127 episodes

Stuff to listen to on the way to Black Rock City. Or if you're stuck in D Lot. Or anywhere, anytime.

Aural Pleasures for the Ride to BRC Burning Man Project

    • Society & Culture

Stuff to listen to on the way to Black Rock City. Or if you're stuck in D Lot. Or anywhere, anytime.

    Mayors of Columbia, SC and Reno, NV Interviewed on Playa

    Mayors of Columbia, SC and Reno, NV Interviewed on Playa

    Burning Man Project Communications Director Megan Miller interviews Mayor Stephen Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina and Mayor Hillary Schieve of Reno, Nevada during their visit to Black Rock City in 2018. They came as part of a delegation of 11 mayors from the U.S. Conference of Mayors who came to learn what their cities could learn from our city.

    (Photo by Robert Burnett)

    • 15 min
    Burning Man And AI Have Co-Evolved (Anselm Engle)

    Burning Man And AI Have Co-Evolved (Anselm Engle)

    It's often said that Burning Man and the internet grew up together: both started emerging at around the same time in the late 80s, went through a "wild wild west" phase in the 1990s, when they were seen as counter-cultures. Both started to get really big around the turn of the century, and both became massive cultural phenomenon after that (though, granted, it's a hell of a lot easier to find someone who's never heard of Burning Man than it is someone who's never heard of the internet.) Many of the people who made the internet what it is went to Burning Man - and both imply new forms of social organizing.

    Anselm Engle, a member of Burning Man's IT team, thinks the similarities go deeper. Both Burning Man and the internet were born out of the same social forces and cultural movements, and thus have been moving in parallel - one emphasizing pure information, the other grounding us firmly in the immediate physical moment, but both still riding the crest of the same wave.

    Which is why he thinks Burning Man can be described as an open=source, cloud based, culture — Burning Man and AI have co-evolved.

    • 27 min
    The Human Symphony (Michael Bess)

    The Human Symphony (Michael Bess)

    Vanderbilt Professor of History Michael Bess is the author of the forthcoming book What makes us human? From neurons to the Sistine Chapel, and is studying the technologies that may destroy us, including artificial intelligence and genetic engineering.

    The risks of catastrophic failures, he says, are significant — basically our newest technologies are a car without a break, and if you drive one of those too fast, you're probably going to crash. Anyone interested in the survival of our species should be asking ourselves: how do we slow down enough to understand what the problems we're really facing are?

    • 45 min
    Paradox Is the Heart of Humanity (Kirk Schneider)

    Paradox Is the Heart of Humanity (Kirk Schneider)

    In his previous work, leading Existential Psychologist Kirk Schneider has put the experience of "awe" at the center of human psychology. Without experiencing awe, life tends to become flat, mechanical, and unhealthy — a prison to be broken out of, rather than a possibility to grow into.

    In his new book, The Spirituality of Awe:  Challenges to the Robotic Revolution, Schneider points out that awe itself is paradoxical: it generates fear and hope, a sense of grandeur and insignificance, of strength and weakness, the imminent and the transcendent ... not one right after the other, but all at once. And it is our ability to have these simultaneous experiences, these experiential paradoxes that cannot be resolved rationally, and be present to them, and integrate them into our lives, that is the essence of our humanity.

    • 26 min
    Artificial Intelligence Is Just a Story, and We Can Tell a Better One (Jaron Lanier)

    Artificial Intelligence Is Just a Story, and We Can Tell a Better One (Jaron Lanier)

    Amazon has recently confirmed reports that its home operating system "Alexa," has been spontaneously laughing for no apparent reason, occasionally refusing to obey commands, and sometimes performing actions that were never asked for.

    No one has any idea why — is this a bug? A glitch? A hacker attack? — but internet pioneer and Microsoft researcher Jaron Lanier is probably not surprised.

    In his 2017 book Dawn of the New Everything, Lanier points out the startling degree to which these home operating systems — not just Amazon's but from every company on the market — visually resemble "HAL," the AI system in 2001: A Space Odyssey which cannot process conflicting missions and turns homicidal.

    • 23 min
    Empowering Robots Are Ethical Robots (Christoph Salge)

    Empowering Robots Are Ethical Robots (Christoph Salge)

    The problem with the way we try to give AI ethics is that we design these ethics to work for the status quo, the way things are right now.

    But things never stay the same for long, the status quo is constantly changing, and so that sets our AI ethics up to fail.

    That's the insight of Dr. Christoph Salge, a professor of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire and New York University's Game Innovation Lab. Instead of giving Artificial Intelligence a set of rules to follow that will become obsolete as the world (and our needs) change, we should give AI principles to follow that can adapt to our own changing needs.

    • 23 min

Customer Reviews

2Jane ,

Coyote's Memory

How Coyote can remember all this detail escapes me. I mean, I was there too, but can barely eek out two minutes worth of tales. I suppose the mind of a true storyteller is predisposed to store away such gems in all their brilliance, and to take them out later as a gift, given on the long road to "The Other Side". We left Frisco at noon. It's 5pm and we're not past Sacto. Thanks, Coyote, for all these memories.

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