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Every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for innocence and an appeal to the essence of being. (Albert Camus)
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    In the first post on this series titled “futures as such” I wrote about the minds of futurists being probably wired differently and in this respect mentioned that it is highly probable we are all as a specie, by our very mindful notions of anticipation and projection, insight and foresight, futurists.

    And yet, there are different kinds of futurists, maybe even different species of futurists, as minds diversify and coagulate a highly unique version of vision and insight into the future.

    For the purpose of this essay I shall create an all-purpose distinction categorization, seemingly arbitrary but I believe helpful for our goal here.
    The all-purpose distinction is between futurists of the ADF kind (concerned with Apparently Distinguishable Futures) and futurists of the NIDF kind (concerned with Non-immediately distinguishable futures).

    ADF vs NIDF
    Concerning the future of futurism and intelligence

    In the coming future, the infoflow of hyperconnectivity will become the context of knowledge

    Maturity of mind is capacity to endure uncertainty.
    (Kong Fu Zi)


    There is no doubt in my mind that as the infoflow of the infoverse increases in substance and speed, details and hyperconnectivity the pains of the evolutionary pressures to match that storm have increased proportionally.
    Unless you have been living in a cave, you would have noticed by now that the changes going through our world civilization are deeper than passing appearances.
    These changes herald a new era in human evolution and though reading the headlines of common newspapers and media outlets will give the illusory impressions that nothing has changed, a quick glance under the hood of immediacy will reveal an amazing plethora of changes.

    As I am writing these words a few important notices came into my field of perception, New Scientist recently published a short post concerning the size of the internet “According to Google, several billion web pages are added each day. And in the minute it has taken you to read this, the total has leapt by about 700,000 “ (How big is the net?). These numbers are staggering, but more importantly perhaps is the fact that no single human and probably not even a group of highly expert humans can compute this vast amount of information into a coherent whole (though Wolfram-Alpha will try).

    In other words we have reached a stage in our evolutionary ascension in which the amount of information humanity produces outpaces and outreaches the greatest and mightiest of us. This outreach is one of the most interesting aspects of our current situation, especially with regards to the capability of humans to predict our own future, be it personal or global.
    Whether the agglomeration of information in the infoverse coupled with human evolutionary expertise in parsing such vast amounts of data will give rise to the Global brain or Mind is a different topic altogether, what interests me here is the implication this infovastness represents.

    In the coming future, man machine interfaces will become omnipresent and ultimately ubiquitous, and it is highly probable that coupled with the sensory Internet (see the internet of things/spime), the vast web of all life both animate and inanimate will interact with our minds in such a fashion as to allow us a total immersion in the infoverse.
    It is not my view that this ‘Infommersion’ (the total immersion of our minds in the infoverse) will by necessity be of a virtual nature, that particular aspect of the mode in which existence will manifest is less important to my eyes. Much more important is the manner by which our minds will adapt to this infovastness, especially as relates to our ability to extract meaning and engage with the infoverse in an aesthetic fashion.

    For the present mind, dealing with the state of affairs of infovastness is nothing short of impossible particularly when needing to propel an identity into the future, or applying a future perspective/s to our present condition.

    In fact what we actually do as futurists, is creating an inner taxonomy of futures based on our own differentiation of past and present.
    The taxonomy each and every one of us creates is an amalgam of the knowledge that we carry and have available (available via the net) coupled with our unique emotional arrangement and by consequence our perception of time.

    Given that we all start with a foundational attitude of continuity (we must accept continuity for even using the term future) our taxonomies are fundamentally divided into short and long-term futures.
    How short is a short-term future? My take at this point is that ‘short’ should stand for an approximation of 3 to 5 yrs. How long is long-term future? My take at this point is that long term should stand for an approximation of 15 to 30 yrs. And after that? Well if we accept the singularity proposition (soft or hard take off) more than 50yrs into the future, the unknown reigns.

    Under short-term future we use something that I will call here an ‘ADF’, short for Apparently Distinguishable Futures.

    Apparently distinguishable futures (ADF):

    Apparently distinguishable futures (ADF) are futures that appear to be distinguishable from the current state of affairs of the world. We might say that these kinds of futures are a semantic extension of the ‘now’. The meaning of the previous statement is that based on a deep observation of current events, technologies &/or sciences, be they of the social or the material kind, a futurist extends the ‘meaning’ of that which she observes into a probable future. Building a scenario based on the current events leads the futurist to extend her anticipation capabilities of perception into a near term future.

    If we accept the premise that anticipation (or projection) is the method by which minds propel information into the future it follows that a futurist propels the information he or she carries into a future that by necessity accommodates the so-called present reality.
    In other words, by accommodating the present we actually limit the future we can predict/project or anticipate.
    It is inherent in the above statements that the limitations of such scenarios are the resources (in terms of data/info/knowledge and so on) that are available and are at the disposition of the mind of said futurist. Since the overall amount of information available in general is increasing in an exponential curve the possibility of and for an individual mind (be that mind exceptionally capable) to actually anticipate the future is a practical impossibility, for a futurist to predict anything beyond the scope of a particular context is nothing short of extraordinary.

    *ADFs conceptually relate to semantic extensions of the present and deal in probabilities.

    The additional method at our disposal is what I shall call here: Non-immediately distinguishable futures or NIDF.

    “Problems cannot be solved by the level of awareness that created them"
    (Albert Einstein)

    Non-immediately distinguishable futures (NIDF):

    NIDFs are futures that do not immediately spring to mind when observing our immediate milieu. These kinds of future scenarios may be called semantic amplifications of the immediate state of affairs (and are to be distinct from semantic extensions of the ‘now’ or ADFs ).

    It will be true to say that when beholding a particular set of events, the anticipating mind, loops upon itself in an iterative manner, using as background all (figure of speech) previously available knowledge. When such a state of projectionality arises the mind of the futurist implies from the actual into the possible. Implying a possibility and extracting a future scenario from it is the hallmark of an advanced futurist, managing his visions and insights into a coherent whole that has no discernible immediate facts and data as proof or basis. This stands in contradistinction to the ADF futurist that can always, as it were, explain the basis of his predictions and anticipatory projection with facts and figures, data and statistics. That is why a NIDF futurist uses what I have called elsewhere (futures as such) intuition.
    The distinction between semantic extension and semantic amplification can be understood metaphorically as the distinction between instinct and intuition.
    For probabilities, well-honed informational instincts/knowledge will provide an extended meaning (semantic extension of the now), for possibilities highly sophisticated intuition/imagination is necessary and provides an amplified meaning (semantic amplification of the now).

    *NIDFs conceptually relate to semantic amplifications of the present and deal in possibilities.

    "You can never plan the future by the past."
    (Edmund Burke)

    ADF vs. NIDF, two mind styles

    ADF futurists and NIDF futurists are not necessarily mutually exclusive; these two kinds of fundamental expressions of the anticipatory mind can definitely co-exist.
    However as I see it, each and every one of these types of projection represent a different state of mind and thus need be tackled and presented under different conceptualizations, or styles.

    The ADF style of futurism is generally more inclined to the applications of technology on an immediate basis, whilst the NIDF style of futurism implies a long term thought, yet the salient point to observe is that NIDF demands an advanced form of philosophy of mind which an ADF style of futurism, does not.

    As a futurist I self describe as, and resonate with the NIDF style of futurism primarily because of the philosophy change implied and demanded by this style of minding.

    The philosophy change implied and demanded is revolutionary to say the least. The change concerns analysis and prognosis, the kind and style of mental emotional background the futurist entertains.
    It is the ecology of mind of the futurist that determines what kind of projectionality he will adopt.
    Paradigmatically speaking, a semantic extension of the now and a semantic amplification of the now are two distinct attitudes in the mind of the futurist. For whilst a semantic extension of the now accelerates the implications born of actual knowledge the semantic amplification of the now defies the implications born of actual knowledge and allow, out of the box thinking, in a primordial set up. It is as if, the mind of a semantic amplifier has adopted a leeway stance in, and to which, present conditions bear little relevance.

    As a simple example let us contemplate upon the idea that philosophy and art are as much needed as science and engineering, if not more.

    Needed in what fashion?

    Well, consider the fact that if we take into account the present reality we exists in as a civilization, philosophy as an art and art as a philosophy, both taken here as thought precursors and catalysts to change and evolution of society are almost non-existent in the writings and projection of most futurists.

    Not only are these aspects of human endeavor missing and neglected, these (philosophy and art*) have a very particular job to perform, that of both resisting the present and simultaneously accentuating the now. (Hence the title of this paper)

    The artist philosopher mind to which any NIDF futurist need pay heed is concerned with deterritorializing the immediacy of experience for the purpose of allowing an unknown factor to unsettle the complacency of the known.

    There is no greater danger to our futures in fact than the danger of proceeding into the future by using the contexts of the past. The concepts and contexts that brought us until this moment in time, are obsolete and inconsequential, if we accept an unknown milieu as the customary workplace of a non-immediately distinguishable futures style of minding.
    The performing activity of a NIDF style futurist requires, in a fashion, an inherent liberty of thought and sensation, a freedom from her own imaging status, so as to expound and explode her creative intuition into a version of a fresh possible reality.

    This level of creative potentiality is an art unto itself, for it demands of the practitioner (if praxis there is) an advanced form of mind plasticity, language adaptability, image recursivity and emotional reflectivity the likes of which few have at present.

    I firmly believe that we need all become to different extents NIDF futurists, Rene’s Renaissance Man, or indeed Polytopians.

    “If you can dream - and not make dreams your master.”
    (Rudyard Kipling)

    We need both resist the present so as not to be constrained by it and simultaneously acknowledge the present for its is indeed our home base, a home base however which we need leave behind us whilst acknowledging the unknown.

    Acknowledging the unknown, its uncertainty and potential in turn requires a sophisticated variety of intelligence, an intelligence that realizes, as a conscious aware entity, that ‘I’ is just a habit, self-description evolves, and representation both singular and global progresses creatively.

    (will be continued in next part concerning the future of intelligence)

    (this is part two of " The un/natural future of mankind" / "Futures as such")

    Fri, May 15, 2009  Permanent link
    Categories: polytopia, futurism, Futures
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    This will be a continuously updated post collecting the thoughts of great thinkers both past and current via quotes relating to the Polytopia project.

    "I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I'm frightened of the old ones. " John Cage

    "Civilization is entirely the product of phonetic literacy. As it dissolves with the electronic revolution, we rediscover a tribal integral awareness that manifests itself in a complete shift in our sensory lives....This new electronic environment itself constitutes an inner trip, collectively, without benefit of drugs. The impulse to use hallucinogens is a kind of empathy with the electronic environment." - Marshall McLuhan

    "When looking at the future, the “what” is far more predictable than the “when.” And the “how” will always feel different than predicted." - Thomas Frey - Senior Futurist, The DaVinci Institute

    “The great global problems of our time—the proliferation of weapons
    of mass destruction, the disruption of the environment, etc.—can only be solved
    through cooperation and compromise among people with radically different moral
    outlooks. And this, I believe, is unlikely to happen so long as the people of the
    world hold fast to their respective versions of moral common sense.
    What is so terrible about moral common sense? In a phrase, moral
    realism. Moral realism is, roughly, the idea that there is a fact of the matter about
    what’s right or what’s wrong.”

    The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Truth about Morality and
    What to Do About it, Doctoral Dissertation of Joshua D. Greene in the Department of
    Philosophy, Princeton University, June 2002. (pdf)

    "We need first to understand that the human form - including human desire and all its external representations - may be changing radically, and thus must be re-visioned. We need to understand that five hundred years of humanism may be coming to an end, as humanism transforms itself into something that we must helplessly call post-humanism."

    (Prometheus as performer - toward a posthumanist culture, in Michael Benamou/Charles Caramello (Ed.), Performance in postmodern culture, Madison 1977)

    "We can't avoid some anthropic component in our science, which is interesting, because after three hundred years we finally realize that we do matter. Our vantage point in the universe is relevant to our science. But it's very easy to misconstrue the anthropic principle, and draw ridiculous conclusions from it. You have to be very careful how you state it. What it is not saying is that our existence somehow exercises a theological or causative compulsion for the universe to have certain laws or certain initial conditions. It doesn't work like that. We're not, by our own existence, creating such a universe."

    Paul Davies

    “Why spend billions to place a man on the Moon? If we don't, we may lose the Earth. If we do, we may gain the universe. You couldn't ask for better odds.”
    I. Asimov

    We haven’t worked on ways to develop a higher social intelligence… We need this higher intelligence to operate socially or we’re not going to survive…. If we don’t manage things socially, individual high intelligence is not going to make much difference….
    Ordinary thought in society is incoherent - it is going in all sorts of directions, with thoughts conflicting and canceling each other out. But if people were to think together in a coherent way, it would have tremendous power.

    David Bohm

    "[Our ability to conceptualize] enables us to think such empty thoughts as "This statement is about itself," which is true but useless, or "This statement is not about itself," which is false and useless, or "This statement is false," which is downright paradoxical. Yet the benefit of being able to conceptualize is surely worth the risk that we may sometimes be nonsensical."

    Marvin Minsky, The Society of Mind. p. 231

    Some Notes:

    *If you have a quote that you would like to add, please do so in the comment section and I will add it to the main post

    *Main pic: Global society can be defined by incorporating concepts from cybernetics, evolutionary theory, and complex adaptive systems and can therefore be seen as a network of self-producing components, and therefore as a living system or “superorganism”.
    A superorganism is a higher-order, “living” system, whose components are organisms themselves. (in this case, individual humans and thier technology).

    This is an outtake/concept sketch for a full page illustration which was commissioned Focus Magazine on the emergence of a true ‘global’ intelligence.
    from : Mondolithic

    *some of these quotes have been collected by @Reckon, @XiXidu, @G.Dvorsky
    Tue, Mar 31, 2009  Permanent link
    Categories: quotes, polytopia, futurism, Futures
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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