Re: AnthroFuturism

Brad M Biglow (bmb@PINE.CSE.NAU.EDU)
Wed, 6 Apr 1994 22:24:39 -0700

whoah Seeker1! Settle settle! Be assured that there indeed ARE Futurists
Anthropologists out there on the Net. I am no expert, but I consider myself
one of them. Reed Riner here at NAU is a pioneer in futures studies and (I
like to consider him, regardless what he thinks) one of my mentors.
He has numerous publications and yes, has considered the topic of Space
Colonization..esp. through his course ANT390--Mars Cultural Simulation.
He uses a TinyMUD to bring students from up to 12 university classes online
to participate in a future simulation called SolSysSim where techno-engineers
and culturalists must work collaboratively to solve problems in an
interdisciplinary way. You can e-mail him for more information.

There is also good ol' Robert Textor, on leave from Stanford, a pioneer in
EFR methods..and Chris Jones at Hawaii, Jim Funaro @ Cabrillo College in CA,
Doug Raybeck, and a whole slew of others...many of whom just recently
gathered at the CONTACT conference in San Jose/Santa Clara CA last month.
(Forgive me folks if I ommitted one of you guys who's monitoring this
newsgroup). Join the WFS (World Futures Society) or the WFSF (World Futures
Studies Federation) and discover those "unappreciated" futurist Anthropologists
lurking out there in the unknown. They're out there. Probably just busy,
like myself. I know Reed recently bit-off-more-than-he-could-chew so he
signed off this list for a while. I'll forward this to him. He might be able
to help you considerably more than I can. He's the boss. *grin*

Brad M. Biglow
Graduate Student
Dept. of Anthropology
Northern Arizona University

(-----------------------Seeker's Original Post Follows--------------------)
} From: Steve Mizrach <SEEKER1@NERVM.NERDC.UFL.EDU>
} Subject: AnthroFuturism
} (Oh no, it's another concatenated word.) Actually, it's just a way of once
} again summing up a couple of things on my mind.
} There are such things as 'futurists,' who hang out in places like
} Future Culture and Highly Imaginative Technology, but in general, they do
} not seem to be anthropologists. I am wondering why anthropologists seem
} stuck in the past and have ceded futurism to fuddy-duddies such as
} economists and engineers. (It could have something to do with the fact that
} early 20th century Futurism was a nasty fascist, speed-obsessed European
} artistic movement. Maybe.)
} The future approacheth. I am wondering if any anthropologists are
} considering the cultural impacts of such things as:
} 1. Space migration. I have this neato book called _Cultures Beyond
} the Earth_, written by some rather great folks - Margoroh Maruyama, Roger
} Wynn Westcott, Arthur Harkins, Sol Tax, and Alvin Toffler, among others.
} (OK he ain't an anthro.) It's a good discussion of how anthropology can
} contribute to the organization of space colonies and the ultimate
} Encounter with the Other, extraterrestrial life. But it was written in
} 1975.
} Has anybody written anything about the topic since then? (Is it
} because our space program seems destined for mediocrity? Can't even get a
} bloody Mars probe into orbit, let alone a manned space station?)

Try Al Harrison's and Chris McKay's "From Antarctica to Outerspace." I've
recently met both. NIce fellas.

} 2. Life extension. How will living into the 100s affect both Western
} and non-Western societies? Will our conceptions of "growing old" and all
} kinds of other things change as medicine continues to extend the human
} lifespan?
} 3. Neurological modification. What will it mean to belong to a
} 'linguistic community' when one can eventually implant a chip for another
} language? Does cultural tradition become meaningless when one can 'implant'
} memories from any other cultures' experience?
} 4. Artificial intelligence. I've asked this one before. How will
} human societies react to AIs that can pass the Turing Test? Will they
} extend 'human rights' (and privileges) to androids? Will androids receive
} 'cultural' programming in addition to other behavioral instructions?
} 5. Genetic engineering. What becomes of 'race' and 'ethnicity' when
} the genes for various phenotypic traits can be 'tweaked'? What will cloning
} mean for human understanding of individuality, identity, etc.?
} Yours,
} Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request)
} Anthropomorphist, Metanoid, Lerian, MatrixWanderer, HyperRealist, etc.
} Rhipidon Society, VALISystem A, Sol Node 3
} "Philip K. Dick is dead, alas/ Let's queue up and kick G-d's ass." --
} Michael Bishop, the Secret Ascension
}-- End of excerpt from Steve Mizrach