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Feb 23, 2015

World's First All-Robot Store: Dreams of a Machine Utopia

No real people work here, even to clean up!
I recently made a video of visiting the World's First All-Robot Store. I'm continually amazed at our ingenuity but I'm beginning to be creeped out by our myopic view of a machine future, as if efficiency are what humans are for.

One of the central problems of AI revolves around the concept of Coherent Extrapolated Volition (CEV), the idea that computers might give us not only what we ask for but what we would ask for were we smarter and more mature! This is a great idea, but impossible, I think. The older I get and the more I think of the issues of AI and what kind of future we desire, the more I realize how perfectly our universe is designed! I think about the process of growing up: I cherish the time I spent in each stage of life, unaware of what's to come later, because there are things to be learned that can only derive from that particular segment's challenges. Each stage has its own level of "foolishness", but that is absolutely necessary for those lessons to be learned! So too I think of the catastrophes I have endured that I would not have chosen, but that I would not trade for anything now due to the wisdom they provided me. I cannot see any way around the difficult life as the most supreme and loving teacher. This I think most parents would recognize as they wish for their kids: a life not too painful but not too easy, either.

CEV assumes that there is an arrival point that is more valuable than the dynamic process we undergo daily. Much as we delight in imagining a utopia, a truly good future is one that we STRUGGLE to achieve, balancing one hard-won value against another, is it not? I have not yet heard a single concept that arrives at wisdom without a difficult journey. Even the idea of a SI that dictates our behavior so that all act within its accordance has destroyed free will, much like a God who has revoked human volition. This leads me to a seemingly inevitable conclusion that no universe is preferable to the one we inhabit (though I have yet to see the value of horrible events in my future that I still try like the devil to avoid!) But despite this 'perfection' we're seemingly unable to stop ourselves from destroying it! This is the gist of my Body Psalms Project to preserve the sacredness of the flesh and my TED talk on the Erotic Crisis.
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Tim Holmes Studio

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I'm a sculptor/filmmaker living in Montana, USA. I am using art to move the evolution of humanity forward into an increasingly responsive, inclusive and interactive culture. As globalization flattens peoples into a capitalist monoculture I hope to use my art to celebrate historical cultural differences and imagine how we can co-create a rich future together.

I see myself as an artist/philosopher laboring deep in the mines of joy. I've had a good long career of exhibiting work around the world and working on international outreach projects, most notably being the first American to be invited to present a one-person exhibit in the Hermitage Museum. Recently I have turned my attention from simply making metal sculpture to creating films and workshops for engaging communities directly, tinkering with the very ideas and mechanisms behind cultural transformation. I feel that as we face tragic world crises, if the human species favors our imaginative and creative capacities we can cultivate a rich world to enjoy.

For me the deepest satisfaction in making art comes in engaging people's real life concerns rather than providing simple entertainment or decoration. Areas of conflict or tension are particularly ripe for the kind of transformative power that art uniquely carries. I invite any kind of challenge that serves people on a deep level.