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AVENIR

INSTITUTE

Introduction of
Avenirology
[blueprint] into metamodern
futures

Denis Maksimov

Introduction

Introduction of Avenirology.
[blueprint] into metamodern futures.
by Denis Maksimov
Avenir Institute, 2015. All rights reserved. Short sections of text, not to exceed two
paragraphs, may be quoted in the original language without explicit permission provided that the source is acknowledged. This publication is published under the editorial
responsibility of Denis Maksimov, co-founder of Avenir Institute. Opinions expressed in
this publication are those of the author(s) alone.
Contributors
Caroline Carrion
Timo Tuominen
Bruno Moreschi

Avenir Institute
www.avenirinsitute.info
Brussels - London
first published in June 2015, minor revisions in August and October 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1514204009
ISBN-10: 1514204002

FOREWORD

In general, I try and distinguish between what one calls the Future and lavenir [the
to come]. The future is that which tomorrow, later, next century will be. There is a
future which is predictable, programmed, scheduled, foreseeable. But there is a future,
lavenir (to come) which refers to someone who comes whose arrival is totally unexpected. For me, that is the real future. That which is totally unpredictable. The Other
who comes without my being able to anticipate their arrival. So if there is a real future,
beyond the other known future, it is lavenir in that it is the coming of the Other when I
am completely unable to foresee their arrival.
Jacques Derrida

This publication is a blueprint - figuratively, literally, aesthetically, conceptually.


It is a preliminary speculations in investigation of notions of risks, avenirs and futures,
that I have been working on in the framework of the doctoral research in Political Science in Moscow and artistic research in Antwerp.
This blueprint is a roadmap (what blueprint literally means in the world of political expertise) - to futures in the alternative context of approaching them. It is ever-developing
draft, an immanent blueprint.
The tension between futures as composition of risks and avenirs is the centerpiece of
this publication. Derridas definition of the Future as a set of planned events is a contemporary narrative of approaching the analysis of events to come. The aim of this publication is to refocus the conversation towards futures as something more than terrifying,
dystopian picture of horrific risks which eventual realization will be the reason of everyones doom. It is about rediscovery of futures as the matter of potentialities beyond
space and time.
This analysis doesnt include only theoretical and philosophical investigation. The dichotomy between risk and avenir is explored via blend of the strategies of transdisciplinary background - the book features artistic writings by invited contributors. The scope of
it is quite larger than the offered theoretical frame. The blueprint is meant to act as rough
introduction into more comprehensive and focused investigation of avenirology as methodology of deconstruction of futures.

Chapters Focus and Untitled, as well are introductions to other Chapters, are written
by me. Chapter Context consists of the curated by the editor texts on the topic of futures as it is approached by the opinion leaders of the contemporary cultural discourse.
Chapter Avenirs consists of original contributions. There are contributions by the contemporary art curator and critic Caroline Carrion, polymathic engineer and co-founder of Avenir Institute Timo Tuominen and conceptual artist Bruno Moreschi. Their speculations
about futures open multidimensional view on the subject from the perspectives of context, object and medium of the address. Seemingly absent connection between the texts
loosely reflects immense richness of the matter of the topic when its approached from
different discourses of reflection and analysis. Analytical speculations and artistic writings
are part of the unified flow of narration.
I hope you enjoy this collection of art writings and philosophic speculations and also
hope it will trigger some inspiring thoughts and ideas.
I would appreciate your criticism, comments and responses via
maksimov.denis@gmail.com.

by Denis Maksimov
June 2015
Brussels - Antwerp

About the author and contributors


Denis Maksimov (Bryansk, Russia, 1987) is a cultural and art critic, curator, political advisor, strategy consultant and educator. He has been working in political expertise and research since 2006 in Moscow and continued practice in Brussels, Belgium, where he lives
and works since 2009. His multidimensional institutional engagement with the art field
commenced in 2010 in Antwerp and Brussels. More information www.denismaksimov.com.
Timo Tuominen (Ulvila, Finland, 1986) is a designer, entrepreneur and consultant. He has
been working in Berlin and London on projects in the field of mobile platforms development, future of medicine and hi-tech fashion design. He has been making photography
and visual art, including work on textile and ink drawing, since early childhood. He lives
and works in London, the United Kingdom.
Caroline Carrion (Jundia, Brazil, 1986) is an art critic and curator and has been working
in the art field since 2008 in different segments of the market, such as cultural centers,
museums and art galleries. She developed and coordinated the production of several exhibitions, integrated publishing projects on contemporary art and has extensive experience with cultural journalism and institutional communication. She lives and works in So
Paulo, Brazil.
Bruno Moreschi (Maring, Brazil, 1982) is an artist and visual researcher. He lives and
works in So Paulo, Brazil. His artistic projects have been widely exhibited in institutions
and galleries. His works integrates the collections of MAC USP, MAC Paran, Instituto
Figueiredo Ferraz and Goethe-Institut So Paulo. His investigations are related to the system of contemporary art, specially conceptual art. More information on his work is available online at www.brunomoreschi.com.

Avenir Institute is the transdisciplinary think tank, which explores potentiality of refocusing the discussion about the futures from risk minimization to opportunity maximization perspective. The Institute is extra-territorial. It acts in multiple dimensions, covering
aesthetics, politics, technology among other subjects.
More information - www.avenirinstitute.info

Focus
French poststructuralist philosopher Jacques Derrida wrote
about two kinds of future - The Future and LAvenir. The
Future, in his understanding, is something that we expect predictable, programmed, scheduled, foreseeable. It is in
our calendars: plan for holidays, meetings with friends, concerts, events, arrival of salaries, planned purchases and so
on. The Future is therefore a defining matrix of our existence, the multidimensional graphs of the expected.
LAvenir (from French to come) is another story. It is
something unpredictable. In modern risk theory it is something that is called by Nassim Taleb black swans. Donald
Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense in George W. Bush administration during the war in Iraq, spoke of unknown unknowns.
Derrida refers to lavenir as the real future - something exciting, arriving without anticipation. It is a stranger, an
other in the street that starts a random conversation on the
tram stop, a conversation that might lead to long-lasting
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friendship or relationship and change the course of your


life.
Artists were always fascinated with the topic of futures. In
the modern times of growing uncertainly and sense of insecurity the subject of futures comes on top of peoples
agenda again. In the last decades many thought that the
history was over, the grand narratives, ideologies are
not necessary anymore because our society reached the
point of ultimate reflection. In politics, Fukuyama pronounced the end of history and the arrival of the last man
- a man of liberal democracy. However the eventfulness of
the last 10 years - economic crisis, disappointment in antimeritocratic elites and logical dead-end of capitalism - have
become increasingly evident to majorities globally. What
can save us from ourselves and these monstrous infrastructures of consumption we built, that threaten to end the very
existence of our planet in not that distant future?
One of the possible answers of the Western civilization is
technological progress. We will produce more at lower
cost of the resources, will optimize consumption and are to
become more reflective and responsible. But how much
time we need to re-adjust? Do we have enough political
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will? Are we capable of dealing with the myriad challenges, many of which weve created ourselves in the
course of history?
Art has the potential to play the role of a platform for transdisciplinary discussion and reflection about futures. It is the
only ground where progress-binding hierarchies and bureaucracies, while also getting more popular, still dont
play the most important role and leave enough space for
free and creative conversation.
Embrace the others. Open the doors to a stranger.

Avenir Institute

Avenir Institute is an international think tank with focus on futures as opportunities for
realization of individual potential. The Institute works with artists, academics, politicians,
curators, engineers, scientists, consultants and holders of many other roles who share
metamodern perspective on futures. Investigation, deconstruction and analysis of metamodern futures is transdisciplinary exercise, that Institute coordinates on the platform of
artistic research (as the freest of all) and takes the approach of the expanded field of art
into other domains of science in order to push the boundaries of futures analysis beyond
the rigid frame of risks analysis.
Avenir Institute principles in research of futures departs from introduction of the term avenir as a counter-balance to the notion of risk.
Risk is by definition negative possibility of realization of certain event. Traditionally, the
notion of risk is balanced by the notion of opportunity. In relation to futures, risk is
undoubtedly prevailing the narratives of futurology. The reason is probably in human psychology. People tend to be afraid of futures and reluctant to change status quo, even if
the status quo is far from satisfactory. For the sake of risk aversion, society is inclined to
live in everlasting Present and tries to safeguard what exists in Now. Inherent conservatism makes people attached to the traditions, the habits that provide illusory sense of
control over their lives.
Can futures as illusion of everlasting Present be converted into Futures as infinite
variations of possibilities to realize ones potential?
With this core question in mind, Avenir Institute acts in accordance with its core principles. The purpose of the Manifesto is to outline metamodern approach to futures.

the core principles


I.

Future is to be reclaimed as an opportunity from the dystopian realm where its ghettoized now, the land of risk.

II.

Realization of ones potential is possible in the area of arrival of the Other, unpredicted stranger that has potential to alter the narrative of existence. Therefore the
portals of opportunities for the Other to arrive have to be enlarged and multiplied
in number.

III. Speculations about futures are essential for the universal advancement and enlightenment.
IV. Overwhelming majority of our actions are predictable by the data mining. We have
created ourselves the matrix of obedience and continuously make the portal of arrival for the other, a stranger smaller. Matrixes of reality are pre-disposed to cross
out any disturbances of the idea of eternal present. We approach currents as we
approach preservation of the ecosystems or the zoos. We cross out advancement in
our own potential (which might be called in European tradition progress, however
for the sake of avoiding confusion over its one-dimensional and linear connotation
we will not use it).
V.

Dystopian and utopian narratives and speculations should exist in the state of natural balance. It is obvious that negative, dystopian approach to future is prevailing
and its providing the basis for manipulation for conservative and retrograde forces
to rule out potentiality from the lives of majority. Preservation of status quo is the
embodiment of fear and inability to realize ones courage.

VI. The future of everlasting Present is about minimization of risks, while metamodern
futures are about maximization of the opportunities (avenirs).
VII. The post-structuralist legacy of knowledges, worlds, histories, etc. should be
taken further to explore diversities in the approach to deconstruction and reinterpretation of social and political reality.

VIII. Like the universe, human mind is expanding. The currency of this expansion is curiosity and that makes the human a very special animal, that can actually break beyond
its animality.

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Deconstruction of futures studies:


'avenir' and 'risk'
Futures studies, futurology, futuristics, foresight - there are other names of the field of investigation of what is to come. The focus of all that research, however, is mostly rooted
in fear. Improvement and progress are seen as the means of survival and provision for
the next generations. Risk dominates the agenda of research - from practical assessment
of market perspectives to dystopian predictions of an anthropological doom.
Niccolo Machiavelli in one of the fundamental books for political consultants, Il Principe, outlined two main strategies for withholding and sustaining ones power: by love
or by fear. Control by means of love, however, he had seen as shaky, unpredictable and
unreliable. On the other hand control, which is rooted in fear he described as the stable,
easy manageable and conveniently sustained by the set of pre-defined measures. The future in the eyes of politics is the ultimate zone of speculative manipulation. The image of
desired future is more easy to shape with the image of fear rather than the image of
love and hope. This is one of the ultimate lessons of political manipulation, that explains
so much about the world we are living in now. The media employs negative stories more
than uplifting cases of human compassion not because its inherently bad - but because
the market dictates that and peoples demand for shocks is systemically larger. But is it
our DNA that is wicked or the generational habit, developed over the centuries of dominance of realpolitik and risk-based approach to viewing existence?
The balance between fear and love is non-existent in the field of futures studies. The
Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute is investigating the biggest dangers
posed by the humanity by nature, cosmos and humanity itself. There is no mentioning of
future hopes.
In order to create (its hard to say restitute here) the balance between fear and hope in
the projections of futures, the theoretical framework equal to the notion of risk has to be
introduced. Opportunity or potential are too muddy as terms and dont grasp the
meaning with necessary focus.

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Thats where avenir, departing from the definition of Jacques Derrida, will be having ultimate use. Avenir and risk are the love, hope and fear, danger of the futures respectively. The first step towards balance in approaching the future is contextualize the
discussion about it at all new level, when future avenirs will become as widespread combination of the words in the zeitgeist as future risks.
Avenirs are the Others. But these are sudden and lucky changes. Unseen cracks of the
system, that open up for us the portal of possibilities, potentials and hopes. They are the
lovers, that change our lives forever from the moment we encountered them in the public
space.
Risks, when personalized, are driving the atomization and individualization in society
and politics on both micro and macro levels. Fear makes it impossible to reform political
institutions, lay off the old Westphalian perspective of the world as composition of nation
states. In economics, the fear and danger, response to problems and challenges (aka
risks) of the current and future generations are the only motivation to start and develop
enterprises. No wonder both art and fundamental science having the same problems of
contextualizing usefulness in the world of realpolitik and ultra-capitalism. On the personal level, ideas and concepts of good neighborhood and compassion are destroyed
by risk-based cynicism.
Risk-centered thinking is bringing the society on all levels to doom in the programmed
way: constant preparations for the disaster, triggered the society itself or by external factors, makes humanity look like an old East European lady that thinks about her upcoming
death and knits the dress in which shell be buried. The cult of death is prevailing the
value of life.
We dont create laboratories of creativity - we rather invest disproportionally into museums, monuments, zoos, that act as the cemeteries, graveyards and sarcophaguses of our
very existence. When did legacy become more than the ground for creating something
new, the source of inspiration and curiosity? There is no excitement about whats to
come, because the only thing that occupies our mind in to come is inevitability of
death. Memento mori is the global motto, that is universally applicable to all the
planets population, regardless cultural background. Necropolitics is replacing biopolitics.

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But futures can be much more than the dwelling about inherent dangers. Avenirs - opportunities, potentialities, lucky happenings - are the part of the same matter. Like + and
-- they can neutralize our perception of futures. We dont need to become headless romantics - but we definitely need to reclaim potentiality of futures to bring positive
changes, advancements we cant even dream of at the moment.
In order to do that, the portals or potential arrival of the Other have to be kept open
with a big welcoming neon signs, lit 24/7. Avenirs should become as widespread as risks
in the discourse of conversations at all levels. Maybe even wider.
The time of space discovery in 1960-1970s (although triggered by the geopolitical arms
race) and post-war hopefulness provided much higher expectations and hope to the people. This is just a glimpse of what might be possible by enhancement of potentiality as
strategic counterbalance to risk-based thinking.
Dont be fooled by encapsulating discourse of pre-defined narrative of totality and inevitability of doom. Keep the door wide open for the arrival of a lover, because public
space is where you might encounter a stranger. Those are the strategic messages that
carry fundamental value for re-definition of the world we are living in at all levels: from
micro to meta.

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What is Avenirology?
Avenirology is, essentially, composition of words avenir (opportunities, potential, the
others, the lovers, positively impactful potential, unplanned changes) and logia (research). Avenirology has ambition of contextualization of the blending of research strategies from different disciplines - political science, futures studies, philosophy, sociology, science of art, cosmology, quantum physics and others in order to approach phenomenon
of the other. What forms it can take? Where from it could arrive? Within which mediums it has the strongest potential of realization? Is it possible to trigger its arrival? Avenirology encapsulates and conceptualizes these and many more questions on transdisciplinary basis.
Avenirology is metamodern, because it holds a stance. Postmodernity and deconstruction
brought us liberation from dogmas, but left a hole of emptiness due to overhauling influence of pragmatic, resource-based politics, that is based on the concept of plain,
Marxism-defined, one-dimensional understanding of the value. Avenirology has disruptive potential for political science, economics and the science of art.
In political science, avenirology takes stance in alignment with contemporary libertarian
political philosophy. In order to trigger arrival of the other the politics has to be deframed and re-framed from the current institutional borders of nation-state, legitimateviolence oriented Westphalian model towards the concept of shared value and transdimensional, extra-territorial value-based institutions. The modern division between politics,
economy and civil society, rooted in money-based value exchange, doesnt provide much
of the hope for futures. In fact, its primary goal is to freeze the image of the present,
extend it. Fukuyamas The End of the History and The Last Man might have lost its political actuality almost the same moment as it was published, however it perfectly reflects
the current state of things in the minds of global elites. Inherent fear of losing positions,
rooted in based on poor, anti-meritocratic social hierarchy, reveals all-grasping insecurity. The strategy of mitigation of this insecurity as it is seen by the elites is to freeze up
the currents, stop the tides from turning, convert the world and people in the last ecosystem. Futures bring only dangers, disasters, collapses, deaths and despair - that is the
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message of current discourse of futures studies. Separate islands of opposition, such as


Google X lab, Tesla and some other mostly non-state actors are attempting to turn the
things around, however acting in hostile theoretical and depressive conceptual environment, where futures are equivalent of Pandora box, is very far from being easy. Avenirology is ally of those attempts to disrupt the futures not for the sake of responding to certain risk, posed to the global socio-political zoo, eternal socio-political ecosystem, everlasting Present, but for realization and opening the unknown. Because human is inherently curious specie, who is not limited by the borders of dimensions in time or space.
Avenirology therefore signifies the eternal youth of spirit and openness to potentiality. It
has almost become a gimmick: once you get older and get some experience (which is
usually referred to failures, disappointments, real of perceived due to societal pressure)
you must turn into dogmatic Republican (if you are American), ultra-conservative
nostalgia-driven melancholic or at least largely leaning towards right introvert. This
framing is the result of risk-based mentality. Inflicting avenirs in ones life, which provide
hope for the Other to arrive at any given moment, have strong potential to change the
tide. Moreover, it is not only about just expecting the other - no sweet without some
sweat. The other in order to arrive has to be welcomed with certain conditions, that are
favorable for it to reveal itself. Staying hungry and foolish during all the lifetime guarantees that the actual life can commence at any moment of time, ceasing the lead from
mere existence.
Certain conditions are the social system, that has to have resilient nature. The term resilience is paramountly important for researching futures. However the focus of these researches is primarily revolving around the notion of risk. Risks as such are nothing more
than negative speculations - but practical preparation for their mitigation, the actual use
of researching and analyzing them is about employing this information to create the systems of resilience from negative consequences. The problem is now however that preparations for the negative consequence overtook the focus completely, shutting down therefore more and more portals for potential arrival of the other.
Human behavior is 93 percent predictable, a group of leading Northeastern University
network scientists recently found. Distinguished Professor of Physics Albert-Lszl Barabsi and his team studied the mobility patterns of anonymous cell-phone users and concluded that, despite the common perception that our actions are random and unpredictable, human mobility follows surprisingly regular patterns.
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These patterns of behavior are stabilized due to the primacy of desire to minimize risk,
which is far above ambitions to maximize or even trigger opportunities. Futures are enemies by default. Status quo is always safer bet.
Avenirology attempts to refocus the attention from risk-centered logic to balanced or
even better - avenir-centered, revolving around the opportunities and potential that futures open to us.
Avenirology falls in the framework of post-contemporary approach to research. Linear
dimensions of space and time are not applicable to the conceptual outline of the analysis. In fact, bringing linearity kills the potential of the others and limits the corridors of
their potential arrival. Simply stretching Hegel approach to civilizational development
and Kuhn approach to paradigmatic analysis are therefore defined is not enough encompassing, not applicable to investigation of contemporaneity. Quantum physics provides a
lot of new inspirations in continuing research of elements and particles of cosmos. The
very term contemporaneity has to be redefined as it closes up perspective view on
breaking through the borders of space and time as the basic axises of understanding and
approaching reality.
Realities, Presents are also an important subject for avenirology. Its construction as
projection of desired narratives towards programmable end is seen and analyzed from
the perspective of potentiality of generation of avenirs. Potentiality and openness to the
other is a key characteristic to shaping the reality, that is freer from potential manipulations by old and new means. Technological progress provides more dystopian perspectives of employing virtual reality, advanced media and communication technologies to
embed the control over the daily life and habits of vast majorities: dont forget that social
behavior is majorly predictable. Panopticon of Bentham and Foucault had already become everyday reality. Improvement of the technologies of monitoring, data mining and
further analysis of the data will close the circle of total control. Anti-movements are not
constructive either: promoting return to non-transparent, crooked and nepotism-based
structures is not the answer. Its retrograde. Avenirology looks at possibility to find compromise between the two rivaling approaches to shaping the future of society.
Avenirology looks at possible futures as modern physics and cosmology looks at the concepts of origins for the Universe or contemporary micro-historical analysis looks at metanarratives of the past. It doesnt have aim of deconstruction for the sake of deconstruc-

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tion: it deconstructs the notion of possible futures and avenirs for in order to source metaconceptual basis for investigating generation of realities and projection of futures.
Avenirology as approach seems like an enemy of the constituent society of today. Opening up to potentiality of change without certain promise of desired outcome is a dangerous and uncomfortable zone. But did anything worthy ever come out of safety of the
space of total predictability?

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Context
Analysis, predictions, foresight. Fate, causality, randomness. Reflections and research of futures varies greatly depending on the point of the departure in ideological convictions of the researcher.
Ulrich Beck doesnt give a definition to a term risk. In the
book Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity he speaks
about socio-cultural aspect of risk perception in postindustrial societies. We live in the society of risk, our view
of reality is knitted around the infrastructure of minimization
of risks generation. Technological advancement makes the
world less and less understandable and world seems to be
more and more complicated. All of this makes it likely for
people to desire to give away the power to someone
knowledgable and authoritative, as it allows to lift off responsibility for all complicated mess of reality from protagonist. Political manipulations in the world of totality of risk
thinking are more common than anything. Desire to freeze
and monumentalize the current state of things originates in
growing fear of the currents.
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Anthony Giddens in The Consequences of Modernity underlined global character of risks, their ontological threat
to humanity. He speaks about trust as the only effective
risk management technique. He also importantly highlighted the crucial difference between danger and risk.
Perception and assessment of potential harm lay in the
core of this approach.
Both Beck and Giddens look at the future through the prism
of domination of the risk thinking. But is it possible to
change the focus of approaching futures? Can society of
risk be challenged by the society of avenir?
Nassim Taleb in his analysis of uncertainty in the futures introduced the term black swans, relating to the events of
high magnitude of impact and unpredictability. Despite the
fact that he relates the term to positive disruptions as well,
he still carries on analysis in the framework of negative risk
thinking.
Futures are as relative as presents or the past and are the
question of opinion and power position of the interpreter.
The issue of truth is the in fact the issue of holding power
and means of its communication. Absolute power means
set of absolute truths about what was, what is and what
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will be. This is the situation of complete terror. Futures


have to hold optionality of avenirs in order to provide the
basis of creative living, departing from miserable existence.
Karl Lagerfeld put it well by saying truth is the question of
standpoint and mystery is only interesting if no one delivers
it away. Donald Rumsfelds unknown knowns is the opposite to that: the mystery is easily mistaken for the monster for the sake of effective manipulation.
Futures are consequential to the process, mode and ideology of thinking.

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How are humans going to become


extinct?*
by Sean Coughlan
What are the greatest global threats to humanity? Are we on the verge of our own unexpected extinction?
An international team of scientists, mathematicians and philosophers at Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute is investigating the biggest dangers.
And they argue in a research paper, Existential Risk as a Global Priority, that international policymakers must pay serious attention to the reality of species-obliterating risks.
Last year there were more academic papers published on snowboarding than human extinction.
The Swedish-born director of the institute, Nick Bostrom, says the stakes couldn't be
higher. If we get it wrong, this could be humanity's final century.
Been there, survived it
So what are the greatest dangers?
First the good news. Pandemics and natural disasters might cause colossal and catastrophic loss of life, but Dr Bostrom believes humanity would be likely to survive.
This is because as a species we've already outlasted many thousands of years of disease,
famine, flood, predators, persecution, earthquakes and environmental change. So the
odds remain in our favour.
And in the time frame of a century, he says the risk of extinction from asteroid impacts
and super-volcanic eruptions remains "extremely small".
Even the unprecedented self-inflicted losses in the 20th Century in two world wars, and
the Spanish flu epidemic, failed to halt the upward rise in the global human population.
Nuclear war might cause appalling destruction, but enough individuals could survive to
allow the species to continue.
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If that's the feelgood reassurance out of the way, what should we really be worrying
about?
Dr Bostrom believes we've entered a new kind of technological era with the capacity to
threaten our future as never before. These are "threats we have no track record of surviving".
Lack of control
Likening it to a dangerous weapon in the hands of a child, he says the advance of technology has overtaken our capacity to control the possible consequences.
Experiments in areas such as synthetic biology, nanotechnology and machine intelligence
are hurtling forward into the territory of the unintended and unpredictable.
Synthetic biology, where biology meets engineering, promises great medical benefits. But
Dr Bostrom is concerned about unforeseen consequences in manipulating the boundaries
of human biology.
Nanotechnology, working at a molecular or atomic level, could also become highly destructive if used for warfare, he argues. He has written that future governments will have
a major challenge to control and restrict misuses.
There are also fears about how artificial or machine intelligence interact with the external
world.
Such computer-driven "intelligence" might be a powerful tool in industry, medicine, agriculture or managing the economy.
But it also can be completely indifferent to any incidental damage.
Unintended consequences
These are not abstract concepts.
Sen O'Heigeartaigh, a geneticist at the institute, draws an analogy with algorithms used
in automated stock market trading.
These mathematical strings can have direct and destructive consequences for real economies and real people.

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Such computer systems can "manipulate the real world", says Dr O'Heigeartaigh, who
studied molecular evolution at Trinity College Dublin.
In terms of risks from biology, he worries about misguided good intentions, as experiments carry out genetic modifications, dismantling and rebuilding genetic structures.
"It's very unlikely they would want to make something harmful," he says.
But there is always the risk of an unintended sequence of events or something that becomes harmful when transferred into another environment.
"We are developing things that could go wrong in a profound way," he says.
"With any new powerful technology we should think very carefully about what we know but it might be more important to know what we don't have certainty about."
And he says this isn't a career in scaremongering, he's motivated by the seriousness of
his work. "This is one of the most important ways of making a positive difference," he
says.
Chain reaction
This eclectic group of researchers talk about computers able to create more and more
powerful generations of computers.
It won't be that these machines suddenly develop a line in sarcasm and bad behaviour.
But research fellow Daniel Dewey talks about an "intelligence explosion" where the accelerating power of computers becomes less predictable and controllable.
"Artificial intelligence is one of the technologies that puts more and more power into
smaller and smaller packages," says Mr Dewey, a US expert in machine superintelligence who previously worked at Google.
Along with biotechnology and nanotechnology, he says: "You can do things with these
technologies, typically chain reaction-type effects, so that starting with very few resources you could undertake projects that could affect everyone in the world."
The Future of Humanity project at Oxford is part of a trend towards focusing research on
such big questions. The institute was launched by the Oxford Martin School, which

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brings together academics from across different fields with the aim of tackling the most
"pressing global challenges".
There are also ambitions at Cambridge University to investigate such threats to humanity.
Lord Rees, the Astronomer Royal and former president of the Royal Society, is backing
plans for a Centre for the Study of Existential Risk.
"This is the first century in the world's history when the biggest threat is from humanity,"
says Lord Rees.
He says that while we worry about more immediate individual risks, such as air travel or
food safety, we seem to have much more difficulty recognizing bigger dangers.
'Error or terror'
Lord Rees also highlights concerns about synthetic biology.
"With every new technology there are upsides, but there are also risks," he says.
The creation of new organisms for agriculture and medicine could have unforeseen ecological side-effects, he suggests.
Lord Rees raises concerns about the social fragility and lack of resilience in our
technology-dependent society.
"It's a question of scale. We're in a more inter-connected world, more travel, news and
rumors spread at the speed of light. Therefore the consequences of some error or terror
are greater than in the past," he says.
Lord Rees, along with Cambridge philosopher Huw Price and economist Sir Partha Dasgupta and Skype founder Jaan Tallinn, wants the proposed Centre for the Study of Existential Risk to evaluate such threats.
So should we be worried about an impending doomsday?
This isn't a dystopian fiction. It's not about a cat-stroking villain below a volcano. In fact,
the institute in Oxford is in university offices above a gym, where self-preservation is
about a treadmill and Lycra.

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Dr Bostrom says there is a real gap between the speed of technological advance and our
understanding of its implications.
"We're at the level of infants in moral responsibility, but with the technological capability
of adults," he says.
As such, the significance of existential risk is "not on people's radars".
But he argues that change is coming whether or not we're ready for it.
"There is a bottleneck in human history. The human condition is going to change. It could
be that we end in a catastrophe or that we are transformed by taking much greater control over our biology.
"It's not science fiction, religious doctrine or a late-night conversation in the pub.
"There is no plausible moral case not to take it seriously."

* BBC, http://www.bbc.com/news/business-22002530?SThisFB&fb_ref=Default

25

Unknown knowns*
by Secretary Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers
(Also participating was Gen. Richard Myers, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.)
Rumsfeld: Greetings. Good morning. I have a brief comment, and then General Myers
has some remarks.
As a country, we've lost thousands of innocent civilians on September 11th, and certainly
our country and the people of our country understand what it means to lose fathers and
mothers, and sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters.
I think it's useful to remind ourselves that the Taliban and the al Qaeda made a practice
of doing harm and repressing the Afghan people. The Afghan people were starved in
some measure because the Taliban and al Qaeda stole humanitarian food aid and kept
it from them. There was a refugee crisis in the country with internally dislocated people,
as well as large camps external to the country. They purposefully used women and children in residential areas to shield their military activities. They deliberately positioned
military equipment next to schools and mosques.
Even before September 11th, the United States had been the larger donor of food aid to
Afghan people, providing something in excess of 170 million dollars' worth prior to September 11th. In the first days of the war, DOD alone dropped more than a half a million
rations of meals into Afghanistan to feed the starving. President Bush has pledged $320
million more, in addition to the military program. And every single day since the war begin, in the midst of the conflict, coalition forces, including American service people, have
risked their lives to deliver humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of the Afghan people.
Today, U.S. and coalition forces are on the ground, digging wells, building schools, supporting other civilian missions to help the Afghan people recover from years of Taliban
oppression, and they're doing a fine job at it. And those who perpetrated these crimes
against their own people are no longer in power. Hundreds are in detention, and they
will have to answer for their crimes.
26

General Myers?
Myers: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. And good morning again.
I'd like to follow up with the status on the Zhawar Kili strike from last week. The material
we found around the site is being sent back to the United States for analysis. The search
team was able to locate what we think was the exact impact point of the missile. And
then the team cleared snow around that site out to 200 yards. There was anywhere from
a foot to three to four feet of snow that had to be cleared.
And I think yesterday Admiral Stufflebeem gave you a list of the type of material that
they took from that site, and as I said before, that's currently being sent back to the
United States for analysis.
Our team has left that site, but we'll continue to surveil (sic) that particular site and the
region for some time to come.
The Hazar Qadam investigation is progressing. At this point in the investigation, I don't
believe that any of the detainees -- this was the 27 that were detained -- were subject to
beatings or rough treatment after they were taken into custody. All 27 detainees were
medically screened upon arrival in Kandahar, and there were no issues of beatings or
kickings or anything of that sort. As we've told you before, we continue the full investigation there, and General Franks will make that available once it is complete.
As an addendum here, the total number of detainees now in U.S. control is 474; 220 in
Afghanistan, and 254 detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
And with that, we'll take your questions.
Rumsfeld: Questions.
Charlie?
Q: Mr. Secretary, speaking of Admiral Stufflebeem, he lamented yesterday that this war
has turned into what he called a "shadow war" and that you're chasing al Qaeda and
Taliban and it's difficult to find them.
You're very reluctant to discuss now the secret things that are going on, especially while
they're going on -- Special Forces troops, what they're doing. It seems the things that you
are announcing, for instance, the attack at Zhawar Kili and the attack north of Kanda27

har, later to turn out to be mistakes. Are you worried that this is turning into some kind of
public relations disaster where the headlines in the newspapers, the preponderance of
them, are on mistakes rather than accomplishments?
Rumsfeld: Well, I mean, the first thing one has to say is that any time there is a suggestion that U.S. forces have, as you characterized it, made a mistake, it is something that
we take very seriously as a country, and certainly the armed forces and the Pentagon
do. When that occurs, we ask the appropriate people to undertake an investigation and
to look into the charges or the allegations that have been made. We do that because we
care that things be done as well as it's humanly possible to do them.
You say that everything we do is being called a mistake. I don't know that that's the case.
Maybe I didn't quote you quite right.
But it seems to me there's a great deal we're doing in the country. We're in the process of
assisting them to develop their own national military force. We're providing humanitarian
assistance. We're assisting the government with a host of specific things. The forces everywhere they are located are helping the people in those communities.
So there's a great deal of good being done. And the harm that the Taliban was doing is
no longer being done. The al Qaeda that had taken -- pretty much taken over the country, in a major sense, are on the run. And the Taliban have been thrown out. So the repression that existed -- the circumstance of the Afghan people today is vastly better.
Now, does that mean that when there's an operation and someone suggests that it was in
one way or another inappropriate that we shouldn't investigate it? No. We do investigate
it. And we care about it. And we'll in good time find out actually what took place.
Q: I didn't mean to suggest everything you do was a mistake. You're very reluctant to discuss the positive things that you say you're doing. For instance, details on what attacks
you might have foiled, what evidence -Rumsfeld: I see your point.
Q: -- and perhaps the weight is going in the other direction on bad publicity.
Rumsfeld: Well, you're right. I mean, to some extent, when a -- the forces in the country
are doing a variety of things. And among them are some things that are not public; that
is to say, they are observing things that are taking place, and trying to make judgments
28

about where people might be located or who might be moving things around in a country in a way that's inappropriate. So we don't announce those things. They're out doing
that on a covert basis.
There are other things they do which are not announced until they happen. And those
are direct action against a compound, for example, that is believed to be harboring al
Qaeda or Taliban, senior Taliban people.
The other thing that's taking place is there's a good deal of discussion going on, and people are, in fact, being discovered, being taken into custody. A lot of intelligence information's being gathered, and that intelligence information has been helpful in preventing
other terrorist attacks.
So no one ever likes to see an event where someone charges that it was improper, as we
saw with respect to the operation that General Myers commented about. But it happens,
and all you can do is go at it, find out what took place, and tell the world what actually
happened.
Q: Are you concerned over these two high-profile events and what they might be doing
to the campaign, in the eyes of the world?
Rumsfeld: I'm always concerned when there is an allegation made that suggests that
some innocent person was -- that an attack was inappropriate or that some innocent person was killed or injured. Obviously, anyone would be concerned about that.
Myers: Can I add a little something -- just something to that?
Rumsfeld: Sure.
Myers: You know, I think the secretary and I would -- we are anxious to share some of
these successes with you. The problem is that once you do that, then the tactics and the
techniques and the procedures that are being used in this very difficult mission of locating
leadership and other pockets of al Qaeda or Taliban, once we tell you how successful
we've been, then we reveal those tactics, techniques and procedures, and sometimes
they're easy to thwart. So that's why we have to be very careful. This is an ongoing operation, if you will, and we've just got to be very, very careful.
The second thing I'd say, that no matter how these investigations turn out, as some of you
know because you've been in the field with our forces, they are the most professional
29

and disciplined forces there are. They make life and death decisions when they come
upon this group -- these two compounds, where we had the 27 detainees and the 15 that
were killed. Some of those detainees could have easily been killed. They were armed.
The rules of engagement permit you to shoot back. And the fact that they were detained
and not killed I think is an indication of just how professional and disciplined and dedicated our folks are. Now, if there were mistakes made, we're going to find that out when
General Franks finishes his investigation. But I think the American people need to know
that we have the best forces in the world, the best-trained forces, who are making these
decisions and 99.9 percent of the time make them exactly right.
Rumsfeld: Let me -- let me elaborate, Charlie, on your question, because when you ask
the question, "Are you concerned?", there's always a risk, if one says they're not concerned, that the headline will be that the Pentagon is not concerned. And it happened to
me when I was asked in a lengthy interview by BBC about the detainees and how they
were being treated. And I described how they were being treated; they were being
treated very, very well, and properly, and humanely, and consistent with the Geneva
Convention. And we went through all this and I described it.
And then he said something to the effect, "Well, are you concerned about how they're
being treated?" And I said something to the effect -- no -- meaning, as I said in the context, because I know how they're being treated and they've been treated very, very properly and humanely. And that has roared around Europe that the Secretary is not concerned about how they're being treated, when the context was that I was not concerned
because I know how they're being treated, and they're being treated and handled very,
very well.
Now, when you say, "Are you concerned about these?" and if I say, no, I am not concerned about what -- as you cast the question, which is, are you concerned that they are
going to be negative and take support away from the campaign of the war against terrorism, if I had answered and said no, I'm not, because I have confidence in the American people and in the people of the world recognizing how much better off the people
in Afghanistan are today than they were, and yet I do have a concern when someone
makes an allegation, because obviously we don't want people to be improperly handled,
and we do not want operations against targets that are not appropriate targets.
So I'm concerned about the specifics. But I did not want to simply answer it in a way that
the headline would become inflammatory. I've become very cautious.
30

Yes.
Q: Mr. Secretary, several people now from this podium have said that this target at Zhawar Kili is believed to have been legitimate and appropriate, yet stories persist out of the
region that the missile may have killed three innocent civilians who were out collecting
scrap metal. Can you provide for us today any additional information besides what this
Predator may have seen that led U.S. forces to attack that site? And second of all, what
is -Rumsfeld: You mean the three individuals?
Q: The three. At Zhawar Kili.
Rumsfeld: Okay. Let's do that one.
Q: Okay.
Rumsfeld: I don't know that I can add anything to it. It's my understanding that the people who operate the Predator were watching a large number of people -- 15 or -- 10, 15,
20 people -- over a period of time. And out of this group came three people. And they
moved in and among various outcroppings of rocks and trees. And the people who have
the responsibility for making those judgments made the judgments that, in fact, they were
al Qaeda and that they were a proper target. And they make those judgments based on
behavior, based on various types of equipment in information that they have developed
over a sustained period now of weeks and weeks and weeks.
A decision was made to fire the Hellfire missile. It was fired. It apparently hit three people -- one or more people. There is an investigation underway. Special Forces could not
get up there because of the weather. They went up there. They cleared away a large diameter area of snow, anywhere from a foot to two feet of snow, and picked up a great
deal of material from the site, and they are in the process of checking into that, and
they're also interviewing people in the region.
Now, someone has said that these people were not what the people managing the Predator believed them to be. We'll just have to find out. There's not much more anyone could
add, except there's that one version and there's the other version.
Q: Was there any additional intelligence that led to this site to begin with that may have
contributed to the perception that these were al Qaeda?
31

Rumsfeld: These are people who have been doing this now for a good many weeks. And
they monitor sites, and they go back to sites where they know al Qaeda have been. And
they check things out. And they are honorable, fine people doing the best that's possible
to be done. I was not in the control booth. I have not reviewed the -- I have not compared the elements that went into their decisions. I am sure people will do that.
Yes, Ron.
Q: What is your personal confidence that this, in fact, was an appropriate, legitimate target?
Rumsfeld: It's not for me to say. I have great confidence in the people doing it. They're
honorable people. They're talented people. They're skillful. They've been doing it for
weeks and weeks and weeks now, and they've got a darned good record and I've got a
lot of respect for them.
Yes.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you said earlier there's a great deal of good being done in Afghanistan, and you were nodding in particular at the humanitarian effort that's being made
daily. But in the hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban leaders on the military front, what has
gone right lately?
We've heard nothing but problems lately. What's gone right?
Rumsfeld: Well, we have gathered some intelligence from them that has been beneficial
to the United States and other countries and to our deployed forces -- and not just a little,
but more than a little.
Second, we continue to gather in additional people, senior people, in the Taliban and al
Qaeda. It's a fairly steady flow; it's not large numbers at any given time, but we are continuing to bring them in and to interrogate them at Bagram or at Kandahar, and ultimately in Guantanamo Bay. So I feel quite good about the progress.
Q: Senior people -- can you -- how senior? Any names or -Rumsfeld: As you know, we've got what they say their names are, and we have what we
think them to be, and some of their aliases. And we've decided that it's not useful to announce their names because then, for one thing, it could be wrong because they don't al-

32

ways tell the truth, and for a second thing, it can tell everyone else in those organizations who we have and what types of information we conceivably will be hearing from
them, in which case it makes it much easier for others to get away.
Yes?
Q: I want to pick up on that point a second. About three weeks ago, from the podium,
you said you would think about releasing a list of who was killed in the al Qaeda leadership. About two weeks ago, President Bush told the Washington Post that he keeps a
scorecard like a baseball game, and 16 of 22 al Qaeda leaders remain at large. This is
about a couple of weeks ago. Can you shed any light on that? Is that roughly the number at large -- six maybe killed and another 16 at large?
Rumsfeld: It changes every day. And there is such a list, and it does indicate whether or
not they have been killed for sure, or presumed dead, or in captivity, or at large. And
where people fit on that, an individual's status may change from week to week, depending as more information becomes available. And in many cases they're qualified, that is
to say it says "presumed" as opposed to certainty. And we have thought about it, and
we've decided not to release it.
Q: Was it six -- is that roughly, though, six, roughly, have been killed?
Rumsfeld: I can't say. I haven't -- I have to go back and -- I'm sure when he said it, it was
correct. My guess is the numbers have changed since.
Q: General Myers, I have a quick one on the Predator. There's been a lot of attention on
this one strike. Roughly how many of these Predator Hellfires have been fired in the campaign by the CIA? Are we talking in the 40 or 50 range, and one or two have been controversial?
Myers: I don't have -- I don't have that at my fingertips. And probably if I did, we
wouldn't talk about how many.
But let me just add a little comment to the earlier question on success here. You know, we
said early on that one of the ideas -- and the president has said this, and others, that we
wanted to disrupt these operations, and part of disruption is getting them to move. And,
you know, I think, at least I have said, if they leave Afghanistan, that's not all bad because they're going to be in their second-favorite place, and they're going to be in a

33

place where they're less comfortable, where they have to spend more resources to buy
their security, and so forth.
It has turned out that that is -- that's been true. Some of the folks we've gotten our hands
on have been actually through other countries, and we've been fairly successful there.
And when the time comes, that will all be released. So it's having the kind of effect, I
think, that we want to have.
Yes?
Q: Two questions about the Predator attack. First of all, yesterday it was described as an
appropriate target. Is it still the feeling in this building that it was an appropriate target?
Rumsfeld: As I said, it is from the people I've talked to. The building? I can't speak for the
building. But there is no change in opinion on the part of the people who were involved
in the process, except for the fact that because people have raised a question about it,
that there is an investigation going on, and people, as I say, have gone up there to take
a look at it.
Q: Second question. There was a little confusion yesterday. Admiral Stufflebeem said that
there was no real-time interaction between the CIA and CENTCOM when this attack was
going down, when the CIA was pulling the trigger. And then we saw comments that
seemed to contradict that on the wires a little later. Can you bring some clarification to
that? How much interaction was there between the DOD and the CIA about this target at
the time it was going down?
Rumsfeld: I can't speak to that, except to say that there tends to be a high degree of interaction between CENTCOM and CIA on a whole host of things, and certainly on these
matters.
Q: Okay, explain the contradictions we got yesterday -Myers: I don't know why you got the contradictions because there was close coordination, like there always is. And I don't know why you got the contradiction. I can't explain
that.
Q: So General Stufflebeem was incorrect when he said there was no real-time coordination?

34

Myers: I didn't hear what he said, so I don't know -- I can't say that. And I don't know
what he was thinking or the context he said it in. I would just reiterate -Rumsfeld: He's getting careful too. I like that! (laughter) Way to go, General!
Myers: (laughs) Thank you, sir!
Q: Well, explain what were the facts, if you could.
Myers: Well, again, without divulging too much of how this all works, there is close coordination between what the CIA is doing and what Central Command is doing.
And it just -- it's virtually continuous. And so I don't know what Admiral Stufflebeem said
or told you, but -- and that was the case here. I don't know what else there is to say.
Rumsfeld: Yes.
Q: Mr. Secretary, General Myers, both of you talked last week before Congress about
developing a joint task force headquarters that would deploy in the event of something
like that. If we had had that in place, how could this have helped this operation now?
Could the joint task headquarters that the Joint Forces Command is developing right -Myers: I'll take a stab at it, if I can.
Central Command's a little different situation because, in a sense, they are already a
joint task force headquarters. So it's a little different for them. A better one to take would
be Pacific Command, in doing something in their region, where the unified commander
might designate a joint task force.
But let's assume it's Central Command. What we're envisioning there is not only the habitual relationships which CENTCOM does have with all its components -- its Army and its
Navy and its Marine and its air components; they have that relationship that we're trying
to establish in other unified commands, and maybe more than one. In Central Command,
they essentially have this one big joint task force. And one of the issues is what is the
suite of equipment that you equip them with when they go in to conduct an operation,
whether it's humanitarian or whether it's combat or whatever? And that's the part we
need to focus on. Then you take a suite of equipment that plugs everybody in so they all
have the relevant pictures of what's happening and so forth. So I think it'd be very relevant in terms of the equipment.

35

Rumsfeld: Yes.
Q: Can you adapt this to the other -Myers: Yes. Oh, absolutely. Yes. Have to be adaptable.
Q: This is apparently the most specific information in the last five months about another
terrorist attack today. Without divulging anything you don't want to, can you say anything about whether and how DOD's reacting?
Rumsfeld: Well, first let me say that the -- as I understand it, the information that the Department of Justice used to come to the conclusion it came to, that an announcement was
appropriate, was information that has been gained in large measure from the interrogations that have been taking place and the other information that has been a result of the
efforts of the multi- departmental groups that do the interrogation.
The Department of Defense was pretty much at a level of alert that it didn't require many
additional things, although I understand some elements have taken some additional steps
which I'd prefer not to discuss.
Q: Can you say anything generally about what you mean by that?
Rumsfeld: About what?
Q: The last thing you said. Can you generally -- what are you referring to?
Rumsfeld: No, because it's -Q: (off mike) -- at Guantanamo Bay, by the way, or in Afghanistan?
Rumsfeld: I don't know. It could -- we interrogate at Bagram, Kandahar and Guantanamo. So -- and where that particular information came from, I think it was Guantanamo, but I don't know.
Myers: Yes, I think that's right.
Rumsfeld: Yes?
Q: Getting back to the Taliban leadership, about three weeks ago, prior to the Special
Forces raid north of Kandahar, Afghan officials said that they were in negotiations with

36

three top Taliban officials, including Omar's secretary, to try to bring them in from the
cold, and then the attack happened and they lost contact with these three folks.
Were you aware of those negotiations? And if so, do you know what the status is of
those today?
Rumsfeld: I can't run a thread back to that particular comment. I do know that at any
given time, including this moment, there are discussions taking place about Taliban, and
particularly Taliban more than al Qaeda, people who are trying to understand what's going to happen to them if they turn themselves in, or if they decide to give us assistance in
finding other people, and that type of thing. So it's a continuous process.
Q: And you're in contact with the Afghan officials, parties to the negotiations with these
folks?
Rumsfeld: See, I don't know what you mean by "these folks." But certainly the -Q: Well, the three top Taliban officials.
Rumsfeld: I can't speak to that. As I said, I know that at any given moment of the day or
night, there are discussions going on, and we are certainly in touch with Afghan people
who are involved in those kinds of discussions.
Yes?
Q: Mr. Secretary, you said recently, or just actually a couple of moments ago, that the
folks firing Predators have a good record. What did you mean when you said that?
Rumsfeld: I mean that they're serious people. They've been doing this now since -- some
months, and that I have observed how they handle themselves, and they develop patterns of behavior which give them information. They use human intelligence from the
ground. They observe a variety of things from the ground and the air and they connect
those things, and then they make judgments. And they have, on a number of occasions,
been successful in doing exactly that which they intended to do.
Q: But "record" implies a scorecard. Do you have some sort of scorecard in mind you
can share with us?
Rumsfeld: I -- no. It is a series of events that I have observed, and that others have observed, rather than keeping score on it.
37

Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, on the Predator strike question again, in late November, when
people were asking you about the relationship between CIA operations and CENTCOM
-- and then it was more about ground operations -- but you said very specifically that General Franks was the man at the steering wheel coordinating or in control of all military operations. Now, with the Predator strikes, you're talking more about an exchange of information, coordination.
So I was wondering if you could clarify the situation of how CIA-military operations are
coordinated or in control by CENTCOM.
Rumsfeld: Yeah. That's a good question, and it's hard to answer.
The overwhelming bulk of all activity in Afghanistan since the first U.S. forces went in
have been basically under the control of the Central Command. And that's particularly
true after the first month. The one exception has been the armed Predators -- I shouldn't
say "the one exception." An exception has been the armed Predators, which are CIAoperated.
Q: Why is that -- why is that an exception?
Rumsfeld: It is just a fact. They were operating them before the United States military was
involved, and -- the armed Predators -- and doing a good job. And so rather than changing that, we just left it.
Q: Why not plug them into the command and control at CENTCOM? You have three operators at a Predator.
Rumsfeld: It's just a historical fact that they were operating these things over recent years,
and they were in Afghanistan prior to the involvement of CENTCOM. And they continued
during this period. That's just the way it is.
Yes.
Q: Could I just get the two of you maybe to free associate a little bit more on that subject? We're seeing a -Rumsfeld: To do what? (laughter)
Q: Free associate. (laughs) It's a sort of touchy-feely '70s term. (laughter)

38

Myers: I don't believe I can -Rumsfeld: You got the -- you got the wrong guys! (laughter)
Myers: I don't think I can do that with you. It's illegal. I -- (laughter)
Q: The general subject matter is there is this growing sort of military role for the CIA,
and we have you guys up here every day and can ask questions. But the CIA is obviously -- operates in a lot more shadowy way. People are thinking back and remembering
some of the excesses of that agency in Latin America 20, 30 years ago, and I think
there's -- there tends to be a growing sense of, hmm, what are getting into here? Could
you all talk more philosophically about the dealings between the Pentagon and the CIA,
and what the parameters are that you're developing or thinking about for how to manage this new world where the CIA now has its own real military capabilities that are not
necessarily under the control of the U.S. military, which has transparency with the American public?
Rumsfeld: I can give you a couple of paragraphs on the subject.
Q: All right. That would be the free association.
Rumsfeld: Is that right?
The relationship between the Defense Department and the CIA today is as good as I've
ever seen it: that is to say, in the relationships and the interaction and the connectivity.
We have people involved with things they're doing, and in -- for example, in counterterrorism or in intelligence cells, where we're trying to bring all kinds of intelligence information into one place. They have people involved in things that we're doing in a sense of
connecting their capabilities and their assets to what we do.
The concern you're expressing, from a decade or two or three ago, I think is not apt simply because people are sensitive to those things and there's all kinds of congressional
consultation, there's all kinds of procedures within the executive branch so that things
that the agency is planning to do are well vetted in the appropriate ways before they do
them.
I think the general relationship on the ground tends to be that if we're not there, the CIA,
obviously, has the reporting relationship straight up through the CIA and we're not in-

39

volved. To the extent they are there, and we then get involved, there's an early period
where they're both there and they're doing somewhat different things, needless to say.
And then, at a certain point, the defense element is large enough that it becomes -- things
tend to chop over to it and the chain of command goes up through the combatant commander, except for, obviously, things that don't fit within our statutory responsibilities.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, a number of administration officials have spoke (sic) recently
about the need for a regime change in Iraq -- probably the highest-profile being Secretary of State Colin Powell. Do you favor such a regime change sooner rather than later?
And how concerned should Saddam Hussein be that the U.S. military may be the force
of that regime change?
Rumsfeld: Well, I think that the Congress passed legislation relating to regime change.
I've forgotten the name of the statute.
(to General Myers) Do you know?
Myers: I don't remember either.
Rumsfeld: But I -Q: Aid to the opposition.
Rumsfeld: Well, that was part of it. But I think it was also broader. And I think that's -- I
don't know many people who have developed a great deal of admiration for that regime
and the way it treats its people and the way it treats its neighbor, and the fact that it's engaging in the development of weapons of mass destruction.
The timing, and whether or not anything is done with respect to any country is something
that is for the president and the country to make those judgments.
And it's not for me to express views on that. So I don't.
Q: Has something new come to the attention of the United States with regard to Iraq that
has kicked us into an apparently higher gear for planning and the contemplation of dealing with Iraq? Or is this a continuum that -Rumsfeld: I think the United States since Desert Storm has always had a various planning
with respect to Iraq and what it might do to its neighbors. It's threatened -- it's invaded Kuwait. It's threatened the Shi'a in the south and harmed them. It's harmed the Kurds in the
40

north. It has expressed its view that the regimes of its neighboring countries are illegitimate and ought not to be there. This is -- it is a country that threw out the inspectors, that
has an active weapons of mass destruction program. I don't know if anything's changed.
Q: Maybe it is a misperception here. Previous administrations have adopted the policy of
trying to contain Saddam Hussein. And it appears from what the president has said and
what Colin Powell has said that containment no longer works in the view of this administration, that the threat has somehow changed, increased, that the dynamics are different, and therefore regime change has become a more substantial goal for this administration than previous ones. Is that a -- is that true?
Rumsfeld: Well, if you think about what the president and Secretary Powell have said,
what they have said, it seems to me, is pretty much self-evident, that every year that goes
by and the inspectors are not there, the development of their weapons of mass destruction proceed apace, bringing them closer to a time when they will have those weapons
developed in a form that is more threatening than it had been the year before or the
year before that.
The second thing that's occurred is the technologies have advanced. And to the extent
that the sanctions -- which historically is the case: sanctions tend to weaken over time,
they're relaxed in one way or another. And as those sanctions are relaxed and as dual
use capabilities flow into that country, their capability is restored in terms of their ability
to impose harm on their neighbors or threaten others.
Third, the September 11th attack, if you think of the president's words and Secretary Powell's position, it reminded the world and the United States that terrorist networks exist,
that, in fact, they -- we now know from the intelligence we've gathered that they've had a
very active effort underway to get chemical, biological and radiation capabilities -- terrorist networks.
And we know that Iraq has those and does not wish much of -- many of its neighbors
well, if any. I don't think it has a neighbor that it wishes well -- maybe.
So it's that combination of things that I would suspect led to the president's comments and
to the secretary's comments.
Q: But would it be accurate to say that this building, that the Pentagon is now spending
more time considering Iraq than it had previously, in terms of your planning process?
41

Rumsfeld: This building has always been attentive, for at least more than a decade now,
10, 12 years, to Iraq. We've had Northern no-fly zones and Southern no-fly zones; been
flying flights there attempting to contain that country and prevent them from jumping on
one of their neighbors.
Yes?
Q: Could I follow up, Mr. Secretary, on what you just said, please? In regard to Iraq
weapons of mass destruction and terrorists, is there any evidence to indicate that Iraq
has attempted to or is willing to supply terrorists with weapons of mass destruction? Because there are reports that there is no evidence of a direct link between Baghdad and
some of these terrorist organizations.
Rumsfeld: Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me,
because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We
also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we
do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't
know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it
is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.
And so people who have the omniscience that they can say with high certainty that something has not happened or is not being tried, have capabilities that are -- what was the
word you used, Pam, earlier?
Q: Free associate? (laughs)
Rumsfeld: Yeah. They can -- (chuckles) -- they can do things I can't do. (laughter)
Q: Excuse me. But is this an unknown unknown?
Rumsfeld: I'm not -Q: Because you said several unknowns, and I'm just wondering if this is an unknown unknown.
Rumsfeld: I'm not going to say which it is.
Q: Mr. Secretary, if you believe something -Rumsfeld: Right here. Right here. Right here.
42

Q: Mr. Secretary, point of clarification -Rumsfeld: No, this is a promise.


Q: -- I think under Wright's rules, that a point of clarification -- (laughter)
Q: I just wanted to ask a real bottom line question. And many apologies for taking you
back to Zhawar Kili one last time.
But you mentioned here a couple of times that that incident is now under investigation
and cited that the team went up there for that reason.
Rumsfeld: This is to the three individuals. Correct.
Q: That's right. But, of course, the team went up there when people from this podium
were saying it was definitely what you believed to be senior al Qaeda and you were simply going there to find out which al Qaeda you killed. Not that there -- at that time there
were, of course, no at least public allegations that perhaps these people were innocent.
So this investigation clearly that you were referring to perhaps has emerged since the
team went up there. So what is -- are you -Rumsfeld: I don't know that.
Q: Are you investigating it? Is the CIA investigating it? Or -- you mentioned -Rumsfeld: No, I'm not. This -- no. This is something that CENTCOM has decided and
done, and properly so.
Q: So what is it that CENTCOM is now investigating in regard to the Zhawar Kili attack?
Rumsfeld: I don't know what the right word is. I know that when a -- I know -- you're correct. There was an interest in getting some positive identification, if that were possible.
And second, every time an allegation comes up that seems to have some -- that raises
questions that ought to be addressed, then CENTCOM on its own decides that they're going to have people go look at that. And whatever that word is -- some call it, an investigation, others call it something else. But that's what's taking place, is they are going up
there doing that.
Q: But that's -- they're -- so CENTCOM -- just to make sure I really understand. CENTCOM
is investigating these potential allegations that perhaps these were innocent people. Is
43

that what -- and why is CENTCOM investigating that and not the CIA, since it was their
missile and their targeting?
Rumsfeld: Well, I don't know that I said that CIA wasn't.
Q: Could you explain that a little more, and -Rumsfeld: No. I just don't know what they're doing.
Q: But you do know that CENTCOM's looking into it.
Rumsfeld: I do.
Q: And could you just one more time explain something to me? Does the CIA have the
ability, the approval to pull the trigger without coming to the military? Does the CIA have
that bottom line authority to pull the trigger without coming to the military?
Rumsfeld: I don't know that I am going to start responding to questions for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Q: Well, have you given -- let me try it the reverse way, then. Has the U.S. military -- I
don't know what the right verb is -- given the CIA the approval, the authority, the whatever to pull the trigger without coming to Central Command first?
Rumsfeld: I don't know that it's for us to give that authority. If they have capabilities, they
do them, what they wish to do.
Q: So they have the legal -- the legal authority to do things without coming to you?
Rumsfeld: I'm not going to answer what the CIA does. But it's not -- it is not the Pentagon
that gives other agencies of government authority.
We're going to make the last -- the last question here.
Q: I just want to -- because you so cleverly buried Jim Miklaszewski's question by characterizing it as something that was unknowable. But he didn't ask you something that was
unknowable. He asked you if you knew of evidence that Iraq was supplying -- or willing
to supply weapons of mass destruction to terrorists -Rumsfeld: He cited reports where people said that was not the case.
Q: Right. He's done that and -44

Rumsfeld: And was my response was to that, and I thought it was good response.
Q: But if we are to believe things -Rumsfeld: I could have said that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, or
vice versa.
Q: But we just want to know, are you aware of any evidence? Because that would increase our level of belief from faith to something that would be based on evidence.
Rumsfeld: Yeah, I am aware of a lot of evidence involving Iraq on a lot of subjects. And it
is not for me to make public judgments about my assessment or others' assessment of that
evidence.
I'm going to make that the last question.
Q: I wanted to go back to the terrorist attack. Can you provide any information that -and would this be also another one of the successes that you might cite about the interrogation in Cuba? Did you learn that the man might have al Qaeda connections? Is there
anything you can elaborate on the terrorist attack?
Rumsfeld: Other than to say what I said; that interrogations have produced information
and, indeed, in this instance, produced some of the evidence that led to the decision by
the Department of Justice.
Q: General Myers?
Myers: No, I sticking with the secretary. (laughter).
Q: Thank you.
Myers: Nice try!

*DoD News Briefing, February 12, 2002 11:30 AM EDT.


http://www.defense.gov/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=2636

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This storm is what we call progress*


by Walter Benjamin
A Klee painting named Angelus Novus shows an angel looking as though he is about to
move away from something he is fixedly contemplating.
His eyes are staring, his mouth is open, his wings are spread.
This is how one pictures the angel of history.
His face is turned toward the past.
Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling
wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet.
The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been
smashed.
But a storm is blowing in from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such a violence that the angel can no longer close them.
The storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile
of debris before him grows skyward.
This storm is what we call progress.

*Walter Benjamin, "Theses on the Philosophy of History".


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Avenirs
Possibilities. Options. Mediums. Platforms. Modes.
The modes of speaking about futures are infinite. Poststructuralism and post-modernism liberalized disciplines
from being locked in the cages of official framework to
transdisciplinary freedom. This freedom is still rather potentiality than possibility, within the rigidity of current institutional network and slowness of its further evolution. However this potentiality is explored across the traditional strategies of reflection and intellectual speculation.
What is in the next?

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Times of the oracle


by Caroline Carrion
1. The artist
He maintained with some effort a nave belief in his vocation. Despite the worlds insistence on pushing him towards a more prosaic life, he kept on painting, a hunger artist
not that he would recognize the reference. There wasnt much he knew, other than his
love for the smell of paint, the texture of the canvas and the mining hills that surrounded
the small town in the heart of Brazil where he was born and raised all of which were
of poor quality or poor taste, but he knew nothing about that either.
His father was a miner. His mother did whatever women could do to assist in bringing
money to the household: nothing too demeaning, of course, mostly cleaning, washing
and ironing. They had five heirs of nothing, a decent number and title if we keep in mind
their whole-life whereabouts. The youngest of the five is our artist. Theres no point in
naming him, as for you, reader of the English language, it wont reveal the determinant
cultural qualities that all names carry. But if, for the sake of conventions, we must do so,
well call him Bento a reference that maybe he, but probably not you, could recognize.
Bento had always been the brightest of the five. His parents dreamed of him as an engineer, running the same mines for which his father kept the contradictory feelings of despise and thankfulness. When the kid started to show a talent for drawing and an interest
in the local landscape, it would have been wiser if they had shifted his focus to something else. Had he been a technician, hed never have experienced and failed to understand how anachronistic realities can happen simultaneously, which was his ruin.
By the time he was 17, Bento was employed in a small craft shop that sold pottery artifacts, plaster sculptures of funny animals holding welcome signs, suffering saints, hand
painted fabrics, jewelry made from local stones and his own oil paintings for the tourists
who came to the city amidst their peregrination to historical sites or religious endeavors.
He had no wish of going to college, of leaving the city, of seeing the world. Bento was

48

born with an accurate sense of reality. The history of his ancestors, all workers and
slaves, taught him, well, what it should have: life is shit. Its easier to save your efforts.

All the art market he knew was the shop in which he worked and some others he enjoyed visiting to be reassured of his superior skills. He was fully aware of his ignorance,
and there was joy in it. He could incarnate his ideals of visionary artist without much competition, living of his craft with no more struggle than he would face in any other job. He
painted on weekends and nights, worked in the shop during the day. He liked talking to
people, particularly those who seemed to have a real appreciation for his art. Thats
why that morning he didnt think twice before approaching the beautiful girl who had
been starring at one his paintings for about ten minutes.

2. The thief
Much like Bento, when the first of many adults asked her what she wanted to be whenever she grew up, Ana and we dont need to guess her name, it will be all over the
news in just a few paragraphs replied with conviction: an artist; a dream she nurtured
up until the first years of her education in fine arts, when she realized that being good at
something wasnt good enough, and it would take her much more effort to succeed in
the contemporary art market than she was hoping to employ. She was, however, the
daughter of Rio de Janeiros elite, and being a drop out wasnt acceptable. She endured
four years of college and, not long before the encounter with Bento, obtained her bachelor degree to realize she had nothing to do next.
There are many popular sayings in the Portuguese language, but none advises one to
keep distance to what one loves. Proximity brings great hazards. The everyday conjugation of her artistic faculties first came with delight, but was soon followed by the usual existential crisis about ones calling that all those who believe in having a calling experience. It didnt take long for that to evolve to questioning art itself, and finally she realized that art was actually dead. Coming to that conclusion remained problematic, and so
she did what only young, wealthy people can do: nothing.

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They had been traveling for almost a week, a family trip to present Minas Gerais historic cities for her younger siblings. Ana thought she was much too old for educational
tours, and joined partly out of boredom, partly hoping to find something in those old baroque churches that could restore her faith in art. Most of what we see is induced by our
expectations. For believers, evidences of Gods might are all over nature. Ana had become an atheist, and was blind to the sublime.
On May 19, they stopped in Itabirito to get some sleep. They would spend the following
morning there and leave before lunch in their pickup truck. That night, Ana wrote in the
journal she had started some months ago to try her way with words, as her destiny was
probably becoming a professor or art critic, and reread part of Clarks The future of
painting. She slept with the old Xerox print in her hands.

3. The theft conditional future


Do you like that?
Ana stared at her interlocutor. Tall, thin, ugly, poor.
I painted it. Them, actually. All of them.
The boy probably had only studied Da Vinci, Van Gogh and Picasso at school, and yet,
the paintings were good. Ana felt offended. The revelation she allegedly wanted took
the most unpleasant form. She was comfortable with the idea of the end of art, had a
genius like Hegel backing her up on this. Her education was impeccable, she had travelled the world, and yet her production was decent at most. She couldnt accept that this
boy, that probably barely knew how to read, had managed to grasp the reality of our
times and create something pertinent, exciting, new.
Anas pretentiousness filled the silence.
So you like them?
They are nice. However, theres no point in painting. Or in any creative activity, for that
matter. Art is dead, painting was the first to go. All thats left now is the culture industry,
and it does nothing but taming people, forcing them to lean towards the interests of the
powerful few, which they do gladly, without even acknowledging whats happening. Con-

50

sidering the state of the world, this shop is the best you can get, really. At least here art
isnt disguised as transcendence. Its only decorative, harmless, and for the most part, of
really poor taste, but thats the general rule, you dont have to take it personally.
Bento stared at his interlocutor. Tall, thin, beautiful, rich.
Im sorry if this comes as news, the lack of meaning of your lifes purpose, but Im not
the one saying it. Here, you can have this, and gave him the copy of The future of painting. Kenneth Clark wrote this 80 years ago, discussing the failure of painting, which we
can ultimately extend to the whole of arts. He was not the first one to discuss this, nor the
last. If youre an artist, you should know where you stand. So you work here in the
store? When is your lunch break?
One.
Thats a shame. I was going to suggest that we met for lunch, so I could tell you more
about this. Im a scholar, have studied extensively about the matter. But Ill be already
gone before then. Hope you enjoy the text.
Ana left before Bento had a chance to say anything, and met her family at a grocery
store a couple of houses down. Surrounded by all sorts of jams, compotes and candies,
she convinced them of postponing their departure until after lunch.
At ten past one, she went back to the craft shop and bought, in cash, all of Bentos paintings. They werent signed.
If anyone deserved to be an artist, it was she.

4. The news past simple


Five people were killed in an accident at BR-040 this Wednesday (20) afternoon near Itabirito, central Minas Gerais. According to official fire department information, the victims
were in a pickup truck that collided with an oil tanker. A fuel leak started a fire and carbonized the victims. The S10 truck was licensed to Rio de Janeiro, and all occupants
were members of the same family. The man driving the tanker had his leg broken and
was inflicted some minor injuries.

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5. The ending future-in-the-past


He couldnt paint that night. It would be easy to assume that his sudden visual aphasia
was due to Anas speech, but Bento didnt think much about it at first everything was
behind him when he found out that all of his paintings were sold. Despite his insistence to
get a description of the buyer, his boss, a middle-aged-god-loving man, was evasive and
only kept saying a young woman, in an attempt to erase from his mind the image of extramarital lust that came upon him when encountering Ana. The old mans sense of decency prevented Bento from connecting both (very unusual) facts that happened to him
that day, and there was no reason to link those two apparently random things to the accident that happened in town that afternoon. In a matter of days, all should be forgotten.
But it wasnt.
The impression left by Anas confidence in the death of art was growing on him. To a certain extent, he agreed to something she said: the shop was the best that he could get.
The shop was all he wanted to get. But everything that was there, from pottery to suffering saints, his paintings included, was that art? Following the only possible fate after being named Bento, our artist was inevitably soured by doubt.
Clarks article hardly was accessible to Bento. The truth is that he could never get past
the first sentence: The art of painting has become not so much difficult as impossible.
Had he possessed a different personality, the announcement of arts death would have
stimulated him to prove the world was wrong. Ambition wasnt his strong trait, however,
and obedience was in his genetic chain. Clarks authority and Anas arrogance kept on
gaining power during the following weeks, by when the essays opening phrase had become a mantra he constantly and automatically repeated, at first only in his mind, later
out loud.
Shame followed self-doubt, as it usually happens. Not only had he stopped painting, he
couldnt even stare to the few canvases left in his house. All his life had been a delusion.
He was nothing but a nave, pretentious boy from the middle of nowhere, with delusions
that exposed him to ridicule. Being an artist had been the solid foundation of his identity.
Except that it had been built over flaccid, decomposing soil.

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He was changed. More introverted, less attentive to clients, grumpy. He called in sick a
lot, just to stay in bed sleeping. His mother, who had enough psychological knowledge
from watching year after year the eight oclock soap operas, was sure he was depressed; his father believed he was on drugs. So they did what most parents would: pretended to see nothing and waited for it to pass. And it seemed to pay off. After more or
less a month in this state, he woke up one day acting like his old self.
He opened his eyes promptly as his alarm clock rang, took a shower, got dressed, had
breakfast and left for work on time, bringing the paintings he had left at home. He was
pleasant to clients, smiled a lot, flirted a little. By the end of the day, some of the paintings had already been sold. As another display of his back-in-the-days temperament,
Bento offered to close the store by himself, giving some minutes off to his colleagues.
He was alone.
The place was crowded: shelves cluttered with all sorts of stuff, showcases filled with jewelry and delicate objects, the walls covered by canvases, posters and hand painted fabric. An old house had been adapted to shelter the store. From the outside, it was small,
old, white and blue; from the inside, all of the walls had been removed to create a single
big room.
Bento felt like he was coming out of a fever.
Standing on a corner, against a grey wall and bluish door, there was an old chair made
out of wood and straw. It was an endearing scene, the blues, grays and yellows on top
of the red tiles, a box on the back, giving the set a sense of depth. There was something
familiar about that composition. He walked towards the chair, calmly. Looked at it for a
while. Then grabbed it by its back and used its legs to destroy everything that was on a
nearby shelf.
It was magnificent.
The sound of plaster breaking, those hideous animals torn into pieces, their smiling faces
resting meters away from their disfigured bodies. Shelf after shelf, showcase after showcase, wall after wall, he kept on going until everything was shattered, except for him
and, miraculously, the chair in his hands. He placed it back in its original place, locked
everything up and left.

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6. From Anas journal: Itabirito, May 19, 2015


I remember, when I was a child there was this game we played. Everyone danced
around a circle of chairs. When the music would stop, wed hurry to sit down, and one
person, the slowest, wouldnt be able to get a sit. Hed leave the game, and one of the
chairs would be taken out of the circle. The music would resume, and then stop, and then
someone would be left standing, and then another chair would be taken out, until there
was just one final sitter in one final chair. The winner in his rightful throne. Finally, everyone would forget all about it and the chair would be there, useless, forgotten. Art is that
chair.

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Futures of the Self


by Timo Tuominen
When discussing risks and opportunities there is a fundamental issue of separating these
two. What makes a conceivable future good or bad? The question seems as though it
was rhetorical, but unless we are able to answer it we cannot justify any decisions that
have an impact on the future that is to come. How can we decide in which directly to run
if we do not know where we want to end up?
Of course the assessment of the future is highly empirical in nature. The values an individual or an entity possesses vary to a great extent, and so do the futures they should strive
for. I say "should" because often the pure values are veiled by the ambiguity of the present world. The values we like to think we hold are not always the ones we would ultimately want to see manifest - they are parts of our of identities and communication, but
not what we hold truly dear. For the research of the futures it is of utmost importance to
discover and realise the fundamental values.
Considering we only live in the present, quantifying the desirability of what we have now
is perhaps the only method with which we are able to assess what we fundamentally
value. One might say at this point in time it is in fact the very definition of the word.
One waytodiscover the preferredreality is with the tools of Avenirology. We take a set
of values as a basis for the construction of a future, and let everything else dramatically
change. The resulting future will be at best a poor compromise, but the question is
whether it is an acceptable one or not. If not, we need to go back to the beginning and
adjust our presumed set of criteria.
We face another issue, however: the realisation of the future possibilities, the avenirs, is
the advantage of the people who inhabit the future. The present person does not inherently benefit from what is "to come" -- only what is.

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The question is of course rather philosophical if we consider a period of a day or a year,


since we are, to some degree, able to instinctively relate to our future self. The issue becomes significantly more complex, however, if we consider a time span beyond that of a
classic human being. Why should we care how the world will be after we leave it?
I do not intend to claim we should not care, quite the contrary, but to understand the reasoning we need to first inspect what exactly is our connection to the future.
Traditionally the basis for such connection is our children, and what kind of a life we
would want for them. This approach conveniently expands to the children of the children,
and so forth. In a similar fashion the reason might be solidarity towards the people of the
future, even if they are not our direct descendants or relatives. It seems at least for many
of us the connection to the future is the people.
With these assumptions we are already able to identify potential points of looking into
the risks and avenirs of futures from our personal perspective. We start with a future self
and expand the analysis to the other groups of people we care about. We are able to
put labels on a future depending on how it treats people.
Now comes the interesting part: We are living a truly intriguing point in the history of the
humanity, in which we are able to influence the definitions themselves.

The Self
Self-preservation is one of the strongest, unless the strongest, motivations in the nature.
Many philosophers have argued the self is fundamentally all we have. Impacting how
self is perceived in the future is thus vital to understanding if the future is desirable for us
as an individual.

Will I exist?
"To be or not to be?" is a more valid question than ever. Whether I exist in a given future
is a positive trait of it or not is more difficult a question than one might consider. Given
you would be healthy, would you want to live in a futuretwenty years from now? Thirty?
Fifty? One hundred? Five hundred? Two thousand? One hundred thousand? One million
years?
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If you answered yes to all, you are predictable from the biological point of view. The instinct of self-preservation would seem to dictate that it is obvious the individual desires the
possibility of living indefinitely.
However, for one reason or another, there seems to be a limit to how long most people
wish to live. They often do not even discuss the circumstances under which they would
consider the option either, making it not a very rational discussion.
Regardless of the desirability, the expected lifetime of a person has been steadily increasing, and if nothing goes wrong we should reach a point after which we can choose not
to die -- or rather to die is a choice.
Some of these futures require some more careful assessment of what self itself is. Let us
explore some of them.

Forever young
The most straightforward future of aging is one in which you are figuratively frozen in
your current state, or perhaps a year or two younger if you prefer. This might be
achieved by disabling the evolutionary mechanism of the limit to how many times cells
are able to divide, much like what happens in cancer cells. Ironically it could be that cancer that kills so many may help the future person live forever.
The most common issue here is the discussion of whether to live forever is human. What is
interesting is that there appears to be a consensus that people should not die right now,
yet we often feel that eventually all people should. Because the requirement of people to
die is always in the future, though, it is likely that after we are able to cure aging in the
same fashion we cure a disease, it would so happen that the time of dying simply never
comes. It is inconceivable that a law would be passed that eliminates all people over the
age of 150, or even to withhold available treatment. This future could be thus chosen
without conscious choice.

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Replaceable body
A slightly more controversial future is one in which the biological body is entirely replaced with an artificial one. Again, we are faced with considerations of what is human,
and here we are in more of a pinch. It is seemingly difficult to argue mechanical being
with an organic brain could be human.
The path to this future could, however, be pawed by the progressive failure of the body
and suitable mechanical replacement parts being accessible. It is already not uncommon
to know someone with an artificial joint. We see articles about sophisticated prosthetic
arms and legs, heart pacers, even elementary eyes. There is seemingly no limit.
One way to prevent fully artificial bodies from emerging in a piece-by-piece manner is,
for instance, to prevent it through legislation. We could say a person has to have at least
51% of their original body to be considered human. This might sound reasonable, but
then we are faced with the impossible decision not to treat a car crash victim if in result
their body would not be organic enough anymore. This hardly seems human itself.

Children?
Whether or not we should be able to bear children as a species is not a straightforward
question. In case of artificial bodies the requirements would mostly concern the female
population of the world. Since not all women are fertile anyway, we would essentially be
saying that a percentage of the women should be mandated to stay in a state where
they can biologically make children -- whereas the rest of the population is not limited by
this requirement and can freely opt for artificial bodies. This hardly seems human either.
Producing children itself is not as large of a problem as it seems, though, since there is research on external wombs, which would once and for all free women of the need to
carry children. This would not mean that women would be prohibited from being pregnant, only it would not be a requirement for the continuation of our species.

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The social problems of living forever


A larger issue we have with all futures in which we can live forever, is in the question of
whether children make sense in a world where people live forever? At least a family in
the traditional extent would not be practical, as it would be more and more difficult to
find a suitable spot for new familymembers in an overcrowded society. There is the possibility of colonising other planets, but it is likely to be much later in the history of humanity, and cannot be counted on.
We are even now seeing phenomena resembling this, as the younger generations have
difficulties getting employed. It might be a temporary trend, or a beginning of a more
permanent state, in which the number of people our society needs is lower.
Without proper restriction of reproduction we would inevitably end up with too many
people, and the new ones would find it hard to compete in a world inhabited by established individuals who are choosing to hold on to their lives. This might even escalate to a
point in which the new generations rebel to overthrow the old ones, who would inevitably hold the keys to the world. Considering the relative acceptability of birth control it
would seem irresponsible for the old generation to allow this. Potentially enforcing it is
one of the largest ethical issues the humanity is likely to face.

Artificial mind
The last possible future in which we can live forever I would like to discuss is perhaps the
most complex of them. It is one where you can continue to exist as a conscious - but without your physical brain.
Given a computer program could act, to the most minute detail, exactly the same as you
do, would you be content existing? What is valuable in your conscious: is it having you
as an actor in the world or is it to preserve this instance of your conscious at any cost.
If the answer is the former, then an artificial program is entirely satisfactory. You would
continue give the same emotional support to your beloved ones,as well as continue your
mission in the world. From the point of view of everyone else you would still be there.
From your point of view perhaps not.

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In case you are intent on keeping your current train of thought in a more literal way, you
have a couple of other considerations. Let us say you were unconscious in a car crash.
You were momentarily incapacitated and you are not able to recall how you got to the
present. In this instance, would it be any different were you now a reborn computer program? You would not remember the transition anyway, and the only way to realise you
are not you is by looking at the x-ray.
The future of the artificial mind is perhaps the most complex to penetrate of the ones in
which an individual can live forever. Whether or not it can be considered living is highly
debatable, and is subject to argumentation around what a person as a conscious truly is.
From a pragmatic point of view, however, your loved ones might opt to having you as an
artificial entity were you indistinguishable from the real one.
Of course for now whether or not it is possible to create this indistinguishable artificial
you is a question left open for now, but we are likely to have a close approximation eventually. At the point these hypothetical scenarios become reality and every needs to refine
their values to have an opinion of the new situation.
In the meanwhile we might develop a similar chain of events as with the artificial body,
ending up with considerations of how much of the brain needs to be original to be considered as human.

Looking into futures


Futures may sound intimidating, but it is important to keep in mind that they are what we
make of them. None of the advancements has to happen. We can stay as we are now if
the people so choose.However, stopping research to cure diseases or to help amputated
patients hardly seems human.We must therefore focus on steering the course of the
world in a way that retains what we cherish -- and we cannot do that unless we understand what it exactly is in the changing present.

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A historical recovery of The Blind art


critic and the 1987 No-exhibition
by Bruno Moreschi*
Five Notes of an invisible research:
1. In the first three years as an art critic, The Blind was not known well. He signed his
texts as Erick E. From 1980 to 1983, Eric wrote 17 critical texts. Highlights: a text about
Duchamps exhibition and his relationship with chess (Erick was a great player too); a
small but precise text about the Spanish abstract painter Enrique Salsas; and a textual experiment written in German without any word that starts with the letter "w" (for no apparent reason).
2. His texts on exhibitions, artists and art works had a considerable reception at the beginning of the 1980s in New York. His article When a stone becomes a sculpture, published in Art Forum, is now a rarity in specialized bookstores. The text begins: Today I
came across a stone thrown on the floor. I decided to turn it into a sculpture, but without
changing in its physical structure.
3. Eric was a recluse critic, never seen in a vernissage. Some people described him as a
bald gentleman with a scar near the right. Others, as a middle-aged man, very, very
slim.
4. In 1967, Eric wrote his most brilliant (and inaccessible) textual work: a critical art exhibition that does not have news has actually occurred. The text would be the lead story of
the Art Forum, July 1987. The cover magazine would be: The text (master) piece. Eric
hated the use of parentheses. Four days before the printing of the Art Forum edition, a
group of researchers found something that his texts already suggested: Eric was blind.
Because of this, The Art Forum changed its cover and did not publish the text of Eric.
5. Eric disappeared forever. The original text was never released by the magazine, certainly uncomfortable for giving space to a blind critic. Since 2012, I am working in the recovery and reconstruction of the text. The result will be a partial reconstitution of the Noexhibition, scheduled for 2017. It is hoped that this minimally contribute to the future of
art history.
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Excerpts of the text in arbitrary order (comments in italics):


The 1987 No-exhibition did not have a title. Eric text suggests that the works were exhibited in the traditional way, but without information labels. At the entrance, there was a
sticker on the floor writing: "Space to discuss the space. Isms are not welcome. Perhaps
as a clue to his condition, the text seems to begin with the work of Vicenzo Dornello:
When the respected curator Giancarlo Mazzi held Vicenzo Dornellos first exhibition, in
a gallery in Milan, a sort of controversy and intense turmoil took place in the so called
world of art. There were beautiful abstract photographs, of varied sizes. No big surprise.
However, a piece of information in the exhibition presentation text said Dornello is blind
from birth. As if this was not enough, the artist called himself a photographer and explained this contradiction in a very peculiar way: Being blind is also a way of seeing.
There is, however, a large gap in this story of absurd shades. How can critics review the
photographs of a blind man? Surely the typical methods, based on the vision, do not
seem sufficient. Causing uncertainty and conflict, Dornello brought the photographic
thinking to face a higher standard, obliging it to a review. Thus, today, his name is without a doubt a synonym of the expanded photography expansion that makes it not just
the result of vision, but, thought and various sensations. The photographer frequently
wanders around cities such as Rome, New York and Paris, moved by sounds and scents.
The moment of the click takes place on few occasions. The strolls may last a whole day
and result in no photographs. Accompanied by an assistant, Dornello never asks what is
in front of him. To watch his method of creation is to follow a person who is as blind as
he is silent. The result, of course, is as diverse as possible. Surely, it would seem ridiculous to find a visual pattern in the works of an artist who cannot see. However, there is
something very visible (excuse the term): nothing looks static nor has standard forms. It is
definitely a point of view of no vision.
Apparently, after a brilliant analogy between not see and feel the art (unrecovered
stretch), The Blind art critic goes on to analyze the artistic process and teaching used by
Jakov Grn:
At lectures and interviews, the Belgian Jakov Grn behaves according to the minimalist
style of his works. He says little, but is usually to the point when he does speak. One of
his aphorisms, Beauty is the mixture of aesthetic refinement and intellectual refinement.
() Regarding issues related to art making, he is an artist who questions labor, excluding
almost completely any kind of man-made vestige in his works. My work is almost a com62

plete repeal of authorship, claims the artist, who builds pieces in such a way that they
dont seem to have been built, but rather, arisen already finished in the world. There is
also a problematic dichotomy between full and empty in his works. They are almost always closed systems: glasses that hold a quantity of air that constitutes the artistic object
itself or cans of many different sizes and shapes that keep their contents as secrets.
Once, someone asked him: What is in your cans? Grn replied: The mystery of art.
As a professor in the University of Antwerp, the artist usually offers remarkable classes
which aspiring artists from around the world compete for. He almost always starts his
classes in the same way. On a pedestal in the center of the classroom, Grn places something trivial such as a lighter or hair clip. Then, there follows hours of discussions to understand which are the main elements that make that object what it is. For Grn, art is about
removing excesses.
There is another passage about Edmund Harry. I contacted the artist in 2008 and he
does not remember having participated in any exhibition in New York in 1967. Here the
passage:
The works of Edmund Harry have the amazing ability of taking us to a past of memories
that are not really ours, but, yet are easily recognizable. It is a constructed yesterday
that, consequently, was never really a true past. In his studio in Berlin, the artist builds domestic environment with hundreds of old objects. Thus, produces photographs and soon
after dismantles all that he had prepared. Based on this creation, Harry seems to be not
only about illusion and simulacrum, but also about the fugacity of the very act of remembering. Are our memories certainties? Or only scenes partially lived that gained (and
continue to gain day after day) new guises, product of several mental processes? The artist is very close to the scenography technique, something that was always common to
him, seeing that his father, Joseph Harry, was a brilliant opera setting assembler in Paris,
Berlin and London in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. It is curious to detect a strange feeling of loneliness in his works, reminding us of the paintings by David Hockney incidentally, a name very much cited by Harry in his interviews. The association of his works to
that of a painter is not an absurdity. Typical issues of painting, such as the forces of chromatics and the composition issue are commonplace in Harrys scenographies, even without having ever painted a canvas. After Duchamp shows it all well. The scenography of a
bathroom is almost all made up in orange shades. Everything there looks kitsch and purposely out of our time. His well-planned and organized scenes are a result of an artist
who aims at obtaining the power of all instances of life. Including the very ability to re63

model, in his own way, the seconds, minutes, days and years that have got out of his control.
The last full stretch is about a female artist who apparently did not exist in fact:
The title of one of her works, The day my ass was fucked in a childrens party, with cute
puppies in several sexual positions, already warns us that Marie Thompsons art seems
to be a joke and is quite far from being educational. Marie has already made bronze
molds of her own vagina and entered a VIP list of the worlds 100 most important collectors. She is also the artist who stored her own menstruation in Campbells Soup cans for
one year and called the series My legitimate work of pop art. The rules are clear: the
more absurd and shocking an idea is, the better it is. Her trajectory is an interesting synthesis of how contemporary art completely exceeded all limits, making life and its absurdities as legitimate as any painting. Moreover, Maries art does not seem to be a simple confession of wickedness, but the faithful portrayal of an age in which public and private are more mixed up than ever before. Life and work are virtually the same thing for
Marie. Her troubled marriage to German video artist Jeff Schunz was not only a matrimonial union, but some sort of real-time performance. It was not by chance that whenever the couple appeared in tabloids, in embarrassing situations, they would not hesitate
to gather the pictures and use them in their own artistic work. This attitude is consistent
with an artist who considers her life to be a big stage for artistic representations. In the
past few years, however, Marie is more reserved and hardly ever shows up in public.
Her works are also more discreet and apparently are not designed to shock people as
vehemently as they used to. Would this be a sign of regret of an artist who decided to be
her own work? Or could it be simply a strategic pause before the next profitable scandal?
Then, apparently, Eric write about Douglas Mitchels works. Something that concerns the
photos of your photos:
() There, the visitor is not allowed to take any photographs of his works. I work with
the idea of taking pixels from their virtual context and placing them onto a space to be
observed as unique pieces. To transfer the work back to virtual space (a photography,
for instance) would be contrary to my ideas, explains the artist.
A significant amount of text appears to follow, but do not know their contents. Some mysteries is remaining. Two are more obvious:
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1. Where is Eric?
2. The No-exhibition was visible?
A third mystery seems more complex. It's about time and its linearity. In recovered
stretches, Eric speaks of two works of art. Liquid Formats, of the Brazilian artist Jos dos
Reis:
In Liquid Formats, for instance, Dos Reis gathered thousands of 500 ml water bottles, all
different. At a first glance, the work may seem a simple accumulation of garbage, but it
is undeniable that it is also an irrefutable evidence of how the units of measurement created by the man are concepts, and not something that can completely standardize his
surrounding world.
And Empty Beds, the interesting work of Bob Jarry:
In Empty Beds: The way I invented to say goodbye to you and to your presence at my
side in the night, Jarry photographed, for years, the same bed he shared with the poet
Paul S. Illiot, his former partner who died of fulminating lung cancer. Not ever touching
the bed, Jarry photographed it day after day, always from the same angle. The final result is yet another one of his typical mosaics only this time, it was the largest, 365 contemplative photographs. The bed scenes are identical to the naked eyes, even though
they were produced for consecutive days within a year. Following this procedure, Jarry
collects with his camera the static and constant presence of an emotional loss.
Liquid Formats is a work of 2014. Empty Beds, 2013. As I have written, the text of Eric
date of 1987. We are not facing only a simple visual problem, but a temporal issue. It is
suspected that The Blind art critic is a poor nickname for Eric and its hybrid notion of
temporality.

*Bruno Moreschi is a blind visual artist who lives and works in So Paulo, Brazil.

65

Existential threats to fiction posed by future political changes


by Denis Maksimov
Fictional characters are facing an existential threat. It is posed by institutionalization of
Internet and digital field in a desperate attempt of nation-states to stay relevant in the
age, when flags, banners and anthems should become part of history and look at as rudiments just as slavery and medieval witch hunt. There is a strong backing from absolute
majority of countries for establishing territorial borders in the internet, a move that is
challenging the very nature of internet as extraterritorial space, beyond Westphalian
and nationalist frames.
3 principles of Internet and digital data storage guarantee preserving the Internet as the
space of opportunities and deconstruction of dictated by domination and power imposed
reality. Failing in them might be having similar impact as what meteor hit was for dinosaurs.
1. Neutrality: simultaneous access & leveraging speed of the connection without preferences
We are coming to a moment when internet access of a certain speed would be a privilege, given to certain people. Faster networks for state promoted information leads majority to choose state subsidized information channels and be brainwashed. Take the
case of TV in Russia - and you arrive to 86% of support for Putin and mass delusions
about fascists everywhere but not at home.When only state-controlled or one group of
elite aligned information distribution channels are available at higher speed to people, it
is proven that users will prefer to use higher speed networks. If the network with higher
speed offered in line with others, sooner or later absolute majority would switch for it, as
researches show.
If the fictive or not aligned with the state network providers would be cut off the speedy
connections and infrastructure will be fractured, we risk to arrive to a moment where
there will be no more possibility to challenge the narration of reality only by limited number of actors. We have oligarchy in everything: energy and food production are among
examples. Network access oligarchy will lead to a high risk of mass manipulations and
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mass delusions, driven by desire to communicate reality profitable for certain interest
group.
2. Extra-territoriality: territorialisation of server data storage, digital Westphalisation
and nationalism vs. opening domains and multiple storage options & dynamic copying
and back ups of data by multiple actors.
We are moving in the digital cloud. Our lives depend on the digital data already in big
extent and in the future this dependency is going to amplify. Where our data will be
stored is for now the question that is answered by yourself, but this freedom is about to
be taken away. Primarily Germany is worrying about storing personal data of its citizens beyond its territory. German governments paranoia, which is justified by certain
cultural factors around violating privacy concerns, can lead to what Id call territorialization of the Internet. It is not that Internet did not have territorial mapping before that - domains are still managed on .(country) mainly. This is one of the things that has to be liberated for the sake of making Internet more of a thing in itself, a space of opportunities,
instead of what it is seemingly becoming now - just another network of supporting power
infrastructures, like television. Ambiguity and chaos of Internet is a guarantee of innovation, disruption and is executes permanent function of Damocles sword hanging above
the heads of usurpation of political, economic and cultural power. The power structures
already appropriated and categorized it as an existential threat to them and made a farfetched decision of limiting it to a tight bureaucratic control.
Facebook, Instagram and (to some extent) Google, despite prejudices, for the moment
guarantee us more extraterritorial freedom than our very own national passports. If you
upload a picture on Facebook, it is stored on several servers of the social network, which
are (in most of the cases) physically located on different continents. If tomorrow there
will be a revolution, lets say, in Philippines and server field of Facebook will be destroyed by angry mob - your data is automatically backed up in several other locations.
Constant transfer of the data between servers provide high level of protection, probability of overall collapse of all of the servers at the same time is very low. You are backed
up.
On the pre-text of defending citizens privacy, political elites want to take away on of the
few available tools for individual independence from territorially-based external institutional frameworks, called states.

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3. Fictiality: a space of freedom between fiction and reality, making realities possible;
keeping ambiguity for the sake of fighting manipulations of narration by power structures, anonymity of the authorship which provides potential for liberation and structural
changes.
Poststructuralism is not the darling of the political strategists and planners. Its vagueness
is too unpredictable and provides a big room for possibilities to create alternative disruptive actors of social, political and cultural changes. When elites perform cooptation of
members on the basis of inheritance, largely ignoring meritocratic component and importance of talent, change and development - we get the society of retrogrades, just like it
seems to be happening today in more and more places around the world. Disruptive
technologies and networks give us the hope for potential of evolutional, civilized change
of the society towards universal enlightenment.
Playing the roles situated between fiction and reality will not be possible any longer. You
are either fictive or real. Identity of content creator would have to be confirmed by finger
print or eye scan of your computer. Can artist create alter-egos, fictive individuals or
groups to make a point or just to speculate in this environment, where his identity is automatically tracked?
Literature and achievements of postmodernism, that is questioning hard narratives of our
reality and history, are challenged and turned back on the wheels of reincarnation of
Westphalian in the classic tradition of Otto von Bismarck. Realpolitik revival with cold resource assessments of cost/benefits in the area of humane is back as well. Atrocities of
new wars can be justified again, just like in WWI or WWII and other horrors of human
history.
Love is reduced to biology, storytelling - to propaganda.
Establishing border between fiction and reality is a bullet in a head of relativity of narration. Useful tools of social and political progress, like irony, are placed therefore in the
box of ridiculous. Humor, fiction, literature, poetry loses its political power and plays
role of mindless spectacle for plebs.

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Untitled
Speculations about futures open infinite horizons for observing the possible. Art, politics, mathematics, cosmology, etc.
blend under the analytical apparatus of avenirology for
the purpose of discovery of potentialities. The mystery of futures lays in its unexpectedness and ephemeral nature.
What is life, if full of care, we dont have time to stand
and stare?
Avenirs are the backdrop of the lifes essence. Multiverse
or Universe, singularity or multipolarity - the tensions move
the wheel. Breaking through the duality opens up potential
for enrichment and liberation of the narrative from manipulation and usurpation.
Reclaiming potentiality in futures starts from the liberation
of ones perspective from imposed framework of logic.
De-frame, de-construct, explore.

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Instead of conclusion

70

Copy number

Authentication

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