Hello Extropian crew:
Below are some questions I originally submitted to T.O. Morrow. If anyone
would like to add their own replies to my questions, please do so under each
T.O. Morrow entry. A bio of each contributor would also be appreciated.
Samples are provided below. If this mega-interview is successful, there is a
very good chance that C-Theory (<A HREF="http://www.ctheory.net/">www.ctheory.net</A>) will publish this online as
they are about to publish 2 of my other interviews.
Jeremy Turner (scroll down for the interview)…
JEREMY: As far as current paradigms go, it has been a pet-peeve of mine to
see critiques of Virtual Reality constantly tied to the limits posed by
“immersion”. For example, in the seminal work “DataTrash” by Arthur and
Marilouise Kroker, virtualization is seen as a process where the physical
properties of the flesh are consumed or “harvested” into a partial and
incomplete reality. In a sense, one would become immersed in a space that is
not equally co-existing with reality. Therefore, some critics are saying
that virtualization initially seduces the body through its promise of
(immersive) escapism but eventually degrades the physical integrity of
meatspace by retreating into a false and secondary reality. Even today, new
realities being built by developing and speculative technologies are being
confused with having exclusively immersive properties. An Extropian example
that comes to mind is the dream of uploading our minds into an immersed
collective-super-conscious entity. As far as I understand, this is still a
desirable Extropian vision.
TOMORROW: Though I cannot pretend to speak for every self-proclaimed
Extropian, I for one do not aim at Borganization. I certainly aim to change
and grow, understand; I do not aim to obliterate my individuality, however.
JEREMY: Has “immersion” become synonymous with “evolution”? If not, do you
see the possibility that our definition of the world “virtual” is at this
point narrow and that a future VR will include extroverted realities that
harmonize with the“real” rather than harvest it?
TOMORROW: I recognize the possibility that you describe--that virtual
realities will always retain links with external meatspace. And, indeed, I
regard purely virtual realities as more a theoretical possibility than a
likely eventuality. But at any rate, your question concerns conditions at
too far a remove to allow very confident claims.
JEREMY: As of today (November 08, 2001), I have heard the news that the first
single-molecule transistor has been developed by Bell Labs (a division of
Lucent Technologies). From hearing this news, I am reminded of a prediction
by Wired Magazine (I think in 1998) that if we progress according to plan, we
will have the first commercial nano-assembler on the market by 2004. Given
the current rate of technological benchmarks and breakthroughs, do you think
that such a prediction by Wired may still be accurate?
TOMORROW: No, I would not bet on that prediction.
JEREMY: Given this, what do you think will be the first commercial
applications of the assembler? Do you envision any immediate
artistic/cultural/aesthetic applications of the assembler once it is on the
TOMORROW: I predict the first assemblers will work mainly on materials
manufacturing, since they offer a relatively easy first job. For that
reason, I do not foresee any immediate culture effects--unless you include
recouping R&D costs as part of culture!
JEREMY: Here is an elaboration/extension on Question #2. Since September the
11th, there has been a lot of government money thrown towards the U.S.
National Nanotechnology Initiative and Nanotech startup companies such as
Zyvex Corp. in Dallas. Given the logic of the “trickle down effect”, when
do you see this technology filtering down from the Defense and Medical
priorities down to the level of the personal prosumer?
TOMORROW: I'm not really very well placed to make predictions on timetables,
so I'll only venture a range from 2015-2050.
JEREMY: The Foresight Institute has given a lot of attention to cautious and
thoughtful discussions towards the practical and moral implications of
Nanotechnology but little foresight has happened with regards to discussions
dealing with the future of cultural discourse once this promised technology
has arrived.. At first glance, this may not seem too strange because the
immediate foresight necessarily needs to deal with issues that may mold or
destroy our environment totally. However, the apparent lack of initiating
any active cultural thinktank devoted to foresight may be lacking foresight
itself as K. Eric Drexler in his book “Engines of Creation” (1986) seemed
to suggest that the end-goal of Nanotechnology is to create a generation of
liberated Performance Artists because Nanotechnology should in theory,
provide for all our material wants and needs. The only thing left to explore
and maintain would ultimately be culture. So, what importance do you place
the value of developing a creative thinktank at his time? Or, do you think
it is best for the technology to arrive first before the context is
appropriate for thinking about the specific direction that creative
individuals will take?
TOMORROW: I think Foresight has taken the correct focus. To try to predict
culture would at best waste time, and at worst fritter away resources better
spent on more concrete and preliminary matters. The very nature of culture
renders it immune to prediction; it arises out of the interactions of free
individuals in a particular place and time. We can only wait and see--with
great anticipation--what tomorrow's artists will create with
nanotechnological tools. I think Foresight has taken the correct focus. To
try to predict culture would at best waste time, and at worst fritter away
resources better spent on more concrete and preliminary matters. The very
nature of culture renders it immune to prediction; it arises out of the
interactions of free individuals in a particular place and time. We can only
wait and see--with great anticipation--what tomorrow's artists will create
with nanotechnological tools.
Jeremy Turner is instructing a new course on the “History of Digital Audio”
starting this April, 2002 at the Vancouver Community College in Vancouver,
Canada. Turner is also a composer and inter-disciplinary artist. He is the
co-founder of an international artist collective, 536 (www.fivethreesix.com).
Turner used to be a regular Arts/Entertainment critic for AOL Canada and
website reviewer for Intelligentagent.com in New York.
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