His latest book called The Art Instinct - Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution combines two fascinating and contentious
disciplines—art and evolutionary science—in a provocative new work that
will change forever the way we think about the arts, from painting to
literature to movies to pottery. Human tastes in the arts are evolutionary traits, shaped by Darwinian selection. They
are not, as the past century of art criticism and academic theory would
have it, just socially constructed.
There are many incredible, fascinating and inspiring videos and presentations available on the web and this seems to increase every year. Below one of the better ones in my view. The reason is an upcoming science fiction novel called DAEMON - Bot-Mediated Reality by Daniel Suarez. Recently, he gave a high-impact presentation at the LongNow Foundation, of which I am an active/paid member since the beginning of 2008.
DAEMON deals with bots (software based on narrow AI incorporating algorithms for specific search, retrieve and actionable goals) and the future of the (mobile) web. Daniel shows us that bots are on the rise and that they redefine what it means to be human. What strikes me about this presentation can be summed up as follows:
The first time it impressed me, but by the time of the second viewing this video really inspired me to broaden my vision.
Bots are within my field of interest since May 2005 when I worked with/for Yme Bosma and Bas Verhart within MediaRepublic for extending the opportunities of the Eccky bot. Artificial Intelligence (AI), both narrow and general, is key to the development of chatbots.
Recently, I visited the The Singularity Summit 2008, a remarkable and highly recommended event with speakers like Esther Dyson, Ray Kurzweil, Nova Spivack, Eric Baum, Neil Gerschenfeld, Cynthia Breazeal (fantastic!) and Ben Goertzel. Many talks in this one-day-event considered AI, bots and robots.
Daniel Suarez raises several important questions based on the rise of bots. They focus on a new Internet (DarkNet with limited bot-access), lifelogging, pattern recognition, copyright (User Owned Data?), security, terrorism, privacy, authentication, authenticity, identity, outsourcing, (hyper)efficiency, games and virtual worlds and new organizational structures.
Amazing insights related to advanced reputational (human) systems, social networks and Mobile Augmented Reality as a gateway to a newer, more secured and better Internet (DarkNet) as to block unlimited powers of bots in the next decades in the current internet.
Bots are also related to the current global financial crisis. Bots are in almost all cases linear, dualistic and digital in nature. The non-linearity of the real world (see the remarks by Nassim Taleb) in most cases might imply sub-optimal decision making by financial bots as can be seen by our current crisis.
Recommended viewing by Peter Schwartz, Paul Saffo and Kevin Kelly! The book will be officially released on January 9th, 2009.
Neal Stephenson - author of Snow Crash and one of the inspirators for the web, Metaverse and Multiverse - shows us his views on (inner) geeks, science fiction, different genres, tv, cinema, books and taking your audience more seriously on an intellectual level to boost identification. Hurray for all the geeks !
A great historic, knowledgeable, funny and original overview of digital media in general and how they thrive. Now and in the future. Open/generative or closed systems ? In case you are interested in the evolution of the internet, this video is for you. But also in case you want to protect your privacy or if you are a developer for Facebook. Based on the book Future of the Internet by Jonathan Zittrain. Highly recommended!
WOW, just saw this 1 hour presentation and Q&A with George Lakoff on Authors@Google, one of my favorite channels in YouTube. He just released a new book The Political Mind. Very powerful and clear presentation on neurology, psychology, mirror neurons/empathy and its impact in politics. What is most striking to me is the clarity, especially the second part of this talk covering topics like nurturing kids and Obama. Highly recommended !
I am reading a remarkable, high-impact, deep, original, inspiring and profound book from MIT called Theory U written by C. Otto Scharmer. It is difficult to summarize this outstanding book due to its enormous richness but in my view and experience it is in the league of the works from Jared Diamond, Kevin Kelly and Howard Rheingold. It is a spiritual, personal and business journey combined. Very special indeed. And it resonates with an incredible amount of my own experiences and observations, especially within my intensive Twitter community as a transformative, open ended journey since March this year.
I just can't stop reading it, every page is so full with ideas. Some hints on topics: blind spots, growth, spirituality, innovation, creativity, leadership, change management, web 2.0, globalization, communities, learning, smart mobs, evolution of organizations, democracy, capitalism, open source, emergence, complexity and many examples from private life, politics (Iraq) and business.
Referenced leading authors are among others (be prepared for a long shot): Brian Arthur, Argyris, Senge, Brand, Carr, Castells, Christensen, Coase, Collins and Porras, Dalai Lama, de Geus, Florida, Friedman, Fukuyama, Gladwell, Goethe, Habermas, Hagel, Hamel, Handy, Hawken, Heidegger, von Hippel, Maslow,
Minsky, Mintzberg, Morgan, Nietzsche, Nonaka, Peters, Prahalad, Putman,
Sen, Sheldrake, Soros, Steiner, Tolle,
Sun Tzu, Varela, Trompenaars, Weick, Wheatley and Wilber. And all combined in a structured and new way...amazing.
Highly recommended ! This clearly is my favorite book of 2007, no doubt about that :-D
To me Bruce Sterling is one of the most inspiring speakers around. In September, 2007 his latest book will be released called Ascendancies - The Best of Bruce Sterling. I pre-ordered it. Here you can watch his presentation and powerful vision during the LIFT Conference on different important emergent trends like GeoWeb, RFID, Augmented Reality, mobile search, mobile social networks, Internet of Things and sustainability.
Highly recommended as this is in my view one of his best presentations I have seen so far.
There is are a few complementary book to Guns, Germs and Steel. One is called Conquests and Conflicts: An International History by Thomas Sowell. Another The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community by William McNeill. Both highly recommended. McNeill shows us the increasing role of cooperation, community and interdependency. Sowell documents the case of how geography
(harbors, arable land, navigable rivers, freedom from monsoons and
tropical disease) and ideas/culture (fundamental beliefs and principles widely
shared or disseminated) make the world what it is today. The key distinction among human communities is "human
capital", the spectrum of individual and collective learned behaviors
that produce distinctive patterns of skills and attitudes. The positive
form of this capital is based on flexibility/receptivity to cultural
transfers and willingness to apply those transfers in different
contexts. Sowell shows that these cultures are more competitive and resilient.
While Jared Diamond shows us primarily the (external) environmental factors driving the evolution of human history and development, McNeill and Sowell (also) demonstrate the impact of internal factors like cultures and (cooperative) mindsets driving this evolution. In my view it is a combination of both internal and external factors driving the our human development, complemented by luck. Furthermore, I believe in the earlier days of human development (deterministic) environmental factors were more important than internal factors like culture, ideas and mindset relative to todays' situation. Why ? The human history is all about increasing empowerment and autonomy of individuals, about increasing voluntarism, about using more and more tools en technologies. On top of that, in todays world, geography and other environmental drivers (germs, diseases, guns, etc.) seem to be less relevant for competitive advantage relative to (internal) learning capability. Access to data and information is free and more ubiquitous everyday, now it's more about participation and cooperative skills and attitudes. The only thing that complicates my analysis the (likely) future lack of (external) resources on this planet for everybody (oil/energy, food, water, etc.).
Tools are hacks. Technology changes the evolution of evolution. It is an infinite game according to Kevin Kelly. Agriculture enabled industrial evolution (see quote below from Jared Diamond) which enabled digital revolution (electricity) enabling the current biotech revolution enabling the current/coming nanotech revolution with accellerating speeds. Hockey stick curve stuff (see among others Juan Enriquez on TED in this great presentation). So what do we need to survive and gain an edge in the digital, biotech and nanotech periods ? Geographic advantages (like in Sillicon Valley/Green Valley) ? Environmentally cleaned physical spaces ? Other environmental factors like Jared Diamond describes ? Density of people ? In my view it is nowadays more about a mindset of people: openness, peering, sharing, a global scope and a heartfelt acceptance of diversity in all forms. It is basically internal. This resonates with the (some of the) findings and conclusions of Diamond, McNeill and Sowell. It is increasingly about the soft factors, although not exclusively. See my earlier post on the increasing importance and interrelationships of Identity, Authenticity and Creativity/Innovation. In my view, without these soft, internal factors we will not be able to stop global warming, resource depletion and other problems.
What do YOU think about the above analysis ? Thanks.
"We began by identifying a series of proximate explanations - guns,
germs, and so on - for the conquest of the Americas by Europeans. Those
proximate factors seem to me ultimately traceable in large part to the
Old World's greater number of domesticated plants, much greater number
of domesticated animals, and east/west axis. The chain of causation is
most direct in explaining the Old World's advantages of horses and
nasty germs. But domesticated plants and animals also led more
indirectly to Eurasia's advantage in guns, swords, oceangoing ships,
political organization, and writing, all of which were products of the
large, dense, sedentary, stratified societies made possible by
All other things being equal, the rate of human invention is faster, and the rate of cultural loss is slower, in areas occupied by many competing societies with many individuals and in contact with societies elsewhere. If
this interpretation is correct, then it's likely to be of much broader significance.
The broadest pattern of history - namely, the differences between human societies on different
continents - seems to me to be attributable to differences among continental environments, and not to
biological differences among peoples themselves. In particular, the availability of wild plant and animal species
suitable for domestication, and the ease with which those species could spread without encountering unsuitable
climates, contributed decisively to the varying rates of rise of agriculture and herding, which in turn contributed
decisively to the rise of human population numbers, population densities, and food surpluses, which in turn
contributed decisively to the development of epidemic infectious diseases, writing, technology, and political
organization. In addition, the histories of Tasmania and Australia warn us that the differing areas and isolations
of the continents, by determining the number of competing societies, may have been another important factor in