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FUTURE FOSSILS

Art, Science, & Philosophy for an Age of Accelerating Weirdness

It's about time! Provocative, profound discussions at the intersection of science, art, and philosophy with paleontologist-futurist Michael Garfield and new amazing guests each week. For anyone who digs the geeky, unconv... More
Latest Episode
2019-9-6

125 - Stuart Kauffman on Physics, Life, and The Adjacent Possible

Ep. 125

This week’s guest is living legend, transdisciplinary scientist-philosopher Stuart Kauffman, whose pioneering work on self-organization and the emergence of order helped launch the field of complex systems science and has brought us to the very edge of understanding the origins and nature of life. Over his 50+ year career and six books, including this year’s The World Beyond Physics, Stu has done more than almost anyone to restore the historic union of science and philosophy, articulating a new spirituality for our secular age of systems thinking, and filing numerous patents on technologies of chemical synthesis and quantum mechanics.


It's an epic conversation with a bold and boundary-less mind. In this episode we drive right to the heart of one of humankind’s biggest and most persistent mysteries: What is life?


Stuart Kauffman’s EXTENSIVE & ILLUMINATING Google Scholar Page:

https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=yoPM0F8AAAAJ&view_op=list_works&sortby=pubdate


This week’s vocabulary word: “ergodic”

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ergodic


Become a Patreon supporter to listen to Part 2 of this conversation, on quantum physics and consciousness:

http://patreon.com/michaelgarfield


We Discuss:


the adjacent possible

the origins of life

niche construction & niche propagation (which i initially conflate, but he re-differentiates)

exaptation

the incomputability of the list of all possible uses of a thing

why are there hearts in the universe?

“the universe is non-ergodic and most complex things will never exist”

“there are no laws whatsoever for the evolution of the biosphere”

contingent, or inevitable? enabled, or caused?

the economy creates the possibilities into which it is sucked

Terence McKenna’s strange attractor at the end of time

constraint closure and the release of energy in fewer degrees of freedom

abiogenesis and the protocell as a model of its environment

are there constraints without work?

the number of cell types in an organism is roughly the square root of the number of genes

“information is precisely the release of energy into fewer degrees of freedom”

Paul Davies & Sara Imari Walker

Johnjoe McFadden

Giuseppe Longo

the system will spend more time in macrostates in which there are more microstates (Boltzmann)


Supplemental Materials:


Stuart Kauffman’s essay, “No entailing laws, but enablement in the evolution of the biosphere”

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1201.2069.pdf;alsoseeGiuseppeLongo


Stu’s co-author Wim Hordijk on autocatalysis at Orbiter Mag:

https://orbitermag.com/how-did-life-begin-part-3/


Michael’s essay, “The Future is Exapted/Remixed”

https://medium.com/@michaelgarfield/how-to-live-in-the-future-part-4-the-future-is-exapted-remixed-35ea5ca9d877


Michael’s extensive notes on the ideas of this episode, “Toward A New Evolutionary Paradigm”

https://www.patreon.com/posts/toward-new-1-0-24798022


Original intro music by Michael Garfield, “Birds Waking Up In Trees”

https://michaelgarfield.bandcamp.com/album/love-scenes-field-recordings


Show outro music by Evan “Skytree” Snyder feat. Michael Garfield, “God Detector”

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

2019-9-6

125 - Stuart Kauffman on Physics, Life, and The Adjacent Possible

Ep. 125

This week’s guest is living legend, transdisciplinary scientist-philosopher Stuart Kauffman, whose pioneering work on self-organization and the emergence of order helped launch the field of complex systems science and has brought us to the very edge of understanding the origins and nature of life. Over his 50+ year career and six books, including this year’s The World Beyond Physics, Stu has done more than almost anyone to restore the historic union of science and philosophy, articulating a new spirituality for our secular age of systems thinking, and filing numerous patents on technologies of chemical synthesis and quantum mechanics.


It's an epic conversation with a bold and boundary-less mind. In this episode we drive right to the heart of one of humankind’s biggest and most persistent mysteries: What is life?


Stuart Kauffman’s EXTENSIVE & ILLUMINATING Google Scholar Page:

https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=yoPM0F8AAAAJ&view_op=list_works&sortby=pubdate


This week’s vocabulary word: “ergodic”

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ergodic


Become a Patreon supporter to listen to Part 2 of this conversation, on quantum physics and consciousness:

http://patreon.com/michaelgarfield


We Discuss:


the adjacent possible

the origins of life

niche construction & niche propagation (which i initially conflate, but he re-differentiates)

exaptation

the incomputability of the list of all possible uses of a thing

why are there hearts in the universe?

“the universe is non-ergodic and most complex things will never exist”

“there are no laws whatsoever for the evolution of the biosphere”

contingent, or inevitable? enabled, or caused?

the economy creates the possibilities into which it is sucked

Terence McKenna’s strange attractor at the end of time

constraint closure and the release of energy in fewer degrees of freedom

abiogenesis and the protocell as a model of its environment

are there constraints without work?

the number of cell types in an organism is roughly the square root of the number of genes

“information is precisely the release of energy into fewer degrees of freedom”

Paul Davies & Sara Imari Walker

Johnjoe McFadden

Giuseppe Longo

the system will spend more time in macrostates in which there are more microstates (Boltzmann)


Supplemental Materials:


Stuart Kauffman’s essay, “No entailing laws, but enablement in the evolution of the biosphere”

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1201.2069.pdf;alsoseeGiuseppeLongo


Stu’s co-author Wim Hordijk on autocatalysis at Orbiter Mag:

https://orbitermag.com/how-did-life-begin-part-3/


Michael’s essay, “The Future is Exapted/Remixed”

https://medium.com/@michaelgarfield/how-to-live-in-the-future-part-4-the-future-is-exapted-remixed-35ea5ca9d877


Michael’s extensive notes on the ideas of this episode, “Toward A New Evolutionary Paradigm”

https://www.patreon.com/posts/toward-new-1-0-24798022


Original intro music by Michael Garfield, “Birds Waking Up In Trees”

https://michaelgarfield.bandcamp.com/album/love-scenes-field-recordings


Show outro music by Evan “Skytree” Snyder feat. Michael Garfield, “God Detector”

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

2019-8-31

124 - Norman "Dr. Blue" Katz on Hypnosis & The Mind

Ep. 124

This week’s guest is Norman Katz, aka Dr. Blue – a lifelong practitioner of hypnotherapy and the impresario of 3SidedWhole, nine acres of magical weirdness in the desert outside Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’ve known Dr. Blue for nearly a decade and he’s deeply enriched my life over the years with his amazing stories, empowering mind hacks, and community of soulful southwestern weirdos. In this episode, he regales us with stories of psychological research into UFOs, past lives, fractals, and flow states; the history of hypnosis, his study under hypnotherapy pioneer Milton Erickson, the psychophysiology of laughter yoga, and – more broadly – the importance, and the surprising ease, of choosing the trance you want to be in…


Dr. Blue’s Website:

http://www.normankatzphd.com/curricula-vitae.html


3SidedWhole Website:

http://www.3sidedwhole.com/


“We were doing LSD as the patient and the therapist simultaneously…it was quite interesting.”


“There still is no study that verifies that hypnosis is a particular brain state or neurological constellation. Hypnosis is not a brain state. It turns out to be a skill and an aptitude that’s based on combining attention, and fantasy, and a predilection for dissociation.”


“Our perception of reality is at least half constructed by what we expect, what we imagine, and what we pretend. In fact, it’s really hard to teach people new things, because most of the time they’re trying to match new things to their old models.”


“It was the only lecture I’ve ever seen where 300 psychotherapists stood up afterward an gave him a standing ovation. And his theory was, bascially, individual psychotherapy is not only ineffective, it’s wrong, and it disconnects people from their community. He said, the biggest mistake in Western Civilization was when Descartes said, ‘Cognito ergo sum,’ ‘I think, therefore I am.’ And what he should have said was, ‘Convivo ergo sum.’ ‘I celebrate in community, therefore I am.’”


“At any point in time, ask yourself this question: ‘If I had been hypnotized to be doing what I’m doing right now and having this experience, what would I have been told?’”


“Erickson used to tell his students, ‘Pretend, and pretend you’re not pretending.’”


“In the West, most people breathe too much.”


“I had a formal psychology training at Harvard. Most of that turned out to be nonsense. Learn to unlearn. Learn to forget. Learn to be innocent. Let yourself continue to reinvent yourself and discover who you are, because you are more than any of us think you are.”


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

https://patreon.com/michaelgarfield


Intro Music: “Undefeatable Optimism Gets Up From K.O.” by Michael Garfield

https://michaelgarfield.bandcamp.com/album/love-scenes-field-recordings


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

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


Appendix: 51 blackbelt hypnosis skills, a partial list of course

(the master skill is to perceive a coherent reality in one frame ignoring the 27 other timelines)


instant time travel, to past, present and future. multiple timeline realities possible like in string theory in quantum physics

humor, ability to tell self joke and beginning laughing, and see humor and paradox in all situations

increased creativity as needed, transcend functional fixedness, and create new uses for objects, tools, situations 

ability to reframe anything

ability to create synthesis to create positive action altered states of consciousness

ability to make pain disappear

ability to increase pleasure to ecstatic levels

ability to shift mood instantly 

ability to tap into higher consciousness, both neurologically and to source (the universe)

ability to become WISE without thinking (i.e. go into no trance trance in which wisdom flows)

abilities to see life as movie within movie within movies and change the stories

ability to profoundly relax and melt, both physically and mentally

to be comfortable both inside and outside shared realities

ability to balance two nervous systems, sympathetic and parasympathetic, i.e. hypno-autogenics master

ability to come out of shell and act immediately, go fast or slow

ability to tell stories within stories within stories with threaded key meanings or concepts

ability to create useful symptoms as necessary e.g. lust for reading certain materials, exercise, etc.

ability to create amnesia or hyper recall memory (memory palace)

ability to be in the now in slow motion

ability to enter mystical states of oneness or everything-ness and transition through the infinity loop

ability to create and radiate happiness, joy and energy

ability to avoid the DARK SIDE of hypnotic hexes, vengeance or negative energy and to recognize when others are doing such and intervene

ability to do hypnotic shamanic ceremonies to invoke sacred space

ability to intervene in disease or create disease

ability to discern the "truth" or "lies" of self and others trance states

hypnotic protection of self and others, use of attention filters

sensory awareness enhancement (Charlotte Selver) both internal and external

mastering use of breathing

peak performance, for self and others – golf example, 2 holes in one in a row

ability to direct and choose trances for self and others (magic number in psychology 87 plus or minus two)

ability to completely let go

ability to experience and create compassion through mirror neurons

ability to alter blood blow: for healing work, pain control, sex therapy

ability to have too much fun

ability to create and use posthypnotic suggestion for self and others

ability to create health through medical interventions for surgery,

psychoimmunology and general well being

ability to will to live and to enjoy life

ability to find meaning and purpose in any situation, circumstances, and life challenge

ability to control altered states of consciousness both from plant guides, extreme circumstances and as training and for emergency interventions

ability to tap into special energies

ability to erase self and know nothing and be the fool

ability to deal with death, dying, and transitions

ability to hallucinate and now what is not real simultaneously

ability for extreme selective attention

ability to shift identity, archetypes AND PERSONALITY CONSTELLLATIONS

ability to deal with change, both small and large

ability for discernment: what to pay attention and listen to

ability to keep evolving

ability to recognize that we not are the healing force, only the gateways

ability to have supreme confidence

ability to balance

ability to recognize synchronicity and act on it

ability to shift energy, both physically, metaphysically and also medically

ability to recognize when less is more (homeopathy) – see Andrew Weil, The Marriage of the Sun and Moon

ability to see through culture and its assumptions in different cultures

ability to contact the ancestors and invite their presence and wisdom

ability contact DNA wisdom and ancestral memories

ability to do fractal healing

ability to stay open and curious


(note this does not include classic hypnosis suggestions on the Stanford hypnosis scales, which are elementary)

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