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FUTURE FOSSILS

Art & Philosophy for an Age of Accelerating Weirdness

Join paleontologist-futurist Michael Garfield and an avalanche of amazing guests for deep but irreverent discussions at the edge of the known and knowable: on prehistory and post-humanity and deep time, non-human agency
Latest Episode11/20/2022

194 - Simon Conway Morris on Convergent Evolution & Creative Mass Extinctions

Ep. 194
Complete, EXTENSIVE show notes at PatreonRate and review the show at Apple PodcastsBrowse my newsletter, original art, prints, merchandise, etc.How much of natural history is inevitable, and how much is the result of chance? Do mass extinctions slow the evolution of the biosphere, or speed it up? These are two of the six great questions of biology explored by Simon Conway Morris, famous evolutionary theorist, in his latest book. From Extraterrestrials to Animal Minds: Six Myths of Evolution (Templeton Press) is a meticulously researched, cheeky and inspiring romp through both the living and extinct worlds, challenging a handful of widespread beliefs and offering provocative alternatives. Conway Morris is a character, even amidst the strange ranks of his fellow natural history researchers, and his arguments bear careful scrutiny. As someone drawn to mavericks and weirdos and enamored by contrarian perspectives, I can’t help but like his work — and reading him forced me to reconsider some of my assumptions even as it validated other long-held hunches.In this episode, we talk about his book and what his work implies — and I get fanboy on him and assault him with a bunch of lengthy questions like Tim Murphy in Jurassic Park. Strap in for a deep dive into evolution’s laziness, complexity and process, cooption and repurposing of novel traits, great puzzles in prehistory, ancient food webs, evolutionary radiation, symbiosis, flowers, death, and more… And when you’re done, go read his book and dig a dozen more related episodes on Patreon!
11/20/2022

194 - Simon Conway Morris on Convergent Evolution & Creative Mass Extinctions

Ep. 194
Complete, EXTENSIVE show notes at PatreonRate and review the show at Apple PodcastsBrowse my newsletter, original art, prints, merchandise, etc.How much of natural history is inevitable, and how much is the result of chance? Do mass extinctions slow the evolution of the biosphere, or speed it up? These are two of the six great questions of biology explored by Simon Conway Morris, famous evolutionary theorist, in his latest book. From Extraterrestrials to Animal Minds: Six Myths of Evolution (Templeton Press) is a meticulously researched, cheeky and inspiring romp through both the living and extinct worlds, challenging a handful of widespread beliefs and offering provocative alternatives. Conway Morris is a character, even amidst the strange ranks of his fellow natural history researchers, and his arguments bear careful scrutiny. As someone drawn to mavericks and weirdos and enamored by contrarian perspectives, I can’t help but like his work — and reading him forced me to reconsider some of my assumptions even as it validated other long-held hunches.In this episode, we talk about his book and what his work implies — and I get fanboy on him and assault him with a bunch of lengthy questions like Tim Murphy in Jurassic Park. Strap in for a deep dive into evolution’s laziness, complexity and process, cooption and repurposing of novel traits, great puzzles in prehistory, ancient food webs, evolutionary radiation, symbiosis, flowers, death, and more… And when you’re done, go read his book and dig a dozen more related episodes on Patreon!
10/30/2022

193 - Kimberly Dill on Environmental Philosophy: In Defense of Wildness & Night

Ep. 193
This week I talk with environmental philosopher and Santa Clara Clara Assistant Professor Kimberly Dill, an old friend of mine from Austin, Texas whom I met at Bouldin Creek Coffee over lemon maté sours and a deep dive into Eastern nondual traditions while she was in school studying arguments against free will under acclaimed analytic philosopher Galen Strawson. She has since grown into a formidable scholar and ethics instructor in her own right and positively exudes a studious, diligent, caring, and starry-eyed vibe at all times…an utterly unique and finely-honed heart and intellect who stands out from the rest of my belovedly strange cohort of Austin festival-going slacker friends.I’ve been chasing her down to be on the podcast for years and am delighted she and I finally managed to link up to record this potent dialogue on the relationality of humankind and the wild world in which we are inextricably entangled, the substantive differences between our simulations and the originals they fail to fully reproduce, the importance of forests and dark skies to our psychospiritual well-being, where modern Western festival culture fails in its declared goal of delivering us back into right relations and ecstatic harmony with our kosmos…plus much else.Read the ✨ EXTENSIVE ✨ show notes, and join the Future Fossils community, at Patreon.Rate and review the show at Apple PodcastsBrowse my newsletter, original art, prints, merchandise, NFTs, etc.✨ Side Note:My big, BIG thanks to everyone for being so patient with me while my family and I suffered through some extraordinary challenges over the last months. I can’t tell you enough how much it means to me to have retained nearly everyone’s Patreon support while my wife and I dealt with two constantly sick kids, a number of our own health issues, and major upgrades to our home and big transitions at work.The good news is that I also managed to record interviews with the legendary Simon Conway Morris and Robert Poynton in that time and will be sharing those with you in short order! So, again, thanks for your subscriptions, your glowing Apple Podcasts reviews, and your engagement in the Future Fossils Facebook group…and stay tuned for several exciting big announcements soon!(Big thanks to my father-in-law Kevin Taylor for helping edit this episode!)
7/28/2022

189 - Planet-scale Musical Chairs: 21st Century Human Geography with Parag Khanna

Ep. 189
This week on Future Fossils, we sync up with globe-trotting (Singapore-based) futurist Parag Khanna, author of several internationally best-selling books on the shifting landscape of human geography and technological evolution. My acquaintance with Parag dates back all the way to 2011 when I found his Hybrid Reality Institute, and started writing for his BigThink blog, thanks to the writing of Jason Silva — I knew this was a party I couldn’t miss, even though I was then, as now, deeply ambivalent about the contours of the futures he and his colleagues were making visible with their rigorous research. This spirit has defined my entire adult life: if you want to help steer something in a better direction, you might just have to get your hands down into the murk and engage with it deeply enough to be in the position to make a difference. So when his agent contacted me about interviewing him about his latest book, 2021’s Move: The Forces Uprooting Us, I knew it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. But let me be clear that Parag sees things very differently than I do, and I appreciate that about him: he has a keen sense of the risks and dangers of our times but emphasizes the opportunities because the facts are there to support it. If you move around as much as he does, and always has, you get a kind of synoptic view of the planet and the tension between individual destiny and collective momentum comes into a new tuning. This is a beast of a conversation. It was hell to edit. I’m glad it happened. Here you go!Complete, extensive show notes at Patreon.✨ Housekeeping:• Intro music is "You're In My Self-Portrait" from my 2012 album Golden Hour. Outro music is "City of Jewels" from my 2013 EP of the same name. For something completely different, check out my latest live album, recorded at Meow Wolf Santa Fe while opening for DeVotchKa.✨ Other Ways To Support The Work & Community:• My roughly-monthly newsletter at Substack• Venmo: @futurefossils• PayPal.me/michaelgarfield• ETH: FutureFossils.eth• BTC: 1At2LQbkQmgDugkchkP6QkDJCvJ5rv3Jm• NFTs: Rarible | Foundation | Voice | Hic Et Nunc | Mint Songs
7/3/2022

188 - LARPing as a Nation-State with Jon Hillis & 0xZakk of CABIN DAO and Christian Lemp of Diamond DAO

Ep. 188
Complete, EXTENSIVE show notes at Patreon.com/michaelgarfield!As guest 0xZakk says at the very end of this conversation, most of the construction projects throughout the history of civilization have been coercive. What does it look like when we actually build things in a really cooperative way? This episode was recorded in November 2021 when the cryptocurrency markets were insanely bullish and the world relatively stable…but releasing it now, in July 2022, seems more aptly-timed than I could have anticipated.The United States Supreme Court has failed the great majority of American citizens not just once but several shocking and historic times in one week, hacking away at women’s reproductive rights, the EPA, and gun safety all at once. The Supreme Court majority was largely appointed by presidents that lost the popular vote, our nation is embroiled in hearings about a violent coup attempt spearheaded by the former President, and people on both sides of the constructed political divide seem more desperate than ever before in living memory. At the same time, both stocks and digital currencies, and the economic possibilities they support, are suffering through what seems like it will be a protracted winter. So it’s a PERFECT moment to talk about the visions we commit to building through the hardship, and the new responsibilities we must assume as citizens — not just of nation-states, but of the digital communities and cultures that we voluntarily participate in, the neighborhoods and cities that we live in. When a big tree dies in the forest, its falling lets in light that stimulates a contest between saplings — and we’re seeing something similar now in this rapid blooming of experiments in governance and finance, legal regulations and privately-organized society. Suddenly projects like the CABIN DAO seem prescient and urgent, so I’m glad to share this potent conversation with Jon Hillis and @0xZakk of CABIN DAO and Christian Lemp of Diamond DAO — three of the many people working hard at the frontiers of blockchain-based social innovation. In this episode we talk about what it means to live-action roleplay as a city-state, how physical geography and online culture overlap in their experiments, and what should stay illegible and wild amidst this wave of techy change…If you enjoy this show, please take a moment to subscribe, rate, and review wherever you prefer to listen. I’ve been extremely busy backstage working on a suite of Future Fossils projects that extend beyond the podcast, some of which you can glimpse on my Instagram and Twitter feeds…big changes coming soon, and inspiration’s flowing. If you want the inner track on all the music, art, and writing I am cooking up — or if you simply see the value in these conversations and my work at large, I hope you’ll join the other awesome people chipping in with listener support at Patreon.com/michaelgarfield — where I’m sharing an enormous folder of new A.I. artwork, updated every day.Lastly, I just re-launched my now thirteen-year-old blog on Substack — for roughly monthly digests of new work, join 7,500 other readers at michaelgarfield.substack.com. More soon.