Systems Theory
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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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America wants to believe China can’t innovate. Tech tells a different story.

America wants to believe China can’t innovate. Tech tells a different story. | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Behind the Great Firewall, Chinese apps have been flourishing.
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Inside Microsoft’s plan to outsmart Google

Inside Microsoft’s plan to outsmart Google | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Satya Nadella bounded into the conference room, eager to talk about intelligence. I was at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, WA, and the company’s CEO was touting the company's progres
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Meet the First Artificial Animal

Meet the First Artificial Animal | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Scientists genetically engineered and 3-D-printed a biohybrid being, opening the door further for lifelike robots and artificial intelligence.
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Decentralizing IoT networks through blockchain

Decentralizing IoT networks through blockchain | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Imagine a washer that autonomously contacts suppliers and places orders when it’s low on detergent, performs self-service and maintenance, and schedules its..
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AI, Frankenstein? Not so fast, experts say

AI, Frankenstein? Not so fast, experts say | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
It's easy to worry about what artificial intelligence will deal us. Some people are trying to sort things out before we get too far down the road.
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How China Took Center Stage in Bitcoin’s Civil War

How China Took Center Stage in Bitcoin’s Civil War | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Through vast server farms and canny investments, Chinese companies have effectively centralized control over a currency designed to be borderless.
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A long way away from finding a 'Grand Unified Theory of Everything'

A long way away from finding a 'Grand Unified Theory of Everything' | Systems Theory | Scoop.it

Despite the fact that Einstein's unifying theory has never been supported by observations, let alone definitive mathematical proof, Einstein's work did ultimately lead many scientists to re-examine the universe in relation to a holistic theory of everything, including an amalgam of his gravitational theories and quantum gravity hypotheses. Much work leading on from his theories provided tantalizing glimpses at possible gravitational interactions, including the behavior of the smallest of all fermions yet discovered – leptons and quarks.

 

This research led directly to the discovery of a gauge-invariant quantum field theory of the weak force, which included an electromagnetic interaction (and produced the "electroweak" concept that now shows correlation between electromagnetic and weak nuclear fields), which was, in itself, a great breakthrough in particle physics research. Unfortunately, however, it did not progress to include an observable gravitational component.

 

Nevertheless, buoyed by such revelations, theoretical physicists sought out a similar quantum field theory for the strong nuclear force, and eventually found one, dubbing it quantum chromodynamics. In this case, quarks are shown to interact through the exchange of gluons. This research has led to further postulations that the electroweak and strong nuclear forces could be united in a grand unified theory, which would then incorporate three of the four known forces in the universe. Again, however, an inclusion of the influence of gravity failed to be reconciled.

 

So despite the successful conflation of the fields discussed above, physicists have been unable to formulate a complete particle-driven unified field theory for gravity since it seems to lack a force-carrier particle of its own.

 

There is, however, one contender: A contentious theoretical particle known as a "graviton". The graviton moniker was apparently coined by the Russian physicists Dmitrii Blokhintsev and F. M. Gal'perin sometime in the mid 1930s (interestingly, around the time of the Einstein-Bohr stoush), in relation to the notion that if Einstein's predicted gravity waves existed, then they must also possess a quanta of energy, as does electromagnetic energy. That is, the electromagnetic and strong and weak nuclear forces all act through a "force carrier", which is exchanged between the interacting particles. These exchange carriers are also known as field particles, or gauge bosons.

 

The graviton, if it exists, doesn't seem to act like any of the other particles in the Standard Model, as it does not exhibit these force carrier behaviors. Put simply, unlike the other forces, gravity can not be absorbed, transformed, or shielded against, and it only attracts and never repels. In effect, this theoretical particle appears to possess no discernible way to interact with any other particle. This fact by itself would prohibit its inclusion in the Standard Model, partly because no instrument of sufficient size or efficiency could possibly be built to detect the supposedly tiny energies associated with it, but mostly because the entire concept runs into enormous theoretical difficulties at energies close to the Planck scale, which are the smallest sizes and energies able to be probed with particle accelerators.

 

Despite this, quantum gravity and other yet-to-be-proven quantum mechanical models such as string theory are often associated with gravitons, both of which rely on its existence. And though much hope is pinned on one of these theories eventually providing a unified description of gravity and particle physics, quantum gravity may prove the best contender. This is because string theory alone is not a physical descriptor of reality, but instead a self-contained mathematical model that describes all of the fundamental forces and the various forms of matter as models, not observed phenomena.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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RIGHTS FOR ROBOTS: EU reveals plans for new class of AI electro-person

RIGHTS FOR ROBOTS: EU reveals plans for new class of AI electro-person | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Ahead of today's historic "in/out" vote for Britain, it has emerged the EU wants to introduce laws specific to robots that could give them civil rights regulations of they own, and see limits on how many jobs they could replace from humans.

In scenes that could have come from the sic-fi novels of Isaac Asimov nearly 70 years ago, a recommendation of the European Parliament to the EU Commission has suggested in the future sentient AI robots could need their own rights and responsibilities, and strict laws banning them from taking over too many jobs across the Continent may become necessary.

In the 1950s Asimov predicted robots would eventually have to adhere to laws, because the potential of what could develop from a combination of sophisticated mechanism, androids with human features, and artificial intelligence (AI) was too dangerous.

But, it appears Brussels bureaucrats fear this fiction will become a reality and the report has even considered including a "new robot category next to natural and lawful people: the electronic person".

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Driverless Cars Will Face Moral Dilemmas

Driverless Cars Will Face Moral Dilemmas | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Autonomous vehicles may put people in life-or-death situations. Will the outcomes be decided by ethics or data?
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A Fork in the Road — Slock.it Blog

A Fork in the Road — Slock.it Blog | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Yesterday morning, the unthinkable happened: “The DAO”, a project instantiated by the community using the DAO Framework 1.0, had been…
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What’s Next for Artificial Intelligence

What’s Next for Artificial Intelligence | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The best minds in the business—Yann LeCun of Facebook, Luke Nosek of the Founders Fund, Nick Bostrom of Oxford University and Andrew Ng of Baidu—on what life will look like in the age of the machines
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Nick Bostrom: ‘We are like small children playing with a bomb’

Nick Bostrom: ‘We are like small children playing with a bomb’ | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Sentient machines are a greater threat to humanity than climate change, according to Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom
You’ll find the Future of Humanity Institute down a medieval backstreet in the centre of Oxford.
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The artificial intelligence that cut Google’s energy bill could soon help you

The artificial intelligence that cut Google’s energy bill could soon help you | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The same type of algorithm that beats humans at complex games is being applied in more practical areas.
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Primitive Quantum Computers Are Already Outperforming Current Machines

Primitive Quantum Computers Are Already Outperforming Current Machines | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
A team has used simple quantum processors to run “quantum walk” algorithms, showing that even primitive quantum computers can outperform the classical variety in certain scenarios—and suggesting that the age of quantum computing may be closer than we imagined.

Via Jean-Philippe BOCQUENET
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Artificial Intelligence Is Setting Up the Internet for a Huge Clash With Europe

Artificial Intelligence Is Setting Up the Internet for a Huge Clash With Europe | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Deep learning, the latest in AI technology, could clash with new regulations from the European Union, the world's single largest online market.
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Google’s DeepMind A.I. has learned to play a game called ant soccer

Google’s DeepMind A.I. has learned to play a game called ant soccer | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Google’s DeepMind artificial intelligence (A.I.) technology has proven to be very smart. DeepMind’s AlphaGo system got worldwide attention for beating top-ranked Go player Lee Sedol earlier this year. Previously, it has played Breakout and navigated a Doom-like maze.
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How Manufacturing Giants Are Building The Massive Industrial Internet Of Things - ARC

How Manufacturing Giants Are Building The Massive Industrial Internet Of Things - ARC | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The Industrial Internet of Things can be an ecosystem that will leverage big iron and big data to make society more efficient.
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Physicists have discovered what looks like an entire family of new particles in the LHC

Physicists have discovered what looks like an entire family of new particles in the LHC | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
They can’t be explained by our existing laws of physics.
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A.I. Downs Expert Human Fighter Pilot In Dogfights

A.I. Downs Expert Human Fighter Pilot In Dogfights | Systems Theory | Scoop.it

In the military world, fighter pilots have long been described as the best of the best. As Tom Wolfe famously wrote, only those with the "right stuff" can handle the job. Now, it seems, the right stuff may no longer be the sole purview of human pilots.

 

A pilot A.I. developed by a doctoral graduate from the University of Cincinnati has shown that it can not only beat other A.I.s, but also a professional fighter pilot with decades of experience. In a series of flight combat simulations, the A.I. successfully evaded retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Gene "Geno" Lee, and shot him down every time. Lee called it "the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible A.I. I've seen to date."

 

And "Geno" is no slouch. He's a former Air Force Battle Manager and adversary tactics instructor. He's controlled or flown in thousands of air-to-air intercepts as mission commander or pilot. In short, the guy knows what he's doing. Plus he's been fighting A.I. opponents in flight simulators for decades. But he says this one is different. "I was surprised at how aware and reactive it was. It seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment. It knew how to defeat the shot I was taking. It moved instantly between defensive and offensive actions as needed."

 

The A.I., dubbed ALPHA, was developed by Psibernetix, a company founded by University of Cincinnati doctoral graduate Nick Ernest, in collaboration with the Air Force Research Laboratory. According to the developers, ALPHA was specifically designed for research purposes in simulated air-combat missions.

 

The secret to ALPHA's superhuman flying skills is a decision-making system called a genetic fuzzy tree, a subtype of fuzzy logic algorithms. The system approaches complex problems much like a human would, says Ernest, breaking the larger task into smaller subtasks, which include high-level tactics, firing, evasion, and defensiveness. By considering only the most relevant variables, it can make complex decisions with extreme speed. As a result, the A.I. can calculate the best maneuvers in a complex, dynamic environment, over 250 times faster than its human opponent can blink.

 

After hour-long combat missions against ALPHA, Lee says, "I go home feeling washed out. I'm tired, drained and mentally exhausted. AI has superhuman reflexes and there is no way to win. This may be artificial intelligence, but it represents a real challenge." 

 

The results of the dogfight simulations are published in the Journal of Defense Management.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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Ben Grebe's curator insight, July 20, 5:53 AM

Another example of where technology will lead us 

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How the Computer Beat the Go Player

How the Computer Beat the Go Player | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
As a leading go player falls to a machine, artificial intelligence takes a decisive step on the road to overtaking the natural variety
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The New Fastest Supercomputer Is Chinese Through and Through

The New Fastest Supercomputer Is Chinese Through and Through | 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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The World Will Be Continuously Upgradable When Everything Is Connected

The World Will Be Continuously Upgradable When Everything Is Connected | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
One day in the future, we’ll look back in wonder at how our physical objects used to be singular, disconnected pieces of matter.

We’ll be in awe of the fact that a car used to be just a piece of metal full of gears and belts that we would drive from one place to another, that a refrigerator was a box that kept our food cold — and a phone was a piece of plastic we used to communicate to one other person at a time.

That’s because the future we’re rapidly moving towards is one where physical items become intelligent and interconnected — and as a fascinating result, their functionality changes.

There is probably no better example of this trend than the cell phone. The mobile phone used to be just that — a mobile phone. Now it’s your flashlight, your bank, your TV, and your funny, yet kind of dumb personal assistant. The cell phone — or really, more accurately, the hand-held computer — has become mostly a gateway to all the mobile services we use on it.

And those services are constantly morphing and improving, changing what our smartphones can do without requiring the physical phone itself to change all that much at all.

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Google combines two main quantum computing ideas in one computer

Google combines two main quantum computing ideas in one computer | Systems Theory | Scoop.it

A team of researchers from Google, the University of the Basque Country, the University of California and IKERBASQUE, Basque Foundation for Science has devised a means for combining the two leading ideas for creating a quantum computer in one machine, offering a possible means for learning more about how to create a true quantum computer sometime in the future. They have published the details in the journal Nature.

 

Computer scientists would really like to figure out how to build a true quantum computer—doing so would allow for solving problems that are simply unsolvable on conventional machines. But, unfortunately, the idea behind such a computer is still mostly theoretical. To move some of the ideas from theory to reality, the researchers with this new effort have built an actual machine that is based on two of the strongest approaches to building a quantum computer.

 

The first approach is based on the gate model, where qubits are linked together to form primitive circuits that together form quantum logic gates. In such an arrangement, each logic gate is capable of performing one specific type of operation. Thus, to make use of such a computer, each of the logic gates must be programmed ahead of time to carry out certain tasks.

 

With the second approach the qubits do not interact, instead they are kept at a ground state where they are then caused to evolve into a system capable of solving a particular problem. The result is known as an adiabatic machine—some have actually been built because they are more versatile than the gate model computers. Unfortunately, they are also not expected to be able to ever fully make use of the full power of quantum computing.

 

In this new effort, the researchers have attempted to gain the positive attributes of both approaches by creating a machine where they started with a standard quantum computer and then used it to simulate an adiabatic machine. It uses 9 qubits and has over 1,000 logic gates and allows for communication between qubits to be turned on and off at will. The end result, the team reports, is one that unlike an adiabatic machine, is able to tackle traditionally difficult computing problems. They expect it to be useful as a research tool, helping lead the way to the development of a truly quantum computer.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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$80 Million Hack Shows the Dangers of Programmable Money

$80 Million Hack Shows the Dangers of Programmable Money | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
A huge digital heist is a reminder that when your code has direct control of millions of dollars of assets, it had better be free of errors.
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