Friday

ANTIPOP CONSORTIUM

Antipop Consortium, one of the most important names in underground hip-hop, are back with their new LP 'Flourescent Black' - and the legendary New York quartet have signed a new UK deal with Big Dada records, as announced back in April. The good news is that we here at WPNZR have got an awesome interview lined up with Sayyid, Beans and co., ready for our site re-launch in August. You can get the lead single from the album, 'Apparently' for FREE on Amazon - go get it NOW!

As a teaser, here's their classic video for Ghostlawns:

Thursday

QUICK TALES - THE CHALLENGE - 'SELLING THE SINGULARITY'


So, the aforementioned Will Elwood challenged me back: his pitch?

"The meeting where an advertising company try to workout how to sell the singularity."

This is what I came up with...

“Have you got the feed set up?” Charlie thumped my shoulder as he said this, giving me one of those looks which screamed DISAPPOINT ME. I DARE YOU. Charlie was a dick to work for, but he usually got the coolest assignments. Quite why we were holed up in a broom closet at the Glasgow SECC, spying on an advertising symposium, I wasn’t aware – it was need-to-know stuff, mission data, or so Charlie said. My job was tech support, and armed backup, should it come to that. My job didn’t include a mandate for asking questions.

“Yeah, it’s coming through.” I tapped the monitors to my left and right. “I’m just wiring up the sound.”

“Who’s that?” Charlie was pointing at one of the conference delegates, an invited speaker sitting behind a long trellis table loaded with microphones, coffee and jugs of water. The bloke he was pointing at was tall, bearded, with long hair and an outrageous selection of gothic jewellery. “Who the fuck is that, Jeff? He looks like sodding Catweazle.”

“That’s Alan Moore.” I took a sip of my Red Bull to cover my amusement at Charlie’s ignorance. “He wrote Watchmen. It’s a comic book.” Charlie looked at me like I was a piece of shit on his shoe. “Um, graphic novel?” I ventured.

“Yes, I know what Watchmen is, thanks Jeff. I saw the movie.”

“Yes, well…” I kept my opinions about Zack Snyder to myself. Charlie had always struck me as someone with slightly lowbrow tastes.

“Just fix the audio feed. I want to know what he’s saying.” Charlie pulled out his Blackberry and scanned some pages rapidly, muttering to himself. “Why would they have a comic strip writer at the advertising meeting to end all advertising meetings?”

I connected the audio feed, and suddenly Moore was talking on screen. Charlie motioned for me to be silent.

“…human information is doubling every thousandth of a second. That means that in each thousandth of second we are accumulating more information than we have in the entire previous history of the world. We are approaching a flashpoint of knowledge…” Moore droned on in his Northamptonshire drawl.

“Ahh,” nodded Charlie sagely. “He’s talking about the Singularity.”

“Yeah, he has a lot of crazy ideas about information. He’s not the only invited speaker, either. Look at the others at the table – there’s Charles Stross, the SF writer… and Bruce Sterling, from Wired Magazine…”

Charlie scratched his beard thoughtfully. “Most of this makes sense… but these guys are not corporate drones, they’re artists, writers, commentators… why are they sitting in on an advertising panel?”

“You’ve got me, boss. Maybe their fee was really, really big.”

We watch Moore’s presentation, then Stross steps up and talks about the idea of using a planet’s ore and matter as computing power. He keeps going on about Cosmic Bandwidth. A few other scientific experts deliver their thoughts on data storage and post-scarcity economics. By this time, the cramped supply room where Charlie and I have set up our little espionage station is smelling pretty ripe, and feeling very cramped. I stretch my legs out as far s I can, stifling a yawn.

Charlie punches me again. “Wake up, dimwit, I think the advertising guys are on.”

A slick, sharp-suited businessman rises, thanks the panel of invited speakers, and addresses the crowd. His head is too large for his body – he looks like one of those bobble-head toys Charlie buys for his daughter when we’re working away from home. His perfect blonde hair and perfect white teeth are those of a plastic doll, not a human.

“Thanks for listening folks. I’m Ted Orlando, the CEO of Global Hypercorp Incorporated. What we’ve been hearing today are some of the different ways in which the approaching Singularity will affect human culture. As we have seen, the consequences of the Singularity will be far-reaching. Society will be transformed. What we, as advertisers, need to decide is how to brand and market that change. This is our primary aim. Our secondary aim – to answer the following question. How do we make money out of the Singularity? Let’s start with some questions. Over there, Dave, from the Leicester branch.”

“Well, um, I don’t mean to be rude… but I still have no idea what the Singularity is. How can we sell something if we don’t understand it?”

“Dave, weren’t you listening to our guest speakers? The Singularity is the moment where human progress peaks, meaning an end to scarcity, and a new era of scientific knowledge. We will gain an infinite economy based on pure knowledge and information.”

“Yeah. I guess that’s my point. If we’re gonna have all this… um… science-y stuff happening, then why would we need to advertise it? Surely people would just know.

“You’re skipping ahead Dave. That’s point two – how do we- ”

“- Make money from it. Yeah, you said. But isn’t that the point Mr Moore was making? Why would we need money in that situation? Surely we could just build whatever we wanted to buy with the money using nanotechnology, or whatever.”

A murmur of agreement rippled through the auditorium. Charlie and I exchanged glances. The junior executive from Leicester had a good point.

Orlando sighed deeply. “Look, people. We don’t need to get in to the mechanics of how this Singularity business will work. We just have to come up with a slogan, an image, a… a campaign that will make people less nervous about it.” Blank looks from the crowd, a silence composed of mumbled disagreement and heavy exhalations. “Look, let’s just… Tim, bring me the whiteboard and let’s start brainstorming.”

We watched for a while as the whiteboard slowly filled with slogans.

THE SINGULARITY – IT’S COMING

(“Too vague,” said one delegate. “Ominous,” said another. It sound like maybe it might arrive and beat you up.”)

ARE YOU READY FOR THE FUTURE?

(“All depends on the imagery,” said the proponent of this slogan. “I mean, of course, you’d want to avoid all that dark, Bladerunner-esque stuff.”)

LET’S GET SINGULAR!

(“Veto Veto!” shouted from the crowd. “It doesn’t even make sense.”)

BE FUTUREPROOF – EMBRACE THE SINGULARITY

(“I don’t like the word embrace,” said the head delegate. “Maybe we could use this one for the pink pound market…”)

CHANGE IS GOOD

(“That’s just not always true,” said a middle-aged woman from the Bermondsley office.)

After a fruitless hour of sloganeering, Bruce Sterling broke his silence and waded into the debate.

“Look, you have to define your terms. Are you talking about the human information singularity – the point at which our ‘Idea Space’, to use Alan’s phrase, becomes unmeasurably vast? Or are you talking about the classic Vernor Vinge singularity, with machines reaching a level of intelligence where they can improve their own designs faster than human engineers? Because although those things may happen in parallel, they’re very different events.”

“Thanks Bruce,” said the committee leader. “We’ll take that under advisement.”

“Which is it?” demanded Sterling. “You can’t have it both ways.”

The committee leader flustered. “Let’s deal with the human aspect right now, Bruce.”

Sterling’s eyes sparkled. He ran a hand over his grey crewe-cut hair. “Are you avoiding the issue of machine superintelligence? I think Stross and I would agree that you’re making a grave mistake by doing so.”

Stross nodded sympathetically. Orlando smiled a huge, benevolent smile. “Trust me, machine superintelligence isn’t a factor you need to worry about.”

“But what if the machine superintelligences we develop post-singularity have goals inimical to human survival?” Sterling demanded, rising from his seat. “I think you have to acknowledge that – urrrk!” His rant was suddenly cut off, as Orlando grabbed him by the throat and lifted him into the air.

“Silence, puny human!” The committee leader’s skin began to split and fissure, releasing a weird, nuclear gleam from within his body. “I will tolerate no more of your foolish speculation! The singularity is coming, and the humans will be our slaves!” The weird light dissipated, and as the expensive Armani tailoring and pink, oozing flesh slithered from his body, Orlando’s true form was exposed – a glittering, chrome-alloy humanoid robot death machine, bristling with machine guns, cannons, lasers and rocket launchers.

Charlie looked almost delighted as he reached for the radio, putting in the call to the armed Marines stationed outside the building. “Alpha Team, you are green for go. Get oscar mike as soon as you can – I need someone in that building with a gun on the committee leader ay-sap. And watch out for Bruce Sterling – I don’t want him harmed, the man’s a national treasure.” He snapped off the radio and rammed a clip home into his gun. “I fucking knew it was robots. Grab your sidearm and follow me.”

Reluctantly, I packed up the surveillance rig and followed Charlie, blinking at the striplights, out of the tiny cupboard we had been holed up in and into the conference centre’s hallway. My mind was still on the slogans, the advertising campaign for the Singularity. I reckoned you could still sell it to humanity – all you’d need is the right image.

A computer, surrounded by human slaves. The computer is shaped like a female human body, but its’ head is a grinning robot death mask with blinky red diodes for eyes. Cradled in its’ arms and sucking at its chrome bosom is a human infant. The child’s eyes are bright and happy. It has one metal arm, which is telescoping out of the picture in three-dimensional hologram, reaching towards the viewer.

The slogan reads: THE SINGULARITY – COME AND SUCK IT.

Friday

WILL ELWOOD'S QUICK TALES


Will Ellwood writes the Flash Fiction blog Quick Tales. The other day on Twitter, he requested one-line ptches. I suggested the following:

"Near-future: Earth expels nanobots from atmosphere and de-activates all AIs, but they migrate to Mars and colonise."

Read the results here, in the exciting tale of Captain Space Bastard!

Hooray for Will!

Wednesday

NUCLEAR POETRY, NYC: VIDEOS FROM BRIAN OMNI DILLON, TEXTURE & MORE

Nuclear Poetry is the brainchild of poet / writer Aaron Wimmer, and was by far the best open mic event that Harlequinade and I found on our trip to New York. Aaron describes his intimate, high-quality night thus:

"Nuclear Poetry was formed as an experiment to get New School poetry students together to share their work for a night. People seemed to like it so I decided to start the series.

An amazing thing happened in the months that followed: people started coming and a strong community began to grow, and with it came a real sense of spirit filling the room during the shows.

Every show is different, often taking inspiration from current headlines and events. Readers for the night include writers of all ages and levels...professors, published writers, students and beginners. Some quiet, some loud, some traditional, some experimental. It's everyone's night."






Find the rest of the videos here.



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