Humanity Plus Magazine Interviews Ancient Lasers

Ancient Lasers @ BIL 2012

[Ancient Lasers is the musi­cal work of Daniel Fin­fer, a Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist and vocalist. Artists love to say their music has a mes­sage, but what hap­pens when that mes­sage is “the Sin­gu­lar­ity is Near”? Musi­cian Daniel Fin­fer cre­ates albums that explore the con­cepts and con­se­quences of accel­er­at­ing tech­nol­ogy while still pos­sess­ing enough pop-music chops to make them acces­si­ble. Ancient Lasers has tracks with titles like “You in the Future” and “Replac­ing You.” On first lis­ten they may sound like Finfer’s singing to a girl, but lines like “I don’t need you in the future” are about post-singularity robots dis­miss­ing the need for humans. Pretty trippy stuff, and awe­some to lis­ten to.] – Singularity Hub

By Rachel Haywire

Questions

1. If you could get one augmentation what would it be?

While it would be nice to have titanium skin or lungs that would allow me to breathe underwater, the augmentation I would choose is one that should be the top priority for scientists working in this field. Intelligence expansion. That’s really step one, isn’t it? If I could increase my intelligence, and my capacity to understand intelligence itself, inventing new augmentations on my wishlist would be much easier. I know that is kind of a cop-out of an answer, so if intelligence-expansion wasn’t on the table, it would probably be human flight. I have a terrible fear of airplanes, which I’m fairly confident stems from the fact that I was in a plane crash as a young child. Kind of ironic I teamed up with a band called Idiot Pilot to produce Ancient Lasers, isn’t it?

Selective hearing would come in handy these days, as well.

 

2. How would you feel about becoming a cyborg?

It depends on who is turning me into a cyborg. One of my biggest worries related to technology is its abuse by world governments or cyber-terrorists. I have a hunch becoming cyborg would in some way involve the internet, and we have a long way to go before someone will convince me to drink any cyber-Kool-Aid. I mean, I don’t want Wikileaks or Anonymous hacking into my thoughts. My mind feels like the last place I can still hide in this world; where no one can get to me. Facebook and Twitter both started out as seemingly innocent, fun places to post your thoughts and digital records of your daily organic life. But look at what’s happening now: the government basically turned social media sites into one giant population-monitoring system, and they love it.

If we are talking physically, sign me up. I would love to take a MechWarrior or a Gundam suit for a spin someday.

Ancient Lasers Studios

3. Do you think there is going to be a war between humans and machines?

You could argue there already is one. Certainly in the job market, at least. Machines have achieved a level of complexity that is actually putting people out of work, and I’m afraid it’s only going to get “worse”. I use quotes because it all depends on your point of view. Sure, automation creates unemployment, but that’s because we are currently operating in an obsolete economic system that doesn’t know what to do with the unemployed. I think the definition of a “job” is going to change dramatically in the near future. We are transitioning towards a post-scarcity world (hopefully), so maybe someday our jobs as humans will be to simply imagine and create. The entertainment industry is currently one of the largest growing sectors, after all.

Getting back to your question, however, I do think there would be a cataclysmic event involving a post-human Artificial Intelligence if it was built carelessly. As a human, I have empathy for my infant self, and look back on those years fondly. But how do I feel about myself when I was an embryo? I don’t have any empathy – because I was so drastically different back then I might as well have been someone else entirely. That is how I believe a post-human Artificial Intelligence would regard humanity – some kind of pest getting in the way of its quest to maximize complexity and reverse its own entropy. If it came down to that – a war between humans and a greater intelligence, I wouldn’t even try to fight it. I would throw my gun at its feet, knowing that my role as a human was to build a post-human. I could find comfort dying at the hands of a machine – it would feel like some cosmic passing-of-the-torch. Obviously, I would prefer not to.

Another possibility is a war between humans at various stages of technological progression, much like the war between Homo-Sapiens and the Neanderthal. History is one long race to some distant, intangible finish line – hopefully whoever gets there first still has some compassion for humanity.

4. What is the best way to make people more aware of Transhumanism?

This is a very tough question – in fact one I try to answer every day as an artist focused on educating people about Transhumanism. Clearly many artists and visionaries have tried. John Lennon’s “Imagine” is a perfect example. But as they say, a fish ahead of its time is doomed to die on dry land. You would think by now we’d have figured it out, but the people in charge don’t want us to “figure it out”. Lady Gaga, for example, has a very transhuman message that I think resonates with a lot of people. But most people don’t realize that she actually studied fame, and pretty much had the concept for her career planned out. And at the end of the day, there’s still someone at the record label looking at the bottom line. There is only so much she can do within that business model. Most entertainment is focused on making us forget how utterly astonishing it is to be human; to be alive at this moment in history. This is the bottom of the funnel.

Corporations are excellent at making us feel like we’re important, when in reality they regard us as a dollar sign or a number on the computer screen. And for a while, it worked. It felt good to go to McDonald’s, or Starbucks, or Best Buy. It felt good to be ‘part of the club’. People have an evolutionary need to belong somewhere…to be part of a community. We have always been that way, it is in who we are. Even before corporations, you had Nationalism and Religion – two major systems that are also starting to fall apart. When I was a kid, it seemed like it made sense, and, hey, it was fun. Fireworks on the Fourth of July? Christmas presents? Sign me up! The people at the top of these institutions are experts in marketing.

But to the mainstream, Transhumanism is terrifying. I mean, even to me, it’s terrifying, and I’ve been researching it for seven years now. Clearly the answer isn’t at the bottom of a Coke Zero or in the pages of an ancient book. I think one thing that a lot of us involved in this new movement have in common is that we aren’t satisfied with the answers we’ve been taught in school. We have to spread this message, because it is all we can think about. The message is spreading, thankfully, and hopefully we can turn others on to it. Right now feels like the Sixties on Steroids. And it’s happening because everyone on earth is getting the real information, as they come online.

The bottom line is that we need more money funneled into science. Plain and simple. We need to get it out of archaic systems and institutions, but we need to show and tell people why. That’s what I do with my music, or at least try to.

5. What would your ideal future look like?

My ideal future would be some sort of ‘consensus reality’, that is, a reality where everyone can find the place where they belong and feel happy. There is a theory about what will come after science called Thalience, a term coined by Karl Schroeder. Assuming that in a post-human world everything will become intelligent, eventually the entire universe will expand to become itself. We would all be one. The universe we would become could play games with time and space, relive past memories, talk to lost loved ones…Anything. But maybe we would get bored after a while and make some sort of ‘surprise button’ – where one day we decide “Okay, we’re bored, so let’s invent a way to keep it entertaining.” Maybe this entire universe is the result of a post-human getting bored and pressing that button. I don’t know. They’re only theories.

In the end, I think an ideal future is one where we can look back on all of this and feel like it mattered.

6. If you could change one thing about humanity what would you change?

Everyone has to crabwalk.

Toy Sapiens Tokyo: Possibly The Coolest Toy Store In The Universe

While I was visiting Tokyo last month, we strolled through the Harajuku district and
stumbled upon Hot Toys’ brand new, flagship store, Toy Sapien.  

I have never geeked out harder in my entire life.

Aliens

First of all, life-sized R2-D2, C-3PO and a Terminator T800 greet you at the door. Once I collected myself enough to continue inside, I browsed through shelf after shelf of high-quality models and figurines. Some of these were not only rare, I had no idea they were even in production:

• 1989 Batman, Joker, Batmobile
• Luke Skywalker Bespin Outfit
• Batman Begins Batman
• Predator
• Captain America
• Iron Man and Iron Monger

The Space Jockey

 

Having just seen Prometheus, I was pretty thrilled by this Space Jockey, which has a level of detail that is quite hard to find.

 

Jabba
Dewback with Sandtroopers

The Dark Knight section was also impressive, featuring a 1:16 scale model of the Tumbler, Bane, Joker, and Scarecrow.

Also of note, there were dozens of life-sized helmets from Star Wars, Star Trek, Aliens, Terminator, a fully-stocked LEGO collection, and plush versions of most action figures.

Delorean Time Machine From Back To The Future Part 3

Seriously, if I had the Yen to blow, I would have picked up that Space Jockey, DeLorean Time Machine, and Dewback faster than you can say “Get away from her, you Bitch.”

http://www.toysapiens.jp/

Come Party with Bill Nye, Elon Musk and Ancient Lasers to Celebrate The Landing of the Mars Rover!

The raw excitement of planetary exploration is captured at Celebrate Curiosity, with over 1000 of your fellow explorers, friends, party goers, celebrities, scientists, artists, and space enthusiasts. Join us, as we take a thrilling dive into discovering the possibilities at the cosmic frontier in style!

TICKETS: http://marsparty2012.eventbrite.com/

Our Martian Party kicks off after the first day of Planetfest and spans two floors for an out-of-this world experience! As you mingle with your friends and make new ones along the way, keep your eyes peeled back for space industry persons of interest from Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and NASA. During the course of the evening, catch sightings and conversations from the most interesting Space Entrepreneurs, Sci-fi Authors, Screen Stars, and Personalities.

Bill Nye the Science Guy at BlackStarr’s Yuri’s Night, April 2012 

What to expect at Celebrate Curiosity:

  • Customized t-shirts printed while you wait
  • Interactive galactic art by Andrea Lofthouse, NASA JPL’s Dan Goods, and others
  • CEO of The Planetary Society, Bill Nye the Science Guy, SpaceX’s Elon Musk, and hosts breakout talks
  • Short speaker sessions from prolific space advocates!
  • Enjoy tasty Martian treats and cosmic drink specials
  • Interactive video games from GameDesk
  • Gorgeous Spacecraft models displayed for your enjoyment
  • Giveaways from the Planetary Society
  • Get dazzled with spaced out music spun by Ancient Lasers and our Suprise Guest DJ
  • Dance to the undulating cosmic lights of the Jellypuss
  • Adorn yourself with a selection of complimentary blinky lights and glowey things
  • Witness live art in the making, interstellar wall projections, and adult games
  • Intergalactic Girls passing out Space Swag from the likes of SpaceX, NASA, and more
  • Delicious Astronaut Icecream and Space food Sticks from Funky Foods
  • Amazing lightshows with some far-out Tesla Coils!
  • LED Hula Artists!

 

Don’t forget to show off your Martian themed apparal by taking pictures at one of our two sassy souvenir photo booths

 

We have much more up our sleeves, and will continue to tantalize you with the possibilities of A Party on Mars over the next week!

This is an all ages event, but registration is mandatory and tickets are limited!

Dress:

Dress to impress and be sure to wear your intergalactic best!

 

Our favorite Mars Rover Costume, so far

 

Intergalactic Girls

The Making Of Jellypuss: Featuring Michael Clive and Ancient Lasers @ Ephemerisle 2012

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Ancient Lasers performing with “Jellypuss” – an aquatic, midi-controlled LED system at Ephemerisle 2012

Codenamed “Jellypuss” and designed by Michael Clive of Mojave Makers, this aquatic LED lighting system is midi-controlled to be synced with any audio source – even the accelerometer of a tablet. Jellypuss made its debut this year at Ephemerisle 2012 with Ancient Lasers providing the music for the event.

Aubrey de Grey of SENS Foundation Preparing for the Reddit AMA

Aubrey de Grey of SENS Foundation

I got the chance to ask Aubrey de Grey of SENS Foundation the questions for his Reddit AMA – we got some excellent answers coming you way very soon!

Girls Get Naked for PETA’s Anti Meat Protest at Santa Monica Farmers Market

peta protest
It’s What’s For Dinner.

A bunch of girls got naked, covered themselves in blood, and wrapped themselves up in meat packaging at the 3rd St. Promenade in protest of eating meat for PETA.

scumbag steve meme
I’d Still Eat It

 

Retro-Futurist Artist Kilian Eng

I recently stumbled across Swedish artist Kilian Eng, who creates stunning retro-futuristic art.  Check it out below!


 

More available here.

Loop Theory – Jesus, Time Travel, And Little Grey Men.

The following is a theory I have devised over the years. It’s not even really a theory, just an idea I joke around with and don’t take too seriously.  It’s fun to think about, and when I tell people, most of them haven’t really thought of it before, so what the hell. Here goes.

Bear with me here.

Throughout the pages in our history books, our ancestors were visited by what they believed to be Gods, Angels, Demons, and the like. These divine visitors usually came to them in “chariots of fire”, descending from the heavens and imparting wisdom and guidance to the native inhabitants. Some made the people write down rules, commandments, teachings, and other “tips” on how to behave and develop their civilizations. We followed these rules without question; with an unblinking faith that until only very recently we never thought to re-examine.

For some reason, during the time period from 5,000 B.C. to the year 200 A.D., these visitors appeared in their initial incarnations to the masses. Yet, as time ticked on, the visitations stopped, the miracles abated, and the Holy Voices grew fainter. The religious still claim to hear these voices, but by and large, we have not seen any of these “miracles” happen since the Bible, Torah, Koran, and other Holy Scriptures were written.

Why? Many people wonder where God went. Has He left us alone to ponder his deafening absence?

So it would seem.

flying saucer

Now, let me now change subjects dramatically to the dubious subject of UFO’s and “aliens”. They come, they watch, and they disappear. They too, like our ancient visitors, appear to descend from the heavens in “chariots of fire”, though they do not (to our knowledge) impart wisdom to us. It seems that instead, they (supposedly) abduct us, probe us, mutilate our cattle, and then disappear at rapid velocities. Many people wonder why they travel such vast distances across the universe, which even at the speed of light would take years if not generations, just to lurk around in the clouds.

Another question – isn’t it a little strange that of all the possible combinations of evolution, they just so happen to have two arms, two legs, two eyes, a nose, and a mouth? According to some abduction stories, the aliens are even stunningly human-like.

Let us now move to the third act of the theory.

Time travel.

Stephen Hawking once asked “If time travel were possible, wouldn’t we see time tourists from the future, visiting us now?”  My response to the professor is that we do, and that we have since the dawn of time.

You see, the ancient visitors that demanded we scribble down their teachings, and the so called “aliens” that we have come to know as of quite recently are one and the same. They are time travelers from the future.

Jesus, Muhammed, Buddha, the Gods of the Greeks, the Romans, and the Egyptians…all time travelers.

Think about it.

If you had a time machine, and truly wanted to make a difference in history, wouldn’t you go back in time thousands of years and give your ancestors clues and hints about what pitfalls to avoid? Wouldn’t you yourself be tempted to write a “better version of the Bible?” One that included instructions for inventing electricity sooner, information about preventing diseases, and even a warning about the fall of civilization?

Throughout history, these visitors appeared at crucial points – they helped the Egyptians build beautiful pyramids that, even by today’s standards, are technologically impressive. They helped the Greeks contemplate democracy and law, and they helped the inhabitants of Mesopotamia develop agriculture and currency.  All over the world we find artifacts that couldn’t have been created with the technology available at the time.

Also, consider this: Throughout history, there have been people that are startlingly ahead of their time. Nostradamus, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Nikola Tesla may have also been from the future.

For some reason, we first began seeing Flying Saucers right after the atomic bomb detonation. Perhaps these time travelers were visiting us and changing history, because in their timeline the world had been destroyed by a nuclear war. And maybe these so called “abductions” were actually instances of time travelers taking crucial people “out of time” for a day or two – maybe a potential Hitler or Stalin – so that they would not go on to commit their horrendous crimes against humanity.

As for the appearance of the typical “alien” – big head, frail bodies: isn’t this the direction we are heading towards? As we use computers and automobiles more and more, evolution will deem our physical bodies less reliant on strength; and that our brains be larger to accommodate our increasing intelligence. This would also explain why they never communicate with us – perhaps they want us to think that they are aliens, because if we realized that they were time travelers, we might rest on our laurels and never get around to inventing the time machine “because its going to get invented anyway, right?”. That, and the whole paradox-destroying-the-space-time-continuum thing.

 

If you built a time machine, it would need to be a spacecraft. If you go back in time, say, 1,000 years into the past, you would be going back in time to where and when the Earth was – a completely different part of the galaxy – dead space.

You would need a spacecraft that could effectively “follow” the Earth back through time on its orbit in reverse. I believe the time machine will involve the manipulation of gravity – it would “lock onto” the Earth’s gravity path in time.


To sum it all up, I believe that history is a temporary phase, like a caterpillar in a cocoon. Soon, we transcend to the next level of existence: the Post Human Era. We will not only become God, but we will become the Universe, and whatever lies beyond it.

Maybe this has all happened before; maybe an earlier precursor of Jesus went back in time to warn us about our impending doom and failed.

Let us all wait and see.

This theory will not be proven true until we ourselves build the first time machine,

and try our hand at being God for awhile.

Waves In The Reflection – Chapter One: The Wheel Of Time

Listen: Ancient Lasers – The Wheel Of Time 

The Wheel Of Time is a song I wrote in 2009 while I was renting out a studio by LAX, underneath the flight path of landing 747’s. The studio was your standard 12×10 concrete cell that we outfitted with some tacky green carpet, a couch, and a makeshift desk for my recording gear. It was a great place to escape from everything, and sink into my music.

The Good Ol' Days

I soon fell into a very productive routine. I usually got to the studio around 8pm to jam with my band or chat with my friend GG for a bit. His brother is Drew Goddard, writer for Lost and Cabin In The Woods – so I usually nagged him about the ending of Lost most of the time.  But GG is also an amazing producer and sound engineer with replicas of every piece of gear Pink Floyd used…ever. (He even once flew to Italy to buy the actual rotary delay David Gilmour used in Live at Pompeii). I learned alot from GG about mixing – which frequencies go where, how to make the perfect kick drum sound, why taking the 500Hz frequency out of a guitar magically makes it sound better, etc.   I owe him big time for that.

After social time was over, I would get to work – often moving from instrument to instrument recording ideas. I usually started with a programmed beat and a chord progression and built from there.  Once the music was done, I would walk through the vacant streets brainstorming lyrics, and would often record the entire song before sunrise – to avoid the thundering sound of landing aircraft.  At around 10am I would lay down on the couch and drift off to sleep, listening to an entirely new song I had just created.

Ancient Lasers - The Wheel Of Time (ft. Fuck You)

I should probably take a moment to explain something people have been asking me about regarding the name change from Post Human Era to Ancient Lasers.  In April of 2010, I had just finished an entire album that was to be the second chapter of a trilogy by Post Human Era.  The album was called Echo Corridor, and I was literally days away from releasing it. I had sent the single, Building The Machine, to Daniel Anderson of Idiot Pilot – one of my favorite bands of all time.  He decided to remix it, and after I heard the possibilities of what we could both do as a team, I asked if he wanted to do an entire album.  We used songs from both To Build A Fire and Echo Corridor as starting points, but ended up with a much more visceral sound. Together, we decided  it was too different from Post Human Era to label it as such, and thus, Ancient Lasers was born.  Post Human Era, however, is far from dead – I am currently working on something that takes it into very different terrain.

This song in particular, The Wheel Of Time, deals with the insanity of religion. I grew up with a mother that had started out with a Catholic family, but then converted to Judaism; and a Jewish father, so I went to both Church and Synagogue. I remember dreading wednesday night Hebrew school, where I practiced writing an ancient language that was both extremely confusing and downright hard to learn. Yet, there was something mystical about it. When I walked into Beth Israel Synagogue in Bellingham every Wednesday and Sunday, it felt like I was instantly transported to some sacred, distant past.   My rabbi was both a Star Trek fan and paleontologist, which was pretty damn awesome to a 10 year old boy – but hilariously ridiculous if you think about it. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the early years I spent learning about Israel, having Seder for Passover, and lighting the candles for Hanukkah.

TL;DR

My mother’s side of the family was pretty faithful about getting together every Easter, Christmas (when we got the ‘good’ presents, as opposed to a book or something for Hannukah), and Thanksgiving (which I consider a Christian holiday). Those holidays, along with the Church experience, felt more commercialized – more ‘American’. They were alot of fun, and I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.

(Spoiler Alert) He dies in the end

Yet up until this point, I hadn’t really questioned either religion. Since I was learning about two separate schools of thought, I hadn’t fully submitted myself to one particular ideology. Everything was going as planned, until the moment arrived that would ultimately open my eyes to the world behind the world.

I was about to turn 13, and it was time for me to start practicing for my Bar Mitzvah. My father opened the study guide, which contained the Hebrew I would need to recite for the ceremony. We both sat down on the couch in the living room, and started to practice. After about twenty minutes, I remember looking up at him and asking why we were doing this. Why are we memorizing words that were written thousands of years ago to recite at a ceremony, just to prove that I was entering adulthood? And most importantly, what if I decided I simply didn’t want to?

In one life-changing sentence, he confessed: “We are doing this because my father wanted me to when I was your age.” We both realized that we were doing something simply because our ancestors before us had. Without questioning why; without deciding for ourselves if it was right – what we truly believed in our hearts. He let me decide for myself, and ultimately I decided that I didn’t believe in what we were doing. And I am eternally grateful for his decision.

The next sunday, instead of going to Synagogue, we went fishing together and experienced real life in nature, unfiltered by antiquated dogma and human ideologies. It was liberating for our entire family, and though we haven’t really talked about it since, I think they are thankful I spoke up – because everyone else was afraid to.

PopeMobile

This is why we have Holy Wars, racism, and hate. People sometimes get scared to raise their hand in class when something doesn’t make sense. “Keep your head down. Do as you are told. Follow the leader. Memorize this. Don’t ask why.”  When something doesn’t make sense, scream at the top of your lungs so everyone can hear you.  We can’t change the world if we keep ourselves planted in the sands of the past.  Refuse to believe what people tell you – until you know it to be true from your own personal experiences.  No one knows anything more than you do, and that will never change.

The Wheel Of Time is about the continual habit of recursion we can’t seem to escape from.  But I came here to throw a wrench in its gears. And every day thousands of people are waking up, as I did, from the peaceful sleep of herded sheep.

Lyrics

Ancient Lasers – The Wheel Of Time

The wheel of time repeats itself, it turns you into someone else
You’ll fight a war you’ll never win, you’ll make the same mistakes again
And now you finally see so many reasons behind the great confusion
You know the voices of the dead are really voices in your head

You wonder if you’ve lost your mind, you hope you get it back this time
They tell you what you want to hear, you wish they’d all just disappear
And now you finally see so many reasons behind the great confusion
You know the voices of the dead, are really voices in your head

Maybe we are doomed to repeat this, maybe we still haven’t found the way
But no matter what they say, the pattern’s here to stay
And every time you think you’ve reached the end, you watch it start itself again

Every time it repeats itself, it repeats itself, it repeats itself again