Introductory Essay: ‘Now That We’re Free, Where Are We Going?’1

Rebecca Bligh

A sift through some territories, maps and plans: Cyberspace, Pirate Utopias, and The Stack; post-work and platform capitalism; the Anthropo-, Capitalo-, Chthulhu- and Gynocenes; dystopian fiction as critique; a critique of critique; Post-Scarcity Anarchism; escape; an extra-terrestrial journey, and back to Earth again, via Gravity.

In 1996, one John Perry Barlow, speaking from Davos in famously neutral Switzerland, ‘with no greater authority than that which liberty itself always speaks’, declared the natural independence of Cyberspace, ‘the new home of Mind’. Addressing the ‘Governments of the Industrial World’, he continues: ‘On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather’, since “we” do not consent to be governed. Cyberspace is declared immaterial: consisting of ‘transactions, relationships, and thought itself’, it is ‘a world that is both everywhere and nowhere, but it is not where bodies live’ – a temporal autonomous zone.

Barlow’s idea that the fact that online ‘identities have no bodies’, renders it impossible for “us” ‘to obtain order by physical coercion’ now seems impossibly naïve; and also like never mind “us”, what about them? Remember Aaron Swartz2? And Anita Sarkeesian3, whose story strongly calls into question just which “us” “we” are talking about here.

That, for Barlow, it should be enough that “we” ‘declare our virtual selves immune to your sovereignty, even as we continue to consent to your rule over our bodies,’ also speaks to the degree of separation of the virtual and material perceived back then, its subsequent elision evident in the switching out of IRL for AFK (as by the founders of Pirate Bay, for example). It was also just three years since the siege and conflagration in which 76 Branch Dravidians, well-armed spiritual secessionists, had died at Waco, Texas, making for some striking TV footage which, who knows, may also have informed the starkness of this distinction. Ah, but, ‘We will spread ourselves across the Planet so that no one can arrest our thoughts’ he says – conceding gross material ties to servers, and habeas corpus all the same.

As for the virtual realm, it was anticipated, cyberspace would not go rudderless; Barlow’s “we” – shades of ‘We the People’, shades of ‘We are Anonymous’ – believed that governance would emerge from the ‘ethics, enlightened self-interest, and the commonweal’ of its constituents.

If there ever was such a Golden Age of cyberspace as Barlow describes here, as that nonplace which ‘all may enter without privilege or prejudice accorded by race, economic power, military force, or station of birth’; where ‘anyone, anywhere may express his or her beliefs, no matter how singular, without fear of being coerced into silence or conformity’ – it has long since taken its paradigmatic role as Fallen; and not before it – not just the Declaration per se, but this whole field of thinking – sent out runners, spored as an idea.4

There are definite traces, if not amplifications, in Peter Thiel’s intensely naïve 2009 statement that seasteading, as platforming in the real, could potentiate an ‘escape from politics in all its forms,’5 – naïve, since, alas, there is no escape from power relations, as any bacterium will tell you – and the ‘nerd nation’ theory of Marc Andreessen, Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist, only here it all seems to have become more partisan:

We have this theory of nerd nation, of forty or fifty million people all over the world who believe that other nerds have more in common with them than the people in their own country. So you get to choose what tribe or band or group you’re a part of.

If Barlow’s emphasis on “the commonweal” smacks of the Diggers, Levellers, and Chartists (17th and 18th century English radicals), it also recalls certain writings on Pirate Utopias, largely concerned with that era which in the Anglo-American world is called the Golden Age of piracy, and which dispersed throughout the alt-net in the 90s6; the meticulous pooling, recording and distribution of booty being the whole reason why, in English, to become a pirate, was “to go on the account”7.

Spanning the mid-17th to 18th century, this era of piracy is inextricably entangled with the histories of slavery, colonialism, and capitalism, and these 80s and 90s texts do engage that; and but while these Golden Age Pirates were not, by any means, all white dudes, and even while in The Many Headed Hydra (2001, also feat. pirates), Rediker and Linebaugh also

posit the existence of an Atlantic proletariat, motley in dress and ethnic composition, landless but mobile, female as well as male, routinely terrorised but endlessly resourceful, who were essential to the rise of capitalism and the modern, global economy8

With a few celebrated exceptions – see Marcus Rediker’s 1995 Liberty beneath the Jolly Roger: The Lives of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, Pirates e.g., – (these were largely white dude authors getting excited about them, and) pirate freedoms, as documented, were largely fraternal, masculine freedoms.9

On this note, The Dread Pirate Roberts, aka Libertarian anti-hero Ross Ulbricht, founder of The Silk Road10, who has just been sentenced to life without parole for crimes including an unwittingly imaginary murder, says he took his handle from The Princess Bride11; but it could just as well have been lifted from the real Pirate Captain Bartholemew Roberts, or ‘Black Bart’:

In an honest Service, there is thin Commons, low Wages, and hard Labour; in this, Plenty and Satiety, Pleasure and Ease, Liberty and Power; and who would not ballance Creditor on this Side, when all the Hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a sower Look or two at choaking. No, a merry Life and a short one shall be my Motto.12

Trigger warning, white dudes: am about to kill your vibe.

tl;dr of a recent article called ‘Why Are Libertarians Mostly Dudes?’13 (and which may as well have read White Dudes): kind of like how while fratriarchies may be more fun for bros than patriarchies (cf. Freud and really intense Mormons) they are often not so much fun for the rest of us; #tbt pirate freedoms.

Likewise, white/male freedom to–, has often conflicted with other people’s freedom to–, and freedom from–. That Barlow, in the Declaration, sees no inherent conflict between proclaiming the sacred Enlightenment virtue of absolute freedom of speech, and – ; ok, like maybe you can enter cyberspace without privilege or prejudice (if you have access), but what about what happens when you get there? (It’s also interesting, in light of Barlow’s Cartesian faith in absolute cyber/real separation, how doxxing now figures as threat and sanction.) Some speech is simply freer than others, because so are some speakers. An increasing recognition of this, and of such conflicts as arise online, as elsewhere, between freedoms to –, and freedoms from –, is giving rise to the collective emergence of a post-Enlightenment sentiment exemplified in this Tweet by @YnfnytScroll:

And this macro of Feminist Yog-Sothoth14

Feminist Yog Sothoth

To follow, yet more white dude thinking. Perhaps it should be prefaced by the following: a) yes, white dudes are people too b) all male supremacies are monstrous, as are all violent supremacies, and many males, too, suffer as a consequence c) much white dude-centric knowledge is useful, so long as it is understood as (historically and paradigmatically privileged, and often falsely universalised but) also other – i.e., also limited, positional and partial, because see a), above, and so not the whole mesh of stories.15

Two decades since the Cyberspace Declaration, with its Cartesian conception of a clearly separable realm of Cyber/Mind, there has been a surge of theoretical interest in the geopolitics and materiality of logistics and infrastructure. This includes those of, as inextricable from the thinking of, “cyberspace”, as constituent of the ‘accidental megastructure’ of ‘planetary-scale computing’, which ‘takes different forms at different scales’ and which, concerned with ‘how it distorts and deforms traditional Westphalian modes of political geography, jurisdiction, and sovereignty, and produces new territories in its image’, Ben Bratton has modelled as The Stack, hoping that perhaps ‘the image of a totality that this conception provides would—as theories of totality have before—make the composition of new governmentalities and new sovereignties both more legible and more effective.’16

What’s good about The Stack is that it connects things of different kinds. So far, Bratton’s Stack is pretty much delimited as a thought machine to think about machines, including those of human social organization; it’s (anthropocenic but) machine-centric, situating a human “us”, as User, in relation to machines and their materialities (and in ‘The Black Stack’, in relation to hypothetical, future AI, as redundant).17 And but although Bratton refers to it as ‘the image of a totality’, The Stack is a ‘totality-to-come, defined at this moment by what it is not, by the empty content fields of its framework’. Meaning, you can keep altering and adding to this model; and, that in doing so, you could pretty much start anywhere and build outward, or in. Maybe this is the real beauty of The Stack, how it may be taken as starting point for a kind of cognitive mapping that posits everything (there follows a verbal insufficiency), every entity, event, state, system, process, thing; at/in/at different scales, dimensions, temporalities, as an interconnected totality but which remains open, like Hotel n+1, to endless new content and connection. A means of modelling, without yet knowing, it all, then; a useful tool for thinking the future.

The Futures Editor of MOTHERBOARD18, Claire Evans, recently argued for science fiction as a ‘vital form of criticism’, modelling its structure as roughly that of considering the actual present as the past of such and such a speculative future, arrived at by inserting x number of discontinuities, major or minor, into the present and following these through to their more-or-less dystopian outcomes.19 Certainly, dystopian science fiction serves a cautionary function, critiquing the present by articulating the possible consequences of continuing on a certain course toward some anti-ideal. A problem with critical thinking in general, however, is that while it may have an essential role in forward planning, it doesn’t fully constitute it; by itself it’s pretty negative and inherently backward-looking, and it only has a role in forward planning if it is admitted to the process. Which is to say, critique is antithetical; it needs a thesis or hypothesis to grind with (or hone, or slow, or stall). Likewise, it is sort of worrying when those who are driving change appear not to have engaged in critical modelling at all, especially where trial and error stakes are high.

If we continue in a world where people are treated as manufacturing machines and economic production machines we could move into a future in which there is enormous productivity, the possibility for universal wealth in material terms and where people are unemployed and starve.

I think we need to rethink the structure of the economy. And what are people for? And how does one organize society in a time of material abundance?20

So, yeah, it’s also important to plan for transitions, like from here to the state of “post-work”, which Buckminster Fuller, like other 20th century thinkers, envisioned as a liberating goal of future automation; but which those locked into the mindset of waged work (as the lynchpin of, and only possible way to organize society) are currently wetting their pants over, as the prospect of its at-least partial realisation – at least in the “developed” world – draws nearer.. And they’re not the only ones; imagination-fail could really be a problem.

Marc Andreessen, egg-headed venture capitalist, one of those directly responsible for the ongoing Uberfication of labour:

Posit a world in which all material needs are provided free, by robots and material synthesizers … Imagine six, or 10, billion people doing nothing but arts and sciences, culture and exploring and learning. What a world that would be, particularly as “technological progress is precisely what makes a strong, rigorous social safety net affordable.”21

It’s hard to reconcile the actual, experiential reality of platform capitalism, the hyper-Fordist reduction of one’s arbeitskraft to the micro-transactions to which entrepreneurs have competitive access ‘through smartphones’22, with Andreessen’s Fulleresque visions of a post-work society, or what it has to do with how we get from here to there. Granted, it’s a poser, and but so in the meantime, what – precarity macht frei? But Andreessen shrugs off such concerns: ‘Maybe there’s an alternate way of living, a free-form life where you press the button and get work when you want to.’23

Then So It Is, and pass the protein bars; because without, say, mincome (minimum basic income) in place as a bridging measure toward post-work, the poor in this model are about as free as Omelas’24 children (and with disturbing, button-pushing shades of Pavlov’s). Raised amongst, ‘Scandinavian, hard-core, very self-denying people’ amongst whom he was raised with the expectation that ‘the natural state of human beings is to be subsistence farmers’, Andreessen professes horror at the ‘dark and dim and dystopian view… that people are like horses … [with] only their manual labor to offer’. Is zero-contract AAI work, or whatever, being paid in micro-increments, really so much better? Said, himself, to understand humans as ‘primates cursed with emotions and the ability to do logical thinking’, Andreessen demonstrates a pretty narrow cast of empathy, beyond some highly personal resonances: like, of course Amazon was a godsend to his giant brain, starving in the nowhere of Wisconsin, and so but – ‘Screw the independent bookstores,’ says Andreessen, ‘There weren’t any near where I grew up’. Amazon workers are, of course, notoriously exploited. Another of Andreessen’s reluctantly relinquished self-mythologies is of wearing ‘a puffy Pioneer Hi-Bred coat’ to watch Star Wars ‘in his local movie theatre, one town over… an unheated room that doubled as a fertilizer-storage depot’. The Tatooine resonance is clear, of course, but – sorry not sorry – getting far more Darth than Luke.

If the past is another country, which one? Of which futurities is it the origin? The Disney film Tomorrowland (2015) instantiates its World’s Fair retrofuturism in that most emblematic object, the [dudewhere’smy] jetpack. The reach for this brand of futurism is troubling to Wired writer Adam Rogers, since:

born out of pre-World War II science fiction and post-war optimism … [it] was at its heart an ugly sort of futurism … a little too aligned with fascism for anyone to accept unquestioningly—rejection of the past, idolatry of speed, technology, and war…25

With that, even the film’s title, Tomorrowland, begins to seem to resonate with Leni Riefen-style. Rogers goes on to describe a schism in science fiction between those writers who, roughly speaking, he regards as optimists and pessimists: those who might be called naïve techno-optimists, and those who, while they ‘have nothing against building utopias’, also ‘notice that the people who are selling utopias are burning all the carbon-containing fuel on the planet at the same time’26. “Pessimists” who, in other words, might be called present realists. Rogers ends by exhorting the reader that, ‘To get the future you want, you’re going to have to fight the one you already have.’ Fight – ok, but how, and what, and for what, though?

For decades, the thinking of the future has been tainted for critical thinkers by the fallout of earlier futurisms and failed utopias, their names and half-lives still so potent, triggering, that for decades these wrecks have proved impassable, requiring penance, almost, certainly careful reflection. And if you can’t think the future, how can you fight – or plan – for it ? Meanwhile:

Silicon Valley V.C.s are all techno-optimists. They have the arrogant belief that you can take a geography and remove all obstructions and have nothing but a free flow of capital and ideas, and that it’s good, it’s very good, to creatively destroy everything that has gone before.27

Cue Fixing The Future, a left-accelerationist platform:

It is now clear to us that rejecting the perspective of the future prohibits creating an alternative to capitalism. It abandons the future to capitalists willing to risk the present to extend or alter its logic. Not risking anything is still the risk of doing nothing. Equally, accepting the absolute contingency of the future requires abandoning planning.28

Ursula K. Le Guin, pretty much a living saint of the genre, is a great practitioner of, and advocate for science fiction as a platform for advancing alternative futures (here using the term platform in the contemporary, generic sense of “that which you build to allow for something new to happen.”)29

The narrative of each book in Le Guin’s Hainish Cycle is oriented in temporal and consequential relation to the invention and introduction of a instantaneous deep-space communication device called the ansible, being set either before, after, or at the moment of its introduction. Beyond this, The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) e.g., explores a world in which sex, (and so) gender, politics and pretty much everything is very differently realised; there is, for example, no war. Another in the Hainish Cycle, The Dispossessed (1974), set on the near-barren moon Anarres, is described by sci-fi novelist and critic Theodore Sturgeon as ‘a beautifully written, beautifully composed book,’ which ‘performs one of sf’s prime functions, which is to create another kind of social system to see how it would work. Or if it would work’30. Many of the political ideas informing this thought experiment were drawn from Murray Bookchin’s 1971 book Post-Scarcity Anarchism.

For Le Guin, beyond arriving at post-capitalism, the aim must be to establish an ecological society; or rather, these are one and the same for her, since for her, as for Bookchin (who she calls ‘a true son of the Enlightenment, in his respect for clear thought and moral responsibility and in his honest, uncompromising search for a realistic hope’):

Capitalism’s grow-or-die imperative stands radically at odds with ecology’s imperative of interdependence and limit. The two imperatives can no longer coexist with each other; nor can any society founded on the myth that they can be reconciled hope to survive. Either we will establish an ecological society or society will go under for everyone, irrespective of his or her status.31

In the 2009 sci-fi short Pumzi32 (Swahili for “Breath”) the planet is already desertified. People live in hi-tech, subterranean interiors, generating power kinetically and recycling body water. Life is thought extinguished above ground, until the Virtual Natural History Museum Curator is sent a seed, marked “Mother”, which she waters with the sweat of her body. The seed grows. She goes outside; she plants the seed. The film is more hopeful than many contemporary dystopian fictions.

Two other science fiction writers who offer compelling alternative futures alongside their prophetic, dystopian visions are Marge Piercy, her Woman on The Edge of Time (1976) (in which, amongst other things, bio women give up the exclusive privilege of pregnancy and birthing, in order to realise equality), and Margaret Atwood, her MaddAddam Trilogy (2003, 2009, 2013). These are humble, imperfectly-realised – imperfect because realised – utopias, works in process. As futures go, these are all both intrinsically tech-realised, and pretty labour-intensive; Atwood’s, in the MaddAddam Trilogy, is particularly agrarian, her “Hymns of the God’s Gardeners” a bewilderingly sincere attempt to seed an oral teaching tradition of reverent ecological survivalism.33

The Dispossessed is also informed by the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, according to which available language determines (or at least influences) what it is possible to think at all. Perhaps this applies to the availability of models, also (the list is not exhaustive): spatio-metaphorical, numerical, material, kinetic, narrative.

The current model of thinking that proposes the Anthropocene as the name of a new geological epoch marked by the impact of human activity is supposed to end conceptual separation between nature and artifice while squarely implicating Man in the current climate emergency on Earth, the mass extinctions. Man the falsely universalised, paradigmatically hyperrational white male subject of humanism, that is – since, critics of the term suggest, the agent of these changes is not so much humanity as a species (the G77 nations, classed as ‘developing’, many of them particularly vulnerable to rising seas, have recently accused the G20 nations of perpetrating ‘climate genocide’ by agreeing between themselves that a 2°C rise in global temperature would be acceptable), though China, e.g., may soon be vying with Man for a larger share of the responsibility (and who knows, maybe even wresting away some of His privilege). It’s already there in the Latin, or would be, if the term Anthropocene were to be read as a mea culpa, a constant reminder of the consequence of actions taken according to a hyper-pre-Copernican cosmology with not even the Earth, but Man Himself at the centre. However, critics suggest the term already lends itself to further, necrotic hubris: the aestheticisation of The End; a boner to get off-planet, mine some asteroids; what some have called “the bad accelerationism”. The Anthropocene is in itself, as a term, they say, all too Humanist. The term, and the thinking of it, is also criticised for focusing more on consequences than their structural causes. Donna Haraway, author of ‘A Cyborg Manifesto’34, is amongst those who prefer Capitalocene (more casuist but somehow not so reifying) or – very speculative-realist – Cthulhucene, since Lovecraft’s Cthulhu –other, awesome, fathomless, sublime– has come to symbolise immensities of which we can barely conceive; multi-, or even a- dimensional hyperobjects, like to the singularity (black hole or AI variety)35. That there are implacable forces, whose indifferent “wrath” we might incur; that there are things we don’t know, so far; that our puny human knowing – tech prosthetics notwithstanding – is finite, positional and partial. That there are other possible minds than ours, Cthulhu- being the only of the above -cenes that really stresses the sentient presence of other species.36

Indeed, while it’s good and necessary to think in species, and interspecies terms, such thinking also always needs to acknowledge that even intraspecies, we constitute such manifold, constellating, intersecting differences of embodied knowing, techne, and experience. All our epistemes are belong to us, and we ignore and destroy our sapio-diversity at our peril. Recalling Sapir-Whorf, many languages also face extinction37. In recognition of the violent existential threat that monoculturalism poses to all species, some have proposed naming this new epoch the Homogocene. Still others, as a declaration of ecofeminist intent –the Earth, they say, having had enough Anthropo- for aeons– are all for calling the epoch the Gynocene.38

And speaking of a boner to get off-planet; in ‘The Women That Men Don’t See’ (1973), James Tiptree Jr.’s most celebrated story, a charter plane ferrying three North American passengers crash-lands on a sandbar off the coast of Yucatán.

there’s nothing but miles of crystalline water on all sides. It’s only a foot or so deep, and the bottom is the olive color of silt. The distant shore around us is all flat mangrove swamp, totally uninhabitable.

Unmanned by circumstance, as our hero awaits rescue it becomes gradually and increasingly clear that the women in question (who say they had been on their way to Tikul, Guatemala, a ruined Mayan city with a temple complex which maps an astronomical matrix), have an other agenda entirely. The daughter, her own paternity carefully determined by her mother (who turns out to work in record-keeping for the Genetics Society of America), now herself determines to conceive from coitus with not the white American who narrates the story, but rather Captain Estéban, their Mayan pilot, with his ‘stone bones’ and aristocratic forehead.

A mad image blooms in my mind: generations of solitary Parsons women selecting sires, making impregnation trips. Well, I hear the world is moving their way.

‘Hurrah for women’s lib’, he says, but Ms Parsons, more fatalistic, says “the lib” is doomed.

“Women have no rights, Don, except what men allow us. Men are more aggressive and powerful, and they run the world. When the next real crisis upsets them, our so-called rights will vanish like—like that smoke. We’ll be back where we always were: property. And whatever has gone wrong will be blamed on our freedom, like the fall of Rome was. You’ll see. … All the endless wars …” Her voice is a whisper. “All the huge authoritarian organizations for doing unreal things. Men live to struggle against each other; we’re just part of the battlefield. It’ll never change unless you change the whole world. I dream sometimes of—of going away—”

“[…] Men hate wars too, Ruth,” I say as gently as I can. “I know.” She shrugs and climbs to her feet. “But that’s your problem, isn’t it?”39

If only… Tired of living ‘by ones and twos in the chinks of your world-machine’, the women prefer to take their extra-terrestrial chances, but not before the displaced hero and matriarch decide to make a trip to find fresh water. Wading through mangrove, on the shoreline, the most liminal terrain; ‘dragging through the crust’40, in a last bodily, elemental, and yet oddly inhospitable embrace by Earth, before she, lifting – each of them quite changed by their encounter. The scene is mirrored in the final, baptismal landfall scene in Gravity (2013), in which, it seems, upon return, an Earth made strange is viscerally, materially understood.

It has been noted that both Gravity (2013) and Interstellar (2014) yield a new Hollywood archetype: the helping, facilitating male, in relation to a female lead. Interstellar also works the same bait and switch as Tiptree’s story, foregrounding the alpha male until the big reveal41. That there could really be a voluntary, ongoing (and somehow trustworthy) renunciation of privilege and domination by Man, as by men in general, whoever is the Man at any given space-time: an auto-acephalous movement, like really knowing when to not-talk; but these are meagre commons, not enough to keep the Parsons here.

Meanwhile, we are entering the sixth mass extinction42, and it has recently been predicted that we ourselves have a hundred years or less before we are extinct as a species43. America, which once styled itself the world’s policeman, is convulsed with racist violence as a legacy of slavery. One in 122 people on the planet is a refugee, displaced or seeking asylum.44

We are witnessing a paradigm change, an unchecked slide into an era in which the scale of global forced displacement as well as the response required is now clearly dwarfing anything seen before… on the one hand, there is more and more impunity for those starting conflicts and on the other there is seeming utter inability of the international community to work together to stop wars and build and preserve peace.45

‘The world is a mess’,46 or, collectively, we are; the world, as in the Earth, is beautiful, and the only home we’ve got, so far, so –. ‘Now that we’re free, where are we going?’.47

(1)Ursula K. Le Guin once ended a speech with this question.^

(2)‘Aaron Hillel Swartz (November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013) was an American computer programmer, entrepreneur, writer, political organizer and Internet hacktivist [who died by suicide] […] while under federal indictment for data-theft, a prosecution that was characterized by his family as being “the product of a criminal-justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach”’ (Wikipedia). Basically he hacked into JSTOR to make pay-per-view academic journals articles freely available.^

(3)Anita Sarkeesian (born 1983), founder of Feminist Frequency, and co-producer with Jonathan McIntosh of the video series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, for which she received multiple rape and death threats.^

(4)Note also that at the time of writing, the word cyber- seems to be coming back into play now, which for a while had acquired a prohibitive 90s -café -punk feel^


(6)Pirate Utopias in Do or Die, Issue 8, 1997, written by from our own correspondent is rich with references and sources.^

(7)Gleaned from Neal Stephenson, in The Confusion (2004).^

(8)Sukhdev Sandhu, reviewing the book in The Guardian, 27 January 2001.^

(9)Much was made of Bonny and Read’s cross-dressing, i.e., wearing trousers, which may have well just been practical, but it is widely observable that where it is possible for women and other non male-gendered people to join fratriarchal (sub)cultures, and enjoy their protections, this is often conditional on their taking on/performing attributes of masculinity. Thanks to Claire Potter for talking this insight through.^

(10)In sentencing, the judge also went all out for nautical metaphors: ‘you were captain of the ship as Dread Pirate Roberts and you made your own law’ etc^

(11)Novel by William Goldman, 1973; film directed by Rob Reiner, 1987.^

(12)Captain Johnson (pen name of one Daniel Defoe): A General History of the Pyrates, 1724^


(14)From David Hughes,^

(15)We might also usefully distinguish between strictly white dude-centric knowledge, and knowledge that emerged within a white dude-centric paradigm, e.g.; Ursula K. Le Guin: ‘I love science as a human undertaking, as much as I love art. Science rightly done is so beautiful’. (Ursula K Le Guin, interviewed by John Plotz, 15/06/15 2015 It’s also pathologically white dude-centric, and historically shallow/myopic to consider science, as a whole, as such.^

(16)Benjamin Bratton, ‘The Black Stack’, e-flux^

(17)Benjamin Bratton, ibid.^


(19)Speaking at Superscript 2015,^

(20)Eric Drexler – Nanotechnology – Debate & Lecture on Radical Abundance^

(21)In ‘Tomorrow’s Advance Man’ (subtitled ‘Marc Andreessen’s plan to win the future’) Letter from California by Tad Friend, New Yorker May 18, 2015^

(22)Tad Friend, ibid.^

(23)Andreessen, ibid., ibid.^

(24)Ursula K. Le Guin, short story ‘The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas’ (1973)^

(25)Adam Rogers, ‘Tomorrowland’s Problem Isn’t Tomorrow, it’s Yesterday.’ Wired Magazine, 02/04/2015^

(26)Adam Rogers, ibid.^

(27)Andy Weissman, a partner at New York’s Union Square Ventures, ‘Tomorrow’s Advance Man’, ibid.^

(28)Mohammad Salemy et al,^

(29)Formulation sifted mainly from Ruth Saxelby’s interviews of contributors to Holly Herndon’s Platform, including Herndon herself and UK Strategist Benedict Singleton.^

(30)‘Galaxy Bookshelf’, Galaxy Science Fiction, June 1974, pp.97-98. Sturgeon is a pen name, and the inspiration for Kurt Vonnegut’s fictional author Kilgore Trout.^

(31)Murray Bookchin, The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy (2015)^

(32)Directed by Wanuri Kahiu^

(33)Their equally disconcerting Christian flavour surely calculated to not alienate, and instead trigger a sense of the sacred amongst most North Americans.^

(34)1985, 1991^

(35)Also, as a hyperstitional entity, Cthulhu invoked admits of the necessary human fiction of naming and so conceiving of things, in such a way that usefully deters the illusion of a 1:1 ratio between conceptualised and concept.^

(36)A lot of people seem to have their imagination caught by cephalopods right now, as relateably clever as dogs but so much more other.^


(38)‘Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Gynocene: The Many Names of Resistance’^

(39)James Tiptree, Jr. (1973). First appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction reproduced here from Her Smoke Rose Up Forever^

(40)Holly Childs, interview this issue.^

(41)Spielberg’s TV series Extant with Halle Berry, explores AI and first contact through the experiential prism of maternity (shades of Ripley), and is worth watching just for this, while being otherwise occasionally compelling but generally pretty bad.^


(43)David Auerbach, ‘A child born today will see humanity’s end, unless…’ Reuters, June 18 2015^

(44)Report by Ian Tomlinson,, 18/06/2015^

(45)Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, quoted ibid.^

(46)Antonio Guterres, ibid.^

(47)Ursula K. Le Guin, ibid.^

Rebecca Bligh is an editor and writer. Co-editor of living in the future.