FUTURE THOUGHT LAB

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_001: FUTURE THOUGHT

Lab Author: Dan Mellamphy 

Can and will machines think?—can and will humans? … What kind{s} of thinking are typical of the machine, of the human; does one affect/contaminate the other? [[does human thought infect the machinic algorithm, and vice-versa?—spolier·alert: yes x2!]].

 

Example: The ThoughtLab’s first post is a video-clip of Claude Shannon [[c.1960]], provided along with a link to Samuel Butler’s letter written a century earlier [[c.1860]] warning the world about the dangers/dark·side of machine-learning/machine-thinking: 

 

Link: Youtube.com/watch?v=aygSMgK3BEMNZetc.Victoria.AC.NZ/tm/scholarly/tei-ButFir-t1-g1-t1-g1-t4-body.html (Bonus Link/Aside: twitter.com/youtopos/status/1330270919483396098). 

Image: Quintist Chris Aimone, ‘Glogger’, 14 August 2007

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_002: TIME TO THINK

Thinking takes time—the chrono·logical time of seconds/minutes/hours/days/years in addition to the chrono-illogical time of those ‘flashes of insight’ & ‘inspired epiphanies’ that occur in what the Ancient Greek phusiologoi [[φυσιολόγοι]] called the kairos [[καιρός]] as opposed to chronos [[χρόνος]]. The first post—the preceding one, hence ‘pre’post—of this ThoughtLab gestured beyond animal/ human cognition to computerized consideration{s}; the present post presents a possibility previously pointed-out by Samuel Butler that our machines of acceleration have accelerated [[hence contracted]] the speed [[hence the time]] of thinking to the point of pushing it into the instant—the kairos—entirely. 

Link:TheConversation.com/moving-toward-computing-at-the-speed-of-thought-66898

ScienceDaily.com/releases/2019/04/190412094736.htm(BonusLink/Aside: twitter.com/youtopos/status/420445219037802496)

 

Image: Xetobyte, ‘The Time Traveler’, 21 March 2009

FutureThought2.jpg
Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_003: TAKING A POSITION

[IN ADDITION TO TAKING TIME]

Following from the ThoughtLab’s previous post, and keeping-up its ‘pre’post·erous unfolding, this third ThoughtLab-thought has to do with space [[i.e. positing ‘positions’]] in addition to time [[i.e. dealing with ‘durations’]]—in this case with ‘superpositions’ and the ‘stacking’ of spacetime{s} afforded by new kinds of computing: namely quantum rather than classical computing/machine-learning.  In Frank Herbert’s novel Dune, his humans-of-the-future can physically and conceptually ‘fold space’ with the assistance of accelerating technology and consciousness-expanding spice-supplements.  At present and in the only-slightly-less-fictional [[&/or alternative-fiction]] world of our current reality, quantum computing looms large and leans heavily in similar directions. 

 

Links: BernardMarr.com/default.asp?contentID=1193 (Bonus Link: Honey, I Shrunk the Kits—Youtube.com/watch?v=JhHMJCUmq28twitter.com/youtopos/status/1151682607597412364.

Image: Overlook Press, ‘The Thousandfold Thought’, 19 January 2006

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_004: MOVING {THOUGHTS}

The previous ThoughtLab-posts have dealt with space and time; the current one wrestles with movement [[for more on all of these, see the FSP SpaceLab, TimeLab, MovementLab, &c]]. We are all familiar with the near-instantaneous access to world-events available c/o access to the internet—akin, in many ways, to traveling the world [[and beyond!]] without leaving the confines/window-panes of our respective computer-screens, that-is-to-say without actually moving. Movement—travel—without moving: something strangely similar to the old ‘astral projection’ of occultists. Have we already, in this way, ‘folded space’ as they say? [[and time, as well?]]. 

 

Link: MichaelGarfield.Medium.com/being-every-drone-the-future-of-xr-robotic-telepresence-19f12889da78 (Bonus Link/Aside: Twitter.com/AliceAvizandum/status/1133632672000028673). 

Image: Taras Malyarevich, ‘Man with V-R Headset’, 29 August 2017

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_005: E⁽ᴹBODIMENT 

Pardon my use of coarse North-German-infused Middle-English,* but “what the ꜰᴜᴄᴋ [[&/or ᴘʲøʀɴ]]” is an e·Body?—are such Bodies ʙᴏʀɴ [[&/or ʙʲøʀɴ]] or do they ɢʀᴏᴡ, as in the WachowskiWomen’s 1999 Matrix, in the vast vats qua TedStevensonian “series of tubes” of the Internet? The 19th-Century French civil-servant and occult-philosophy-infused writer of political-science/poli-sci-fi Alexandre Saint-Yves suggested, long before the rise of the Matrix qua Internet, that we would have “twice-born” beings, “twice-born” bodies-&-minds—dvijas or dwijas in the ancient Sanskrit—and with this second birth, these second bodies, we would attain [[to cite a recent article from the Italian online newspaper ‘Il Giornale’—‘The Journal’]] “a superior knowledge that today is embodied in the technology of the network”—“un sapere superiore che oggi è incarnato nella tecnologia della rete”: IlGiornale.it/news/interni/casaleggio-techno-guru-esoterismo-e-fantasy-835557.html (twitter.com/youtopos/status/702178304376315904). Forbes.com/sites/charliefink/2017/11/20/the-trillion-dollar-3d-telepresence-gold-mine
*<what some call a diss/cuss-word>.

Image: <Screenshot from Lilly & Lara Wachowski’s The Matrix, 31 March 1999>.

Thought5.jpg
Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_006: GETTING INTO THE U.T.I.

No, not Urinary Tract Infections—rather, the Universe of Technical Images [[although the former might ‘flow’ better from the previous post about bodies than the latter, admittedly]]. As the late great media-theorist and speculative-philosopher/speculative-fiction-writer Vilém Flusser suggested, images today—those of the readily-reproduced digital/technical type—are not primarily [[that-is-to-say, not fundamentally]] produced for Anthropocentric Purposes, ‘A.P.’s, but rather, along the lines of, say, ‘APP’s [[En.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Application_software]], are detailed data-storage-cases tailor-made for techno-rather-than-anthro-consumption: to be read more by machines than mankind. Our era is an era wherein “cultural products” [[name your artworld/artwork]] tend to be—&/or become—machine-readable artifacts; ‘machine readability’ is the name of the game in this post-anthropocenic epoch{é}. 

Journals.SagePub.com/doi/10.1068/d378t (twitter.com/youtopos/status/1087056773964550145).

Image:Tiana Warner, Safe.com/blog/2016/07/understanding-xml-humans-guide-machine-readable-data, July 13, 2016>. 

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_007: MY WORD, MY WORK,

IS MY BOND

Just a quick post, since this is post 007, about that master of spying, killing, love-making & cutting-edge-gadget-wielding James Bond—still a favorite of current-day crowd-pleasing cinema—pointing-out that the most cutting-edge/futuristic figures tend to be prefigured by slightly-less-futuristic folks: in this case the original 007/eyes-of-the-monarch qua agent-of-empire, John Dee. 

 

Faena.com/aleph/John-Dee-Elizabethan-Magician-and-Metaphysical-Guide-to-an-Empire (twitter.com/youtopos/status/1055155515557376002twitter.com/youtopos/status/681572495674241024). 

<Janet Evelyn, ‘Francis Bacon & John Dee’ Pinterest.com/pin/741757001110863678, 29 October 2019>.

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_008: M & M: MöBIUS AND MALFATTI -- SPOOL-LOOPS

In a book entitled Studien über Anarchie und Hierarchie des Wissens—translated into French in 1946 as Études sur la Mathèse, ou Anarchie et Hiérarchie de la Science—Beethoven’s personal physician Giovanni Malfatti di Montereggio a.k.a. Johann-Baptist Malfatti von Monteregio examined the ꜰɪɢᴜʀᴀᴛɪᴠᴇ in addition to ꜰɪɢᴜʀɪɴɢ or ᴄᴀʟᴄᴜʟᴀᴛɪᴠᴇ effect of numerical glyphs—i.e. the sʏᴍʙᴏʟɪꜱᴍ of number-sʏᴍʙᴏʟs—in & as a kind of ideogrammatology or hieroglyphology [[the combination of which compels a virtual tip-of-the-cap to Peter Sloterdijk’s mid-2000 publication, Derrida: Ein Ägypter]]. Here in post 008 or the double-o_infinite post, I take a sideways look or sideways glance ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ꜰɪɢᴜʀᴇ ɪᴛꜱᴇʟꜰ—8,∞—so as to in{tro}duce, in the spirit of Johann Malfatti, the image of the Möbius-loop: key to the present futurology of theorists the likes of Jean—Johann/Giovanni—Baudrillard, who proposed that our world of ubiquitous simulations and simulacra [[Ubik, for Philip-K-Dickensians]] shows that there is no reality other than that of simulations and simulacra, that we are caught in & on its infinite loop.  

Web.Stanford.edu/class/history34q/readings/Baudrillard/Baudrillard_Simulacra.html (twitter.com/youtopos/status/1122924564588244992). 

<Kain MorgenMeer, ‘Moebius Snake—Black Version’, 21 June 2015>.

Thought8.jpg
Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_009: JUST SAY NEIN

I remember, back in 2008, reading Reza N’s wonderful/ wanderful Cyclonopedia and enjoying the ride so much that—& this was a time when I was still on [[&/or subject to, hence one of the objects of]] the Zuckerbergian FacebookMachine—I found his co-ordinates via Facebook and e-mailed him a joyous hello+kudos; five years later N & I, along with our friend R. Scott Bakker, hosted him for a weekend here at Western University in London·ON. The trajectory of the 2008 to the 2028 Reza is a fun one to follow, by the way [[and a great one for those interested in A.I., and who isn’t?!]]. … Cyclonopedia takes Malfatti’s mathesis, based on the Pythagoras’s triangular tetractys of 1+2+3+4 [[10—see the following post, Post_010, below]], and articulates it across an ‘akht-cross’ that cross-{& hyper}stitches the figure of the triangular tetrad with the shape of a square [[Northanger.LiveJournal.com/371528.html]], the better to cube its roots [[twitter.com/youtopos/status/986267601310494720]]. Northanger.LiveJournal.com/371234.html (Twitter.com/SemprePhi/status/1320830178856177665). 

Image: <Reza Negarestani, Cyclonopedia—Complicity with Anonymous Materials, Re.Press 15 March 2008>

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_010: THE TETRACTYS

A triangular shape usually arranged on the ground using what the Greeks called ‘psephoi’ and the Romans called ‘calx’—both of which designate ‘counting stones’, or if you prefer, ‘permutational pebbles’—with a base of ꜰᴏᴜʀ stones, ᴛʜʀᴇᴇ stones above that, ᴛᴡᴏ stones above the latter, and a single stone ᴀᴛ ᴛʜᴇ ᴛᴏᴘ, hence ꜰᴏᴜʀ sets of stones, 1+2+3+4, totaling ten. This is the heart of the decimal system and core of Pythagorean philosophy [[Pythagoras, by the way, was the one who coined the word ‘philosophy’ and ‘philosopher’,

 

NetworkArchaeology.WordPress.com/2012/01/20/Medea-Archaeology-or-Inhuman-Interconnections-and-their-Monstrous-Milieu-ANCIENT-AND-MODERN-CYBERNETICS]].  SiemenTerpstra.com/TetractysSMPhillips.MySite.com/The-Tree-of-Life-08.htmlTheory-of-Thought.com/blog/TETRACTYS-Pascals-Triangle-binomial-expansion (twitter.com/youtopos/status/463521564311310336Twitter.com/Apotheiite/status/1343042497774174210.

Post_010—The Tetractys.jpg
Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_011: ELEVEN UNLEVEANED

As if setting sail on the good ship Rob Arctor/Heinleiner, this eleventh ThoughLabPost sets out to grok [[en.wiktionary.org/wiki/grok]] chère Sherryn Groch’s September-1-2020 article on time-travel in The Sydney Morning Herald—SMH.COM.AU/national/Time-is-Moving-Differently-during-Covid-but-is-Time-Travel-possible-20200817-p55mhm.html—while listening to Negativland’s eternally-timely tune ‘Time Zones’ [[Player.Vimeo.com/video/2128575twitter.com/youtopos/status/651261607310454784]], popularized by the central character of the hit television-series Stranger Things—namely the character named Eleven. Have you noticed the exponential increase, in pop-cultural television & film, of films & television-shows dealing with time-travel? Is the a symptom of some kind of widespread suspicion that our time [[as a species—indeed, as a life-form]] is running out?

<Tibi Puiu, ‘Wormholes & Quantum Entaglement’ ZMEscience.com/research/quantum-entanglement-wormholes-0424, 16 February 2017>.

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_011.5: ARISE: IT'S ELEVEN!

We are posting these posts in the time-period of a pandemic (that of the covidian plague), during which ‘social distancing’ has relegated all collective conference-activity to virtual video-transactions, some of which require awakening at odd hours of the night to adjust for local time (i.e. different time-zones), or what tech-savvy folks call ‘real-time’. Even a simple Zoom-chat with Jason Mohaghegh—currently in Southern Spain—or with Manabrata Guha—currently Down Under—necessitates temporal adjustment on one or both of our parts.

In our era of globe-girdling communications ‘Time Zones’ still play a part. High-frequency-trading algorithms are ‘high-speed’ precisely in order to overcome as-best-they-can differences in time (different Time Zones). For this particular post, here’s an interesting link—http://qntm.org/continuous—and some background reading music to go with it—Player.Vimeo.com/video/
2128575
—c/o Negativland (No Other Possibility)
[[twitter.com/youtopos/status/1176246950305456129]].

<Image: Negativland, ‘Escape from Noise’ 1987>

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_012: HYPERSYNCHRONIZATION

‘Our friend the late great Bernard Stiegler tackled an amazing number of issues relevant to contemporary and future society prior to his recent untimely death. One such issue was what he called “hyper-synchronization”: the “real-time” synchronization of human behavior that comes with hyper-industrialization and hyperspeed communication, one example of which was provided in the previous post (Post_11) wherein an awakening or remaining-awake—let’s just say a lack of sleep—is part-&-parcel/par-for-the-course with-&-in human (human/machine) interaction. Today’s post gestures toward Christian Marclay’s ‘Clock’ (2010), a 24-hour film designed to be “in synch” with—yes, you guesed it—“real time”: 

En.Wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Clock_(2010_film)#Conception
http://kottke.org/13/06/about-an-hour-of-christian-marclays-the-clock
[[https://twitter.com/youtopos/status/623935700925292544]].

Image: Salvador Dali, 'La Persistencia de la Memoria’, 1931.

Salvador-Dali-The-Persistence-of-Memory-
Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_013: FRIDAY THE 13TH ON THE CYBERIAD CALENDAR

In the 1300s—on the Gregorian Calendar date of Thursday the 13ᵗʰ, or Friday the 13ᵗʰ on the Julian Caldendar—the order of the Knights Templar came to an end, just after dawn, in a well-orchestrated synchronous multi-site/multi-target strike by agents of King Philip the Fourth. But in a sense, as Philip K Dick used to say (phrased here in a manner that is admittedly a little Levinasian—Emmanuel Levinas-like—rather than Philp-Dickᵉⁿˢian), their ‘existence’
continued in the wake of their ‘existents’, albeit along more virtual vectors. Take, for example, the so-called “Electro-Knights” of the Israeli Internet and the description of the latter published in the pages of Haaretz seven (SE7EN) years ago. Here is the headline: “A pack of ‘Electronic Knights’ has been let loose to roam the Israeli Internet. Known in Hebrew as Hashmabirim—
a mashup of the words ‘hashmal’ (electricity) and ‘abir’ (knight), but also loosely based on Polish science-fiction writer Stanislaw Lem’s Cyberiad robots—these digital robots are a project from the nonprofit Public Knowledge Workshop, a three-year-old organization dedicated to opening-up government information
to the public in a way that is accessible to everyone using technology”


(Haaretz.com/scouring-the-net-to-find-information-hidden-from-you-1.5252624)
[Twitter.com/The__E_G_G/status/570342011896639489].

Image: L&L Wachowski, still from ‘The Matrix’, 1999>

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Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_014: FORTEAN TIMES

This Fourteenth post is a Fortean post—a post that points to the pre-‘X-Files’ X-Filers known as Forteans (after the NYC-based paranormal investigator Charles Fort).
As was the case in the popular television-series ‘The X-Files’, wherein a paranormal investigator by the name of Mulder has a rather odd and oft-scoffed reputation and yet nevertheless, in the face of much criticism and ridicule, stumbles upon facts that would otherwise have been overlooked or dismissed, Forteans sometimes find
—that is, discover/uncover—rather fascinating oddities that fly in the face of our consensus worldview[s]. In 2014, U.S. Navy Pilots recorded what we could call ‘Fortean content’: the sighting of U.F.O.s off the coast of America—NYTimes.com/2019/05/26/us/politics/ufo-sightings-navy-pilots.html

<Image: Andrew May, ‘Fortean Times’, http://andrew-may.com/blog/2017/06/seventy-years-of-ufos>.

Post 014--Fortean Times.jpg
Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_015:

QUINDECIMATION/

QUINDECIMAGINATION

We have already encountered the triangular ᴛᴇᴛʀᴀᴄᴛʏs (Post_010, above); in this post we double-down on the triangle and consider the sҩᴜᴀʀᴇ ᴏꜰ ᴛʜᴇ ᴍᴀɢᴇs or ‘ᴍᴀɢɪᴄ sҩᴜᴀʀᴇ’ wherein any straight line linking its elements adds-up to the very same number—here the number fifteen: En.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_square#/media/File:Magicsquareexample.svg … Magic squares such as these, as well as palindromic versions such as the sᴀᴛᴏʀ square 

recently popularized by Christopher Nolan’s sonically-compromised cinema-sᴀᴛᴏʀ ‘ᴛᴇɴᴇᴛ’, have been used (as in Nolan’s film) to contemplate otherwise-impossible 

things such as time-reversal and the influence of the future (or futures) on the past.

<image: Albrecht Dürer, ‘Melancholia I’, 1514>

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_016: SEIZE!

For this the sixteenth post—sixteen, in French, being ‘seize’: the number where things seize up—everything suddenly stops and comes to a standstill in & as a kind of crystalline realization or sudden & striking image.
The philosopher-of-history Walter Benjamin believed that
the historian, whose future is one that looks back at the past from a given present, is the one who bears witness to (& documents) those moments “wherein ‘what has been’ comes-together in a flash with ‘the now’ to form a constellation—in other words, with the image of dialectics at a standstill (for while the relation of the present to the past is a purely temporal and continuous one, the relation of ‘what has been’ to ‘the now’ is dialectical: is not
‘progression’ but ‘image’)” [Arcades Project 462, N2a.3].

 

“It is not that what is past casts its light on what is present,
or what is present its light on what is past; rather, image is that wherein what has been comes together in a flash with ‘the now’ to form a constellation. […] The image that is read—which is to say, the image in the now of its recognizability—bears to the highest degree the imprint of the perilous critical moment on which all reading is founded” [Arcades Project 462-463, N3.1]. I lifted the image for this post from a February 2016 article in the Los Angeles Review of Books: 

LAReviewOfBooks.org/article/SPACE-JEW-or-Walter-Benjamin-
among-the-Stars
.

<image: En.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Jantar_Mantar,_New_Delhi#/media/
File:Jantar_Mantar,_New_Delhi_(Rama_Yantra_2_inside).jpg
>

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_017: 'DIX·SEPT'ION

Post Translate.Google.com/?sl=auto&tl=en&text=dix-sept%0A&op=translate is on deception—or rather, on conception as deception; or again, if you prefer, on the con (the con-job) of the concept. A ‘con-man’ is a master of deception: one who instills confidence where no confidence is in fact warranted—someone who would, for example, sell you a ‘fake’ or ‘false fabrication’ (a forgery) instead of ‘the actual item’. Is the mind itself—our faculty of intellection and of conception—such a con-man? Is the brain—our O·S/Operating·System—a confidence trickster and indeed a system of ‘con man’agement? What are, in fact, ‘concepts’?; why are we (& should we really be) so confident in their ‘real-world’ traction? Today’s image is that of American psychologist Joseph Jastrow’s Rabbit-or-Duck—but-never-both-
at-the-same-time—dilemma, wherein the problems perception, and subsequently of conception, begin to be dismayingly displayed.

 

The present image was taken from a 2018 article by
Stephen Law: Scroll.in/article/888964/is-it-
a-duck-or-a-rabbit-the-philosophical-
underpinning-of-an-old-visual-trick
.

<image = Static.Independent.CO.UK
/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/2016/02/14/12/duck-rabbit.
png?width=990&auto=webp&quality=75
>.

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_018: DICIOTTO, COMO DICE L'ALTRO AUTO-MAN

Back in 2010 when I was translating Gilbert Simondon’s treatise On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects for Sylvère Lotringer at Semiotexte (prior to the switch in publishers from Semiotexte to Univocal), one of the cover-images we were considering for the book was the jacket-sleeve of Gary Numan’s 1979 debut single ‘Cars’:
En.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Cars_(song) Twitter.com/GilbertSimondon/status/421082426295586816. I suppose we could have also considered an image from the Hasbro/ TakaraTomy Corporations’ ‘Transformers’ franchise, or indeed any image wherein humans transform into cars (i.e. their technological objects). The idea was to show—or suggest—that we are ourselves transformed by our own technological objects, which in turn arguably wind-up
owning us (a kind of Frank-Herbertesque Butlerian-Jihad gesture & suggestion). This is an interesting—and for some, a troubling—vision of the future: one wherein we continue to merge with our various technologies and perhaps ultimately lose ourselves in-&-as them.

 

*[The Auto-man empire].

<Image = PBS.twIMG.com/media/Bdf8PFjCEAARewW?format=jpg>.

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_019: 'DITS-NEUF' ('NEW STATEMENTS') OF-&-ABOUT 'DEATH-MASKS'

Example: Check-out the bon-mortuary bon-mots of the Xi’an funeral-home’s A.I·assisted mortician-mechanism @ Hyper.AI/14905
(Translate.Google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&u=
https://hyper.ai/14905
).

 

Although this is not what was meant when Friedrich Nietzsche famously said “become what you are” (in Thus Spoke Zarathustra as well as Ecce Homo), it does reveal both the oddity—the oddness—of the human desiring-machine (the odd mechanics of our own desires) as well as the potentials of replication, of imitation, of duplication, afforded by computational technologies, even A.D. (After Death).
 

Bonus link: https://twitter.com/youtopos/status/967909076142313472 ;-)

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_020: FROM NIETZSCHE TO NITSCHKE 

Adjusting the A.D. of our previous post [[brief aside:
isn’t ‘previous post’ a wonderfully absurdist turn-of-phrase?]] so that it stands for the words ‘at’ rather than ‘after’ death, this ᴛᴡᴇɴᴛɪᴇᴛʜ century-post switches from Friedrich Nietzsche’s declaration “become what you are”
to Philip Nitschke’s tool to “become what you aren’t”—i.e. dead [[if you’re reading this ‘post-death’, apologies for my presumption]]. Nitschke is the inventor and designer
of the Futurama-like ‘Sarco’-booth 

 

(https://twitter.com/youtopos/status/933082154350927873)
 

marketed as a {E}utopian Euthanasia-Machine for the Future: Player.Vimeo.com/video/333502917?dnt=1&app_id=122963

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_021: THEATRE OF CRUELTY 

The marvellous Mohaghegh has informed us that our colleague Reza N will be starting-up a new Future Studies Lab on the topic & topos of ‘cruelty’, which brought-to-mind/called-into-thoughtˡᵃᵇ a passage from Nietzsche’s
Fröhliche Wissenschaft wherein the latter states that “hitherto all that has given color to existence has lacked a history: where would one find a history of love, of avarice, of envy, of conscience, of piety, of cruelty?”—ᴡʜᴇʀᴇ, my good/beyond-good-and-evil Nietzsche?: ʜᴇʀᴇ, of course—in the online Future Studies Program. The lower image for today’s post is a slide about the French playwright Antonin Artaud, taken from an online PowerPoint-presentation about the British playwright Edward Bond, available at SlidePlayer.com/slide/4114705. Today’s link links to Artaud’s vision & version of what it is to be ‘cruel’: En.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Theatre_of_Cruelty#
Defining_Artaud's_%22theatre%22_and_%22cruelty%22
.
If “cruelty is…the unrelenting agitation of a life that has become unnecessary, lazy, or removed from a compelling force,” “giving expression to everything that is ‘crime, love, war, or madness’ in order to ‘unforgettably root within us the ideas of perpetual conflict, a spasm in which life is continually lacerated, in which everything in creation rises up and asserts itself against our appointed rank’,” then the its future has to do with precisely those elements—namely, the future of crime (FutureCrime), of love (FutureLove), of war (FutureWar) and of [in]sanity (FutureSanity): see how our FutureLabs fragment/multiply? Also note that what constitutes ‘cruelty’ (and ‘crime’, and ‘love’, and ‘war’, and—yes—‘[in]sanity’) in the past often differs from what constitutes it (or them) in the present and by extension
the future.

<image: Marc Tessier & Alexander Lafleur, ‘Theatre of Cruelty’ cover-image, Fantagraphic Books, 2002>.

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_022: TWENTY-TOO-MUCH-TO-TAKE-IN 

I’ve got Locust Abortion Technician on the turntable
(“what’s a ‘turntable’? and how dare you mention such things in a Future Studies Lab post!” I hear some of you say &/or think—noisy thoughts here hear) and have reached the last track on the B-side: Track 11, “22 going on 23”—a bit of a soul-crushing track. In his final philosophical treatise (the last track of his Published-Works album), René Descartes hypothesized that so-called souls somehow get
crushed and pressed into-or-onto the body (our bodies) in-and-as the ‘pineal gland’ or ‘pineal eye’. The panphobic—not just transphobic or straight-out xenophobic—horror-writer H.P. Lovecraft wrote a short-story on the topic of this eye-qua-gland (his 1934 ‘From Beyond’) wherein stimulation of the latter opens our eye[s] to the horrors of pandimensional reality and of possible possession by forces from such dimensions. The recent film by Benson and Moorhead (Synchronic 2019, re-released in 2021)
once again takes up this idea—that of pineal-eye stimulation and pandimensional perception—with nods to Lovecraft and Descartes.

 

An associate professor of psychiatry at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine by the name of Richard Strassman gained quite a bit of notoriety in and around the year 2000 for his theory that the pineal gland is capable of producing the hallucinogen N,N-Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) in addition to Circadian-Clock-regulating Melatonin. DMT is an hallucinogen known to produce Lovecraftian visions, and research into its consciousness-expanding or consciousness-altering properties is currently underway
at several institutions, including—as I have just learned
thanks to an academic e-mail—at The University of Toronto just up the highway from my present location (NewsFileCorp.com/
release/77354/Pharmadrug-Initiates-DMT-Research-Activities-
via-Collaboration-with-the-University-of-Michigan-for-
Foundational-DMT-Research-Study
).

It will be interesting to keep track of how things unfold in the future with respect to such research into the folds and unfoldings of human and nonhuman consciousness.

image: Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead, Synchronic 2019.

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_023: ATM: AGAINST THINKING MACHINES 

Franklin Patrick Herbert the Second took the early warnings of fellow-novelist-from-the-previous-century Samuel Butler to heart when he wrote his science-fiction epic Dune—most explicitly with regard to the latter’s “Butlerian Jihad” or war against thinking-machines (the revolution against artificial intelligence).
 

Herbert’s vision of Future Thought involved ‘professional thinkers-qua-calculators’ called Mentats—Mentats being a replacement for the computers and thinking-machines outlawed in the aftermath of the Butlerian revolution. There are interesting parallels between this and, for example, Nick Bostrom’s position and ‘Future of Humanity Institute’ concerns. Just to be weird, here is a link to an article from a “leading libertarian magazine” (because:
why not?) on this very topic: 

 

Reason.com/2014/09/12/will-
superintelligent-machines-destroy-h
.

<image: http://tshirtbooks.com/tshirt-design-the-butlerian-jihad/t-shirt>.

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_024: EXPERIMENTAL JET SET, TRASH AND NO STAR 

Our dear friend and Future-Studies-Colleague Ed Keller has a new track up on the AW/ AlienoceneWebsite  (Alienocene.com/2021/05/02/alternately-stone-in-you-and-star) the title of which is drawn from Rilke’s Book of Images (1902): “Alternately Stone in you and Star”—a title that I jokingly mis-typed when I tweeted it today, pretending it was the title of a Sonic Youth album (Experimental Jet Set, Trash and No Star: title of the present ThoughtLab post,   https://twitter.com/youtopos/status/1388935447649390596), perhaps indeed as a precursor to—or preview of—this post about the space-trash that we humans have been collecting in the orbit between our planet and the stars. Space debris (En.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_debris) is a present and rapidly-intensifying future problem, as noted in this recent Wired article: PrintFriendly.com/p/g/5yiiCE.
 

Bonus/Bloomberg link:   Bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-04-17/space-junk-
like-overfishing-and-pollution-is-a-global-tragedy-of-the-commons
.

<image: Lewis Morton & Susan Dietter, Futurama episode 8, May 9, 1999>.

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_025: ECO-DESTRUCTION FASHION-DESIGN 

Things can and do look rather bleak, future-wise, when we consider that, at present, over a million species face extinction (this includes more than half the known marine species), two-thirds of the world’s oxygen-producing rainforests have already been destroyed or degraded,
global warming is melting long-established polar icecaps (wreaking havoc on all of the planet’s ecosystems), and—bonus news for Elon Musketeers bent on escaping the planet altogether—the sky above us is rapidly filling-up with orbiting satellites, satellite debris and ‘space junk’
(Post_24, above). Posting these posts, as we are, in a time of Plague—the time of our present Covid-19 Pandemic—with people across the globe going to-and-fro (while also avoiding such goings to-and-fro) wearing protective face-masks over their nose and mouth, has me repeatedly remembering the Arrakeen Fremen of Frank Herbert’s futurist sci-fi eco-saga Dune (previously mentioned in Post_23), whose dress—or if you prefer, Future Fashion—incorporated so-called StillSuits, complete with nose-and-miurhg-coverings, both to protect them and also, in their brutal environment, sustain them. Eco-destruction entails
interesting fashion-design. Youtube.com/watch?v=mIVCBqiW0ro

<image: Devon Cady-Lee, 2012-13 Dune StillSuit concept 
Reddit.com/r/dune/comments/ce3jkr/what_are_the_best_artistic_renditions_of.

Also see Yves Michel, 2016-17 Dune Still-Suit concept @ Behance.net/gallery/70691705/DUNE_-Stillsuit-Concept>.

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_026: FUTURE FASCISM 

“The world may not be able to stop totalitarian regimes like the Nazis rising again in the future, but we can avoid handing them the tools to extend their power indefinitely.”

Link: BBC.com/future/article/20201014-
totalitarian-world-in-chains-artificial-intelligence
 (MaliciousAIreport.com).

Image: Michael Radford’s film-version of Orwell’s 1984>.

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_027: FUTURE SAFETY MEASURES (FOR THOSE WHO CAN PAY) 

My Twitter-Pal Hugo (@Metaleptic), fellow Philip·K·Dick-Fan/Philip·K·Dickensian, astutely observed the Ubik-like aspects of techno-capitalism exemplified in a column from this week’s ad\Vice (Vice.com/en/article/93yyyd/this-
motorcycle-airbag-vest-will-stop-working-if-you-miss-a-payment
):

 

“This motorcycle airbag-vest will stop working if you miss a payment. Charging extra for safety-features is nothing new, but actively disabling them for missed payments may be the future”—

 

Twitter.com/Metaleptic/status/1389838273527177216.

Image c/o MikeShouts.com/ducati-smart-jacket-airbag-equipped-vest>.

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_028: MAPS 

(MULTIDISCIPLINARY ASSOCIATION FOR PSYCHEDELIC STUDIES) TO THE FUTURE 

As a member of the Future Studies faculty, I follow several
let’s-say “future oriented” accounts on social media
(no, not Facebook or its satellite-platform Instagram),
including Twitter.com/FuturistechInfo, which recently tweeted a link that took me back to FutureThought Post_22 (on psychoactive pharmatechnics): “A Psychedelic Revolution Coming, and Psychiatry May Never Be Same”—Twitter.com/FuturistechInfo/status/1391756486855073799.
This is one of the many frontiers of future medicine that are being crossed rather than crossed-out (although who knows what new road-blocks will spring up to impede such research in the coming few years). According to the MAPS—Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies,—psychoactive drugs “induce neuroplasticity, [that is to say] the brain’s ability to change and reorganize thought-patterns, enabling people with psychological disorders to find new ways to process anxiety, depression or deeply-embedded trauma.” The article in question suggests that
“the future of psychedelic medicine can already be glimpsed at a suite of plush, soothingly decorated ‘journey rooms’,” akin to the dream-couches of Imrryr in Michael Moorcock’s Melnibonéan fantasy-fiction from the 1960s/1970s, “that occupy the top floors of office-buildings in Midtown Manhattan.”

<image: Stanley Kubrick, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer April 1968>.

Image by Benjamin Blättler

POST_029: SILICONCEPTIONS (THE SILICON BRAIN)

The DARPA-funded Dharmendra Modha (DARPA Dharmendra, IBM Fellow & IBM Chief Scientist for Brain-inspired Computing at the IBM Almaden Research Center) has been working on neuromorphic chipsets colloquially called ‘silicon brains’. As outlined in The MIT Technology Review (link: ‘Thinking in Silicon’, TechnologyReview.com/2013/12/16/
174934/thinking-in-silicon
), “computers are incredibly inefficient at lots of tasks that are easy for even the simplest brains—such as recognizing images and navigating in unfamiliar spaces. […] A new breed of computer-chips that operate more like the brain may be about to narrow the gulf between artificial and natural computation […]

 

‘Modern computers are inherited from calculators, good for
crunching numbers’, states Dharmendra Modha,
whereas ‘brains evolved in the real world’. Modha leads one of two groups that have built computer-chips with a basic architecture copied from the mammalian brain under a $100-million project called Synapse, funded by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.”
Such chips off the new block, narrowing the gulf between artificial and natural computation, also narrow the divide between Machine and Mentat, harkening here to the futurist vision of Frank Herbert’s Dune
(Dune.fandom.com/wiki/Mentat).

<image: ReadSuperYou.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/silicon-brain.png>.

POST_030: A 'TOM THUMB' FOR POST-ATOM ADAMS, EVEN

At the tail-end/appendage of our chapter-contribution to The Imaginary App, reference was made to “the homuncular flexibility” afforded by “ᴛʜᴇ ᴘʀᴏᴛᴇᴜꜱ ᴇꜰꜰᴇᴄᴛ”
(Google.com/books/edition/The_Imaginary_App/zBFmBAAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&pg=PA242): our ability to mentally and physically adjust—or if you prefer, adapt like veritable adepts—within various incarnations, that-is-to-say often-radically-different embodiments.

 

This is of great interest to researchers in the field of Virtual Environments and future Virtual Realities. ... One of my Twitter acquaintances, Rachel Armstrong (@LivingArchitect), just posted a link to University College London’s examination of ‘Third Thumb’ neurocognition at its Plasiticity Lab: an article on ‘How an Extra Thumb Changes the Way your Brain Perceives the Hand’


(Twitter.com/LivingArchitect/status/1395536455284441088).
 

Here—for this post—I add the following Vimeo video-link
(enjoy!): Vimeo.com/220291411.  N.B.: this post
admittedly cross-contaminates the Future Thought
and Future Body labs, opening onto avenues for speculation about future techno-bodies and techno-embodiments.

<image c/o DeZeen.com/2017/07/05/controllable-third-thumb-
lets-wearers-extend-natural-abilities-royal-college-art-design-graduates
>.

POST_031: FUTURE-MUSE SEE-'EM

During this global pandemic, many of us have ‘traveled’
while staying at home under world-health lockdown c/o digital tech, ‘Zoom’ing into international conference-sessions, visiting museums online, and so on. Today’s post has to do with the future of museums/museum-visits and the possibilities afforded to us by AR (Augmented Reality),
VR (Virtual Reality), and XR (Extended Reality) in general.
Here is a clip from a recent discussion—a dialogue, or rather a trialogue—between Masaki Fujihata, Kudsk Steensen and Zachary Kaplan:
Youtube.com/embed/z4-TvQ5ufso

 

I wonder what the muse Melpomêné (Μελπομένη) would have had to say about this. In any case, such virtual museum-trips are certainly trippy (Terence McKenna was correct: high-tech of the digital kind is indeed a kind of mind-altering—and of course also body-altering—
drug.  Re: the latter, body-altering without moving the body very far!). 

<image: Yage, FSOL ‘Lifeforms’ 1994>.

POST_032: DIGITAL EYES (DIGITALIZE)

Following from the previous post (Post_31, Re: AR\VR\XR Travel-without-Actually-Traveling), I should mention that even prior to these pandemic lockdowns, in the period I now call ‘BC’—‘Before Covid¹⁹’—the futuristic features of our digital dimensions already played an
important part in my research. For instance, when I was putting-together the materials for fellow FSP-collaborator 

Constanza Bizraelli’s CyclopsJournal.Net (Academia.edu/
34226569
), I was in Paris with my digital camera, doing my best to capture the various stained-glass panels of Notre Dame Cathedral’s (NDC’s) massive Western Rose-Window, but in the end my amateur digitech 
was nothing compared to the gigapixel-images available to any-&-all with internet access

 

(e.g.@ GigaScopeJS.FireBaseApp.com/photo/notredameroseouest
 

and other such sites). The high-resolution gigapixel-images were far superior to any that I might have managed to capture from ground-level with my camera. Capturing images from home (online) rather than traveling in order to take them myself (offline) might have been a better, not-to-mention more affordable, option (I was abroad for a conference at the time, however). On that note, and as a side-note: fantastic/science-fictional viral-videos that show currently-impossible smartphone-camera zoom-ins—e.g. YouTube.com/embed/SeSzNxb1Eyw and the like—are, despite their present-tense falseness/fakeness (maximum-zoom without any shaking?—superhumanly steady hands, hypothetical/hyped-up smartphone-user!), tech-on-the-horizon/tech-yet-to-come. The fake of today often ends-up becoming the fact of tomorrow, so they say. 

<image c/o indianapublicmedia.org/

amomentofscience/insect-eyes.php>.

POST_033: 33.3 RPM/RIP

Four years ago, one of the news-items circulating in newspapers around the world was about a new funerary option allowing human remains to be combined and

pressed into vinyl records that can be played-back on turn-tables: a very interesting version and vision—or rather, audition—of post-mortem recycling, and one that opens onto a possible recyclonopedia (mortuary record-collection) full of remastered record-player-ready mortiloquisms. In some ways, this is the flip-side or ‘b’-side of the more popular science-fictional transhumanist dream of being ‘uploaded’ into-&-onto the internetworked ‘cloud’ (namely being ‘downloaded’ into-&-onto a recorded audio-track).

<image c/o BBC.com/news/business-40492466>.

POST_034: 'P TO THE F':

RE: PREDICTING THE FUTURE

Techie Jason Crawford, down in San Francisco, just tweeted an excellent little tweet—or what the FSP would call a lab-post, albeit one without an image—which I thought I should retweet/repost in this week’s ThoughtLab:

“It’s almost impossible to predict the future,” he writes; “but

it’s also unnecessary, because most people are living in the past. All you have to do is see the present before everyone else does”

 

(Twitter.com/JasonCrawford/status/1404200442171514880).

There are many levels of verity—many verities, all very tied-together—in this statement, and one of the least interesting (but still very interesting ones) is a reminder to all of us that the future is a fiction and that the factual finds

its point-of-culmination in the present (with a nod to Jean Gebser).

<image c/o Steven Spieglber 2002: Minority Report, DreamWorks Pictures>.

POST_035: 

♻️ᶜᴄᴜʟᴛ ᴄᴏɴsɪᴅᴇʀᴀᴛɪᴏɴs

The ouroboros is the figure of a serpent eating its tail—a famous alchemical emblem and for us today (or rather, for today’s FSP post) a symbol for the interesting inversions

that come with conceptual/perceptual recycling: in this case the recycling or re-appearance of Formerly Occult Iconᵒᵍʳᵃᵖʰⁱᵉs such as that of “The Third Eye”—previously a symbol of enlightenment and transcendence (that is to say, freedom from the fetters of our inherited frameworks & wordlviewˢ).

 

These days, one is just as likely, if not more likely, to find references to “The Third Eye” in closed-circuit surveillance-system nomenclature-&-propaganda than in consciousness-opening systems of self-improvement or self-transcendence.

 

Take for instance the DiSanZhiYan example out of

Shanghai: FT.com/content/b74b6ad6-3b8d-4cd8-9dd6-3b49754aa1c7

 <image c/o linked article>

POST_036: BECOMING GLITCH 

LEJE, a French company founded by a pair of Korean designers, have designed a style of jeans & trousers the overall effect of which gives the impression—the appearance—of glitching video-images. This is part of a trend that has consumers desiring to appear more like their online/digital avatars than their offline/analogue bodies. To quote my online (Twitter) pal Hugo Reinert, the tendency in this particular era is one in which the digital takes precedence over the otherwise altogether physical:
 

“I’m the physical ghost of my digital self” (Twitter.com/
Metaleptic/status/1308503131500744711
). A recently reposted Wired article about Virtual-Reality sales-pitches (Wired.com/story/
billionaires-use-vr-avoid-social-change
) provides further evidence of this trend, with its reference to tech-guru Gabe Newell’s televised interview with New Zealand’s ‘One News’ in which he refers to the physical/non-digitized body as a mere “meat peripheral” to be transcended—if not discarded—for the wonders of a world supposedly better-than-the-real (TVNZ.co.nz/one-news/new-zealand/gabe-newell-says-brain-computer-interface-tech-
allow-video-games-far-beyond-human-meat-peripherals-can-comprehend
).

<image c/o Twitter.com/LaughingSquid/status/
1409213700066746370
>.

POST_037: YOUR M'O ('MODE OF OPERATION'/'MOOD ORGAN') 

Philip Kindred D, oddball American writer of science-fiction stories and frustrated ‘independent scholar’ of philosophy

(sound familiar, vast swath of FSP-types?), had an uncanny ability to sense upcoming zeitgeists—as noted by a great many observers today, logging-into their online platforms and sharing their views on our current techno-society. The present post is an excerpt from one of his most popular stories (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?): “I heard the building, this building; I heard the [silence of all those empty apartments, all the missing people],” said Iran to her husband. “At that moment, when I had the TV sound off, I was in [Penfield Corporation] mood #382—I had just dialed it in. So although I heard the emptiness intellectually, I didn’t feel it. My first reaction consisted of being grateful that we could afford a Penfield mood-organ.™ But then I realized

how unhealthy it was: sensing the absence of life—not just

in this building but everywhere, and not reacting.

 

Do you see?—I guess you don’t; but that used to be considered a sign of mental illness; they called it ‘absence of appropriate affect’. So I left the TV sound off and I sat down at my mood-organ and I experimented. And I finally found a setting for despair.” Her dark, pert face showed satisfaction, as if she had achieved something of worth.

“I put it on my schedule for twice a month: I think that’s

a reasonable amount of time to feel hopeless about everything, about staying here on Earth after everybody who’s smart has emigrated, don’t you think?” 

 

The Penfield mood-organ™ should have been front-and-center in our book on Imaginary Apps from many years ago (https://www.popmatters.com/the-imaginary-app-shows-how-real-apps-have-become-to-us-
2495576670.html
); then again, it is there—everywhere,

like those ghostly missing people Iran mentions—
conspicuous in its app-parent absence. We live in the era of Penfield mood-organs. 

<image c/o Syd Delicious @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/syd
delicious/3109924662
>. 

POST_038: AT THE A.T.: ANARCHITECTURAL THINKING 

Lifting one of the arguments from The Digital Dionysus (2016), today’s post pos⁽ⁱ⁾ts that a FuturePhilosophical—or if you prefer, ‘Nietzschean’, since Nietzsche endeavored to outline a Future Philosophy—mode of thinking about information [[and a FuturePhilosophical approach to ‘information studies’ as such]] takes ‘info’/‘information’/‘the_infosphere’ and the good-old/beyond-good-&-evil ‘information_highway’ as the very interface betweenDionysian occlusion, subversion and

anarchism (on the one side) and Apollonian clarity,

stability and hierarchy (on the other side). The latter—Apollonian—approach is a typical one with respect to information studies, while the addition of the former—Dionysian—is rather atypical, yet becoming more-and-more relevant, more-and-more pressing, in these times of

ubiquitous collective engagement with⁽ⁱⁿ⁾ the so-called infosphere [[internet]].

 

The disjunctive conjunction of the anarchically Dionysian and architecturally Apollonian forms—or informs—a kind of ‘anarchitecture’ the hole-ridden/⁽ʷ⁾hole-riddled ‘structure’ of which is akin, in a sense, to a ‘net’: a ‘cross-hatch’ the very interstices of which are an unformed-but-perpetually-form-taking nodes, ɴᴏᴛᴀ ʙᴇɴᴇ.

<image: William Chyris, ‘The Manifold Garden’,

Design-Milk.com/images/2019/09/ManifoldGarden_Screenshot_02-1920.png>.