What happens when you combine psychedelics with cybernetics?

Feed your head

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June 15, 2022

A man wading in a pool of his own consciousness, surrealistically draped in the hallucinations of an artificial intelligence, shouts at me about poetry.

He contorts himself with passion as his rhetoric reaches its fever pitch — you might say he ‘peaks’ — and suddenly bursts into self-awareness like a phoenix, renewed.

Finally, he shakes an iPhone at me, declaring it a monument to human ambition and actuation. After watching, I feel like I’m both a tiny worm on a big hook and the master of my own universe.

These are some wonderfully weird videos.

Describing Jason Silva’s latest project, a series on his YouTube channel entitled “Cyberdelic Dreams,” is no small feat. It’s a psychedelic mash-up of art and technology that must be experienced to understand.

During a chat about the project, Silva described it as:

A breakthrough new visual communication style, a glimpse of the future, where our inner life is externalized as a waking dream, like stepping into our imaginations.

Generative AI has infinite potential and it’s only the beginning. Collaborating with artificial intelligence and my buddy Heuman Instrument is simply a dream! Literally! We are making visual dreams!

I’d describe the videos as powerful.

Cyberdelic is a portmanteau of ‘cybernetic’ and ‘psychedelic.’ As someone who has spent their entire adult life interested in both concepts, I’m happy to report that Silva’s short videos don’t disappoint on either front.

The first video comes on like the initial 45-minutes of an acid trip in the desert:

The second in the series is filled with the gravitas and passion that accompanies peaking on psychedelics, the moment when your mind is laid blissfully bare and contemplation becomes epiphany:

And then there’s the third video, just released today, a mind-bending resolution to the fervor of the preceding entries. In this entry, Silva ties the concepts of cybernetics and psychedelics together. It’s a masterful way to bring the energy down from the second video, thus leaving the viewer in a state of hopeful contemplation:

I asked Silva what motivated him to create experiences like these. It became immediately apparent that he deeply believes in the messages he’s conveying:

My passion is storytelling and communication of richly mind expanding ideas. I am interested in finding artful ways of communicating ineffable experiences – insights of such ravishment, such poetic weight, that ordinary language simply will not do.

British philosopher Alain DeBotton said something like [paraphrasing]

While journalists may be more accurate in describing the details of an event than a poet, a poet may nevertheless reveal truth of a deeper sort, beyond the literal grid

— so I see my role to bring poetic storytelling to big meaningful ideas in the areas of creativity and technology, futurism and innovation, mental health, psychedelics and the singularity in which all those areas overlap!

I want people to have epiphanies when they see my videos.

The videos themselves are literal works of art. It’s apparent that a generative AI model was trained on numerous art pieces, and then its output was used to help create the visuals.

But there’s more to them than just gorgeous, trippy effects. Silva’s speeches are a profound and deep narrative on the nature of mental health, transhumanism, and what the future could look like.

Perhaps I’m seeing what I want to see, but Silva’s message appears to be that we should stay true to our natural state of being — curious and evolving — by celebrating the technology we’ve created, and treating it as an extension of who we are.

Check out the rest of Silva’s work on his “Shots of Awe” channel on YouTube. And follow him on Twitter @jasonsilva.

Did you know Jason Silva, futurist, and host of National Geographic’s “Brain Games,” is speaking at the TNW Conference on June 17? Sign up for the nexxworks membership and get a 25% discount!

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June 15, 2022