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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.

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10/8/2020

154 - Stephanie Lepp on Pro-Social Deepfakes, Post-Normal Science, and The Future of "Reality"

Ep. 154
This week I chat with artist Stephanie Lepp, producer of Infinite Lunchbox, the Reckonings podcast, and — most excitingly, for me —Deep Reckonings, a stunning new project exploring the “pro-social” uses of AI-generated “deepfakes” and other synthetic media for education, therapy, and other beneficial outcomes.While I’ve been speculating on the ominous (albeit numinous) social and psychological consequences of deepfakes since my 2017 sci-fi short “An Oral History of The End of ‘Reality’”, it never really occurred to me that these tools aren’t just dangerous but potentially healing and transformative. Stephanie, however, has made it very clear in her new videos, and in her extensive statement for the project, that sometimes all we need to imagine a better world is to see it faked convincingly.In this discussion, we explore how deepfakes can expand and enrich the potent benefits of earlier media like theater and the novel; why it’s so controversial to portray wrongdoers finally accepting accountability and moral leadership, even when it’s an explicit fiction; and how science itself is going to have to change to accommodate a more nuanced and multi-dimensional understanding of truth.Stephanie at IFTF | LinkedIn | TwitterPlease rate and review Future Fossils on Apple Podcasts! And if you believe in the value of this show and want to see it thrive, support Future Fossils on Patreon. Patrons gain access to over twenty secret episodes, unreleased music, our book club, and many other great things as they spill out of my overactive imagination.We’d also love to have you in our thriving little Discord server, if you’re interested in meeting other members of our awesome scene. (And if you’re up for helping edit Future Fossils Podcast transcripts, please drop me a line at futurefossilspodcast@gmail.com.)Intro and outro music is from Skytree’s new LP of spacey downtempo electronica, Infraplanetary, which I highly encourage you to purchase.Enjoy, and thanks for listening!
9/24/2020

153 - Burning Man VR x IRL with Caveat Magister, Naomi Most, and Raven Mitch Mignano

Ep. 153
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9/17/2020

152 - Weird Artist Medicine Storytelling Hour with Colin Frangicetto

Ep. 152
“I know now that the rules of reality change by zip code.”In a conversation recorded nearly a year ago on September 27, 2019 (and now hilariously strange in light of months of pandemic quarantine), I speak with the ultra-talented, delightful, immediately relatable and immensely likable Colin Frangicetto —guitarist for the excellent band Circa Survive and solo project Psychic Babble, painter, writer, and podcaster —about what we’ve learned from our high-dose psychedelic experiences, from our extended and potentially crazy periods of constant synchronicity, and from traveling the world playing music and making art.This episode is a dual-show crossover in which we interview each other, and which also appears on Colin’s wonderful podcast, The Cosmic Nod. Pop over there if you want to read all the nice things he said about me in his show notes. I agree with him that on this call you hear our friendship being born...Be sure to follow Colin’s Instagram & Twitter accounts, and support him on Patreon, and support Circa Survive on Patreon.And of course, please consider supporting Future Fossils and all of the other creative work I do (which is A LOT) on Patreon also. With three jobs and a kid, it’s a miracle this show still exists, entirely by the graces of listeners like (and deliciously unlike) you.It’s even more of a miracle that we have such an excellent community flourishing around it…here’s an invite to our Discord server, if you’d like to be a part of that.SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT! Colin and I are going to be speaking together at this weekend’s Psilocybin Summit —along with folks like Paul Stamets, Shane Mauss, Dennis McKenna, Bett Williams, Bia Labate, Simon Yugler, and about 50 other amazing brilliant people. Go here to grab your tickets and I’ll get a tiny slice of the pie.Also, the entire back catalog of Future Fossils will soon have searchable transcriptions courtesy of podscribe.ai. If you’re a podcaster, I cannot recommend or even imagine a better service for your transcripts. Go tell Pete Birsinger I sent you and make your life a little easier.TOPICS COLIN AND I DISCUSS IN THIS EPISODE:His recent maiden voyage with ayahuasca and his integration at home.The indoor trip versus the outdoor trip and life at home versus life on the road, and the experience of time on tour versus at home.How life in the early 21st Century is like The Book of Exodus and the nonlinear path of the Wandering Jew, faith-tested in the wilderness.What relatively rare artist-and-musicians have in common…and why “everybody hates Bo Jackson.”What it means to be an obligate social organism, totally dependent on society, trending evolutionarily in the direction of both gods and babies, and what that means for finding ourselves in collaboration, generally.The post-career world, and in what ways we have to be a different state of matter than our parents’ generation.When magic becomes commonplace and matter-of-fact.Psychedelics and time: telepathy, or precognition?Transcendental cephalopods: WHY IS THAT A THING?Time loops and Chapel Perilous synchroncity vortices.Taking (or not taking) ayahuasca literally.How to learn how to love yourself.Big Mind Process and Internal Family Systems.Why is the self plural, in the first place?How to deal with the weird and sometimes scary things you accidentally create, responsibly.Cancer treatment vs. crime and punishment.Relationships as covenants between complementary strengths and weaknesses in partner organisms that do not share the same worldspace, and how that results in hilarious disagreements about UFOs.Breaking the tentacles of co-dependency with psychedelic solo work.Multiple-timescale creative project bouquets.Aaaand snapping turtles.LIST OF AMAZING (AND AMAZINGLY WHITE) PEOPLE WE MENTION:The Ungoogleable MichaelangeloSean-Paul Von AnckenShane MaussErik DavisPapadosioWilliam Irwin ThompsonDuncan TrussellErick GodseyMichael PhillipCory AllenJohn KaagRobin ArnottTopher SipesWeird Studies PodcastMark PesceMitch Mignano

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