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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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    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

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    The great enhancement debate
    What will happen when for the first time in ages different human species will inhabit the earth at the same time? The day may be upon us when people...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    Come visit us- We Give Style to Character

    (A Crystomeme Advert )

    The song reached us before Someeven approached, by now we knew how to recognize his immense tetrahedral shape basking in its flamboyant colors. We still did not appreciate, however, that the changes to his melody were more than just fine-tuning his attentive-empathic cingulate cortex.

    That we could see his chosen hyper-dimensional structure was beside the point, it was not the decoration that we were following, though it need be admitted that Someeven had a set of adornments the like of which we had never sensed before. Of course Someeven was special, he had invested all of his light cone credits into what he termed the re-beautification of ethnic ethics and as a result his cultural purpose status had risen incalculably. That made him the de-facto leader of our little pod, not that it made any difference, it was more of an aesthetic declaration of intent when inserting ourselves into other pods, which, as all bio-photonic reproduction procedures go, was a permanent alteration of the communal retinal effect of bias, after bio-photonic interweaving you simply saw things differently.

    In most cases in fact our pod was the primary beauty effectuator, resulting in crystomemes being passed for our consumption by all other pods at the fifth Lagrange point.

    We all considered Someeven as the preeminent expert in low-level bio-chemiluminescence procedures, knowing full well that the hacks to his Tattooex were far from regular, Someeven was not only the leader in the field, he had practically invented most of the upgrades we were sporting, and being in his pod we always had them first, rhythming our thoughts to his impossible cadence.

    So when Someeven presented to us his latest insight into the nature of Tattooex, we were excited but not yet surprised, he was explaining how whilst we mind meld via our exoskeleton tatooex we could in principle engender a low level field of intentional consciousness that will for all practical purposes be disembodied. That was the first step, the second was much more difficult and more risky, for Someeven wanted to create what he jokingly called a conscious catapult. Basically enclosing the low level field of intentional consciousness as a contoured concept of beauty and as it were, catapulting it to other pods, bypassing the empty void of space and inserting ourselves en masse into an other pod. And yet we needed to fully consider the implications, for in bio-photonics sex, the revision and modification of bias was generating a change that could not be turned around.

    In short we would be ‘illuminating’ (as was the term we used for bio-photonic penetration) a part of the other pod mind meld, we were thinking about Almass as the candidate, and altering its conscious conceptual structure, irrevocably and without its consent.
    Someeven was not concerned, he argued that all bio-photonics interweaving is an alteration of bias and therefore there was no ethical problem but only an aesthetic one, was it beautiful enough?
    In retrospective we the Beluga pod think that we did no wrong, we simply poised the intent of beautification as an alternate module of sight, transposing an advanced conception unto Almass and attending to the result.

    It was an artistic plan, meticulously designed and perfectly coordinated, we had chosen to illuminate Almass with elegance and in so doing we annihilated Almass and ourselves as well.

    The result we were reborn as and now attend to is called BelugAlmass the elegant, we are situated at Lagrange point five.

    Come visit us- We Give Style to Character

    # Crystomemes: a neologism created in 2119 by the Regyt Corporation combining the terms of crystal (for memory crystal) and memes. The Crystomeme is in fact a memory crystal containing a unit of cultural aesthetics that is the de-facto resource of the current solar civ. Crystomemes (CM) can be exchanged for LightCones credits (LCC), present rate is approximately 1 CM= 700 LightconesCredits.

    #Lightcone credit(s): the monetary unit of our present solar civ- basically representing the amount of time invested by any pod resident in the welfare of his pod. Lightcone credits can be earned only be being received by other members of same pod.

    Part of the Ultrashorts project


    This ultrashort sci-fi story was inspired by a number of ideas that came rushing through, it primarily concerns the development of a some news from nanotechnology:
    Tattoo Tracks Sodium and Glucose via an iPhone-Need to track your blood oxygen levels? There may soon be an app for that.
    ‘Tattoo’ may help diabetics track their blood sugar : Carbon nanotubes could be injected under the skin to measure blood glucose levels” and then I remembered that a few years back Phillips had a nice intro to the idea of Electronic tattoos:” Tattoos and physical mutilation are amongst the oldest forms of personal expression and identity. Subcultures have used tattoos as a form of self-representation; a visual language communicating personality and status. Philips Design examined the growing trend of extreme body adornment like tattoos, piercing, implants and scarring.
    The Electronics Tattoo film expresses the visual power of sensitive technology applied to the human body. The film subtly leads the viewer through the simultaneous emotional and aesthetic transformations between two lovers.
    Watch the film.
    Finally as my readers would know the future of social interaction is always in my thoughts, hence this little story, I hope you enjoy it.
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    "Oh, to be alive in such an age, when miracles are everywhere, and every inch of common air throbs a tremendous prophecy, of greater marvels yet to be."

    Walt Whitman

    And what marvels we have in front of our very own eyes! Marvels of technology and science we could not have foreseen but always desired, marvels of understanding and knowledge we could not fathom just a moment ago, and yet in a very real sense at least for some of us, rational beings in the age of hyper-connectivity, most of these are expected if not outright obvious, the problem of course is that obviousness and banality take huge chunks of our time and attention, diminishing as it were the possible amount of serendipity which is in a sense the reason we apply ourselves to the seeking of the new , of the curious, of the inexplicable and perchance the delightfully illuminating.
    It is my view that the freshness we desire in our thought and the sensations of enchantment we experience in positive surprises are the foundations of a healthy mind leading us towards a healthy civilization.
    In this regard the rise of our cyber-civilization, admittedly in its embryonic stage is but a small step towards a greater nuanced understanding of the world we live in, and a deeper comprehension of our peers and ourselves; a small step but carrying immense implications.
    With this I think that we have developed a certain blasé’ attitude, a confident nonchalance with regard to that which may make a difference, and by this attitude we may perhaps gain an infinite amount of knowledge at our fingertips but lose the original reason for which we have developed all this.
    At present we are in fact worshipping the obvious to such an extent that for all practical purposes, we rehash that, which is apparent, understandable and palpable, to the detriment of our exercise of innovation.
    As I see it, part of what may change this attitude of nonchalance starts with:

    Un-worshipping the obvious

    I love the term serendipity; it is one of those words that carry a certain mystique to their construct, as if somehow, somewhere, there exists a realm of fairies ready to show us the way in unexpected fashion.
    Serendipity is quite unlike any other word in that it points to a real world phenomenon of mind that seems to provide us with an indication to something else.
    This ‘something else’, carries a set of characteristics that are not immediately apparent, yet I think them important in our quest for ever-increasing discovery, innovation and fresh insights.

    According to the online etymology dictionary ( ) the term serendipity: was coined by Horace Walpole (1717-92) in a letter to Mann (dated Jan. 28); he said he formed it from the Persian fairy tale "The Three Princes of Serendip," whose heroes "were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of." The name is from Serendip, an old name for Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), from Arabic Sarandib, from Skt. Simhaladvipa "Dwelling-Place-of-Lions Island."

    Assuming for the moment the initial definition of serendipity to be:
    “The occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way” I think we can start and deconstruct the term to better fit our needs.

    As I see it we first must clarify what exactly it is that we desire to designate using the term serendipity, are we implying that somewhere a goddess of fortune has favored us or made us favorite in some unfathomable fashion? Do we believe that some unknowable force has created some opportunity for us? Alternatively, is it pure chance, a result of random tossing of a universal coin? Or better yet, a deeply hidden intuition, totally opaque to our immediate conscious aware perception, but that somehow result in our ‘accidentally’, encountering the unexpected?

    Do note that in most definitions serendipity involves the terms: happiness, fortune, favor, accident, chance, value, unexpected, unsought, discovery and more..

    What is so fascinating in this collection of words is the ineffable feeling that something is going on, something to which we do not have access or immediate explanation but something which might if the conditions are right, become extremely valuable to us. There is no doubt in the value of serendipity, in the history of science especially, but also in almost any field of human endeavor, the number of examples is immense and often quoted, some of the most famous examples:

    “It is true that my discovery of LSD was a chance discovery, but it was the outcome of planned experiments and these experiments took place in the framework of systematic pharmaceutical, chemical research. It could better be described as serendipity.”

    Albert Hofmann

    This is a fine example that shows some of the necessary ingredients for serendipity for it is quite obvious that was Albert Hofmann not performing said planned experiments and not containing in his intellect the required framework, the discovery would not have happened, same goes for the following example.

    “Another example of serendipity in science is associated with Alexander Fleming and his discovery of penicillin against the serious diseases at the time. He accidentally left a petri dish of Staphylococcus bacteria open and a mold had got inside which had appeared to have killed around the bacteria. It turned out that it was the fungus Penicillium and he turned the fungus into a groundbreaking antibiotic. (see)

    These two examples are of a very particular kind of serendipity to which I apply the more exact terminology of “ Framework serendipity” .

    Framework serendipity has a number of characteristics that can be listed as follows:
    # Framework- or Context need be clear ( ex: chemistry)
    # The person involved need be highly knowledgeable in the given context
    # The person involved need be inherently curious and sensitive to data that does not make sense in context, in this respect I very much agree with - Isaac Asimov:
    “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’, but ‘That’s funny …’

    For framework serendipity to work the one most pertinent advice therefore could be framed as: stop worshipping the obvious.

    Serendipity means thus Inadvertently sampling the non obvious

    When we stop worshipping the obvious, surprise occurs.

    When we stop worshipping the obvious the first term that comes to mind is therefore: ‘surprise’ as a broad term designating all that which we do not expect yet comes into our field of perception and reveals itself to be relevant.
    Surprise is only one of the characteristics of serendipity and is far from good enough to define what it is that serendipity stands for and yet surprise, surprisingly (pun intended) has a fundamental role to play when it comes to learning, which may of course explain the great delight that minds take from surprise.

    Surprise! learning and prefrontal cortex

    Surprise makes learning more likely, as shown, for instance, by the strong distaste that often develops after a familiar food has made us sick. In a region of prefrontal cortex, brain activity varies with the amount of surprising information available to subjects during a learning task, reports a study in the October issue of Nature Neuroscience. Therefore this brain area may be involved in comparing expectations against actual events, making it a good candidate for the neural basis of surprise-dependent learning in humans.
    Paul Fletcher and colleagues at Cambridge University presented subjects with fictitious case studies during brain scanning with fMRI. Subjects were told that they should imagine that they were working for a drug company and were asked for each case to predict whether a particular drug would produce a certain syndrome. In early trials, when associations were unpredictable, subjects showed high activity in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Then, during learning, these responses attenuated-but reappeared with surprise violations of the learned association. Furthermore, the magnitude of the brain response to a surprise event predicted later changes in the subjects' behavior.

    (Nature Neuroscience ( )

    But is any form of surprise, serendipitous? The answer is no, for within the term serendipity lies the great adjective of ‘delight ’. In fact most of us will define a serendipitous event as a surprising and delightful event, the emphasis on delight describes the joy, pleasure and gratification involved in the new event of discovery.
    Furthermore given that we now have two particular terms to employ, surprise and delight, we need go deeper, for it is quite easy to fall prey to delusions of significance when serendipity occurs.
    We need keep a very skeptical eye concerning the meaning that might be implied by a serendipitous event and for that certain rules of clear thought need be applied.

    Not all events are serendipitous, some are happenstances (being at the right time at the right place) some are accidents (chance occurrences with no apparent value), some are surprising (unexpected occasions of recognition, not necessarily useful). However, we do have this tendency to bundle all of these different cases of events that bear similarity to each other under umbrella terms such as serendipity or luck, but if we do so, we risk the very real danger of flattening our sense-thought procedures.
    Not all random events of discovery are created equal and not all events are serendipity events, we do however desire more serendipity events if for no other reason than the fact that serendipitous events have an inherent tendency to increase creativity and develop new connections where none were perceived before.

    Are all forms of creativity, serendipitous events? Of course not, but we do have this tendency to assign a high level of serendipity to creative manifestations, if only because of the opacity of the creative process in our minds.

    That is why we may need a new definition for Serendipity

    Serendipity a new definition:

    Serendipity is a term designating an event of change, the event cannot be correlated directly to previous acts that lead to it and thus appears to be of an accidental nature or random processes. These appearances lead the person involved to experience a state of joy, delight or indeed happiness. The sensation of experience in these conditions may be left as such or further investigated. However to truly become an event of change a serendipity event need be plumbed and excavated for its hidden resourcefulness.
    A serendipity event contains elements of surprise, but not just any surprise will do, not ‘everything goes’, but only elements of surprise that are highly relevant to the person involved in a context sensitive environment.
    A serendipity event will always delight, by this implying that a serendipity event is simultaneously emotional, sensual, intersubjective and relational.
    A serendipity event is characterized by a juxtaposition of apparently unrelated contexts and forces, engendering inferential insights, potentially changing the goal or direction of the preceding event.

    To my understanding serendipity as such cannot be engineered, what can be done belongs to the realms of Ambientation and Infocology. In other words, it is our task to create informational ecologies or infocologies that are intrinsically geared towards serendipity. We may call this serendipity facilitation, or serendipity enhancement, these will potentially yield a larger number of serendipity events that can be mined for meaning, excavated for patterns or plowed for further research and indications of unseen options.
    Serendipity facilitation is not an exact science for it must follow the unstable and indeterminate motion of our mind narrative, at each junction adding or subtracting from the ambient infocology as much or as little as is possible without destroying the contours of the given context.

    The serendipity event can be amplified or deconstructed but always contains the seeds of a new understanding or a new kind of pleasure, that ‘makes sense’. The correlated infocology need maintain a set of tools that can imply from and entail into a new set of coordinates that may feed back into the event of serendipity.

    Between expectation and surprise therein lay serendipity

    Serendipity and the web

    The net is in continuous flux and thus does not inherently increases or decreases the possible amount of serendipitous events. The fact of having an immense amount of information readily thrown upon us is not in itself a guarantee of serendipity.
    We cannot micro-manage serendipity nor macro manage it; in fact the greatest advantage proposed by the concept of serendipity is that it is inherently unmanageable.

    And yet..

    A while back (that would be September 2010) E. Schmidt of Google said that :”
    “Beyond speed and personalization, the evolution of search will lead us to search occurring when you’re not even using the search engine — autonomous search, Schmidt said. What he meant by this is queries that are constantly running in the background based on activity on your various devices. He called this the “Serendipity Engine”. (via techcrunch)

    And with the advent in the past weeks of Google+ plus it appears that Google indeed desires to dominate if not the social scene at least the concept of serendipity, or so it may seem.

    I have been using the G+ network system (yes I do not call it social, but about this in a following post) for a week or so, trying to observe an increase or decrease in serendipity. As far as I can tell there is no difference at present between the usage of the G+ system and any other so called ‘socnet’ out there, the underlying infrastructure does not presently encourage serendipity events, at least not in the manner I have defined above.

    More soon.


    Some suggested readings and watch:

    Science, Serendipity and the Search for Truth (watch on youtube)

    The endangered joy of serendipity

    The modern world makes it harder to discover what you didn't know you were looking for

    By WILLIAM MCKEEN, SPECIAL TO THE TIMES (Published March 26, 2006)

    Can We Please Kill This Meme Now
    Mon, Jul 25, 2011  Permanent link
    Categories: serendipity, event, non-obvious
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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