.@JasonSilva on cognitive ecstasy, shots of awe & more @cannes_lions yesterday

I’m not at Cannes this year but yesterday techno-philosopher Jason Silva took to the stage there with PHD to speak about the exponential leaps and opportunities in biotech, genomics, nanotech and robotics that we should expect in the years to come. The Atlantic has called Jason the “Timothy Leary of the viral video age”. He hosts Brain Games on National Geographic Channel, which set a record as the highest-rated series launch in the channel’s history (an average of 1.5 million viewers for the first two episodes).

You can see the whole talk here, but this is a shorter interview with Jason and PHD Worldwide CEO Mike Cooper behind the scenes at Cannes.

A lot of us were able to watch the livestream as it was one of the seminars that made it through the public vote, and here are things I noted down – phrases, sentences – that were amusing and interesting in equal doses:

– cognitive ecstasy (snippets of what that means on Jason’s Shots of Awe YouTube channel)

– shots of philosophical espresso (likewise)

– ‘Robots will inherit the earth. Yes they will, and they will be our children’ (!!!)

– McLuhan’s quote on PC’s being the new LSD back in the day (and he was friends with Timothy Leary, no wonder! This Boing Boing piece documents their friendship)

how ants have used the internet’s TCP algorithm for ages

– Stuart Kauffman on the ‘adjacent possible‘ and Steven Johnson’s work building on that

I’ll admit Jason was a bit overwhelming; he has this crazy energy that shines through like a lighthouse illuminating the dark sea on a cloudy night, and a lot of it is Ray Kurzweil/Inception territory.

He closed his speech by saying ‘we have a responsibility to awe’.

Can’t argue with that for a philosophy of life.

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Well done @madebymany on @schoolincloud

Very proud of my old alma mater Made by Many. They’ve been working with Sugata Mitra, Microsoft, TED and IDEO to launch the School in the Cloud, formally announced at TED 2014. Read their blog post about the design process here and the TED Prize blog post here. The School in the Cloud genuinely is ‘an organic movement toward more inclusive, universal education’ and one of the best social good projects I’ve seen lately.

Impressed with what I’m seeing of @qz

I’ve been a fan of Quartz for a while. It is a news property that is creating journalistic content really thoughtfully tweaked for mobile consumption, keeping in mind modern content consumption patterns. One of their team came in to talk to us at work late last year and gave us a great look at their business principles, and I’ve also had the chance to meet some of their London team. This morning, I read that they’re expanding into India soon (‘there is something about India that is such a metaphor for the global economy’).

This video features their publisher Jay Lauf speaking at the Digiday Publishing Conference in New York this week and spells out their approach. Worth your time.

The Making of a Modern Publisher: Atlantic Media’s Quartz from Digiday on Vimeo.

You guys! Buy @hackcircus Issue 2!

bot

I’ve contributed to Issue 2 of Hack Circus with a story about my bot alter-ego on Twitter, created kindly by Henry Cooke. Henry’s explanation of the tech behind it in the article is what makes it way more interesting, if you ask me. He spoke about bots and suchlike at the Hack Circus event in Sheffield yesterday, can’t wait to see his presentation online.

Issue 2 is themed around reality and features things like:

  • How to tell for sure whether you’re a brain in a jar
  • What scientists know about ghosts
  • Interview with The Long Now Foundation
  • Peeking inside a radar operators’ manual
  • Why we find meaning in bots
  • Real devices from fictional worlds
  • Kate Genevieve’s magic and sensory perception research
  • Why some people think the Universe is a hologram

Buy Hack Circus Issue 2 here!

WhatsApp, circa 2012 (via @andjelicaaa)

Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought. At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it’s all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out… And at the end of the day the result of it all is a slightly different advertising banner in your browser or on your mobile screen.

Remember, when advertising is involved you the user are the product.

WhatsApp lay down the facts back in 2012, evoking that Jeff Hammerbacher quote ‘The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads’. I wonder what Facebook is going to make of their very noble intentions now.

(WhatsApp blog link via Ana Andjelic on Twitter)