67 - Douglas Rushkoff & Michael Phillip (Playing For Team Human)

This week’s guest is media theorist, culture critic, author, graphic novelist, documentarian, and podcaster Douglas Rushkoff! Chances are you’re a “digital native” banking on “social currency” and consuming “viral media” – which means that you are living in the world Doug prophesied for all of us back in the 1990s. 

I watched his debut documentary on social marketing, Merchants of Cool, in my college Introduction to Film class (which is how you know my teacher was, in fact, cool). His book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now was one of the core inspirations for this podcast and its examinations of time in the digital age remain some of my most frequently-recommended writing. 

More recently his book Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus launched a vital conversation about how to make sure that the “superabundance” of digital society actually MAKES IT TO THE PEOPLE. And his podcast Team Human offers new insightful conversations every week about how we can sculpt a future for the 100%-ers – a world that welcomes everybody, that lets everyone in, that finds something meaningful for all of us to do and be.

Doug’s written shelves on our new media environment and how the digital surround retrieves our magical antiquity. He’s issued potent cautions to us, that we must Program Or Be Programmed. He’s spent his entire life helping us find the bottom-up to complement the top-down that we’re stuck with…to help everyone be literate enough to make it in this modern world.

And in this episode, he looks back on his life’s work, and forward to the great responsibility we bear to help imagine systems, cultures, and relationships for a more humane and equitable future…

Doug’s podcast:


Doug’s website:


This week we’re also joined by guest co-host Michael Phillip of Third Eye Drops, our sister podcast, which I’m on A LOT – episodes 102, 88, 58, 44 with Doug Rushkoff, 38 with Niles Heckman, 28 with Bruce Damer, 21 with Erik Davis, 9 with Shane Mauss, 4 with Erik Davis, and this special mashup episode – and who has appeared on Future Fossils to talk about Westworld in Episode 14 and the Blockchain in Episode 52.

We Discuss:

• the ethical necessity of finding planet-scale solutions that work for ALL of us, not just a certain economic class; 

• the externalized ecological costs of Bitcoin; 

• how sigils and other ancient magical practices have been modernized for info warfare in the modern age; 

• how the culture of our global information economy retrieves the gods of antiquity; 

• the conflict of interests between our present and future selves; 

• the problem with futurists as propagandists and how we use “the future” as a way to manipulate people;

• and more!

Doug Quotes:

“The aspect of the blockchain that is the most real at this point is the environmental destruction…the smartest scientists I know have given up on the environment. They’re saying, ‘Let’s just have dinner. This is it.’ If that’s the case, then it feels like every conversation about blockchain has to start and end with that. It’s like, ‘Okay, while we’re destroying the planet with technology, isn’t it an interesting model for this and that…?’”

“It’s all just sigil magic on a certain level…although now you can express it through code, instead of just alchemy.”

“As far as the virtual is actual, the virtual is tied to our actual well-being. So thanks to cyberspace, we have a place where all of that symbolic activity becomes real – or at least as real as we’re willing to make this stuff. Your FICO score is on there. This is the landscape that’s defining our reality. So it turns programmers into potential magicians of unprecedented power.”

“The gods that we are looking at today a re subsets of capitalism. They are really more unintended consequences of people looking to game the system, than they are the natural flowering of some higher power, higher agenda. So we’re in a similar relationship to those things, but we don’t want to be re-enacting those things. We want to be, if anything, recognizing them and creating alternatives.”

“Psychologically, they found that people relate to their own future selves the same way they relate to a stranger. So the person you’re saving retirement money for is just some old guy. So on some level, I don’t really care so much if that person is suffering in the cold, because I want an iPhone X. So screw him.” 

“Especially in the heady days of early WIRED Magazine, where they’re saying, ‘Look! Everything’s changing! The tsunami’s coming! You better hire some futurists to tell you where it’s going or you’re all going to die’…I was arguing that it’s fine, that all futurists are propagandists of a certain sort. So if I’m going to be a futurist, I’m going to propagandize a world of peace and love and the egalitarian sensibility that we’re all moving into, NOT a long stock market boom of infinite wealth for venture capitalists.”

More Episodes


147 - How to Live in The Future (Parts 1 - 4)

Ep. 147
This week is something different: author-read audio of the first four essays from my ongoing book-in-progress, How to Live in The Future.These essays are the first in my feature-length interrogation of the insufficient ways we think about the future…a poetic exploration of the fruitful interface between psychedelic mysticism, evolutionary theory, and critical futurism.For more along these lines, check out Future Fossils Episode 129 for the Boom Festival 2016 talk that started it all…You can read these pieces —rich with explanatory hyperlinks and graphics —at the links below:Part 1: The Future is A PlacePart 2: The Future is More of EverythingPart 3: The Future is Both True and FalsePart 4: The Future is Exapted/RemixedMusical interludes from my 2017 live album, Pavo: Music for Mystery, recorded live on tour across Australia.Episode cover art by Collin Elder, whose paintings feel to me like the fine art approximation of what I am trying to communicate in words. Follow him on Instagram.Support this show on Patreon for over a dozen secret episodes, the Future Fossils book club, and weekly community calls, and much more.Later essays in this series, which I’ll likely read in a fall episode:Part 6: The Future is DisgustingPart 7: The Future Acts Like YouPart 8: The Future is Indistinguishable from MagicAlthough I’d rather you shop elsewhere, you can grab the books we talk about on Future Fossils at Amazon and they’ll chip me a piece of the proceedings at no cost to you.

146 - Raising Earth Consciousness with Ralph Metzner, Dennis McKenna, Gay Dillingham, Valerie Plame Wilson, Allan Badiner, and Michael Garfield at Synergia Ranch, April 2016

Ep. 146
Where do I even start explaining this week's episode? Probably with a vignette: someone came up to me after I was on this all-star panel discussion featuring five living legends — psychedelic researchers Ralph Metzner and Dennis McKenna, author Allan Badiner, film-maker Gay Dillingham, and former CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson —and asked me who I was and what I was doing there. I was the youngest person on stage by twenty years, and had done nothing with my life yet that put me in the same weight class as any of them. And yet there I was to offer my synthetic insights and play music to a packed house in a geodesic dome on an utterly magical evening. We had an intense discussion about nuclear disarmament, ecological destruction, and psychedelic medicines hosted by my then-new friends at Synergia Ranch. Rick Doblin of MAPS and Johnny Dolphin of Biosphere 2 fame got up on stage that night as well (although not for this panel). It was a night I'd dreamt about weeks in advance with uncanny accuracy, and was the catalyzing moment that ultimately led to my moving to Santa Fe in 2018. I'm deeply grateful to Synergetic Press for hosting the event, inviting me to join this panel, and letting me share this recording as a podcast episode.Read all about this awesome April 2016 symposium and salon here:https://www.synergeticpress.com/raising-earth-consciousness-at-the-synergetic-symposium-and-salon/So much has changed since then and honestly, it isn't the most timely episode to publish at this moment, but I'm working hard to get some awesome people on the show soon who can speak to what we're living through in history right now.I would have more to say about this, but it's been a very busy week. If you'd like more new listening material, I strongly recommend checking out the recent conversation that I had with physicist Geoffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute about how the science of cities undercuts the economic myth of endless open growth and forces us to seriously study other paths to a sustainable planetary culture.Please take a moment to leave a glowing review of Future Fossils at Apple Podcasts.If you would like to link up with other amazing Future Fossils listeners, please email me and I'll invite you to our Discord server.Support this show on Patreonfor over a dozen secret episodes, the Future Fossils Book Club (next up: Lilith's Brood by Octavia Butler!), and muuuuuch more.Theme Music:“God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield).Additional Intro Music: "Lambent" by Michael Garfield.Thank you for listening!