In this space, I will be conducting interviews with Futurists, Transhumanists, Scientists and icons of future culture. Today, I'm speaking with Kira Marie Nightingale, also known as Crystal Violet, her band name. She runs the Radical Science News site and is embarking on a musical career.
Q: Hi, Kira. First off, why don't you tell my readers a little bit about yourself? When did your interest in Futurism and Transhumanism begin? And how did Radical Science News come about? Was it always in the back of your mind or did it just hit you one day?
A: When I saw Aubrey De Gray's TEDtalk "Roadmap to End Aging" back in 2008 or ‘09 it opened my eyes to the possibilities of radical life extension which is really what Radical Science News is alluding to. The idea only came about sometime last year and the project is still getting off the ground so I can talk about it in full later when it’s further along. Pertaining to my choice in career path, my dad is a Dr. of Internal Medicine, I could have followed directly in his footsteps because I naturally took to medicine but I never really wanted to be a Dr because it really leaves you very little time for anything but work. I still ended up getting my degree in Biology however and had a love for cell biology and particularly biotechnology.
After graduating I began post grad classes in biotech and at the same time I had begun to work on an album as a side project, but my time was so limited having to work and go to school that I was missing one night of sleep a week, it was extremely exhausting and definitely not healthy. I realized while I was at school that what I really wanted to do was to employ people instead, I wanted to be an employer because I saw I could have a much larger impact on the world by employment. One very concerning thing I noticed was that many of my extremely knowledgeable friends ended up getting jobs in big oil because there were far less jobs in other areas of science. The real epiphany was that I saw the world was short of real scientific entrepreneurs and could benefit by having more of them who were not in the oil industry.
Q: Now, what three upcoming technologies are you most excited about and how will they be implemented in a society where nearly half the people show disinterest regarding science and are skeptical of anything from vaccines to climate change?
A: While there are many technologies, and I could talk about them all, I will try to make it a point to do so later, but as of right now I see A.I. as our number one technology which could propel humanity far into the future and within this century. I realize that there is concern regarding A.I. and like Elon Musk I believe that we need to proceed with caution, but that it may be more of who wields the technology rather than the technology itself. On my recent trip to L.A. to shoot the music video, I saw a promotion for the next Terminator movie, but I believe that the alarmism that Hollywood creates is far more fictional than it is realistic. Even though Hollywood helps perpetuate a fearful outlook, I believe the applications, if done with caution, and less irrational fear from the public will be tremendously rewarding.
To name a few of the advantages and the applications of Artificial Intelligence…
1.) AI's advanced programming and pattern recognition could allow us to find out and seek the cure to many diseases, including aging, much faster, allowing us to more easily code the cells. Also, an A.I. could help create the technology we need to properly synthesize molecules. As Big Data grows even larger, it may be inevitable that the only way to find solutions to these increasingly complex problems would be through the use of A.I.
2.) With A.I. we could free the human species from the mundane, slavery, high risk and life threatening jobs or extremely high level stress jobs, which would result in people having more time to rest and reflect, or solve deeper issues. At the same time allowing the majority of us to focus on living, creating, and most importantly working to ensure our survival and betterment as a whole, in other words, more time to “be” or focus on sustainability solutions and reflect.
3.) For purposes of Space exploration, and for Elon Musk and others trying to get to Mars, the ones who are a part of the Space Settlement Network, I see our best option to get to Mars safely is through A.I. Ideally we could accomplish everything we need through a light weight robot who we could send to collect samples, drive our rovers, send feedback, and have the same dexterity and mobility as a human and maybe, if we are daring, equipped with a library of knowledge and the ability to make its own educated decisions. Sending an A.I. would give us a huge advantage over a human because we could reduce the payload, and when the time comes...we could even have a set of them build the facilities in advance so humans have a home when we get there.
I see A.I. as the ultimate extension of ourselves and human intelligence, they will be a part of us, not separate, and with their help, we could much faster achieve human/cyborg or even biological immortality as well as a plan B for earth and the human race.
Q: Where do you realistically think we will be in twenty years?
A: It's funny you ask because I finally picked up the incredible scientific text that is Ray Kurzweil's "The Singularity is Near" and I think that if all goes well Ray Kurzweil's predictions about the technological singularity could even be expedited. I no longer see the evolution of technology linearly but understand that it is in fact on an exponential curve. We will see many things in a very short time but what I am looking forward to the most in the next 20 years is to hopefully see a few real breakthroughs in aging and that we have worked together as many nations to get a base on the Moon or Mars. I believe in the very near future, we will have artificial intelligence that matches that of a real human brain but with the memory and accuracy of a computer, this will really aid in the progress of technology overall which Ray predicted would happen in the mid 2020's but with a new breakthrough in imaging could happen in the next few years, correct me if you think I'm wrong. Mostly, I picked up the book because I had a feeling things were accelerating all of a sudden in tech (we track it pretty closely with Radical Science News). We were seeing huge breakthroughs one after another in many fields which makes sense because Kurzweil states that we will have reached the knee of the curve right around this time period so everything is happening as he predicted, which is good.
Q: If you could ask a major donor or a government agency to help fund only one area of research, what would it be: space exploration, clean energy, life extension, biotech, nanotech, or anything else?
A: Life Extension in terms of Longevity, if we get life extension everyone will realize the value of time, they will reflect more often, they will become better, do more, create more, be more conscious overall, they will realize the worth of space exploration, and life in general and no, to answer the age old question of population, it will not create population overgrowth because I believe people will make more educated decisions and wait to have children later in life and be more prepared when they do. It would shift every paradigm we have to what is really important.
Q: You spoke with me at length a while back about the need to take the internet worldwide. You talked about vast areas where people do not have access to the internet, and therefore no contact with the outside world. Do you foresee problems with some dictatorships or extremist governments fighting against that opportunity, and if so, can anything be done about it?
A: It would be difficult to get dictators to change their minds on many subjects as mostly they cannot see past their own nose but I do think there is a project already in the works that Elon Musk was collaborating with O3b Networks to build a solid ring of satellites around the earth but I know there were some hurdles to jump first.
Q: Let's switch gears and talk about your music. What is your music all about and where right now can you see it going?
A: My music is about many things, but mostly it's about the deeper questions in life, I sing about science and the future a lot and my own personal form of spirituality. I can really see it impacting a lot of young minds, I'm a young mind and I can relate to young minds, as well as the adults who are already a little further along than myself. I really hope more than anything it can give people the motivation they need or really just something to sink back into and enjoy listening to and begin imagining big things.
Q: You definitely have a unique sound and style. You are very obviously inspired by your futurist lifestyle and try to capture that in your persona as a singer. How did all this come together?
A: My music is very much a story, a lot like my writing is, I've wondered if I'm a Synthate before, a word I made up for people who have synesthesia that is also used in chemistry, but instead of seeing a specific color or set of colors for different sounds when I hear music I see a movie or a short film when writing, so it can be very thematic at times. I can remember very clearly the first dream I had that was a painting and the first dream where I was actually in outer space....I never can forget those.
Q: You recently shot a music video. How is that coming along?
A: Well for such a low budget and short amount of time I'm very impressed with the first half of the video, it was with you Travis and it was nice to know I'm a "get it all in one continuous shot” kind of gal, I do hope to pursue an acting career if I get to move to L.A. so it's good to know I've been getting more positive external feedback. The second half of the video will be shot where I am in Austin TX. I'm pretty excited about it and hope the rest of the video and editing goes just as well because so far I haven't released much to the public, not for lack of trying.
Q: Finally, I think a lot about the rising subculture of futurists. There are so many things that appeal to us all. Movies like: Interstellar and Transcendence, music like Radiohead, Aphex Twin and yourself, books by Kurzweil, Zoltan Istvan and Ramez Naam. Do you see a common futurist subculture, and do you think there should be one? If so, how do you think that will develop over time?
A: I'm very positive about it coming to the surface as a lot of big names have been catching on who I follow closely and hopefully the general public will as well. It's not just about a culture or some clique it's about our future, everyone's future, and how we are going to ensure that it's a positive one but first we need to become more conscious of our own existence which is I guess what my music is all about.
Q: Okay, I want to thank you for your time. How can my readers follow you?
A: I have many media outlets but these are the most essential
Official Page: (bookmark) http://crystal-violet.net/
Youtube: (make sure to subscribe) https://www.youtube.com/user/ametabolica
Facebook: (Like and follow) https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crystal-Violet/248165252025017
Twitter : https://twitter.com/ametabolica