These miraculous machines!
Do we shape them
Or do they shape us?
Or reshape us from our decent, far designs?
But we are learning.
We are learning to build for the future
From the ground up.
This was written for a forthcoming essay collection by Bennington College, but will be so heavily rewritten that my editor has granted me permission to publish what I have as-is. (Seems appropriate given the theme of iterative open-ended evolution...I welcome your feedback.)
Evan “Skytree” Snyder straddles two worlds: by day, he is a robotics engineer. By night, he produces electronic music that drops listeners into lush atmospheres evocative of both the ancient world and distant future.
We had a chance to speak with Snyder about his 02020 album Infraplanetary and his recent experiments with piezoelectric musical synthesis. Both projects ratchet up themes of deep time, inviting listeners to meditate on singing rocks and post-historic correspondences.
Our discussion has been edited for clarity and length.
Skytree: I really appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with you. “Atomic Priest” is definitely inspired by my…
Abstract: Modernity was largely built upon the “epistemic backstop” of recordings we can trust. What happens when we lose this privilege? As of 02020, most widely-subscribed visions of the future seem like presentist projections of a brief moment in which the West was capable of large-scale consensus on reality. …
This continues my now-ancient essay series on my experience as a Google Glass Explorer and the lens it offered me on the evolution of intelligence and cognitive/sensory arms races going back half a billion years. Before you dive in you may want to read Parts 1, 2, and 3, but this one was written to stand on its own. …
Integral Theory and Post-metaphysical Entelechy
Originally written in 2007 for JFKU’s Integral Theory graduate program. Previously published at KenWilber.com and IntegralWorld.net. I’ve come a long way since then but feel like this still holds—I’ve made an extensive mind map and bibliography of follow-up research into complex systems science available for free on Patreon. Feel free to email me if you would like to offer feedback.
“As the individual, moment to moment, recreates his illusory boundaries, so reality, moment to moment, conspires to tear them down.”
— Ken Wilber (1986, p. 123)
For its entire existence, evolutionary biology has wrestled with…
Although the sensitive can feel it in all seasons, Autumn seems to thin the veil between the living and the dead. Writing from the dying cusp of summer and the longer bardo marking humankind’s uneasy passage into a new world age (a transit paradoxically defined by floating signifiers and eroded, fluid categories), the time seems right to survey five new discoveries from paleontology, zoology, and neuroscience that offer up an opportunity to contemplate the difference between the dead, and merely dormant.
In Times of Rapid Change, Turn and Face The Strange.
Two short riffs on the same key point:
“This is the epistemological crisis of the moment: There’s a lot of expertise around, but fewer tools than ever to distinguish it from everything else. Pure credentialism doesn’t always work. People have self-published a lot of terrible pieces on Medium, but some of the best early ones that explained stuff to laypeople were from tech guys.”
– Zeynep Tufekci, University of North Carolina sociologist
The best possible outcome I can imagine from this is to witness all of the creative and intelligent people who have been shackled to pointless, stupid, undignified work for our entire lives rise up and create something new and beautiful together. Emergencies often elicit the best of our humanity, a concern for the true priorities of our existence. These are moments when we are called to act on what really matters, and to contribute to our communities and to the legacy that we pass on, at a time when good ideas are unusually quick to spread.
“I’ve just read your novelette with my hair blasting back in frightful (and utterly convincing) revelation the whole time. I’m not surprised that you’ve been not just thinking about but scouting deep down the wormhole of where we may be headed as reality and fiction duke it out (as they, too, fall down the wormhole without a parachute). I know I’ll be pondering your far-ranging conclusions for a while to come. Thanks so much for writing it.”
– Alex Shakar, LA Times Book Prize-winning author of Luminarium
“No sense in clinging to the rocks that are falling with you.”
- Alan Watts
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesnʼt go away.”
- Philip K. Dick
According to a 2018 article in the New York Magazine, we have already crossed the point at which most YouTube traffic is from bots designed to emulate real human users. YouTubeʼs spam-screening algorithm might now be learning to identify these bots as human, and dismiss real human users as just bots. They call this “The Inversion,” a fair name given how, amidst the turbulence of our accelerating age…
Here to help you navigate the accelerating weirdness. Biologist turned philosopher. Host of #FutureFossils & #ComplexityPodcast. Social Media for @sfiscience.