1/06/2010

The Future of the Future

The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind. ~William Blake

We all fear change because it can be difficult to accept, but if we adapt, we can survive, and hopefully we will become stronger. I started to accept the concept of change on a grand scale when I read Daniel Dennett's Freedom Evolves (originally published 2003) back in college. I own a 4yr old paperback edition that's falling apart from use and it has an cover image that serves as an illustrated metaphor for natural free will: a flock of starlings. This is a form of collective behavior that serves as an example of what is known as emergence (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergence). The birds flow and sway to slight changes by following and mimicking the birds adjacent to them. A starling cannot see the whole shape of the flock: a murmuration, because he's concentrating only on the small picture. A starling is blind to the bigger picture that a human observer sees from afar. How does this apply to the artist and writer?
Enter the sociologist, economist, the cognitive scientist and ultimately, the futurist. They offer their researched opinions and gathered data to help the individual see the bigger picture. (although they still work within the confines of the flock)
I'm reading Ray Kurzweil's The Singularity is Near and trying to grasp his concepts currently and apply them to what's potentially going happen to creative types in the coming years. I'm also studying globalization through new technology and the evolution of internet communication. What I'm coming to realize steadily is that talent and creativity are learned behaviors in individuals that converge to create emergent forms much like murmurations of starlings or the elaborate cathedral mounds of termites. This may be nothing new to some (we understand art movements throughout art history as a common example), but most do not fully understand that there are complex mechanisms at work that correlate to the exponential rates of change Kurzweil observes in his arc graphs on the rise in technological development. The internet, the mass exchange of memetic and cultural material, and new technology that give rise to new tools for creation are dramatically changing the artist, or creative type. It can be possible to understand the flock by observing a simple, virtual version of the flock from within. And ultimately, the real flock can be changed by this understanding.
The internet is an environment within an environment for the creative types usually reserved to materialist doctrine on one plane. They are now adapting to an ethereal digital arena that brings to the table new tools and new challenges to the economy of the creative:
http://io9.com/5441768/book-chains-will-go-the-way-of-circuit-city)
http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1369429&highlight=
I am curious how things will evolve.

"We are like the spider. We weave our life and then move along in it. We are like the dreamer who dreams and then lives in the dream. This is true for the entire universe."
-The Aitareya Upanishad

When I was a kid, I wondered if it was possible to draw a picture simply by thinking. Sort of a telepathic Etch A Sketch. Maybe even sculpt something by thinking about it's form. No doubt it will become possible some day. Possibly not my lifetime, but maybe the next will have the technique down stat.
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/12/wireless-brain/
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.03/brain.html
http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/02/brainmachine/

1 comment:

Ian said...

Wow interesting stuff Brian. I definitely believe especially now that technology is evolving so quickly and it really is changing the art world. I guess for me I'm realizing that I have to change things and adapt in order to survive as well.
And no, I have not seen Gremlins 2 but I heard it wasn't that good. lol.