Episode 133 – Steven Kotler – Artificial Intelligence, Empathy, Emergent Consciousness

Steven Kotler
Steven Kotler is an award-winning journalist and bestselling author who studies the potential of humans, technology and culture as we advance into the future.

An expert in flow states, Steven is Co-founder and Director of Research at the Flow Genome Project, a body created to research this fascinating state of being. He is the author of a number of bestselling books, such as the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Stealing Fire, in which he documents the underground revolution in peak performance, and The Rise of Superman, a book that decodes the science of flow.

Last Tango in Cyberspace is a near-future science fiction tale that gives the reader an early preview of possible future advancements in technology and culture, and what these might mean for humanity going forward.

Steven Kotler is a New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning journalist. He is one of the world’s leading experts on high performance.
His most recent work, Stealing Fire, was a national bestseller and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. It documents an underground revolution in peak performance that is rapidly going mainstream, fueling a trillion dollar economy and forcing us to rethink how we lead more satisfying, productive and meaningful lives.
This work was preceded by two books about the technology, Tomorrowland, which is about those maverick innovators who transformed science-fiction ideas into science fact technology, and, Bold, which was called a “visionary roadmap for change,” by president Bill Clinton and spent many months atop both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.
His previous book, The Rise of Superman, was one of the most talked about books in 2013 and the first book in history to land on the New York Times bestseller lists in the sports, science, psychology, and business categories simultaneously. In Rise, Steven decodes the science of flow, an optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.
Just as Rise explores the upper limits of individual possibility, his book, Abundance, explores the upper limits of societal possibility, breaking down four emerging forces that give humanity the potential to significantly raise global standards of living over the next 20 to 30 years. Abundance spent 10 weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list and appeared on four prestigious “Best Book of the Year” lists.

A Small, Furry Prayer—Steven’s book about the relationship between humans and animals—was a national bestseller and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize; West of Jesus, which examines the neurobiology of spiritual experience, was a Pen/West finalist; and his bestselling novel, The Angle Quickest For Flight, won the William L. Crawford IAFA Fantasy Award.
Steven’s work have been translated into over 40 languages and appeared in over 100 publications, including The New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Wired and TIME. He also appears frequently on television and radio, and lectures widely on human performance, disruptive technology and radical innovation.

Steven is also the cofounder of Creating Equilibrium, a conference/concert/innovation accelerator focused on solving critical environmental challenges, and, alongside his wife, author
Joy Nicholson, Steven is the cofounder of Rancho de Chihuahua, a hospice care/special needs care dog sanctuary in the mountains of Northern New Mexico.

He has a BA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MA from Johns Hopkins University and, whenever possible, can be found hurling himself down mountains at high speeds.

Steven Kotler
8x National Bestselling Author | Executive Director at the Flow Research Collective | Leading Expert in Peak- Performance
Steven is also the Cofounder and Director of Research at The Flow Genome Project. FGP is an international organization dedicated to the research and training of the peak performance state of flow. Steven leads current research project that include the exploring the relationship between flow and creativity (in conjunction with neuroscientists at USC), flow and business success (in connection with Deloitte’s Center for the Edge), comparative altered states research (with Robin Carhartt Harris’ lab at Imperial College, London), and flow and addiction (in
conjunction with researchers at Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s lab at Drucker Unversity).


It’s hard to say when the human species fractured exactly, even harder to say when this new talent arrived. Lion Zorn is the first of his kind—an empathy tracker, an emotional soothsayer, with a felt sense for the future of the ‘we’. In simpler terms, he can spot cultural shifts and trends long before they happen.

It’s a useful skill for a certain kind of company.

Arctic Pharmaceuticals is that kind of company. But when a routine em-tracking job leads to the discovery of a gruesome murder, Lion finds himself neck-deep in a world of eco-assassins, soul hackers and consciousness terrorists. But what the man really needs is a nap.
Kotler’s Last Tango in Cyberspace is the most fun you can have while your brain explodes. It explores all the small questions: the evolution of empathy, the nature of consciousness, and how we define “life.” It examines the frontiers of neuroscience, psychology, psychopharmacology, ecology and, even, animal rights. With electrifying sentences, a plot to keep you up nights, and enough drug use to frighten your mother, Last Tango in
Cyberspace is a dark tale of hope, and maybe, just maybe, a way forward.

Last Tango in Cyberspace

This near-future technothriller is a breezy around-the-world romp for ex-journalist and “empathy-tracker” Lion Zorn. Lion is hired by British billionaire Sir Richard, head of the high-tech corporation Arctic, to find the mysterious leader of a cult built around the existential mysticism of poet Rainer Maria Rilke. He dodges dragonfly-size surveillance drones while fortifying himself with expensive whiskey, legendary marijuana, and an even more legendary Amex card. Lion is able to recognize the clues that Arctic’s operatives miss, leading him to connect the cult with a new drug, Sietch Tabr, that boosts empathy and that Arctic wants to market. Racing from a spaceport in Truth or Consequences, N.M., to Kuala Lumpur and then to Manhattan, Lion pieces together the truth from clues offered by reclusive Jamaican reggae superstars, Malaysian gangster-artists, and the philosophy of the classic SF novel Dune. Kotler (Stealing Fire) clearly hopes that humans will compassionately open their minds and hearts to the wider world rather than heedlessly destroying it, but Lion’s easy ability to bond with wild creatures and TSA agents may be overly optimistic. Still, it’s a fun story with plenty of SF media references for fans to enjoy. Agent: Paul Bresnick, Bresnick Weil Literary. (May)


In this episode we spoke to Steven Kotler on emerging technology and their potential impacts on society.

You will love this episode!

 Find Steven here: www.stevenkotler.com

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