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Ethical Futures and the Noosphere


PJ Manney

PJ Manney is the author of the bestselling and Philip K. Dick Award nominated Phoenix Horizon trilogy, (R)EVOLUTION, (ID)ENTITY, and (CON)SCIENCE. She is on the board of directors of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is the futurist, media consultant and writer/producer for the Human Energy Project, runs The New Mythos Project and is the former chairperson of Humanity Plus (H+). She worked in motion picture PR at Walt Disney/Touchstone Pictures and wrote as Patricia Manney for the critically acclaimed hit TV shows Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess. She will get you thinking about the course of Silicon Valley technology bereft of ethical foundations.

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this week on the futurists we're in a period right now ofit's not covered as much as the realization thatwe're in a paradigm shifting period for humanity you're not imagining it it's all truethe internet the the virtualizing of the worldis something that we as humans have never experienced and every time we gothrough as a species a major technological event that changesnot just when we say changes society it sounds very you know okay changes society noi'm talking about it changes who we think we are how we relate to one another in familiescommunities and society and how we relate to the cosmos i mean it is it is a hugeethical shift [Music]welcome to the futurist where we explore the thought leaders the engineers thethinkers examining and building the future this week on the futurists we're going toPJ Manney futurist & authorintroduce you to not only someone who writes in the sci-fi world but also someone who isinvolved in the forecasting space and uh i'll let you introduce her robertwell that's great brett thanks eric and and welcome back to our listeners uh you know brett i was thinking since we justrecently conducted an interview with a super forecaster i've been thinking a lot about scenario planningum and the people who do this professionally are typically hired by organizations that have a real long timehorizon you know think about somebody in the energy industry for instance and they want to get a scenario that's uhyou know 10 or 20 years out in the future um and what i've kind of concluded is thatthe people who do this for a living tend to present that scenario in the driest possible termsuh you know they don't present it in a sensational way because then they won't be taken seriously so they kind ofoversteer or over correct for boringness because boringness equals credibility inthe business world and i've often thought well wait a minute though what would happen if you went the other direction whatwould happen if you embraced i don't know uh possibilities and andand maybe some of the specular possibilities might lead to a little more drama and excitement in other words what would happen if you tried to make astory telling a process right that's exactly right like putting yourself in those forecasted scenarios or worldsthat's that's that's i guess the difference between sci-fi and and just pure forecastingthat's exactly right and then that leads us to today's speaker who is a aforecaster power excellence who also tells a darn good story so this is an introduction to pj mannyshe is a best-selling author in particular well known for the the trilogycalled phoenix horizon that was nominated for the philip k dick award and she's a fabulous writer but she'salso really well grounded in these technologies because she's a practitioner herself and she's involved in organizations like theinstitute for ethics and emerging technology and she's been active in those fields for decadesuh so she's no newcomer to this stuff and that's really well borne out by her books so so welcome to the show pj it'sHow Science Fiction quickly becomes science fact eg brain computer interfacesa real pleasure to have you here with me and brett thank you so much robert and brett i'm it's a pleasure to be herewelcome to the future you've been living in that future formany many years as far as i can tell um you know i had sent a note over to pj talking about how uhshe creates future scenarios and she pointed out to me that actually uh they're pretty close to the present dayso i guess the first question i have for you pj is do you consider yourself a science fiction writer or a writer ofmore speculative fiction that's grounded in the presence well the funny thing about the phoenix horizon trilogy is that when i wroterevolution i started writing it in 2007 i finished it in 2009 and then i didrewrites but they were mostly for literary merit umand it didn't get sold until 2014 and came out in 2015. so you know back in 2009 when i finishedall the technological aspects of it it was science fiction i was talking about brain computer interfaces and nanomedicine and a whole host of technologies especially cognitive technologies whichwere really just being theorized at the time and there were research and development everything i write about wasreally in research and development but i spun it out into these you know howwould i build a brain computer interface and what became ironicwas that apparently some pretty famous brand computer interface people read my books and decided to get into brainDon't send humans into space its stupid, send robots insteadcomputer interfaces in the first place and uh well you know if you look at thefirst version of neural link uh that's actually been manifest not what they originally formulated the neural lacebut the the uh the present uh construction of it isdirectly out of my book and um and then later books i wrote i discovered thatthe same founder was was using more things out of the book and going into those areasand the culmination was i say something at the end of conscience basically please don't send humans into space it'sstupid we really need robots embody you know basically embodied intelligences but that are robots because their spaceis really too dangerous for humans and what does he literally months later bring out a dancer in a robot suit uh toannounce that no he's actually going to send robots to mars and i just sit there and go okay greatoh geez now can you put the ethics that i put in the book in there toowe just had the we we were fortunate to have uh harry kluwer on umyou know uh just on a previous episode talking about his robot avatar and it you know it doesmake a lot of sense to um use a avatar robot bodyof course the problem you've got with mars is that the you know the distance in terms of communication unless we canfigure out super luminal communication you know you're always going to um have have a lagum you know between you know you're not going to have real-time tele operations so i mean isn't the whole part of it likeexperiential like i want to go to mars i want to put boots on the ground you know i know it's dangerous the trip buti think it's i think it's going to depend on who you are and there will always be people who wish to go into space i think that's fantasticbut you can't assume that you can actually have humanity move into certain not allspace certain space with gravitational atmospheric problemsfor which we do not yet have solutions right because the human body is isfairly fragile in that environment fragile and designed solely for thisplanetary experience i do think that we will come up with astime goes on some interesting hacks around this but i fundamentally don't think that thetimelines that have been given uh in the advertising shall we sayare accurate um certainly for for humans in the scope in which that they've been discovered yeahjust the fact that people who spend a great deal of time in orbit not even out in space exactly they come back withphysical deformities you know sometimes blindness bone loss that's never recoveredso i think i think we've greatly uh kind of wallpapered over those issues you think about the great duration of the ofthe trip to mars that might be a one-way ticket for a human being and at any rate there's a finite amountof distance we can go with the life support systems to keep those humans aliveand meanwhile all the really serious science that's happening in space right now is being done by robotic systemsthat were launched sometimes decades and really you have to remember that the the ad thethe marketing for mars is really about asteroids what we're looking for is a low gravitytakeoff a low gravity well for takeoff so that we can go into the asteroids mine it's all about miningrare earth minerals all the things we need to continue the technologies that we are have created and will continue tocreate they're made with materials that are becoming harder and harder on earth to find it's not only that they're noteverywhere but certain countries are now having a monopoly on those materialsand certain uh entrepreneurs don't want anyone else to have a monopoly on thosematerials so really what they're looking for is mining operations and that's what this is all about if you actually look at everything that musk has done in thetechnological space every single thing he's done is actually a preparation to use it on marsthat occurred to me the other day watching his ted talk because he when he's talking about abundanceum you know that that's the limitation to to that premise is that um you know youyou you can't have abundance without asteroid mining effectively at some point you've got to throw that in theequation but then again you also have the issue of you know i say i called theexpanse issue which is fan boys of the expanse and look i'm ahuge fan of the expanse but i as a work of fiction the problem is that people look atthis becomes this is actually the interesting issue of between science fiction and future scenario buildingis you know in science fiction we go after the drama we go after the dilemmas the obstacles the difficulties becauseyou know you want people invested and in in a story and that's a very western form ofWarnings about the Metaverse and a dystopian futurestorytelling by the way which i can talk about other versions of that later umbut with what with that you get this as inspiration forfew real futures as opposed to just science fiction futures and there are a number of people who've read the expansewho look at it as a how-to manual so we'll create indentured servitude we'll create we'll basically take all of ourproblems on earth and we'll just transfer them into space without really having any interest in solving thoseproblems yeah yeah that's a really good point i mean in a way that's the same thing that's happening with the metaverseright you've got all these very literal-minded folks in silicon valley who want to build the metaverse when uhneil stephenson was very clear you know when we were at snow crash that this was a warning this is a dystopianscenario and they seem to have gotten they seem to have missed the message there well this is the problem with thecautionary tale you know we we as science fiction and writers enjoy writing the cautionarytale because honestly it's easy like this is the dirty secret about science fiction is you want to write thecautionary tale because it's the easiest story to tell but even neil stephensonand one of the reasons why i have moved into certain areas even neil stephenson said in around 2011 he started talkingabout this um the problem with writing dystopias is that peoplethink that that's okay we're not gonna work our way out of this we're just gonna head right down into the belly ofthe beast and that's not the case if we give ourA how to manual for a better futureaudiences a how-to manual for a better future if we show thempaths to possible futures that could be hadwell wouldn't that make a better future we we had um kevin j anderson on talkingabout this um for for our second episode our inauguralguest episode and he was saying that um you know part of this is becauseif you look historically at sci-fi production at a movie or tv level it was a lot cheaper to do dystopian worldsthan it was you know um at worlds with abundance and where inequality had been resolved and thingslike that so um hopefully now with cgi and so forth we will havemore representation of these optimistic views of the future but you're right you know it's things like ii i can't understand it because for me sci-fi is all all about optimism um youknow and the possible futures um but it also dependsthis is generational bread this is generational because what we have is an inverse relationship for positivestories and bad times and then as times get betterwe inversely flip to better times with bad stories because we have the the safety and security toactually take in the bad story you know we were we just came out of a period last several decades where we allfelt we were on the upswing everything was great and we could take the dystopias in wecould we could wallow in them but during the depression during the war we were doing scribble comedies and moviemusicals and there is this inverse relationship through the history of entertainmentbetween how the time is perceived by the people who are living in it and the kind of entertainment that's being presentedand right now we as a culture see that we're not in a good time that things aregetting nutty and we want more positive futures because it's really i mean nobody wantsto read dystopia trust me when i tell you the people being published right now are very upset if they've been writingdystopias does this mean that matthew mcconaughey is going to be doing more rom-coms againthough is that is that what you're predicting oh i actually i i know this for a fact because uh netflixbasically uh well netflix is going into the rom-com business hard or hardcoreuh so yes i mean i have really i've i've enjoyed the fact that we'vehad some stellar um sci-fi you know like the expanseum you know altered carbon and you know stuff like that we we've had someamazing sci-fi to watch the last few years as a as a guy that grew up in the world ofstar trek and so forth i love this um but um yeah it's interesting to sort ofobserve that different style of storytelling what will the current you know like the covert situation how willthat change our narrative over the coming you know decade or two i have a lot of ideas onthat actually i can imagine so i'm writing a book uh called the new mythosEntering a paradigm shift for humanity & the book 'The NewMythos'and i've already taught a class on this um for the rambo academy uh of wayward writersuh so for science fiction and fantasy speculative fiction authors we're in a period right now ofit's not coveted as much as the realization thatwe're in a paradigm shifting period for humanity you're not imagining it it's all truethe internet the vaporization if i may use robert's wordnice thanks the the virtualizingA huge technological event and huge ethical shiftof the world is something that we as humans have never experienced and every time we gothrough as a species a major technological event that changesnot just when we say changes society it sounds very you know okay it changes society noi'm talking about it changes who we think we are how we relate to one another in families communities andsociety and how we relate to the cosmos i mean it is it is a hugeethical shift and this happened in the first millenniabc when all of the religions of the world were basically formulatedit happened it and and when you look back it was the the rise of the city it was the bringing together of largegroups bigger than dunbar's numbers so people had to create trust systems so we recreated these laws and religions tohelp us deal with each other in close proximity the next big one was the enlightenmentwhich changed everything with the industrial revolution and the scientific method and scientific inquiryand that completely changed how we told stories i mean frankenstein there's a reason frankenstein happenedit is it wasn't a oh my goodness how did this this work of artthe first great speculative work of art happened it happened because of thishuge change and now we're in the next change and soevery time we go through a change we actually change our myths and we actually lay them on top of each other it's like it's archaeology rightyou don't eliminate the bronze age ideas you build on top of them and you throwout what doesn't work for you right now then you bring on new stories and new myths so that's where we are right nowand i've been working with writers creatives academics ethicists and comingup with ways of framing these new stories that we're going to be tellingand they all involve new ways of seeing ourselves which are very when you think about itvery sci-fi that's a really good uh starting point for a conversation then you know all this talk about spaceships and dystopiasScience fiction for the world we are in right now, no spaceships, no time traveltakes us pretty far apart pretty far away i guess from your subject matter which doesn't involve any spaceships infact i said to someone when i told them that we're going to interview you uh they said what kind of what kind of books didshe write and i said well she writes sci-fi for people who don't like spaceships and monsters or timetravel right it it's sort of sp it's science fiction for people that want to relate to the world that we're in right now because that's weird enoughlike the world that we're in right now is such that one of the factors you mentioned you know these technologies is uh accelerating technologies right sothings are moving so fast that the the world today is weird enough you don't really need toinvoke some you know uh some some spaceship in order to explain it or to make it seem strange to people ishouldn't say the context is right around us so talk to us a little bit about beyond the new mythos tell us about thebooks that you've written um yeah so why don't you tell us a little bit about revolution identity conscience the the phoenix horizontrilogy and um and and what those represented i did not realize that there that there's those blacks are actually in some casesmore than 10 years old because they seem so fresh thank you i appreciate that umthe rise of authoritarian fascist thought in the westso i i saw back in the early 2000s the rise ofauthoritarian one might even say fascist thought in the west the the re-emergence it always beenthere you have to remember that 30 of any human population is authoritarian it just that's how humans workbut i was watching it starting to take center stage and i also was watchingthis use of new technologies the research into new technologies about nanomedicine braincomputer interfaces robotics artificial intelligence that i knew were going to change everythingand i wanted to take people the books are very funny they're a little deceptive because i designed them thefirst book is a political techno thriller right you know you can still pick it up now and go oh airport novellike but with like you know revolution right revolution umso i wanted to take you by the hand and lead you into the future book by bookso the first book you get through to a pretty outrageous end with uploading andyou know digital intelligences and all the rest but you feel like it's a world you recognize so i'm not having to teach youabout i'm not having to do a world building where i have to teach you about everything all over again which is where the alienation comes in for non-sciencefiction readers it's true i mean down to like a specific building on the stanford campus you know like like it's it's veryconcrete and tangible and recognizable right so and then the second book ups the ante ups the science fictionlevel ups the political futurist level up to all of it and then the final book is pretty hardcorescience fiction um it takes a lot of it takes place virtually even though i ground those places againand if you read conscience robert you might have recognized the purple valleyum where he goes to where they build build a place he's been beforeand it actually is the williams campus and the church and the church that he has the conversations with in essencehimself another version of himself uh is in fact the church right in the center of williams soi spent a lot of time with my kids thank you for name checking my college that's really honorable thankoh williams yeah go williams um so i i wanted to take people where they didn'tthink they could go and i had this reaction from so many what i would consider mainstream readers which was ididn't think i liked science fiction but i love these books and and i'm totally along for the ride it'slike you got me and that that for me was my jobso i have a mission statement and my mission statement in life is to help people understand where they're goingbut i don't want to do it just among us right i i don't want to do that you know like brett and and you andi i i want to include everybody in thatinclude peeople in where humanity is head of face future shockwhen we don't include people and where the future is going we have future shock and that's actually what we're in right nowwe're in this process of shock and disgust andrevulsion of things that people don't understand and that makes them scared right you know and fear is the most dangerousthing we can have the only thing to fear is fear itself is actually trueso i want people to have a familiarity so when this stuff happens they just don't freak outand it's a it's almost a philosophical question or debate right is wherehumanity's going and i think we've got to have those grown-up conversations you know and andum you know these sort of dialogues are important in establishingwhy we need to talk about ethics on AI right nowum you know this is why we have to talk about ethics in ai right now this is whywe have to talk about this because if we don't and we just go on this autopilottrajectory that we've been we've been on as a species then the outcome's notoptimal oh absolutely you know it's funny i i was just on a panel for the unitednations association and they were doing a women in in ai technology andi was really honored to be on it because it was like you know the head of ai for walmart that you know the chief technology officer for ibm and all womenreally fascinating um and ieverybody was getting very into the nitty-gritty which is fantastic of how do we makebetter ai better more women in ai etc and i actually kept on pulling everybody outto the big picture which is in every aspect of technology it's not just artificial intelligence but inevery aspect of technology if you're missing 51 of the population you're missingmore than half the population and if you're not consideringhow over half the society needs to come to grips with this also we'retalking about the elderly and children and you know we're talking about entire groups that aren't being considered inthe biases so what do you do you have to write yourself into the story and again it's kind of a it can sound trite but itactually isn't because if we don't tell those stories from the very beginningif children don't know that they have a right to decide how ai is used ifwomen and minorities and every ethnicity and the elderly don'thave a right to start making decisions about how how ai is usedthen we have failed as a society because that's when it runs uson that note we probably need to head to a break right now but in the second half we'll certainly come back to this topicof ethics and technology as a gigantic ethical blind spot in the tech spaceright now you're listening to the futurists with brett king and myself rob tercek and ourguest today is pj manny so stay tuned for this we'll be back in just a second [Music]welcome to breaking banks the number one global fintech radio show and podcasti'm brett king and i'm jason henricks every week since 2013 we explored the personalitiesstartups innovators and industry players driving disruption in financial servicesfrom incumbents to unicorns and from cutting edge technology to the people using it to help create a moreinnovative inclusive and healthy financial future i'm jp nichols and thisis breaking bankswelcome back you're listening to the futurists uh before the break we started our conversation with pj manny a uhauthor super forecaster future thinker in the space and we just got finished talking alittle bit about ai ethics uh but pj you know when we we look atthe the world of uh you know the future that you try and introduce people toum you know maybe we can sort of start with a reference point going back to you know the work of alvin tuffler andand so forth the elements of how humanity adapts to theseum you know magnitudinous changes in terms of the way welive together the way technology changes society and so forth um you know how doyou think about that framing in terms of adaptation of humanityyou know what's needed to successfully transition these ages between thesemassive leaps in technology for example i'd like to just back up one second andand ask that we call them the tofflers because it was alvin and heidi and heidi was his full partner and she getsforgotten actually considering the time they were writing um you know she she i i think the reasonthe top floors got so much right is because it was alvin and heidi [Applause]you know that's that's that you're absolutely right calling me out on that and i do the same with will and arieldurant when i talk about lessons from history right you know it's because it it's always will derive thebut but yeah it was was a team effort i i think that um the toddlers werephenomenal and they really saw what was coming what we've alreadyexperienced and kind of where we are now i think what's what we're going to beseeing in the biggest sense is we've seen the failureof and i'm going to use the word globalism becauseeverybody thinks it's a big bad now um but i'm going to recast it in anotherway in a moment i think we're going to seemore growth in coming together in community building we're seeing it already butwe're going to see that accelerate because one of the things that the internet has doneunfortunately has accelerated trends which were already happeningCliodynamics explains history scientifically and explores its trends & cyclesso we were have coming into i i'm a big uh i'm a big fan of clear dynamics andpeter churchian he became a friend he actually proofread the clear dynamics section and identityand um i really agree with him in these 40 to 60 year cycles certainly in the west uhand the reasons why we come together in social cohesion and the what reasons why we dissolve that cohesionand we've been in a period of dissolutionfor a while and you know back in 2000 i want to say 2006 he i think it was innature he printed the famous political violence article where he's like okay 2021we're gonna be in you know it's all it's all going to hell in the handbasketover population of elitesand that's because he was watching these trendsmuch like the toddlers had of conflict building ha more growth ofhaves and have-nots uh what they call elite overproduction in clear dynamics which isthe idea that the elites there's so many elites now they're so successful there's everybody wants to be an elite that suddenly the road to being an elitewhether it's a certain kinds of college educations whether it's certain kinds of jobs arenow harder and harder to get it's only so many chairs on the musical chairs of being in the elite there areonly so many people in so many positions and yet the greasy pole gets greasier and greasier to get there that's that'snot all he says that um as you over produce the elites and you know as you said it's musical chairsthere's not enough seats for all the people that the universities are producing who have elite qualifications then some of those disaffected peoplewho can't find a role a constructive role they started to take on a destructive role and i think we'reseeing examples of that even here in the united states and our political leadership where you know if i can't be constructive then i'll be destructivei'll bring it down and and we're systematically demolishing institutions again it's not science fiction this isthe this is the world that we're in right now in 2022 exactly and the thing you have to remember is it's a world we were in inthe 60s it was a world we were in in the 19 teens and 20s it was a world we werein during the civil war i mean you can just keep on going back every 40 to 60 years and you know in american historyum and we're always in that kind of of politicaland social turmoil um the difference now is that we also have the hundred year cycle of pandemicat the same time and we also had the 200 year cycle it's called the secular cyclein clear dynamics which has to be it which is about empire and we are the empireand so we're actually in in a a collision of three cycles allhitting the bottom at the same time historically anomalous levels ofinequality yes exactly which sort of takes us back to like the dark ages you know that's the lastreference point we have for this type of inequality exactly so we have the most extreme version right now does not to say wecan't have a positive future because we can it's just we have to redefine whatsuccess looks like what does success look like as an individual as again individual familythe powers of 10 movie by Ray & Charles Eamescommunity nation world and i like to look at successdid you guys remember that the powers of ten movie that the uh ray and charles eames made talk about again againanother great couple um so the whole movie was aboutteaching exponential change you know by by you know zooming in on the couple onthe on the picnic blanket zooming out to the edges of the universe and back into a subatomic uh particle in the skin of the woman onthe blanket and every time you came in or out by a factor of 10 it was a completely different view and what ilike to do is use that like like show that video and say to people now lookthere are solutions that work for the couple on the picnic blanketthere's a different solution that works for the west side of chicago there's a different solution that works for the united states and there's a differentsolution that works for the planet now let's try to come up with solutionsthat are actually win win win win as opposed to well i just care about theindividual solution because i'm a rugged individualist or i just care about the social solutionif we can come up with solutions that address the issues and i think we can but youhave to think that way first we're going to go a long way in creating positive futures againi do believe that that includes and this goes back to ethics having as many stakeholders as possibleinvolved in decision making and to do that you need an educated populaceso there are lots of moving parts in creating my little ideal future butit's not even ideal it's not utopia that that's that's a word i despise becauseit literally means no place like the joke about utopia is the word was createdto say that it can never exist what i believe in and i'm writing aboutthe new mythos is michel foucault bring out the postmodernists um heterotopias becauseheterotopias are places where we circumscribe the locationand we decide to do something in there and it's a place of change all heterotopias are where things can changeand just by saying hey we want to make life better for ourselves in our community you've created a heterotopiato go towards utopia is itself a heterotopia andchange can only happen in these locations where we kind of set ourselves apart for a moment and go okay so how dowe do this but you do it together let me see if i can play this back in a way that frames the conversation uh withhow does PJ Manney go about writingthe theme of our show which is all about futures and methodologies for thinking about the futureand what i just heard uh you gave us you gave us quite a dissertation there because you went from this sort of macroview of these periodic cycles the the peter turchen concepts of uh clear dynamics and umand you gave us a kind of a broad view of what's repeating and what's happening from the past and all these the collision i guess of all these negativeincidents so you have that to work with right that informs it and then you kind of talked about um a political frameworkthat could scale from the personal to the local to the national to the global and so forth i'm sure we can continue totalk about things like you know environmental effects and and and globalization policies and so forth okayso given all that stuff that's rattling around in your brain [Laughter]aren't you in a way when you write the variations yeah aren't you in a way when you sitdown to write a book aren't you creating your own heterotopia by saying like okay i've got all this stuff now i need toprocess it and process it in a way where it's not a negative thing it's not going to lead us to dystopia we're not writingsome doomsday novel or blade runner or something instead i want to posit a world where change is possible whatwould that look like is that really what you're doing because i'm trying to get to methodology here because that's always this is exactly what i'm doingyou nailed it thank you [Music]um that's exactly what achievement unlockedwhat i'm what i'm trying here's the nature of storytelling is you have to leave stuff out this is the thing thatyou know is the hardest thing to learn about storytelling because especially when you live in a brain-like mindyou want to tell people everything but you can't so you have to choosevery carefully the things that mean the mostto your audience and don't forget i come out of movies and television yeah so iam really acutely aware and respect the audienceand everything i do whether it's you know a white paperto a corporation or a tv script or whatever i'm really considering who myaudience is and what it is that they're looking for in the storyi'm about to tell them i'm not going to tell them a lie what i'm going to tell them is inthe way that i can make that boundary that heterotopia around the concepts i'mgoing to leave a bunch of stuff out because they it will just confuse them it's too muchso i'm going to focus on the things that they can understand and appreciate and needto hear because the other job as a storyteller is you meet people where they liveand another thing i just you know yes the inside of my head isbizarre but i know how to communicateto anyone because i remember that they're not me and i want them to havethe best story possible so your experience in pop culture and particularly working at a movie studiois is kind of an exercise in radical simplification right because um screenwriting is all about what youremove you know and streamlining the story because the words can't get in the way particularly for international filmsuh where it's going to be dubbed or you know you have to deal with the revoicing it um translating and so forthso how does that economy fit into your methodology because i imagine then youtake all the amazing number of ideas you've got in your head and now you need to put it through some sort of filter or some lensto clarify it and simplify it and streamline it so there are two things characterand well character and and plot you know one it's funny when i think about technologyrevolution originally started as a tv pilot that didn't sellwe'd sold a whole bunch but that one couldn't get any interest on it and it was a different technology butconcept was the same basically this rise of authoritarianism and oligarchy and peter bernhard at the center of itand a friend turned to me when i said you know i'm just going to write the book because she was like well whyaren't you writing neuroscience because that's actually something you love and you're a geek abouti was like well yeah duh why don't i do that you know and and i needed a technologythat was a great demonstration of what happens when you're no longer in control of of who you areand a brink computer interface was actually perfect in to thatand it also fed all the you know ever since i tookrobert sapolsky's human behavioral biology class i have you know in summer school when he was illegallymoonlighting at the new school for rockefeller university uh i've beena brain geek and it made a lot of sense to use that as the filter but i also knew i wanted topursuing the American dream comes with a pricetell the story of a man peter bernhardt whowanted the american dream because i i had personally witnessedin my own family and in others the dangers of pursuing the american dream and not understanding what theprice is and there's always a price andi wanted to pull these ideas together of that kind of a characterwith that kind of level of technology next stageuh human enhancement beyond andwhat could i tell about that story and then to be really franki went to alexandra dumas because he's the man and i thoughtrevolution is the count of monte cristo i wanted to tell a count of monte cristo story and to be reallyspreading the secrets identity is the three musketeers but in this case the lead is athos notdartanian uh you know veronica is dartanianand in the last book it's the man in the iron mask oh man that's interestingand they get less and less like the books i'm i'm i'm funneling because thestorytape the story tells you what it's going to be like that's another thing you know you get you get so deep in story the story is the characters tellyou who they are the story tells you who it is and you're just like along for the rideum and that's you know wherever your subconscious is going is going um now i understand why you're doing themythos project so you're you're very much on this tip of recycling and reinterpreting these age-old narrativesyou know the way you mentioned frankenstein before we write frankenstein's a replay of the prometheus myth absolutely yeah people thinkfrankenstein's the monster but it's actually dr frankenstein right that we're writing about and he uh he's theguy who played messed around with nature you know brought back fire okay so so this is about revitalizing mythology umthat's an interesting notion and yet you do it in a way where the characters aren't archetypes they're notpeople running technology companies that are borderline sociopaths with no grounding in ethics or philosophygeneric and that happens a lot in science fiction we have characters who represent something and they're not very good characters as a result they're kindof one-dimensional your characters are very relatable they're like people and there's an element in humanity there andi have to believe that that's informed by your deep commitment and interest in ethics that's that's what i had toconclude in in preparing for this today i know that that's a passion for you and i know that it's a gapinghole it's a it's a lacuna if you will in the technology industry because we have people who are running these companieswho are borderline sociopaths with no grounding and effects in ethics or any kind of philosophy talka little bit about ethics in technology it started with my interest in empathywhere is empathy created in the brainuh i had made a connection back in 2006 betweenthe discovery and naming of mirror neurons as a place where empathy is created in the brain westill don't know actually now what they are um buttheir relation to storytelling so i ended up writing a paper that became this weirdly foundational paper in likeneuropsychology it's still cited it's crazy um but it's abouthow we as humans need stories to basically create empathy for the otherand then i wrote a follow-up paper called yucky gets yummy how speculative fiction creates societywhere i map the development of the otherin speculative fiction to our feelings about the other how he goes from villain to herofrom non-empathetic to deeply empathetic and that's actually where the the ethics came inso for me i look at as you just said i look atsilicon valley i see a lot of young people mostly young menwho haven't they've learned their coding they've learned their technology but theyhaven't learned why why are they doing what they're doingwhat they know what makes people tick because they hire psychologists to tell them how to make things addictive how tomake things sticky but they don't actually understandwhy we want to be in community or communication with each otherand it's like they're missing these enormous holes uh as you said of ethicsbut also of humanity like we only exist as athe Noosphere & ethicsspecies because we learned to live with each other and will only continue to exist as aspecies if we create ethics and rules that allow us toco-exist i talk a lot about the noah sphere i'm actually working with a group anotherethics group taking the ideas of tehara deshardanvernansky and leroy and this concept of the no sphereas another layer around the planet yet the geosphere is the rock the biosphere is the layer oflife around it and now literally around us is a global brain that we havecreated and we're all nodes in that brain whether we like it or not and we're so connectedthat if we don't learn a new set of rules yeah live with this noah spherethat we have built and which by the way tahar totally describedyou know in the early and mid 20th century he's like and then we're going to build this thing he just didn't call it an internet itwas crazy i mean the amount of detail he has but the fact that he he a great futurist anda total uh idol in silicon valley by the way which i find ironic because he was the most ethical man i think i've everread being a jesuit priest as well umthere's a lack of consequences i think the irony is we're all about assilicon valley futurists are often about what's the technological trend but notwhat's the social ethical trend what's the consequence to this i saw this inscientific research doing my book stuff right yeah well move fast andbreak up i also saw the scientists doing brain computer interfaces and i would say you know hey what about stuff i'mwriting about and they go i don't want to talk about that no la la la la la la becausethey have to say it's for alzheimer's and parkinson's where they don't get funding it takes a lot for somebody to saywhat i really see is global telepathy with my brain computer interfaceum so if we don't start considering everyone that we meet as part of agreater whole of us in an ethical sense well you're going tohave a very difficult knowledge fair and we're seeing it right now but it's even even in practical terms ifyou look at where covert broke down a lot of that was where we didn't have acollective approach and if you take climate and you know food scarcity fromyou know climate change and things like that unless we take a collective human view to this then you're justgoing to um you know the problems of tribalism and all those things that we we talk abouthistorically they're just going to be amplified by those those world pressures so the only way to get to an optimalstate for humanity as collectively but you know i how do we break down thosethose economic barriers to that and those um those uh cultural or national boundaries tothat so in it so this group i'm working with uh human energy which is working with the idea of the noaa sphere umone of the things i've been brought on to do is create a series of videos about the future of the known sphere but whati want to focus on is exactly what you're talking about and it's the you know how are wealready seeing positive futures being made in with collective groupsin smaller scales but that can be scaled whether it's regenerative agriculture orworking on climate change i mean some of the regenerative agriculture work i'm seeing around the world i've been hooked up in some of these global networksmind-boggling i i if everybody did this we'd be we'd be fineum there there are so many people doing positive things but we're not hearing about it and i want people to hear aboutit because the more people who do the more young people look at that and go you know what i want to do thati want to be a part of something like that because that's constructive i want to learn how to do that i want to bring it back to wherever i live and see how ican adapt it to where i live i i think we're seeing some signs of that now uh emerging right so certainly in the web 3space there's a generational shift where everybody who's crusty and kind of our generation is looking at it skepticallybecause there's a lot of techno babble and word salad and you know terminology thrown around a lot of deceit andfraud uh particularly in the crypto space right now but among the younger generation they see it as room forpossibility and they see that uh our generation has left behind a broken world and aneconomic system that is uh that doesn't favor equality that favors unequal distribution of wealththey see accumulating problems coming from globalization uh you know the degradation of environment so forth sothat generation looks critically at the work of the of the baby boom generationand they're trying to posit an alternative scenario whether or not it's aptly expressed you know maybe at this stage it's a littleungainly you know as we get to close this session out i think what we ought to do is uh isthink a little bit about the biggest implications here because we have been living in hyper connectivity right so for the last 30 years we've allexperienced this process where you know first it was millions and hundreds of millions and now billions of people are connected and at any given moment youcan understand what just about everybody is thinking about just about every topic that hasn't worked out so well it hasn'tled to like you know global dawning awareness or a greater consensus it's led to tribalization it's led to hateit's led to you know the um in a weird way that the kind of weaponization of free speech uh and the demonization ofpeople who who dare to think about unconventional ideas so so give us something positive to go out with heretonight as you think about the noah's sphere uh and as you think about your future work by building a new mathos uh and isyou help us construct new scenarios for the future pj give us some hope give us a reason to be optimistici think the reason to be optimistic is we've been through this before we go through these huge paradigm shiftsand in every one of these times we create new stories that help us adapt to a newfuture we're going to do that the new mythos i'm just showing people all the different branches of how we're going tocreate new stories which ultimately create new ethics stories are how we teach ourselves whatto do and how to be so if we can tell these stories createthese new myths build new ethics that help guide us i think we have thecapabilities we're just going to go through a bit of a rough patch to get thereall right well that is uh that's all we've got for tonight pj manny the author of revolution identity andconscience uh those are the uh those are the phoenix horizon trilogy has been ourguest this evening thank you so much for sharing your thoughts not just about the great mess that humanity finds itself inand maybe our way out but also sharing us a really intimate glimpse in how you work and how you grapple with thesetopics and how you process this information yourself that kind of methodology is always what we're curious about here at the futurists thanks a lotfor having us thank you pj we really appreciate it and for those of you listening out there you know we're a newpodcast um yeah we'd love to hear your feedback on who you'd like to have us interview on on the futurists um but byall means tweet us out get the news out there and please go to itunes or googleplay or wherever it is that you you know podcaster or stitcher wherever it is that you download your uh your versionof the futurist and leave us a review that really helps other people find uh the podcast as well you've beenlistening to the futurist we'll see you again next week in fact we'll see you inthe future [Music] well that's it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hopeyou did please subscribe and share it with people in your community and don't forget to leave us a five five-starreview that really helps other people find the show and you can ping us anytime on instagramand twitter at futurist podcast for the folks that you'd like to see on the show or the questions you'd like usto ask thanks for joining and as always we'll see you in the future [Music]

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