FUTURE FOSSILS

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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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN2hNX9eM6k


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

https://www.meetup.com/EFF-Austin/events/240796194/


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
This week on Future Fossils, we sync up with globe-trotting (Singapore-based) futurist Parag Khanna, author of several internationally best-selling books on the shifting landscape of human geography and technological evolution. My acquaintance with Parag dates back all the way to 2011 when I found his Hybrid Reality Institute, and started writing for his BigThink blog, thanks to the writing of Jason Silva — I knew this was a party I couldn’t miss, even though I was then, as now, deeply ambivalent about the contours of the futures he and his colleagues were making visible with their rigorous research. This spirit has defined my entire adult life: if you want to help steer something in a better direction, you might just have to get your hands down into the murk and engage with it deeply enough to be in the position to make a difference. So when his agent contacted me about interviewing him about his latest book, 2021’s Move: The Forces Uprooting Us, I knew it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. But let me be clear that Parag sees things very differently than I do, and I appreciate that about him: he has a keen sense of the risks and dangers of our times but emphasizes the opportunities because the facts are there to support it. If you move around as much as he does, and always has, you get a kind of synoptic view of the planet and the tension between individual destiny and collective momentum comes into a new tuning. This is a beast of a conversation. It was hell to edit. I’m glad it happened. Here you go!Complete, extensive show notes at Patreon.✨ Housekeeping:• Intro music is "You're In My Self-Portrait" from my 2012 album Golden Hour. Outro music is "City of Jewels" from my 2013 EP of the same name. For something completely different, check out my latest live album, recorded at Meow Wolf Santa Fe while opening for DeVotchKa.✨ Other Ways To Support The Work & Community:• My roughly-monthly newsletter at Substack• Venmo: @futurefossils• PayPal.me/michaelgarfield• ETH: FutureFossils.eth• BTC: 1At2LQbkQmgDugkchkP6QkDJCvJ5rv3Jm• NFTs: Rarible | Foundation | Voice | Hic Et Nunc | Mint Songs

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