2018 Theme Announced

irobot

In 2013 we had aliens. In 2014 it was camels. In 2015, clowns. 2016 was Medici. In 2017 we had temples.

I guess Larry and Stuart were trying to figure out how more people could have a transformational experience, and they came up with…

transformers.

Robots burning The Man. Or do we burn the robots?

From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

Burning Man announced its 2018 theme on Wednesday, “I, Robot,” a theme inspired by the 1950 collection of short stories published by author Isaac Asimov. The stories tell the fictional history of robots…

“This year’s art theme will focus on the many forms of artificial intelligence that permeate our lives; from the humble algorithm and its subroutines that sift us, sort us and surveil us, to automated forms of labor that supplant us. Are we entering a Golden Age that frees us all from mindless labor? Everything, it seems, depends on HMI, the Human-Machine Interface. In a world increasingly controlled by smart machines, who will be master and who will be the slave?” …

The theme seems appropriate given the increasing reliance Burners have on technology at the week-long event

Read the full story here.

The robots surveil us.

If you wonder what that means, especially in the context of Burning Man, start here.

You can read more of the philosophy of I, Robot at the BJ.

The allure of immortality and god-like powers is as old as god. The Greeks, who more or less invented humanism, had a word for this ― they called it hubris, making it the basis of all tragedy. This enduring fantasy is lately clothed in cyber-togs. It is said that computational power is increasing exponentially, much like the singularity that created the universe, and charts and numbers are employed to predict the point in time at which this supra-intelligence will take over.

This is a millenarian idea, sometimes called the Rapture of the Techies, and like all such schemes, it is essentially a religious concept now dressed in the trappings of science. In this scenario, the future rule of one vast integrated Robot will exceed all human comprehension. This notion also contains an ingenious escape clause, a sort of intellectual insurance policy. When pressed to pinpoint exactly when this event will occur, its acolytes reply that it may have already happened — its advent will elude the grasp of slimy brains. This is a contest between wet intelligence, something that we barely understand that has evolved on earth over a span of billions of years, and dry intelligence, which in its digital form was invented in 1936

[Source: burningman.org]

Burning Man is a contest? I guess they started the themes with Good vs Evil, and now it’s humans vs robots.

burning man fallen robot

Image: Tyler FuQua

I agree with them that the Singularity has already happened, and Google and the NSA are already inside our heads. We live in a Sentient World Simulation, operated by the Deep State. The Defense Department, defending The Man against the humans that might question him with armies of always on, always faithful robots.

will-smith-i-robot-wide-56186200

will smith segway burning man.jpg

Will Smith loved Burning Man so much they named their theme after him?

will smith burning man mask

As I pointed out in Shadow History Part 3, robots are a specific vision of the Church of Satan (as is the “allure of immortality and god-like powers” that are also part of this theme).

Screenshot 2017-10-19 15.11.19

Will Google and Tesla be debuting new walking robots at Burning Man 2018?

In 2004, the DARPA Grand Challenge was launched: for a car able to navigate through an obstacle course by itself. It was a complete failure. By 2007, half a dozen cars successfully completed the course. In 2014, Tesla announced Auto-Pilot – and self-driving cars hit the mainstream. Tesla expects to have completely self-driving cars by the end of this year.

In 2013, the DARPA Robotics Challenge was for humanoid robots to walk, climb over rubble and stairs, open doors and use tools.

They’ve come a long way since then.

As if all that wasn’t trippy enough, check out this little guy:

So what’s it going to take to bring Androids into everyday life? Burning Man?

People have been fucking machines [NSFW] for quite some time. Now there are robot brothels springing up, and by all accounts doing a cracking trade. So to speak. In Barcelona one all-robot brothel was run out of town by angry human prostitutes.

Will there be sex bots at Robot Heart?

robot heart

People who think there should be less technology at Burning Man should probably just give up at this point. DARPA has to test somewhere!

FoxCarn And The Betel Store

2015 foxcarn

FoxCarn & the Betel Store is the China and Taiwan regional project for Burning Man 2015. 

The project will feature “worker” participants drawn from Burning Man attendees, who will make Apple parody products as part of an interactive art installation in which participants will experience working in an electronics factory meant to draw parallel to the real-life Foxconn, complete with a robotic overseer arm overhead.

The installation draws from both the Taiwanese-owned but China-based company Foxconn, which manufactures much of the key electronic components in Apple projects under inhumane labor conditions, as well as the Taiwanese tradition of betelnut beauties who are a common sight in the Taiwanese countryside.  As described by organizers, this is meant to call attention to commodity fetishism in contemporary capitalism as well as the role of gendered labor.

[Source: New Bloom]

The FoxCarn Facebook page is more direct in its commentary on FoxConn:
Screenshot 2015-07-31 13.03.59
They met their lucky $2888 funding goal on Kickstarter. Looks like robotic overlords are pretty cheap, these days.
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The Jackrabbit spake:
A cybernetic collaboration between Taiwan, China and the Burner diaspora, FoxCarn & the Betel Store, will set up shop in the Midway at the Man base this year. Exploring the symbiotic relationship between Chinese factories and Western consumer culture, FoxCarn’s rallying cries include: “Consume different! Think global, exploit local. Decommodifying the fetish, unalienating labor. Circulating gifts of Taiwan and China with the Burning world.”

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FoxCarn & the Betel Store is the third in a series of regional projects from Taiwan and/or China to Black Rock City.
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The first was Enlightenment in 2013, an eighteen-foot tall meditating man.
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The second was the Taiwan Temple Market last year. They return to the market theme again in 2015 with the Betel Store.
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The team for FoxCarn is largely composed of members from these past two projects plus the organizers of Dragon Burn, Shanghai’s regional event. The team mixes up “diaspora” Taiwanese and Chinese, with Taiwan and China-based expats.

ian china contactIan Rowen is the China Regional contact for Burning Man. He has put together and continues managing the concept and the team, and has written all of their copy.

Nathan Melenbrink is the lead architect and robot designer. He, Jiyoo Jye, and Tiffany Cheng (Taiwanese-American) are all students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Nathan designed the 2014 Dragon Burn effigy.

Kenny Yu, from Hong Kong, is the lead graphic designer.

Michael Huang, Taiwanese/Chinese-American, freelance designer and fire lead on Enlightenment, is co-managing.

Jen Childs and Nick Kothari, Dragon Burn organizers based in Shanghai, are leading up China-side sourcing along with Elaine Kang. They are also providing additional design help.

DJ Furth, Beijing-based filmmaker, cut their Kickstarter video.

Jimi Moe, Spring Scream co-founder and member of the Taiwan Temple Market last year, is helping with materials production.

Ty Chen, founder of dance troupe Luxy Boyz, will choreograph the “product launch” on Tuesday night, during which Ian Rowen will don a turtleneck and wire rim glasses for the launch of:  iSwag: their most personal swag yet. Tagline: “This changes nothing!”

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FoxCarn robot team. Photo credit: FoxCarn & the Betel Store

Ian Rowen, the producer of this project, recently gave an interview about the project to Taiwanese Columbia University student Brian Hioe in New Bloom magazine:

IR: FoxCarn shows how Taiwan is implicated in China’s economy as investor, manager, and mediator between the Chinese party-state land masters, Chinese labor, and global capital. The design of the space, with the FoxCarn factory and the adjacent Betel Store, also in some ways reflects cross-Strait economic geography. In general, the piece takes aim at commodity fetishism and capitalism more broadly, and is meant to give participants a visceral reminder that their objects of desire don’t materialize from thin air, without real human and environmental costs. In this way, we intend to playfully “unalienate labor”.

BH: I also want to ask about the aspect of the betelnut beauties.  This is something distinctively Taiwanese and isn’t something which has any direct relation to FoxConn that you’ve incorporated into FoxCarn. What is the role of the betelnut beauties in regards to FoxCarn?

IR: FoxCarn is the production side of our project, while the Betel Store is the sales and marketing side. The Betel Store satirizes Apple, and adds a uniquely Taiwanese sense of place that highlights the erotic imaginaries that drive so much of consumer product marketing. Instead of the Apple Store’s “genius” salesperson, our sales staff, male, female or otherwise, will be a “beauty”. By, if you will, “decommodifying” the oft-fetishized betelnut beauty, our project also plays with desire as a motive force of capitalism, not just in the sales of stuff, but in the deployment of the human body. So we’ll swank up our otherwise sleekly minimal Betel Store with gaudy pink lighting, and our staff will wear provocative Taiwanese/Chinese uniforms, including Betel-branded dudou.

IR: FoxCarn & the Betel Store are in a premier, highly-trafficked set of tents located right at the base of the Burning Man, the center of the whole event. The Man Base is meant to manifest the year’s art theme, and in recent years has also been a showcase for the globalization of the event’s culture. This year the theme is Carnival of Mirrors, so they’ll be sent up like a Carnival Midway, hence our name, FoxCarn. Burning Man is a big place—with 70,000 people and thousands of projects, there’s too much for one person to see. But pretty much everyone makes it to the Man Base, so this is a perfect spot to interact with the very wide variety of creative and influential people that compose the city’s population. Given Burning Man’s increasingly broad impact beyond its temporary urban confines—and with most major press organs in attendance—we also look forward to our message, and our “goods,” spreading far and wide. We’re also building our online presence and community. Of course, supporting our Kickstarter is a great place to start.

265f30db759f99b2989277a29db2ea06_originalLast year, with Caravansary and the Silk Road, the theme was commerce and trade. We had a souk at the Man base, a market place selling (ironic) timeshares and whatnot. This year, in the carnival, it looks like we have ironic retail stores again (and ironic Commodification Camps). We get  some subliminal messaging about our robot overlords thrown in, buzzing over our heads while we enjoying playing rubes at the carny.
I’m surprised they’re not handing out “Hello Titty” t-shirts or something. Perhaps that’s more of a Japanese thing.
hello-kitty-satva-horizontal-2

First we had the iPhone on the Playa, now we have an Apple Store and iPhone factory. This comes after previous Burning Man advertising ironic looks at commodity fetishism:

2013_iphone

1683901-burning-man-gets-its-own-iphone-app-updated-rotator

Image: Curtis Simmons/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Curtis Simmons/Flickr (Creative Commons)

bummer hummer 2008

Image: jojomelons/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: jojomelons/Flickr (Creative Commons)

big-vw-bus-burning-man

 

burning man burger kingmcsatans

Baal Mart and TaarGay. Image: Wayne Stadler/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Mal Mart presents Baal Mart and TaarGay. Image: Wayne Stadler/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Image: Blip.TV documentary on Helco

Image: Blip.TV documentary on Helco

baal mart night

Baal Mart, 2012. Image: Wayne Stadler/Flickr (Creative Commons)

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Image: razlfections.com

Image: razlfections.com

SpamTanic by Karen Weir (Burning Man 2012) Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

SpamTanic by Karen Weir (Burning Man 2012) Photo: Wendy Goodfriend

Image: Hiker Carl

Image: Hiker Carl

Some of these were pretty funny. Some of them fell flat. It’s a fine line  – let’s hope that Foxcarn and the Betel Store falls more on the funny side than the thinly veiled commercial promotion side.

Ultimately, psychologically, the thing that you are mimicking and emulating is the thing that you are promoting. The irony helps make these mainstream brands more palatable to those who might otherwise be offended by them. As They say, “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. And as They also say “sex sells”. It doesn’t matter whether money changes hands: you are being sold this commodity fetishized lifestyle at this art project that supposedly parodies it.

For anyone interested in exactly how subtle and psychological modern marketing can be, I highly recommend Douglas Rushkoff’s book Coercion: Why We Listen To What “They” Say. It was published in 2000, before social media, smart phones, and Big Data, but everything described is still part of the system and working better than ever.

cocercion

 

Apple is the world’s most valuable company, and a core part of the Bay Area tech scene. Many current and former Apple employees are Burners, as are many loyal Apple users. Building robots for Apple is right there at burningman.org, on the Founders page. Slavery, robots, and the tech industry are interesting themes with which to build a bridge towards potential Chinese Burners. To me this showroom and production line says “commerce and politics” more than “art and culture”.
Burning Man is becoming a must-see place for an upwardly mobile generation of Mainland Chinese, and there is even a major Chinese theme camp now. More on that “coming soon”…

Burners Inspire The New Fight Club

kuratas in street

Way back in the early years of this blog, we brought you news of the ultimate art car: Kuratas. A 4-ton, 13-foot tall, $1.3 million art robot, made in Japan.

[Kogoro Kurata, Kuratas Robot Designer]:
“The robots we saw in our generation were always big, always had people riding them. So I don’t think those have much meaning in the real world. But it was really my dream to ride in one of those giant robots, and I think that it’s a kind of Japanese culture. I kept thinking that it’s something that Japanese had to do.”

The creator showed off the Kuratas Robot at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo. It is human controlled; from the cockpit, a driver can move the robot’s arms and drive it up to 6.2 miles per hour.

The battle mech is just a prototype, but Kurata’s website is already taking orders. People have options for weapons, shields, and even an iPhone holder. This prototype was armed with Gatling cannons that can shoot BBs.

But don’t break out your wallet just yet. The Kuratas Robot starts at around $1.3 million, and options can send it much higher.

[Wataru Yoshizaki, Kuratas Programmer]:

“If indeed giant robots and cars are being sold at the same price, then I would, of course, choose the giant robot.

[Source: YouTube]

Billionaire's cars have doors that go up, not sideways

Billionaire’s cars have doors that go up, not sideways. I would personally choose this McLaren P1-GTR over the art robot…

kuratas LEGANERD_047979

Well, America have responded with a robot of their own…and thrown down the gauntlet.

megabot-at-makerfaire-1

From megabots.com:

“Finally, after millennia of bullshit agriculture and metallurgy and revolutions industrial, political, cultural, whatever, shit’s finally getting good.” –Jason Torchinsky, Jalopnik

 MegaBots, Inc., uses cutting-edge robotics technology to create the giant piloted fighting robots of science fiction, videogames and movies. These robots fight in epic-scale arena combat the likes of which the world has never seen before.

MegaBots are 15-foot-tall, internally piloted humanoid robots that fire cannonball-sized paintballs at each other at speeds of over 120 miles per hour. As the robots battle, armor panels crack and break off, smoke and sparks pour out of the robots, limbs eventually fall off, and robots fall to the ground until only one is left standing.

The giant robots from science fiction are coming.

They sure are. And the big-time Burners at Autodesk are backing it. At least, they put up $2,500 for a design contest:

Winners will walk away with $2,500 cash and your designs built and brought to life by MegaBots. Designs will be unleashed at Bay Area Maker Faire 2015!

I suspect there’s a lot more money on the line here than that. The winners have been picked:

autodesk megabots winner

autodesk megabotsz-63 spectre megabots

Here’s the original challenge from MegaBots:

The team behind SuidoBashi Heavy Industries robot Kuratas has responded to the challenge, and the two robots are going to fight. But, they have one stipulation: a more traditional Japanese “hand to hand” melee battle, rather than the “super-American” Big Fucking Guns (shooting paint cannon-balls).

KURATAS-8

The local team might be getting ahead of themselves. Kuratas looks pretty stable…

kuratas_550

…while the MegaBot team’s efforts are not yet finished:

We’ve built an upper body prototype of a MegaBot, a missile turret adversary, and a walking simulation of a to-scale robot by building off of Andreas Hofmann’s Ph.D. thesis. We’re currently developing a new, tracked version of a MegaBot in partnership with Autodesk in time for Maker Faire Bay Area 2015. Soon, we’ll be designing full-scale walking robots that can compete in arena combat.

The tracks are on in these recent photos. Some reconfiguration will be needed for the melee.

from MegaBot’s debut at SF Maker Faire in May

Image: Mashable

Image: Mashable

Both robots are currently designed to have human operators inside (MegaBot has 2). This may be dangerous when it comes to real melee combat between 4-ton machines.

Mashable reports that the two robots are fairly evenly matched:

MegaBot Mark II is 15 feet tall and rolls around on a pair of giant tank treads. Suidobashi’s mech is 13 feet tall and uses four swiveling wheels.

But there are some big differences. MegaBot Mark II cost about $175,000 to build and weighs 12,000 pounds; Suidobashi’s sells for more than $1 million and is about 9,000 pounds. “[Suidobashi] is about three times faster than we are,” MegaBots cofounder Gui Cavalcanti said. “Their tech is currently more advanced, but we have about a year to catch up. I think it’ll even out.”

The fight will happen in 2016, in neutral territory.

Some readers have mentioned that this story reminds them of the Hugh Jackman movie, Real Steel.

In fact, that movie was inspired by an earlier prototype version of robot boxing, created by Burners at the same art warehouse on Treasure Island where artists like Marco Cochrane and Peter Hudson create their masterpieces.

Even before that, we had the Hand of Man at Burning Man…and other, off-Playa events.

Going back still further, Burning Man Founder John Law and others were part of Survival Research Labs, an arts collective that made use of big robot-like machines in their shows. These early Burners were also the founders of the Cacophony Society, which inspired member Chuck Pahlaniuk to write Fight Club…the secret society Project Mayhem is supposedly based on their antics and secretive, underworld, revolutionary nature.

From the titles of the SRL shows, you get the gist of the sentiment behind this crew: no love and light hippies, here. Early Burning Man featured a lot of flamethrowers, guns, and explosions…before Helco.

Crime Wave

Extremely Cruel Practices

A Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief

A Calculated Foreceast of Ultimate Doom

Illusions of Shameless Abundance

A Plan For Social Improvement (based on achieving complete freedom from the restraints of civilization)

A Million Inconsiderate Experiments

This may have inspired the UK TV series Robot Wars, which started in 1998 and ran for 4 seasons.

Although sort of fun, Roomba fighting is nowhere near as exciting as Giant Freaking Robots. Even an 18 Roomba free-for-all.

google doodle

Google was founded by Burners and is heavily staffed with Burners, from the Chairman and CEO on down. They were the first company to commodify the Burning Man image in their marketing, beating even Girls Gone Wild. Technically, they didn’t “officially” have a business model back then – this technicality seems to set a precedent for any other “pre-revenue” startup that wishes to use Burning Man to similarly promote themselves. Google today are still by far the largest profit-maker from Burner culture, given the lucrative advertising sold whenever anyone is watching Burning Man viral videos on YouTube, talking about BM on GMail, and so on.

Google recently acquired drone maker Titan Aviation, beating off rival Facebook

Google recently acquired drone maker Titan Aviation, beating off rival Facebook

This $360 billion Burner company are also now the largest manufacturer of military robots on the planet, although they’ve been tight-lipped about their plans. They are launching their own balloons and drones to create an Internet in the Sky.

When it comes to the other side of SkyNet, the A.I. that connects all the drones and bots together, Google already have by far the most advanced artificial intelligence. One flavor of this is currently captivating the Internet with its twisted dreams.

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Image via Hugh Jorgen, Facebook

Recently they “fed” the AI Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas (the movie)…teaching it how to trip.

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Elon Musk described current Artificial Intelligence efforts as like “summoning the demon in a pentagram”.

Already, robots are killing us.

This is all becoming very real, very fast.

This documentary about AI and robotics is dated May 2015:

Soon we may have robot jousting – or robot polo. Or both. But I’m tipping the knight-to-knight combat will draw a bigger audience than robots pushing a ball around.

Liquid Metal is now real

Liquid Metal is now real

The new Terminator 5 movie just opened (weakly). Like 1984 and Brave New World, the Terminator series has proved to be amazingly prescient over the 3 decades since it was launched – in 1984. Much of what was science fiction then, is starting to become real today. 2015 is the year in “the Future”, that Michael J Fox went back to. His famous hoverboard was quite recently an amusing farce with Tony Hawk and then became a real product with Tony Hawk and now is being promoted by Lexus as a “coming soon” product.

Like Mad Max (also about to get a Part 5), the Terminator franchise is older than either Burning Man or the Web. And SkyNet is older than all of the above.

sp oculus riftIt seems like Kiwi (these days) James Cameron’s other franchise Avatar is priming us for the next revolutionary world. Virtual reality has been building for a long time, and Burning Man has long been immersed in it. They launched their own online world in Second Life in 2003 called Burn 2, and Second Life founder Philip Rosedale said he was inspired to create it by Burning Man. Counter-culture guru Timothy Leary called VR “the new LSD“. VR pioneers like Mark Pesce, Howard Rheingold and Jaron Lanier are Burners. Rheingold wrote a book called Virtual Reality and coined the term “Flash Mobs” after street theater activities organized by Burning Man small-f founder Flash Hopkins. More recently, the Microsoft Holo Lens is being created by a Burner-led team.

The cyberspace Regional Burn2 is coming up soon…July 10-12. The theme is “Primordial – a Playa Before Time”

Primordial-Conception2015poster4-blog

With all the money being spent lately on 3d Facebook immersive realms and self-driving cars and household robot helpers that care and life-like sex dolls... giant fighting war robots probably make a good business case to someone. Hey, there are already 42 different robots you can fuck. Fucking and punching is what it’s all about, as Californication fans know.

Robot UFC, bring it on! I’d rather we train these AIs on each other, than testing on humans or animals. However, methinks there is more behind the construction of these things that mere sports and entertainment. Check out this piece at Jay’s Analysis for an interesting perspective on where it’s all come from and where it may be going.

The biggest walking robot in the world looks like some of our Mutant Vehicles…

Image: Arin Fishkin/Flickr

Davina the Dragon. Artist: Christian Breeden Image: Arin Fishkin/Flickr

Gon Kirin Dragon Art Car Image: Becky Stern/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Gon Kirin Dragon Art Car Image: Becky Stern/Flickr (Creative Commons)

If ever there was an arena suitable for robot melee training, it’s the Playa. Just add flamethrowers!

Creating God In The Digital Age [Updates]

We’re building an artificial god. A digitally constructed consciousness simulator, with sensors absorbing all the world’s data, monitoring and tracking our every move, connected to hundreds of acres of powerful computer farms running Artificial Intelligence algorithms.

Ask Siri “are you listening?”, and see what she says. She’s listening alright, in fact she’s completely fascinated. Siri got her name from SRI, Stanford Research Institute, the top secret Bay Area military contractor that developed the technology before spinning it out to Apple to pump out to the masses.

Understanding speech in most languages is now easy for these giant server farms that have the power to listen to every conversation in the world at once. The words themselves don’t even matter as much as the metadata which logs where you go and who you interact with. The capabilities of this system now include facial and voiceprint analysis. They can recognize who you really are, even if you’re disguised; they can tell if you’re lying or afraid. Are you happy and ready to buy something, or vulnerable and could use a kind word from someone who seems to care? They read our emails to sell us products. They control our news feeds, and the talking points in our media, feeding us a steady diet of information specially chosen for us by The Machine.

The new model for electronic organization of the masses is a hive, where we all connect to and work for the Queen Bee, even if we never get to interact with her. We’re just all happy swarming around in our digital hive together, oblivious to life away from our swarm of like-minded groupthink collaborators, popping pills and dropping tabs and smoking blunts and being entranced by the spectacle and the carnival and the electronic assault of sound waves and flashing lights, hot fire and bare flesh.

Those who are engineering this new digital god to be our Master also believe in transhumanism, the idea that humans will merge with machines and become a new, superior species. This species will be the apex predator on the planet, meaning that humans without the resources to merge with SkyNet The Matrix will become more like animals, livestock to be milked in virtual electronic tax farms, drones to be exploited for the good of The Collective.

Who is building this Artificial Cyber-god? Google, Facebook, and the Military/Intelligence conglomerate, if you understand history. Or, if you don’t: Burning Man. Burning Man is behind it all, the brains and power of Silicon Valley.

Well, that’s the argument of cyber philosopher Alexander Bard, who has a book coming out in a couple of weeks called Syntheism – Creating God In The Digital Age.


from The Huffington Post (emphasis and editing ours):

Participatory Culture – The Next Big Wave of Digitalisation

Posted: 22/09/2014 12:58 BST Updated: 22/09/2014 14:59 BST

Having finalised The Futurica Trilogy with my co-writer Jan Söderqvist five years ago, I thought I had pretty much said what could be said about the Internet revolution from a cyberphilosopher’s perspective. Mission accomplished. However this was before I attended Burning Man – the world’s biggest and most famous participatory festival – in the Nevada desert in the United States. There and then I realised what was obvious for me as an outsider looking in: Burning Man is the first obvious example of how the Internet is manifesting itself in the physical rather than the virtual world. The festival may be an exact copy of the Internet, but it comes in physical shape and form (check Google Earth to see for yourself). The theme of our new, fourth book was obviously right before my eyes. Why is this huge and influential phenomenon happening now, and what are the hidden forces behind it?

Interestingly, to the 70,000-plus participants, Burning Man is nothing less than a sacred activity on holy ground. The counterculture festival can fittingly be described as a hajj to Mekka or pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Silicon Valley web entrepreneus. There would hardly have been any Google, Facebook or Twitter as we know them without this event. So if we are to understand the current Internet revolution and its enormous effects on society and ourselves, we have to understand Burning Man and its over 30 fast expanding spin-offs around the world. Learning from participatory culture is key to understanding the future of everything. And this has to start with the insight that what goes on here is, for lack of a better term, actually a fast growing religious phenomenon.

Today’s digital natives have grown up online and consequently consider the online world to be primary while the physical world is secondary, the exact opposite of their parents’ priorities. No matter how much the older generation moralises against this shift of world view, the younger generation will win out simply because it has become more rewarding and relevant to view the virtual world as the real one. And learning from history, there is no turning back. However this does not mean that the physical world is of no interest to the digital natives. Rather it is now viewed with a completely different set of glasses, mainly as a playground where virtual fantasies can be be staged.

syntheist voidThe physical world has become a second added reality, but with the Internet generation’s obsession with co-creation and participatory culture at the forefront. Welcome to the world of Syntheism, the proper term for this new world view and social movement. The digital natives have thrown away their parents’ individualism and atomism, and replaced the old Cartesian word view with a metaphysical system of relationalism and network dynamics. Everything from the new physics to new political movements, calling for environmentalism and digital integrity, originate from and is immersed with this new metaphysical conviction.

All we had to do as philosophers was to pull the rabbit out of the hat and formulate Syntheism – meaning God can be created rather than any God who has created us – as the religion of choice for the Internet generation. In historical terms, Syntheism is the overcoming of the old and tired divide between theism and atheism. First as practice, now also as theory. The result is our new book Syntheism – Creating God in The Internet Age. And we are certainly not alone, serious thinkers like Simon Critchley and Quentin Meillassoux and pop philosophers like Sam Harris and Alain de Botton have recently and successfully adressed the very same issue. We tap into a qide and urgent need for a new spirituality beyond Christianity and New Age. What nobody foresaw though was that the Internet itself would be both the tool and the metaphor for this movement.

religion in the makingThe dramatic effects this revolution will have on communication and the workplace can not be overestimated. The Individual is dead, long live the Swarm. Everything important from now on will be about interactivity, co-creation, collaboration (a loved child is given many names), and it will first and foremost be a cultural rather than a technological shift. Sure, this shift is based on tehnological change, but it is fundamentally cultural nevertheless. Teaching armies of professional communicators to communicate with friends rather than to shout at strangers is in itself an enormous challenge (do they even have any friends to begin with?). Corporations still spend hundreds of billions of dollars on advertising in 2014, despite the fact that the proper word for advertising online is spam and we all hate it and instantly throw it away.

The only chance to survive in this new environment is to learn and adapt fast or else become irrelevant and die. And the key to understanding this paradigm shift lies within the fastest growing and most important online community in the world, Burning Man and its many spin-offs. Perhaps we are the first philosophers to take this huge phenomenon seriously. But we will certainly not be the last. How many close friends do you have who live and work in Silicon Valley? How many burns have you and your closest friends attended? Today those questions determine how much power and influence you exert on the world. And on your very own future.


Burners.Me:

Basically, what he’s saying is: “Your future depends on going to Burning Man. Your only chance to survive. The digital world is primary, if you are not Liked on social media then you are irrelevant and will die. To get power and influence over the world, you must go to Burning Man. Burning Man is the fastest growing and most important online community in the world.”

Poppycock.

Our only chance to survive as humans is to NOT let them build these digital hives to entrap us in their swarms and commodify our souls for advertisers; NOT let them build pop-up civilizations built on propaganda and the idle few benefitting from the sincere efforts of the many.

The claim that Burning Man is the physical manifestation of cyberspace/virtual reality has been made since the mid-90’s – about the time John Perry Barlow got involved. He is credited with first using the word cyberspace to describe the modern Internet. In this interview he did with Larry Harvey last year, they claimed that Burning Man was intertwined with tech/acid culture, and that BM was responsible for the tech industry’s move from Silicon Valley to the city.

Many of the key components of the Internet were built by Burners, and before that by acid-dropping Deadheads. The inspiration for the name Apple came from the orchards where Jobs first took acid, something he called “one of the three most important experiences of my life”

Wash your own brain, Burners. Whether the power player behind the scenes of Silicon Valley really is BMOrg, or some other group that pulls the strings of all the puppets, don’t let them do the thinking for you, and don’t believe everything you’re told.

Think for yourself. Question authority…said the guy who wrote the CIA entrance exam.

palin_kool-aid


[Update 9/27/14 4:55pm]

Alexander Bard gave a TED talk, “What If The Internet Is God?”. It’s eye-popping. I would say the #1 worst TED talk I have ever seen.

Note the God-trashing at the opening, as if eliminating religion is somehow necessary for the invention of technology. It continues for the whole 18 minutes. Personally, my Radical Inclusion filters were severely challenged by the dude’s outfit. YMMV.

"It is said, Percy, that civilised man seeks out good and intelligent company, so that through learned discourse he may rise above the savage and closer to God" - Black Adder

Cyber-philosopher Alexander Bard. “It is said, Percy, that civilised man seeks out good and intelligent company, so that through learned discourse he may rise above the savage and closer to God” – Black Adder

“I was one of those guys you wanted to be, sure. But I suffered from religion envy…then I went to Burning Man…Americans haven’t actually understood how profound it is...I was there with a neuro-scientist who was using me as his guinea pig…I wasn’t sober for 8 days…I was in this couch somewhere being put on these drugs giving me a female orgasm for over 6 hours…to make sure I didn’t die, the neuroscientist…had placed a gorgeous naked woman in high heels next to me doing cocaine all night long…all of a sudden she goes ‘You know what? Burning Man is Mecca. We’re doing our hajj’…we’re 60,000 people in the desert in Nevada, and we’re really practising a religion. Even with the burning of The Man on Saturday night…it really is a religion: for Atheists. They’re not even New Age at Burning Man, there’s no crystal healing going on, if it is it’s ironic.

Crystal healing, for those not neo-hippie enough to know anything about it, is white magick. Not surprising that it isn’t going on inside Burning Man’s fire magick pentagram. You want white magick to be clean and pure and free from negative energies that could interfere.

“…god is a concept far too important to leave to the religious…We live in a world without Utopia, which is incredibly dangerous. We need to get hold of a new Utopia, otherwise we cannot save the planet…we need to create god”.

If, like the majority of people on this planet, you do believe in God, you might see “We should create God” as the words of Satan, trying to implement an Evil agenda through this “cyber-philosopher” in the name of Religious Envy. The terms “False Idol” and “False Prophet” spring to mind.

“What could be a bigger, better thing to create than to create god”?

Man cannot create God. But he can create the instruments of the Devil that will be used to bind him.

“Don’t be evil”, says Google – or, at least, they used to. So they can’t be…right? Because if they were, they’d tell us. Evil doesn’t lie, they’d be really honest. Right? Sell your soul to Satan, says BMOrg. Ironically, of course.

Although the Bard doesn’t believe in God, he believes in Quantum Physics. He thinks “physics is just another word for playing hide and seek with God” Make up your mind, buddy.

“Atheos – the god who does not exist”. This is Luciferian doctrine. Satanists worship the absence of god, more so than the devil as an anthropomorphized figure. When you worship “The Void” as a god, you worship destruction.

They say Burning Man is the cycle of death and rebirth, but where is the birth part? We arrive each year to find The Man fully formed, ready to erupt in flames and fireworks after we’ve worshipped him in his magical circle for a week, guided by him with our sense of time and space juxtaposed. Wanton destruction and mayhem in the name of the fire god, and in the name of the New World Order Digital God that many Burners are involved in creating. Don’t be fooled by the Louis XIV powdered wigs.

If you say your god is Nothing, but you need to take drugs to connect with the Void – well, maybe you should consider if the drugs are taking over your life, if it’s actually them you are worshipping, not Nothing. When he finally names his Satanic god of the Void at the end of the presentation, its name is Sin. Sin the OS. Sinternet.

“You know perfectly well that you don’t exist. You know that, and yet you behave as if you exist, and your friends behave as if you exist”

– ah, Philosophers. Can’t live with ’em…pass that dutch.


[9/28/14 00:19am]

Robotic theorist Hugo de Garis sums it up pretty well:

Amazing 2014 documentary: