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    The Substance of ‘WE’, Polytopia
    Project: Polytopia
    "Onto what surface shall a theory of aesthetics and consciousness be mapped?"
    Gregory Bateson


    From the Gaia hypothesis to Diderot (and D’Alembert) Encyclopedism, from John of Salisbury superorganism (in policraticus) to Herbert Spencer and Paul Otlet human and machine synergy, from Valentin Turchin cybernetic visions and metasystem transitions to Theillard de Chardin noosphere and finally Kevin Kelly and Howard Bloom as well as Peter Russell global brain, it seems that whomsoever seeks a vision that is beyond yit’s* own lunch break must at a certain point reflect upon a global something.

    I mention all these giants of thought and intellect, as I feel compelled to reply with an essay of my own views, concerning the last entries in this cross time/space polylogue* on the global brain/mind, both by KK (see KK- the superorganism) and Nova Spivack (see here).

    Let me start by saying that though I agree with both KK and NS that a superorganism is arising, there is a variation on the theme that I would like to point at and maybe even hazard to predict. I believe that a number of superorganisms are arising simultaneously, which as a general notion explains why I understand the next step in human evolution to be one of a Polytopia.

    Some issues first, concerning evolution intelligence and consciousness. Evolution, as a principle operating on the universal scene, I see as a Rhizomatic process. Allow me a moment to explain; I am now thinking in terms of Rhizomatic dynamics, a term I have coined to describe a state of affairs that has multiple and simultaneous explorations paths, working in tandem in different dimensions and creating a dynamically emergent system for which a direction can be perceived only on the very large scale.
    Why is this important concerning the arising of the global mind?, because just as I do not believe that we have a structured and coherent ‘one’ self so I do not think that the emerging superorganism is (will be) one, but many.



    (Image caption: METROPOLIS OF TRAJECTORIES,Francesca Iovino, Sciatto Produzie)

    Much as I admire the coherency of the one brain, one mind, one self view/model, (local or global) I believe it is fundamentally erroneous. Life has an inherent tendency to multiply in forms and fashions, embodiments and structures, and yet our Victorian sense of elegance desires an underlying principle of unity that will merge ‘all’ this multiplicity into one elegant formula, description and explanation.

    We are not the first ones to desire a unifying principle/s that will explain all that we see and perceive in a cogent and easy to understand (and thus replicate and use for predicting) manner, however we are for the first time in human history of thought sitting at exactly the cross road point of emergence. Being so close to the singularity and being as capable as we have become, we are in a unique position of observation and participation. Due to a number of factors, that are being explored as we speak, the transitional system situation we are currently in is open for transformation.

    It is open for transformation, primarily because we have at our disposal the capacity to metamorphose our Neolithic brain/mind into a post human brain/mind. In other words the transitional system situation is open because we have finally at our disposal not only the possibility to change that which we see but to change fundamentally that, which sees (our minds).



    (Image caption: rhizomatic seating system Sugar Seville made for the dorkbot sessions)

    A Polytopian perception I therefore propose to be a perception of multiplicity, a dynamic conscious awareness to the flow of events, which does not seek to impose yit’s views on the events themselves but seeks to merge with the process of arising (of the global brain/mind).
    Given this conceptual understanding I therefore propose that we allow for the possibility that that which is emerging is a multidimensional phase space of possible intelligences, some of which will coalesce into a probable reality (from which some will become actual).

    Yes, superorganisms are arising, some of them will be equivalent to flock intelligence, some will be hybrids, some will be organic and some will be hardware/software based, some will be of a robotic nature, some will be biological enhanced systems, and some we cannot even imagine at present, that is what the singularity is all about. Allowing for all of these, is the evolutionary imperative of a conscious aware system that realizes that the “good” is neither a given, nor is it fixed. There are many solutions to many problems in many dimensions, that is the beauty of life, that it does not necessitate “one” solution for “one” problem. As the Rhizomatic view purports and possibly implies, a singularity might result in a superior super intelligence, it might just as well (and in my view probably will) result in multiple super intelligences extending human possibilities to all directions simultaneously.

    Such state/s of affairs I have dubbed ‘topos’ (places), and will refer to states of the one-mind/global brain. Different kinds of intelligence using different substrates, demanding different conditions to emerge and become apparent, are as an ensemble called a Polytopia.



    From a different perspective we may now answer Bateson's question quoted above:" "Onto what surface shall a theory of aesthetics and consciousness be mapped?" the answer to my mind is simple: we shall map our consciousness as presence and our aesthetics as existence onto the dynamic rhizomatics of an interconnected multiplicity of intelligences, the Polytopia.

    Some possible new definitions for Polytopia :
    Polytopia is a term designating the emergent surface of relevance for both minds and machines to exist within and upon.
    A polytopia implies the supreme value of multiplicity and the relevancy of hyperconnectivity.
    A polytopia allows for infinite personal sovereignty closely coupled and intimately hyperconnected with all consciously aware entities both embracing and merging with a collective intelligence.

    Following Deleuze, it is my view therefore that consciousness and intelligence actualizes via differentiation in states (topos). Said differentiation of states is what brought about the culture we currently inhabit and will propel us towards the next step of human evolution, the multiple global brain, composed of minds and machines, intimately hyperconnected in a fully coherent and free manifestation, a polytopia.

    "Deleuze posits that we may think of reality not in terms of an opposition between the possible and the real, but rather between the virtual and the actual. The distinction is that possible things do not have any sort of existence, they are empty signs, leaving the real as a realm of solid objects, akin to that of classical physics. The virtual, by contrast, persists as a sort of enfolded order of potentiality, from which things actualize by differentiating themselves. "
    Paul Harris

    The Substance of 'WE' is a polytopia, a rhizomatic dynamic system that connects any topos to any other topos, not necessarily linking nodes of the same nature, nor joining organisms necessarily relying on the same substrate for their intelligence and consciousness.


    notes:

    # YIT = you+ I+ it (not my invention but still need to find the reference)
    # Polylogue = The term polylogue applies to hyperconnectivity in the same sense that conversation applies to connectivity
    # For a more complex view of Rhizomathics see this


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    Comments:


    Spaceweaver     Sat, Nov 1, 2008  Permanent link
    An excellent post Wildcat, thanks.

    Some issues first, concerning evolution intelligence and consciousness. Evolution, as a principle operating on the universal scene, I see as a Rhizomatic process. Allow me a moment to explain; I am now thinking in terms of Rhizomatic dynamics, a term I have coined to describe a state of affairs that has multiple and simultaneous explorations paths, working in tandem in different dimensions and creating a dynamically emergent system for which a direction can be perceived only on the very large scale.


    I would first make a categorical distinction between mind and brain as they are used here and in other places. A brain is definitively an organ operating in the context of a living organism, and as such it presents a coordinated and coherent activity in regards to the whole of the organism and in regards to the interaction of the organism to its environment. Though there are a few remarkable structural and functional analogues between the web and a brain, I think a brain is only a superficial metaphor to the emerging web. We use this metaphor exactly because we somehow expect the web to operate eventually as a brain: coherent, coordinated and unified to a very large degree. I agree with wildcat that this is not nearly what the combined intelligences of humans, posthumans, the web and other kinds of connected organisms artificial or otherwise is about to evolve into. The global brain analogy is misleading and veiling the full potential of an evolving intelligence.

    A global mind, on the other hand is a much more fit conceptualization because a mind in the wider sense of the word is indeed Rhizomatic dynamic self generative process. What we witness lately is an emergence of a new kind of mind. I think it is too early to describe this process of emergence in terms of either singular or multiple organisms. This emergence is rather the emergence of a new ecology of intelligence, a kind of mind to which we have no description as yet. This ecology, being in its very initial stages of emergence, has not differentiated itself into distinct intelligent entities or environments or states. I am not even sure the concepts of unity and multiplicity will be of any use in describing what is about to happen. I believe the emergent global mind will turn to be neither a unified super-mind nor a multiplicity of interacting super organisms. I believe consciousness and intelligence will gain a kind of multidimensional fluidity we can hardly glimpse with our current conceptual system. I can see language replaced with intelligent ontological membranes that will allow kinds of interactivity and coordination that goes beyond discrete enumeration of sources recipients, and transmissions. The difference, it seems, is about to become very different.

    I would suggest that Polytopia will imply multifluency instead of just multiplicity. Multifluency comes to describe an emergent property of intelligence evolving into a state which is both discrete and fluid and perhaps beyond both. I also like the connotation implying the integration of multiple languages, multiple means of description and multiple ontologies in a seamless manner.

    Additionally, I find most interesting Polytopia as a mapping surface, perhaps a prototype of an ontological membrane. Infinite personal sovereignty is somewhat vague especially in conjunction to merging in a collective intelligence. I think the concept of personhood will be kept in the post singularity era only for a short while and only for solving backward compatibility issues (something like COBOL).



    Wildcat     Mon, Nov 3, 2008  Permanent link
    SW: "I think a brain is only a superficial metaphor to the emerging web."

    WC: Definitely, I agree and from now on, all identity correlates between brain & Mind will be designated as GB (for global brain) and GM (for global mind).

    SW: “This emergence is rather the emergence of a new ecology of intelligence, a kind of mind to which we have no description as yet. This ecology, being in its very initial stages of emergence, has not differentiated itself into distinct intelligent entities or environments or states. I am not even sure the concepts of unity and multiplicity will be of any use in describing what is about to happen. I believe the emergent global mind will turn to be neither a unified super-mind nor a multiplicity of interacting super organisms.”

    WC: I really like the concept of “a new ecology of intelligence” , of course we will need to describe and then explain what this new ecology implies in terms of evolution both of the individual and of human culture in general.

    SW: “I believe consciousness and intelligence will gain a kind of multidimensional fluidity”

    WC: If I understand you correctly here you imply a metamorphosis of the very concept of localization? The term fluidity here needs expanding; do you mean that consciousness and intelligence will become one motion, one flow? Or do you mean that these will remain separate descriptive entities that will fluidly intertwine?

    SW: “I can see language replaced with intelligent ontological membranes that will allow kinds of interactivity and coordination that goes beyond discrete enumeration of sources recipients, and transmissions.”

    WC: This is an amazingly complex description, but demands elaboration, what are :” intelligent ontological membranes”?

    SW: “I would suggest that Polytopia will imply multifluency instead of just multiplicity. Multifluency comes to describe an emergent property of intelligence evolving into a state which is both discrete and fluid and perhaps beyond both.”

    WC: In multifluency I understand: multiple flows of evolving intelligence, this is an upgrade to what a Polytopia might describe, here follows my proposal for a possible new definition based on your insightful inserts:

    Polytopia: The emergent ecology of intelligence in which intelligences and consciousness conjoin, intertwine and co-evolve in a continuous state of dynamic multifluency.

    Your thoughts on the above?





    Spaceweaver     Thu, Nov 6, 2008  Permanent link
    Wildcat wrote:
    If I understand you correctly here you imply a metamorphosis of the very concept of localization? The term fluidity here needs expanding; do you mean that consciousness and intelligence will become one motion, one flow? Or do you mean that these will remain separate descriptive entities that will fluidly intertwine?


    Yes I did mean that the way we treat localization will entirely transform, though the concepts of space and locality are so very ingrained in our minds. What I meant in 'consciousness and intelligence' was rather referring a more general and holistic state of affairs that we experience as our mind. As to your question, I lean towards the second option at least till we have a deeper understanding as to what consciousness is and what is its evolutionary advantage. My guess is that consciousness is a special kind of operator that operates on intelligence producing other kinds of intelligence like arithmetic operators operate on numbers producing other numbers.

    Wildcat:
    This is an amazingly complex description, but demands elaboration, what are :” intelligent ontological membranes”?


    This is an idea I have regarding the diversification of intelligence. I will try to expand on that in a separate post soon.

    Wildcat:
    In multifluency I understand: multiple flows of evolving intelligence, this is an upgrade to what a Polytopia might describe, here follows my proposal for a possible new definition based on your insightful inserts:

    Polytopia: The emergent ecology of intelligence in which intelligences and consciousness conjoin, intertwine and co-evolve in a continuous state of dynamic multifluency.


    I think emergent ecology of intelligence is a very powerful and in conjunction with multifluency it brings forth a complex diversified interconnected and wide horizoned playground. I like it.

    Am in doubt though regarding the word consciousness here. Is Polytopia conscious as a whole? Accommodates consciousness? Allows consciousness? Promotes consciousness ? Necessitates consciousness? etc. It seems to me we are in a too early stage to answer these.



    starwalker     Thu, Nov 6, 2008  Permanent link
    Hello Wildcat,
    this is a very interesting post, insightful to me, actually one of the most interesting capturing I read lately. Am following for a while the project Polytopia and many of the “entries in this cross time/space polylogue”. And one of the paradoxes in my mind was the conflict in between the attractiveness of the idea of an emerging organism, and the profound out of tune sound of the “Hive projection”. I believe that metaphors, though one of our best tools of thought, can be stretched that far. And when it comes to taking into account all we as humans struggled to achieve with our rudimental reflective abilities, and project it ahead, the hive felt a bit tight..:).
    So am really excited by your proposition as the “substance of we”.
    First of all the rhizomatic dynamics as “a state of affairs that has multiple and simultaneous explorations paths, working in tandem in different dimensions and creating a dynamically emergent system for which a direction can be perceived only on the very large scale”, seems to me possibly a very potent dynamic, both in life and all large global systems. A dynamic that requires from the system adopting it both very large capacity and space for redundancy, to compute multiple and simultaneous paths bottom-up, and great integration ability, to instantaneously compose them top-down into a complex whole showing emerging direction.
    It makes sense that whatever may globally emerge will show a use of our diversity and multiplicity in more creative ways than categorizing it into different parts of a one strictly coherent whole. We are different from each other as humans, though it is probably the most difficult thing for us to capture and hold in our perception, and at least some traits of this difference are not going to disappear into some one panaceatic uni-verse. This simultaneously does not have to imply an irreducible and inevitable factional separation followed by negation of connective properties and access (thus sooner or later a kind of death..).
    Polytopia, in your description, seems to me eyeing the open corridor into a realistically positive future. Borrowing the words of Pierre Levy (see here) from the context of semantic, it seems pointing to “a space common to all the possible interpretations” of human evolution.
    What rise in my mind is that the word Uni-verse has partially reached its limitations, and maybe the word Polytopia will begin to replace it in all the multiple uses we have for it in our language, would you agree?
    Wildcat     Mon, Nov 17, 2008  Permanent link
    Spaceweaver:" Am in doubt though regarding the word consciousness here. Is Polytopia conscious as a whole? Accommodates consciousness? Allows consciousness? Promotes consciousness ? Necessitates consciousness? etc. It seems to me we are in a too early stage to answer these."

    Regarding this very difficult subject I am in the process of writing an extended post concerning the term consciousness, as I believe it could be understood in a Polytopia situation. However for the present here are some of my thoughts on this subject.

    I do not think that we can predict with a high enough degree of accuracy what a Polytopia will be like if only for the simple fact that we are at present (still, unfortunately) under the spell and illusion of the never ending process of (trying to) objectifying consciousness.
    As I understand a Polytopia situation, it implies a fractal nature of existence within which different levels of existence can be related to as topos. If we take the view, as indeed I do, that different dimensions of existence can be called topos if and when these receive a coherent set of characteristics, loosely defined under a given designation, we maybe could redefine what consciousness means.

    As I see it, consciousness is not an (inherently definable) object but a set of relations across dimensions. The set of relations I refer to here is the manner in which and by which information flows across dimensions both in space and in time.
    For example in the process of watching a film, there cannot be made a total distinction between me (the watcher, a topos) and the film (that which is being watched, a topos), I am not a consciousness watching a film, rather, the consciousness that can be said to exist (if it can be said to exist at all) will exist on the plane of interactivity topos/me+topos/film. Using this example as a template, I can now say with a fair amount of certainty that if consciousness can be found in a Polytopia situation it will operate on the plane of interactivity between topos.
    Given that the Polytopia is fractal and dynamic, emergent and continuously merging (your multifluency is a good point to insert here) it could, with a generous amount of salt added for good measure, be said that a Polytopia is conscious as a whole via the interactivity (see dynamic rhizomatics) of its components.


    More on this when I finish the paper

    Wildcat     Thu, Jun 11, 2009  Permanent link
    Hi Starwalker, I apologize for the time it took me to respond to this comment of yours, somehow I missed it in the on-going flow of hyperconnectivity.

    Starwalker: "Polytopia, in your description, seems to me eyeing the open corridor into a realistically positive future. Borrowing the words of Pierre Levy (see here) from the context of semantic, it seems pointing to “a space common to all the possible interpretations” of human evolution."

    I definitely agree with Pierre Levy take on the issue, though I would in a sense rephrase it:" a space common to all possible interpretations" I will rephrase as : " Multiple and indefinite spaces, that may allow, all possible interpretations"
    This is in my view a paramount issue for unleashing the possible from its potential, into the actual.


    Starwalker: What rise in my mind is that the word Uni-verse has partially reached its limitations, and maybe the word Polytopia will begin to replace it in all the multiple uses we have for it in our language, would you agree?

    I am not sure how you understand the word Uni-verse, but in general I use the term multiverse, not only in its physical/materialist connotation but also in the sense that different states (topos) operate under different conditions of emergence and thus imply different rules of behavior/attitude and so on, implying multiple versions of the thematic reality.
    In this case yes, I agree that the term polytopia might be an adequate change of language.
     
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