Irwin Thompson, Terence McKenna, John C. Wright’s Eschaton Sequence, Peter Watts’ Blindsight, Eric Wargo’s Time Loops, Colin Frangicetto, Who Built The Moon?, No Man’s Sky, An Oral History of the End of Reality, Ariana Grande, Jimi Hendrix, Amazon Alexa, Life in the Glass Age at Burning Man 2013, Dadara (Daniel Rozenberg), The Mirage Men, Jason Silva, Randal Roberts, Morgan Manley, Alex Grey, Allyson Grey, Michaelangelo, Slavoj Zizek, Marshall McLuhan, Chuck Palahniuk, Jordan Peterson, Aziz Ansari, Louis CK, Julia Cameron, Alan Shelton, Buckminster Fuller, Frank Zappa, Mortal Kombat, Roko’s Basilisk, Norman “Dr. Blue” Katz, Joe Biden, Awake Aware Alive Podcast, Expanding Mind with Erik Davis, Rak Razam, Adam Dipert, Giant Leap Dance Company, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Greg Parkins, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Weird Studies, Brave Browser


Support this show on Patreon and score a zillion awesome perks:

https://patreon.com/michaelgarfield


Subscribe to our monthly creative explosion of a newsletter:

https://michaelgarfield.substack.com

2019-7-22

119 - Jeremy Johnson on The Integral Time of Jean Gebser

Ep. 119

“The human being is actually this kaleidoscope of different ways to relate to time and space. And to be present with it all, to be awake with it all, is what we’re doing.”


Jean Gebser mapped the mutating structures of human consciousness, the topology of mind from archaic to magic to mythic to mental to integral. His work inspired generations of inquiry by authors like William Irwin Thompson and Ken Wilber. Now Jeremy Johnson’s latest book for Revelore Press expands into the truly visionary and unique “amensional” reality that Gebser posits as the next mutation for our planetary culture.  


“We’re not just going to have an ‘archaic revival’ and dump what we’ve been doing with the nightmare of history. There’s something that’s been achieved in this kind of coalescing of the self and the emergence of spatial linear time that’s true, as well.”


“The endgame of perspectivalism and the mental world…is eventually breaking down to the point where everyone has their own little perspectival ‘reality tunnel,’ where nobody’s able to talk to one another and everybody’s in this sense of cultural warfare and fragmentation and social isolation.”


“You should know by now that things are ever-present.”


Jeremy’s Book:

https://revelore.press/product/seeing-through-the-world/


Jeremy’s Podcast:

http://www.jeremydanieljohnson.com/mutations


Discussed:

James Joyce

Marshall McLuhan

Martin Heidegger

Sri Aurobindo

Grant Morrison

Timothy Morton

Doug Rushkoff

Eugene Thacker

Graham Harman


Support the show on Patreon for an avalanche of secret episodes, writing, art, music, and the Future Fossils Book Club:

https://patreon.com/michaelgarfield

2019-7-6

118 - Nathan Waters on The Future of Housing, Mobility, and Work

Ep. 118

“I want to break the idea that housing is an investment vehicle. I mean housing is a f-cking HUMAN NEED.”


This week’s guest is Australian futurist Nathan Waters, whose vision for a mobile, modular mashup of apartment living and driverless cars offers a solution to a trifecta of wicked problems in affordable housing, cost of living, and enjoyable work. We’re talking about a mature and equitable sharing economy that goes asteroid-to-dinosaurs on the exploitative systems of corporations like Uber and Airbnb…this is an episode for anyone who dreams of a fairer and funner world, a world that reconciles the yearning for flexibility and adventure with the desire for a nice place to call your own:


Nathan’s popular essay on “driverless hotel rooms”:

https://hackernoon.com/driverless-hotel-rooms-the-end-of-uber-airbnb-and-human-landlords-e39f92cf16e1?gi=cecb64856db9


Nathan’s blockchain-based skill-sharing economy website:

https://www.peerism.org/


Nathan’s futures-oriented social media channel, Futawe:

https://twitter.com/futawe?lang=en


Nathan cohosts this YouTube talkshow about the singularity, Hive45:

https://www.youtube.com/user/hive45com/videos


Somebody either ripped off his driverless hotel rooms idea or just stumbled on it independently:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/2018/11/27/self-driving-hotel-room/2123668002/

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/autonomous-travel-suites/index.html


From this episode:


“A job is a terrible, terrible concept. I think of jobs as modern-day slavery. It’s a bunch of wasted mind and human capital.”


“We have material abundance because of capitalism, but now it’s almost an existential threat. And we need to transition quickly to something else.”


Most of the housing space and vehicle space we own is unused most of the time.


We can’t legislate affordable housing because the incumbent politicians are real estate speculators.


Modular hotels made of autonomous vehicle components (adding a z-axis to the not-a-trailer-park for hip young professionals).


A new resolution for our age-old dialogue between sedentary and nomadic communities, wanderers and people of place.


How to fit 9 billion people into 100K apartment buildings; see also: Paolo Soleri’s Lean Linear City.


Building a blockchain-based, decentralized skill-sharing economy.


A/B testing modular cities to find the optimum layout for human happiness.


Mark Lakeman of City Repair and restoring streets to a safe commons.


Can we handle constantly fluctuating and re-organizing architecture?


Geophysical filter bubbles.


Support Future Fossils Podcast on Patreon and get access to dozens of secret episodes, book club calls, live concert recordings, and more:

https://patreon.com/michaelgarfield 

2019-6-25

117 - Eric Wargo on Time Loops: Precognition, Retrocausation, and the Unconscious

Ep. 117

This week’s guest is Eric Wargo, author of Time Loops: Precognition, Retrocausation, and the Unconscious


Contrary to your most likely first impression based on the title of the book alone, this is a supremely carefully constructed argument that anticipates its critics, understands statistics and their abuse, appeals to our desire for simplicity in scientific explanations, and single-handedly reorganizes the entire field of parapsychological research beneath a new and rational umbrella that allows for major weirdness without sacrificing mechanistic causation or parsimony. Telepathy and spooky action at a distance, Jungian synchronicity and many worlds quantum physics all get re-evaluated under Wargo’s tesseract-brain model, in which there’s no such thing as entanglement, but living systems co-opt quantum post-selection to “steer” toward evolutionarily significant events. 


If you have ever dreamt of something that then happened in your waking life, this episode’s for you. And if you think that time’s an arrow and this all sounds like high nonsense, this episode is also for you.


I can’t possibly attempt to cover all the subjects we discuss in these two hours, but here are books and essays that we reference (some of which I haven’t read):


Eric Wargo - Time Loops

https://www.amazon.com/Time-Loops-Precognition-Retrocausation-Unconscious/dp/1938398920


J. Scott Turner - Purpose & Desire

https://www.amazon.com/Purpose-Desire-Something-Darwinism-Explain/dp/0062651560

(I have to make a personal note that without having read this book, I’ve read enough reviews to caution anyone against taking it as legitimate science. I’ve argued for the importance of beauty and desire, purpose and effort in the evolutionary process – and I’ve argued evolution in general does have a kind of direction. So I’m sympathetic to the author’s desire to re-introduce these ideas into the discussion. But from everything I can tell this particular book misrepresents evolutionary theory in its attempts to get where it wants to go, and I can’t support that.)


Paul Davies - The Goldilocks Enigma

https://www.amazon.com/The-Goldilocks-Enigma-Universe-Right/dp/0713998830%


Matthew Fox - “The Return of the Black Madonna”

http://www.matthewfox.org/blog/the-return-of-the-black-madonna-a-sign-of-our-times-or-how-the-black-madonna-is-shaking-us-up-for-the-twenty-first-century


Seth Lloyd, et al. - “The quantum mechanics of time travel through post-selected teleportation”

https://arxiv.org/abs/1007.2615


Eric Wargo - “Dream Paleontology”

http://thenightshirt.com/?p=4215


Eric Wargo - “What Lies Under The Skin”

http://thenightshirt.com/?p=3198


Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield)

https://skytree.bandcamp.com/track/god-detector-ft-michael-garfield


Additional Music: “It All Turned Out All Right” by Michael Garfield

https://michaelgarfield.bandcamp.com/track/it-all-turned-out-all-right


Support this show on Patreon to join the book club and for secret episodes (and the last ten minutes of this conversation):

https://patreon.com/michaelgarfield

2019-6-10

116 - The Next Ten Billion Years: Ugo Bardi & John Michael Greer as read by Kevin Arthur Wohlmut

Ep. 116

This week is a watershed moment for Future Fossils Podcast: the show’s first guest host! My friend Kevin Arthur Wohlmut is an engineer who creates occasional one-shot podcasts of fiction and nonfiction, and (according to him) worries about the future too much. We met at InterPlanetary Festival last year on the visit that inspired me to move to Santa Fe, and ever since we’ve had a rich correspondence of mutual far-future fiction recommendations and armchair philosophy chats.


Kevin sent me his very cool readings of two essays with the same name, each portraying very different version of “The Next Ten Billion Years,” and both so provocative I felt like sharing them here on the show’s main feed – with my own commentary at the end, on blind spots in imagining deep time and our own psychedelically weird future.


You can find Kevin active in the Future Fossils discussion groups at Facebook and Patreon.


Professor Ugo Bardi blogs at https://cassandralegacy.blogspot.com and http://chimeramyth.blogspot.com. You can read his essay here.


John Michael Greer posts longer works at https://www.ecosophia.net and shorter works at https://ecosophia.dreamwidth.org. You can read his essay here.


Outro reading excerpted from Michael Garfield’s “How to Live in the Future Part 2: The Future is More of Everything.”


Cover Artwork by evolutionary robotics researcher Andrew Lincoln Nelson.


Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield)


Additional Music: “On Higher Ground” by Michael Garfield


Additional Music by http://www.daikaiju.org & http://www.evanbrau.com

2019-6-6

115 - Eliot Peper on The History of Technology and The Future of Society

Ep. 115

Eliot Peper (Episode 47) is back on the show this week to talk about the themes around and within his Analog trilogy of very adjacent and believable sci fi novels (Bandwidth, Borderless, and the new “conclusion” Breach): that is, about the complex interactions between people and technology, both the layer cake of deep utilities we take for granted and the new affordances that disruptive tools produce – and how we shape our lives within them.


https://www.eliotpeper.com/


“One of the most fun things for me as a novelist about writing fiction is that it is very much about the questions, rather than the answers…if the answer’s obvious, I don’t need to write a book about it.”


“You can’t really tell history without the history of technology.”


“Congress writes laws about what’s going on, not what might be going on ten years from now. Policymaking is largely a reactionary measure.”


“We haven’t figured out the new societies we want to build, given the new realities we’ve already invented.”


“If you start thinking about the entire internet as an AI, then Google is not a company that is building what could be in the future some kind of AI program. Rather, Google and its status as a corporation, all of the corporate hierarchies that exist within it, and all of the people working on teams there, are actually just one part of that AI.”


“I’m not a big believer in unitary self as an idea. I think we are all made up of MANY selves. We have these competing elements within us, and part of what it means to be human is to stitch these together into a coherent narrative. And we do that on the fly all the time.”


“Your solution is going to create new problems, and the best way to best way to deal with that knowingly is to try to keep an open mind, try to maintain your beginner’s mind, maintain your state of awareness about the world and continually challenge your own assumptions.”


“We are living in an age of acceleration – and yet, we have ALWAYS been confronted by a universe that defies our limited ability to make sense of it.”


“My hope is that by using it like reasonable, mutually respectful people, we can turn the digital world into a place that is still gonna have some of the nasty stuff, but is gonna have a lot of the good stuff.”


Mentioned: Kevin Kelly, Geoffrey West, Douglas Rushkoff


Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield)

https://skytree.bandcamp.com/track/god-detector-ft-michael-garfield


Additional Music: “On Higher Ground” by Michael Garfield

https://michaelgarfield.bandcamp.com/track/on-higher-ground


Support this show on Patreon to join the book club and for secret episodes:

https://patreon.com/michaelgarfield