Filed under technology

Future Fetish: Fast Company Interviews Hal Niedzviecki

Do_Humans_Have_An_Unhealthy_Fetish_For_The_Future_Co.Exist_ideas_+_impact_-_2016-07-22_10.07.45GREAT piece in Fast Company talking about my take on how future has become a fetish. Particularly good summary of my take on the “historical argument”, the idea that human beings have always sought innovation.  READ IT HERE.

Two New Articles About the Future

Hello all, in celebration of Back to the Future Day/Month/Year, here are two new articles I’ve written about different aspects of the future.

At TruthDig, my thoughts on nostalgia for a future that never existed but we can’t seem to give up. READ IT HERE.

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Meanwhile, over at LitHub.com, I’ve written a piece about how we’re in the 45th year of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock.

We Embraced the Future and
It Nearly Killed Us

Forty-Five Years Later We’re Still Suffering from Future Shock READ IT HERE.

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FIRST Trees On Mars Radio Interview

FIRST Trees On Mars Radio Interview:

Listen to It online HERE.

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Hal on the Radio talking FHRITP and public shaming.

I was on the radio this morning talking about public shaming and FHRITP. You can hear all 8 minutes here.
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Hal at the Pages Festival + Conference

  • I will be speaking at a panel discussion about The Future of Self-publishing being held as part of the new Pages Festival + Conference in Toronto. It should be a pretty interesting discussion as I am likely to have a very different perspective on self publishing than anyone at Kobo or Wattpad.

  • with: Hal Niedzviecki, Nathan Maharaj, Caitlin O’Hara, Ashleigh Gardner, Deborah Barnett, Bob Kasher and moderator Robert K. Logan

  • Friday March 14. 3:30pm. At the Tranzac Club, Toronto

  • Even description: Self-publishing has become a global phenomenon. Last year over 350,000 titles were self-published in the US alone. Self-publishing has become a key way for global self-expression in many countries without a massive publishing infrastructure or suffering under onerous regimes of censorship and state control. Our panel looks at these and other areas of interest and concern in this fast growing, fast changing environment. How will it affect literary publishing? What kind of controls can or should be put on it? Will it continue to grow? Panelists include representatives from key platforms like Kobo and WattPad as well as successful self-published authors.

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From Selfie to Overshare

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Check out my article on the evolution of peep culture.

Why the selfie boom takes oversharing a step too far

The Oxford Dictionaries word of the year for 2013 is “selfie.” Great, you’re thinking, time for the equivalent of a cyber shrug: quick break from work spent googling the suddenly ubiquitous lists of “Seattle selfies of the year,” “top celebrity selfies” and “selfie dos and don’ts.” Even five years ago, these kinds of pronouncements seemed far more revealing. In 2008 Websters Dictionary gave “overshare” word-of-the-year status. It is, they gushed, “a verb and a noun” and “a new word for an old habit made astonishingly easy by modern technology.”

Read the rest in the Globe and Mail here…

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Mind to Machine Transfer Has Gone Mainstream. My Article in The Globe and Mail Asks: Why?

I wrote this piece for the Globe and Mail newspaper.  You can read it in its entirety here. As is always the case in these debates, people will generally focus on the technology and the likelihood. That’s to be expected, of course. But since there is little or no chance that we will see mind-to-machine transfer in the next 100 years, in a way the secondary question is far more fascinating: Why is the mainstream so eager to promote and advance this idea? The comments attached to the Globe piece so far focus, as expected, on the issue of whether or not it can be done. We need to change that conversation so that we are more aware of how the dialogue and rhetoric around these utopian technological ideas are permeating society.

 

From the beginning of the Globe piece:

The most remarkable thing about Ray Kurzweil is not that he is convinced that he will never have to die. It’s that his ideas have gone mainstream.

He has just released a new book, the modestly titled, How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed. Meanwhile, over the past six years, the 64-year-old American futurist and inventor has been on the cover of Time magazine and has been the subject of a feature-length documentary. Forbes magazine dubbed him “the ultimate thinking machine.” He has 19 honorary doctorates and commands speaking fees of as much as $50,000.

All this stature stems primarily from his conviction that by 2040 we will be able to transfer our minds to machines.

As the promotional text proclaimed on his 2006 book The Singularity Is Near, “Our intelligence will become increasingly non-biological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today.” This will give birth to the Singularity – a time of total transformation in which we will merge with our computers, cast off our bodies, extend our lives indefinitely and have near-infinite intelligence at our disposal. (Mr. Kurzweil didn’t invent the idea, but he certainly popularized it.)

I reach Mr. Kurzweil at his home in Massachusetts and ask him if the predictions he first made in 2006 are still accurate. “We’re very much on that course,” he tells me. “We are right on the curve.” The curve is a graph showing, as he explains it to me, “the law of accelerating returns, the exponential growth of every form of information technology.”

Trees On Mars: Our Obsession with the Future

“Hal Niedzviecki’s urgent, eye-opening Trees on Mars exposes our mania for the future as exactly what it is: an ideology as narrow and dangerous as any we’ve known from history. Read this book and be the first on your block to recall the rebel thrill of living in the present.” —J.B. MacKinnon, author of The Once and Future World: Nature As It Was, As It Is, As It Could Be.

“A dark book about the future — and a thought-provoking one. Trees on Mars will leave you questioning our ideas about progress.” —Clive Thompson, Wired columnist and author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better.

tempcovertreesonmarsAbout Trees on Mars

Trees On Mars: Our Obsession with the Future

320 Pages

Release Date: October 2015

Publisher: Seven Stories Press.

The future is big right now – for perhaps the first time, our society is more focused on what is going to happen in the future than what is happening right now. Through visits to colleges, corporations, tech conferences, factories and more, author Hal Niedzviecki traces the story of how owning the future has become irresistible to us. In deep conversation with both the beneficiaries and victims of our relentless obsession with the future, Niedzviecki asks crucial questions: Where are we actually heading? How will we get there? And whom may we be leaving behind? READ MORE

Upcoming Events

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Come hear Trees on Mars author Hal Niedzviecki speak about the book and the rise of future obsession. Events upcoming in cities across North America. Click here for details.

To find out more about hosting Niedzviecki at your upcoming event, click here.

 

Reviews and Interviews

To read reviews of Trees on Mars click here.

To read interviews with author Hal Niedzviecki click here.

Table of Contents and Excerpts

PART I: Our Lives in the Age of Tomorrow
Chapter 1: Chasing Tomorrow: Dispatches from our Obsession with the Future READ AN EXCERPT
Chapter 2: Teaching Future READ AN EXCERPT
Why Schools are Teaching Change and Preaching Tech
Chapter 3: The Group Just Slows Us Down READ AN EXCERPT
Future vs. Institution
Chapter 4: Data Harvest
Owning the Future and Everyone In It
PART II: Our Minds in the Future
Chapter 5: After
Why Our Minds are Vulnerable to the Pull of Future
Chapter 6: Put a Spell on Me READ AN EXCERPT
When the Magic Became the Information
PART III: The Case Against the Future
Chapter 7: Consumption, Innovation, and the Truth of Change
Chapter 8: The Human Robot
Homo Economicus in Decline
Chapter 9: Future Shock and Awe READ AN EXCERPT
Anxiety Factory
PART IV: The End
Chapter 10: Escape from the Permanent Future READ AN EXCERPT
The Problem of Hope

Buy the Book