FUTURE FOSSILS

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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

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https://facebook.com/groups/futurefossils

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10/30/2022

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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!)

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