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  • Hey, it's Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business

  • and life you love. So if you're anything like me, you love subjects like technology and

  • creativity and spirituality and thinking about how all of these incredible universes are

  • coming together in miraculous ways. Well, my guest today is one of the leading thinkers,

  • speakers, and philosophers on this topic and so much more.

  • Called the Timothy Leary of the viral video age by The Atlantic, Jason Silva delivers

  • philosophical shots of espresso which unravel the incredible possibilities the future has

  • to offer the human race. Host of National Geographic's hit show Brain Games, Jason Silva

  • is an extraordinary new breed of philosopher who meshes philosophical wisdom of the ages

  • with an infectious optimism for the future. Using his series of short videos, which play

  • as movie trailers for ideas, Jason explores the coevolution of humans and technology and

  • have garnered over 2 million views. Jason has been featured in CBS News, The Atlantic,

  • The Economist, Vanity Fair, Forbes, Wired, TED.com, among others, and he was also featured

  • as part of The Gap Icons campaign. An idea DJ and visual poet, Jason Silva is above all

  • an optimist and curator of ideas, inspiration, and all.

  • Jason, thank you so much for being here today.

  • Thank you so much for having me.

  • So I know we're gonna talk about a lot of really cool things, creativity, futurism,

  • all kinds of stuff. But I actually wanna start off going back to the past. So I know that

  • often times we can see the seeds of who someone is to become, what they're meant to do in

  • this world when we look in the past. And I know that you actually started doing these

  • salons in your house. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

  • Yes. I grew up in Venezuela and I used to go to an international school, so my friends

  • were from all over the world and all the time we had new kids coming into the school because

  • their parents were working for multinational companies, so they'd be stationed there. So

  • people were new all the time in the school. And one of the ways that we made people feel

  • at home right away was I used to kinda organize them and bring them, invite them, to my crew.

  • And I used to organize these salons in my house. And basically they were idea jams.

  • We would share books and scenes from movies that we loved and we drank wine and we hung

  • out and... in Venezuela you can buy alcohol at a pretty young age. But yeah, I just kinda

  • was always... I always loved ideas and I always loved recording ideas because one of the things

  • that sort of haunted me from a very young age was that inspiration was really fleeting.

  • Inspiration was sort of defined by its impermanence. And so my way of, like, arresting that, of

  • capturing these inspired exchanges with my friends was through the camera. So I've pretty

  • much had a video camera since I was 12 and have been documenting my mind jams ever since

  • then.

  • That's incredible. Do you ever look back on those?

  • Yes. Yes. As a matter of fact, I could even show you a little clip if you want.

  • Oh, definitely. Ok, we're gonna make that... ok, you're gonna see it. Ok, cool. Is that

  • where you started thinking to yourself, "Ok, I wanna do this for my life."

  • I think so. Yeah, I always loved movies and I always loved getting kind of immersed in

  • cinema and I thought that cinema was the best way to mediate encounters with transcendence

  • and inspiration. You know, I didn't grow up religious at all, so I didn't get that from

  • traditional religious spaces, but to me cinema is the last altar left. Cinema was the place

  • where I felt like I transcended the ego and I connected with something larger than myself.

  • Whether it was the characters or their mythic journey or their transformation or whatever

  • it was, to me cinema was cathartic. So there was no doubt that I was gonna go to film school

  • and get involved in making content in some capacity, but because I was kind of a child

  • of the digital revolution, I was responding to the restrictions and liberations that came

  • with that. So rather than going the route of trying to make feature length films or

  • docs, I fell in love with the short form in college. And the fact that I had a video camera

  • since I was 12 has shown me that I could have really quick turnaround. See, that's the thing

  • about digital video. It's like you could just shoot it. If it looked cool in the little

  • viewfinder, then you could hit record and you could really capture the moment, and you

  • could very quickly turn that around. And so after that there was just no way that I could

  • go to the more slow production vibe, you know? I just had to keep it at that speed and that

  • has... that's been my journey.

  • That's incredible. And so were you both behind the camera and in front of the camera?

  • I... originally was all about directing. So when I was like 12, 13, 14 I would direct

  • my little brother and we'd do these spoof short films and so on and so forth and have

  • a blast. And at the time I had no editing equipment, so I had to edit in real time in

  • my head. And so we shot in sequence and the cuts were in my head and I'd start and stop

  • and do the next shot and so on and so forth. And... but it was really in, like, later in

  • high school with those salon sessions that I was videotaping that I started to turn the

  • camera on myself. So not only was I videotaping my friends and sort of the mind jamming conversations

  • that were happening, but at some point I sort of felt like if I wanted to narrate or say

  • something I was like, "Ok, just hold the camera." And I'd just hand the camera to my friend,

  • I'd start, like, yapping about something, and then later on I was surprised that my

  • rantings were actually somewhat lucid. You know? Because at the time I had no real experience.

  • The minute you put the camera on me I would get self-conscious. But... but in those instances

  • I was able to be in the no mind state and actually get in the zone and get in the flow

  • and that's where the best stuff seemed to emerge. So then at that point it became I

  • still wanted to control the creative, but I was like, "You know what? I can narrate

  • my own stuff."

  • Yeah, I mean, and you're... you're absolutely stunning at it and that's what actually, I

  • was so excited when I came across, you know, one of your most popular videos I was like,

  • "I have got to get in touch with Jason. I need him on MarieTV," because you were absolutely...

  • you were born to do this and you're brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

  • Thank you so much. Thank you.

  • You're welcome. So let's talk more about creativity.

  • Yeah.

  • Creativity, it's just one of those... it's just such a fascinating subject. I mean, MarieTV,

  • we're always coming up with ideas and everything else we do in the business. For you, when

  • it comes to creativity, do you think that there's ever a new idea or is everything an

  • iteration or a version of something that's come before?

  • Yeah, that's... that's... I kinda fall in line with that notion that everything is kind

  • of a remix and everything builds on preexisting knowledge base. And creative people are people

  • that are able to connect the dots in a new way, arrange the Legos in a different order

  • but using the same building blocks. There's actually a series on the web that's really

  • popular called Everything is a Remix that's genius and it just shows how a lot of things

  • that we consider original are actually, again, remixes of what came before. And so that's

  • where I think that whole notion about steal like an artist or, you know, good artists

  • borrow, great artists steal. Because the truth of the matter is everything builds on what

  • came before, so as long as you cite where your inspiration comes from or you give credit

  • to where you're connecting the dots from, beyond that I think, you know, we all kind

  • of share in that space in which ideas can have sex and they should all belong to all

  • of us.

  • Yes. Exactly. Actually, that's what I wanted to talk about next because I thought it was

  • such an interesting turn of phrase. Obviously it's like a little bit saucy, a little bit

  • sassy.

  • Sure.

  • Talk to me about ideas having sex and why you're so passionate about bringing these

  • very interesting, amazing, philosophical... philosophical concepts and packaging them

  • in a mainstream way that everybody can get.

  • Yeah. Well, that term, ideas having sex, I think it came after I read Stephen Johnson's

  • book, Where Good Ideas Come From, The Natural History of Innovation, which is a dazzling

  • book about the origin of ideas. And he writes a lot there about how we need to create ecologies

  • of thought, and he talks about how cities are fertile spaces for ideas to have sex because

  • of the density of the way people are arranged near each other. People from different backgrounds

  • comingling together sprouts new recombinations of ideas. He talks about the rise of the coffee

  • shop as the... another instance in history that led to a lot of ideas because you put

  • a lot of people in a small space, you give them lots of caffeine, and ideas intermingle,

  • mutate, and sprout. And in the age of the internet all of a sudden even the city, even

  • though it's still a very creative place, it's not a necessary precursor anymore because

  • in the age of the internet we transcend distance and time and space and so on. And so now anybody

  • who is interested in anything can coalesce around someone else who's interested in the

  • same thing and they can have that kind of idea sex. But I love just the metaphor of

  • talking about an ecology or a space where ideas, which are like organisms, can have

  • sex, which is the whole... the whole notion of we went from a world of genes to a world

  • of memes. So ideas, these memes, are these living things. Ideas leap from brain to brain,

  • they compete for the resources of our attention, they have infectivity, they have spreading

  • power. This notion that ideas are alive is a wonderful idea.

  • Yeah. And actually, I remember in one of your videos you talked about how they retain some

  • of the characteristics of organisms, and that just kind of blew my mind and I was like,

  • "I wanna hear Jason talk about that."

  • Yeah. Well, that was Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene, I believe. In the 70s he wrote

  • this book where he introduced the term meme. And of course meme rhymes with genes, and

  • he says, you know, "We used to live in a world where information was only exchanged through

  • sex." Sexual reproduction. That's how genetic information mixed with other genetic information.

  • But with culture, with language, all of a sudden we had this new information technology

  • that allowed us to encode information in vocal patterns and transmitted through time and

  • space outside of DNA. That was the new replicator. Writing allowed us to encode information,

  • take it outside of the mind and put over there and let it spread, let other people read it.

  • So it was the... it's this notion that at that point we went from a world of genes to

  • a world of memes and that this new replicator accelerated our capacity to transform the

  • world. Because it just... it started building and building and building and building and

  • building and now, you know, we live in that... we have a global nervous system where information

  • is traveling faster than ever. I mean, it's... it's... it's a wild space. Right?

  • Yeah, it's...

  • Electrified thoughts traveling at the speed of light.

  • It's so exciting to me and often times I just really stop and think about how much I love

  • the internet.

  • Yeah.

  • I talk about it. I'm like, it... I remember getting online for the first time and going,

  • "I can reach people in another part of the world that I would never have a chance to

  • connect with on a spiritual level, on any level, and it literally makes me wanna jump

  • out of my skin. I think it's so cool."

  • Oh, yeah. There was a famous Jesuit priest called Teilhard de Chardin and he talked about

  • the omega point of the acceleration of technology is leading towards this apex where we all

  • kind of merge into this super meta organism. He referred to it as the noosphere that rises

  • above the biosphere. So it's this membrane that's gonna surround the earth that's all

  • mind. It's all thought. It's all the thoughts of billions of people finally becoming this

  • sort of meta organism. And it's a wild idea, but think about it. I mean, you create a piece

  • of content that doesn't just inspire the people in this room, but that inspires somebody in

  • South Korea or in Berlin and it might change the book that they decide to read that day,

  • which might change the major that they go for in college, which might then change the

  • course of human evolution because they might invent something. So it's like we do now...

  • ideas are our force of evolution and the fact that our ideas are unbounded by normal Euclidean,

  • meet space limitations of distance and time means that we're in this world where thought

  • travels at the speed of light and thought evolves and thought mutates and wow. Who knows

  • where that's gonna go? But it's an exciting time.

  • Yeah.

  • If used wisely.

  • How much do you love that we're alive right now and how much do you love, especially given

  • what you do and your skillset and your passion...?

  • Yeah. 100%. I mean, look, technology gets a lot of criticism and that's because technology

  • has always been a double edged sword and I understand that. I mean, when we discovered

  • fire, it's been famously said, you could use fire to cook your food and that led to this

  • acceleration and our capacity to absorb nutrients and it freed us to have all this time to think

  • and so on and so forth. But you can also use fire to burn your enemies. You can use the

  • alphabet to write Shakespearean sonnets that enrich the imagination or you can use the

  • alphabet to compose hate speech and lead people to kill each other. So technology extends,

  • but it can extend in any direction. And it's how we use these tools ultimately that determines

  • if they're good or bad. But I have an unwavering belief that if you look at the macro trends

  • overall, we tend to use these things for good. Steven Johnson wrote a whole other book about

  • that called Future Perfect where he talks about, look, it's not utopia but it's leaning

  • that way. You know, I mean, the world has never been less violent than it is today,

  • contrary to what you see in the media. Steven Pinker and his whole myth of violence TED

  • talk says that. The chances of a man dying at the hands of another man are the lowest

  • than they've ever been in the history of man.

  • Yeah, if you watch Game of Thrones it's like, "Woah! Thank God we're not there anymore."

  • Yeah, totally. Totally, totally. But, you know, again, the media is all doom and gloom

  • and so it makes you almost think that the world's going to hell when in fact there's

  • a lot of things that are going right. And so, again, it's how we use these tools ultimately

  • that will determine our fate. I do believe though that now it's more up to us than it's

  • ever been. I think we're the chief agents of evolution now. So evolution now has mind

  • attached to it, so we'd better use our minds wisely and use these tools for the common

  • good, I think.

  • Yeah. No, 100%. Which brings me to what I think is one of your favorite subjects too.

  • Getting deeper into the future. And I know you and I are both fans, this idea, the singularity.

  • Sure.

  • So for anyone watching who's not familiar with that term...

  • Yeah. Ok. So the singularity, there's a lot written and said about this idea. It's actually

  • originally a physics term. So it's a term that information technology futurists borrow

  • from physics. And originally the meaning is what happens when you go through a black hole.

  • And apparently the laws of physics kinda collapse when you go through that black hole, so you

  • can't really... you can't really know what happens when you go through it. And so it's

  • a metaphor that's been borrowed to describe a moment when the apex of information technology,

  • coalescing, and artificial intelligence, the biotechnology revolution, us reprogramming

  • our biology, and the nanotechnology revolution, which turns, like, matter into a programmable

  • medium. Everything at the level of the atom becomes manipulatable. And so essentially

  • these three overlapping revolutions are predicted to lead us towards a moment that after which

  • is impossible for us to predict what happens next. Because when we radically extend our

  • cognitive capacities with digital tools, infinitely more advanced digital tools even than what

  • we have today, or when we create a non-biological mind, which is coming soon. I mean, there's

  • the Blue Brain Project, spending over a billion dollars to create a digital sentient. And

  • the whole point is that this mind wouldn't be bound by the physical limitations that

  • we have. We're a 56k modem. You know? We're 1.0. Imagine like a 9.0 mind on silicon that

  • can upgrade itself. So the whole point is trying to imagine the new sublime mind spaces

  • that will emerge is like trying to explain to a chimp the nuances of a Shakespearean

  • sonnet. It's just... no matter how bright the chimp is, he can't get the nuances of

  • language. And so that's where it gets exciting because I think the singularity opened...

  • the metaphor, it just... it opens us to the possibility of imagining the ineffable.

  • Yeah.

  • Imagining the almost impossible to imagine. So it lends itself to wonderful speculation

  • I think.

  • A lot of speculation. I know for me, I get very, very excited by it. You know, Ray Kurzweil,

  • Abundance, all of that stuff. I can't get enough.

  • Right.

  • But whenever I read or hear or talk with people about it I'm like, "Oh, so scary." And I know

  • that at one point you said, you know, "What if... what if that consciousness is actually

  • more empathetic?" It's like I had never heard that perspective before because everything