Lanier’s Singularity

This article in h+ Magazine gives a nice middle of the road argument about a technological singularity. Without spilling into technocalypse fantasy, it manages to state some good frameworks for thinking about the future.

'If a singularity ever happens, it would have two future outcomes. It would make tomorrow “fast” and “strange.” The physicist Michio Kaku divides “impossibilities” into three categories, which he calls types I, II and III. Basically, type I is anything that either has a rough working prototype, or at least some basic practical proof-of-principle. Type II refers to possibilities on the very edge of our understanding, concepts likely to remain entirely theoretical for many generations to come. Type III are those things which are ruled out by the known laws of physics.'

Read the Article


T Pain Remix

I don't know what got in to me...but i remixed this T Pain song.
I tried to embed some commentary. Enjoy!

Take Your Shirt Off - César Alvarez Remix [mp3]


Consumer Culture, Post-Scarcity, String Theory

Sculpture: "The Great Indoors" by Aurora Robson Photo Cred

Questions from my student Alberto De Icaza and Jaime Arreola

What's consumer culture for you?
Consumer Culture is a process by which people only interact with the creative dimension of human activity through purchases, marketing, and consumption. It is the fusing of the traditional act of experiencing creativity by humans with the viral/vermin activity of consumption/colonization.

How has it affected society?
That is a long and complicated question, but I have to admit that I'm not a anti-market idealist. I think that a regulated free market creates the possibility for innovation and art. I'm most interested in the fact of our scarcity economy. Which means that our entire economy is based on the idea that resources for survival are scare and therefore valuable. In this framework millions of people are without the means for a happy and healthy life. I believe that our scarcity economy won't last very much longer in the scheme of things. Once science is able to effectively manipulate material at the quantum level abundance will be the law. This however is a trade off, because we will be dealing with a dismantling of nature. Millions of other problems will emerge in a post-scarcity economy: nano-toxicity, out-sourcing of human activity, runaway economic models, etc. We think we have a consumer culture now, wait until our economy starts to harvest celestial bodies for raw materials. We will long for the days when people just wanted a house.

How has it affected Art?
I believe that culture (and by extension art) will always have a tricky relationship to consumption. Artists generate, and that calls out for someone to consume/experience. I can't in good conscience disown generative activity, because that is why there is something instead of nothing. The Universe (Multiverse) generated matter. Humans have been trying to understand that through art and science forever.

We shouldn't disown consumption completely because it is fundamental law of nature. From a scientific perspective, consumption is just the front end of the transformation of materials. Matter changes form but never (or rarely) ceases to exist. Many people are worried about the earth, but the earth will go on for a very long time, it's life that we are endangering. We can look out into the universe and witness how rare life is. It is immensely improbable that we've been able to evolve into intelligent life. What we are doing through thoughtless consumption is reconverting the world back into something that doesn't sustain life. That was the same state it was in for billions of years (Venus is an example of a planet with a runaway greenhouse effect). So I think that whether we like it or lot, the only way out is to generate a solution. It is too late to "Stop Consuming" in order to "Save the Earth." Those are cliches that don't own up to the way that humans really act. To generate a solution is the great responsibility of artists, visionaries, scientists, and everyone alive right now.

How has it affected Music?
Music is like the earth. It lives on in spite of all of the hideous things that people do on its surface. The music industry is eating itself (metamorphosing), which is fun to watch, but ultimately that is all surface work. People will continue moving in rhythm and collectively enjoying repetitive and patterned organizations of sound. It is part of the fabric of humanhood. Music is one of humanity's most astute re-enactments of the nature of quantum reality (string theory). It's hard to even talk about string theory without invoking music as a metaphor (for me anyway). So maybe the better question is, how will music (and musicians) enable us to finally understand reality?

Is there a solution for it?
Sounds like you wanted an answer I didn't give. I think there are solutions for everything, but they require us to understand that we can't think well enough yet. I like to ponder the leap that Einstein made when he realized that Gravity and Time are relative and that the speed of light is a limit. In this discovery he leaped into an entirely inconceivable echelon of thinking, and he pulled all humanity with him. That needs to happen many more times for humans to survive and understand what is really happening in our Universe.


Why is there Something instead of Nothing?

So I was visiting my friend George Raggett at his delightful and commericial/non-commercial hybrid art/charity/kiosk/installation called The Museum of Commerce. It was spectacular to just be so confused by the purpose of a place of business. I was lucky enough to see someone else come by and be confused too. In a gallery, I get to experience art but I feel the constant (and threatening) hum of business underneath the surface of every piece. George has flipped that on its head. He's plopped himself in and among chic DUMBO boutiques, while maintaining a commitment not to sell hardly anything but a $2 catalog with no writing in it (half the proceeds go to Haiti) and he gives you a free poster just for walking in the door. This is a brilliant new business model: Don't sell anything or try to make money, just act like a business. And odds are it's going to work out great in the art world. I think there are a lot of scenarios in our current economics where the more money you make the less you have. George elegantly enacts that paradox for us. While sitting on a chair that he will admit he stole from his kitchen table at home. Music is free now, and so is art apparently.