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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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    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.
    Looking at the present from the perspective of the future is probably one of the most interesting capabilities of the human mind, how much more so when the amount of interest we have invested in our futures has grown exponentially.
    Looking at the present from a future vantage point assumes we can project ourselves into an indefinite state of observation that demands no clarification, for it is fictional by nature, hence its privileged position.
    But though fictional, this panoramic viewpoint remains as its name implies a huge and highly rewarding vantage position.

    The fact that we are living today a life of Liminality, of hyperconnectivity and multiculturalism is beyond any doubt the single most salient aspect of our current civilization. Above all this fact implies one critical change from the past, namely, for a growing majority it is no longer natural to feel at ease only in ones’ ‘original’ culture.
    Being constantly bombarded by new science and technology, discovery and inventions, we are moving into the multicultural even if unaware of this motion.
    The motion into the multicultural operates on many levels and many aspects of our existence, technology in this sense is not only a tool created by us for us, moreover it is not even a tool that creates a new ‘us’, it is ipso facto an instrument that generates a phase space of new options in the great game of evolution.

    This phase space of new options allows in the words of F.Kafka :”.. not to stand still with arms raised, pressed again a crate wall.”

    “No, I didn’t want freedom. Only a way out—to the right or left or anywhere at all. I made no other demands, even if the way out should also be only an illusion. The demand was small; the disappointment would not be any greater—to move on further, to move on further! Only not to stand still with arms raised, pressed again a crate wall.”

    Franz Kafka
    A Report for An Academy

    Momentarily playing the game of being rational entitles us to a number of basic premises, namely that evolution has no inherent direction, and more importantly perhaps, the fact that we are not, never have been and never will be the very centre of creation, the universe, life and just about everything else.
    That this is a no-brainer is not the point, the issue we need center upon is that in our ascension, or more appropriately, in our subjectified evolutionary embedded state, we, the human species that is, are part and parcel of a larger evolutionary flow, one that is fully unrelated to anything we believe.
    The fact that this is so is not a problem for a view that embraces Darwinism and imports its structure and principles only to overcome it by symbiotically re-organizing itself into a new form of association.
    The re-organization of the life form we currently depend upon, as the substrate of our conscious activity, is nothing special, it is just another day in the motion of interestingness. In this sense, the cyborgization process with which we are currently occupied and proactively seeking, is not in itself anything different than any other specie that has found for itself a manner of correlating its existence with another form of existence. Being a cyborg, in the sense of man machine symbiosis, is no more different than the human bacteria symbiosis; these are just different instances of the same phenomena allowed in the phase space of evolutionary options.

    Just as bacteria have learned to adapt and co-evolve within a larger organism, so does technology embeds itself within the larger adaptation of human society, human civilization, our networked minds, and indeed a co-opted form of life as a society, of supposedly conscious aware entities.
    However as the inexorable motion of our evolutionary progress increases both in speed and options our symbiotic relationship with all life is receiving a long overdue re-interpretation. For it is not only that we are becoming more connected with everything else, other humans, and other objects, and soon other forms of life as well, but the very meaning of otherness is being re-described.

    Otherness or more appropriately alterity is being re-described and will vastly imply upon our manners and fashions of existence in every single act of metaphorical thought, for it is by metaphors that we change and gain new insights.

    “Metaphor is for most people device of the poetic imagination and the rhetorical flourish—a matter of extraordinary rather than ordinary language. Moreover, metaphor is typically viewed as characteristic of language alone, a matter of words rather than thought or action… We have found, on the contrary, that metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but also in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature. ”

    "Metaphors We Live By" George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

    The difficulty

    Gaining a new insight is not unlike convincing our minds to accept a new metaphor, and though our language is suffused with metaphors, the difficulty arises when the sense perception that we have is insufficiently contained by the common metaphor of a particular subject.
    Metaphors contain many riches, and good metaphors are a true treasure of meaning and connotations, significance and value, finding the right metaphor is therefore a challenging task of inventiveness and creativity meant to provide the ultimate container for a particular insight.
    Coining a new metaphor for a familiar and shared experience is difficult enough, how much more so when the insight gained is itself new and shared by few. If the background of the metaphor is contextual, and known, accepted and exhaustively recycled, the metaphor is easily grasped and efficiently disappears or becomes opaque whilst conveying the meaning, or sense perception it was meant for. However, when the background is itself novel, and the insight is anything but common experience, the task becomes truly herculean.
    Given that a good metaphor is a vehicle of sense-thought as much as it is an assistant to sense-thought, the creation of a genuine poetic and descriptive metaphor, carrying the evocative power of the insight for which it is meant, is crucial in communicating an idea. But there is more to metaphors than simply being a vehicle of expression, recent research in the neuroscience of metaphors shows clearly “..that metaphor comprehension is grounded in our sensory and motor experiences.” (See: Metaphors Can Light Up Brain’s Sensory Area ).
    Moreover, if metaphor comprehension is indeed as the research shows, grounded in our sensory and motor experiences, and if our brains change accordingly it might well be the case that our metaphorical mind is the recursivity instrument by which we evolve. It is highly probable in fact that as our experience of the world via technologies changes, our minds change accordingly, even though we may not be totally aware to this state of affairs.

    Metaphors are in continuous migration from realm to realm, from fields to fields and from languages to other languages, metaphors are actually memetic nomads, never belonging absolutely to any particular context or territory, therein lies their greatest strength and simultaneously their weakest point. For whilst it is highly rewarding (for comprehension and gaining new insights) to apply concepts of biology for example to computers, such as 'computer hygiene', 'genetic algorithms' and 'evolutionary programming', other migrations maybe pernicious to understanding.
    Using metaphors of land ownership for example, such as ‘domain’ or ‘commons’ imply instantly the governance and lawful aspect of that particular metaphor.

    “Discussion of cyberspace in terms of physical space both reflects and encourages the notion that it can be either circumscribed and dominated or kept open and free, notions we see embodied in what are perhaps the most enduring cyber metaphors, cyberspace as a domain, and the internet as a ―global commons.”

    The Metaphoric “Branding” of Cyberspace by Adriane Lapointe* (pdf)

    The transformative power of excellent metaphors

    My premise here is that the fast paced technological and scientific infocology we currently reside in both socially and culturally involves a wide array of new metaphors that are literally changing our brains, our minds, our thoughts, our actions and eventually our behaviors. This change in perception and consciousness has a wide variety of manners of expression and involves much more than just a fleeting change of linguistic props. I am a strong believer in the idea that a good enough metaphor is, as its name implies, ‘good enough’ and thus changes little, but an excellent metaphor can carry us into a totally new dimension of being and experience.

    An excellent metaphor is a high quality vehicle of sense thought, having the exceptional capability to transform the mind of the bearer of that same thought. Moreover, I firmly accept that an inspired metaphor can by itself alter the mind into a privileged and radically different envisioning, in the process gaining an insight previously inaccessible.

    Hence, gaining a new insight requires the immersion of the thought process in an excellent metaphor, fitting the insight in question.

    "When the love affair of the mind with the body is over, when reason and imagination are in love with each other and have no eyes for awkward flesh, when the hardwiring of the brain into the nervous system is overtaken by its prosthetic connections to the telecoms system, art has a new function. With or without bodies, we have been moving as a technological species into the human universe for a hundred and fifty years. Now we have to decide what luggage to take with us on the journey, and what has to be left behind. Will we need space? Will we need time? Will we need the distinction between them? Will we need our human senses to register the old certainties, when there are new uncertainties to survive and challenge? This is, in large part, what the new media arts exist to understand: a kind of Research and Development laboratory for the next phase of human evolution. "

    The Angel of Mediation - SIMON BIGGS Sean Cubitt

    The mental alchemy - from metaphors to techno-metaphors

    When William Blake said that “the eternal body of man is the imagination”, little did he realize the future understanding and development of that statement, the merging of body and poetry, art and science, technology and mind.
    I do not doubt that even today it will be difficult to realize the import of a technological metaphor becoming objectified. I do not mean a linguistic metaphor but a literal metaphorical process of becoming made available by technology.
    In an age when wireless implants for the release of medicine in the body are already with us (link), and matrix style virtual reality learning is soon to become accessible (link) we need take a fresh look at the techno metaphorical mind.

    A thought is ‘like a code’, is an analogy, but a thought ‘is code’ is a metaphor, this transforms into a techno-metaphorical process with the advent of brain machine interfaces by which a thought, literally becomes a code, able to operate objects in the real world, to act in the world and on the world. This is not merely some science fictional idea for the future but a very real and very immediate reality with which we will have to come to terms with and adapt accordingly.
    Controlling machine interfaces directly with our minds is a disruptive revolution precisely because it disturbs the old fashion of separation of body from other (hence revolutionizing alterity).
    Moreover, the advent of techno-metaphorical thought will permit an understanding of interconnection and hyperconnectivity in manners not previously readily obtainable to the common mind. The difference created in the mind will be gradual but fundamental, no longer will we need to teach the truth of connectivity for it will become a real and immediate experience, resulting so I surmise, in an elevated sense of empathy.
    To fully engage in the process of techno-metaphorical thought we will need to allow the metaphor (literally ‘carrying over’ from the Greek root ‘meta’- (beyond, above) and "pherein" (carrying, or bearing)) to work both ways, from our minds into and unto the world and from the world into and unto our minds.
    This motion of codes as metaphors will be performed by brain machine interfaces but will result in the literal expansion of the sense of self into new domains of experience, for which our inadequate worldviews are unprepared.

    The development of a techno-metaphorical mental alchemy, which I view as part of the cyborgization process, will transform us into a new variety of being, the Technoshamans, a different kind of creature indeed, a new species on this planet.

    (More on techno-shamans to come soon)

    On a more personal note

    No matter how much we may be convinced to offer the concept of sustainability for example our vote of confidence, as long as the sense of self is separated from, say, a tree, we will never feel the full empathy required for real restraint.
    Some of us will, most of us will not.
    I believe that with the advent of the techno-metaphorical process we will enter a new form of sensing the other (in this case the tree) through which our new nature will overcome the old boundaries of alterity and result in a much improved form of human containing an inherent ethic of sharing the universe.
    This may save us from ourselves...

    “When you will have made him a body without organs,
    then you will have delivered him from all his automatic reactions
    and restored him to his true freedom.”
    — Antonin Artaud

    to be continued..

    (This essay belongs to the thread "Forays in Philotopia - exploring the possible Philosophy of a Polytopia")


    1. for more on BMI- go watch : Science Bulletins: Tapping In—The Promise of Brain-Computer Interface.
    2. read: Brain Computer Interfaces: Melding Man and Machine

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    “Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.”

    Mark Twain

    (part 1)

    A number of articles these past weeks have caught my attention as I write these words, the first, coming from: The guardian: Population of world 'could grow to 15bn by 2100' (Nearly 7 billion people now inhabit planet but projections that number will double this century have shocked academics-see here) and the second coming few days later from the NYT entitled seven billions (link).
    Both articles deal with a very real problem we are facing in the coming decades, the immense rise in planetary human population, and though the issue is anything but new, the approaches to the issue have changed are changing, and indeed must change.

    The interesting issue at play from the perspective we are exploring here in the PP discourse is the correlation to hyperconnectivity, and by extension, as technology will evolve, the rise of the global brain.

    The exploration of intense states of affairs (topos) rising in the noosphere as our numbers explode will demand (and already are) a new form of conceptualization. Though the common accepted version presently is one of convergence, of man and machine, or the rise of a network mediated global mind, the polytopia presents a complementary and different perception, one of polychronicity.

    There is very little doubt that in a few very short years, we shall turn the extensions of our minds (such as cell phones and search engines) into embedded extensions seamlessly integrated in our thought processes, such as brain machine interfaces and similar devices.

    That longevity is an inevitable fact is not the real question (though the extent of same longevity is), the harnessing of collective intelligence via crowd sourcing or other heavy handed computationally intensive machines is not in question, the motivations behind it are.
    Intelligent semi automated (and thus semi independent) agents responding to our different requests such as Siri or its just released android opposition Iris, are already here, and though their present efficiency is both questionable and dubious, their attractiveness and progression is inevitable and uncontestable.
    That to a very large extent the evolution of us as connected and augmented minds is inevitable and undisputed is not the issue at play, what is at stake is the manner and fashion this evolutionary inevitability will be exploited to bring us closer to a world we ‘really’ wish to live in.

    The world we ‘really’ wish to live in is a very difficult concept to grasp not least of which because not all of ‘us’ wish or desire to live in the ‘same’ world.
    We may ignorantly assume that ‘all of us’ desire the same basic ‘good’, implying that ethics is a universal to which all human need subjugate themselves out of a universal ethical imperative a la Kant, or indeed that all of us accept a form of utilitarianism a la Mill-Bentham, and though recently a universal brain code has been discovered (link), I do not think in any fashion that neurotypicality is as foundational as it is believed to be.

    As much as I am a strong advocate of the benefits of hyperconnectivity and the info-availability it allows us to exploit, I am also become a positive skeptic in all facets concerning the human unification procedure. Access to the world’s information in itself is totally meaningless in itself, the power and benefits of education notwithstanding, for the simple reason that unless a common ground of multiple narratives as an initial co-extensive and coexisting realism of intersubjective allowance is posited, the information is ignored.
    The issue at play is not whether a global brain will rise, it will, it already does, it will also to a certain extent be conscious, with some caveats at least at the initial stages, it will after a fashion reflect us and thus will have just as much morality as we have, an incomplete and unresolved morality, an ethic that knows not the difference between desire and necessity.

    Will Siri or Watson or any of a number of extrapolated and possible artificial intelligences have a conscience? presently they can't even talk to each other: "So Watson can’t take dictation, and Siri can’t play Jeopardy".

    Consciousness, hyperconnectivity and language

    For any person who has had the pleasure and shock of reading one of the most important books of the 20th century, namely: Julian Jaynes: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (see), the idea that until recently we were not conscious or at least not conscious in the same manner as we perceive ourselves to be at present, the idea of the evolution of consciousness, is not new.

    "O, what a world of unseen visions and heard silences, this insubstantial country of the mind! What ineffable essences, these touchless rememberings and unshowable reveries! And the privacy of it all! A secret theater of speechless monologue and prevenient counsel, an invisible mansion of all moods, musings, and mysteries, an infinite resort of disappointments and discoveries. A whole kingdom where each of us reigns reclusively alone, questioning what we will, commanding what we can. A hidden hermitage where we may study out the troubled book of what we have done and yet may do. An introcosm that is more myself than anything I can find in a mirror. This consciousness that is myself of selves, that is everything, and yet is nothing at all - what is it?
    And where did it come from?
    And why?"

    (excerpt from the Introduction to The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind- Here)

    The idea that consciousness is not a single artifact or phenomenon, is not personal or emergent as such, but is an extended phenomenon, across a wide range of events of a sociological and cultural nature is a work in progress that only lately has received some traction.

    We are wired for cooperation:
    “The brain was built for cooperative activity, whether it be dancing on a TV reality show, building a skyscraper or working in an office, according to new research by neuroscientists.”

    (It Takes Two: Brains Come Wired for Cooperation, Neuroscientists Discover)

    We are everybody

    “Many aspects of everyday human consciousness elude neural reduction. For we belong to a boundless, infinitely elaborated community of minds that has been forged out of a trillion cognitive handshakes over hundreds of thousands of years. This community is the theater of our daily existence. It separates life in the jungle from life in the office, and because it is a community of minds, it cannot be inspected by looking at the activity of the solitary brain.”
    (Rethinking Thinking - How a lumpy bunch of tissue lets us plan, perceive, calculate, reflect, imagine—and exercise free will.)

    Ripe for disruption- our civilization

    HG Wells urged us to domesticate the impossible with plausible assumptions- we need therefore assume (and assumptions is all there is) that the number of humans on this planet will continue to grow exponentially, that the number of connected humans and objects-things will grow and that this hyperconnectivity increases the consciousness factor of the mind of mankind.

    There is no doubt that with the advent of the hyperconnected state of affairs, with increases in nano systems, biotechnology, exascale computing, big data, and cognitive computing, the plausible assumptions with which we may domesticate the impossible need change accordingly.
    Plausible assumptions are assumptions that have enough hold in present day observable threads of actuation and yet are stretchable enough so as to allow a glimpse of things to come.
    We need these kinds of assumptions for the simple reason that the domestication of the impossible is an ART not so much of extrapolation (from immediacy) but of value estimation of changes (in immediacy).

    Hyperconnectivity as an example can be extrapolated into a global reach but needs be estimated in the values change that such a reach implies if we are to domesticate its unpredictable consequences.
    One of those estimations that change in value is the manner by which hyperconnectivity changes our brains and by implication the fashion by which our minds interpret that old concept: ‘reality’.

    The view I hold that the concept of ‘reality’ is being dramatically altered by hyperconnectivity implies a few distinct and easy to parse points, namely that:

    Assumptions about the extended narratives of our personhood as embedded cognition are mobilized in hyperconnectivity to create new ‘natures’.

    Assumptions about existence in hypercomplex systems as diminishing the freedom of the individual are mustered in hyperconnectivity to increased freedom.

    But most importantly:

    The quality of being, as an aesthetic phenomenon, is radically altered in the age of hyperconnectivity in a fashion that prominently features the art of becoming, not as the mimesis of an other that is not authentic, but in a fashion that re-describes the extended narrative of the individual into a multiplicity of authentic beings.
    These new authenticities are the new natures, performing acts of freedom that were not hitherto recognized as such, primarily because the technology needed for such freedom was not available, but also because the realm in which these freedoms prevail did not exist.

    To the conscious aware entity that we have engendered (and in so have become) in our hyperconnected infoverse, the hypercomplex system has become interesting again. And since what makes a system interesting is its capability to reach beyond its self-image, bring back new input, criticize its self-image, upgrade it, iterate it, and reach again, we have become more interesting to ourselves again, in that we have become freer.
    We are self-disrupting creatures, using our abstract capabilities to undo that which we have established for the purpose of penetrating into realms unknown; Realms that might endanger us as well as delight us, realms of freedom unknown, realms of interest, redefining not only our realities in immediacy but also our futures. These futures are operating simultaneously on many dimensions but on different speeds, hence polychronicity, and though these futures originate in virtuality, slowly but surely they leak into immediate reality, altering it in the process.

    This new reality constructed of an indefinite number of state of affairs (topos), is what the polytopia discourse is all about.

    Ten or fifteen billion minds connected to fifty and more billion things in an incredible mesh of hyperconnectivity is an unknown realm to which we have no clue but much desire to explore.

    “There is no point in using the word 'impossible' to describe something that has clearly happened.”

    Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency

    Shortly to be expanded..

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    “A concept is a brick. It can be used to build the courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window.”

    Brian Massumi - Introduction to A Thousand Plateaus

    The social aspect of the hyperconnected web carries an update to the nature of propinquity. Propinquity is a conceptual brick we need re-acquire and redefine in the era of hyperconnectivity. By allowing the texture of hyperconnected virtuality to gain precedence we will open new realms of sensual experience previously unexplored, these realms offer the potential to explore new forms of freedom not previously accessible or existent.
    Polytopians are Knowmads pushing the edge of texture (of flows of interest) by embodying the new meaning of propinquity.

    1. Proximity means value!?- A no-brainer! Not so fast.

    Propinquity is all about the nearness or more accurately proximity, basically it is a concept that determines the value of proximity, whether the value being determined is one based on physical space proximity such as defined by the study of proxemics or defined by idea of proximity by kinship, group ideology and the like, the original formulation is the same – distance defines value.

    When we say that distance defines value- we imply a number of characteristics that seem obvious on surface:
    The value of my physical neighbor is higher to me than the value of a person living in a different county, country, continent and so on. On the same line, the value of a person is higher to me if we are blood related, clan related, nation related, or indeed if we belong to the same gender, political party, or we study the same subject matter.
    Accordingly people who share similar beliefs, similar taste in music or food are said to have a higher propinquity quotient, such a high quotient apparently prioritizes the value of the relationship and by implication the value of that person to me.
    Propinquity is a very subtle and difficult subject to tackle if only for the immense amount of evidence showing this to be a no-brainer, proximity means value, end of story.

    Not so fast

    Without needing to destroy the almost obvious conclusion that propinquity still plays an important role in our lives, on this planet at this time, it is my understanding that the very nature of propinquity, the inherent meaning of proximity is changing because of the hyperconnected state of affairs we find ourselves in.
    Hyperconnectivity and by derivation, mobility, both physical and memetic, ideological, informational and technological changes the nature of the formula: “proximity defines value” into a new formula: “ intersubjectivity co-extends value”.

    2. Intersubjectivity co-extends value

    From the perspective of hyperconnectivity the value of a network node relies on its texture of interest. A texture of interest is defined here as the availability of weaved interest structure to sensation. To emphasize, the usage of an avatar as the representation of a player in an online game, for example, relies on the creation of a texture of interests for the mind in question. Such a texture made of a narrative, deployed via audio, visual and sensory stimulation to the minds redefines the meaning of proximity and by implication the meaning of value.
    My avatar in game playing is not a representation of me; it is a co-extensive realization of an ‘other me’ in a virtual situation. This ‘other me’ I surmise to be a different kind of embodiment of the concept of propinquity.
    In other words the psychological meaning of ‘nearness or proximity’ in hyperconnectivity has been dramatically altered.

    Propinquity in hyperconnectivity means gradual intersubjective co-embodiment of flows of interest.
    This new state of affairs creates a multiplicity of textures previously unavailable to our minds, and thus a whole realm of sensuality was ipso facto non existent, this new realm of hyperconnected propinquity, demands a new form of discourse to come into play a discourse that will steer the conversation of intimacy towards our desires, fruitful, and urgent.

    3. A difference in Course-plotting the flow of interests

    Knowmads are sensual initiators, new kind of minds that lubricate the gap of meanings, by interposing their own subjective contexts to (apparently) unrelated info forms.
    The difference between simply curating information, a practice well on its way of becoming ubiquitous and interposing subjective contexts is one of quality and not quantity. For whilst it is plain that aggregating infovores are continuously reinventing the art of curation using online engines that have simplified collection of information to a click, Knowmads perform a different trick.
    The trick is subtle and yet profound, it is in fact a paradigmatic shift from the application of the concept of partiality (as in these are my choices of relevant information) to the newcomer concept of this is the worldview of the mind I stand for, this we may dub the creative bias.

    The creative bias in hyperconnectivity defines flows of interest, by that creating a difference in course plotting the flow of interests. This difference is the very engine that allows diversity in points of view to become a significant factor (and not simply an opinion node) in the evolution of the web.

    But there is something even more interesting happening here, hyperconnected minds are weavers of textures not hitherto available for consummation (not a typo- for it is a consummation) and thus not open to exploration. By interposing their worldview bias as the criterion of choice in a continuous fashion Knowmads actually create bridges of value not previously accessible.

    Because of these bridges, value in hyperconnectivity bypasses the original conditions of physical and temporal proximity and redefines propinquity.

    The change in the nature of propinquity, in which minds distant in space and in time gradually become valuable to each other with no old style trappings in between, but the disposition of their flows of interests, represents a new state of affairs of the mind of humanity and indeed the biosphere.

    shortly to be continued..
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    What is so peculiar, even curious in a strange sense, concerning the current events of global unrest is not the actuality of the events themselves but the fact that these events do not coalesce (as of yet that is) around a particular and immediately recognizable leader or agenda.
    In fact to a very large extent it could be called a non-prophet organization, there is no prophet and there is no prophecy, there is also no specific nation to which this is true, the unrest is quite global in its reach and impact.
    I submit to you that the stirring we are witnessing all over the world, is the awakening of a new kind of mind.

    Where is our future?

    Whilst it is true that the levels of inequalities in the modern world have reached new peaks of ridiculousness (see: Here's What The Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About...) it is also true, at least according to S.Pinker in the economist that the level of violence is the lowest ever( see: Human violence
    Punchline: People are less violent than ever, two authors argue. They just can’t agree why.

    Over at project syndicate Nouriel Roubini states that :
    “This year has witnessed a global wave of social and political turmoil and instability, with masses of people pouring into the real and virtual streets: the Arab Spring; riots in London; Israel’s middle-class protests against high housing prices and an inflationary squeeze on living standards; protesting Chilean students; the destruction in Germany of the expensive cars of “fat cats”; India’s movement against corruption; mounting unhappiness with corruption and inequality in China; and now the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in New York and across the United States.”

    And finally that :
    ” Of course, the malaise that so many people feel cannot be reduced to one factor.”

    (see: The Instability of Inequality - Nouriel Roubini)

    Over at the Washington post an interview with Kalle Lasn, the man behind it all :

    “There’s suddenly a strange, magical occupation in Zuccotti Park, and it inspires occupations around the world, and it’s inspired by people who look into the future and think it doesn’t compute.”

    (Occupy Wall Street: An interview with Kalle Lasn, the man behind it all )

    And :”
    “Occupy Wall Street is essentially leaderless, fueled by social media and collective collaboration, operating on the consensus forged during twice-a-day meetings known as the General Assembly, where all are encouraged to participate.”

    (Time, Global Spin: Occupy Wall Street: A New Era of Dissent in America?)

    Finally maybe the most important bit by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt :

    “No Martin Luther King, Jr. will emerge from the occupations of Wall Street and beyond. For better or worse — and we are certainly among those who find this a promising development — this emerging cycle of movements will express itself through horizontal participatory structures, without representatives. Such small-scale experiments in democratic organizing would have to be developed much further, of course, before they could articulate effective models for a social alternative, but they are already powerfully expressing the aspiration for a real democracy.”

    Occupy Wall Street as a fight for "real democracy"
    By Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri

    A world in transit

    The way I see it, is that the current events are an eruption of a general malaise of a world in transit, a humanity caught between its past and its future in a limbo like situation in which it feels but cannot articulate, there is a state of mind here indeed, a state of mind shared by millions around the planet.

    Yes, the state of affairs of the world is one of disarray, but that is not the reason behind the stirrings we are witnessing, it is not a movement born of a demand for better democracy or better government, though all these are implied and asked for.

    Yes there is a humanistic aspect to the stirring, there is a demand for dignity and health care, for jobs and better employment (though these terms are highly contested), there are also demands for culprits to be punished, the so-called 1% and so on.

    In one of the better readings of the current events professor Bernard E. Harcourt over at the NewYork Times says:

    “Occupy Wall Street is best understood, I would suggest, as a new form of what could be called “political disobedience,” as opposed to civil disobedience, that fundamentally rejects the political and ideological landscape that we inherited from the Cold War.”

    And further down in the same post:
    “Ultimately, what matters to the politically disobedient is the kind of society we live in, not a handful of policy demands.”

    Occupy Wall Street’s ‘Political Disobedience’By BERNARD E. HARCOURT

    A hyperconnected world, a hyperconnected mind

    There is a general dissatisfaction here, a grand sensation of frustration and discontent, a deep and highly resonating awareness that feels ‘real’ and actual, immediate and momentous.

    But what is the stirring all about? In spite of all the very real grievances and very real changes needed to, well, to everything more or less, I submit to you that the stirring we are witnessing all over the world, is the awakening of a new kind of mind.
    And this stirring has no reason, no specific reason that is, or at the very least no reason that can be articulated presently.
    Before you jump consider the idea that in our hyperconnected world the ease with which we get access to information and notification is unlike anything we have ever experienced,In an hyperconnected world the mind changes, it becomes a hyperconnected mind, this changes everything.

    "The critical mass of wiki and mapping tools, video and social networking sites, the communal news wire of Twitter and the ease of donations afforded by sites like PayPal makes coalitions of like-minded individuals instantly viable.

    “You’re looking at a generation of 20- and 30-year-olds who are used to self-organizing,” said Yochai Benkler, a director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. “They believe life can be more participatory, more decentralized, less dependent on the traditional models of organization, either in the state or the big company. Those were the dominant ways of doing things in the industrial economy, and they aren’t anymore.”

    (As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe- NYTimes)

    Non-Conceptual Content and hyperconnectivity

    There is a real reason why it is so difficult to pinpoint the exact meaning of the global stirring, the precise activity needed and demanded, I believe the reason is one of vision.
    There is a very deep similarity between that which is happening and the theory of non-conceptual content.
    “The central idea behind the theory of non-conceptual mental content is that some mental states can represent the world even though the bearer of those mental states need not possess the concepts required to specify their content.”

    (Nonconceptual Mental Content at the Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

    There is such a thing as a global state of mind, the state of the noosphere if you prefer, it was always there to different extents, hyperconnectivity however has made it manifest, the infoverse has given it flesh and action and visibility.
    This global state of mind is presently a non conceptualized content state and thus cannot be articulated precisely, for it is large, all encompassing, interdependent, and intersubjective.
    It is complex and ambiguous, made of all the nodes, that we are, that we have created and that we use, those nodes implicit and explicit, some made of neurons, some made of silicon, exchange information at rates no single one of us can compute privately, but whether we accept it or not, it is humanity accessing a new state of affairs it has created.

    The era of separatedeness is ending, no longer can one event be alienated from another, not in space, not in time, and not in meaning, and unlike Kevin Kelly, I do not think it is a new form of socialism, it is not anarchism, (beside the fact that I have a deep dislike to any form of ‘ism’), it is a new kind of mind, implied by the rise of a cyber unified civilization.

    The stirring we are witnessing though being non conceptualized at present, is one of health, and birth, like all births it is wild eyed and in a sense confused, ambiguous, unclear and at times will unfortunately lash at the world, unwilling to be defined by its past.
    The crisis engendered by this inner stir is here to stay for a long while; it is a period of necessary instability to which we need to learn to adapt and create new language and new tools, made for a new kind of mind by a new kind of mind.

    It is beautiful
    Occupy the Mind, the rest will follow.

    "Injustice, poverty, slavery, ignorance - these may be cured by reform or revolution. But men do not live only by fighting evils. They live by positive goals, individual and collective, a vast variety of them, seldom predictable, at times incompatible."

    Isaiah Berlin

    will be continued..
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    Alternatively titled: Knowmads, Knowledge and Madness

    “An image of thought called philosophy has been formed historically and it effectively stops people from thinking.”

    (Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet Dialogues #1)

    1. Against monotony and boredom, bring the volatile and delicate

    Against the citadels of thought and monumental philosophies of Neolithic ennui, we need bring the exuberance of the indeterminate Knowmad, the Polytopian in action.
    Knowmads are inherently hyperconnected, though not of necessity through physicality, but unavoidably through the mind-space of the infoverse, itself remotely and yet intimately correlated to the codes of communication. This correlation of senses and of thought mediated through the acrobatics of prime time narratives in minds, accounting for moments of impossible serendipity, of hyper synchronicity, and retro mnemonic realizations, are the fresh hallmarks of the synthetically natural.

    The synthetically natural does not necessitate the old forms of consensus, not because consensus is impossible, or even in certain cases desirable, but because in the hyperconnected enmeshed virtualities, representing the new state of affairs of mind (see topos) consensus as such is simply irrelevant.
    It is irrelevant in as much as within a given flow of a given infocology, different degrees of partiality to the particular theme (of the given infocology) are an acceptable, tolerated and utterly adequate manner of interaction.
    Furthermore, the allowance for different degrees of partiality, the very fact of diversity of biases, is the authentic property of permissibility.
    In this, permissibility should be understood as that which replaces law and decree, regulation and authoritarianism.
    The synthetic natural therefore can be seen as the domain of enmeshed virtualities, which continuously redefines, re-describes and re-presents the intersubjective desire of cross pollinating beingness.

    Cross-pollinating beingness in turn should be perceived as the actual activity of the domain of the synthetic natural where our accreting multiple selves flourish, the fluid affinity domain of in-between as presented in the previous post ‘openness to the traffic of flows a polytopian stance', and 'fluid affinities replace nucleic identities'.

    In many ways we might describe the actuality of multi modal communication as an enmeshment of narratives.
    This meshed hyperconnectivity of symbols of representation, manifested as bits and bytes, continuously and fundamentally re-enacting the stream of impressions, are melting the inside and outside, no longer clearly distinguished, into an amalgam of sensations and thoughts.
    An amalgam of sensations and thoughts, in truth an irreducible sense-thought, that I have called elsewhere the flow of interests or fluid affinities.
    In this momentary fluidity we recognize that there is no truth to forever, and no finiteness on which to base our moralities, our perspectives or our so-called worldviews.
    The irreducibility of the stream of sense thought defined as the flow of interests, or fluid affinities, resulting in multiple personas, correlated initially to a given originator (see the Avatar- Originator as explained in ‘ the luxurious ambiguity of intelligence in hyperconnectivity) , but eventually taking a semi independent social entity status, is what makes this flow of in-betweens so advantageous.

    It is advantageous in as much as it allows a new style of mindfulness to emerge, a style of minding that is critical and compassionate, skeptical and rational yet concomitantly fully cognizant of the great powers of the intrinsically humane, namely the allowance for errors and mistakes.
    It is advantageous in as much as it correlates permissibility of biases, and partial consensus, to perform acts of collaboration and loosely defined associations in deed.
    Ultimately the advantage is clear if we can perceive an involvement of semi-independent social entities, loosely connected to their originators, and loosely connected to each other, to construct edifices of interest not previously possible.

    This new style of minding advocated here is already happening in many areas of science and art, and practically in any domain of human interest, simply because of the multiple personas allowed in the domain of in-between, the synthetic natural enmeshed virtualities of hyperconnectivity.

    Do note what Mark Changizi has to say in his blog:

    “Scientific communities, for example, chug inexorably forward with discoveries, but this progress occurs by virtue of there being so many independently digging scientists in a community that eventually some scientists strike gold, even if sometimes only serendipitously. Whether entrepreneurial, scientific or artistic, communities can be creative even if a vast majority of their members fail to ever achieve something innovative…”

    And further down in the same article :

    “With multiple personalities in hand, people can choose to take up creative endeavors they would not have been willing to enter into outside of social media because the risks of failure were too high. Multiple personalities can lower these risks.
    One of the greatest underappreciated benefits of social media, then, may be that it brings a greater percentage of the world into creative enterprises they would not otherwise have considered.

    This, I submit, is good.”

    Mark Changizi is a professor of cognitive science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the author of The Vision Revolution (Benbella Books)

    It may be argued that all great scientific discoveries and artistic masterpieces, all innovations and philosophies in fact, were, are and will continue to be instigated by the need of independent minds to overcome a certain inherent monotony (and some will add boredom) born of the rigidity of self feudalism, in which the origins of our projections are always individual and thus relegated to our own biases.
    To my mind the very activity of innovation, is never designed top down or emerging bottom up, it does not happen of itself nor is it an act of volition per se, but a mash up of flows of interests that resurface the delicate and the volatile, as a sensible multiplicity, apparent in the synthetically natural.
    Though this has always been the case, the revolution of hyperconnectivity, of enmeshed virtualities, of cross-fertilizing infocologies, provides a new degree of freedom in and within the flow of evolutions of human civilization, on this planet at this time.

    There is a new degree of freedom around us, between us, fermenting under and above us, disturbing the old regularity, generating a new kind of volatility and indeterminacy unto the infosphere of our knowledge.
    The inherent irregularity of this new game, engendering the fuzzy topology of open structures, enmeshed in virtualities, tolerates a distribution and re-distribution of the elements of individuality – in that -> Knowmads are themselves distributed agencies

    2.Re-introducing the Knowmad, a Polytopian in action, as a pan-symbolist expression of the distributed mytho-poetic narrative of our accelerating times.

    “Individuals find a real name for themselves, rather, only through the harshest exercise in depersonalization, by opening themselves up to the multiplicities everywhere within them, to the intensities running through them.

    ( G.Deleuze #2)

    Obviously we are in the process of internalizing a vast memory bank of new semantics and fresh forms of thoughts, new sensations that had no previous ancestry in our very own private memory; yes it is a process of fragmentation and yet belongs to a greater process of reconstruction.

    The original elements of our being are being restructured to fit the new infoverse landscape of interoperability.

    Interoperability of what?
    Of memory or of the elements of our beingness, that is how the nature of becoming rises to the fore.

    The interoperability of memory as enmeshed in hyperconnectivity allows for a new form of organic symbolism, a pan symbolism stretching all the way across cultures, across languages, across times and across spaces in the process melting semantics into the new cauldron of intersubjective realism.

    As I dwell upon the many facets of becoming, it appears that only a re-contextualization of the process of existence from the virtual to the actual may provide the necessary famous (Foucault’s) toolbox.

    The option I deem best at present is to use the term Knowmad as Polytopian in action, otherwise put, the self-description of intelligent conscious aware systems in becoming.

    In a previous post, Knowmads as critical relevancies I have described Knowmads as:

    “Knowmads are visceral thinkers, expanded multiplicities, minds nested in vast and complex infocologies.
    As such Knowmads herald a new kind of mind, free to be undefined in a polytopian infosphere.
    Knowmads are critically relevant in as much as they recognize the vicariousness of their extension-ability in the relevant infocology.
    Complex meshworks, embedded in complex infocologies engender flows of intersubjective co-dependencies; these in turn loop upon themselves and re-iterate the intelligent directionality.
    The feedback loop here is obvious, but where is the individual?

    Answer: the individual will be extended viscerally across an indefinite infosphere, defined locally by the reflective relevant infocology."

    And in another post Hybrid futures, Knowmads and the notion state:

    “Knowmads are substantial agents of change, who drastically alter the infocologies they interact with. The level of freedom implied by the knowmadic state is a new existential virtuality that pushes into the real, in the process transforming and meshing the different dimensions in which our minds operate. Existing as non-localized behaviors of information processing, Knowmads are not consumers and cannot be looked upon as capital. Knowmads are the innovators of thought and vision, using an insight mechanism based on correlated data-spheres of complex infocologies.
    Knowmads do not care for labels of old style paradigms, such as gender ,creed, race or indeed status, what Knowmads care about are the pleasures derived in forming new connections, mash-ups and provisional options, innovative solutions for the next step in human evolution.

    Our complex neuro-mesh firing in tandem, has produced this amazing property we call conscious awareness, with the advent of 21st century tech, augmented reality apps, visually stunning info-graphics, virtualities at our finger tips, p2p technologies availability and the like we are becoming Knowmads. The value of the Knowmad state is thus in providing a fresh framework and a new narrative to fill our old storytelling needs in our ever-increasing process of self-description.”

    As the Knowmad meme increases in propagation and intensity we may now posit a more extensive version of the Knowmad in the process of becoming:

    #Knowmads operate on a continuum of apparently trivialized bits and pieces of inconsistent and incoherent signals, seemingly nonsensical information, retrieving disparate slices of fragmented processes and re-arranging these into new coherencies, fresh narratives of interest.

    # Knowmads represent a new style of minding that instinctively reflect the thought of non-unitary, non-universalism, and are factually embedding the concept, that there is no One solution, One network, or any ‘One’ for that matter.

    #Knowmads style of minding continuously adjusts and fine-tunes the velocity of acquired resourcefulness.

    # Knowmads are agents of attenuation; that which is being smoothened is the defining rigidity of characteristics, applied to loci (as body, as nation, as community, as belonging) from which stems the fluidity of self-description.

    #Knowmads simultaneously re-conceive and redesign the connective nature of resource distribution, within infocologies, by that allowing the free flow of ideas to re-narrate themselves into innovative structures, themselves fluid and open to the pressures of the infocology dynamics.

    #Knowmads are immune to boredom; alternatively, Knowmads are continuously bored and thus motivated by interest are finders of the rare, the creative, the non-actualized, the volatile and the delicate.
    Knowmads are explorers of the uncertain, the indeterminate, the ambiguous, the oscillating and by consequence the disruptive.

    #For Knowmads opacity of objectivity transforms into transparent meaning application, a motion of transliteration and translation of different languages occurring naturally in our eco environment and being harnessed to serve the epic of intelligent exploration.

    # Knowmads follow neither the popular nor the personalized, but the dynamics of the interesting and relevant.

    #Knowmads contain an anticipation of the fragment, spiraling in and out of their non formal and decomposed flow, insightfully restocking their perceptual elaboration with fresh winds of entangled sensation, removing the fallacy of necessary correspondence.
    Removing the fascination of antiquity, Knowmads are rhizomatic actuators

    #Knowmads deny the glorification of the mystical, undoing the inherent and incessant self-glory of the romantic, and the greatness of self-perspectivism. This particular characteristic of the Knowmad state defines the knowmad as an anti-silo device.

    A kind of recapitulation

    I have titled this short piece ‘Some will be gangsters of poetry, some will be pan symbolists’, because I see the future we are steadily moving into as an event of interest, that spans an immense yet indefinite number of domains. An event of interest of this magnitude is of necessity, complex and to some extant mysterious. The toolbox of thoughts, the recognizable patterns of sensations, we have at our disposal at present are increasingly out of date and out of synch, and most importantly out of correlativity, which brings most of us into despair of ever catching up to the flow of actuality.
    However, I believe that by allowing a contemporary narrative of the landscape of values in which we co-dependently and intersubjectively exist to refresh our self-descriptions, we might find clarity.
    This clarity, I posit, permits the evolutionary adaptive trait of exploration into the undefined and the unstructured to become a strategic device, a simile of a roadmap. But to allow an uncertain road on an uncertain map, that is being reformulated at the speed of a click, to be somehow manageable, we must reintroduce the function of the mytho-poetic, the narrative of becoming caught in the act of self description. Such an engagement with a meta-narrative, and it is termed Meta because it redefines the very elements of narration, is inevitably irreverent to the themes of the original poem (or the originator of the avatar), hence the ironic metaphorical usage of the term gangster.

    The Polytopia project aims at providing a possible interaction surface in which we may gain all of the advantages of the multiple indeterminate, without relinquishing the rational of the synthetically natural. In a manner of speaking, we are exploring a potential descriptive apparatus, which is both precise and yet by it’s very precision performs an act, as part of a reconstituted narrative, of liberation.

    Increasingly we walk bridges of sense and of thought that appear to be more fragile and more sensitive to variations by the moment, this fragility I think is good for us, for it unleashes kinds of strengths and powers of emotional stability that otherwise will remain dormant.
    There is a deep sense to the madness of our immediacy, and though this sense may yet elude us in its entirety, if only for the fact that it needs unfurl into becoming, we ought jump head first into this transitory knowledge, with passion and clear eyed rationality, for otherwise, we will become obsolete.

    As I see it, the road to posthumanism is complex and open, full of promises and perils, it is not yet a grand thoroughfare but neither is it a side street, it is in fact somewhere in between.
    In this transitory period, I consider the emphasis on the exploratory nature of the Knowmad as a Polytopian in action, a viable option of self-description, of us, the modern consciously aware intelligent hyperconnected entity, in the process of reinventing the very components of our nature.

    Will be continued..

    unrelated addendum

    This just made laugh now:

    “You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.”

    (attributed to A.Einstein)


    #1. Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet. Dialogues, trans. Hugh Tomlinson and Barbara Habberjam (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), p. 13.)
    #2. G.Deleuze, “Letter to a Harsh Critic,” p. 6.

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    "For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream"
    Vincent van Gogh


    The cyborgization process of becoming in which we presently take part has a long history and a very likely and highly plausible future, including wide arrays of options of radically enhancing our bodies and minds, however, the cyborgization becoming of our civilization is a multilayered, multidimensional progression that can be parsed in many ways, one of which is the hyperconnected virtualized enmeshed reality already in progress.
    Here I am looking at the virtualization of identity as part of the meta-layer of the conceptual framework of cyborgization, a kind of underlying semantic infrastructure of our cyber-evolution.
    More specifically I reflect upon certain linguistic needs such as the clear distinction between rigid and flaccid designators, by which we may, if we can be mindful enough and careful enough, manage a certain ambiguity into a possible liberating procedure.

    (This essay belongs to the thread "Forays in Philotopia - exploring the possible Philosophy of a Polytopia")


    Not long ago a friend of mine came to ask my advice about an apparently simple issue which started as a local remark and became a deep philosophical conversation between her daughter and herself, and later between us, this conversation prompted this essay.
    Her daughter is a young person about to celebrate her 15th birthday and needed to fill some forms for a coming exam, in the form as is common, she needed to fill the box of gender and almost did, when she stopped and asked her mother:” why do I need to fill the box of gender? Why do they care about my gender in any case? And also what does my gender have to do with my exam, my knowledge and my understanding of the subject matter? (Before you raise your highbrows, yes she is a very bright young person).
    My friend, her mother, answered, that this was the norm and she needn’t make a fuss of it, it is probably used only as an indicator for statistical purposes and in any case it is the norm and accepted form of identification of the person involved and therefore one should completely disregard the meaning of the question and simply ‘get-on’ with it.
    She did ‘get-on’ with it, and proceeded to fill the form, but later that evening the conversation between them resumed to the deeper aspects of the personal identity issue to which ‘gender’ relates as a defining characteristic, and apparently the issue of personhood and its derivative functions in society.
    However the issue became complicated when said young person mentioned that in her online world she plays certain games and uses avatars that are predominantly considered male ‘just for fun’ (her words) she said, but really ‘it doesn’t matter, I don’t care if I play as a male or female, my character in the online game has no ‘real’ gender and even if it does, I don’t play as if I have a gender, I play as ‘me’ and I don’t want to have a gender in the game, its about my know how, my capability as a player and my knowledge, none of which should be correlated to my biology”.

    That is the point when I was asked to give my view of the issue, in light of my working on the Polytopia project.
    It is not my intention in writing this essay to deal with the issue of gender specifically but with the issue of transference (or indeed transposition) of identity designators between the actual and the virtual in general, an issue which I deem paramount for the sane evolution of our intersubjective cyborgization process.

    Rigid Designators vs. Flaccid Designators

    The Polytopian stance assumes a richness of mind that applies the distinction between rigid designators (Kripke) and flaccid designators (wiki) for different configurations of speech and thus dimensions of semantics.
    Rigid designators (rigid designation is a property of the way terms are used, not a property of the terms themselves, - wiki) imply that the same object carries the same identity and thus the same characteristics in all possible worlds. Flaccid designators are fluid and allow for multiple options of descriptions in different worlds. The aim here is not to confront the one with the other but to propose that rigid designators should be left to conventional speech only, for purposes of efficient communication and quick look-up taxonomies. Moreover, rigid designators should not be allowed to imply ontology and / or metaphysics but to remain on the normative dimension with no necessary traceable memory (see endnotes #2). This will assume that proper names have meaning application only in as much as they reflect the necessity of accurate empirical representation. Switching to flaccid designators it is proposed here that fluid terminologies are the way to go when dealing with hyper complex systems such as identity and more particularly identity as represented in virtualities and the inter relation between said identities, especially in hyperconnectivity.

    Within the motion of cyborgization in which we take part we can discern the advent of a semantic transposition from the actual to the virtual. A motion of transference of historical notions into a domain of existential realism to which those notions are not adapted and are factually obsolete. Such is the movement between terms pertaining to the conceptual category of rigid designators based on habitual ontologies that a sense of conflict rises and can be perceived when parsed in a virtual environments. No longer are we able to detect common indicators of identity, manners of representation, and styles of recognition for the simple reason that the virtual does not yield to fixed indicators. It is thus for example impossible solely by the fact of perceiving a given avatar to determine its gender, orientation, age, morphology, race and so on. In fact on first appearance it may seem that due to the motion from the actual to the virtual much information is lost and thus our capability of discernment and discrimination is the poorer for it. However, it is the Polytopian stance that this apparent paucity is in fact a false impression due to an analysis based on rigid designators not flexible enough to allow the creative value of the virtual to come into play.

    At present the fact that our minds are embodied in a particular physical configuration stands as the main culprit in our habitual usage of identity indicators as rigid designators. Irrespective to the future technological possibility of mind uploads and similar post physical existences we need see that already at this stage the networked infocology in which each and every one of us to different extents exists, is already a form of non physical existence. In perceiving virtual existence as a dimension separated from traditional actuality we need assume a different set of contextual representations and thus epistemic structures that though can be bridged to regular style embodiment cannot be fully mapped to said body. This distinction if clarified allows us now to embed a re-definition of the concept of identity on the net that is distinct, different and only partially co-extensive with our physical embodiment. The issue here that we need reflect upon is that certain of our identities in virtuality are not extensions of our physicalities but have as it were, an independent or semi-independent as the case may be (such as an avatar in an online game, or SL ) existence to which, a contextual state of affairs need be defined.

    No longer can we assume a central locus indicated rigidly by our bodily location to which all our identities are bound. Moreover, from a different perspective no longer can we assume that the motion of intelligence is still, in all cases, directed from the actual to the virtual. In fact, in many cases (“you are what you pretend to be … you are what you play (Turkle, 1997)#3) we will discern quite the opposite, a motion of intelligence from the virtual to the actual. And let us remember that though it is an interplay of flows, in no fashion is symmetry implied, quite the contrary in fact, in the relation between the virtual to the actual and the actual to the virtual, asymmetry reigns supreme. In some instances the flow of actuality into virtuality will gain the upper hand whilst in others the opposite will be the case. Nevertheless our effort here must emphasize the tension between those two motions and the clarification of directionality.

    Whilst embodied identities maintain a formal highly structural and therefore rigid set of indicators, defined primarily as body, gender etc., our virtual identities are factually indicated in a fluid manner and thus pertain to the flaccid designators category. The initial condition of the human thus has changed and can no longer be theorized based on immovable objects of identity. What the Polytopian stance suggests is that our virtual identities are in fact social entities in and of themselves allowing a co-present, inter-subjective, hyper-connected, state of affairs, radically rewriting the codes of social encounters.

    A number of different perspectives exist as of today desiring different application of the correlation actual-virtual. Some of these would like to maintain a rigid continuity of identification assuming wrongly that only such rigid continuity will allow valid confirmation of identity and thus trustworthiness (see Obama's-internet passport). Whilst there are certain domains to which such view is applicable (banking for example) in most cases pertaining to the evolution of our cyborgization this will be untrue. Same goes for the opposite view that the virtual domain should be totally and uncompromisingly free and detached from any rigid correlation and continuity to actual embodied identity. In fact most of the social entities considered as domains of interest extended in time in the infosphere pertain to neither perspective but to a middle ground grey area which is, to use the old adage, neither this nor that. Most of our cyborgization process of becoming, manifested primarily via the networked hyper-connected infocological state of affairs is fundamentally: ambiguous, uncertain, oscillating and fluctuating, and should be considered as a flow of in-betweens. The flow of in-betweens is actually comprised of multiple domains of interests, passions and relations, but more importantly perhaps, of radical creative encounters. This is the domain where the cross-pollination, cross-fertilization of human endeavor finds its home. This home, at present a fragile realm, fuzzy in its orientation yet passionate in its desire to explode into new forms of life, contains a fundamental structural instability. Though it may seem that this structural instability also called inherent approximation, is a fault line indicating a potential problem possibly degenerating into the chaos of indeterminacy, it is in my view a feature rather than a bug.

    Indeterminacy is a feature not a bug

    I submit to you the idea, that there is no direct continuity between an avatar and its originator, or for that matter the possibility of fully mapping an avatar, as a ‘stand-in’ symbol of representation, to the person that originated that same avatar. (And though at present it probably is possible to trace back an avatar to its originator, it is highly likely that given enough time and diversification, including mutations, alterations and transformations, none such will be possible or indeed desired.)
    An avatar has a quasi-infinite variety of possible interpretations depending on context, on semantics and syntax, but more importantly at this stage is the understanding that the relationship between the avatar and its originator is an indeterminate relationship that inherently exhibits the characteristics of ambiguity and fuzziness.

    Not only do I think that the relationship Avatar-Originator, is inherently ambiguous I propose to make this particular ambiguity, a kind of benchmark reflection on the concept of identity. A radical motion towards a possible liberating procedure, in which our consciously aware usage of the ambiguity of relationship Avatar-Originator, replaces the closely coupled, rigid designations, we still transpose from the actual to the virtual.

    The indeterminacy of our identities in the hyperconnected infocologies we are presently enmeshed in, is, I believe, only an indication or the beginning, if you like, of a much greater fuzziness that is waiting for us in the process of cyborgization, to which the virtualization of identity is a crucial step.

    It is my view that the evolution of intelligence, is currently undergoing a dramatic shift towards a greater uncertainty and openness, a deeper ambiguity and larger indeterminacy, a new state of affairs of mind, through which we may, if sensibly and wisely managed, become more free.

    There are many ways to understand intelligence, and in many contexts, issues of problem solving, capacity of reasoning, adaptability to new environments, learning from experience, pattern recognition, judgment exercising, imagination, originality, artistic and abstract perception, complex interpretation and so on, are all possible interpretations, definitions and usages of the concept.

    However for the purpose of this essay I am using a semi-poetic interpretation of the term intelligence. Here I refer to intelligence as a luxury of mind, a bonus if you like, that I use in a very specific manner. I refer to intelligence as a luxury here because I see the capacity to exist in ambiguous situations, to extract relevant information from fuzzy circumstances as non-linear and highly relevant to the new state of affairs we have co-created.

    The hyperconnected virtually enmeshed infocologies, upon which we are projecting our newly minted avatars, are oscillating representations that slowly but surely are disengaging from their points of origination.
    This disengagement process, itself part of our cyborgization becoming, opens new options, fresh possibilities and a wide array of potentials for the evolution of our self-descriptions into new horizons of freedom.

    Issues of gender (such as the one mentioned in the little anecdote above), of race, of creed, of ethnicity, of status, of age and any other rigid designators, ought to be relegated to the conventional, indeed to the material, as it is now, to the actual. The hyperconnected virtually enmeshed infocologies, present no inherent necessity for such, unless highly specified in functionality (as in the banking example) or so chosen (as in creating an avatar with specifically chosen characteristics). In every other context the disengagement process of an ambiguous identity, is the luxury of intelligence we can finally afford, and to my eyes should passionately apply.

    Finally, whether we are hard core Singularitarian, futurists, Transhuman or Extropians, philosophers, artists, AI designers or just any modern day person, using the mediums of our currently available technologies to hyperconnect we are factually performing acts of luxurious intelligence application.
    It does not so much matter what exactly it is that we believe concerning the coming future of our civilization and our very nature, what matters is the manner we understand the process of becoming a better specie, a better human, a more empathic mind, rational, passionate and conscious, open to the beauty of the great uncertainty that is life.

    “The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.”

    Ursula K. LeGuin

    shortly to be continued..

    Endnotes :

    # 1. Let me be clear here, whilst I advocate a total freedom of self-representation on the net, there are certain kinds of social interaction in which gender representation, as an example, are fundamental for the purpose of the designated interaction. Though a dating site might require the knowledge of your gender, there is no inherent reason for a requirement of gender identification in an online game. Moreover, as I see it, it is high time that we put into question most of our assumptions about identity representation and their correlated implications especially in situations where common sense dictates that no such identification is indeed necessary. This goes far deeper than the privacy versus transparency debate, this goes to the very root of the personhood perception mechanisms that we have put into place, millennia ago and need be upgraded to fit our modern day hyperconnected interfaced minds.

    # 2. No necessary traceable memory I use here to designate the rigid factuality of designation of a particular individual in the original dimension of the actual that does not transpose into other possible worlds especially as refers to the virtual hyperconnected dimension. Hence though it will be true to state that person P is a female in actuality this description may not necessarily be transposed unto the virtual, and thus does not carry traceable memory.

    # 3. Turkle, S. (1997). Constructions and Reconstructions of Self in Virtual Reality. In S. Kiesler (Ed.), Culture of the Internet. Hilldale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    # 4. second image in text: Double Pendulum with LEDs by Michael G Devereux

    # 5. third image Succulus by Robert Pepperell

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    I am currently reading one of (probably) the best books in the hard sci-fi genre, it appears that somehow it escaped my attention but here I finally put my mind to it and am exploring the intricacies of this ‘funny’ book.
    The book is called Dragon’s egg, written by Robert Forward and published in 1980, and basically is the chronicles of the accelerated evolution of a species known as the Cheela having evolved on a neutron star with 67 billion times the surface gravity of earth, a fact which of course changes everything (read the book, you will not regret it.)
    What I find in the book fascinating is a particular aspect of the lives of the Cheela, specifically the fact that they live a million times faster than humans, and thus all of their evolution happens in human terms between May and June 2050.

    The issue of speed and relativity in terms of duration is fascinating for a simple reason, for it is my view that something very similar, metaphorically speaking, is happening right here and now, partly within us, partly outside of us.

    The part within us, our minds, and the part outside of us, our civilization, are only two of the dimensions within which it is possible to perceive, differences in speed, distinctions of velocity, variations in rates, disparities of pace and ultimately, divergence in directionalities based on these divergences.

    The sense thought I get from current realities, juxtaposed and coinciding is that different philosophies and worldviews are operating concomitantly and interactively and yet because of the differences in speed that I mentioned above apparent contradictions appear to surface when in fact none such are. The appearance of contradictions in fact is one of the hallmarks of the differences in velocity and variations of pace.

    Some of the ideas currently being promoted in various extrapolated spaces of thoughts are on the extreme wing of the fast forward approach, such as certain brands of transhumanism, whilst others, are on the extreme wing of bio conservatism or indeed full fledged traditionalism.
    It is of course quite obvious that most of the current thoughts, based on philosophies of old, react or better yet re-enact certain known paths of intellectual pursuit and thus constitute the bulk of what is aptly termed the middle ground.
    The middle ground in this respect is what can be called ‘the current fashion’ or alternatively ‘the accepted consensus of reality now’. If we take the grand volume of what is the presently congruous we can, without doubt, perceive an amalgam of concepts from science and religion, so called politics and somewhat misappropriated philosophies of life, or of art, of criticism as well as of envisioning.

    As I see it, there is a pattern there, or more accurately a pattern of patterns, a meta- pattern of sorts; a complex and highly volatile transitory coagulation of our civilization history, both in thought and in action. The meta-pattern I look upon now, involves a flow of traffic, or traffic of flows if one prefers, motions within motions, streams of sensations and torrents of thought with no apparent center or for that matter apparent direction.

    The traffics of flows, of ideas and thoughts we can observe, differ from each other not so much by content as by speed, not so much by context as by velocity, in fact looking upon the different kinds of flows with a certain (necessary) detachment from the implied value of each flow, we can see that flows of ideas, mesh and interact, mutate and fertilize each other, giving birth in the process to yet other flows.

    These flows of course have names, pointers and signifiers that apparently distinguish them from their predecessor’s parent flows or indeed from their siblings and eventually from their offspring. What is important at this stage however is to understand that the differences in these flows can be mapped in different ways, using different benchmarks for different purposes, resulting and here is the crucial point, in different kind of understandings of the state of affairs at play.

    For our ability of analysis and parsing to be conceptually sound and integrated within a larger framework of sustainable action we first need escape the freeze frame fallacy.

    The fallacy of freeze frame:

    The fallacy of freeze frame refers to this most common practice of the mind to dissect a flow of events at a particular time T and implying from it about the flow itself. Consider the fact that a particular group of humans in the process of discussion can be seen to differ in stages, first about ontology and or perhaps metaphysics, then about semantics, later about the ideas and finally about the direction they will or will not take. At each point of the discussion if the frame is in freeze, the conclusion will be that the group is incompetent, unable to reach a decision or alternatively is not adapted to the task at hand, if alternatively the group flow is in freeze frame at the exact moment of consensus, the conclusion will be that this has fallen under the groupthink malady and is not an evolving organism.

    It is highly difficult to escape the fallacy of freeze frame mainly because our minds are limited in the amount of flow dynamics that are perceivable per time per space and thus an easy escape route out of this limitation is the freeze frame method. We give or concoct our opinion of a process based on the moment we need give such an opinion, this creates a fixed point of observation from which future points are derived, the frame so freezed becoming a bench mark for our sense thought.

    The fallacy of freeze frame is a fundamental perceptual disability afflicting all of us to different degrees at different times and to my mind is the corner stone of the problems we are facing when trying to understand the state of affairs of the world and how to go about it.

    We are all well aware, I think, that being subject to the necessity of action we use the freeze frame paradigm to create for ourselves a set of values (and from that a set of ethical imperatives and moral actions) from which cathedral we judge the reality we apparently perceive. Said judgment of course leads us to so-called ‘realizations’ or ‘insights’ or alternatively beliefs in our own understanding that we deem both universal and true (we need deem these as such since only if they are universal and true would we have, or so we believe enough justification to muster the energy needed for action).

    The first question we need address if so is why escape the freeze frame fallacy in the first place since it is actually a tool of our minds that helps us make sense of the world.
    The answer is not as simple as we may desire it to be; it is fundamentally a necessary transition to a different kind of mind, a Polytopian mind that sees traffic of flows as the foundation of hyperconnected intersubjectivity.

    The cross pollination of flows within the traffic of flows is the answer to the riddle, for without allowing a directed cross fertilization we end up within one particular flow, oblivious to the relevancy of simultaneous evolutions, and thus miss the opportunity of openness to alternate interpretations of possible outcomes.

    Openness in this respect implies a sort of coherent ambiguity, and fertile uncertainty, an evaluation not of the flow to which we ‘apparently’ belong but of the interplay of flows, and intersubjective scenarios.

    If we are to have clarity of mind that engenders the entanglement of an open posthuman future, the view we need uphold is one of multiplicity of forms and functions, simultaneous visions operating in tandem but on different scales of change and pace of actuation.
    It is in fact a different kind of stance, to which quantification of action releases its hold upon us to permit a qualification of acceptance to the ‘other’; the ‘other’ in this case being not an individual but a flow of events.

    Fostering such a polytopian stance is part of the raison d’être of the Polytopia project.

    shortly to be continued..

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    Come Fairies, take me out of this dull world, for I would ride with you upon the wind and dance upon the mountains like a flame!”

    William Butler Yeats

    1. As It is, As we are

    Here we are, at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, and the world looks, well, not as bright as we would have expected or desired it to be.

    Are we to point to the quasi-infinite number of new technological breakthroughs that dazzle us day in and day out? To the innumerable quantity of scientific papers that came out and astonished us? To the very real and highly potent disasters and catastrophes that have plagued the world and continue to do so?

    Alternatively I could write of that which took the front line on the world media in 2010 (as reported by 25 billion tweets ), and show how the inherent dichotomy between that which attracts the masses and that which attracts a small yet significant number of readers is fundamentally different, so different in fact that for all relevant purposes there is no overlapping between the two.

    In fact it is a total fallacy to use that which most media outlets deem important as any relevant clue about the state of affairs of the world and us in it, as symbolic representations of that which apparently moves the world and thinks the future.

    The funny thing is, you see, that I have ready for publication a number of posts, presenting the technological breakthroughs and scientific discoveries and speculations on the future, ranging from the NASA-Funded Research that Discovered Life Built With Toxic Chemical and the following controversy (see Doubts Brew About NASA’s New Arsenic Life and Q&A: 'Science' Journal Official Talks Arsenic-Based Life), to the latest and most up to date Brain Machine interfaces presented just last week at Le-Web 2010 in Paris (see the well worth watching Thought Controlled Computing - Ariel Garten, CEO, Interaxon).

    Which Is the Robot?

    That dancer out front is actually a robot named HRP-4C, created by Japan's Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. HRP-4C and her steel legs of doom held their own during a choreographed dance early this year.
    (see The Most Amazing Science Images of 2010)

    I have made during the past year lists upon lists of the latest in robotics, the latest in cognitive psychology, philosophy of mind, neuroscience, and linguistics, and lists that aggregate the top discoveries in Science and Technology as well as following minds that I met through the net and became friends with. Some of these have between them aggregated the top stories of the last year. For highlights see : futureseek, and XiXidu .

    And yet I cannot abide by the banality of our current civilization annoucing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg becoming Time Magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year in the same week that Voyager 1 Has Outdistanced the Solar Wind.

    Yes I could have written all those posts and yet I have decided not to, for though it is true that the interest in Voyager’s ‘voyaging’ for the past 33 years is of concern to a vanishing number of space enthusiasts and the immediate affectation of Facebook calls for mass attention (600 million users), it is concomitantly true that the Voyager epic may change our future completely whilst I doubt any one can claim the same about FB.
    I have decided not to write these posts in short because if anyone is really interested the findings are there, scattered endlessly on the electronic shores of our meshed virtualities.

    Of course some will claim that low hanging fruits are the masses choice by their very definition, and high brow discourse is and always was the domain of the select few and yet at this point of our evolution, a coherent and cohesive vision is to my eyes more pertinent and high in demand than all news combined.

    " The only interesting answers are those that destroy the questions. "

    Susan Sontag

    2. A Sample of One is insufficient

    Firstly let us dismiss at the onset the fallacy of anthropocentrism, a view that besides centering the worldview on the human is overtly chauvinistic, totally misguided and finally ill advised.

    On the question of why it is erroneous, at present, I shall only refer to the “one sample fallacy” in thought and analysis, itself a subcategory of the ‘Hasty Generalization’ (The fallacy is also known as: fallacy of insufficient statistics, fallacy of insufficient sample, fallacy of the lonely fact, generalization from the particular, leaping to a conclusion, hasty induction, law of small numbers, unrepresentative sample, and secundum quid. (hasty generalization.)

    I wish to draw your attention to this particular form of philosophical fallacy, because at the end of the day, however we turn our gaze, at present we still have only one sample of life to draw all of our conclusions from.
    We know at present, only one biosphere, this biosphere upon which we are living and with which we are entangled to the n’th degree. We know of no other form of life as of yet, we have no conclusive evidence that life in the universe is in any way determined or indeed similar to the one we are exploring and researching here on this planet at this time. Whether the forms of life on other planets, in other dimensions or possibly based on other kind of substrates (other than carbon based, or other than DNA induced) are at all possible is still a mystery. And though in the phase space of possible forms of life there are certain mathematical probabilities, defining certain vectors of existence that can be hypothesized, projected and as a consequence idealized, we have no proof whatsoever that these are anything but ephemeral constructions of our over worked imagination.

    The ‘fallacy of one sample’ is compounded and expanded when focusing on the particular form of life that we assume we know, namely the form of life known in these parts as the human being. I use the term assume, for though we have had a few millennia of research, properly speaking we have only relatively recently started to compound our knowledge and understanding of what we are, how we are constructed and how we operate. Moreover only in the last decades did we start to have some ‘real’ data that can corroborate or dismiss certain ideas we have implied about the way the world works, with us, ‘homo sapiens’ at the center of research. The staggering amount of information we are collecting upon ourselves, in the hope of making sense of our lives and more particularly making sense of our minds, will take years to collate and analyze (the exponential growth of computing power notwithstanding).

    And yet we use this puny amount of knowledge to draw broad conclusions on life the universe and everything in between.
    That in very short is the fallacy of a sample of one, we have in fact no way to compare life in the broad sense to any other form of life (not originating in the same life soup), we have no way to evaluate our minds, and weight it or measure it in relation to any other kind of mind, not yet at least. (It is a working assumption of mine that if and when a mind other than ours, be it an AI of similar or greater intelligence than ours will be available for study, this situation will change.)

    Apply a skeptical humility filter

    Why is the above important? Well fundamentally it is important because we need a certain very special ingredient when implying from the little we know about the great unknown, it is called humility, or humbleness if you prefer. We need be humble for the simple reason that we simply do not have enough data, and the small amount of data that we do have is simply not adequate enough to infer from upon life in general in the universe.
    Hence when we speak about intelligence, mind, complex systems, cybernetics, the web and finally consciousness we must bear in mind that we have at present one sample, and one sample only.
    It is more than fair enough to draw plausible and possible scenarios of past, present and future from the life that we know, this one sample, but the skeptical humility filter we need apply is a necessary instrument of clear thought, knowing full well that assumptions about life in general are limited in scope and potentiality.

    The discourse if so need deal with sentiency, but in no fashion should the terminology of sentiency refer to the human base line, or indeed the biosphere we are living in alone.

    “The long-standing view, as summarized by the philosopher Immanuel Kant, that “without man … the whole of creation would be a mere wilderness, a thing in vain, and have no final end” is revealed to be self-indulgent folly. A Principle of Mediocrity seems to apply to all our circumstances. We could have known beforehand that the evidence would be, so repeatedly and thoroughly, incompatible with the proposition that human beings are at center stage in the Universe. But most of the debates have now been settled decisively in favor of a position that, however painful, can be encapsulated in a single sentence : We have not been given the lead in the cosmic drama.
    Perhaps someone else has. Perhaps no one else has. In either case, we have good reason for humility.”

    Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot (Chapter 3 : The Great Demotions)

    3. Untangling the present knowledge

    Eternal wisdom’ is context dependent and thus anything but ‘eternal’

    It used to be the case that wisdom was propagated via a simple maxim: “to know is not to know, not to know is to know”, this apparently simple advice came to us via the original writings in the ‘Kena Upanishad’ probably some of the oldest ‘wise’ teachings of the old schools and vehicles of thought.
    There are many modern versions of this particular insight, the best well known of which might be the famous Thoreau quote:” It is only when we forget all our learning that we begin to know.”
    And before I go on, let it be said that I am duly respectful of the great teachings of the ancients, some of which have been great and important companions in my own ascendency of thought and clarity of sense. However like all ‘eternal wisdom’ it is the term ‘eternal’ that makes it context sensitive, time in the sense of period and epoch when the writings made sense and where indeed deemed ‘eternal’. Of course there is no such thing as ‘eternal’ in wisdom, unless of course you believe in a static version of reality, which then makes the very terminology of wisdom meaningless.

    My point if so is that we need overcome our culturally innate urge to follow ‘old’ knowledge as more ‘wise’ and more ‘pure’ than the ‘new’ knowledge that seems, it goes without saying, fresh and therefore lacks the luster and patina of well worn and comprehensible ‘wisdom’.
    The new wisdom overturns age-old conceptual undertakings that used to be the very backbone from which we took our cues of behavior and attitude; this indeed is no longer the case.
    We have at our disposal today tools of thought and mechanism of comprehension that irreverently destroy that which we took for granted, be it the fact that our brains are the bottleneck that actually stops us (and thus needs tweaking) or the fact that the universe is much bigger that we thought (see: Space is getting bigger and its getting bigger faster) and probably much bigger and more complex than that.

    The tools we have developed and the discoveries ensuing, the innovations, which we are busy creating have changed forever the very meaning of that which previously was assumed to be eternal, why, even the basic physical laws of the universe may be evolving. (see : Do Physical Laws Vary From Place to Place?
 and Quasar Study Suggests a Physics Constant Isn’t so Constant )

    4. Our future is probably one of Exaptation

    "Exaptation is described in biology as an example of “lateral adaptation,” which consists in a cooption of a feature for its present role from some other origin. It happens when a particular trait evolves to serve one particular function, but subsequently comes to serve another. A good example from biology would be bird feathers: originally employed for the regulation of body temperature, they came to be adapted for flight. Exaptations are useful structures by virtue of their having been coopted—that is the ex-apt part of the term: they are apt for what they are for other reasons than their original use; they were not built by natural selection for their current role. Exaptation is not the opposite of adaptation; neither is it merely an accident, a human error or lack of scientific data that would in the end support the concept of adaptation. Exaptation questions the very process of assigning meaning and function in hindsight, the process of assigning the prefix “post” and thus containing a complex phenomenon within the grid of familiar interpretation"

    Svetlana Boym- The Off-Modern Mirror

    The Polytopia vision version as of December 2010 may be described as an Exaptation course of action in which concepts, terminologies, technologies indeed minds, that evolved via natural selection for certain purposes, are co-opted for purposes that are not originally embedded as such.
    Taking the not often acknowledged reality of our aesthetic cognition as one in which ideas and expressions, words and concepts, models and metaphors are being re-purposed to meet new demands, modern pressures and surprise situations such as the serendipity machine the web has become, allows, the Polytopia Project exapts our natural tendency to converge into a new form of wisdom.

    Being rhizomatic by nature, the Polytopia vision sees itself as a liberating environment in which Liberation itself is reformulated to mean amongst others getting rid of anthropomorphism, in the process creating a new vehicle of thought potentially able to bridge the apparent insuperable state of change between goal orientations to environments of goals.

    In our on going discourses we have developed the Polytopia project in the last few years to become an open-ended ground for engagement, a grand vision for the future of human civilization, a vision that will permit us a new form of allowance to change, indeed to transform, into a new kind of being, a Polytopian.

    Indeed the Polytopian future we envision is not spherical, in the sense that it does not expand simultaneously to all directions from a central core (hence the title of this essay Un-sphering), it is also not definite and in this sense the infocology of the Polytopia is friendly to ambiguity and uncertainty.

    We take our minds to be a dazzling torrent of occurrences, always in flux and always merging, mutating and reiterating itself, the process motivated by the beauty and thrill of the unknown, the apparent impossible, and the budding probabilities of latent freedoms.

    By Un-sphering the indefinite we wish to open new vistas, of hybrid realities, meshed virtualities, and serendipitous interests, for the banality embedded in simple empathy need give way to the greatness and beauty of a sympathetic future, a future where fluid affinities replace nucleic identities.

    We shall take the love disturbance to generate unpredictable and exponential arcs of variations, nested flows of mutability, hyperconnected infocologies of many kinds of posthuman choices of expression to soar into an aesthetic experience of beingness, getting our minds to function differently than was pre-ordained by the genetic and cultural imperatives with which we were born but which we did not choose.

    It was an interesting year,Next year we shall explore the Adjacent Possible

    "It just may be the case that biospheres on average keep expanding into the adjacent possible. By doing so they increase the diversity of what can happen next."

    THE ADJACENT POSSIBLE" A Talk with Stuart Kauffman

    Thank You



    A few of the books I have read this year but not necessarily published in 2010 and made an important impact on my thought
    Therefore here are Reading suggestions for the new decade:

    1. What shall we do with our brains? By Catherine Malabou
    2. The Ego Tunnel: The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self by Thomas Metzinger
    3. A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History by Manuel De Landa
    4. Good and real: demystifying paradoxes from physics to ethics By Gary L. Drescher

    And the best science-fiction book I have read in 2010:

    5.The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

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    “In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.”

    Douglas R. Hofstadter (I Am a Strange Loop)

    This is part 2 of the new series, "Forays in Philotopia - exploring the possible Philosophy of a Polytopia"


    The premise presented is that the concept of individualism, as we know it today is a passing stage in the evolution of conceptual representation and is due for overhaul.
    Putting it simply, I believe we are passing through a transit stage in the evolution of the concept of the individual.
    This period appears to be closing and will soon come to an end.

    The idea I am exploring is that the very concept of individualism, a signifier of uniqueness and particularity, lacks the basics of mindfulness needed to comprehend itself in a virtual mind universe.
    The thesis is that the transformation of the concept of individualism will allow a transformation of the meta-narrative of our modern civilization as we proceed to undo and eliminate the restrictions imposed pell-mell by natural selection.

    As my readers would know I am a great fan of Albert Camus, especially his “The Myth of Sisyphus “, and for one particular reason, for in this short and enlightening essay, Camus, in front of meaninglessness and irrationality claims boldly that the absurd requires a revolt, and not just any revolt, a revolt of personal liberation:

    The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

    (A. Camus)

    The revolt Camus advocates ends in the form of: ‘we must imagine Sisyphus happy’, meaning that we must take pride and happiness from the struggle itself and in this I strongly disagree with Camus, not only that I do not accept happiness born of the acceptance Camus advocates, I advocate the contrary, namely: happiness can be born if at all only from rebelling (like Sisyphus himself) against the actual bondage of so called ‘natural acceptance’.

    As a specie we have never accepted nature’s constraints, we have developed modes and manners, tools and technologies, to bypass that which is natural, complex as it may be. Modern medicine for example, though far from it’s desirable state and potential has nevertheless, cured and cared for an immense number of illnesses and ‘natural’ occurrences and the future in this respect looks bright and shiny, bumps and obstacles on the road notwithstanding. We take enormous pains to overcome and surmount ‘natural limitations’; we invented air flight because we had no wings, and smart phones because we cannot shout across the Atlantic. Our current civilization with all its defaults and pitfalls has given us a world unlike any other in our short history, and though our minds are still Neolithic in their conceptualization we are in fact in a better state of affairs than ever before.

    Despite the latest controversy to shake and rattle the infosphere regarding reverse engineering of the human brain in the next two decades (read this “Neither Ray Kurzweil nor PZ Myers Understand the Brain” for a full coverage), it is patently clear that given the noticeable advances of the numerous groups actively researching the issue (such as the Markram group Blue Brain project), we shall get there.

    Whether within the next two decades or the next century, it is fundamentally a non-issue since the prospect itself of a full brain emulation and if so, simulation, is wrecking havoc with our age old philosophies of individualism, mind, self and conscious awareness.

    “People often say that this or that person has not yet found himself.
    But the self is not something that one finds. It is something that one creates.”

    (Thomas Szazz)

    2.Inhabiting the concept of individuality

    Individuality is a concept unlike any other; it is a concept that presently carries a wide array of implications. Implications that hint at our worldviews and perspectives in more ways than one, in fact it will not be untrue to state that the very concept of individualism we inhabit, is actually the reflection of our epistemic profile.
    Our epistemic profile or the structure of the epistemic phase space we call our own can be described as the actual architecture of the concept of individualism, in which and by which we self define.
    We have inherited a sort of continuum of existential times all coagulated under the same name and signified by the same body, a coagulation of habits both of thought and of action, behavior and attitudes. We presently regard ourselves as self-contained systems, decision makers and value assessors, as if in some unfathomable way we are or became somehow separated from the larger entities of the biosphere and the noosphere.
    Of course no such separation exists, we are as much a part of nature as the next bacteria or planet, we are as much a flow within a flow as a particular current in the ocean. However, we differ in a particular fashion, we differ in our conscious awareness, specifically in our historicity of self-reflection, in our memories.
    Memories, which are vivid and unclear, bright and fuzzy simultaneously, memories embedded in a complex and highly vulnerable wetware we call our embodied brains.
    This apparent encapsulation of our memories (and by consequence the continuum of our identity) is the grand illusion of individuality, an illusion being perpetuated by the hodgepodge language we use to refer to the individual we call ‘I’.

    The modern language of individualism, celebrating the stoic assumption of the so-called ‘natural self’ is as obsolete and as archaic as the antiquated views of teleology.

    “Language is legislation, speech is its code. We do not see the power which is in speech because we forget that all speech is a classification, and that all classifications are oppressive.”

    Roland Barthes

    3. The modern individual is everywhere at once

    In the modern world we inhabit, we play a multiplicity of roles, simultaneously and consecutively; we operate a rapid succession of selves and identities on multiple platforms all correlated by the infocology we have co-created. The platforms we use however carry a new role, a role that once was relegated to our brains only and now extends into the infosphere.
    I speak of course of our memories, some of which as of now reside with Google, or FB, or Myspace or any other platform of what is rapidly becoming a real life streaming process having its core online. These memories, embedded as photos or comments, blog posts or clicks of like, or tweet and retweets, have a very large impact on our conceptualization of individuation. The reason for that is that whilst a few years back, not being online meant that my existence is mine alone and therefore the self reflection on myself as an individual was fairly simple, at present not being online does in no way diminish the access of others to me. In other words, part of me, let us call it the disembodied infosphere me, keeps on thriving automatically and without my conscious awareness.

    This has tremendous ramifications. For it implies that the modern concept of the individual is everywhere and at once.
    This I call: ‘simultaneous everywhereness’ a new state of affairs we have never before found ourselves in.

    The apparent ‘simultaneous everywhereness’ of our individuality is actually a reflection of the manner by which our minds operate, it is the narrative of self-representation extended across times and spaces. Constructing maps within maps, interacting with other maps, continuously update and evolve our meta-narratives.

    See what noted neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has to say in The Brain: A Story We Tell Ourselves

    “Gene networks organize themselves to produce complex organisms whose brains permit behavior; further evolution enriches the complexity of those brains so that they can create sensory and motor maps that represent the environments they interact with; additional evolutionary complexity allows parts of the brain to talk to each other (figuratively speaking) and generate maps of the organism interacting with its environment. Within the frame of those interactions, the conversation among the maps spontaneously and continuously tells the "story" of our organism responding to and being modified by the environment. (The story is first told without words and is later translated into language when language becomes available, both in biological evolution and in every one of us.)”

    The work of Antonio Damasio notwithstanding, we do not as of yet have a complete picture of the transition from the neuronal to the mental, we have some kind of narrative, partial and open to revision, and yet we can imply a number of significant clues.
    It is clear that whatever the final narrative of the process of creating minds will be, a few fundamentals will be insisted upon.
    These in no particular order include: Flexibility and Plasticity, Complexity and ambiguity, Uncertainty and volatility.
    What all these terms have in common is one particular mode of thought that runs contrary to the common thought of hierarchy and stability. What these terms imply is that our very own neuron network combines and recombines, forms and reforms, fashions and refashions, the structure of the brain and by consequence the mind.

    It is clear that our individualism is a work in progress, ever expanding and ever increasing in both complexity and narrative. We operate as a multiplicity in a multiplicity, and this very multiplicity of our world requires of us to operate on the basis of multiple selves.

    We have multiple networks inside our brains extending into multiple external networks mediated by electronics. Multiple networks in multiple networks, nested and co-evolving, mutually and inter-subjectively co-adapting to allow a multiple form of individuation process in which eventually no particular point of reference will be the original nexus of beingness. To describe such a situation, new in our civilizations evolution, we need reformulate the concept of the individual so as to better be adapted to the world we actually inhabit.

    shortly to be continued..

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    If only you could see what I have seen with your eyes

    The off-world replicants in Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner

    This essay is part one of a new series of writings temporary called: " Philotopia - the philosophy of Polytopia"

    1. Deploying the Mind Simulator

    In what can surely be described as one of the most important papers in the philosophy of mind of the 20th century, Thomas Nagel asks, “What is it like to be a bat? Essentially an argument against total physicalism and apparently dualistic in its approach, I do not think he was a dualist nor do I think that the argument is correct in as much as it concerns consciousness, however I have found the argument interesting from a completely different perspective.

    I refer to the fact of the state of affairs of mind that is represented by the question itself, namely the very fact that we can ask such a question as:” what it is like to be [..insert whatsoever]..?” is to my mind the most salient point at play.

    It should be clear that the evolved capability of our minds to project an idea of ‘what it is like to be something’, that is other than ‘me’ the projector, is the most extraordinary phenomena we can pinpoint with a certain accuracy.

    But what is so special about this particular ability?

    My take at present is that this particular ability of human minds stands erect as the pillar foundation of empathy and recognition, simulation and imitation, and can be said to be the base root of all human communications.
    Furthermore I will state clearly that to my understanding the very fact that our minds have evolved in such a fashion as to be able to deploy an inner simulator of an other, mind, thing or thought, behavior or idea, defines the very uniqueness of sentiency.
    Whether we actually ask the question of:” what it is like to be..” or simply state a negation such as ‘I cannot possibly imagine what he or she is feeling’, or “I have no idea what a bat feels like’ or even “stupid question, there is no such thing as..” this very particular form of reflection represents a process of beingness that acts as the cornerstone of connectivity and by corollary more so of hyperconnectivity.

    The salient feature we need regard here concerns the minds capability to transport a narrative of experience across time and space into another localized and perceived reality or imagined reality and back to us for analysis. This feature of narrative transport, allows us the motion of visions across time, and permits us to in fact position alternate scenarios of conscious awareness as represented by other forms than ourselves (whether these are forms of life or not is a different question).
    The alternate scenarios we construct and posit as extensions in times stand for our capability both as individuals and as a race to devise futures (see futures as such), these futures can be construed to be an ‘other’ than ‘me’ or ‘other’ than ‘us’, as in ‘future me’ or ‘future us’.
    A ‘future me’ or a ‘future us’ is as much an ‘other’, separated in this case by the linear time continuum of perceived experience, as an ‘other than me’ that is concomitant in space and time but differs in perceived form or behavior or indeed conscious awareness.

    Therefore, when we think of devising a future and essentially acting out the futurist in us, we actually use the capability of projection of awareness across time and space into a different reality than the one perceived in and at present.

    In the case I will try to elucidate here, the transport of narratives concerns the common vision of a better world.

    The vision of a better world so common and yet so elusive, is the act of deploying our mind simulator in the question of :”what is it like to be..” But simulated as a future to be envisioned.

    Deploying the mind simulator in this fashion demands of us a very special kind of mindset, a certain very special mindset, a mindset in which the projection of the future human civilization is a direct reflection of our understanding the meanings embedded in the term a better world.

    So: “ what is it like to live in a better world?”

    Let us start by simulating a future nostalgia, the description of which may make all the difference.

    The way we describe our world shows how we think of our world.
    How we think of our world directs how we interpret our world.
    How we interpret our world governs how we participate in it.
    How we participate in the world shapes the world.

    Robert Fripp in a salvaged “Notes to Myself” file, cited in his diary (November 30, 1998) at Entersection.)

    2.Future nostalgia

    Let us for a moment imagine the implementation of our visions, those, without false and undue humility, we may call visions for a better world.
    But first, a relevant question need be begged here: ‘In what fashion are we to understand the term ‘better’ in the context of a ‘better world’? What would in fact constitute betterment?

    Not being a believer in identity in the concept of self, the basic understanding I carry is that identity if at all relevant as a subject of inquiry into betterment lies in the gaps between concepts or in the tension between contexts.

    The meaning of the above is that identity can be described as an event of the gaps.

    Identity as an Event of the gaps

    As a start let us consider that identity in the abstract sense needs a concurrency and congruency of contexts working in tandem under the aegis of a particular mind (itself at present subjugated to the body sustaining it). Though this is not a dualistic approach it will make sense to reflect that the existential space we claim as our own is not confined to the localized sense thought perceptions of our own materiality or mentality.
    Between the axis of objectification (or the demand for such) and the axis of subjectivity (or the belief in such) lies an insurmountable gap, an event of emotionality that we call identity.
    The gaps between contexts, the void between sense-thoughts, in and within the stream of our minds might be the only space for chaos to preside, we may also call this the choice event.

    The choice event

    Though neuroscience is increasingly performing the task of demonstrating that the concept of free will is outdated (at least as it is commonly used), the actions of performing decisions of directionality still (and for an extended future will) bear relevance, especially as concerns the extension of our identities (as the event of the gaps) into the infosphere. The relevance pointed to here is concerned with directions of what we perceive as enhancement of our state of affairs, decisions and choices, which we ‘believe’ will make our world better.

    Hence the correlation to the betterment concept;

    To reiterate then, our identity can be said to lie as an event of gaps, gaps between concepts, gaps between contexts, a tension between the desire of objectivity and the belief in subjectivity. If as I surmise above, the very directionality of our actions finds its core in the event of gaps, it follows that the influence of certain particular concepts, in this case the concept of ‘better’ is particularly strong in the event of gaps.

    The important thing is to understand life, each living individuality, not as a form, or a development of form, but as a complex relation between differential velocities, between deceleration and acceleration of particles. A composition of speeds and slownesses on a plane of immanence.


    What does this mean?

    It may mean that we need reconfigure our understanding of the semantic phase space in which resides the term ‘better’ to fit a different understanding of the concept of identity. The reason we need do this is implicit in our desire for betterment as relayed by the term: ‘a better world’, for how can we perform the activity required of and for a better world, if we have no comprehension of the meaning we ascribe to and in the term betterment?

    At present my take on the issue is that the meaning we ascribe to ‘a better world’ is a direct manifestation of the inherency of the event of the gaps. Put differently, since we exist as an event of gaps, there is no meaning to ascribe that is not already in the interrelation of all our conceptual semantic phase space. And again, ‘better’ in the semantic phase space of the event of gaps means simply the free flow of in-betweens.

    Of course it follows that not only that there is no ‘self’ to speak of, there is of course no such animal as a ‘true self’ or correlated derivatives, what there is, if ‘isness’ as a signifier is to be invoked at all, is a metamindsphere of events of gaps, or an ecosphere of identities, all flowing as a mind stream of in-betweens, a flow of gaps and voids if you like.

    Taken together then, a better world as a statement carries the potential meaning of a clearer stream of in-betweens, the stream of in-betweens is a manner of describing the flow of events in a clear fashion, a fashion which can potentially allow us to re-describe the future we desire.

    3. A clearer stream of in-betweens.

    The fact that we have evolved the mental emotional capability to ‘put oneself in somebody else’s shoes’, as the common folk saying goes, is nothing less than tantalizing, even if the mirror neurons theory is correct it still remains somewhat of a mystery.

    The reason it is such a mystery concerns what is commonly called the paradox of change, or relative identity in identity theory:

    The Ship of Theseus Paradox:

    "Imagine a wooden ship restored by replacing all its planks and beams (and other parts) by new ones. Plutarch reports that such a ship was "… a model for the philosophers with respect to the disputed arguments … some of them saying it remained the same, some of them saying it did not remain the same" (cf. Rea 1995). Hobbes added the catch that the old parts are reassembled to create another ship exactly like the original. Both the restored ship and the reassembled one appear to qualify equally to be the original. In the one case, the original is "remodeled", in the other, it is reassembled. Yet the two resulting ships are clearly not the same ship. (See the Stanford Encyclopedia of philosophy for more)"

    The ship of Theseus metaphor is possibly the best illustration we can use to describe the kind of mind we are and the kind of world we live in at the beginning of the 21st century.
    We are a mind in flux continuously changing, evolving and mutating, a mind coherently and consistently influencing and being influenced by a world that is itself continuously in just such a flux, being transformed, evolving and mutating.
    How much more of a truism the above is when it comes to the hyperconnected infocology we have evolved to exist in.
    The fast pace of innovation, the tantalizing scientific discoveries, the rapid advancement and introduction of new technologies, and above all the hyperconnected infosphere all in tandem, have increased the speed of fluctuations, the actual flux of existence of our minds and identities, to such an extant that for all immediate purposes the stability of our old conceptual frameworks has been shattered.
    Our dilapidated contextual and abstract frames of reference have been shattered and yet we still use old formulations to speak and contain a new state of affairs.
    None more so perhaps than our old perspectives on what it is like to live in a better world.

    If the flow of in-betweens of our so called identities is in continuous flux and the world in which said identities is in continuous flux, isn’t it time to change our worldviews to match this transition?

    4.Changing our perspectives

    The hyperconnected infosphere has created a new state of affairs in which the question of “what is it like to be..” or ‘putting oneself into somebody else’s shoes’ has been reformulated to mean a hyper-meshing of flows of events of identities, in which not only our motion of gaps as flux has been transformed but also the very meaning we have attributed to the motion itself, namely the meaning attributed to betterment.

    In the new perspective suggested here, the worldview of base is one in which hyperconnectivity as the foundation of thriving in flux infocologies is said to stand as a reflection for the inner event of the gaps described above.

    The correlation is simple enough: the apparent identity of a particular mind as the event of gaps is reflected in the identity of the infocology that same mind resides in as the event of gaps in-between the different minds partaking of the same infocology.

    From a different perspective we could say the following:

    Voids between concepts are the actual spaces where meaning resides; these voids have shapes, tensions and form. The motion of these voids represents the underlying infra-flows of minds in hyperconnected mode.

    Infra-flows and hyper-flows are the two initial states of the infosphere, it is within the exchange of these two flows that we need look if we are to understand the term better in the context of ‘a better world’.
    The clarification of our semantic existential phase space, by which we explicate what we mean and from which we take our motive strengths of action is a fundamental necessity if we are to create a better world.
    Visions of a better world, like Theseus ships, are in constant flux, so are we, so is the world, the hyper-complex intersubjective relationships emerging from these different fluxes need redirect our gaze to a much broader and deeper understanding of that which we are creating.

    Polytopia as a Rhizomatic Hyperconnected state of affairs is the ground of engagement upon which and from which we will eventually rise as a better specie that has in due eventuality created a better world and a new form of wisdom.

    shortly to be continued..


    For the term Philotopia (the Philosophy of Polytopia) I am indebted to Syncopath for the actual coining of the term Philotopia in a recent chat.

    Images in text:
    1. Information leak by Richard Evans
    2. Antony Gormley
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