86 - Onyx Ashanti on Surfing Exponential Change (Part 1)

Ep. 86

This week’s guest is the one-of-a-kind, ever-evolving Onyx Ashanti, a cyborg performance artist of world renown, who is as busy as anyone I know (in the words of Terence McKenna) “immanentizing the Eschaton” with his intensely futuristic machine interfaces as an extension of his cymatic, fractal, exponentiating, indomitably cool and strange philosophy. Onyx is one of the most inspiring and creative people in my network and even though this episode was recorded in December 2017 – and is in some ways just a little dated – it’s still 99% WAY, WAY in our future. A paradox! Just how we like it, around here…




“We have access to technologies and information that are only limited by our abilities to comprehend them.”

The creative potentials of encrypted distributed ledgers “that aren’t just about holding until I’m a millionaire.”

Marshall McLuhan: “The future of the future is the now.”

The uncontrollability of new technologies.

When we talk about “THE” future, whose future are we talking about?

“The past and the future all exist as constructs in your mind. The past is no more real than the future.”

How choosing our story of the past determines what possibilities become probabilities in our future.

“When I think about polarities like good and bad, I think about it in an electronic sense. It’s modulation of the relationship between positive and negative that gives you computers.”

Physical and spatial computing exercises and how movement in space can help dislodge us from stuck perspectives.

“We have to have more art that plays with the malleability of exponential expressions.”

Book: Finite & Infinite Games by James P. Carse

“There’s a lot of people who think that if they get the right president, or they get the right representative, or they buy the right car, then it’s all going to be alright. That is not the case. It is very, very not going to be alright. There are evolving and exponentially complying streams of possibilities that can collapse into probabilities – IF you understand that possibility collapses into probability.”

We spoil the movie AI.

“American media culture likes to wrap everything up in a happy ending, a happily-ever-after scenario. And I think that makes us retarded.”

Book: Accelerando by Charles Stross

Tutting (for those who don’t know what tutting is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbBqtuYvags) vs Breakdancing

Vitalik Buterin, inventor of Ethereum, as an example of the crazy wizard kids these days, “spoon benders”

Berlin and Detroit and the collapse of industrial centers as the mulch in which great artistic movements bloom…

“If everybody were able to express themselves properly, we would be something else, and it wouldn’t be controlled by the people it’s controlled by. And that something else would be, I think, grander, but at the same time would have a whole other set of problems.”

How do you keep the golden moment of a temporary autonomous zone or a bohemian urban revival going for as long as possible before it’s gentrified, coopted, integrated, and extinguished?

“Innovation and institution: I won’t say that they’re oxymoronic, but the modulation is going to be different between them. I don’t look to institutions [for innovation]. I don’t believe the college education system is relevant anymore.”

“The first thing that should happen is, everyone learns how to learn.”

“There is no limit to synaptic connectivity that anyone has observed. There is no brain that is so full that it cannot process one more thing.”

Onyx’s favorite nootropics (racetams).

Co-evolving brain-machine interfaces for a constant flow state of cyborg immersivity.

How would AI perceive information? Likely as music…

Book: Starmaker by Olaf Stapledon

Book: Xenolinguistics by Diana Reed Slattery

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