216 episodes

Join paleontologist-futurist Michael Garfield and an avalanche of amazing guests for deep but irreverent discussions at the edge of the known and knowable: on prehistory and post-humanity and deep time, non-human agency and non-duality, science fiction and self-fulfilling prophecies, complex systems and sustainability (or lack thereof), psychedelics as a form of training for proliferating futures, art and creativity as service and as inquiry. New episodes on a roughly biweekly basis. Get bonus material and support the show at patreon.com/michaelgarfield or michaelgarfield.substack.com

michaelgarfield.substack.com

FUTURE FOSSILS Michael Garfield

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 230 Ratings

Join paleontologist-futurist Michael Garfield and an avalanche of amazing guests for deep but irreverent discussions at the edge of the known and knowable: on prehistory and post-humanity and deep time, non-human agency and non-duality, science fiction and self-fulfilling prophecies, complex systems and sustainability (or lack thereof), psychedelics as a form of training for proliferating futures, art and creativity as service and as inquiry. New episodes on a roughly biweekly basis. Get bonus material and support the show at patreon.com/michaelgarfield or michaelgarfield.substack.com

michaelgarfield.substack.com

    🐦‍⬛🦖🕵🏼‍♀️ 216 - Jingmai O'Connor on Dead Birds & Living Paleontologists

    🐦‍⬛🦖🕵🏼‍♀️ 216 - Jingmai O'Connor on Dead Birds & Living Paleontologists

    This week I speak with Jingmai O’Connor (Staff Page | Instagram), Associate Curator of Fossil Reptiles (a.k.a. Priestess of Dead Dino-Birds) at The Field Museum in Chicago, about the magnificent strangeness of Mesozoic flying reptiles, the perverse anthropology of paleontologists, and much else. Contrary to expectations for a show with “fossils” in its title, I don’t ordinarily interview people who actually dig up prehistoric creatures, but as I make perhaps too obvious in this enthusiastic get-to-know-each-other session, I still care deeply for the treasured mysteries that lie in store beneath our feet and love the people who devote their lives to studying the ancient biosphere — even if the system’s crooked and we fight about as much as dinosaurs themselves.
    Here’s to Jingmai and her singular life and mind! Do yourself a favor and acquire her book When Dinosaurs Conquered The Skies, truly a treat for all ages, and then if you want to leap like Microraptor into the thicket of her publications you can scope her work on Google Scholar.  (And shout out to her friends Rextooth, who do in fact make awesome dino comics.)
    ✨ Support The Show:
    • Subscribe on Substack or Patreon for COPIOUS extras, including private Discord server channels and MANY secret episodes!• Make one-off donations at @futurefossils on Venmo, $manfredmacx on CashApp, or @michaelgarfield on PayPal.• Buy the music of Future Fossils (in this episode: “Olympus Mons” & “Sonnet A”) on Bandcamp.• Buy the books we discuss at the Future Fossils Bookshop.org page and I’ll get a cut.• Browse and buy original paintings and prints or email me to commission new work!
    ✨ PLUS! New Single & Music Video “Indecision” from The Age of Reunion
    Listen on Bandcamp/Spotify or Watch on YouTube/Instagram.
    This one's a Jon-Brion-inspired riff on the phenomenology of near-death experiences and the neurophysiology of 5MEO-DMT, a quick trip up above the plane of normal waking life to see the panoply of possibility exfoliating from the Godhead in each moment. How do you choose your next life? (Trick question.)
    Join my small but gorgeous mob by preordering the entire album at Bandcamp (or subscribe on Substack/Patreon to have it all at once right now), and then go talk to integrate your experience with Daniel Shankin.


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit michaelgarfield.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 33 min
    🫂👩🏼‍💻🔍 215 - Social Science & Collective Intelligence with Brigham Adams of Goodly Labs

    🫂👩🏼‍💻🔍 215 - Social Science & Collective Intelligence with Brigham Adams of Goodly Labs

    This week I speak with social scientist Nicholas Brigham Adams (Twitter, LinkedIn) about his work at Goodly Labs to create new infrastructure for collective intelligence — new systems for collective fact-checking and sense-making that can help us rise to the occasion of our inherently social, planet-scale challenges.  And the time for this work is definitely NOW.  As paths across social, economic, and ecological networks continue to shrink due to the increasing connectivity of technological systems, humankind migrates from an Earth on which most events seem impossibly distant and irrelevant to an Earth defined by nonlinear, often exponential impacts of seemingly-trivial developments anywhere on the planet.  This is the century — and the decade — in which many of us have no choice but to learn, the easy way or the hard way, the consequences of our increasing vulnerability to and power over one another.  And one of the places this is most vividly apparent is in how truths and untruths ripple at unprecedented speeds across the globe, forcing us into a new and intense cosmopolitanism.  In the 1940s, the message was “Loose lips sink ships.”  Perhaps the message for the 2020s is “Cognitive biases spread mind viruses.”
    If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ve likely read my 2017 science fiction short story “An Oral History of The End of ‘Reality’”, a peek into our present-day post-truth carnival funhouse where AI-assisted forgeries demand vastly more nuanced and sophisticated methods for navigating fundamental uncertainty, far greater humility about our validity claims, and revolutionary tools for thinking together.  We have to learn to communicate the degree and dimension of our confidence and of our doubt — to learn how we can rigorously restore the trust necessary for coordination at scale — and Goodly Labs is, in my opinion, one of the most promising efforts in the world right now in this regard.  2024 is very likely to feel like the end of reality for a lot of us, and the stakes are immense:  fair presidential elections, concerted ecological action, and effective AI steering policy are all domains of existential risk in which we MUST be able to reconstruct some kind of minimally viable consensus reality.  I’d be considerably more worried for our future if I did not know that there are people like Brigham Adams and his amazing team of academics, founders, engineers, and journalists tilting their spears directly at this issue and working around the clock to help midwife that Holy Grail of communications technology:  a sane and healthy global brain.
    Announcement: The Future Fossils Book Club is back! Join me for to discuss Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly on Saturday 27 January and Saturday 10 February from 12p-2p MST. I’ll send Substack and Patreon supporters the link to both calls soon, and there will be a dedicated private discussion channel in the Discord server.
    ✨ Mostly-Complete List of Citations:
    Study: On Twitter, false news travels faster than true stories (MIT News)LOGIN 2009 keynote: gaming in the world of 2030 by Charles Stross (transcript)Ready Player One by Ernst ClineThe meaning of life in a world without work by Yuval Noah Harari (read at web.archive.org or 12ft.io)Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel KahnemanMotivated Numeracy and The Politics-ridden Brain by Stuff To Blow Your Mind (podcast)Coming Into Being by William Irwin ThompsonExplosive Proofs of Mathematical Truths by Simon DeDeo (lecture video)Stewardship of global collective behavior by Joseph Bak-Coleman et al. (paper)OpenAI's anarchist science chief is a techno-spiritual culthead (Athenil)So You Want To Be A Sorceror In The Age of Mythic Powers by Josh Schrei (podcast)Saul PerlmutterOccupy MovementJamie JoyceLynn MargulisDouglas EngelbartAlexander BeinerDouglas RushkoffSteve JobsStewart BrandW. Brian ArthurJim RuttSense8 (television series)
    ✨ Support My Work:
    • Subscribe on Substack or P

    • 1 hr 39 min
    👁️🔄📀 214 - J.F. Martel, Phil Ford, & Megan Phipps on Weird Cybernetics: Waking Up From The Ecstasy

    👁️🔄📀 214 - J.F. Martel, Phil Ford, & Megan Phipps on Weird Cybernetics: Waking Up From The Ecstasy

    ✨ Subscribe and review at Apple Podcasts and/or Spotify. Unborn archaeologists thank you!
    Merry Christmas, Future Fossils!  This is Michael Garfield welcoming you to episode 214 of the podcast that explores our place in time — and as demonstrated in the Dr. Who and Aliens franchises, Blade Runner 2049, and Batman Returns, Christmas is a fruitful backdrop for the pondering of big ideas — a moment in which we can see with greater clarity than usual the unity of everyday mundane humanity and transcendental cosmic matters.  In other words, perfect timing for this episode’s conversation about cybernetics and the philosophy of the weird with Megan Phipps, Phil Ford, and J.F. Martel.  
    Lecturer in Media and Information at University of Amsterdam and Phd Research Fellow at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt who writes trippy and insightful papers on topics like Brian Eno, circuit bending, and surveillance capitalism.  Phil is an author and musician who teaches musicology at IU Bloomington and infuses his curricula with the profundity he has polished through years of committed Zen practice.  J.F. is an author, film-maker, and para-academic online course instructor in media studies and magick, who runs Dungeon and Dragons campaigns on the side.  Together, J.F. and Phil host the delicious Weird Studies Podcast, every episode of which triggers in me the Holy Grail of podcast affective listener programming: namely, that I wish I were in the room and part of these discussions.  Luckily, I’ve had that opportunity before, to talk about my writing on the material agency of glass in our scientific era…and both of them have been on Future Fossils also, both alone and together.  But getting all four of us on one call is a rare and precious thing — and now’s the perfect moment to rap about the emergence of the cybernetic era as a kind of numinous event in human history, a divine invasion that transfigures us and forces us to think about which boundaries *should* melt away and which should stay where evolution learned to put them.  
    You see, we live in an age of multilayer networks — and when our view of humankind transmogrifies from the static image of divine forms to a fluid wash of interweaving processes, the self becomes a metamorphic fugitive and  a work of art. When everything’s connected, politics is an aesthetic act and art acquires moral force. Advanced   technologies have granted us godlike powers to reshape the world in our image…but “life finds a way” and there are always gremlins, aliens, dinosaurs, and elves lurking latent in the tidy systems diagrams. The beauty of progress necessarily conceals the ugly externalities, the entropy exported in our efforts to arrange wild nature into an image of our lost garden. 
    So what does cybernetics as a way of seeing change for us in terms of how we live?  What does it mean to be human in an age of very lively, seemingly intelligent machines?    
    But before we dive headlong into this recording of a conversation so good our first attempt was erased by trickster intervention, let me express my thanks to everyone who has helped me and Future Fossils through a year of (what I hope remains) extraordinary challenge. This show is weird and obstinate in its refusal of clear definition. I follow my muses where they lead me and leave these discussions and soliloquys as fossils of a process of discovery and creativity…and staying true to this defies the logic of the market, which would have us classify ourselves as tidily as possible so we are pre-chewed for the algorithms that determine whether what we make is ever noticed by those over the horizon of organic peer-to-peer suggestion networks. If you’re listening, chances are a friend told you about this show — I’d be surprised if you just found it randomly, and definitely not because a sponsor amplified it. I started Future Fossils under pressure from my friends but keep it going as a kind of Benedictine

    • 1 hr 20 min
    🕸️⛩️💻 213 - Amber Case & Michael Zargham on Entangled Technologies & Design As Governance

    🕸️⛩️💻 213 - Amber Case & Michael Zargham on Entangled Technologies & Design As Governance

    ✨ Subscribe and review at Apple Podcasts and/or Spotify. Unborn archaeologists thank you!
    This week I speak with two of the most thoughtful people I know in tech, cyborg anthropologist Amber Case and systems engineer Michael Zargham (Founder & CEO of BlockScience) — who work together on tools for building trust between tech users and tech companies at the Superset DAO and each contribute diverse value to society through myriad creative projects in their own right (like Amber’s totally fabulous music group Glo Torch!). Thanks to the generous invitation of Regen Foundation CEO Gregory Landua, I met Amber and Michael for an in-person recording at the Regen Summit — easily one of the most inspiring Web3 events I’ve ever attended — in between jam sessions with a few dozen others working at the intersections of regenerative finance, ecosystem stewardship, distributed ledgers, and civtech.
    This episode only catches a tiny sliver of the awesome conversations that we had while gathered face-to-face, but it’s a potent morsel nonetheless. We talked about the market’s perverse fascination with talking appliances as a failed attempt to reboot animism, how good design empowers and bad design deprives by making choices possible or not, and why it’s time for a new kind of terms-of-service agreement that allows users to migrate en masse from platforms that have violated people’s trust…along with much else. A very lucid and articulate, yet very playful, trialogue on matters that deserve sincerity but also benefit from childlike curiosity and warmth!
    Enjoy…
    ✨ Support My Work As A Public Good:
    • Subscribe on Substack, Patreon, and/or Bandcamp for MANY extras, including a insiders-only discussion group and extra channels on our public Discord Server.• Browse my art and buy original paintings and prints (or commission new work).• Show music:  “Sonnet A” from my Double-Edged Sword EP (Bandcamp, Spotify).• Buy the books we mention on the show at the Future Fossils Bookshop.org page.• Make one-off donations directly at @futurefossils on Venmo, $manfredmacx on CashApp, or @michaelgarfield on PayPal.• Save up to $70 on an Apollo Neuro wearable from 12/1-12/31 with my affiliate code.
    ✨ Related Links For The Intellectually Voracious:
    Amber’s Twitter, LinkedIn, and Medium.
    Michael’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Medium, and Google Scholar.
    Citation Statistics from 110 Years of Physical Reviewby Sidney Redner
    How Design is Governanceby Amber Case
    We Need More Control Over Our Own User Databy Amber Case
    The Evolution of Surveillance, Part 4: Augments & Amputeesby Michael Garfield (on technology as an other-controlled prosthesis and the vulnerability of cyborgs)
    “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream”by Harlan Ellison
    ✨ SOME Upcoming Episodes:
    • Jingmai O’Connor, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Chicago, on her singular life and work.
    • J.F. Martel & Phil Ford of Weird Studies Podcast and Megan Phipps of The University of Amsterdam on Weird Cybernetics.
    • David Jay Brown and Sara Phinn on their field guide to the entities of DMT hyperspace, published next year by Inner Traditions.• Brigham Adams of Goodly Labs on social science and collective intelligence tools for a memetic immune system.
    • Michael Skye of VisionForce on his work to help confront the crises faced by contemporary boys and men.
    • Neil Theise, professor of pathology at NYU, on complex systems science and his new book, Notes on Complexity.
    ✨ Related Archive Episodes:
    211 - Adam Aronovich on A Cultural Anthropology for The Psychedelic Internet
    207 - Tech & Community LIVE at Junkyard Social Club with Evan Snyder, Ryan Madson, Roger Toennis, Aaron Gabriel, & Juicy Life
    204 - Jamie Joyce on The Society Library and Tools for Making Sense Together
    197 - Tadaaki Hozumi on Japanese Esotericism, Lost Civilizations, and The Singularity (Part 1)
    180 - Web3 & Complex Systems with Park Bach, S

    • 1 hr 11 min
    🌏🚜🫀212 - Manfred Laubichler & Geoffrey West on Life In The Anthropocene & Living Inside The Technosphere

    🌏🚜🫀212 - Manfred Laubichler & Geoffrey West on Life In The Anthropocene & Living Inside The Technosphere

    Subscribe and review at Apple Podcasts and/or Spotify. Or wherever!
    This week on the show I speak with physicist Geoffrey West (SFI) and evolutionary biologist Manfred Laubichler (ASU, SFI) about the transformations that our geosphere, biosphere, technosphere, and noosphere are undergoing as the “extended phenotype” of human innovation runs rampant across the surface of Planet Earth.  These two distinguished scientists are some of the most profound thinkers I’ve ever encountered, helping midwife a new understanding of what it means to be human and a planetary citizen. I have wanted Geoffrey West on Future Fossils since well before I even started working for SFI in 2018, so this episode is the consummation of a years-long journey and I cannot be more excited to share it with you!  It feels a little like crossing the streams in Ghostbusters, but we live in an increasingly-intertwingled world, so let’s make the best of it!  I wouldn’t be where I am today without these two fine minds and their important work.  Enjoy…
    “The consequences of the Anthropocene are the product of innovations, and yet somehow we think the way out is through EVEN MORE innovation. This is a predicament…Innovation has to be looked at critically. One of the interesting things in the history of life is the OPPRESSION of innovation.”– Manfred Laubichler
    ✨ Support Future Fossils & Feed My Kids:
    • Become a patron on Substack, Patreon, and/or Bandcamp for MANY extras, including a members-only FB Group and private channels on our Discord Server• Donate directly: @futurefossils on Venmo • $manfredmacx on CashApp • @michaelgarfield on PayPal• Browse my art and buy original paintings and prints (or commission new work)• Buy (NEARLY) all of the books we mention on the show at the Future Fossils Bookshop.org page• Show music:  “Sonnet A” from my 2008 Double-Edged Sword EP (Bandcamp, Spotify)• Follow my music and awesome, eclectic playlists on Spotify
    ✨ Special thanks to my friends at Noonautics.org & Gregory Landua of The Regen Foundation for supporting both the show and pioneering research to make the world a better place!
    ✨ Your Anthropocene & Technosphere Syllabus:
    More Is Different: Broken symmetry and the nature of the hierarchical structure of science.Phil Anderson
    Population growth, climate change create an ‘Anthropocene engine' that's changing the planetManfred Laubichler
    Scale and information-processing thresholds in Holocene social evolutionJaeweon Shin et al.
    Policies may influence large-scale behavioral tippingKarine Nyborg et al.
    Teaching the Anthropocene from a Global Perspective (2014!)Manfred Laubichler & Jürgen Renn
    More from them:Seminar: Co-Evolutionary Perspectives on the TechnosphereAnthropocene Campus | Technosphere / Co-Evolution, presented by Jürgen Renn and Manfred LaubichlerThe Growth and Differentiation of Metabolism: Extended Evolutionary Dynamics in the Technosphere
    SFI Community Event - Panel discussion on the Past, Present, and Future of the AnthropoceneSander van der Leeuw, D.A. Wallach, & Geoffrey West, moderated by Manfred Laubichler
    Welcome to the Future: Four Pivotal Trends You Should Be Aware OfEd William on the work of Dror Poleg
    The Future is Fungi: The Rise and Rhizomes of Mushroom CultureJeff VanderMeer, Kaitlin Smith, & Merlin Sheldrake, moderated by Corey Pressman
    Does the Ecology of Somatic Tissue Normally Constrain the Evolution of Cancer?John Pepper at SFI
    The Acronym Behind Our Wildest AI Dreams and NightmaresRe: TESCREAL, coined by Timnit Gebru & Émile Torres
    Complexity Literacy for a Sustainable Digital Transition: Cases and Arguments From Transdisciplinary Education ProgramsGerald Steiner
    Relevant episodes from my past life as the host of SFI’s Complexity Podcast:
    Olivia Judson on Major Energy Transitions in Evolutionary HistoryMelanie Moses on Metabolic Scaling in Biology & ComputationChris Kempes on The Physical Constraints on

    • 1 hr 12 min
    💻🍄🧙🏼‍♂️ 211 - Adam Aronovich on A Cultural Anthropology for The Psychedelic Internet

    💻🍄🧙🏼‍♂️ 211 - Adam Aronovich on A Cultural Anthropology for The Psychedelic Internet

    Subscribe and review at Apple Podcasts and/or Spotify. Or wherever!
    This week on Future Fossils we pierce the veil with Adam Aronovich, cultural anthropologist and psychedelic integration therapist, to talk about the strange brew of web-connected healing and web-inflicted paranoia and delusions of grandeur, conspiracy epistemics, how people are being treated as robots, and robots are being treated as people, and engaging reality directly versus engaging through the manipulation of symbols. Among other things! It’s a perfect treat for tricky times…
    Adam’s Website | LinkedIn | Instagram | Re Precision Health Page
    ✨ Support Future Fossils & Feed My Kids:
    • Become a patron on Substack, Patreon, and/or Bandcamp for MANY extras, including a members-only FB Group and private channels on our Discord Server• Donate directly: @futurefossils on Venmo • $manfredmacx on CashApp • @michaelgarfield on PayPal• Browse my art and buy original paintings and prints (or commission new work)• Buy (NEARLY) all of the books we mention on the show at the Future Fossils Bookshop.org page• Show music: “Autocatalysis” (Live Extended Remix) coming this Friday to my Bandcamp!• Follow my music and awesome, eclectic playlists on Spotify
    ✨ Special thanks to my friends at Noonautics.org for supporting both the show and pioneering research!
    ✨ A mostly-but-not-entirely-complete list of references:
    An Oral History of The End of RealityMAPS Psychedelic Science 2023“A general model for the origin of allometric scaling laws in biology” by Geoffrey West, James Brown, Brian EnquistNew Religions of the 21st Century (Yuval Noah Harari’s Google Tech Talk)The Matrix (franchise)A Glitch in The Matrix (documentary)Doug Rushkoff “fractalnoia” (FF 67)Stanislav Grof“So You Want To Be a Sorcerer in the Age of Mythic Powers?” on The Emerald PodcastWilliam Irwin Thompson - The Borg or BorgesJorge Luis Borges - On Exactitude in ScienceJean Baudrillard - Simulacra and SimulationsChatGPTDouglas Adams - The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (Encyclopedia Galactica)Simon DeDeo on plural epistemology (interviewed by MG on Complexity Podcast 72)Erik Davis (FF 132)Bruce Damer (FF 109)Ken Adams (FF 209)Shane Mauss (FF 58)What the heck happened to Reality Sandwich?Mondo 2000 + R.U. Sirius


    This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit michaelgarfield.substack.com/subscribe

    • 1 hr 14 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
230 Ratings

230 Ratings

nihaonana ,

Always introspective

Such a delight, always thoughtful and thought provoking. Give it a listen and expand your ideas on almost everything .

tommur ,

I dug this up while visiting the future and could not put it down until returning

Future Fossils allows Michael Garfield’s expansie pan-exclectic hyper-integrating genious and curiosity to spill out of its mysterious source, prod some of the most interesting thinkers of our time into a reverie of collaborative insight generation, and shine out through the internet to enlighten, disquite, and entertain us all. FF is one of the original and still very relevant portals into emerging post-post-modern thought and radical possibility-scapes. Good stuff.

Ilikewaterbottles ,

Eclectic, insightful, and entertaining

An eclectic thinker if there ever was one. Michael is comfortable discussing everything from AI to dinosaurs to psychedelics to the evolution of the eye —plus jazz, aliens, and creativity among other things. I can’t say I always understand everything he says, but I always come away with a few new thoughts and a helluvalotta books/movies/music to dive into.

Top Podcasts In Society & Culture

iHeartPodcasts
Vox Media Podcast Network
This American Life
New York Times Opinion
Chris Williamson
KQED

You Might Also Like

Phil Ford and J. F. Martel
Santa Fe Institute
The Jim Rutt Show
Against Everyone With Conner Habib
Douglas Rushkoff
Hermitix