76 - Technology as Psychedelic Parenting (at Palenque Norte, Burning Man 2017)

Self-aware machines, organs on a chip, brain-entangled meta-human military units, smart-sensor-gridded coral reefs, drone flocks, DNA-based computing, robots having baby robots…the line between the “made” and “born” is getting blurrier and blurrier each day. What does it mean to be alive in a time when we already treat the corporation as a legal person, fall in love with chat bots, and “possess” telepresence robots in virtual reality for work?

This talk is a three-part argument:

1 - The Internet is usefully understood as a psychedelic substance, in that it remixes what we ordinarily think of as “inside” and “outside,” “self” and “other.”

2 - The psychological effects of the Internet are, then, usefully addressed through the methods of psychedelic harm reduction (like MAPS’ Zendo Project, techniques developed by the Women’s Visionary Congress, or KosmiCare in Europe).

3 - Because the Internet remixes everything, it casts our categories of “made” and “born,” “alive” and “mechanical” into question – and suggests a more complex and nuanced understanding in which “intellectual property” has a life and a destiny of its own, and we have far more in common with machines and “corporate persons” than we’re used to thinking.

Therefore, the best way forward in this crazy age may be to treat ALL things, the living AND nonliving, with compassion and respect. We’re almost certainly mistaken about what merits care, these days…so let’s be kind to our machine descendants, treat our great ideas like children that we can’t control but CAN encourage down the right path, and in general do everything we can to be remembered as good parents to/for/by Whatever Comes Next…

Recorded at Palenque Norte, Burning Man 2017, Black Rock City, Nevada. Guest appearances by Mitch Mignano (guest of episode 57) 

For more along these lines, check out these related media:

• The prologue to this talk, a short rap from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia Innovation Lab last year:


• An archive of nearly all of my public talks since 2009, including every talk I’ve given at Burning Man:


• Writings about the co-evolution of humans and technology:


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