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Posts tagged: mindful cyborgs

Mindful Cyborgs Interviews Douglas Rushkoff on Presentism

Klint Finley

We’ve used the phrase “Present Shock” to describe what Mindful Cyborgs is about since the beginning. So obviously it was great to talk with Douglas Rushkoff, who coined the term in his book of the same title last year.

During the interview, we talked about presentism, e-cigarettes and the “male period” dictated by the lunar calendar.

Download and Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: Present Shock, Corporitism, and Life in the Digital Media Enviroment

Mindful Cyborgs: What Would the Web Look Like if We Built It Today?

Klint Finley

On the 25th anniversary of the web, Alex Williams and I talked about what the web might look like if we it were built today. Would it be more like an API than a protocol? Would it have a payment system baked in?

Download and Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: Episode 28 – Diasporic Destiny for the 21st Century Mind

Mindful Cyborgs: The Trial of Humanity

Klint Finley

This week Alex Williams, Chris Dancy and I talk about the “app backlash,” touchy subjects like marginalization and what Chris calls the coming “Trial of Humanity.”

Mindful Cyborgs: This Time Let’s Just Sit Quietly and Breathe

Klint Finley

This week Chris Dancy, Alex Williams and I talk about the mindfulness racket, cyborg bank robbers, wearable computing going mainstream and more.

Download and Show Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: This Time Let’s Just Sit Quietly and Breathe

Mindful Cyborgs: Interview with Meatspace CEO Jen Fong-Adwent

Klint Finley


This week Chris Dancy, Alex Williams and I talk with Jen Fong-Adwent, CEO of the weird new chat app Meatspace. Here’s an exceprt where she explains the origins of the service:

It was actually just an experiment between a colleague and I because she was doing a GIF library with WebRTC for the camera on your browser, and I have been doing chat experiments for a few years now. A lot of mixed media embedded interactions. Basically, experiments with social interaction and very limited forums with very limited effort by the user.

This was the first time around May when I just said hey, you think if you pressed enter and it recorded a few frames of your face as you were reacting as you were typing, we can do that and then my colleague so it was like, yeah, I fixed this. So, we did it and like 2 days we scrapped something together and we played with it internally and then it became public when I spoke in October at Portland and that was when it blew up and it went [unclear 0:02:29] Reddit, everywhere, and there was a lot of people that showed up like the first couple of days and there was a joke that it shut down Silicon Valley because everyone was just so mesmerized by all the GIFs of all these faces and some people were very famous and some people were just normal people. Some people weren’t even tech. It was pretty crazy.

Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: Episode 25 – Meatspace and the Organic Ephemeral Marketplace

Mindful Cyborgs: Perverse Intimacy with Our Machines

Klint Finley

This week on Mindful Cyborgs, Alex Williams, Chris Dancy and I talked about Hollywood’s obsession with “freakish AI killing off humanity or making love to it”:

We’re just becoming more and more intimate with our machines all the time and I think that’s where that fear of AI’s and that – that’s where those plots are coming from.

On the other hand, a lot of this stuff has been – a lot of these ideas have been around for a long time. I’ve just been reading some of Isaac Asimov’s old stories. I just read his first robot story, Robbie, and it’s all about a parent being afraid that her daughter is spending too much time with a robot companion, which you could totally transfer that to modern days; worried that my kid is spending too much time with her cell phone.

CD: Or on her Xbox, yeah. Insert Gadget X.

KF: Yeah. He also wrote a story – so Robbie was his first robot story. I think it was 1939. He also wrote a story in, I think, 1956 called The Last Question that was essentially a story about the singularity; about the hive mind, artificial intelligence thing that just lives in the – an alternative dimension of the galaxy after humans have become extinct, after humans have become immortal and then left their bodies and essentially just become some sort of thing. This is long before the word ‘singularity’ was on anyone’s lips. These fears and ideas and dreams have been with us for a long time.

Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: Automation for the Entitled and the Impending Data Revolution

Mindful Cyborgs: Distributed Autonomous Corporations Find Love in All the Wrong Places

Klint Finley

In the latest episode of Mindful Cyborgs, Chris Dancy, Alex Williams and I talked about distributed autonomous corporations (DACs), Her and more. Here I am trying to explain the idea of DACs:

Working on a couple of stories that should be up by the time this podcast goes up on an idea that’s spreading through the Bitcoin community called distributed autonomous corporations and the idea is that Bitcoin is actually already one of these things. It’s like a bank that isn’t really owned by anyone and exists on its own. So, as long as at least a few people running the Bitcoin software somewhere in the world is going to keep going. So, pretty much as long as people are using it will exist without anybody really going and shutting it down.

The only people with an ownership stake are the people who own Bitcoin who are the people which is awarded to miners. So, they’re sort of like shareholders in a corporation. So, it kind of rethinks Bitcoin as less as like a currency and more as a corporation that awards stock and there’s a few other of these things.

Alex and I talked about Twister I think last time which is a Twitter clone that uses Bitcoin protocol. Doesn’t actually use Bitcoins at all, the actual Bitcoin network for authentication and uses BitTorrent for distribution. So, it’s a similar thing only it’s a social network that just exists out there running in the world. The miners are just awarded with promoted messages on the network. The only way you get paid is through advertisements, which is a very attention economy sort of idea I guess.

Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: Distributed Autonomous Corporations Find Love in All the Wrong Places

So far only one of the stories I mentioned, my article on Ethereum is up. But here’s another article on the idea of DACs.

Mindful Cyborgs: E-Waste in the Internet of Things, Enterprization of the Consumer, and More

Klint Finley

In the latest Mindful Cyborgs, Alex William and use the Consumer Electronics Show as a springboard to talk about the state of the tech industry. Here’s a bit where we talk about the way that tech still flows from the military to industry to the consumer — and not vice versa:

KF: That hits on something else because that Vuzix company said it already had the industrial applications for it and I think that article also said that they were doing military heads up displays. That ties into the older trend of technology starting out being in the military or the government and then trickling down to business and then out to consumers.

AW: Yeah.

KF: And we’ve been covering the consumerization of IT for the last few years and there’s this perception that that flow has changed, that things start in the consumer category and then flow up to business, to enterprises. But if we look at some of the stuff like augmented reality we can see that’s not necessarily the case. The military has been using augmented reality for years and years and years now. And they’re using virtual reality for simulation trainings and stuff. That stuff hasn’t really properly trickled down into consumer video games or anything like that yet either. So in a lot of ways business and military are actually still ahead of the curve in terms of technology.

AW: Yeah. And I think you were writing about the influence of the VC’s [00:06:01] In-Q-Tel. Did you write about In-Q-Tel recently in the context of one of your stories? I thought I saw one of your stories.

KF: Yeah I mentioned that in my ‘Mega-Networks’ story. This fund that was setup, I think originally by the CIA and now other intelligence agencies are a part of it, to fund private companies that are building technology that intelligence agencies think could be eventually useful to them. So they’ve put a bunch of money into NoSQL and big data stuff.

AW: Right.

KF: MongoDB and Cloudant are the two I remember writing about. And that’s pretty interesting that those companies are expecting to sell technology to businesses that in a lot of cases are probably actually trying to reach consumers themselves. But a lot of the money is coming from government agencies that expect it to be useful to them as well.

Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: On the Entropy of the iToaster, CES, and Mega-Networks

Mindful Cyborgs: Bill Whitcomb and Taylor Ellwood Talk About Their User’s Guide to the Human Brain

Klint Finley

In this episode Chris Dancy and talk with authors Bill Whitcomb and Taylor Ellwood about their new book The Book of Good Practices:

KF: I kind of see this book as a users’ guide to the human brain. The brain, the missing manual; that sort of thing. What is the book, in your own words? Maybe we’ll start with Taylor then Bill can chime in.

TE: First of all, I want to acknowledge that Bill is kind of the originator of the book. He had already been working on it for a while and I want to give a little history here, just because I think it speaks to what the book’s about. He came to me about four or five years ago and said, “I’m working on this book. I’m kind of hitting a place where I’m feeling really blocked. Would you be willing to help me co-write it because you’ve done some similar stuff with some of your other writing?” I thought it over and I said, “Yeah, sure.”

It’s been a long road to get this book put together. I mean, it’s turned into three e-books and a workbook which speaks to it. So what do we see it as? I think I see it as a catalog of certainly stuff related to the brain but really behaviors and actions that can come out of being more aware of the brain and how it programs a lot of our behavior. That’s my take on it. Bill, what would you say to that?

BW: Well, I think we’ve tried to produce a taxonomy, a way of categorizing behavioral practices, things that can be described in purely behavioral terms; that actually have a measurable neurological effect on people, physiological effect on people. Things that you can learn to do that could be said to truly impact your skills as far as fundamental human activities; things like concentration, memory, metabolism; things that impact pretty much anything you would want to do in your life.

We’ve tried to abstract that as much as possible from any specific tradition because in many ways, the traditions these things come out of have a tendency to separate out people as much as they bring them in. Someone will say, “Well, psychology is too cold or inhuman for me” or “I don’t do Eastern mysticism” or “That’s too fuzzy and spiritual”, any reason to not try the thing themselves, whereas in behavioral terms, these are things that you can learn to do that will change your level of skill as a human being.

Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: Episode 21 – Orienting Pop Culture Magic: Mindfulness GPS and the Maps of Indeterminate Destiny

Mindful Cyborgs: A Look Back at 2013

Klint Finley

For our New Years special episode, our new co-host Alex Williams joined Chris Dancy and me for a reflection on our most popular episodes of 2013. Here we are talking about episode 12, our interview with feminist activist Shanley:

CD: Klint, did you … we had Shanley on. She’s one of the shows we’re going to talk about in a bit but you saw some of the things that happened at conferences. Defrag opened up their conference with a whole section on there will be no talk of this and there will be no [00:08:05]. Conferences with disclaimers, there’s a O’Reilly conference coming up called Solid and when you apply one of the things they ask you is are you gay, black or are you one of these things that we don’t normally have on stage because we’re going to instantly give you more credit in consideration.

When I filled out the Solid to speak at Solid, I thought to myself wow, this is kind of crazy. What did they call it back in the 60s and 70s when they moved people through government ranks because they were minorities? Affirmative action. There’s digital or affirmative action happening. It’s just really strange.

AW: Digital affirmative action, yeah.

KF: Yeah. It feel like it’s really late for it to be happening. When you said affirmative action happen everywhere else decades ago, there’s also an argument to be made that things are actually -

CD: Worse.

KF: – worse outside of the tech industry but I’m glad that all these things are getting more attention. I don’t know how it’s all going to play out but there’s definitely a strong reaction against all of it as well. The more women that speak out the more just misogynistic douchebag guys also like react to it and actually kind of double down on being pricks and I don’t know where it’s all going to end up. I don’t know if there’s a better way of addressing the issues.

I think that a lot of times people get carried away with attacking individuals over tweets rather than thinking more about the big picture but at the same time usually people need to be called out on for what they say. So, I don’t know

Download and Full Transcript: Mindful Cyborgs: The Beginning — A Look Back at 2013

Since recording the show, Shanley has launched her own tech publication Model View Culture. You can read an interview with her about the new endeavor here.