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What happened to nature?
Olena {The Wizard} Shmahalo (29)
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Immortal since Aug 5, 2009
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The Operating System
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    the Operating System
    All things dissolved into a field of moving lights, energetic and dancing in their constructions, appearing, dissipating, floating, and coming together again, circles of motions. The Great System breathes into eternity; operating, operating.

    It is a mode of transcendence, a new sublime. Traditional understanding is image-based, but the Operating System is a deconstruction of that world-image into into a system-of-parts; an immense complexity that contains itself.

    “It's like the Universe screams at you, 'Do you know what I am? How grand I am? How old I am? Can you even comprehend what I am? What are you, compared to me?' And when you know enough science, you can just smile up at the Universe and reply, “Dude, I am you. ... I... stepped out of a supernova."

    { Phil Hellenes: "Science Saved my Soul" }


    The meaning of the term "Operating System" has a general history that begins (as it's relevant here) with the emergence of modern computers in the mid-1950s. The general definition is "software that controls the execution of computer programs and may provide various services" { WordNet }.

    As it's used within the OS-as-thesis and as mechanism (described in the next section), Operating System has a somewhat different meaning, though it's inspired by that previously quoted. Most basically, it means "working body", but it refers to our Universe as a whole (that is, the physical universe-bubble we find ourselves in by way of scientific instruments), to subsystems therein, or to "the All" (the differentiation between "Universe" and "All" will be discussed later). Operations are modes of computation, actions, and interactions; whereas the System is the playground in which these take place, but it doesn't necessarily "contain" the Operations: the System's being is a result of the acting, of motions creating the environment. The Newtonian view was that objects and their Operations were like actors on a stage (e.g. an apple and its trajectory through a designated space), but the Quantum Mechanical & Einsteinian perception seems to point to the eschewing of subject-landscape dualism: all things are particles in motion, in various arrangements. That latter statement is, in brief, the "atomic hypothesis" (which Richard Feynman, in Six Easy Pieces, selected as the one statement that should "be passed on to the next generation of creatures" in the event that the rest of our scientific knowledge is destroyed) and is the most important part of the basis for the OS as a theory (here meaning "system of ideas" rather than that meaning of "theory" used scientifically, which entails empirical evidence). Following this, the scientific truth that "all mass is interaction" (Feynman, "Principles") leads to the thought that the OS creates itself by means of its Operations — they are One.

    "Operating" may seem like a superfluous add-on because the definition of "System" alone usually includes the interactions that happen within, but it's necessary to include that prefix to reinforce the image of an arrangement in motion. The universe, as we've observed it thus far, doesn't seem to include true (classical) stasis. It's important to note that stasis is different from { equilibrium }, "a state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced", because balance requires motion — it's a thing that must be kept, else it dissipates due to entropy. Even at Absolute Zero (0°K, the lowest possible temperature in our universe, at which classical motion stops), zero point energy (the motion at a quantum mechanical system's ground state) is inextricable CalPhysics: { "Intro. to ZPE" }.


    ...Is a mechanism within which Operations can be executed: it is an anchor, a set of terms, a mode of exploration. The Operations are work that is mostly non-specialized in order to allow for possibilities that are otherwise shut down by nomenclature and pre-administered forms. In this way it is more like art, but since it seeks dependable (usually empirical) truths in the Possibility Landscape { Eagleman: “Possibilianism” } as opposed to traditional myths, it is more like science.

    Due to the nature of the evolving global culture, (from "People of the Book to People of the Screen" { Kevin Kelly: “Better than Free... ” }, the OS seeks to exist live, in flux, though in an archival fashion.

    The OS is like forest.


    As described above, in "OS as Universe", balance must be a central notion of any truthful systemic theory. The { tajitu }, better known as the yin-yang symbol, is of interest for the OS, as inspiration and for its curious validity, created centuries before the aforementioned modern notions of balance, grounded in physics. The taijitu is a constantly referred to in the OS, not necessarily directly, but as a model for creation, behavior, and thinking. The inclusion of said symbol is also part of the motion to include non-Western philosophy, not as a mere "exotic aside", but as a serious consideration for the ever-growing global culture.


    Though there may be instances in which the motions are autonomous, the OS usually needs its Operator(s): an individual or group who contribute to the work being done, whether that work adds to or subtracts from the original thesis (as in scientific progress). An Operator is a "comprehensive anticipatory design scientist" — "an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist." { "Bucky's Big Ideas" }.


    The Operating System assumes a certain set of "facts" to be true. Most of these are scientific, based on empirical data, earning the name "fact" through rigorously tested theory. It assumes the validity of past science that hasn't been replaced with newer information, like Evolutionary theory, and the validity of contemporary science: Quantum Mechanics and "String" theory. Some references are historical: ideas that have withstood time and/or critique, though these may be more "metaphysical". These may not be factual in the same way as empirical data, but their historical being, significance, and effects are deemed to be true (duplicable, verifiable). This is important to mention, because the Operating System, like all things, is not in a vacuum, but intertwined: the fluidity of the System ensures the ability to move constituents and anchor them, both to itself and to one other. Should some theory be displaced, then the System will need to account for it: archive its having been, but replace it with a new question and/or a new answer.


    "Universe" is synonymous with Operating System, but it is more appropriate for discussion of scientific theory. It conjures up images of outer space — the field of stars and planets and the occurrences there, basically { Hubble photographs } — in the same way "Cosmos" does on a more local scale. The term "The All" takes its place at times when that will be felt as more all-encompassing visually, but in a different way. When describing the Operating System as Universe, it's sometimes necessary for the image to be more abstract, because of how all-inclusive it is. "The All" refers to that space-universe in which we are contained, but its considerations are more iconic: space, motions, Earth, particles, telephones, lobsters, triangles, and love are floating in the pool of the All, waiting for synapses, but already connected by their shared basic constituents (the subatomic) and their containment within this particular Universe-Bubble (that being the metaphysical Universe as it is grasped by the human mind, or that physical one which is theorized to Be, by contemporary science, among many Universe-Bubbles, floating in some greater space.) Most essentially, Universe is Container, The All is Contained.


    The System's evolution of recognition in terms of Levels of Self has gone through anthropomorphic understanding, human-centric, and object/image understanding. To illustrate; metaphysical concepts like love or directly, physically observable phenomena like wind understood in terms of "gods" in the image of human or animal beings, marked by traits of the idea they embody. This is allegory: the use of myth to condense complex, meaningful subjects into an iconic image, so that they can be easily referenced and comprehended. At some levels we have graduated from those forms of phenomenon-condensation, but understanding in allegorical ways prevails. Now, though, these concepts, instead of being represented by a god, stand for themselves by way of their own word, which is in turn a symbol in the mind. That is, we understand our selves (our body systems) to be human, and understand the concept of human as an image that is filled according to its traditional shape. A loose example: to be woman has certain connotations and traditional boundaries that are not necessarily imposed by the body-system of a female human, but which have been upheld by cultural systems for millennia.

    It's this problem of "A Single Story" { “The Danger of a Single Story” } and of tradition that loses reference over time, which the Operating System seeks to unveil. Systemic, multi-perspectival understanding (that phrase is meant invoke an image of expansion and contraction by means of a single device, like a cognitive { Hoberman sphere }, and as illustrated by the short film, { "Powers of 10", Eames }) is a proposed goal of the Operating System. Expectations of the observed have everything to do with theory, thus if we perceive in terms of comparison to ourselves and the Newtonian, directly-palpable object-world of image-things (say, the Man, the Tree, and the Telephone) then we neglect to allow for the inherent complexities within those things and between them — in their relations to one another.

    The simplification of a concept into an image, the thought-icon, is helpful for swift action (which is probably why we evolved this type of thinking). But in deconstructing the icon into constituent parts, it's possible to fine-tune, and, not to have greater control necessarily, but to effectively interact with the "thing" at hand. For example, if we understand the electrical impulses and motions and physical, biological situations that deal with an emotion-image like anger, anger will still be a part of the human-system, but it can, in some ways, be transcended. It can be thought about, touched, tinkered with. It becomes a thing for the hands, rather than a cloud surrounding us, mysterious and untouchable. In this lies the age-old desire (at least since Seneca) for feeling at peace with the inescapable Universe through understanding { “Theories of Everything”, Williams }. The Human is not only some "special being, endowed" { Dalai Lama: The Universe in a Single Atom }, but tiny pieces of a greater System that have gathered into masses and evolved idiosyncratic methods of perception — modes of information relay; inputs and outputs, meaning that these "special" pieces are entwined with the rest, and as such, are capable of understanding and are responsible for the Operations they manifest.


    I developed a hypothetical picture of how humanity would be living. It was called “E=MC to the second power equals Mrs. Murphy’s Horse Power,” and then I was looking at the every-day life of Mrs. Murphy under the circumstances of everybody being completely convinced of the validity of Einstein’s thinking.

    { Buckminster Fuller: "Everything I Know" }

    Similarly, the goals of the Operating System are to think about "Mrs. Murphy under the circumstances of" wide conviction, not only about the validity of Einstein's thinking, but of up-to-date scientific theory that works without fault in the physical world, despite philosophical debate. That isn't to say that philosophical questions should discontinue or that there's complete agreement within current theory or within the history of science (there isn't), or that our scientific knowledge is all-encompassing and accounts for everything in our experience (that isn't believed by scientists, even remotely). It means only to utilize that knowledge which is true in that it's dependable, and think about the possibilities of living in terms of those discovered terms, as opposed to ineffective and often unquestioned traditional ones.

    Under the OS, the "human experience" is seen as a systemic epiphenomenon. The essence of that statement lies in evolutionary theory, not only in the most familiar use of that term (Biological, Darwinian evolution) but meaning the Universe's evolution as a whole: basically, the "Big Bang" theory that our universe began billions of years ago as extremely hot, condensed, tempestuous matter, and has been spreading out and cooling ever since, thereby evolving into the arrangements we know today. The OS as thesis is, in part, a focus on Mrs. Murphy's (synonymous with the every-man) understanding of his being (in both its verb and noun forms), and the effects of scientific perspective on his life, which, according to the evolution of the System, means Systemic perspective. That perspective will come into focus as the OS is further discussed and defined, but simply it means that Mrs. Murphy is convinced of her atomic constitution and sees her self, her body, and the epiphenomenon that is her consciousness as a system of billions of interconnected, functioning parts rather than the traditional human self-conception, which is like a paper doll endowed with some unknowable life-force or spirit. If the traditional "human"-image is deconstructed, then multitudes of possibilities for what human as the actual body-system can be and do, and how it can be and do, are opened up. Some of those possibilities will be discussed later, in the section titled "Nature, Artifice, & the Ubermensch", but one to note right away is the eschewing of traditional male and female roles, focusing instead on the arrangements of individual bodies (when body is mentioned within the OS, this includes the "mind", formerly separate in many fields of study, including Western philosophy and medicine). For that reason, Mrs. Murphy is treated as an androgynous character.

    The OS recognizes the current problem in Philosophy as defined by Stephen Hawking — that it hasn't kept up well with Science — and the status of progress: technology and its use is proliferating, but Understanding (of the philosophical variety) is either being left behind, or degenerating as technology facilitates thoughtlessness by making it ever-easier for humans to complete tasks without needing to bother about the details. Currently, sans wide adaptation of scientific literacy, Mrs. Murphy can use extremely sophisticated devices, and (however distinctly) imagine his physical location in the local cosmos, but mostly has no idea of what these mean for her life. It isn't realistic to think that all the Mrs. Murphys of Earth will ever accept systemic perception or even scientific literacy, nor that they should be forced to, but it is a problem that needs attention because of { Kurzweil's "Law of Accelerating Returns" } (the exponential growth patterns of technological complexity & self-sufficiency, seemingly leading up to a singularity) and the expansion of the global network: what used to be a peasant's individual actions with little effect on the rest of the world have become so embedded in the network that each individual's decisions, especially if the same kinds of decisions are made in large numbers, can have profound effects on the whole.


    Buckminster Fuller advocated rethinking how we use the words "natural" and "artificial" — if we come to accept that "natural" is that which Nature, the Universe, and the physics thereof, allow for, then it's easy to imagine how the "the every-day life of Mrs. Murphy" will become drastically different { “Everything I Know” }. Earth's culture systems are not so given to acceptance, but Fuller prompted creative intellectuals at work to design as if they were — it's of no consequence whether the idea of "avant-garde" is out of vogue; the arts and sciences have always been a driving force of revolutions in paradigms for the rest of the Human-Earth-System, which is inevitably too caught up in maintaining its own Operations to consider those paradigms within which it resides.

    The OS, in its work and theory, considers the question of man's self-imposed separation from nature (how did it happen, when, and why?) of utmost importance. Thus, that work done is based on the premise that human work is also natural work, and the goal is, not to see technology as some foreign enemy, but as a result of nature having reached a certain state of consciousness, and to use technological progress to operate more harmoniously within our Earth's ecosystems, as is being done currently by way of biomimetics, and in the field of biotechnology.


    It is a humanistic concern that empirical thought might lead to the loss of those Operations that make us "human". "What makes us human" is a long conversation, but the OS theory is forward-thinking: being traditionally-human is no longer of utmost importance at this time in history, in which we've learned of the vastness of both the micro- and macrocosm, and in which we've invented methods of physical body augmentation, allowing the human to become transhuman, in transition to, possibly, the posthuman: the super-augmented ubermensch, the uploaded intelligence, or the completely artificial intelligence { Bostrom: "Transhumanist FAQ" }

    The Operations referred to are those abstract concepts like "heart", "courage", "goodness", etc. The Operating System does not suggest that these will become invalid. Rather, first, they are symbols for larger Systemic motions that aren't always visible within human myths; and second, the understanding of them under the OS transforms: it grows, delves deeper, becomes more profound. It is not reductionist (though using a title like "Operating System" re-compacts complexities for facilitating their discussion) even if it embodies materialism — it highlights the complexity of the All.

    Relevant excerpts from { "Transhumanism & Posthumanism" }(PDF) :

    In L'Homme Machine, 1748, French physician and philosopher Julien Offray de la Mettrie wrote: humans "are, at bottom, only animals and machines," and from Marquis de Condorcet, a French Enlightenment philosopher, 1794: "no bounds have been fixed to the improvement of faculties ... the perfectibility of man is unlimited."
    As a named movement, transhumanism started in the 1980s with the writings of a futurist known as FM-2030, with the term transhuman being a shorthand for transitional human (Bostrom).
    There is nothing sacrosanct about nature in general, or about human nature in particular.
    Katherine Hayles, in her book How We Became Posthuman (1999), describes four characteristic posthuman, or transhuman, assumptions. First, information patterns are more important or essential to the nature of being than any “material instantiation, so that embodiment in a biological substrate is seen as an accident of history rather than an inevitability of life” (2). Second, consciousness is an epiphenomenon. There is no immaterial soul. Third, the body is simply a prosthesis, albeit the first one we learn to use and manipulate. Consequently, replacing or enhancing human function with other prostheses is only a natural extension of our fundamental relationship with our begotten bodies. Lastly, the posthuman views the human being as capable of being “seamlessly articulated with intelligent machines. In the posthuman, there are no essential differences or absolute demarcations between bodily existence and computer simulation, cybernetic mechanism and biological organism, robot technology and human goals” (3).


    It was recently observed that whales — specifically, sperm whales – have not only a system of nomenclature, specifically personal identifiers (names) { "Sperm Whales May Have Names", Keim }, but cultures { "Whale Culture", Lurie }, as we think of them in human terms: manifestations of intellectual achievement of groups, and/or their attitudes and behaviors. In terms of evolution of self-recognition, we would first say and understand that in terms of it being "like human", as it has just been defined. But the forward-thinking Mrs. Murphy will understand that this is "like System" — the creation of "culture" is what groups of particles on Earth seem to do, once they've reached a certain level of consciousness. Because they have no limbs suitable for object-forming, "[whale] cultures are in their minds..."{ "Whale Culture", Lurie }; it's only recently that we've come to be able to observe the intelligence of systems so unlike-human, as we've had to wait on the advancement of our science & equipment. It could also be true that there are cultures in conscious-particle-manifestations that the human hasn't yet observed for that same reason: because they are so unlike us, so intricate, and imperceptible, either due to the capacity of our tools or to the parameters of our theory. If what we think of as "life" is an epiphenomenon of particle motions, an individual means for the Cosmos to self-perceive (Carl Sagan: "We are a way for the Cosmos to know itself"){ “Cosmos” }, then it's possible there are types of "life forms", even types of consciousness, we haven't yet considered.

    Most basically: an Operator (any individual using the OS theory) seeks to understand their own selves and other life-forms not in terms of whether they operate like-themselves — here, this is like-human, but in the future an Operator might be post-human, or non-Earthian — but how they operate, again, like-System.


    "We should remember that a picture — before being a war horse, a nude woman, or telling some story — is essentially a flat surface covered with colors arranged in a particular pattern."

    { "Maurice Denis: Definition of Neo-Traditionalism" }.

    That necessary remembrance is essentially the same suggested by the Operating System, but usually forgotten in the daily handling of symbols conveying information with varied levels of tangibility (circles, tea, god, my mother, the location of a foreign finger on a body...). The thought touches on "the symbol grounding problem" { Harnad: "The Symbol Grounding Problem" }, illustrated by { Searle's "Chinese Room" } { Penrose: “Conscious Understanding…” }: a set of symbols seen in a unilingual dictionary can be connected with a "definition" and understood by the reader to "mean" the set of symbols that define it, so that they are interchangeable (e.g. if *** = 6OS, then 6OS = ***), but it tells an Operating System nothing about the world outside its body-parameters, it's disconnected from the Universe. It holds no meaning unless she learns the language, which is impossible if the deciphering process is self-contained, as it is in the Chinese room. The SGP has come to be associated with AI's or computing machines — the poor dears have no way of grounding the symbols that pass through their system, no way of "knowing" that the 0's and 1's which correspond with other 0's and 1's refer to an object outside themselves.

    Following the Sagan route, which is akin to saying that we, as the Universe's perceptive "organs", have the capacity to understand within our Container's boundaries and understand that Container itself, but we (or it, really) may never come to know if there is an outside, one arrives at the insight that we differ from computing machines in that the human OS's can at least be cognizant of the idea of outside, that it's possible. That's a gift of consciousness, and perhaps one of the reasons why consciousness is understood to be not entirely computational, if it is that in part. { Penrose: “Conscious Understanding…” }

    Looking again at Denis's "picture ... being a war horse", the pertinence of that example to the OS is that the "colors arranged in a particular pattern" may not be of importance as separates, the pointillist painting zoomed in might have little meaning, but the understanding of there being constituents is necessary because without that, the illusion of the war horse itself becomes a constituent, a "basic form", and that is a problem when it starts to be used to describe a world that is not made up of war horses, or in which a war horse is really an epiphenomenon. Alternately, this is the "God is a bearded old man in the sky" problem. How did we ever conceptualize god in that specific image, if it were not due to the top-down nature of the Evolution of Systemic Self-Recognition? If we knew ourselves as information from the beginning, "god" would have a very different appearance (if any, and this is assuming that Information would have come to a god-thought at all) and so would the resulting "religions".

    "There is an inevitable tendency among painters to relate aspects of perceived reality to aspects of paintings that they have already seen." { Maurice Denis: "Definition..." }. The same happens in "normal science". { Thomas Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions }. New findings usually fit with the paradigm in place, only changing it when the situation is critical (change is necessary to move forward and the new finding fill out what's missing) or when theory calls for a change in what's searched for. In terms of the evolution of Mrs. Murphy's understanding as an Operator (i.e. Universe's perceptive organ), this means that her knowledge, even at its most empirical and logical, is bound to the capacities of her body-system and the paradigms of her enclosing interaction system (here, Mrs. Murphy is a non-localist Earthian, so her scope of experience is far-reaching in terms of valued information she has or can gain from other human beings). In that lies a reason for keeping the OS-as-thesis (and related work) a living entity, capable of change (as opposed to, for one example, the traditional, individual, printed book, confident in its ideas and "permanent" in structure) — the knowledge of its own limitations is grounds for expecting additions and deductions.


    "The motivation for inquiry is to understand the world so as to change ones relationship to it." { “Theories of Everything”, Williams } That motivation is shared by Operators of the OS, and is the most essential, lasting principle of the OS as a system of works and ideas, regardless of the route they will take.



    The Operating System thesis was written in the Spring of 2011, and is now adapted for the Web, in accordance with Kevin Kelly's suggestion, in { "Better than Free..." }, of becoming a cloud culture, connected, with information freely available & quickly accessible. For this thesis, it meant that the Works Cited should be internally embedded, prompting inquiry, instead of left as an afterthought.

    I've developed an idiosyncratic method of formatting that is probably "wrong" according to institutional styles, but is partially a result of migrating from paper to web, and partially that of my graphic design background:

    { "curly brackets" } with bold text set apart links. Text color already does that, but the brackets are for migration across blogging platforms in which the predetermined CSS might not be so helpful — they make the links easier to see, and they signify the links as important info, since we're used to seeing links in text most often in the form of Ads.

    Author's title post work title { "Work", Author }: he contributed, but wasn't necessarily responsible for the entire work or text quoted.
    Author's name before work title, { Author: "Work" }: he is responsible for the work and he quoted text.

    Bold links sans brackets are signify additional info, but are not titled works nor important words.

    Mon, Jun 13, 2011  Permanent link

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    elysium     Sun, Jul 3, 2011  Permanent link
    Expectations of the observed have everything to do with theory, thus if we perceive in terms of comparison to ourselves and the Newtonian, directly-palpable object-world of image-things (say, the Man, the Tree, and the Telephone) then we neglect to allow for the inherent complexities within those things and between them — in their relations to one another.

    Reminded me of this quote:

    "The ontology of materialism rested upon the illusion that the kind of existence, the direct 'actuality' of the world around us, can be extrapolated into the atomic range. This extrapolation, however, is impossible . . . Atoms are not things." Werner Heisenberg

    I hope your genius ideas here take you far in life!

    Olena     Tue, Jul 5, 2011  Permanent link
    Thank you for reading it, first of all! And for the quote & kind words.

    "Atoms are not things" — that's wonderful.