Saturday, October 1, 2011

Mind Flight: A Journey Into the Future

With a great deal of help and effort from Jeanne—including substantial contributions to the text of the book—Tom has finished Mind Flight: A Journey into the Future. It has now been published by Xlibris. Our good friend Ora Tamir has once again provided the fantastical artwork for the cover of the book.

Mind Flight follows Wisdom, Consciousness, and the Future, published in July. Find out more and order both Mind Flight and Wisdom, Consciousness, and the Future, on the Center’s website. Both books are available in print and e-book. Anyone interested in doing a review on either book (perhaps for Amazon), can contact Tom to get a review copy of the book.

Tom will be doing a kick-off presentation on the books—with some selected readings—at RISE on November 1st starting at 1:00 pm, with a social and book signing to follow beginning around 3:30 pm. See directions to RISE under the Upcoming Events bar on the right.

Also note that Tom will be doing two new series this coming month: The Psychology of Consciousness at RISE 10:00 am to noon on October 3rd and 17th (both Mondays) and Evolutionary Cosmology and Human Progress at Sun City Grand 10:00 am to noon on October 4th, 18th, and November 1st (all Tuesdays).

Hope to see you at one or more of these events.

New and Improved Website

Our website has a host of new features, including direct links on the Home Page to highly recommended websites. One of these websites is the inspiring The Flourishing Earth Project hosted by our dear friends Cheryl and Russ Genet. Read Tom’s new blog post “Why I’d Rather Be Flourishing than Sustaining Myself.”

We have also added a direct link on the Home Page to Copthorne Macdonald’s The Wisdom Page , a superb resource for a vast array of readings on wisdom. Cop, who is another very good friend, has without a doubt the best site on wisdom on the web. You can also read the first three chapters of Mind Flight on the site.

Finally, we should mention the site for Journal of Futures Studies edited by Jose Ramos. All of the high-quality, scholarly articles published in this journal are free to read on the site. Highly recommended.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Consciousness and the Future

To combat the mental lethargy induced by endless triple-digit temperatures here in the Phoenix area, we invite you to join us as Tom presents on “Consciousness and the Future” at a local MeetUp group.
This should be a highly stimulating event, bringing together people with interests in science, technology, philosophy, and psychology.

Where: Tempe Physics and Philosophy MeetUp group
Date: Tuesday September 6th
Time: 7:00 PM

Here is the announcement for the event:

Tom Lombardo, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Future Consciousness and author of several books and numerous articles on consciousness, wisdom, psychological evolution, and the study of the future, will discuss his two new books, Wisdom, Consciousness, and the Future and Mind Flight: A Journey into the Future. Drawing upon two essays included in WCF, “The Ecological Cosmology of Consciousness” and “Educating the Wise Cyborg,” his talk will highlight his ideas on the nature of consciousness and its interdependency with the physical ecology of the cosmos; the connection between mind and technology; and how time and evolution figure into the further development of human consciousness. In this context, he will also be discussing Antonio Damasio’s new book on consciousness Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain.

Tom has been reading Robert Sawyer's new trilogy on the emergence of consciousness on the web, Wake, Watch, and Wonder. No doubt he will be sharing his thoughts on this and other recent science fiction as well.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wisdom, Consciousness, and the Future

As the winter blossomed into spring, and the spring heated into summer, I have been sequestered away writing with Jeanne by my side editing and re-editing a steady flow of new articles, culminating in two new books being published this summer and early fall. The first book is finished and now for sale: Wisdom, Consciousness, and the Future (WCF). You can find it at the publisher’s website. It is also up on Amazon.

WCF is a collection of essays that I have published over the last seven years brought together into one volume. The essays deal with human virtue and enhancing future consciousness; wisdom, ethics, and the future of education; the nature of consciousness and creativity; the “New Enlightenment;” and the future evolution of technology and the human mind.

Central to the theoretical vision articulated within the book is wisdom. In the essays I explain how wisdom is the highest expression of future consciousness; how it is the key ideal that should be modeled and taught within education; how wisdom subsumes all of the other important academic virtues; how wisdom aligns with our ongoing technological evolution and global-ecological awareness; and why wisdom is the appropriate ideal toward which we should strive in our individual and collective evolution.

WCF is a blueprint for a new and integrative wisdom-based model of education and the purposeful evolution of mind and human consciousness in the future.

We are planning a number of book events for the fall, including a presentation at RISE in Sun City scheduled for November 1st, from 1 pm to 3 pm. (See the listing of new talks for the fall.) The RISE event, though, will not only be introducing WCF but the second book coming out this year—Mind Flight: A Journey into the Future. We are in the final editing stage with Mind Flight, which should be released probably around September or early October.

One of the new published articles this year (included in WCF) addresses the “mystery of consciousness.” Originally published this spring in The Journal of Cosmology and titled “The Ecological Cosmology of Consciousness,” I explore in the article the nature of consciousness and the self, and how the brain, the body, and the physical cosmos fit together with the phenomenon of consciousness. This coming week I will be giving a presentation at RISE on the ideas in this new article. The date and time are: June 30th (Thursday) 10 am to noon. I will be doing two follow-up presentations on the psychology of consciousness at RISE in the fall (See fall listing of events).

Here is the description for the first presentation:

Consciousness is an amazing reality. Yet, consciousness—of which we are so intimately acquainted since we are conscious beings—is paradoxically one of the great philosophical and scientific puzzles. What is consciousness and how does it come to be? How is consciousness, which seems so totally one kind of thing, connected with the physical world, which seems to be totally of another kind of thing? There are many answers, many solutions to the varied mysteries of consciousness, but all these answers and solutions seem flawed or inadequate. Consciousness remains a profound mystery. In this presentation I will describe the various traditional mysteries of consciousness, introduce an even deeper mystery, propose a new theory of consciousness, the brain, and the physical world, and connect the whole shebang with the nature and evolution of the cosmos. This is one to really stretch your mind and expand your consciousness.

Also this fall I will be doing a new three part series on “Evolution and Progress” at Sun City Grand. (See list of dates and times) Here is a description of this series:

A description of the comprehensive and cosmic scope of evolution as a general theory of all of nature, from the physical and biological to the psychological, social, technological, and even the spiritual. We will see why scientists and philosophers believe that the universe developed into its present form through a multi-faceted dynamical evolutionary process. (And it is by no means over.) But if evolution is true, how does this general progressive process connect with our present global reality? Are we making progress or are we heading for social and ecological disaster? What, in fact, is progress and how do we define it? We will connect evolution with the question of human progress: Is humanity evolving, progressing, and moving forward, and if so, how?

As one final note, I will be on Robert Rose Internet Radio, July 1st. I will be talking about my two new books and wisdom and futurist topics in general. See:

New Books:

Definitely read:

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly, a comprehensive, evolutionary explanation of technology--a great read
Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? by John Brockman, the pros and cons of whether Google and the Internet are having a beneficial impact on human thinking and consciousness
Exultant by Stephen Baxter, a cosmological adventure 50,000 years into the future

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Creativity and the Future

“The future is the ongoing expression of the act of creation and we are all participating in it.”

I introduce the above quoted theory of creation at the beginning of my basic workshop on evolving future consciousness. Though inspired by others, for we all “stand on the shoulders of giants,” they are my words, my theory. We may envision the creation of the universe as occurring in the very distant past, but this view of things is, at the very least, highly misleading, if not simply wrong. As the physicist Paul Davies has noted, the universe is perpetually creative, continually pulling itself up by its own bootstraps, with novelty and surprises pouring forth. This efflorescence of the new is what the future is; new things keep happening, new forms keep emerging and evolving. The future is creation—creation is the future.
The reason why we experience a future—a “yet to be”—is that everything is not set and determined, everything is not pre-ordained. There is transcendence of what is and this is the experience and reality of the future.
We may think of creativity as something that humans exhibit in their thinking and behavior, and further, that it is a capacity that only some gifted individuals possess, but again this popular idea is fundamentally wrong. As Stuart Kauffman in his new book, Reinventing the Sacred, demonstrates, creativity and the ongoing emergence of novelty are fundamental to the workings of nature. And clearly, all humans to different degrees show creativity. We all create when we remember, when we think, when we imagine, when we talk, when we construct things. There are degrees of innovation and novelty, but nothing in human life, if not in the universe as a whole, is simple repetition.
It is one of the great ironies and stupidities of contemporary times that “creationism” and “evolution” are set in opposition with each other as two diametrically contrary explanations of reality, when in fact, evolution is creation, though creation not all at once.
This week I am giving a presentation on “Creativity, Wisdom, and Our Evolutionary Future.” See the schedule on the side bar for location and time. Pulling together two previous presentations on creativity, and serving as a foundation for an article I am writing this spring, I worked at synthesizing the pieces on creativity into a big picture. There is the mythology and physics of creativity; there is the psychological study of creativity as well. But there is a wealth of information on how creativity applies to biological evolution, social and economic development, and believe it or not, the creative evolution of technology and machines. Of course, there is also the study of creativity in art.
To me it seems that all of the pieces fit together. Creativity is the synthesis of the unique and the beautiful, of emergent Gestalts, and metaphorically speaking, its dual motive forces lie in death and chaos and sex and interpenetration. But this is as much a theory of the future, as it is of creativity.
In my last blog I recounted the hilarious and inventive narrative in Rudy Rucker’s The Ware Tetralogy. I am now on the fourth and final book of the series. Here, I have encountered aliens who live in two-dimensional time, travel not in spaceships but on cosmic rays, and worship a female Goddess who lives in four-dimensional space. The story is an act of sparkling and crazy creativity; imagine a book on the future written by an extremely smart, techno-savvy Hippie. Creativity jars one’s sense of reality; it unsettles logic, good taste, and common sense. This is The Ware Tetralogy. Back in the 1990s, Rudy Rucker edited (along with R.U. Sirius and Queen Mu) a real psychedelic trip of a book: Mondo 2000: A User's Guide to the New Edge—Cyberpunk, Virtual Reality, Wetware, Designer Aphrodisiacs, Artificial Life, Techno-Erotic Paganism, and More. Mondo 2000 argues for the necessary element of chaos in provoking creativity and inventiveness. (This theory, though, goes back to ancient times.) Like a Salvador Dali of chemicals, electronics, robotics, and words, Rucker mixes together the most bizarre assortment of elements, settings, and characters in the madcap chaos of The Ware Tetralogy. If one wants to experience the full flowering of human creativity—with a clear eye on the future—then dive into Rucker’s books.
Coming full circle, from science fiction to painting, I will close with a quote from one of the most creative, influential, and articulate artists of the twentieth century, Wassily Kandinsky:

“…every work of art comes into being in the same way as the cosmos—by means of catastrophes, which ultimately create out of the cacophony of the various instruments that symphony we call the music of the spheres.”

Contrary to popular belief (once again) and clearly at odds with the ancient notion that creativity was a gift of the gods, deep and penetrating creativity requires work and the tenacious pursuit and cultivation of the new. One sees this in the evolution of Kandinsky’s work. Chaos shakes up the mind, shakes up the ecosystem, shakes up the cosmos; and intelligence, intuition, and trial and error find the new order.

Hope to see you at some of the upcoming events listed on the right in this coming early spring.

Note: Special Event at Sun City Grand
Early this spring I will be doing a comprehensive review of my two books on the future, The Evolution of Future Consciousness and Contemporary Futurist Thought. I will be doing two chapters per two hour session with plenty of time for discussion set aside. See the schedule on the sidebar. Books will be available for sale.
Here is the latest review on the two books coming out in Future Takes magazine:

“A Protean undertaking—and he pulls it off! These two books constitute a remarkable achievement... ‘Awesome’ is a word that comes easily, and heroic must substitute foolhardy as the author concludes his ambitious project, ‘encyclopedic’ accurately describing the scope... To sum up, I could do worse than quoting from Wendell Bell’s praise on the cover of the second volume: A great book… a must-read book for futurists… a masterpiece… applying it on both tomes.”

Bengt-Arne Vedin, Professor emeritus
Fellow, Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences
Fellow, World Academy of Art & Science
Life Member, World Future Society

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Future of Alzheimers Patients--From Despair to Hope

As the Babyboomers hit 65 and start tapping into Medicare, thoughts of a different kind of future tap at our consciousness...and it is not only the specter of mortality that raises its ugly head (despite Ray Kurzweil's assurances that if we can only hang on until new interventions are invented, we may not have to die). What if our bodies outlast our minds?

Many of us are seeing our parents descend into the murky and often agitated world of Alzheimers. We watch helplessly as they slowly disappear, their personalities eclipsed by the deterioration of their brains. In the past, care for these patients often translated into restraint and medication. Today new models are emerging however.

I am very proud to have a personal connection with a leader in the field of elder care. My sister Peggy Mullan is the CEO and President of a large "nursing home" in Phoenix Arizona which is being recognized for its innovative and compassionate approach to caring for Alzheimers patients. The Beatitudes Campus was featured on the front page of the New York Times on New Years Day. The informative and inspiring article describes how The Beatitudes has pioneered a more caring and humane approach to treating patients afflicted with this disease. My favorite quote from the artice? "For God's sake, if they want bacon, we give them bacon."

You can hear more about the Beatitudes this coming Tuesday, January 11, 2011 (1/11/11!) when Peggy is interviewed on NPR's Here and Now Program. The interview will be streamed live at 11:00 Mountain Time. If you miss the original broadcast, PRI offers podcasts.