Extreme Futurist Festival: TED Conference for the Counterculture
|Comic creator Zac Finger|
"In fiction, you see a lot of blending together of the counterculture and futurist intellectual, but I just hadn't seen people in real life getting together on that premise," says Anissimov, who organizes the science conference Singularity Summit that was mentioned in Time's article. "Taking it from fiction to non-fiction, from science fiction to science fact, is the key thing that inspired me to do this conference."
TED, the annual gathering of big thinkers in Long Beach, is the obvious inspiration of Extreme Futurist Festival.
"I wanted to have a counterculture, affordable TED," says Haywire. "There are so many brilliant people who will never have the chance to go to TED because their economic status."
TED may be a model, but this gathering of the forward-minded is its own entity.
Liz Ohanesian Re/Search books available at Extreme Futurist Festival.
"We're even willing to deal with more technical topics than the TED audience might be comfortable with," says Anissimov.
Some of the talks at Extreme Futurist Festival-- like Dr. Randal Koene's session on "mind uploading" and "whole brain emulation" -- were detail-specific. In the case of Koene, he's talented enough to explain the concepts to people whose knowledge of science is limited to courses English majors had to take, but the subject matter itself requires some background reading.
Extreme Futurist Festival isn't just about science. It was about looking towards the future through a mix of scientific, philosophical and artistic pursuits that reside on the cutting edge of culture. One influence on the event is a series of books released by Re/Search throughout the 1980s, notably the Industrial Culture Handbook, which discussed both the sound and the cultural influences of the early '80s industrial music scene. Haywire says that she considers Re/Search "artistic ancestors." The books were available for purchase at the convention.
Extreme Futurist Festival tapped into a myriad of art forms during the course of the convention. Arizona-based comic book creator Zac Finger, who found out about the event via Reddit, showed up with stacks of books, including a new title, Singularity No. 0, which he produced specifically for the event.
"It relates a lot to the ideas that we're talking about, which is the automation of humanity, basically...and asking what is the value of humanity in such a world," says Finger.