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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
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Blockchain: towards a framework for privacy of the machine

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New weblog posted with the title ‘Blockchain: Towards a framework for privacy of the machine’ You can find the weblog here
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Andrew Ng says factories are AI’s next frontier

Andrew Ng says factories are AI’s next frontier | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The artificial-intelligence expert is on a mission to AI-ify manufacturing, starting with partners like Foxconn.
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Your guide to Chinese social media

Your guide to Chinese social media | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
China is daunting enough when you’re trying to keep up with the latest news. But the real challenge is figuring out what the people are saying. We can help.
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Robot cars may kill jobs, but will they create them too?

Robot cars may kill jobs, but will they create them too? | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Barreling through California's Central Valley, his big rig's 48-foot refrigerated trailer loaded with lettuce, peppers and tomatoes, Brett Goodroad acknowledged that he's probably among the last generation of long-distance truckers.

At 38, he has been driving trucks since he was a teenager working on summer harvest crews in North Dakota. With a master's degree in fine arts and a penchant for listening to classic books on the road, he doesn't fit the standard trucker profile. But the aptly named Goodroad, who has put in more than a decade driving for Veritable Vegetable, an organic produce distributor, is an eloquent spokesman for his millions of comrades now traveling America's highways.
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AlphaZero AI beats champion chess program after teaching itself in four hours

AlphaZero AI beats champion chess program after teaching itself in four hours | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Google’s artificial intelligence sibling DeepMind repurposes Go-playing AI to conquer chess and shogi without aid of human knowledge
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Google's AlphaZero Destroys Stockfish In 100-Game Match - Chess.com

Google's AlphaZero Destroys Stockfish In 100-Game Match - Chess.com | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Chess changed forever today. And maybe the rest of the world did, too. A little more than a year after AlphaGo sensationally won against the top Go player, the artificial-intelligenc
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Against the odds, South Korea has become a Bitcoin and Ethereum powerhouse

Against the odds, South Korea has become a Bitcoin and Ethereum powerhouse | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The country is a hub for trading virtual currencies despite a government clampdown and North Korean cyberattacks.
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Why Decentralized Artificial Intelligence Will Reinvent The Industry As We Know It

Why Decentralized Artificial Intelligence Will Reinvent The Industry As We Know It | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Artifical intelligence may be all the rage, but we are moving toward the next frontier -- decentralized AI that can run and train on local devices or make decisions in decentralized networks like blockchain.
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China's Internet Winners

China's Internet Winners | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Huge value is being created online in China by companies such as Alibaba, Tencent and a host of other dot-coms. A recent study by Credit Suisse finds growing opportunities in three core areas: data technology, gaming and higher lifestyle consumption
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The rise of Bitcoin doesn't mean the end of banks. Here's why

The rise of Bitcoin doesn't mean the end of banks. Here's why | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Central authorities are still important to create legitimacy and build trust in cryptocurrencies.
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Everything you need to know about China's ambitious space plans

Everything you need to know about China's ambitious space plans | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
China is quickly becoming one of the most ambitious and pioneering nations when it comes to exploring space
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Can Cyber‐Physical Systems Reliably Collaborate within a Blockchain?

Can Cyber‐Physical Systems Reliably Collaborate within a Blockchain? | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
A blockchain can be considered a technological phenomenon that is made up of different interconnected and autonomous systems. Such systems are referred to here as cyber‐physical systems: comple
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Alibaba’s AI fashion consultant helps it set a new Singles’ Day record

Alibaba’s AI fashion consultant helps it set a new Singles’ Day record | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
AI will blur the line between online and offline retail.
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Attackers Deploy New ICS Attack Framework “TRITON” and Cause Operational Disruption to Critical Infrastructure « Attackers Deploy New ICS Attack Framework “TRITON” and Cause Operational Disruption ...

Attackers Deploy New ICS Attack Framework “TRITON” and Cause Operational Disruption to Critical Infrastructure « Attackers Deploy New ICS Attack Framework “TRITON” and Cause Operational Disruption ... | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Mandiant recently responded to an incident at a critical infrastructure organization where an attacker deployed malware designed to manipulate industrial safety systems.
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AI isn’t very smart yet. But we need to get moving to make sure automation works for more people

AI isn’t very smart yet. But we need to get moving to make sure automation works for more people | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Don’t worry about supersmart AI eliminating all the jobs. That’s just a distraction from the problems even relatively dumb computers are causing.
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Alpha Zero’s “Alien” Chess Shows the Power, and the Peculiarity, of AI

Alpha Zero’s “Alien” Chess Shows the Power, and the Peculiarity, of AI | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The latest advance from DeepMind behaves in a very surprising way. Expect other AI systems to be just as odd.
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Google's AI mastered chess from scratch in four hours from scratch

Google's AI mastered chess from scratch in four hours from scratch | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The 'AlphaZero AI played 100 games against rival computer program Stockfish 8, and won or drew all of them. It is the work of London-based Google division, DeepMind.
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Satori botnet: Mirai successor awakens with zero-day powers and over 280,000 bots in 12 hours

Satori botnet: Mirai successor awakens with zero-day powers and over 280,000 bots in 12 hours | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Satori can also exploit a recently discovered zero-day flaw, which the botnet has already used to infect two widely-used home routers.
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Scientists have expanded the genetic alphabet of life

Scientists have expanded the genetic alphabet of life | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Could life have evolved differently? A germ with “unnatural” DNA letters suggests the answer is yes.
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Amazon, in Hunt for Lower Prices, Recruits Indian Merchants

Amazon, in Hunt for Lower Prices, Recruits Indian Merchants | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Thousands of Indian sellers have shipped bedding, jewelry, kitchenware and clothing to Amazon warehouses to serve bargain-hunting Americans.
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The Guardian view on productivity: the robots are coming | Editorial

The Guardian view on productivity: the robots are coming | Editorial | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Editorial: The rise of the machines will make us richer. But to keep our humanity we need fundamental changes to our economic system
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This inquisitive AI will kick your butt at battleship

This inquisitive AI will kick your butt at battleship | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
As AI gets smarter, it’ll learn to ask some damn good questions.
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For the first time, a robot passed a medical licensing exam

For the first time, a robot passed a medical licensing exam | Systems Theory | Scoop.it

Experts generally agree that, before we might consider artificial intelligence (AI) to be truly intelligent —that is, on a level on par with human cognition— AI agents have to pass a number of tests. And while this is still a work in progress, AIs have been busy passing other kinds of tests.

 

Xiaoyi, an AI-powered robot in China, for example, has recently taken the national medical licensing examination and passed, making it the first robot to have done so. Not only did the robot pass the exam, it actually got a score of 456 points, which is 96 points above the required marks.

 

This robot, developed by leading Chinese AI company iFlytek Co., Ltd., has been designed to capture and analyze patient information. Now, they’ve proven that Xiaoyi could also have enough medical know-how to be a licensed practitioner.

 

Local newspaper China Daily notes that this is all part of the country’s push for more AI integration in a number of industries, including healthcare and consumer electronics. China is already a leading contender on the global AI stage, surpassing the United States in AI research, in an ultimate effort to become a frontrunner in AI development by 2030. The country’s determination, driven by the realization that AI is the new battleground for international development, could put the U.S. behind China in this worldwide AI race.


Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald
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The industrial internet of things and cyber security: An ecological and systemic perspective on security in digital industrial ecosystems - IEEE Conference Publication

All over the world, objects are increasingly connected in networks such as the Industrial Internet of Things. Interconnections, intercommunications and int
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