Actual jetpack trick flying. What’s next? Jetpacks vs wingsuits accompanied by a fleet of drones? OK.
Read more "Cat Vincent’s Treadwell Talk – Science Fiction’s Gifts to Paganism"
catvincent talking all things pagan and science fiction. Breaking down the hyperreal; weaving together fact and fiction, magic and history in under an hour. All narratives are wrong, but some are useful and this is his. Watch. Understand the high strangeness of the science fictional condition and its occulted mystical lining. Click. Play. NOW
Footnotes at http://www.catvincent.com/?p=1258#more-1258
I was talking to a friend who was feeling down about human-caused global climate change. “It may be,” I told a friend in London as we walked across Tower Bridge, “that our ticket was punched before we ever got started.” While there is no doubt we’re cutting our time on earth shorter through carbon emissions and the destruction of the ecology, it might be that our species was never going to make it past the end of the womb of our ice-age birth. I explained this, about how fragile an organism we are, and how the ice ages cycle. She laughed, she was used to my strange form of hope.
“You have to choose to have hope, or just jump out of a window,” a person I was interviewing once told me, a person who’d been accused of techno-utopianism. We were walking along the California coast hills at sunset, talking about all the ways our technological lives could go wrong, and the many ways it is going wrong. He wasn’t utopian, it turned out, he’d thought of the worst long before his detractors had. He’d decided to try to head it off, instead of jumping out of a window.
We are diseased and angry and we kill each other and ourselves and all the world. We are killing off life on Earth like a slow moving asteroid. I try to look at this, and my own part in it. Sometimes it is overwhelming. I feel so powerless trying to comprehend all the terrible things we face, much less get past them into our future, with our humanity and our inconceivably beautiful little blue-green planet preserved.
All these grown-up monsters for my grown-up mind, they are there in the nights I wake up terrified and taunted by death. When I feel so small and broken, when despair and terror take me, I have a secret tool, a talisman against the night. I don’t use it too often so that it doesn’t lose its power. I learned it on airplanes, which are strange and thrilling and full of fear and boredom and discomfort. When I am very frightened, I look out the window on airplanes and say very quietly:
I have seen the tops of clouds
And I have. In all the history of humanity, I am one of the few that has seen the tops of clouds. Many would have died to do so, and some did. I have seen them many times. I have seen the Earth from space, and spun it around like a god to see what’s on the other side. We are the only consciousness we’ve ever found that has looked deep into the infinite dark, and instead of dark, we saw galaxies. Galaxies! Suns and worlds beyond number. We have looked into our world and found atoms, atomic forces, systems that dance to the glorious music of the universe. We have seen actual wonders that verge on the ineffable. We have coined a word for the ineffable. We have coined thousands of words for the ineffable. In our pain we find a kind of magic, in our worst and meanest specimens we find the flesh of a common human story. We are red with it.
I know mysteries that great philosophers would have died for, just to have them whispered in their dying ears. I can look them up on my smartphone. I live in the middle of miracles, conceptions and magics easily worth many lifetimes to learn, from which I can pick and choose. I have wisdom and knowledge poured around me like a river, more than I could learn in a thousand lifetimes, and I am still alive. It is good that I am alive, it is good that we are alive. Even if we kill ourselves off with nuclear fire, or gray goo, or drown ourselves in stinking acid oceans, it is good that we have lived, that we did all of this, and that we grew into what we are, and learned to dream of what we could be. The only thing we can say for sure is that we will die, but we will die having gone so far above our primordial ponds and primate forests that we saw the tops of clouds.
with bonus link in the post to my now public again ello.
JOIN MY ASTEROID DEATH CULT
Presenting a short tour* of the flying camera, or surveillance drone, through realities. Camera Drone Name, Fiction of Origin, Year Fiction Created, Year Fiction Set “Kino”, Stargate Universe, 2009, the present//player.vimeo.com/video/107448442?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0 “Pups”, Prometheus, 2012, 2093 Nixie, reality, today, soon * More examples of the Surveillance Drone at TvTropes (Warning: link leads to TvTropes) camera drones: […]Read more "camera drones: from science fiction to design fiction"
Over 10,000 years ago we lived in balance with the network. Since then we’ve tried to control, rule and bend it to our whims. In all that time, we’ve never asked ourselves if we’re building something that controls us?Read more
NN : If the future is dead, if we didn’t get the future that we were promised, it does not mean that the present, the here and now isn’t curious. In a talk you gave few years ago at Improving Reality in Brighton, you coined the term “sci-fi condition”, what did you mean by that? WE : […]Read more "Nicolas Nova talks to Warren Ellis about the science-fictional condition"
Science fiction has always built our culture powerful frameworks for thinking about the future. Computer sensors, “electronic paper,” digital newspapers, biological cloning, interactive television, robots, remote operation, and even the Walkman each appeared in fiction before they breached our physical reality. Has there been any major technological advancement that wasn’t dreamt up first in man’s imagination? Simon Lake – American mechanical engineer, naval architect, and perhaps the most important mind behind the development of the submarine – said of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, “Jules Verne was in a sense the director-general of my life.” This was a man who created space travel in the pages of fiction decades before Sputnik, while Arthur C. Clarke imagined satellite communication into existence in 1945, a full 12 years before the Russians fired the first shots of the Space Race. Who invented the cell phone, Martin Cooper or Gene Roddenberry? Who invented the earliest iteration of the computer, Charles Babbage or Jonathan Swift? And the list goes on. Either art is imitating life, or science fiction writers have been pointing to the future for over a century.
This is big in the Grinder community. Most people start off by implanting magnets in their fingertips, which gives you the ability to feel magnetic fields. Your fingertips have lots of nerve endings jammed into one area and they are really sensitive to stimuli. Magnets twitch or move in the presence of magnetic fields, and when you implant one in your finger you can really start to feel different magnetic fields around you. So it is like a sixth sense. At first you will be waving your hand around appliances, probing fields like someone looking for a light switch in the dark. After a few days or weeks you will almost forget you have the implant because your brain has fully incorporated the sense into your normal world experience. When you sleep you will notice that even your dreams have changed to include the sense. You can now perceive an otherwise invisible world.
This makes many curious about all of the other things happening around them that they can’t see and they want more. So let’s expand on the magnet thing. We can buy all kinds of different sensors to detect heat, radiation, radio signals, wifi, whatever you want. If we wrap a wire around our implanted finger and attach that wire to our new sensor, we find that the wire creates a small magnetic field to the beat of the sensor. This of course makes our magnet twitch, and now we can feel heat from a distance, feel wifi, or whatever.
Why limit ourselves to feeling these sensations? We have other senses we can induce synesthesia in. I got some media attention in June of 2013 after I implanted headphones in my tragus to do just that. I had some practical reasons for doing this in addition to my thirst for exploration. A few years earlier I suddenly became legally blind in one eye. Lenses cannot correct it and my original eye doctor informed me that the other eye was likely to follow, at which point I would be legally blind, lose my job, etc. With this inevitability in mind I decided to be proactive. Ultrasonic rangefinders are devices used to determine how far away an object is. I knew that most blind people find acoustic variations help them identify the proximity of objects, so I figured I might be able to amplify this by converting rangefinder data into audio I could send wirelessly to my headphone implants. It turned out to be much more complicated than I thought, but that is a part of Grinding that I have come to appreciate. My setbacks lead me deeper into the rabbit hole of audiology where I discovered knowledge that has unlocked a thousand more possibilities.
I’d say that 25% of the people I talk to about sensory enhancement think it’s really cool and some go get implants themselves. The other 75% will nod their head and hope the conversation ends or they laugh and ask “why would anyone want to feel magnetic fields?” I get asked that question so much, and I still find it hard to articulate. They usually point out that “you don’t need it,” to which I counter “what if you lost the ability to taste? You don’t really need it to survive.” Ask anyone with an implant how they would feel if they lost the implant, and almost all of them will tell you they would miss it. A small bit of richness would be missing from their life experience.
Visible light is but a tiny portion of the greater magnetic spectrum that we cannot see. If we modeled the entire spectrum as a road stretching from LA to New York, the amount of visible light that humans can see would equal a few nanometers. Humans, from our allegorical caves, have nonetheless managed to form and test theories about things at the edges of perception but these discoveries took thousands of years. Where would humans be now technologically if we never developed sight? How long would it take us to theorize the existence of the aurora borealis or to hypothesize about the existence of stars? This reduction of input obviously cripples the rate of input.
So is the opposite true? Would expanding our senses accelerate our advancement? My answer is yes. Some Grinder friends of mine formed a team called Science for the Masses to discover if they could biologically push human perception of visible light into the near-infrared spectrum. This is a small increase, around 6% above our current abilities. The impact is dramatic. The new light allows you to see through fog and haze, tinted windows, and some clothing. Stars can be seen during day hours. Subtle changes in blood flow can be seen under the skin, allowing anyone to detect circulation problems and find clots. Seeing blood flow takes some of the guesswork out of determining what mood your date is in and lying becomes nearly impossible. Imagine how this awareness would have altered human history, politics, art, courtship, and relationships. Does human psychology benefit in a world where sincerity and emotional context can be seen with the naked eye rather than hypothesized or conjured? The new layers of info I’ve detailed above are actually just the tip of the iceberg. The real magic of sensory expansion comes from finding deviations and surprises that don’t fit within our scientific understanding because it makes us reconcile our mental models of the world with reality.
The name Terasem comes from the Greek word for “Earthseed,” which is also the name for the futuristic religion found in the Octavia Butler sci-fi novel Parable of the Sower that helped inspire Gabriel’s parents, Bina and Martine Rothblatt, to start their new faith. Martine founded the successful satellite radio company Sirius XM in 1990. (Martine was originally known as Martin. She had sex reassignment surgery 20 years ago.)
Organized around four core tenets—“life is purposeful, death is optional, God is technological and love is essential”–Terasem is a “transreligion,” meaning that you don’t have to give up being Christian or Jewish or Muslim to join. In fact, many believers embrace traditional positions held by mainstream religions—including the omnipotence of God and the existence of an afterlife—but say these are made possible by increasing advancements in science and technology.
“Einstein said science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind,” Martine Rothblatt tells TIME. “Bina and I were inspired to find a way for people to believe in God consistent with science and technology so people would have faith in the future.”
Some believers in Terasem are motivated by a longing similar to one shared by followers of more familiar faiths–a desire to be reunited with people who have passed. Linda Chamberlain, cofounder of the cryonics company Alcor Life Extension Foundation and an active Terasemian, anticipates that one day in the future she’ll be reanimated alongside her husband Fred, who passed away a few years ago, and they can explore space together. Giulio Prisco, an Italian physicist who practices Terasem, says he hopes he’ll finally be reunited with his mother.
Though from the outside Terasem might look a little kooky, some ideas at its center resonate with Silicon Valley’s mainstream where millions of dollars are being spent to research how technology can alter the end of life and beyond. People like Google’s Larry Page and PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel are investing in projects focused on life extension and rejuvenation.
Portraits on the wall of Terasem’s Florida headquarters show people who have attended the organization’s meetings in the past, some of whom are among the tech industry’s most radical thinkers. Marvin Minsky, who helped start MIT’s artificial intelligence lab, is there. So is Google engineer Ray Kurzweil, one of the world’s most prominent proponents of transhumanism, an intellectual movement that shaped Terasem and animates many avant garde ideas in Silicon Valley.
Born nearly a century ago with a spike in popularity in the 1990s, transhumanism advocates for the ethical use of technology to transcend biology and enhance humanity’s physical and intellectual abilities. Google Glass, artificial limbs—even birth control, as one transhumanist told me—are ways in which we can harness technology to upgrade our biology. And one day, if the mindfile system works the way it’s supposed to, we just might be able to leave our physical bodies behind and transmit our brains into computerized vessels.
But as the iPhone becomes its own sort of Multipass, and those funny lopsided cigarettes Bruce Willis smokes in the movie become a real design, it’s interesting to see how Luc Besson’s legendary sci-fi movie was more prescient than we would’ve guessed in the 1990s.Read more "The Fifth Element Is Starting to Come True"