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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.


Via luiy
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luiy's curator insight, March 18, 2013 1:38 PM

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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New weblog about blockchain technologies posted the blockchain and the autonomy of systems You can find the weblog at http://bit.ly/2oJe0yw
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World's Most Powerful Particle Collider Taps AI to Expose Hack Attacks

World's Most Powerful Particle Collider Taps AI to Expose Hack Attacks | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Machine learning is crucial to staying ahead of hackers trying to break into at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider’s (LHC) massive worldwide computing grid
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The world’s fastest supercomputer signals new dominance for Chinese hardware

The world’s fastest supercomputer signals new dominance for Chinese hardware | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
China now has more supercomputers among the world’s top 500 fastest machines than any other nation.
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China's quantum satellite clears major hurdle on way to ultrasecure communications

China's quantum satellite clears major hurdle on way to ultrasecure communications | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Probe sends entangled photons — which could underpin quantum-based data encryption — over unprecedented distance.
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Why Siemens’ IoT Strategy Is Big on Software

Why Siemens’ IoT Strategy Is Big on Software | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The German industrial company’s Internet of Things strategy stretches across the entire value chain of manufacturing.
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New Cybersecurity Executive Order Highlights Need for Deterrence, Protection of Key Industries

New Cybersecurity Executive Order Highlights Need for Deterrence, Protection of Key Industries | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Given the range of possible threats and the pace at which they may appear, it is impossible to protect everything, everywhere, all the time
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The latest NSA leak reveals exactly the kind of cyberattack experts had warned about

The latest NSA leak reveals exactly the kind of cyberattack experts had warned about | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The Russian-backed assault, outlined in a newly public NSA analysis, targeted a particularly vulnerable component of the U.S. voting system.
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Teaching robots right from wrong

Teaching robots right from wrong | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Artificial intelligence is outperforming the human sort in a growing range of fields – but how do we make sure it behaves morally? Simon Parkin meets the men trying to teach ethics to computers
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Sales of industrial robots are surging. So what does this mean for human workers?

Sales of industrial robots are surging. So what does this mean for human workers? | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Industrial robot sales are a record high – and here’s how this will affect the human workforce.
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Ripples in Space-Time! Gravitational-Wave Observatory Detects 3rd Black Hole Merger

Ripples in Space-Time! Gravitational-Wave Observatory Detects 3rd Black Hole Merger | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
It's not a fluke: For the third time, the LIGO gravitational wave observatory has detected ripples in space-time caused when two black holes circle each other at mind-bending speeds and collide.
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Understanding Samsung's Internet-of-Things Story in 15 Slides -- The Motley Fool

Understanding Samsung's Internet-of-Things Story in 15 Slides --  The Motley Fool | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Samsung sees tremendous opportunity in the Internet of Things and will play a crucial role in the revolutionary connectivity trend.
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The most dexterous robot yet learned to grasp from virtual objects

The most dexterous robot yet learned to grasp from virtual objects | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
A dexterous multi-fingered robot practiced using virtual objects in a simulated world, showing how machine learning and the cloud could revolutionize manual work.
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Advances in Robotics and 3D Printing Could Make Life-Saving Artificial Hearts a Reality

Advances in Robotics and 3D Printing Could Make Life-Saving Artificial Hearts a Reality | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Heart-related disorder treatment has undergone a renaissance in the last few decades.
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Do More! What Amazon Teaches Us About AI and the “Jobless Future”

Do More! What Amazon Teaches Us About AI and the “Jobless Future” | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
We hear again and again that AI and robots are going to take away human jobs. My broken kettle says otherwise. Yesterday, I set my electric kettle down awkwardly on the edge of the sink. Crash! It…
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Meet the Chinese finance giant that’s secretly an AI company

Meet the Chinese finance giant that’s secretly an AI company | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The smartphone payments business Ant Financial is using computer vision, natural language processing, and mountains of data to reimagine banking, insurance, and more.
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Why is the language of transhumanists and religion so similar? – Beth Singler | Aeon Essays

Why is the language of transhumanists and religion so similar? – Beth Singler | Aeon Essays | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The most avid believers in artificial intelligence are aggressively secular – yet their language is eerily religious. Why?
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Divide and conquer: How Microsoft researchers used AI to master Ms. Pac-Man - Next at Microsoft

Divide and conquer: How Microsoft researchers used AI to master Ms. Pac-Man - Next at Microsoft | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Microsoft researchers have created an artificial intelligence-based system that learned how to get the maximum score on the addictive 1980s video game Ms. Pac-Man, using a divide-and-conquer method that could … Read more »
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Industroyer: Biggest threat to industrial control systems since Stuxnet

Industroyer: Biggest threat to industrial control systems since Stuxnet | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
ESET has analyzed a sophisticated and extremely dangerous malware, known as Industroyer, which is designed to disrupt critical industrial processes.
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How Far Will Blockchain Technology Go?

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Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank President Neel Kashkari said recently that blockchain technology has more potential for being adopted in th
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The Myth of a Superhuman AI – Backchannel

The Myth of a Superhuman AI – Backchannel | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Debunking the myth of a superhuman artificial intelligence: Hyper-intelligent algorithms are not going to take over the world for these five reasons.
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China’s new cybersecurity rules threaten to block Western innovation

China’s new cybersecurity rules threaten to block Western innovation | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Critics say the laws will stymie U.S. tech giants working inside the country.
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Why Manufacturers Should Be Mindful Of Cybersecurity

Why Manufacturers Should Be Mindful Of Cybersecurity | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Sophisticated hackers can do more than just access private emails -- they can also compromise entire manufacturing IT networks.
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Teaching robots right from wrong

Teaching robots right from wrong | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Artificial intelligence is outperforming the human sort in a growing range of fields – but how do we make sure it behaves morally? Simon Parkin meets the men trying to teach ethics to computers
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Google’s A.I. Program Rattles Chinese Go Master as It Wins Match

Google’s A.I. Program Rattles Chinese Go Master as It Wins Match | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
A Google program called AlphaGo won a best-of-three match against a Chinese Go master, rattling his nerves and showing the power of new artificial intelligence technologies.
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Artificial Intelligence will Speak Its Own Language Soon

Artificial Intelligence will Speak Its Own Language Soon | Systems Theory | Scoop.it



Grounded language is a new step towards Artificial Intelligence revealed by OpenAI. The article is about a system that invents a language which is tied to perception of the world. In sum, the post reveals possibilities that might be opened via researches related to an artificial language. At least the language will be similar to a signal language typical for animals. Further languages will be evolved into more complex technologies. There is no such thing as an evolution of languages. There is an evolution of the ability to use languages. This ability appeared about 75000 years ago. And it was extremely simple. And what we call a language today is how our language is transformed into a spoken act. As Chomsky mentioned it is a secondary language regarding essential processes of thinking. There are the variety of about 6000 different languages over the world. What we really want is to understand that an underlying principle that gives us the ability to acquire any of these 6000 languages. And create several new ones.The language is not necessary spoken sounds but rather it is more an inner process. It’s closer to a thinking process.The language in some sense is similar to vision.We have a written language and we have some photos. An ability to look at an object from several prospectives is the same to asking questions for details or hidden facts. An inner dialog is the same to imagining scenes. The most interesting part is that two abilities are closer than ever on the lowest level. Also, they are built from the same material with the same principles. Discovering a system that can handle both vision and a language is the base for intelligence.The ultimate goal is to make a system that recognizes reality via visual perception then creates abstraction. Also, the system is able to use a language for manipulations with the abstractions. The goal is to connect it in the way human mind does. I wrote more about this translation process here:






In spite of the fact that a language and vision refer to the same abstractions in the mind the source of all abstractions is the reality and that’s why we start grasping it with the simplest visual objects and not with a language. Later language-described objects become as real as what we look at. But there is no option to grasp a human language for a machine without an interaction with a physical world. That’s why OpenAI’s learning to communicate strategy is promising.Another reason to do such researches is that there is no possibility yet to put robots into a physical world to learn the whole environment. It just will take too much time. It’s not possible to acquire a language through static data. The only way is to be an active participant in an environment. Also, there are no easy ways to make the evasive experiments with a human mind and the computer simulations are the best candidates to become a tool of linguistics in 21 century.The goal is to create an intelligent agent that understands us. And it’s a pretty hard problem. It has been researching since 1960. However, we have not been able to describe a language formally yet because it does not exists without context. The environment is such context.Competition and CooperationWe have already seen a system which is able to demonstrate awesome results in the reinforcement learning experiments. It is DeepMind Q-learning implementation playing the Atari-games. In short, the system had an environment and an agent earning score. And the agent successfully learned how to play well.Another breakthrough was AlphaGo. The key difference is that an opponent was present behind the game. Also, the environment had much more states. One of the brilliant solutions worth mentioning is that the agent was playing against own copies.The next move will be the system where agents are able to find a way to cooperate with each other to achieve an additional value for both. OpenAI research shows how an intelligent agent behaves in a totally different environment — cooperative world like ours.






The BlackBox ProblemAn inner language might be next breakthrough to help manage the complexity of ML frameworks. Today we have to put a lot of efforts to clarify what ML system is doing and why. The language that is pretty close to a human one is an upcoming interface for working with ML engines. For multipurpose agents, such language is the best way to define an objective function. Indeed, as AI systems become increasingly sophisticated and complex, it is hard to envision how we will collaborate with them without language — without being able to ask them, “Why?” More than this, the ability to communicate effortlessly with computers would make them infinitely more useful, and it would feel nothing short of magical.  —  Will KnightThe quote is a part of the article that reveals some points where a language would provide significant advantages:






The Language ItselfDespite basic structure and vocabulary difference, it is possible to describe English and Chinese via the same terms: nouns, verbs, particles, tenses, etc. Both languages were created by thousands of communicating minds on top of surrounded reality. Next article demonstrates details:






Imagine two people the English and the Chinese. They are having a chat. There are no options to send anything except native language. There is no option to learn each other language for them in this situation. (This argument is pretty close to Chinese room argument.) But imagine they have met. It’s not so complex to learn each other language soon. What has changed? They got a surrounded reality. They are able to connect a new language with it. The babies are able to acquire language in the same way.The Language GamesThis article would not be full without mentioning Language Games developed by Ludwig Wittgenstein. Consider the description from Wikipedia: The language is meant to serve for communication between a builder A and an assistant B. A is building with building-stones: there are blocks, pillars, slabs and beams. B has to pass the stones, in the order in which A needs them. For this purpose they use a language consisting of the words “block”, “pillar” “slab”, “beam”. A calls them out; — B brings the stone which he has learnt to bring at such-and-such a call. Conceive this as a complete primitive language. (PI 2.)[3] Later “this” and “there” are added (with functions analogous to the function these words have in natural language), and “a, b, c, d” as numerals. An example of its use: builder A says “d — slab — there” and points, and builder B counts four slabs, “a, b, c, d…” and moves them to the place pointed to by A. The builder’s language is an activity into which is woven something we would recognize as language, but in a simpler form. This language-game resembles the simple forms of language taught to children, and Wittgenstein asks that we conceive of it as “a complete primitive language” for a tribe of builders.So, OpenAI’s research is a step toward creating an agent that will adapt and integrate itself in a cooperation with humans. Each such cooperation could be defined as a language game.Also, I recommend an article written by Eberhard Schoeneburg. It clarifies the role of language-games in AI.ConclusionWe made a step on a road of growing a smart system from seeds. These seeds are preconditions and algorithms. Also, the seeds are clear and perceived while a final system is powerful and hardly understood. And the combination of several seeds will lead to more powerful intelligent machines and to AGI eventually. “Learning to communicate” is another seed in a list of deep reinforcement learning, Q-learning, Monte Carlo planning etc.Still, we don’t know how to copy valuable principles of work from brains and we reinvent similar ones piece by piece by using a try and trial approach and simulations. Also, there is no a tangible consciousness itself but we are on the road to a building of a new framework with an ability to communicate.$$!ad_code_content_spilt_video_ad!$$Just imagine that each ML expert system will be able to talk and depict its thinking process. A grounded language is a discernible trend.I would even say that we have a kind of stagnation in AI today. We are at the stage of growing technology yet. However, it will be possible to recognize capabilities of AI only in a product phase and it is coming.This article was provided by Michael Kropivka. He is an AI and ML researcher, software engineer and the creator of AlgoBrainsLab. He can be found on Medium and Twitter.Want to see your story on pionic? Make a pitch.
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