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    Hybrid futures and Knowmads (pt2)
    Project: Polytopia
    Part 5 in the series : The Rise of the Cyber Unified Civilization

    If it works its already obsolete
    Marshall Mcluhan

    Just another accelerating week?

    It so happened that this last week has presented us with a few worthwhile notifications, not the least of which is the announcement by Hewlett-Packard, Cisco and others that are planning a central nervous system for the earth. (see: Sensor Overload ) And though there is no doubt that the ubiquity of these pin size sensors will take a while to materialize, our world is increasingly and continuously being monitored and interconnected. Do note that ubiquity is the term du jours :
    ” Ubiquitous computing refers to the practice of embedding information processing and network communication into everyday, human environments to continuously provide services, information and communication.” (see : The Middle of Moore's Law) but for a truly inspiring moment I suggest watching David Orban explaining how machines are going to make us human again (David Orban - Free to be Human! ), and its possible extension 'Barcodes help objects tell their stories', or indeed if you missed it the fascinating presentation by Andrew Hessel – the internet of living things.
    This is the same week that also saw the announcement of the first prototype for the bionic eye implant, and the long awaited historic patent for Robert Freitas diamond mechanosynthesis (DMS) which is nothing less than the first molecularly precise fabrication of physical structures.
    Finally this is the week when Intel guru says that 3-D Internet will arrive within five years and this will change everything.
    Of course I could go on with Cyborg messenger dogs that will save you after an earthquake or with the truly Lifelike Geminoid F Robot that Blurs Boundaries of Reality, but for sheer sanity I shall stop here.

    Just another week in the modern world of fast pace innovation?

    “..the difference between ignorant and educated people is that the latter know more facts. But that has nothing to do with whether they are stupid or intelligent. The difference between stupid and intelligent people—and this is true whether or not they are well educated—is that intelligent people can handle subtlety. They are not baffled by ambiguous or even contradictory situations—in fact, they expect them and are apt to become suspicious when things seem overly straightforward.”

    Constable Moore in “Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson

    1. There is nothing straightforward about our futures:

    There is nothing straightforward about the evolution of civilization and culture, in fact nothing is more unpredictable than the coming future, a future which I believe will be more surprising and more enlightening than we can imagine. But right here and now I wish to call our collective attention to a particular aspect of these unpredictable futures. Namely, that these futures will be of a hybrid nature.

    It is clear that the planet we have been born upon is now in its post evolutionary stage due to the culture we have created. We are building a new operating system for this planet, altering the nature of the very evolutionary process that gave us birth.
    That same evolutionary process that allowed us to create realities that are not culturally palatable or acceptable is the same state of affairs that will allow us to co-evolve a future that is other than our pasts, and it will be a hybrid future.

    That our futures are bound to be hybrid is practically a given, the merging of some of us with machines, the meshing of some of us with virtualities, where avatars and flesh comingle is inevitable, the rise of multigender existential systems of being and actuation in some situations and locations is foreseeable.
    The issue of course is that all these already exist as desire, fantasies and imaginary constructs, however what the fast pace of technology is bringing home is the actualization of diversity in form and meaning that the human mind wished to actuate.
    We have always used new methods to answer old questions, fashioning new technologies and exploring uncharted territories via science and math, poetry and art. And the new methods we have and are creating as we speak will allow for a truly formidable experience of life, a hybrid life in a hybrid future.

    2. Our Hybrid futures:

    Hybrid futures are basically combinations of different kinds of cultures and technologies, sciences and art, biology and poetry, math and music, humans and machines, flesh and Nanomachines, blood and intelligence, storytelling and information, multiple identities across multiple platforms, all meshed into a semi coherent and at times incomprehensible whole that fluctuates and undulates like medusa’s tentacle hair, our job of course is to look in the mirror and not freeze but dance the freedom of our expressive beingness.

    Enhancing our bodies and minds whether chemically or telematically, mechanically or physiologically is only part of what our hybrid futures are bringing upon us, for when I speak of hybridization of our futures I also take into consideration that not all of us wish or desire the same kind or the same extent of technological penetration into our very essentiality. Since this is the case I take it as a given that our hybrid futures will fundamentally alter the manner by which we relate to each other. So hybrid I understand to mean not only the combinatorial reality of human and technology but also the sphere of combinatorial reality of different cultures born of the interdependent and coexisting.
    These combinatorial realities need provide a platform of engagement that is fundamentally and categorically different from the platforms of engagements we have used in our pasts.
    The need to understand the bifurcating paths ahead of us is an aesthetic need as much as it is a technical and organizational one, without such an understanding we cannot construct or indeed allow the coming into actuation of a truly global civilization that can reach for the stars.
    The question that I see as crucial for the rise of a cyber unified civilization as is presented in this series of posts is therefore how are we to accommodate the diversity of realities we are moving into without balkanizing ourselves into a dystopian mélange a la’ ‘Mad Max’ apocalypse.

    As I presented in my previous post I believe that the core of an answer to our hybrid futures lies with the advent of the knowmadic state as a personal existential reality.
    The reasons for this I will try to elucidate in the following chapter but bear in mind that the whole polytopia project is in a manner of speaking an experimentation (and a provisional one at that) meant to create just such a ground of engagement to which the Knowmad relates as a node within a given infocology.

    “I was born human. But this was an accident of fate - a condition merely of time and place. I believe it’s something we have the power to change “

    Kevin Warwick outlines his plan to become one with his computer.

    3. A positive outlook

    I am positive and utterly confident, that humans are capable and fundamentally interested in creating a better future, a future in which and by which we can all live to our hearts desire, whatsoever that desire might be.
    Some of my friends want to live on other planets, some want to celebrate their bodies into infinity, others desire to upload their minds, and still others wish for a simple life lived in the ancient manner in the woods near a perfect lake in the purest and untainted environment, meditating into their next step of personal evolution. I count amongst my friends, humans that see mathematics and neuroscience as the best possible exploratory method for life the universe and everything and others that see their art as the highest attainment of the human experience, and some that deem a return to simplicity as the most desirable goal of a human life lived to its fullest potential.
    Some of my colleagues see the net as the answer to it all, some consider philosophy as the proper activity for a developed mind, some (as do I) see language as quintessentially developmental and yet others believe that ‘doing the act’ is the duty of the poets. There are many more friends and colleagues, and many more ideas and views in this list, however what makes me a great believer in the power of the human specie to overcome itself is our concomitant and correlated activity, we all at bottom work for the same goal, even if at times appearances may deceive us into thinking otherwise.

    Being a Knowmad and a Polytopian I cannot afford the luxury of indulgence into mere pessimism, in fact I do not think that any of us can afford such excess.

    "..That seems to me one of the first illusions – and one of the more prideful illusions – of human culture: that a final understanding is possible in the first place. Better, I think, to try and frame questions which can do it… and leave off searching for answers, because answers are like operating systems: they’re being upgraded faster than you can keep up with it.”
    Terence McKenna

    Hybrid futures are fundamentally a terminology I use to describe and define, the very backbone or superstructure of the coming possible futures (some of which are already upon us), especially as relates to the idea that our futures are both varied and multiple both in appearance and manifestation, and will probably unfold in a manifold fashion, the center of which will be, in the short term at least, the human.

    Hybrid futures are mixed futures, combined futures, diverse and varied, all co-existing and evolving in parallel. To put it differently, not all of our futures will be similar, some will be different and though apparently a truism, the emphasize here is that some of these bifurcating paths in front of us will be totally alien to some of us.
    Hybrid futures implies futures that merge and overlap and though our craftiness will probably forever try to mesh these futures into a coherent whole it is my view that we will fail miserably at this task, not because it cannot be achieved but because our futures imply diversification.

    4. Flows of networks and networks of flows

    W.Gibson once said that: “One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real.” And I cannot but totally agree with this statement, the meshing of the real and the virtual accomplished by networks of flows, individual and collective, intertwining into other flows of networks create the basis for the grid of hybrid futures, the very nature of which is diversity and complexity.

    When the complexity of these flows of networks coalesce into stable infocologies the result is that levels of hierarchy (of complexity) are born, these in turn imply that the level of complexity we are reaching breeds new rules and new laws to which the previous level (of the network) or the next level (of the flow of networks) bears no resemblance. In other words, one cannot imply from one level of complexity to the next.
    The emergence of new rules and new laws per level of complexity demands an (almost) instantaneous reorganization of our minds plastic capability to adapt and learn the new rules.
    The above is the main reason why I see the knowmadic state on an individual level and collective manifest as the current question of dwelling.
    A Knowmad in an infocology lives on the edge, but that edge is of particular significance because the most interesting point of existence for innovation and creativity is the point of maximal information content.
    The most interesting complex system for us is where the level of unpredictability is high and the bifurcations are on the increase and that is where apparent choices are made.

    In a manner of speaking our freedom is maximized on the edge.

    Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.
    Kurt Vonnegut


    Hybrid futures is an expression that tries to contain a manifold of possible futures, myriad expressions of human desire and an almost infinity of levels of complexity. These hybrid futures are tension intensive, and extremely difficult to navigate and cohere, hybrid futures demand a sort of living on the edge of chaos state of mind. This state of mind is defined as the knowmadic state, a state that excels in ambiguous situations, enhances syntax and semantics conversion into actual adaptation of new forms of meaning, and by consequence changes the very meaning of enmeshed existence.

    (see pt 1-10 in previous post for an extended list of knowmadic characteristics)

    stay tuned, soon to be followed by hybrid futures and the notion state..


    This particular post is dedicated to...

    “Will you be my wings
    when the feathers that I need
    fall around my feet?”
    — Daily Haiku on Love by Tyler Knott Gregson

    images in text from ModernMath

    Fri, Apr 16, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: Complexity, Hybrid Futures, Knowmads, edge, networks
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    syncopath     Mon, Apr 19, 2010  Permanent link
    “..the difference between ignorant and educated people is that the latter know more facts. But that has nothing to do with whether they are stupid or intelligent. The difference between stupid and intelligent people—and this is true whether or not they are well educated—is that intelligent people can handle subtlety. They are not baffled by ambiguous or even contradictory situations—in fact, they expect them and are apt to become suspicious when things seem overly straightforward.”
    Constable Moore in “Diamond Age” by Neal Stephenson

    these insightful lines remind me Michael Foucault saying:
    "the opposite of stupidity is not intelligence, but rather thinking or philosophy itself."

    for i believe that in order to become capable of thinking, we need first not be baffled by ambiguous or contradictory situations. we have to forsake the instinctive animal necessity, as well as the (old) new age need - for an Answer (a final understanding). only then we may 'play forward' our mind operating systems, and embark, passionate and playful, the adventure of diversified possible & impossible hybrid futures ......

    thank you Wildcat for this encouraging writing. encouraging, in the sense that it may serve as a mind-training towards .. "Knowmadic state, a state that excels in ambiguous situations, enhances syntax and semantics conversion into actual adaptation of new forms of meaning, and by consequence changes the very meaning of enmeshed existence."