Archive for October, 2010
At Michigan State University’s “Commodification, Technoculture, and the Human” conference, presenter and author from Simon Fraser University Andrew Feenberg acknowledged the internet as a technology and compared it to a “wheel chair ramp”. It took me by surprise, as I would hold that the internet is NOT a technology, but a space…software, for instance, is analogous to the “wheel chair ramp” – simply because of its ability to possess ambiguous functionality relative to its user. The specific designation of the “wheel chair ramp” is important, because it could be identified as a “skateboard ramp” to some skateboarder, right!?…Similar to how the LinkedIn application could serve multiple purposes depending on the user.
Perhaps the internet requires much more definition, as the roots of the word can be confusing. Inter: situated within – Net: any network or reticulated system of filaments or the like. Its terminology is synonymous with the “web” or a web, which requires multiple linkages to points of initiation in order to exist well. If this is the internet that Feenberg is referring to then I’d think it accurate. However, the internet is not actually a web of ever connected points. Information destinations are not required.
The internet is analogous to space. Regardless of whether or not we access space, its potential exists – we can access or insert entities of sorts into the space regardless of, if another user were present to receive information of sorts from the distributed. Space is a dynamic system of expanding material potential as is the internet’s material potential. The potential of the internet expands as users (or rather, potential users) access to the internet expands – access could come in many forms including, user population(s) growth or by computing speed or by computing power… The internet, regardless of the constraints of the word, it cannot be identified as a specific technology.
Feenberg’s internet analogy using the ramp came from a paper that he presented on how mediation or rather, bureaucratic regulation, should shape use of the internet space. Of course, his presentation regarded the internet as a technology which is much more suitable to be regulated than a space – similar to regulating the building of space-penetrating vessels through standards and institutions instead of regulating the actual engagement of space. It reminds me of Billy Bob Thorton’s movie The Astronaut Farmer. These types of mediation would (will, per Feenberg) occur from an access, speed, and power standpoint.
From an economic standpoint there is a price threshold that divides users from non-users of the potential space of the internet, and while the older generation of participants of this conference firmly expressed their pessimism sentiments and about private industry’s ability to suppress the pervasive engagement of space, I honestly resented their lack of activist zeal. They’re generations’ willingness to allow an ownership ideology to pervade the legal will of our society’s engagement of its potential is stifling…I’ll save that argument for later…lol…
It would be silly to suggest that Feenberg hasn’t provided some valuable contribution to the philosophy of technology and the exploration of critical theory, but his inability to forecast an age of increasing segmentation of networking technological use by sentient beings and suggest that we may need to accept the inevitability of using a weak or regulated AI (artificial intelligence) for IT (information technology) ontological rationale out of our diverse set of interactions shows 1) a lack of ambition or vision, 2) his age, and 3) his discipline specific, novice. It makes me wonder more about if philosophical explorations alone can produce robust stances on modern issues of sorts. A bureaucratic regulatory style or establishment of institutions subject to potentially elitist bias is yet another band-aid to the “problem” of technological pursuits…..human kind has the potential to be past the age of the band-aid.
During the second week of October 2010 Mayor Michael R Bloomberg pursued an agenda to prohibit users of federal and state aid, more specifically “bridge cards” or “half dollars” or “food stamps” depending on how you take your slang, from buying “pop” or “soda water” or “soda”. It was formally acknowledged by the Mayor as a push on anti-obesity. Policy analysts of sorts like George Hacker disagree with the Mayor’s aggressive agenda, and think that an educational campaign would better serve a community doped into poor beverage purchase by savvy marketing campaigns. With type-2 diabetes targeting 1:8 adults in NYC it’s become necessary to figure some kind of solution.1
What’s a pragmatic politician to do? What are the socio-ethical pitfalls of the two pragmatic strategies?
The difficulty with any leader, ever being pragmatic is that they will regularly fail to remedy problems by acknowledging their bias and the existence of archaic/modern political systems of sorts. While pragmatism has been a formal philosophical sect since the mid 1800s, it seems as though it has been widely hailed in the United States succeeding the four FDR presidencies. Bloomberg and his relative opponents in this pragmatic band-aid effort are all products of the triumphs of the FDR and WWII era (Boomers and X-ers), so they’d naturally subscribe to what they’ve known to work in the face of extreme adversity, nuclear warfare, social calamity, economic capitulation, etc….
Pragmatic politicians can’t afford to fix problems outright because of their philosophical gridlock, and lack of progressive (progressive: in its classical sense not its modern politically charged definition) vision. Regarding the – to or not to prohibit – scenario of the extended Bloomberg mayoral reign, both he and his opponents are seeking a short term remedy without properly root causing the problem of obesity in the city of New York. When considering the modern problem of lifestyle diseases like diabetes it is necessary to factor in the pursuit of happiness and recognize that although obesity and the like are cause by consumption of food products, they actually register with the consumer as marketed consumer goods – material consumption is not about material things, but it is about self definition, It’s not necessarily a good thing when you don’t know your makers/marketers.2 A real remedy to the problem would merit some investment in the affected public, but that is not to say that the educational initiative alone would remedy problems…we’ve seen how throwing money a problems produces few results.
The reality is that pragmatics won’t acknowledge in their rhetoric and policy is that it is cheaper and more convenient for a consumer to buy Orange Crush than Orange Juice. Policy that regulates what one can buy with their consumer currency and education combined won’t address the economic void between the food stamp holder and the 18 Billion US Dollar 88% of Bloomberg LP equity holder. I’m reminded of a drawing from the 1845 Eleazar Morton book A key to true happiness.3 The book is rare and text is out of print, but I have a copy and the argument, although designed for a primitive age of superstitions, is the same. The text ribbon at the bottom of the graphic reads “Poor Ignorant and Unhappy | Intelligent and Happy”, as a man with a sash that reads “The People” and a yard stick that reads “Universal Education — Intelligence”. On the left (wrong) end of the yard stick reside the ignorant, and the right (right) reside the intelligent.
The argument that Michael Bloomberg makes is one of adding a band-aid to a problem that stems from ignorance, lack of control, and desperation. Poor, ignorant people will have no incentive, even with government direction (unless they are forced), to buy food goods in their best interest.
What does anyone need with 18 Billion US Dollars? When there are segments of the population that they’ve sworn to protect that can’t find the means to procure 18 US Dollars on a consistent basis? As the M1&M2 (Federal Reserve reported Cash) figures continue to rise during decades of job depletion it is necessary to ask the ubber wealthy if they in fact value human resources and if they are willing to invest in the poor and ignorant population’s self-actualization (intelligence) instead of pragmatic remedies to political problems….when will we learn?
What a good time in Salt Lake City. When I told people that I was there for a conference on technology and spirituality, they would all (every last one of them) pause and ask “technology and spirituality?”…as if the two will never have to collide and either, merge well, or battle for dominance in the ages to come. All I see are battles…..lol….. as technological progression and incentives to be rational modify societies naive inability to question well. The kinds of polar opposites that technology and spirituality create are what excite and scare simultaneously; at some point the rift between the two will come to a head….I’d like to prevent people on both sides from losing theirs (heads that is).
This pic is a snap shot of my presentation at the University of Utah on the phenomenological impossibility for spiritual understanding to create pervasive harmonies within the cognitively elite species (modern and post human species). Without wasting space writing about why and how I think that this argument is important (hopefully its obvious) I’ll just dig into the diagram titled incentive model.
The ‘S’ represents a spirit (or Souls) and the ‘P’ represents a physical being (or People). The red diamond represents resources of sorts. The top is a representation of scarce resources and the bottom is a representation of relatively abundant resources. this rationale will be elaborated on much more in my book scheduled for 2011…but can be understood in the Dubai vs Duba scenario of the book that I released this past July 2010.
During my talk in Utah I stated that the value proposition of spirituality was plainly, to “connect people”. I saw that the Mormon, Christian, and Other attendance agreed through a series of tweets on the topic at #ts2010. Regarding Integrationalism and how it relates to Transhumanism, I am chiefly concerned with how we pursue connecting people in the future. So we all have the same mission, but I’m not optimistic about the potential of the current spiritual strategies that we are employing to achieve the value proposition.
In my previous book I elaborate on how spirituality is a direct spawn of individualism; and further, how it is a parent of unavoidable ideas such as elitism, entitlements, and protectionism…of course there are more, but these are chiefly important when considering how or if human kind will interact well; and further, connect.
Referencing the upper portion of the pic above, we currently interact in an economic reality of scarce resources of sorts…hence the need for markets and market segmentation and the whole array of socio-cultural benefits and ailments that accompany market labels. In a scarce economic state the ‘P’ compete directly to procure to scarce resources. We’ve been interacting in this fashion since the beginning of our existence, well before our Homo sapiens sapiens state. In this type of economic reality ‘P’ don’t actually have the incentive to connect, and ‘S’ don’t actually have the incentive to connect our well being. ‘S’, per it’s wide spread definition and scholarly elaboration in countless texts, are specific to ‘P’ and exist to interact with ‘P’ either alone or on behalf of some high powered supreme spirit. Either way, a spiritual ‘P’ understands itself as being directly connected to its ‘S’, and the partnership empowers both to protect their own existence above competitors. This makes for violent outcomes. We’re all familiar with war, right?……LOL…
Regarding abundance and the lower portion of the pic above, spirituality also has significant impact on the sociological understanding of individuals relative to their surrounding society. Under all spiritual beliefs the individual has the potential to become favored, favoured, blessed, enlightened, etc…the jargon depends on the spiritual system and cultural adoption…but the understanding is pervasive: All ‘P’ with ‘S’ counterparts have the potential to become -special- to sum it up in one word. I deal that is, special, provides some (or much, in a technologically miniscule setting) potential for a disproportionate allocation of resources to the anointed ‘P’. Hence, ‘P’ interacts indirectly with its competitor in the diagram to procure….more.
‘S’, incentivizes the individual’s ability to become omni-selfish at some point depending on intellectual ability, socio-cultural status, and/or economic reality. Technology’s ability to help us quantify, interpret, and distribute resources of sorts will be crucial in human kind’s pursuit of an actual civil society. Peace, is not a phenomenon that human kind will achieve without its technological-extensions as I’ve called them in the past. Perhaps the evolution that will proceed a physical metamorphosis of human kind will be an ideological metamorphosis, from that of divided survivalists to an understandingly connected group of highly rational beings; pursuing protection of like life-forces as the supreme priority.
“Were all virgins to the joys of Loving without fear” – Janelle Monae.
Forbes.com Video Network | Forbes 400: Buffett, Jay-Z On The Power of Luck.
About 21:00 minutes in…
Luck of the draw is what it’s called…hearing Buffet and Jigga talk about how lucky they are, rather than talented is entertaining indeed, but also makes me a bit uneasy when considering the hypocritical regard they (Jigga especially) have for their success, as to say that they are “smart” or that anyone could every be for that matter. This interview brings into question the whole concept of elitism and the bearers of it.
Acknowledging that being in the right place at the right time matters, and assuming ownership of a large amounts of wealth is hypocritical in itself because of the inability of the individual to consume so awesomely….or is it?
LOL….Down with elitism! Spread the wealth! Maximize the potential of the species!