I was honored that old-school Boing Boing pal Douglas Rushkoff, author of numerous essential books for happy mutants, invited me onto his Team Human podcast to talk about the Voyager Golden Record, the iconic message for extraterrestrials that my friends Tim Daly, Lawrence Azerrad, and I released on vinyl for the first time. As always, Doug masterfully connected the dots between media, art, culture, and science and kept me on my toes with wonderful provocations and observations. I hope you enjoy it! Listen below.
From Team Human: "Music for Aliens":
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Playing for Team Human today is journalist, Boing Boing editor, Institute for the Future research director and recent Grammy Award Winning record producer David Pescovitz. Douglas spoke to David just days before he won the Grammy, with collaborators Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad, for best boxed or special limited-edition package for The Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. The Voyager vinyl is an incredible artifact to hold and hear. The original Voyager Golden Records were launched on board the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft in 1977. Today these phonograph records are floating in interstellar space on Voyager 1 and at the edge of our solar system on Voyager 2. The records contain greetings, messages of peace, recordings of the “Sounds of Earth,” as well as an arresting collection of music from across the globe. The Voyager project continues to resonate as both a time capsule and a beacon of hope. Pescovitz, Daly, and Azerrad’s meticulously sourced and documented 40th Anniversary vinyl release pays homage to the wonder and hopeful spirit that animates this space project.
Make No Law is a just-launched podcast hosted by Ken "Popehat" White (previously), a former Federal prosecutor who writes some of the best, most incisive legal commentary on the web; the first episode deals with the oft-cited, badly misunderstood "fighting words" doctrine and its weird history in the religious prosecution of Jehovah's Witnesses (my sole complaint is that he didn't work in E. Gary Gygax).
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Here's part three of my reading (MP3) (part two, part one) of The Man Who Sold the Moon, my award-winning novella first published in 2015's Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer. It's my Burning Man/maker/first days of a better nation story and was a kind of practice run for my 2017 novel Walkaway.
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For centuries, scam artists, con artists, and magicians were the world’s leading experts on biases, fallacies, heuristics and all the other quirks of human reasoning and perception.
On this episode, magician and scam expert Brian Brushwood explains why people fall for scams of all sizes, how to avoid them, and why most magicians can spot a fraudster a mile away.
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Brian Brushwood tours the world giving lectures that mix comedy with stage and close-up magic designed to deliver an overall message about how to better navigate a world filled with scams, frauds, pseudoscience, and paranormal beliefs. Read the rest
Here's part two of my reading (part one here) of The Man Who Sold the Moon, my award-winning novella first published in 2015's Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future, edited by Ed Finn and Kathryn Cramer. It's my Burning Man/maker/first days of a better nation story and was a kind of practice run for my 2017 novel Walkaway.
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Over the past couple of weeks, I ran two unusual episodes of the After On Podcast, both of them connected to … After On!
The novel, that is. The podcast began as a DVD-extras-like supplement to it -- eight episodes diving deep into science, tech, and sociological issues that I could only explore so much without completely derailing the book’s storyline (I’ll make no claims about partial derailments). I later decided to continue making the podcast because it’s too much fun to give up.
Most of my episodes are based upon in-depth interviews with world-class experts. But these last two are built around excerpts from the audiobook. This may sound like a lazy man’s response to the holidays (because of course it is). Still, I rank them among my finest episodes, as they feature magnificent performances from seven brilliant people -- some of whom will be familiar to a decent chunk of Boing Boing readers.
Both episodes are designed to be spoiler-free, and also perfectly standalone -- in that you don’t have to know anything about the novel to fully parse and enjoy them. You may want to start with the second episode, as it includes the most voices (six of the seven):
Although most of the novel is in a traditional narrative form, about a quarter of it is built from unusual media types. For instance, part of the story unfolds via 20 Amazon reviews. Part is told via excerpts from a mysterious second novel (a truly dreadful one. Read the rest
After a two year hiatus, I've restarted my podcast! It's my New Year's resolution.
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Every year, Jesse Thorn dedicates the final episode of his Bullseye podcast to a compendium of the year's best standup comedy albums (here's last year's); this year's installment is just out (MP3), and it's a must-listen tonic for difficult times.
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For nearly every year since my daughter Poesy was old enough to sing, we've recorded a Christmas podcast; but we missed it in 2016, due to the same factors that made the podcast itself dormant for a couple years -- my crazy busy schedule.
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I remember the first time a blind friend let me listen in on her screen-reader's text-to-speech narration, a high-speed chipmunk squeal that she had trained herself to decode; I was hugely impressed.
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SpeechBoard is a new "coming soon" Web tool to edit your podcast audio by cutting up the text transcripts. Craig Cannon and Ramon Recuero posted a demo and briefly explain the project in this Medium post:
SpeechBoard... will transcribe your podcasts and allow you to cut anything from the audio by deleting the text from the transcript....
You can import your cuts into Adobe Audition or Audacity to fine-tune the edit.
Try the demo here. (via Waxy) Read the rest
CNet has started a new book-club podcast, and they honored me by picking my novel Walkaway as their second-ever title. Read the rest
In this week’s episode of the After On podcast, I interview Tim O’Reilly – one of the most original and influential thinkers in tech. His new book, WTF, debuts today. And it doesn’t stand for what you think. We talk about that book, and about the future (that’s the ‘F’ in the acronym). And also about the past. Tim’s past -- which will fascinate anyone interested in the history of the commercial Web, open source software, the maker movement, the Web 2.0 era, or anything else Tim helped to shape, launch, or name (yes really - he deserves at least some co-founder credit for all of those things).
It’s a been a long, strange trip for someone who spent his college years studying Latin and Greek. Tim was drawn to those subjects because as a teen, he fell under the spell of George Simon - a brainy mentor who argued that the last great evolution in human consciousness dated to the classical period. Tim wanted to understand that period – and that transformation – because George convinced him that the next one would happen in his lifetime. This would be the emergence of a global consciousness.
George died suddenly, tragically, and young in a car wreck shortly after starting to teach at the Esalen Institute. Interest in his emerging philosophy was so high that Esalen recruited Tim as an instructor when he was still in his teens. Not craving a life of spiritual teaching, Tim then pivoted to technology shortly after graduating Harvard in the late 70s. Read the rest
I was honored to be yesterday's guest on my favorite interview podcast, Erik Davis's Expanding Mind. Erik and I have been friends since the cyberdelic early 1990s. He is a brilliant head and prolific writer who explores the cultures of consciousness with rigor, wit, and genuine curiosity. On the podcast, Erik and I had a freewheeling conversation about the Voyager Golden Record vinyl release that I co-produced with Tim Daly and Lawrence Azerrad, my work at the Institute for the Future, and the intersection of science, art, and magic to spark the imagination. Have a listen:
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If you’ve ever looked around and wondered, where are all the aliens, hit Play, below. No, you won’t find an alien. But you’ll hear a luxuriously unhurried interview with British astronomer Stephen Webb. He has probably given this question more careful thought than any living person, and many (but by no means all) of his reflections can be found in his brilliant book, Where Is Everybody.
This is the eighth episode of my podcast series (co-hosted by Tom Merritt), which launched here on Boing Boing last month. The series goes deep into the science, tech, and sociological issues explored in my novel After On – but no familiarity with the novel is necessary to listen to it.
Today’s interviewee is a world-leading expert on the subject of Fermi’s paradox – which is encapsulated in his book’s title. And the paradox’s roots are quite literally as old as Earth itself.
Life arose here – presumably from dead matter – almost as soon as the collisions and volcanism of planetary formation calmed enough to permit its existence. If that’s a normal pattern, billions of planets out there should harbor some form of life. Because some of those planets are billions of years older than ours, their brainier occupants could have far surpassed today’s technology when our forerunners still had fins. Yet we see no evidence of this. And it’s not for a lack of seeking it, as there are scientists who have done little else for decades.
There isn’t just one possible solution to Fermi’s paradox. Read the rest
To hear a wide-ranging interview about the real-world risks we humans could face from a rogue superintelligence, hit play, below. My guest is author and documentary filmmaker James Barrat. Barrat’s 2014 book Our Final Invention was the gateway drug that ushered me into the narcotic realm of contemplating super AI risk. So it’s on first-hand authority that I urge you to jump in – the water’s great!
This is the seventh episode of my podcast series (co-hosted by Tom Merritt), which launched here on Boing Boing last month. The series goes deep into the science, tech, and sociological issues explored in my novel After On – but no familiarity with the novel is necessary to listen to it.
The danger of artificial consciousness has a noble pedigree in science fiction. In most minds, its wellspring is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which features HAL 9000 – an onboard computer that decides to kill off its passengers before they can disconnect it (spoiler: HAL’s rookie season ends – rather abruptly – with a 1-1 record).
James’s interest in this subject was piqued when he interviewed 2001’s author, Arthur C. Clarke, back in the pertinent year of 2001. Clarke’s concerns about superintelligence went beyond the confines of fiction. And he expressed them cogently enough to freak James out to this day.
Among James’s worries is that Hollywood has inoculated many of us from taking super AIs seriously by depicting them so preposterously. “Imagine if the Centers for Disease Control issued a serious warning about vampires,” he notes. Read the rest
Hit play, below, to hear an unhurried interview with author, podcaster and neuroscientist Sam Harris. Few have denounced President Trump at greater length, or on more certain terms than Sam. He is equally denunciatory about political correctness – which, he believes, threatens free speech – and anyone he deems soft on Islamic terrorism. All this triggers gales of outrage on the left and the right alike – making Sam, in his way, a unifying figure. I should note his fans also span the spectrum.
This is the sixth episode of my podcast series (co-hosted by Tom Merritt), which launched here on Boing Boing last month. The series goes deep into the science, tech, and sociological issues explored in my novel After On – but no familiarity with the novel is necessary to listen to it.
In our interview, Sam and I have a deep discussion about nihilistic terrorism – a major preoccupation of his, and of my novel. We also spend about an hour discussing the journey that shaped his unusual worldview.
Oddly for a strong student at a top school (Stanford), Sam dropped out of college for ten years. Oddly for a 10-year dropout, he suddenly returned to finish his philosophy degree with honors. Oddly for a philosophy major, he then got a Ph.D. in neuroscience, while – flat-out bizarrely for a neuroscientist – writing a bestselling geopolitical book (The End of Faith). Yes, drugs were involved. As were entire years spent in silent meditation, plus boundless hours steeping in spirituality. Read the rest