FUTURE FOSSILS

Share

91 - An Oral History of The End of "Reality"

Ep. 91

This week’s episode is an experiment in science fiction storytelling – the author-read short story “An Oral History of The End of ‘Reality.’” Originally released to Patreon supporters (without the intro or musical soundtrack) last November, this story brings together many of the core themes of Future Fossils: the challenges of navigating overwhelming and contradictory information online; the new literacies that will emerge in response to AI-assisted “deep fakes” that make conventional evidence inadmissible in courts or scientific journals; the thinning veil between our physical senses and the ethereal realm of data; and the experience of time in a future when possibility, prediction, and recording stretch out in all directions (but unreliably).


My first adult foray into the world of science fiction, this piece was inspired – nay, made necessary – by the recent news about new vocal synthesis AI that lets consumers edit audio and video and manufacture wholly new, convincing forgeries that sound and look exactly like "the real thing." 

We all grew up in an age when our recordings are the evidence of something. It was certainly a step up from the hearsay that we once relied on, but it's not enough these days – and as technology gets more and more sophisticated it may be impossible for us to tell the difference between "what's really there" and what is just a digital illusion. 


Trip with me down this vertigo-inducing psychedelic tunnel to a world in which invisible and discarnate agents speak to you in lovers' voices; in which algorithmic AI pop stars outcompete real artists and our thoroughly-mapped world returns to demon-haunted wilderness; in which we all become half-monks and half-forensics-experts as the new obsession is attempting to determine if we can believe our senses... 


This piece is planned as the epilogue to my forthcoming book, How To Live in The Future. It's a rare weird bird among its influences: one part literature, one part psychedelic beat screed, and the first time I have managed to combine the metanoia, vision, and poetic flourish that inspires me to write. 


(I also wrote it all by hand in a delicious Clairefontaine "Flying Spirit" journal that I bought in Montréal this summer, and took with me to the Global Eclipse Gathering and Burning Man. I have to say, that had no small effect on how this all came out. Real pen and paper leads to very different writing.) 


If you’d like the PDFs of the original handwritten manuscript, you can find them here:

https://evolution.bandcamp.com/album/an-oral-history-of-the-end-of-reality


Read all of my publicly-available draft chapters of How to Live in the Future, the companion essays to this story:

https://medium.com/@michaelgarfield


All of the music in this episode is from my album, Love Scenes & Field Recordings, which you can download for any price here:

https://michaelgarfield.bandcamp.com/album/love-scenes-field-recordings


Cover Image © Giacomo Carmagnola and reused with permission. 

Check out his work and help him support his aging mother: 

https://facebook.com/giacomocarmagnolaart

https://instagram.com/Gore_XV


Special thanks to Transhumanity.net for being a featured sponsor of this podcast! Their concerns about the ethical deployment of artificial general intelligence (AGI) are perfectly aligned with this episode’s rather chilling speculative futures, and I’m glad to know that there are people working on a world where AGI improves the lives of every person, not just the very rich.


Support this show on Patreon:

https://patreon.com/michaelgarfield

Join the Facebook Group:

https://facebook.com/groups/futurefossils

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/future-fossils/id1152767505?mt=2

Subscribe on Google Podcasts:

http://bit.ly/future-fossils-google

Subscribe on Stitcher:

https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/michael-garfield/future-fossils

Subscribe on Spotify:

https://open.spotify.com/show/2eCYA4ISHLUWbEFOXJ8C5v

Subscribe on iHeart Radio:

https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-FUTURE-FOSSILS-28991847/

More Episodes

3/16/2020

139 - On Coronavirus, Complex Adaptive Systems, & Creative Opportunity

Ep. 139
This week I take a pause on interviews to share my thoughts on the Coronavirus pandemic from the perspective of complex systems and network collapse—and talk about the possible silver lining we might find in a time of crisis and enforced social isolation. I hope it helps! Feel free to email me with your thoughts, questions, feedback.Support this show on Patreon for secret episodes, the Future Fossils book club, and more awesome stuff than you probably have time for.Grab the books I mention on Future Fossils at my Amazon Shop and I get a small-but-helpful kickback from the retail leviathan.Intro Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield) •Here are all of the other podcasts and reading I mentioned in this episode, followed by some useful info about the COVID19 pandemic specifically:David Weinberger on Future Fossils about how we’ve always relied on black box explanationsW. Brian Arthur on on Complexity Podcast about the economy as a complex adaptive systemDr. Mike Ryan of the WHO on decision-making under conditions of uncertaintyJamie Stantonian on the disruptive impact caused by the Gutenberg printing press“An Oral History of The End of ‘Reality’”, my sci-fi short about the philosophical challenges wrought by technological changeSamo Burja on how crisis requires a more fluid social response than institutional expertise“I did ‘The Mindscape’ thing, which was basically me sitting there in a chair, with an enormously long cigarette, sort of talking in real East-Midlands monotone – so no change there – but the essential thing about culture turning to steam, the fact that everything was speeding up so much that we seem to be heading for, what I refer to as a ‘phase transition period’, which is where one state suddenly and chaotically changes from one state to another state; like the boiling point of water.I said that I felt that we were approaching a kind of cultural boiling point, but as you know with the emergence of the cloud – I mean back then it did perhaps sound a bit extreme and a bit weird and the sort of thing that you might expect an Occultist, who clearly does a lot of drugs to say. But I think that events since then have made it look a lot more conservative as a guess at the future.”– Alan MooreWatch The Mindscape of Alan Moore on Archive.org or YoutubeHunter Maats on Future Fossils about the challenges of education and knowledge infrastructure in the Information AgeDouglas Rushkoff on Future Fossils about “present shock” and new modes of social organization for adapting to technological changeRaissa D’Souza on the collapse of complex networksMe at the Australian Psychedelic Society (Melbourne) on “May you live in interesting times”Nicole Creanza on the interplay of cultural and biological evolutionBruce Damer on Future Fossils about his origins of life researchWashington Post on Isaac Newton’s “Year of Wonders”Charles Eisenstein’s superb big-picture book, The Ascent of HumanityDr. Richard Hobday on the value of sunlight in fighting viruses and maintaining good health12 Museums Offering Virtual Tours, courtesy of Travel & Leisure•Useful info pages about the pandemic:Sam Scarpino, complex systems scientist, on solid mental and physical health advice for dealing with COVID19Worldometers real-time tracking of the pandemicARCGIS real-time tracking of the pandemic on a global mapTimeline of pandemics and their relative severityFast Company on how to lead in times of crisisThe Cut on how not to go stir crazy (mostly good exercise advice)
3/2/2020

138 - Tanya Harrison on Space Exploration 50 Years After Apollo

Ep. 138
This week’s guest is Tanya Harrison, a Mars geologist, author, and infectious banner-waving space enthusiast. We talk about For All Humankind, her new book with Danny Bednar on the legacy of the Apollo missionsm, as both a planetwide accomplishment and also a high bar against which we have since not seemed to measure up...as well as:What it’s like to drive a mars rover and extend yourself technologically through space.What will have to change for us to attune to the plural temporalities of life on multiple worlds.How the tone of science fiction and space fantasy has changed over the course of our lives, for better or worse.The cultural differences between national space programs and commercial “jobs in space” exploration.The tragedy of how light pollution cuts us off from crucial perspective and our tangible belongingness in the starry cosmos.Using space-based imagining to understand our own planet as the unique and wonderful place it is.Tanya's Website & Twitter.Tanya Works for Planet Labs.Here’s another great (short) conversation with her about Martian geology.Grab the books we mention in this episode and I get a tiny kickback.Support this show on Patreon for secret episodes, the Future Fossils book club, and more awesome stuff than you probably have time for.People Mentioned:Jessa Gamble, Barry Vacker, Divya Persaud, Stewart Brand, Carl Sagan, Sara Imari Walker, Rusty Schweickert, Biosphere IIMedia Mentioned:For All Humankind, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, Ad Astra, The ExpanseTheme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield) Additional Intro Music: “Lambent” by Michael Garfield
2/15/2020

137 - Rolf Potts on Twenty-Five Years of World Travel

Ep. 137
Rolf Potts is one of the world’s most notable travel writers, author of five books on his adventures, pioneer “digital nomad” before that was even a thing, a totally inspiring person who has carved his own path through life and now helps others do the same through writing workshops and his excellent podcast, Deviate. (Worth noting that as of the time of this episode’s publication, his latest podcast episode is about dinosaurs!) For me personally, Rolf’s one of the most influential writers I’ve ever read, for his book, Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel, a slim but profound volume that utterly changed my life forever.In this episode we look back on Rolf’s twenty-five years of world travel and travel writing, and how the digital transformations of the 21st Century have changed the way we move around on and experience this planet.We talk #vanlife, citizen diplomacy, psychogeography, the Instagram effect, getting lost with Google Maps, writing as a way of paying attention, and seeing your own home with fresh eyes. It’s a powerful discussion that ignited in me that old call to journey past the far horizon —which, it’s key to note, can also mean the inner boundaries of normalcy we raise around our lives, an invitation to encounter the familiar anew…Rolf’s Website, Writing, & Podcast:https://rolfpotts.comGrab the books we mention in this episode:https://amazon.com/shop/michaelgarfieldSupport this show on Patreon for secret episodes, the Future Fossils book club, and more awesome stuff than you probably have time for:https://patreon.com/michaelgarfieldMentioned:Marco Polo Didn’t Go There by Rolf Potts, Storming The Beach, Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, Kevin Kelly, Google Maps, Lonely Planet Guide to Thailand’s Islands & Beaches, The Beach by Alex Garland, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jim Benning, World Hum, Present Shock by Douglas Rushkoff, Burning Man, Matt Kepnes, The Glass Cage by Nicholas Carr, Temporary Autonomous Zone by Hakim Bey, The Pessimists Archive, The Tao Te Ching translated by Brian Browne Walker, Ari Shaffir, Livinia SpaldingRelated Reading:“Giving Into Astonishment: Scenes from Burning Man’s American Dream" by Michael Garfield (2008)Theme Music: “God Detector” by Evan “Skytree” Snyder (feat. Michael Garfield)https://skytree.bandcamp.com/track/god-detector-ft-michael-garfieldAdditional Intro Music: “Lambent” by Michael Garfieldhttps://michaelgarfield.bandcamp.com/album/little-bird-the-eschaton

Comments