174 - Evan "Skytree" Snyder on Sound Design for A Robotic Built Wilderness

Ep. 174

This week we're joined by robotics engineer, electronic music producer, and Future Fossils co-founder Evan “Skytree” Snyder — who has recently been asked to help design the sounds made by the next wave of Amazon warehouse robots. In this first part of our discussion, we explore the evolutionary and psychological considerations for designing human-compatible robot sounds, talk brilliant birds and their mimicry of people and machines, and riff on the manipulative utility of cuteness for both good and evil.

In part two, available to Patreon supporters later this week, we talk about Evan’s work to reconstruct the soundscapes of The Age of Dinosaurs, his experiments with using radioactive mineral samples to control modular synthesizers, and his reflections on the use of sound for deep-time communication with future humans and/or extraterrestrials…

 Go Deeper

• If you value this show and would like to see it thrive, support Future Fossils on Patreon and please leave a good review on Apple Podcasts! As a patron you get extra episodes each month, invites to our book club, and new writing, art, and music.

• Meet great people and have equally great conversations in the Discord Server & Facebook Group.

• Buy the books we talk about from the Future Fossils shop at Bookshop.org.

 For when you’d rather listen to music, follow me and my listening recommendations on Spotify.

 Related Reading

• Set My Heart To Five by Simon Stephenson

• Unfettered Journey by Gary Bengier

• Alex & Ada by Jonathan Luna & Sarah Vaughn

 The Age of Em: Work, Love, and Life when Robots Rule The Earth by Robin Hanson

• “Smooth Operator: Tuning Robot Perception Through Artificial Movement Sound” by Frederic Anthony Robinson, Mari Velonaki, Oliver Bown

• “The maintenance of vocal learning by gene–culture interaction: the cultural trap hypothesis” by Robert F. Lachlan and Peter J. B. Slater

 Related Listening

• FF 13 - Rupert Till on Ancient Audio & Future Ritual

• FF 29 - Sara Huntley on Raising Robots Right

• FF 53 - Evan Snyder on A Very Xeno Christmas!

• FF 73 - Patricia Gray on BioMusic, The New Science of Our Musical Brains & Biosphere

• FF 149 - Tada Hozumi, Dare Sohei, Naomi Most on Cultural Somatics & Ritual as Justice

• FF 159 - Michael Dowd on Post Doom: Life After Accepting Climate Catastrophe

 Music by Evan “Skytree” Snyder

• “Telomere,” “Minas Gracia,” and “Sanitas” off Infraplanetary

 Support the countless hours of research and production that go into Future Fossils

• Venmo: @futurefossils

• PayPal.me/michaelgarfield

• Patreon: patreon.com//michaelgarfield

• BTC: 1At2LQbkQmgDugkchkP6QkDJCvJ5rv3Jm

• ETH: 0xfD2BC66586FA4FBA189992E9B0037CD5cb9673EF

• NFTs: Rarible | Foundation | Voice (available to non-crypto users)

More Episodes


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!

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!)