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.

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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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Trisis has the security world spooked, stumped and searching for answers

Trisis has the security world spooked, stumped and searching for answers | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
How security researchers stumbled into finding the next Stuxnet.
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How So Many Researchers Found a 20-Year-Old Chip Flaw At Once

How So Many Researchers Found a 20-Year-Old Chip Flaw At Once | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The uncanny coincidences among the Meltdown and Spectre discoveries raise questions about "bug collisions"—and the safety of the NSA's hidden vulnerability collection.
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China wants an “orderly exit” from bitcoin mining

China wants an “orderly exit” from bitcoin mining | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Bitcoin mining could be on its last legs in China. The country's top internet-finance regulator, the Leading Group of Internet Financial Risks Remediation, issued a notice asking local governments to “guide” bitcoin-mining operations to make an "orderly exit” from the business, according to a leaked document online. Citing government sources, Bloomberg and Reuters earlie
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At least three billion computer chips are vulnerable to a security flaw found this week

At least three billion computer chips are vulnerable to a security flaw found this week | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Companies are rushing out software fixes for Chipmageddon.
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Why we urgently need a Digital Geneva Convention

Why we urgently need a Digital Geneva Convention | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
A cyber arms race is underway. The only way to ensure nations conform to certain rules and norms in cyberspace is through the recognition of international law
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AI cyberattacks will be almost impossible for humans to stop

AI cyberattacks will be almost impossible for humans to stop | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
As cyberattacks become more refined, they will start mimicking our online traits. This will lead to a battle of the machines
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Top 10 Cyber Security Trends for 2018

Top 10 Cyber Security Trends for 2018 | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
As 2017 draws to a close, we discuss 2018 Cyber Security Trends and the issues and threats likely to feature prominently in the infosec landscape.
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Why banning autonomous killer robots wouldn’t solve anything – Susanne Burri & Michael Robillard | Aeon Ideas

Why banning autonomous killer robots wouldn’t solve anything – Susanne Burri & Michael Robillard | Aeon Ideas | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Autonomous weapons – killer robots that can attack without a human operator – are dangerous tools. There is no doubt about this fact. As tech entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Mustafa Suleyman and other signatories to a recent open letter to th
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How a Dorm Room Minecraft Scam Brought Down the Internet

How a Dorm Room Minecraft Scam Brought Down the Internet | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The DDoS attack that crippled the internet last fall wasn't the work of a nation-state. It was three college kids working a Minecraft hustle.
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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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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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Trisis has mistakenly been released on the open internet - CyberScoop

Trisis has mistakenly been released on the open internet - CyberScoop | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
An elite cyberweapon has been publicly sitting online due to a mistaken upload to VirusTotal, three sources familiar with the matter told CyberScoop.
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Any rule on Bitcoin must be global, Germany's central bank says

Any rule on Bitcoin must be global, Germany's central bank says | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Any attempt to regulate cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin must be on a global scale as national or regional rules would be hard to enforce on a virtual, borderless community, a director at Germany's central bank said on Monday.
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Xiaomi Mi Robot vacuum cleaner hacked

Xiaomi Mi Robot vacuum cleaner hacked | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Xiaomi’s robotic vacuum cleaner was hacked by security researchers — but it’s still much more secure than most other smart devices.
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Internet Users in China Expect to Be Tracked. Now, They Want Privacy.

Internet Users in China Expect to Be Tracked. Now, They Want Privacy. | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Chinese are demanding better protections even as the government and tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent gather ever more data.
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The nasty surprises hackers have in store for us in 2018

The nasty surprises hackers have in store for us in 2018 | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
From AI-powered hacking to tampering with voting systems, here are some of the big risks on our radar screen.
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Bitcoin is none of the things it was supposed to be

Bitcoin is none of the things it was supposed to be | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
The cryptocurrency was supposed to replace the finance industry. Instead, it has replicated it.
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Here’s why people are working on languages for computers that barely exist

Here’s why people are working on languages for computers that barely exist | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
There may soon be more quantum programming languages than there are quantum computers.
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Forrester's top 6 cybersecurity predictions for 2018

Forrester's top 6 cybersecurity predictions for 2018 | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
IoT, ransomware, and blockchain will dominate cyberthreats in 2018. Here's how to mitigate them.
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Inside Baidu’s Bid to Lead the AI Revolution | Backchannel

Inside Baidu’s Bid to Lead the AI Revolution | Backchannel | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
China's search giant, Baidu, missed mobile. It's now staking its future on AI—and it just might have an edge.
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As Artificial Intelligence Advances, Here Are Five Tough Projects for 2018

As Artificial Intelligence Advances, Here Are Five Tough Projects for 2018 | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
AI researchers are looking for the meaning of our words, defenses against hacking, and teaching robots right from wrong.
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No pilot required: Boeing unveils autonomous plane for refueling fighter jets in midair

No pilot required: Boeing unveils autonomous plane for refueling fighter jets in midair | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
Boeing pulled back the curtain on an autonomous refueling plane designed to refuel U.S. Navy fighter jets in midair to extend their range. In October, the…
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A startup uses quantum computing to boost machine learning

A startup uses quantum computing to boost machine learning | Systems Theory | Scoop.it
If it fulfills its promise, quantum machine learning could transform AI.
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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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