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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
thinks about it it's like, "Oh, the machines are coming, that's it, we're gonna get..."
The Terminator scenario.
Totally. So what do you think about that? I mean, I thought that was such... does that
tie into your... do you have spiritual beliefs?
I mean, not traditional ones. I grew up in a secular Jewish household. But my mom is
an artist and a poet, so I think our religion was art.
Yeah.
And I think that art is transcendent, you know, and I define transcendence as when the
sum of the parts adds up to more than the parts. You know, you put materials together
in a certain way and what results exceeds those materials. And music and art and language
is so transcendent and so that... that's my version of spirituality. But to answer your
question, you know, we've always been scared of change and disruption. You know, when writing
was invented, I've read that Socrates used to be opposed to it because he says if we
write things down we won't have to remember anything and so our brains will rot. So there's
been, you know, the establishment of the time is afraid of these new disruptive tools because
they shake up the status quo. And I think, you know, it's the same fear that people have
had of video games. Oh, video games are gonna make us all, you know, violent or they're
gonna atrophy our brains, when in fact it's been found out that, you know, video games
engage your problem solving skills, they engage your strategy skills in your brain in all
these amazing ways. You know? I don't know if you've heard of the book Reality is Broken,
but it's all about the power of game and mechanics to help save the world.
I haven't, but now I'm gonna read it.
Yeah. And so I think we'll be surprised by how we have the possibility of using these
tools in wonderful ways and how if we do create a non biological mind it's gonna have everything
that's wonderful about humans exponentially multiplied, you know. And it's a great idea,
Kevin Kelly that I always... he was a big inspiration. He co founded Wired magazine
and he says, "Look, just imagine for a second how impoverished we'd be if we didn't invent
oil painting, a technology, in time for Van Gogh's genius to unfurl through it. Or if
we didn't invent musical annotation or the instrument, both technologies, in time for
Beethoven's genius to kind of emerge through that. So if we rob ourselves of creating these
new tools, we'd be robbing ourselves of the next Beethoven, the next Mozart, the next
Van Gogh who are going to use these tools to build things we can't even imagine."
Yes. And that's what's really exciting. What, I'm curious, is there a particular sector
whether it's nanotech, biotech, anything else, or a particular thing that you're very excited
to see come to life that's maybe on the cusp right now?
Yeah. I'm really excited about the Oculus Rift and the kind of virtual reality revolution
that we're seeing with that. You know, especially in platforms like Kickstarter people could
come up with cool ideas and the crowd itself can fund it and all of a sudden new possibilities
emerge. But we've always wanted to inhabit that mind space, that virtual space. I mean,
already when we watch movies our mind is in the film. When we're engaging with the internet,
I mean, we're interfacing with the space that isn't space, as William Gibson used to say,
and I think that with the Oculus we're finally going to be surrounded fully by that virtual
space. And it's gonna, you know, it's gonna definitely change online dating at the very
least. But... but no, I just imagine new modalities of communication that will be very exciting
to explore. You know?
And art too, probably.
Oh my God, absolutely.
Filmmaking.
Yeah. I think transcendental art, you know, therapeutic virtual reality therapy I think
is gonna become a big thing. To get even a little kookier, I don't know if you're familiar
with MAPS. So the multidisciplinary association of psychedelic studies is a non profit that's
trying to use plant based psychotropic medicines that have been used for thousands of years
by all kinds of societies and bring them into the psychotherapy realm. And so imagine combining
Oculus Rift virtual reality with, like, the MDMA that they're giving to PTSD patients
and put them in this, like, new realm and then it's like better living through chemistry
mixed with electronic mediation. I mean, I think we could really...
That's amazing.
...explore. It could be a kind of almost divine engineering or electronic spirituality.
So fascinating. So I know you've got a lot going on personally, too. You've got Brain
Games, which is a huge hit show. What else are you personally excited about? What are
you working on? What's happening for you?
So, yeah, Brain Games has been wonderful because it's given me a wonderful television platform.
I used to be at Current TV for many years but then I had some time where I wasn't. And
so it's nice to have that platform. It's one of their most successful series ever, we were
nominated for an Emmy, and it's nice to be involved in something that I think is making
neuroscience accessible to mainstream audiences. And then Shots of Awe is very much a passion
project. My philosophical espresso shots, which speak deeply I think to my own existential
obsessions and angst. You know? It's... Woody Allen famously used to say, "I don't want
to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying." Because
he has this whole thing about death and the morbid human... the morbidity of the human
condition when seen in its naked form. And I echo his sentiments, you know, but Shots
of Awe is sort of the next best thing. Until we can sort of nano engineer immortality and
transcend our human limitations, artistic transcendence is all I got. And in making
those videos allows me temporarily to arrest the passing of time and to be moved to the
point of tears hopefully, and hopefully others, and to really not just arrest time, but eternalize
and immortalize the passing of the moment. To take these moments of cognitive ecstasy
and take a snapshot of them, to parenthesize them, to hang them on the wall. And, God,
for me, that's just... it's the closest thing to stabilizing happiness that can be. You
know, my mom used to publish all these poetry books in English and Spanish in Venezuela
and I think those poems were that for her. And so these videos are that for me.
You're absolutely genius at it and I cannot wait to see... I know you've got a new one
coming up. Do you want to tell everyone about it?
Yes. So there's one about non conformity that I'm very excited about and a lot of the inspiration
for Shots of Awe, because these are totally unscripted, but the inspiration comes from,
like, falling in love with an idea or a quote that is just something I wanna say. Like,
I want my lips to vibrate with those... with those ideas. You know, words become worlds
as they say. And this one was a Nietzsche quote and it says, "And those who were seen
dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music," which is wonderful.
It just goes through.
Yeah. Totally. And I was like, just that idea, you know, about the genius that sometimes
gets misjudged, you know, because we can't see it. We're like, "Oh, so the dancing...
they're crazy." It's because we can't hear the music. And so I just thought it was one
of those lines that I just wanna say. And then from there I just went off on a whole
rant about finding one's purpose and individuality and the tension between individuality and
conformity and I'm very excited about it.
Awesome. So Jason, this was incredible. As you know on MarieTV we always like to help
people turn this incredible insight and inspiration into action. So we've got a challenge for
you guys today and I'm so thrilled about this one. Jason, it's inspired by a quote that
you love.
Yes. This quote is by Albert Camus and it says, "Life should be lived to the point of
tears." And of course he is speaking to just living by one's passion, answering the call,
living by one's truth until... until you're moved to tears.
Yes.
And so...
So we want to take that, we want to take this idea of being moved to tears and I want to
know from you, what do you love so much whether it's a painting, it's a piece of art, it's
a member of your family, it's something that you're working on that really moves you to
tears. What do you love that much? Tell us all about it in the comments below. Now, as
always, the best conversations happen after the episode over at MarieForleo.com, so go
there and leave a comment now. Did you like this video? If so, subscribe to our channel
and, of course, share this with all of your friends. They will really thank you for it.
And if you want even more great resources to create a business and life that you love,
plus some personal insights from me that I only talk about in email, get over to MarieForleo.com
and sign up for email updates. Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams because
the world needs that special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for watching and
I'll catch you next time on MarieTV.
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Jason Silva & Marie Forleo on Idea Sex, Technology & The Future

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稲葉白兎 2014 年 9 月 5 日 に公開
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