Last week I met: Jason Silva
I got the chance to speak to Jason Silva. Jason is a “performance philosopher” and tech-futurist delivering “philosophichal shots of espresso” with his inspirational short films “Shots of Awe” .
I WANTED TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT TECHNOLOGY AND THE FUTURE AND HOW TECHNOLOGY IS RE-SHAPING OUR LIFES. BUT LETS START WITH YOU, WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
At the moment I am working on two main projects. My videos on the internet; a web series called “Shots of Awe”, that I have been producing for almost a year and a half. It is a series of short films that explore all kinds of heady subjects, it includes the evolution of technology, the technological singularity, metaphysical speculations about the future, existentialism, the human condition and so on.
It is a series of videos that allows me to explore my existential angst. A space where I indulge my intellectual sensibilities. And what is really great about the online space is; the creative freedom you have to just create content where the format itself can be something that is a work in progress. The style does not have to fit in pre-existing molds I create a video style that is a natural outgrowth of how I communicate…
And I host an Emmy nominated series for National Geographic called “Brain Games“. It is a pop science series exploring perception and making neuroscience accessible to mainstream and younger audiences. .
I HAVE ALSO SEEN A SHOW CALLED “THE FUTURE OF US”…
Yes, so the Future of Us has evolved out of Shots of Awe. What happened with Future of Us is that AOL approached me and said “we are working with Chevrolet to do a bunch of branded content initiatives”, and Chevrolet is really into the future of innovation and creativity… So Chevrolet was the sponsor and I basically did eight short interviews about different subjects related to the future and that was published on AOL.
WOW CONGRATULATIONS! AND THANK YOU FOR THAT GREAT INTRO. LETS TALK TECH. WHAT DO YOU REFER TO AS TECHNOLOGY?
My whole passion has become the idea of redefining what we mean when we refer to technology as a concept.
Most people think of technology as this plastic, metal, micro-chip things that we use that are unnatural and we have this kind of love-hate relationship with that because we depend on these tools… And I think that is where the misconception lies which is the norm of how we think and understand what technology is.
For me, technology is defined best by people like David Chalmers or Andy Clark who wrote “Natural Born Cyborgs”. Technology is best seen as a cognitive scaffolding, a cognitive exoskeleton that literally extends our thoughts and our vision. They talk about the “extended minds thesis” which is the idea that technology is how we impregnate the world with mind, it’s how we put mind in the world, it’s how we decommission natural selection.
There is a debate among religious people about intelligent design and my whole thing is: actually technology is finally proof of intelligent design! Before technology everything was just a natural selection, but with technology it’s mindedness being impregnated in the world, it’s thought, it’s mind instantiating itself onto matter, it’s us taking matter that has low organization and we put it through our mental filters and then we extrude technology with transcendent functions. iPhones, airplanes and wireless communications and computers…the literalization of the psychedelic dream of mind expansion …that’s technology!
A BIG TREND IS TO USE TECHNOLOGY FOR SELF KNOWLEDGE THROUGH SELF TRACKING, ALSO CALLED THE QUANTIFIED SELF. WHAT IS YOUR VIEW ON THIS? AND HOW WILL IT CHANGE OUR FUTURE ?
Yes, we’ve always been extending our intelligence with these tools. And the quantified self revolution is just us extending sensors to everything, us measuring everything and then being able to extrapolate that data, finding patterns in that data, take insights from those patterns and feed those insights back into ourselves to further change behaviour and creating a feedback loop whereby the more we understand ourselves, the more we are gonna make use of it and the more we can get further insights into ourselves and it will lend itself to a kind of radical optimization of the Human being. An upgrade of the day-to-day functioning of the human animal… and eventually with bio-technology biology becomes software, so that in addition to the quantified-self we have biological upgrade and software patches to our biology, that will further enhance, optimize and augment the human intellect and that is only the beginning. Then we create non-biological intelligence, we will maybe digitalize the brain or create a digital mind and then you have the “Her” scenario where these digital minds are not bounded by the normal space-time limitations that we are, we create intelligence that operates in femto-scale, densities, blackhole-like densities where space-time are not constraining anymore… and then again… it’s the beginning of us becoming gods.
YOU MENTIONED IN ONE OF THE EPISODES OF THE “FUTURE OF US”, THAT TECHNOLOGY IS REWRITING THE SOFTWARE OF LIFE. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THIS ?
The idea is that we can make amends to the code and fix glitches in the code, I think you can download the new IOS for your iPhone every couple of months, where they’ve taken everything that we have learned and applied to the software to make it better, and optimized it …Why shouldn’t we do that for the human biological machine? why shouldn’t we fix glitches and fix little genes and turn off genes that are problematic and turn on the one that are helpful and extend longevity genes and extend… it’s like augment, extend, transcend..this should be our motto.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO UP-GRADE ?
I would be interested in a lot of what David Pearce writes about in “Hedonistic Imperative”. The Hedonistic Imperative is sort of a manifesto: a mission statement saying we should use bio-technology and nano-technology to genetically eliminate suffering and to create post-darwinian mental states of bliss. Just like the evolution of language transformed us from being naked monkeys to become Shakespearian and astronauts and everything else that we became. What happens when you can further tweak consciousness, subjectivity into realms of imagination, and new mind states. Combine that with radical life extension, you eliminate cancers and illnesses, you use nano-tech to eliminate hunger and move into a world that is a post-scarcity world of abundance. You have human beings living in liminal zones of unbounded imagination, universes of our own construction where there is no death and no illness and no suffering but only blissful ecstasy for everyone. Let’s get crazy, like psychedelic trans-humanism which combines the dream of expanding our minds with chemical technologies and using sort of extended technologies to literalize those dreams.
CAN YOU EXPLAIN YOUR VIEW ON SINGULARITY?
The term singularity confuses a lot of a people, but the term is really a metaphor and that’s a metaphor that was borrowed from the physics term to describe what happens when you go through a black hole. It is a sort of collapse of space and time, it’s a great metaphor to describe a sort of threshold that we might cross when the overlapping revolutions in bio-tech and nano-tech together to allow for a transformation that is looking into the sun. It’s like an event horizon that we can’t glimpse with our pre-singularity minds. It’s like trying to explain to a chimpanzee the nuances of Shakespeare, you just can’t do it and so that’s where the metaphor of singularity comes from.
YOU OFTEN MENTION MIND-TIME AND MIND-TIME IN A VIRTUAL SPACE. WHAT EXACTLY DO YOU MEAN WITH THIS?
I am interested in liminal spaces, a liminal space is where we spend most of the time when we are daydreaming or watching movies, when we’re reading books, when we’re longing for things… its the space of archetype, the space of dream, the space of the mystic. I think human beings ultimately, when we transcend the euclidean meatspace of biology, we are gonna be only in mind space. Mind space is when you’re reading and probing and reflecting and contemplating, space and time are forgotten temporarily, and free of distractions we’re just living in those liminal spaces, these landscapes of dream. That’s when I think consciousness wants to reside, I don’t think consciousness wants to bore itself with trivial matters anymore.
GREAT JASON, THANK YOU SO MUCH. MY LAST QUESTION IS; WHAT IS YOUR BEST DINNER TABLE TOPIC AT THE MOMENT?
I am a big fan of the Transcension Hypothesis Point by John Smart..I have made a video about it for the Future of Us series on AOL. And Transcension is an attempt to explain a paradox which is the paradox for the universe to be so vast. Why can’t can’t you see the evidence of intelligent life?
And basically the idea is that; because we only expand outwards into space in the technological adolescence but when we get more advanced we actually start to expand inwards into denser computational substrates and when we finally reach advanced civilization we create non-biological intelligence. Why would any advanced civilization show any evidence of its existence when it probably disappeared from the universe by the time it was able to do so.