92 - Panel: The Pre- and Post-History of VR, Surveillance, and Swarm Intelligence

Ep. 92

This week’s a treat – not one, but FOUR amazing guests, in Future Fossils Podcast’s first live taping at EFF-Austin, 10 July 2017. Heather Barfield (Head of EFF-Austin Digital Arts Coalition and Director of Development, Vortex Theater); Maggie Duval (Chief Experience Liaison, 7th Generation Labs & Senior Developer, Polycot Associates, LLC); Paul Toprac (Associate Director of Game Development at UT, RTF Department, and Senior Lecturer); and Kevin Welch (President of EFF-Austin, Fullstack Web Developer at Texas Legislative Council) joined me for one of the most visionary conversations this show’s ever published – and certainly the most politically aware episode to date, as well.

Yes, this is about “The Pre- and Post-History of Virtual Reality, Surveillance, and Swarm Intelligence” – and a lot more else, to boot. Just strap in and enjoy…

The whole event was streamed live if you’d rather watch:


Full bios for each panelist and more info about EFF-Austin:


We discussed:

How for Maggie, growing up at Guantanamo Bay as a form of preparation for living in the 21st Century.

The psychological and moral implications of living in a simulated reality.

What is the humanest human? What are we aiming for?

Challenging the colonizer narrative of space as a “frontier.”

Narrative collapse!

Pernicious, ubiquitous, intelligent and coercive, ambient AI manipulation as the nexus of this talk’s three topics.

Guest spot from Jon Lebkowsky on emergent democracy.

Guest spot from an audience member who grew up in communism.

What is it about our internet as it is now that is keeping a global swarm intelligence from emerging?

Let’s not just talk about making NEW things…let’s talk about MAINTENANCE.

The side effects of automation.

“I’m a technologist that makes social media software. So it’s all my fault…we knew when we created the net as a publishing medium that we did not think through the human connections or other values that should have gone into it. We broke the community; we broke the BROADER community. I think the fact that a Trump voter doesn’t think they can talk to me is part of my sin. The wrongness isn’t their Trumpism; the wrongness it that they don’t think they have a connection to me as a human. And the technology that I built has failed them. So I’d like the panel to talk about, ‘How do we fix it?’”

- Random Audience Commentator

“The future is messy technology that is aggravating to deal with. We don’t spend our days in paradise or dystopian hell; we’re trying to get the dang computer to work. And maybe the problem is in the stories we’re telling. Maybe we’re setting up false narratives and false expectations for how to live and how to communicate with each other. Maybe we need to be telling better stories again.”

- Kevin Welch

Stable background levels of deceit in the system.

The way we teach history is a mistake because it doesn’t make history palpable and thus unrepeatable.

Topher Sipes of Sound Self chimes in.

Heather challenges the assumption that virtual reality will solve any humanitarian issue.

(Cover photo taken from http://www.iaacblog.com/programs/swarm-intelligence/)

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189 - Planet-scale Musical Chairs: 21st Century Human Geography with Parag Khanna

Ep. 189
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