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The Myth of Cyberspace – The New Inquiry

The Myth of Cyberspace – The New Inquiry | Systems Theory | Scoop.it

In the early 1980s, when personal computing first became a reality, the faces of glowing terminals had an almost magical aura, transubstantiating arcane passages of 1s and 0s into sensory experience. In fact, the seemingly impenetrable complexity of what was unfolding behind the screen created a sense of mystery and wonderment. We were in awe of the hackers who could unlock the code and conjure various illusions from it; they were modern magicians who seemed to travel between two worlds: reality and cyberspace. One day, we imagined, these sages of cyberspace would leave their bodies behind and fully immerse themselves in the secret world behind the screen. Such images manifested themselves through the decades in films like Tron, Hackers, and The Matrix and in the fiction narratives of the cyberpunk genre. When the public internet first emerged, images of cyberspace were already deeply embedded in our collective imagination; these images have become the primary lens through which we view and evaluate our online activity. For this reason, tracing the genealogy of the cyberspace concept reveals much about present cultural assumptions regarding our relationship with information technology.


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luiy's curator insight, March 18, 2013 10:38 AM

The great irony of the cyberspace concept is that, though we embraced it to resolve cognitive dissonance, it has come to cause only more of it. As Facebook, Twitter, and other social-networking sites have grown more popular, it has become undeniable that they play an important role in organizing our social lives. Our presence on these sites arguably has become so important that we begin to experience the world differently, tailoring our behavior toward producing desirable sorts of things to share on them. We all know intuitively that what we do online affects us offline and vice versa — that both comprise the same friends, the same conversations, the same events. Yet the collective fantasy of cyberspace and all its related vocabulary are so deeply embedded in our cultural logic that we cannot help but lapse into denial of these obvious truths. Our language betrays us; it obfuscates the truth of our experience.

Western culture has a long history of creating such dualisms when confronted with crises of meaning or identity. For example, we have long evaded questions regarding our mortality by conceptually separating matter and form, body and soul. As with cyberspace, this age-old dualism generated a subsequent need to imagine a space where soul could exist apart from body, so we imagined heaven and hell. Our uncritical acceptance of the cyberspace fantasy has imbued it with a similar sacredness; it has become part of a new secular religion, built on faith in something that is imagined but never experienced.

Religion, as Emile Durkheim famously defined it, “is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and surrounded by prohibitions — beliefs and practices that unite its adherents in a single moral community.” Cyberspace is exactly the sort of thing that we have set apart conceptually and subjected to ceaseless moralizing: It has become almost second nature to claim that “the virtual” is less intimate, authentic, or natural than “the real.” Despite its failure to compellingly describe the world we inhabit, cyberspace nevertheless thrives as a framework for making moral judgments about that same world. Cyberspace has become our Mount Olympus, the founding myth of the Internet Age. It is an article of faith, not the product of lived experience.

Of course, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with fantasy. Speculative fiction provides an important opportunity to anticipate and prepare for techno-cultural change. The problem arises when we begin to prioritize that fictional narrative over actual experience, when we let these speculations control the reality that emerges. We have allowed the myth of cyberspace to usurp reason and to shape perception in our increasingly digitally-mediated lives. Perhaps, this realization should not come as too much of a surprise. Gibson himself recognized that the creative capacities of human beings predispose us to supplanting concrete observation with abstract concepts. A passage from Memory Palace can be read almost as claiming that the cyberspace myth fulfills some broader human teleology:

You see, so we’ve always been on our way to this new place — that is no place, really — but it is real. It’s our nature to represent. We’re the animal that represents — the sole and only maker of maps. And, if our weakness has been to confuse the bright and bloody colors of our calendars with the true weather of days, and the parchment’s territory of our maps with the land spread out before us—never mind. We have always been on our way to this new place — that is no place, really — but it is real.

Support The New Inquiry. Subscribe to TNI Magazine for $2Cyberspace is not real per se but real in the sense of the Thomas theorem: “If [wo]men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.” Real reality is not characterized by such dualisms; it is equally made of atoms and bits. The cost of upholding this mythical separation is that we have become disassociated with many aspects of our lives. If we hope to make ourselves whole again, we first need a new vocabulary, new myths, and new representations for the Web.

Systems Theory
theoretical aspects of (social) systems theory
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Kondratieff cycles and algorithms

Research into the origins and progress of the process of industrial development over a longer period clearly reveals, according to Schumpeter [1], that it always occurs in a long wave movement extending over a period of around 45 to 60 years.

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Google's First Quantum Computer Will Build on D-Wave's Approach - IEEE Spectrum

Google's First Quantum Computer Will Build on D-Wave's Approach - IEEE Spectrum | Systems Theory | Scoop.it

Google's first quantum computer may represent a more stabilized version of D-Wave's specialized machines


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Manifesto of Speculative Posthumanism

Manifesto of Speculative Posthumanism | Systems Theory | Scoop.it

Over the last decade the possibility of innovations in areas such as artificial intelligence or biotechnology contributing to the emergence of a ‘posthuman’ life form has become a focal point of public debate and mainstream artistic concern. This multi-disciplinary discourse is premised on developments in the so-called ‘NBIC’ technologies – Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Science. The transhumanist claim that human nature should be improved technologically is likewise predicated on the NBIC suite affording the necessary means for enhancement.

 

 


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Luhmann and Cybernetics

RT @reomahi: about luhmann and neu #cybernetics ...

journal of socialcybernetics, 2013 ...

http://t.co/vgR6cCRSdB << reading
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Heinz von Foerster

Heinz Von Foerster: Perception of the Future and the Future of Perception -pdf - http://t.co/0PdOxKgWM7 #cybernetics #education - essential!
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Is A Simulated Brain Conscious?

Is A Simulated Brain Conscious? | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Dr. Scott Aaronson's answer has implications for C-3PO, the universe and the odds that you are a Boltzmann Brain.
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Top 10 emerging technologies for 2014

Top 10 emerging technologies for 2014 | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Technology has become perhaps the greatest agent of change in the modern world. While never without risk, positive technological breakthroughs promise innovative solutions to the most pressing global challenges of our time, from resource scarcity to global environmental change. However, a lack of appropriate investment, outdated regulatory frameworks and gaps in public understanding prevent many […]
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Researchers Demonstrate Direct Brain-to-Brain Communication in Human Subjects

Researchers Demonstrate Direct Brain-to-Brain Communication in Human Subjects | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Researchers demonstrate the viability of direct brain-to-brain communication in humans located over 5000 miles apart.
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You are a Cyborg

For Donna Haraway, we are already assimilated.

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Artificial Intelligence: How Algorithms Make Systems Smart | Innovation Insights | WIRED

Artificial Intelligence: How Algorithms Make Systems Smart | Innovation Insights | WIRED | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
“Algorithm” is a word that one hears used much more frequently than in the past. One of the reasons is that scientists have learned that computers can learn on their own if given a few simple instructions. That’s really all that algorithms are mathematical instructions. Wikipedia states that an algorithm “is a step-by-step procedure for…
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The Man Who Will Build Google’s Elusive Quantum Computer | Enterprise | WIRED

The Man Who Will Build Google’s Elusive Quantum Computer | Enterprise | WIRED | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
John Martinis is one of the world’s foremost experts on quantum computing, a growing field of science that aims to process information at super high speeds using strange physics of very tiny particles such as electrons and photons. And now, after years as a physics professor at the University of California Santa Barbara, he’s headed…

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The Rise of Robotics

The Rise of Robotics | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Although worldwide spending on robots is expected to reach $67 billion by 2025, few companies have thought about how this megatrend will affect their operations and competitive position.

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Fred Zimny's curator insight, September 3, 11:29 AM

Always wondering about the professional and personal impact

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Massive online brain being built for the world's robots - Mother Nature Network

Massive online brain being built for the world's robots - Mother Nature Network | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Mother Nature Network Massive online brain being built for the world's robots Mother Nature Network As individual robots learn new knowledge, this knowledge can also be uploaded to the global brain, meaning that all other robots hooked up to the...

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If We Create Life, Who Will Control It? - NPR (blog)

If We Create Life, Who Will Control It? - NPR (blog) | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
NPR (blog)
If We Create Life, Who Will Control It?
NPR (blog)
The problem, as Lewontin reminds us, is that we often can't rely on those who pursue invention for profit or for military interests to have the best interests of the public in mind.
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Book Review: Braidotti's Vital Posthumanism - h+ Magazine

Book Review: Braidotti's Vital Posthumanism - h+ Magazine | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Book Review: Braidotti's Vital Posthumanism h+ Magazine Some critical posthumanists argue that the idea of the human as a sovereign, free agent “unmarked by its interactions with the object-world” is rendered obsolete by philosophical and...

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5 Psychological Challenges Facing Wearables and Quantified Self

5 Psychological Challenges Facing Wearables and Quantified Self | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
With technology up to speed and behavior change apps going mainstream, will we see gym attendance reach all-time highs? I doubt it.
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Fluid mechanics suggests alternative to quantum orthodoxy

Fluid mechanics suggests alternative to quantum orthodoxy | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
New math explains dynamics of fluid systems that mimic many peculiarities of quantum mechanics.
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Gordon Pask

Gordon Pask: The meaning of cybernetics in the behavioural sciences - pdf http://t.co/gWZTJDX8fC #cybernetics #psychology - classic fr 1969
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Robots Aren’t Out to Get You. You Should Be Terrified of Them Anyway.

Robots Aren’t Out to Get You. You Should Be Terrified of Them Anyway. | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Adapted from Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom. Out now from Oxford University Press. In the recent discussion over the risks of developing superintelligent machines—that is, machines with general intelligence greater than that of humans—two narratives have emerged. One side argues that if a machine ever achieved advanced intelligence, it...

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Flashes of light in particularly sensitive quantum states can be transmitted through the atmosphere

Flashes of light in particularly sensitive quantum states can be transmitted through the atmosphere | Systems Theory | Scoop.it

New prospects for secure data traffic: Flashes of light in particularly sensitive quantum states can be transmitted through the atmosphere. Erlangen-based physicists have sent bright pulses in sensitive quantum states through the window of a technical services room on the roof of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light to a building of the University Erlangen-Nürnberg.


It could be difficult for the NSA to hack encrypted messages in the future – at least if a technology being investigated by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen and the University Erlangen-Nürnberg will be successful: quantum cryptography. The physicists are now laying the foundation to make this technique, which can already be used for the generation of secret keys, available for a wider range of applications. They are the first scientists to send a pulse of bright light in a particularly sensitive quantum state through 1.6 kilometers of air from the Max Planck Institute to a University building. This quantum state, which they call squeezed, was maintained, which is something many physicists thought to be impossible. Using flashes of bright light for quantum communication through the atmosphere would have several advantages compared to the technique usually used today: it allows the photon packets to be transmitted in sunlight, something that is challenging with individual photons. Moreover, the receivers required for this are already presently in use for optical telecommunication via fibre optics and also via satellite.


Eavesdropping on a message protected by quantum cryptography cannot be done without being noticed. This is because quantum physics prevents a spy from reading a key which is encoded by specific quantum states without influencing these states. This can be exploited in a clever procedure for exchanging the key with which the data is encrypted, so that an unwelcome listener is not only detected, but is also prevented from accessing the information.

 

The quantum-protected communication is a fragile thing, however, and easily disturbed. All the more remarkable is the work of the Erlangen-based scientists working with Gerd Leuchs, Director at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light and professor at the University Erlangen-Nürnberg: "We have now succeeded in transmitting a flash of light, namely a pulse which contains many photons, through the atmosphere in a particularly sensitive quantum state," says Christian Peuntinger, who played an important role in the project. He and his colleagues sent a photon packet in a straight line from the roof of the Max Planck Institute in Nuremberg to the building of the University Erlangen-Nürnberg some 1.6 kilometers away. "This even works in broad daylight," says Christian Peuntinger.


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Technology moves faster than ethics - Washington Times

Technology moves faster than ethics - Washington Times | Systems Theory | Scoop.it

"...Tech changes affect three areas. Individuals acquire greater independence and reach.  The locus of power shifts accordingly. And traditional buffers between discordant groups dissolve.  These developments call for new structures for moral development, and the radical reassessment of human organization..."

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How algorithms rule the world

How algorithms rule the world | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The NSA revelations highlight the role sophisticated algorithms play in sifting through masses of data. But more surprising is their widespread use in our everyday lives. So should we be more wary of their power?

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Baidu Builds Largest Computer Brain for Online Queries

Baidu Builds Largest Computer Brain for Online Queries | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Baidu Inc. is building the world’s largest and most powerful computer cluster to improve image recognition as online queries move away from text.
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Google Hires Leading Researcher to Build a Quantum Computer | MIT Technology Review

Google Hires Leading Researcher to Build a Quantum Computer | MIT Technology Review | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Google’s crack at a quantum computer is a bid to change computing forever.
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Direct brain-to-brain communication demonstrated in human subjects

Direct brain-to-brain communication demonstrated in human subjects | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
In a first-of-its-kind study, an international team of neuroscientists and robotics engineers has demonstrated the viability of direct brain-to-brain communication in humans.
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Schrödinger's cat caught on quantum film using quantum entanglement

Schrödinger's cat caught on quantum film using quantum entanglement | Systems Theory | Scoop.it

The patron animal of quantum theory poses for a unique portrait in which the camera and the sitter don't share a single photon – except by entanglement.

 

Information is central to quantum mechanics. In particular, quantum interference occurs only if there exists no information to distinguish between the superposed states. The mere possibility of obtaining information that could distinguish between overlapping states inhibits quantum interference1, 2. Gabriela Barreto Lemos at the Austrian Academy of Sciences introduces and experimentally demonstrates a quantum imaging concept based on induced coherence without induced emission3, 4. The experiment uses two separate down-conversion nonlinear crystals (numbered NL1 and NL2), each illuminated by the same pump laser, creating one pair of photons (denoted idler and signal). If the photon pair is created in NL1, one photon (the idler) passes through the object to be imaged and is overlapped with the idler amplitude created in NL2, its source thus being undefined.


Interference of the signal amplitudes coming from the two crystals then reveals the image of the object. The photons that pass through the imaged object (idler photons from NL1) are never detected, while we obtain images exclusively with the signal photons (from NL1 and NL2), which do not interact with the object.


The experiment is fundamentally different from previous quantum imaging techniques, such as interaction-free imaging5 or ghost imaging6, 7, 8, 9, because now the photons used to illuminate the object do not have to be detected at all and no coincidence detection is necessary. This enables the probe wavelength to be chosen in a range for which suitable detectors are not available. To illustrate this, the researchers show images of objects that are either opaque or invisible to the detected photons. This experiment is a prototype in quantum information—knowledge can be extracted by, and about, a photon that is never detected.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Donald Schwartz's curator insight, August 30, 11:34 AM

 

As I live and breath, are there no mysteries any more?