I have always wondered what a new type of music would sound like. All modern music is an extension of the history of humanity back until our ancestors first made music. I can even imagine that the invention of music is what set our earliest ancestors apart from theirs. Just as a certain physical form is inherent in the hominid species, so might a very simple commonality lie in the musicality of our species and its earliest recognizable ancestors.
It is my theory that music was an organic extension of making tools in groups. When early tool makers worked together, chipping away at stone, a sort of rhythm probably evolved. Since music is pleasing, this would have provided a sort of bonus reward for the act of making tools, besides their practical use. This would have caused tool creation and use to expand, causing a watershed of technological evolution that gave hominids a huge survival advantage. From the basic caveman drum (rock on rock) circle, it is not hard to imagine that vocalizations began to accompany these rhythms, which themselves spiraled off into language.
If in the beginning of the hominid era success was predicated on the musicality of tool making spiraling into new human innovations and creative outlets, as I suspect it may have been, then we can perhaps suggest that there is always a strong correlation between technology and music. We will explore this important connection more later.
But first we should try to understand music in basic terms and what it means to sound ‘new.’ The following commentary was written by Redditor ‘standard_error‘ in a discussion entitled, ‘What will music sound like in 50, 100, 500 years from now?‘:
If we could guess what music would sound like tomorrow, we would make it today. That said, there are reasons to think that the rate of innovation will slow down going forward (I know that the chances of me being completely wrong on this are huge).
First, my impression of the history of western art (of which music is a part) is that innovation kicked into high gear somewhere in the early 20th century. Before this, progress had been fairly gradual, with people making tweaks to what came before until things faded into something new, but in the 20th century, it became an explicit purpose of art to push into new territory as fast as possible. Think of art music – what’s called the common practice period, where composers used diatonic harmonies and chord progressions, lasted from around 1600 to around 1900. Then in the early 20th century, we had composers like Strauss (Elektra) starting to break up harmony, with people like Debussy and Stravinsky pushing ahead. As early as the 1920’s Schönberg had finished the job with twelve-tone serialism, and after WWII people like Stockhausen and Xenakis made sure there was nothing left of recognizable harmony, melody or rhythm as we knew it in music. This is an incredibly swift development compared to what had gone before. In the 60’s John Cage finally forced us to include any sound whatsoever in the definition of music.
Jazz saw a parallel development with a culmination in free jazz in the early 60’s, and fusion jazz in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Rock music came along, and in a couple of decades people had pushed that to every conceivable extreme, with prog rock playing as complicated music as possible, doom metal playing as loud and slow as possible, punk rock playing as fast as possible, etc.
Then of course electronic music, which people also quickly used to explore all extremes, from hardcore gabba to almost inaudible minimalism.
My impression, and this might be because I’m getting old and don’t have my ear to the ground anymore, is that most new music during the last decade or two has been recombining previous styles rather than bringing something completely new. My interpretation of this is that the 20th century brought with it a frenzied exploration of the limits of all artforms, which means that what’s left is to find new recombinations within the terrory mapped out by these musicians and artists.
Second, Philip Glass made a good point in a recent interview – he said that really new music only comes along as a result of a new process. In his example, this was the electronic organ which brought with it new playing techniques, which in turn enabled his fast, repetitive music. I think there’s a lot of truth to this – think of the invention of the electric guitar, or the synthesizer, and what huge waves of innovation followed. However, we’ve had computer generated music for a couple of decades now, and this technology enables basically any conceivable sound. It’s hard to see a new innovation that would be as disruptive.
Again, I know that people have predicted the end of innovation countless times, and that I’m very likely making the same mistake, but I hope my arguments can at least spark some discussion.
At this point another Redditor ‘o0lemonlime0o’ shares some doubts about those statements:
That’s a bit of an oversimplification. Music of 1600 is vastly different from music of 1900. It bothers me when people lump all common practice period classical into one category.
That said, I would agree that over the course of history the rate of change of music as a whole has increased dramatically. During the medieval period, centuries went by with little musical development in the western world, and now you can hardly go a year without some new genre or trend being created.
Where we disagree is in your assertion that in the last decade or two, nothing completely new has been created. If you only look at rock music, then this maybe has a certain amount of truth to it (and that’s a big maybe), but tons of incredibly leaps and developments have been made in indie, electronic music and hip hop.
At this point standard_error makes a mathematically based argument about music that is worth thinking about:
Sure, music changed immensely during the common practice period, but it did so gradually and more or less within a single framework. In the early 20th century, the explicit purpose of many composers was to break from that framework in every way possible. It is this change in attitude and purpose that I think is a large part of the reason for why so many things were explored in music during the last century.
As for recent developments, you’re probably right. Still, I can’t help to think that most of what’s new nowadays are new combinations of old ideas. I’m going to use a mathematical analogy – I apologize in advance. Think about music as a multidimensional space, where each dimension is some aspect of music. For simplicity, let’s assume that music is two-dimensional, with consonances-dissonance along the vertical axis, and fast-slow along the horizontal axis. Now every piece of music can be represented as a point on a piece of paper. My claim is that for much of history, composers were pushing further and further out along these axes, into completely uncharted territory. Today, there are points all around the edges, meaning that it’s not really possible to go any further out. On the other hand, the paper is far from black, meaning that there are still many places where new points can be placed. But these new points will mostly lie within the space explored by previous musicians. To generalize, I’m thinking about a multidimensional vector space, the edges of which have now mostly been mapped out, so that new music will mostly lie in the interior, and thus be linear combinations of older pieces.
So, have we really explored the entire area of musical possibility and have only left to fill in the blank spots within those confines?
Avant Garde musicians would argue that there are still limits beyond those boundaries. However, these limits are merely limits of sound. Outlier sound creations are often inaccessible to most people because the intense focus on pushing the boundaries of sounds tends to cast aside the more subjective aspects of music and the emotionally evocative effects that even the most simple music can achieve.
When I wonder what new music might sound like, I am not just referring to the novelty of newness, but what an enduring form might sound like. From the earliest primitive rhythms to the folk music of societies to the royal artistry of classical music, and into all forms of modern music there lies a common set of elements: melody, harmony and hooks. It is these elements which give music its emotional content and ability to endure through repetition. Merely new music is meaningless if it doesn’t gain a large and lasting audience relative to human populations, cultures and societies.
For this reason I think that future music is not necessarily always so much about exploring boundaries, but filling in aural blank spots, as was suggested above by Redditor standard-error.
It is also why I doubt that things like binaural beats will replace music. Not because they do not facilitate emotional or mental state changes, but because they do it directly, and not through the subjective process of interpretation which occurs between artist and listener. While pure forms of sound might someday become a popular thing themselves, I do not think that they are necessarily musical, or at least able to serve the same purpose or create the same kind of meaning. The subjective nature of the observer is an important part of music. It is an area of human experience where the journey really is more important than the destination.
In that same Reddit thread above, the original submitter asks a question I myself have asked: is trying to imagine new music like trying to imagine a color outside of our visual range? If the sonic boundaries have already been located, and technology has already given us the ability to make any audible sound easily accessible to musicians, then have we reached a dead end? Do the limitations of our experience of sound themselves provide the answer to our question?
Imagine that you were slowly going deaf. You were able to hear music for much of your life but it slowly faded and your musical tastes tended to fulfill the increasing limitations of your hearing. Then a new technology restored your hearing, and because the limits of that technology differ from organic hearing, your musical tastes not only changed, but how music itself sounded completely changed.
This was the case for Sam Swiller whose music tastes not only changed to reflect the new heightened boundaries of his hearing while simultaneously becoming limited by the device he now uses to hear. While one set of limitations increased, his ability to hear in general, another decreased, the tonal range of his technologically-facilitated hearing.
Here we find an interesting possibility. If the new hearing technology could limit his audio range, could it eventually be used to increase the human audio range? Many devices have increased our visual range in numbers of ways. We can now see beyond color into thermal and chemical composition. Is it possible we can expand the possible range of sounds we can experience outside of the limits experienced by natural human hearing?
As I mentioned early on, technology is a huge part of human music. The advances we have experienced in musicality have often come along as the result in advances in instrumentation, organization and even the production process itself, all facilitated by new technologies.
So is it possible that we have perhaps reached a limit of musicality that is merely a function of the limits of the human hearing apparatus, and that if we were to improve this experience by creating technological instruments that actually expand the sonic limitations of our hearing, it might allow for new ranges and complexities of sound? Can we not imagine what a new music might sound like because we do not yet have the ability to hear it? Might the re-creation of the physical equipment which facilitates the human experience of sound be the next step in music?
Truly objective absolutes do not exist. Our methods of attempting to harness objectivity largely only exist for expanding our subjective experiences of existence. In the world of forms, our ability to experience anything new is intrinsically limited by the apparatus we use to gather and perceive those experiences. However, our ability to improve, or at least expand the abilities of those apparatuses, does not yet seem to have reached the same sort of critical limits music currently faces.
With music being such an important part of our species heritage and conscious experience, it is unlikely to ever lose its general importance to humanity. Nor will we remain content to simply recombine what is already possible. So it seems inevitable that as a way of increasing subjective experience and human pleasure, we will necessarily have to replace our ears.
So then what of our other sensory apparatus? Will it be necessary to someday expand our taste palettes by replacing taste buds with more sensitive instruments, once we have combined all the known flavors and can no longer generate new flavor experiences through recombination? Sight, smell and touch might also themselves be enhanced and expanded in the future by new technologies.
Our subjective experiences create meaning, pleasure and pain, joy and misery. They are the guides by which we hack out a path into the future. In a world where technology has facilitated such rapid advances in art, our ability to experience the new and novel will have to eventually be supplanted with technologies that expand our perceptive abilities.
So does the question “What would a new kind of music sound like?” lead us to the inevitability of transhuman technology? Can we physically evolve fast enough to meet the needs of our rapidly expanding consciousness, or will it become necessary to replace biological processes by technological ones in order to continue creating meaning and purpose in our lives? And given that we must do so, what will that do to the meaning and purpose we have already created through the biological processes we have evolved through since our very inception as distinct physical entities?
And if even our core values must change to facilitate our future evolution, what can we say about the permanence of anything? Are there objectively positive and negative human experiences, or are these themselves entirely impermanent conditions? Is anything always good/true/etc. or is human experience itself a creative process facilitating its own methods of evolution?
“They teach you there’s a boundary line to music. But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.” -Charlie Parker
Madison curled her toes as brave autonomous flames tested their freedom outside of the fire pit and sent their tendrils rollicking in her direction. She took in the potent smells of the hardwood and dried dung with olfactory aplomb, turning her head to follow a wisp of the smoky perfume. It was a learned aesthetic preference. In the world where her childhood had lived such smells were merely historical footnotes. Now that world was gone and the habits of the world before it had come full circle. A bat swooped down to snatch up a moth that had revealed itself in the fire’s trembling light, and drew her attention upwards. Although she had developed a pleasure in things like the scent of burning excrement, the sky was a book of revelations she could never quite get used to. Ever since the OMG, reality itself had changed, and no place was that more evident than when she gazed upon the two moons above her.
“Your brother should be here soon, Maddy. I am going to fill the kettle and grab an extra cup. Would you like anything while I am beneath?” asked Jayden, the woman’s husband of nearly sixty years.
“…ICE COLD,” he cajoled along with her. It was a very old joke between them. It had been even longer than they had been married since anyone had drank an ice cold Popsi. The memory of sugary things always excited an almost primal urge in them, but over the years they had learned to appreciate even that urge. Anything that mutually connected them to the old world was welcomed, as it was the only remaining evidence left that they had not gone absolutely insane.
“B-R-B,” he said, again summoning a past that had become even less than the threadbare memory that preserved it; and shuffled down into the tunnels whistling an extinct melody.
The OMG had blanketed the skies with ash for fourteen years after. During the first six months the skies were almost completely black and the world beneath them either died away or plummeted back down the ladder of human history. When the first noticeable light began making its way through the post-apocalyptic smog, the sun was entirely unvisible as an object. Its rays stretched out into the ash and clouds and the focus of its fiery beams dissipated over the facing hemisphere and beyond. Refraction, or something like that, the last surviving scientists had said. While the moon still was still noticeable as a celestial object, it no longer held all its singular glory as a glowing orb in the sky. Some other trick of light and matter had caused the moons beams to split as they passed through the suffocating atmosphere, which created the perceptual effect of dual moons. The old priests, the scientists, had tried to explain the effect. As years passed, those who had been frightened right out of their old belief systems, as well as the new generations, began to believe that there actually were two moons. In fact it was the birth of this new moon, they believed, that caused the OMG in the first place.
Despite the protest of surviving academics, experts and authorities; the belief in the two moon theory became widespread. And so fourteen years after the entire thing began, as the ashen curtains began to part, two beautiful moons sat defyingly obvious in the gloriously deep, open skies. Absolute faith in the methods, models and myths of the pre-OMG world were abandoned and the oldest human truths began to replace them. Beliefs are not based upon reality, as the world of their childhood had imagined, but precisely the opposite.
“Don’t even try to sneak up on me, Connor. You have the grace of a wooden bull and are likely just to hurt yourself again,” Maddie called out at a slight rumbling in the near-distant darkness.
“Hush it, sis. These are the creaks of an old man, not the squeaks of one who sneaks,” Connor rhymed in his equally charming and infuriating way. Slowly, achingly, he ambled up next to her and took a seat. “Where is Jayden?”
“Fetching refreshments. He will be back shortly,” she answered. “Lovely night. Thanks for coming over.”
The two of them sat in silence waiting for Jayden. The three of them together represented nearly half of the surviving humans from before OMG. So far as they knew, from the small portion of the world they had contact with, at least. That is why they had gathered on this night. To prepare their final report to the council of elders. It would be the last time they would meet and their final edicts would breathe one last breath into a world that they were too old to recognize or shape any further.
Little sparks were pushed by the smoke up to the tops of the trees only to disintegrate into the night sky. Like man, they had been born of a great fire that reached with all of its might for the heavens, only to come floating back down as ash. Someday that ash would mix with the earth to create fuel and a new fire. Such was the cycle of things, growing and collapsing, gasping for new heights in which to set new fires, and then falling yet again. Where the ego of man saw this unending cycle in the terms of successes and failures, the world recognized the process as rebirth and renewal. A chance to begin afresh and become something entirely new. Individual humans measured this as a failure or loss but the great mass of human consciousness renewed itself through these events like the rising and falling of waters in the fountain of eternity.
Jayden returned to the fire with a great rumbling of laughter, “If you two aren’t the most serene geezers the world has ever seen…” he trailed off back into a fit of coughing and laughter.
“Grab me a Popsi while you’re up.” Connor joked. The three of them were a trifecta of anachronism and they reveled in that mutual difference even more as their days grew shorter.
The three of them sat around sipping a tea made with herbs, roots and bark. It was no Popsi, but it was still a special treat in this world of diminished resources and practical rationing. They caught up on personal and family news and gossip and occasionally drifted off into bouts of silent fellowship. The spring sky was full of insects and the flying mammals who ate them. While most species of birds had not survived OMG, and those that had crept cautiously through the shadows of the food chain, bats had fared quite well in the new landscape. Their whirling dives and aeronautic playfulness were endlessly fascinating. As they wove dizzying paths around one another they flew through the dual beams of the twin moons, like some fantasy story from the old world, or a science fiction Halloween decoration.
“Yesterday Viv got back from Melvinville. She says the journey took them only two days. When we first came here it took a full four days of steady travel. As the years have gone by that number has halved. I don’t see any other explanation. The world is shrinking.” Maddy stated her opinion confidently and waited for an argument to counter her suspicion, but none came. The two old men made barely perceptible nods of agreement.
“What the council wants cannot be done. It is a fools errand. When even the world shrinks to fit the beliefs of those living in it, no edict from old farts like us is gonna mean anything to anyone,” Jayden lamented quizzically.
“You are right, you are both right. We are all too wrong to be right anymore. We are obsolete. Museum pieces. The younger people have humored us long enough.” chimed Connor.
“So we won’t go?” asked Maddy.
Her toes curled again at another escape of flames in her direction. She drank in its warmth and smells. Life was good. Even when it wasn’t. The acrid aroma of the fires fuel sent her spinning back into herself. The night was music. The bass sounds of frogs and the groaning of dying and growing trees mixed with the high pitch sounds of insects filled the nights natural auditorium. In the harmonic center a cacophony of other living instruments filled the aural spaces. The music was alive under the twin conductors of Earths two moons.
Carson sat alone at the great table that once seated many of the greatest survivors of OMG. The five remaining seats around him stood empty. The final meeting was a bust. He didn’t blame them. He wouldn’t of come either, if he didn’t live here. For some unknown reason he pulled his tired old body up onto the great wooden table and lay on his back. Looking up into the clear blue sky he relaxed for the first time in over sixty years. It felt good. Life was good. Even when it wasn’t.
The chronological displacement field (CDF) has undoubtedly been one of the most novel discoveries of the 21st Century. When the two physicists, Timea Kolchik and Robert Dupast stumbled across the ability to use wormholes to remotely view past events it changed our understanding of human history almost overnight. Religion and science were dealt some crushing blows, as investigations into their claims began to overturn much unexpected evidence against them. As we came to know the historical figures and our ancestors and how their lives differed from our accounts we began to see the absurdities of our own mythologies. The CDF was so informative that humanity was transformed in ways that prevented its impending doom. Through such deep introspection of the past, we were able to see ourselves more clearly and we responded by changing our deleterious course. And yet for all that humanity gained we are still human beings and it was not long before this new technology began to be perverted in a most undignified way.
Historical Reality Television has inarguably been the most monumental entertainment trend for the last few years. While scientists, theologians, historians and anthropologists had already made most well know historical accounts available for public viewing, there exists an almost infinite amount of potential entertainment content in humanities past. Especially in the recent past. In the century before our transformation, humanity had become increasingly volatile. And in retrospect the results were often hilarious.
Human economies have shifted largely into a loose system of commerce centered mostly around the sharing of information. Information is discovered, created and consumed in lieu of most physical and service labor from the past as a result of automation and energy to matter converters. Where before mankind had toiled with time and energy over resources and more energy, man now subsists from the eventual benefits of industrialism and bases his worth on his reputation by means of his ability to add to the information market. When CDF technology became available to every gal and guy, many of them used it as a data mining device, combing the lives of human beings past in order to glean from them moments which could be edited into an entertaining package. Suddenly, every human being who had ever lived might possibly become the subject of a historical reality television show.
The first popular video series depicting actual historical people in a humorous entertainment context was ‘Kick Boxing with Chet and Linda’. Chet and Linda were a married couple who lived in the mid nineteen nineties amidst a Midwestern US meth craze. In the introduction to the series we see a young Chet and Linda full of love and life and dreams. But as the opening sequence moves along we see a series of unfortunate luck and poor decisions transform Chet and Linda from young lovers to maniacal middle aged meth addicts with a propensity for colorful tirades and (sometimes extreme) violence against one another. In this way, from the most poignant moments of their existence, we have become voyeurs into the tragic comedy that Chet and Linda never meant to become in their sad lives. This is a scene from the fourth episode.
Chet- “Bitch, you better leave me that last line or I am gonna shove my foot up your rotten cunt and walk you around like a god damned snowshoe.” [Chet jumps across the room in a flying kick maneuver and yells] “KI-YAH!”
Linda- “Well shit, Chet, that shoe would be the hardest thing you tried to put in my pussy for five years.” [Linda let’s out a bloodcurdling scream and throws an ashtray at Chet. In his moment of confusion she bends over and snorts the last line of meth.] “What you gonna do, shoelace dick?”
Chet- [After rubbing his shoulder where the ashtray struck, he lunges over the table at Linda in another flying kick maneuver.] “That’s it whoremouth, time to teach you some respect!” [But before he can land the kick, Linda moves to the side and grabs a beer bottle from the table. As she raises it overhead he lets out one last threat.] “You better knock me the fuck out with that bottle or I am gonna fuck you in the ass with it, you trechr’us skank!” [The bottle lands squarely against the side of his head and despite all the meth already in his system, he is knocked the fuck out.]
Linda- (to no one) “Fuck, now I’m horny.”
This was the most popular video in the world last year. It has been viewed by over 4 billion people. It won numerous awards for the greatest video series in several categories ranging from historical reality to humor. Last fall Chet and Linda were the most popular Halloween costume design available on-line. Chet and Linda have become icons of our time. Their entire existence reduced to technological schadenfreuade. Yet in their own lives they were subjects of poverty, addiction, violence and other maladies that humanity has mostly treated. Yet still, having evolved beyond those horrors, we still take pleasure in the suffering they inflicted and endured.
Let us look at another popular video series in the genre of historical reality television. The series ‘Uh, Oh!’ follows some of the most horrific crimes of the last century. In the series we are shown a person stalking another person about to commit an atrocious act. During this footage a narrator tells us about the people involved and suggests some details about what is about to happen. And just as the perpetrator lunges at their victim the video cuts to scenes from the criminals past. The scenes are comic, like a blooper reel, depicting the attacker as an impossible oaf. And while this is happening the narrator gives a chilling account of what happened to the victim(s). Every episode ends with a little musical number with lyrics containing a number of tasteless puns depicting the events of the episode in any number of musical styles.
Probably the most undignified show is the niche-popular ‘Homelessexuals’ which depicts the romantic and sexual escapades of men and women who suffered through the most extreme forms of poverty before it was eradicated. Because those men and women often also suffered from mental illness, addictions, tendencies towards social deviancies or just plain bizarre social skills; the content of their sex lives was often even more revealing and awkward than healthy adjusted folks whose sex lives are riddled with all sorts of strangeness and faux paus. A memorable scene from the series shows two rather large and hairy men huddled in a tent just prior to coitus.
Man 1- “Alrighty, heads I go first, tails its my tail.” [Man flips coin into the air. It lands in his palm and he flips it over onto the top of his other hand. Both men look excited and nervous and intoxicated.]
Man 2- “Okay already, what is it?” [He pulls the other mans hand up, revealing the coin. It is heads.] “Oh Jesus Christ, I shoulda never taken that halfa pill ya gave me.”
Man 1- “Hey, I didn’t know it were a Viagra.”
There is no doubt that these shows are funny. Often even hilarious. I have watched them myself and was not immune to great bouts of laughter. What our species endured before our transformation was awful. Several forces aligned against the individual to create billions of unique manias. While I understand that it is the nature of humor to explore the incongruency between our values/expectations and phenomena outside of them, I worry more that what we have done is exploitative. The lives of those who suffered to carry us towards the more hopeful era we now live in were often comic in their tragedy, but to entertain ourselves at their expense WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION is such an obviously immoral trespass that it betrays how much work humanity still has to do. We have dissolved non-consensual surveillance in our time and worked as brothers and sisters to balance our privacy with the necessary visibility of the information age. We have failed to give our ancestors the same ethical consideration that we now consider the inherent right of every living being.
This is why I call on you to help me end the exploitation of CDF technologies to invade the privacy of those who came before us for undignified entertainment value. While this technology has been fundamental in our progress towards a harmonious and sustainable existence, it also invites some very ethical trespass against real human beings, even if they are long dead. We must start by boycotting any such works and by down-voting them so as to discourage their creators from that content. Together, we must intellectually explore and create an ethical framework by which this technology can be employed productively without being used as a weapon of moral destruction for our entertainment. I call on all who hear this to come together and use peaceful market forces to discourage the continued production and consumption of Historical Reality Television or any other dubious usage of the Chronological Displacement Field.
Maxr Toobin, People Against the Exploitation of Historical Peoples, May 2042
“So then I just told her that the charging station was for paying cyborgs only.”
“Did she leave?”
“Yeah, she huffed off in a flurry of whirs and buzzing.”
“Classic.” he said, hoping to derail the small talk as they finished cleaning up the dishes together. “Hey, baby, you feeling frisky at all this evening? We have been so busy lately that my intimacy indicator sent a reminder today.”
“Yeah, mine did, too. And come to think of it, a little boom boom would make this mama a happy hybrid.”
“Raoorwww!” came the thunderous response generated in his vocal modulator. “Daddy likey.”
He pounced at her and ran a carefully calibrated hand from where the golden nylon hair streamed from her control until all the way down her back. Her sensors caused her perfectly manufactured body to respond to every nanometer of his touch. His warm lifelike hands causing her fiber-optic nerves to twitch ever so slightly and her body rocked into his before a thought occurred to her.
“Not just yet, Davian. First mama has to finish a few more chores and daddy needs to do the same. Then we can play.”
He stepped back feigning hurt and betrayal. “Alright my little bundle of electrons. But don’t take too long. My circuits long to connect with yours, Evissa.” he joked, referencing a Digi-Opera they had seen on their first date all those years ago.
By the time that Evissa was finished with her duties, Davia was already lying in bed with a number of complicated attachments and accessories splayed around him.
“Cuddle up, buttercup.” came his invitation as he cleared an area for her to snuggle up next to him. “I wasn’t sure which parts you would want to use, so I just got everything out.”
On the bed were a number of attachments that could be connected to their cyborg bodies, offering a great number of combinations and pleasures. Aside from these lumps of metal, latex and circuitry were also a number of neurochemical enhancements. Not even counting positions, there were already thousands of possible combinations they could exercise their sexual bonding with. Unlike their human predecessors, sex was not something determined by the basic singular equipment humans were born with and suffered before they could make the transformation into a electro-mechanical body.
“Well, I suppose the first question is, which of us are going top and which bottom?” Evissa asked.
In response Davia leapt from the bed in a forward spinning maneuver, landing perfectly on his feet at the end of the bed and teased, “I’ll flip ya for it!”
She laughed and reached for her lucky ancient coin, passed down for dozens of generations back to a time when humans still used currency and their frail animal bodies to negotiate the world. “Winner gets bottom, you call it.”
She sent the shiny artifact tumbling in free space and faked a drop, correcting her movements in a micro-sliver of time before it landed perfectly on the back of her hand just as he called out ‘Ass’, which referred to the ancient king embedded on one side, another relic of the past.
“And ass it is, my drippingly sweet neurocandy. Pick a hole.”
He looked at the assortment of receiver attachments which would accommodate any number of penetration accessories also laid out before them. “Well, let’s see. The T78X sounds good, you know. I always have liked an insertion unit that had full body integration circuits, but it can be a bit much. Maybe something simpler? Oh, here, how about this. A dual fit triple entry sleeve made from the finest Venusian organics. How many holes you think I should go with?”
“Oh, I don’t have a preference, Davia. You just pick first and then we will pick the thrusting unit together.”
“I love it when you talk thrust, my plasma pumping love plum.”
Evissa giggled at his juvenile pet name. Underneath the durable and long lasting body was still a human brain and hers showed a hint of fatigue by triggering a yawn display in her flawless face mask.
“Well, I guess if I am being honest, which most of my circuits require, what I really wanna use is the good old 42.77t. Nothing fancy, just a self lubricating unit which triggers audio pleasure centers. If that is the case, we better pick out some music. And you should use the Earquake 2.0 attachment. Why don’t you take care of that while I go get this apparatus installed.”
“Good combo.” Evissa agreed.
He got up and walked towards the master bathroom, which was nothing like its antique predecessor, since cyborgs used all energy sources efficiently and did not need to excrete waste. And grooming was mostly done using nanobots, so really the room was just a place to put up mirrors as well as some basic accessories and polishing equipment and chemicals.
As Evissa referenced her list of current audio downloads and worked on a sexy play list she heard Davia call out from the next room.
“Fiddleswitch! Damn thing needs a software update. Hey, you don’t mind if I-”
“No, go ahead.” she cut him off. “I will just get myself all fitted and finish this play list.”
“Oh, did you pick some chemistry out yet?
“Not yet, but I will.”
Davia took the unit out to the high speed docking station so that the update would only take a minute. These damn old attachments always developed bugs and had to have constant software and driver updates in order not to infect its user with a virus. Sex-unit transmitted diseases were no laughing matter. As he searched for the proper new software to install he noticed an email from an old friend. Although he knew he could not take the time to respond, he opened the message to look at it. He liked doing it on these old desk units rather than in his internal ones. There was something rewarding about seeing the letters glow on a screen rather than just transmitted directly to his brain. It was not a great idea, because the letter was a bit long and somewhat distressing. He fought the urge to respond right away but had not noticed that fifteen minutes had passed since he left Evissa in the bedroom.
“Hey baby?” he used a long distance voice to reach her in the other room. “Just about ready, how about you? You mind if I-”
Again, she cut him off, accustomed to his habits and questions. “No, love, go ahead. Do whatever you need to. I will be ready whenever you are.”
His heart beamed with anticipation and love. He loved her more than any neurosynaptic meatwad trapped in a high tech form possibly could. So he wanted to be present while they made love to one another, and that meant firing back a quick response to lay the matters in the email to rest until morning.
He finished up within what seemed just a few minutes and tried to creep stealthily back into the bedroom, even though her finely tuned electronics could not be fooled. Old meatman habits died hard and many puzzling vestigial behaviors still occurred among the hybrid progeny of human and machine. She seemed to be playing along, as she did not call him out on his obvious deceit. Perhaps she wanted to do some role-playing, too, he hoped.
As he slipped into the bedroom he now understood the real reason for her silence. She was fast asleep. It had been almost an hour since she found him in the bedroom sorting through their collection of sexual accessories. She had not been able to stay awake after all the time taken up by preparations and his little email interruption.
“Dammit.” he sub-vocalized, not wanting the organic air movements to manifest in his vocal apparatus.
She was so gorgeous lying there on their bed, surrounded by varied mechanical replications and substitutions of ancient human sex organs. He pushed it all to the floor as quietly as possible and nuzzled up next to her, falling asleep in the sure and steady syncopated sounds and rhythms of her basic life support mechanisms.
How is social media already preparing us for a reputation economy? According to Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg, it is doing so by virtually simulating a gift economy.
By doing this in an environment where the consequences for failing in this type of economic exchange are nil, we are learning the basic ideas we would need to construct a reputation economy which uses a mixture of social networking and reviews in order to generate reputation scores, or some other similar idea. With encryption and free market variety, these economic and social paradigms are becoming a real possibility in our lifetimes.
I just hope that Zuckerberg is not in charge. The things he has done with Facebook indicate that he is not fully seeing beyond the unsustainable endless growth paradigm of the dying industrial age.
As I have previously outlined and further discussed, the coming of the Information Age will be the dawn of new economic systems that hinge on reputation. More and more of this development continues to peek back at us from the future in new commentaries and developments. Here are some recent additions to that list.
While this article does not directly discuss a reputation economy, it does discuss many industrial, political and social trends leading to the obsolescence of the old systems. More than just that, it discusses how young people are influenced by these developments and how it has shaped their realities and goals and hints at how that might play out.
The Third Industrial Revolution
This article further discusses how the role of technology is changing not just the economic, social and political fabric; but the very fabric of human consciousness.
How the Web Became Our External Brain & What It Means For Our Kids
This final link is a talk from a Google executive about link building. It is mostly boring technical stuff that only webmasters would understand. In short, in order to get your webpage to have have good search results in Googles search engine, it was once a simple task of getting your websites address linked in as many places as you could on the internet. Years after this ignited a spam war in every comments section on the internet, Google has begun changing the terms by which a website will receive search result listings within the first few pages of a search. Rather than the brute force of numbers, Google is working towards a system which only gives high rankings and displays to reputable links. Which is to say, links which are shared as content by webmasters on their page, rather than those just haphazardly strewn across webspace. The implication here is that in an Information Age, when we trade primarily in information using these technologies, your reputation will depend on horizontal networks created through voluntary partnerships which rely on quality and reliability. This is just one more way in which the economic systems of humans are moving from currencies towards reputations. The plot continues to thicken!
Googles Matt Cutts: Link Building Is Sweat Plus Creativity
The rant- I do not have a lot to rant about here. This is a marriage of crypto currency and the reputation economy which I envisioned when I came up with the idea for Face Value.
It seems the future is heading my way. This is the third link in a week which has hinted at one of my writings being predictive. Am I psychic or just lucky?
Before I can tell you what Face Value is it will be necessary to explain the reasons why I began to envision it in the first place. I began my political philosophy very young as an anarchist and as I went through the growing pains of critical thinking I drifted into the stateless left until I could find no way in which those ideas did not necessitate a state of sorts. So eventually I began to adopt the ideas of an free market voluntaryist, individualist anarchist and/or libertarian. In the recent past I have disregarded the leftist idea that money is a social curse and stuck close to Austrian economics and free market ideology. Recently this began to bother me. No matter how I tried to reconcile the rest of the ideas about liberty with the idea of money, I could not make them stick. The problem itself is not political one, I realized, but a human one. Money itself rewards immorality. It is easily hoarded by those most willing to step on their fellow humans for it. And at the same time I can not believe that humans are themselves evil. Of course a small percent of them have psychotic or sociopathic tendencies, but overall humans were better than money disparity could account for. So I looked at money itself as the cause of the strife and suffering that it brings humanity. If the fatal flaw in money was that its acquisition creates immoral behavior then indeed the old saying was true. Money is the root of all evil.
Now, lets take a look at a snippet of the history and mechanics of money. During the dawn of the Agricultural Age humans began to specialize. In doing so it often became necessary to trade indirectly for a few reasons. First, commodities like carrots grown by a farmer would not be available to trade in the middle of winter. It would be convenient to tally the farmers contribution to his community in his time of abundance so that he could still purchase goods in the off season. Secondly, direct trade would mean that trade was only possible when both parties wanted each others goods or services. In order that everyone could trade their own production for that which they chose, the market created money as a sort of placeholder for production.
At first it was simple enough to trade with abstract items chosen by the society to represent wealth. As communities began to trade with one another it was necessary for a currency itself to carry the value which it was intended to represent. Therefore money soon became commodities itself, like gold or silver. Things whose scarcity gave them a sort of universal value. While this guaranteed that the money was of permanent value, it also opened up a new game. If commodities like gold could be used to exchange for the production of others, then one could expend effort simply in collecting the exchange commodity without the need of producing things of practical human value, which is far more work. So slowly a few clever humans began collecting money itself and with it they bought power and influence and eventually they created the state to protect their money and to gain more power. Eventually the state just issued abstract currencies which represented the sum of its own vast wealth. And so the production of the average man became just a way of growing the markets to collect more wealth for the state and the elites who control it while the average man was left to fight over the meaningless and intrinsically valueless pieces of paper the state issues us to create the illusion we are not just doing their bidding while we spend their pretend money in their company stores.
Yet if this seemed dishonest, the next step in money was even more delusional. Realizing the limits of commodities to back up money among growing populations, yet under its spell, the elite began to issue their own currency apart from the state. This new currency was based purely upon speculation. The bankers provided the speculation and in return charged interest on the usage of their currency. When populations soared and more money was needed they simply devalued the currency already in circulation to lend its value to newly minted currency and charged interest. The more the bankers speculated on the amount of trade and the necessary amount and value of currency, the more interest they collected. But they had speculated nothing, because if you haven’t guessed, this game is rigged. So now the elite not only had most of the worlds wealth in assets, they had also figured out how to steal back even the fake money they issued us. Yet we are forced to toil harder all the time just get some more of that bogus money to pass back to them in order that we might have food, shelter and fuel enough to survive. Even amongst the riches of our world. Think of a slave master who would issue his slaves money, let them compete over the easiest jobs and leave them no choice but to make all purchases from the masters very own store. This is where we are at.
And what of all these jobs? Today the politicians cry is jobs. The people beg for more jobs. Yet these jobs are often meaningless and unfulfilling. They are busywork. An economic shuffle to keep us in our place. To keep us from creating our own lives and our own purpose so that they would not interfere with theirs. And jobs themselves are becoming obsolete. Even today most work is unnecessary, and quickly becoming more so in due to technological innovations which lead to automation and at home production. Jobs are finite because there are far more humans alive today than there are necessary things to be done. The elite have created an endless menu of meaningless labor that destroys the very soul of the individual forced into the elites economic system through means of aggression.
As human civilization evolves again, as it has in ages past, we are coming upon a time in which information itself will be the most valuable commodity. Information itself is infinite, so it leaves the ability for every individual to create information and thus value infinitely. But value itself is still vague. If value is not represented by resources, commodities or labor, then what? To answer that question I must ask another. What gave resources, commodities or labor any value to begin with? The answer is simple. Consent. Consent that is not manufactured by an outside agenda is created through interactions between individuals in the form of morals, ethics and social values. In the final perspective it is human morality, ethics and morals which creates all economic value. How strange then that money led us astray from its very foundation.
So what then if moral and ethical behavior was in fact currency itself? How then could a few psychopaths and sociopaths prey upon the majority of us if their immoral and unethical behavior intrinsically prevented them from gaining any economic value with the rest of us? Why then would anyone ever collude with their evil for personal benefit if there were no benefits but were strong economic repercussions for inhumane activity? If good deeds created economic prosperity not only would it require moral and ethical behavior, but it would cripple the avarice and hubris created in others by the trap of money.
Now before I tell you what Face Value is, let me be very clear about what it is not. It is not the means to the end itself. It is not a final solution. It is not a new master.
Face Value is simply a means towards a society without money and the state. A beginning of the journey into the future of humanity. A tool using the best current technologies to open us up to the idea of doing future human economic interactions via morality and ethics by playacting them first in a purely social environment. Face Value is a new social networking site turned upside down. Instead of you telling everyone about yourself, everyone else uses it to tell everyone else about you. In this way, much like the rating systems at Amazon, Angie’s List and Rate Your Professor, every user would build up a rating based on a number of criteria and on their interactions with others online and in real life. This is essentially putting both individuals and human morals, ethics and values on the free market to determine the kinds of traits and activities human consensus finds worthy of rewarding us for.
Now before you begin to point out all of the awful ways this will inevitably be used at first, let me remind you that the plan is a long term one. Along the way we will work out the bugs and hopefully others will create similar systems to compete with Face Value and push the forward more quickly with more great human minds working on the problem. But to ease your mind just a bit let me explain some of the measures we have already thought of. First of all, you could not ever delete another persons rating or review. Should you choose to dispute it then it would go into a disputed section and the two parties would be forced to seek out a third party mediator which they both agreed upon and whose ruling they agreed to follow, who would then make a ruling on the case and the disputed rating or review would then either be deleted by the posting party or it would go on permanent display on your Face Value profile.
Everything in your profile will include specifics so that you may be judged not on merely an average of responses but also on the content and context of them. And even though Face Value would rely most heavily on ratings and reviews you could still list personal achievements, ideas or attitudes for others to help determine your character. In time, we hope, this would weed out not only immoral and unethical behavior; but it would also decide which morals and ethics are important.
We do not think that bigotry, hatred or greed could survive very well in such conditions. We do not think that the authoritarian state could survive very long if those interested in administering such a thing were prevented the ability to act improperly. Why would power or protection or war be needed when every individual and action was being judged and those who acted inhumanely were sanctioned for it? We do not believe that the vulgarity of excess created by human markets in which wealth and power for the few was the main agenda could survive for long. These processes destroy our world, our humanity and civilization itself. And if they are not curtailed, they will eventually destroy our species and much more. The destructive force of money combined with the exponential growth of human populations is a recipe for disaster. In order to survive this transition from the Industrial to the Information Age we must rethink economies that enslave and pillage. We must begin to drift away from a medium of exchange predicated upon a currency which invites our destruction and towards one based upon the value of each individual based upon their deeds and contribution to their community. Not on whats in our accounts or in our pockets but by the Face Value of the very lives that we lead.
“Well, well, Sam. I finally got ya back.”
“Shut up and make the report already.”
“Ah come on, where’s your sense of humor, Sam ol’ boy? Fair is fair. You were going 40 in a 25 and I caught ya.”
“Yeah, I know, Dick. But you don’t have to take so much joy in it. I was just trying to get to my daughters recital on time. Besides, it’s Department’s fault that I am running late. You’d think they might cut us some slack, wouldn’t ya?”
“Rules are rules. We all have a duty to follow and enforce them. You know that. No reason to be so glum, its just a minor citation. Try to think of it all as a game. That’s what I do.”
“Sometimes I wonder if we haven’t all gone completely mad.”
“Well, the world went crazy several years ago, Sam-O. We all gotta do our best to live in it as it is, though.”
“Have you ever heard of the term ‘tattle-tale’, Dick? Of course you haven’t, why would you? A long time ago this is what you called a child who reported every infraction to their superiors. It was considered juvenile even for a child. But now this is what we all do. All of the time. Doesn’t it ever seem like it shouldn’t feel like a game, Dick? Like something went horribly awry along the way and now here we are, watchmen watching watchmen. Tempting each other into disobedience so that we get credits for the report? What kind of life is this, Dick?”
“Hey Sam, you haven’t been hanging out with those Individualists, have you? You know I would have to report you. You know what they would do if that happened, right? I like you, Sam. Why can’t you just accept things the way they are? Sure, it seems like a bit much to all of us sometime or another but rules are rules. Without them we would have no order. You gotta take the bad with the good.”
“I guess you are right. It’s just that sometimes I wonder if we haven’t created the worst to protect us from the merely bad. Ever since Department has had to cut back credits per report it just seems like all we ever do is cite each other. The only time I ever see a friend these days is when I am getting or giving a report on one. But you are right, we gotta have order and this is what we got. I do my part to make the best of it. Don’t worry about me, Dicky pal, i’ll be okay. No Individualism for this guy. I’m probably just jealous we are even on reports again. *chuckles nervously* I’ll have to keep a close eye on you.”
“That’s the spirit Sam ol’ boy! You’ll get me back soon enough. Hell, Evans got me two times yesterday for jay-walking. Each time I was sure nobody was watching. Wasn’t a soul around but he got me. Lucky bastard! Speaking of which, his lawn is looking a little too green if you know what I mean. I’m gonna go see if I can catch him watering it again. Thats a double credit report all this week! Good to see ya.”
“Good luck, Dick. And just a tip, take a measuring tape. That tree on the west side of his lawn by the sidewalk had some branches that looked to be a couple of inches below minimum height code. You’re gonna need that three-for when I get you back and take my rightful lead.”
“Dream on, buddy, dream on! I’m clean as a eunuch’s jock strap these days. *laughs* Dick out.”
Objectivity is the illusion
That has facilitated our evolution
Is no longer the solution
Destroys the delusion
Cleanses the spirit
Removes the pollution
A time is coming
And new illusions
You’ll need a key to pass
So remember this saying
I am not a thing
I am everything
I am not the eye that sees all else
But just an eye that sees itself
God is not a thing
We are everything
“Fifty years from now do you really want to tell your grandkids you fell in love using a Facebook app? No, you want to show them the heartfelt love letter you wrote her one night at 3 a.m. Followed by an Instagram of your junk. It’s the Sepia that makes it so romantic.” — Stephen Colbert
Although Stephen Colbert jokes, or at least that is what I am told he does, he echoes a sentiment that is still prevalent in our society. There is still a basic assumption that the internet is incapable of being a respectable and proper medium for romantic relationships. That connections generated between individuals through the world wide web are not as valid as relationships with their genesis rooted in more traditional terms devoid of modern technology. The common thread of criticism always seems to have as its fulcrum that technology adds a falseness to virtual courting. The assumption then is that human courtship has remained in a constant state of behaviors and expectations throughout time which modernism cannot address and that something has been lost.
The problem with this assumption is that human courtships have varied wildly over time and cultural boundaries. When we explore romantic relationships throughout time and place we can find no constants or absolutes. Even obvious things like ‘kindness’ do not seem so common when we consider the cruelties that have often accompanied courtship practices in individuals and societies. In fact, courtship itself is not even a constant part of human relationships and pair bonding, as we can clearly see from arranged marriages that still happen in many cultures today. As it turns out there is no common thread amongst humanity in which technology may disrupt. We remain as adaptive as ever to the constraints and advantages of our immediate environment in seeking out romantic relationships.
The next assumption that is often related to this erroneous line of reasoning is that the internet, social networking and virtual courtships are just a fad. The above quote by Colbert refers to the sepia tone quality of film associated with the middle of the twentieth century, a time also associated with modern ideas about ‘dating’ and yet preceding the sexual revolution. As if in fifty years we will return to a Leave It To Beaver like existence, having shed the false trappings of the twenty first century for a romantically simpler time in which most of its vocal proponents never even lived. Although it is quite likely that modern humanity is on a collision course with its own avarice and hubris, should we survive this critical mass of our humanity in the death knell of the industrial age and birth pangs of the age of information, the internet and its social structures are unlikely to be going anywhere. In fact they will likely advance into degrees of sophistication which make modern internet romance seem dreamy and pastoral to the critics of those future technological paradigms.
The sort of coupling that is now associated with social networking and internet dating may be closer to our traditional courting behaviors than those immediately preceding the internet. Until the early part of the twentieth century is was the custom for courtships to be held mostly remotely via letters, sketches, photographs, poems, autobiographies, etc.; all of the same behaviors associated with online romance. In the nineteenth century and prior a ‘date’ was a term associated with prostitution and those in a courtship only saw one another on rare, special occasions. When dating became popular in the Jazz Age it was associated with chaste associations with multiple partners in order to ‘play the field’. As a result of the sexual revolution and advances in birth control the chaste nature of these dates was no longer the norm. Today dating is strongly associated with ‘hooking up’ and is often not intended as a means towards building permanent bonds between individuals. This is not to say that modern dating is a negative or immoral practice, but only to illustrate that what critics of internet courtship think of as traditional behaviors are in fact very modern ones. The practice of meeting and courting an online partner through exhaustive communication bears far more resemblance to traditional western modes of romantic genesis.
The greatest contributing factor to the success of online dating is it’s ability to connect like-minded individuals in a growing human population that alienates people through specialization. While we have continued to grow our species at an alarming rate we have also set conditions for the specialization of the individual. This has been done in many ways. Economic paradigms insist on specialized educations and career fields that narrow an individuals knowledge and interest. At the same time the sheer amount of culture (art, music, literature, cuisine, lifestyle) available to us means that we have less in common. Globalization of culture has meant that culture itself has decentralized. No longer does geography determine our cultural identity so much as our free associations with a multitude of cultural icons. To put this idea simply, a hundred years ago a person was likely influenced almost entirely by local customs and culture, while the modern human has for their influence a plethora of customs and cultures perpetrated internationally by modern media. The human of today, at least in western society and its counterparts, largely chooses their own interests rather than having them foisted upon them by locality and necessity. When we consider the size of the human population we find that it is highly unlikely that we will meet complimentary companions merely by local searches. The internet provides a forum for highly specialized individuals to meet the most likely candidates for courtship.
At the same time, many of the social institutions in which the like-minded were likely to meet have also eroded. Community activities, church and even traditional workplaces are no longer as prevalent in our society as they once were. And it does not appear that these institutions will return to classical forms any time soon. In their place, modern courting began to root itself in the leisure industry. Bars, resorts and travel became the new grounds for courting rituals. This trend meant that human romance had adopted for its breeding ground the marketplace and became another form of western consumption. We had become burdened with the price of purchase as the cost of romance. Our social institutions gave way to economic ones as in many other areas of our life. Considering the ability of almost any western human to freely access internet, social media and dating sites we are seeing a trend in which love is being removed from the marketplace and being made freely accessible by these new social institutions.
Criticism of internet courtship is often validated by the superiority of traditional values. Yet as we have seen, online romance bears far closer resemblance to those traditions than does the meat market of the twentieth century. While there is little doubt that web-based love will continue to evolve in strange and unthinkable ways, this is the course that humanity has set itself down and criticism of it is as hostile and sterile as any other form of neo-conservatism. By embracing these new paradigms we can contribute to steering them towards more positive interactions and avoid the mess modernism made of traditional human values in the meaningless and promiscuous marketplace partnering. Meanwhile the liberals engaged in social satire, like Mr. Colbert, will continue to ironically lambaste internet courtships like the good little neo-con puppets they may or may not realize that they are. That is fine by me. Let them have their skepticism and anger and misery. I have love. And I have social networking to thank for that.