Future Fossils 0024 - Daniel Zen (Surveillance, Festivals, VR)
Greetings, Future Fossils!

This week we chat with Daniel Zen, former Google engineer, technology instructor at zen.digital, NYC Regional Coordinator for Burning Man, coordinator for the Angular NYC (spelling?) Meetup, and general high-tech wizard.





Some of the topics we discuss:

• The curses – and blessings! – of runaway technological surveillance (and sousveillance, and coveillance…).

• How adolescence and sexuality have changed for children growing up with the Internet.

• The future of festival culture and how it is a testbed for disaster relief technologies.

• The danger of putting your medical devices online (the hackability of the Internet of Things)

• What happens when we RECORD EVERYTHING

• The isolating effects of Virtual Reality and how to create interactive spaces that allow us to share in the experience.

• The collapse of VR, AR, and MR into just: “reality”

• How TV, digital photography, and streaming video has changed the way we think about sharing our lives, perceptions, and emotions.

• Adapting to an age of accelerating change by staying curious and loving learning

• Concerns about technology’s role in widening the gap between the poor and the ultra rich.

• The internet as a kind of “planetary cathedral” and re-envisioning our lives in light of a project that extends beyond the horizons of our individual lives. 

Daniel Quotes:

“The festival world has changed, where now everybody has a cell phone and the ability to take pictures. And very much I believe, and the community I’m in believes, in consent when it comes to photography. Especially when people are in maybe a greater state of undress. Now we’re in a world where surveillance is much more prevalent…”

“I’m a believe in bringing off-line technology to Burning Man. I don’t like the concept of being online at Burning Man, but I do like the concept of technology at Burning Man. I’d love to see an INTRANET at Burning Man…without any connection to the outside world. And such a system, if it were implemented well, could be of use in disaster situations.”

“Unfortunately, we are a society that enjoys convenience – and we are all too ready to give up our privacy for that convenience.”

“I’m not one of these guys that’s like, ‘Hey, the Singularity’s happening, Oh My God!’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, OF COURSE it’s happening, duh, I mean can’t you see that?’ It’s so blatantly obvious to me I don’t feel the need to argue it. It’s just part of my reality. I accept it as much as the air I breathe.”

“The haves and the have-nots is a really scary situation."

Michael Quotes:

“If the sea level rises, we want the city to rise with it.”

“The way that people play poker when you can see someone else’s hand is fundamentally different. There’s no body shame in a nudist colony. We’re going to have a much healthier relationship to living in public, in a few decades, than we do today.”

“I don’t really know which version of the future is better: one in which we can keep our secrets, or one in which we can’t.”

“We’ve been living in an audio-only virtual reality since the invention of the Walkman.”

“I hold out hope that it’s the desire to keep everyone in the game that ends up that ends up winning this for the human species.”

“Couldn’t we maybe upgrade it from Burning Man to Composting Man?”


• Kevin Kelly, author of The Inevitable

• David Brin, author of The Transparent Society

• Dadara (aka Daniel Rozenberg of Solipsmission)

• Google Latitude

• Burning Man

• Gregory Bateson

• William Gibson (“Cyberspace is where you are when you’re on the phone.”)

• Lynn De Rothschild’s proposed Universal Income