There is no algorithm for revolution, but there is one for fiscalisation.
I am simply ‘posting’ a squeeze of interesting internet stuff that I found when I got distracted from doing the task I was meant to be doing this morning. Yep, I was rolling through my social networks feeding the very algorithms I am about to mention, feeling a bit like a “relay in a transpersonal digital structure“, essentially playing internet pass-the-parcel with those squeezes of interesting internet stuff. Maybe my online ‘I’ is the algorithmic look-alike of ‘someone who wants to make a difference but hasn’t really done so’.
An online ‘I’ has been generated from a mathematical probability of accessing stuff with tags like ‘climate-change’, ‘political-economy’ etc… An online ‘I’ that is popped into an algorithmic auction for advertising, although I indiscriminantly block most of that with Ad-block. What actually bugs me is that I feel a little like a sanitised biological relay in the Grid. Fortunately I am not an ‘Affect’ obsessive of the reverse-cartesian sort, otherwise I might deterministically think that the actual me had become a bit of electronic machinery ‘iI’.
[watch from 1:04 -2.57]
However a cursory glance at how communication through globalised digitising software and the silicon counterparts relates to the many ways it currently means to be a human, seems to be almost totally missed in any meaningful way in studies of what it means to be human (I do not give much value to the innumerable study of social networks and the like that pay no heed to the byte-chnicality of computing and the actor-network of its progenitors). You get all these people studying what can be inferred about millenia of humans from some friggin stone axe, and I love it. And you get all these people studying culture -as an ethereal thing- like beliefs, ideas, feelings etc that hover above physical existence somehow. I am not satisfied to say the least.
Moving on from this backward dichotomy between the physical and social, it seems I am left with people like Douglas Rushkoff and Jaron Lanier to try and work out what is going on in ‘the grid’. What is missing for me is a coherent study and understanding of how people ‘be’ in the world – yes a coherent ontological understanding, to understand computing today. Rather than relying on good guesses of the related effects by myself or the aforementioned dudes.
My point is partially captured in this statement by Julian Assange “does the subculture create the demand that leads to the creation of the technology or does the technology in fact create the subculture. It’s sort of a interesting cause and effect. Well you know you can argue this on both sides. But I think the technology permits the subculture”. Unfortunately this statement implies a limited reality (although the use of the word ‘permit’ might suggest otherwise) that is being generated by proximate cause and effect, which quantum non-locality undermines, but such a statement is understandable from someone who has wielded today’s computing quite effectively.
Nonetheless the context that Assange states this is in, offers a lucid description of how inter-related the characteristics of computing technology and today’s political-economy are, that starts to move on from the physical/social dichotomy present in most social-science analysis- even forgiving his aforementioned bias towards techno-determinism. So here is the squeeze I wanted to share:
“…those people who were altruistic and not too concerned about finances and fiscalization simply lost power relative to those people who were more concerned about finances and fiscalization and worked their way up in the system. So certain behaviours were disincentivized and others were potentiated. And that is primarily I believe as a result of technology that enables fiscalization. So fast bank transfers. The IRS being able to account for lots of people, it sucks people into a very rigid fiscalized structure. So you can have a lot of political change in the United States. But will it really change that much? Will it change the amount of money in someone’s bank account? Will it change contracts? Will it void contracts that already exist? And contracts on contracts, and contracts on contracts on contracts? Not really. So I say that free speech in many places – in many Western places – is free not as a result of liberal circumstances in the West but rather as a result of such intense fiscalization that it doesn’t matter what you say. ie. the dominant elite doesn’t have to be scared of what people think, because a change in political view is not going to change whether they own their company or not. It is not going to change whether they own a piece of land or not. But China is still a political society. Although it is radically heading towards a fiscalized society. And other societies, like Egypt was, are still heavily politicized. And so their rulers really do need to be concerned about what people think, and so they spend a portion of efforts on controlling freedom of speech…..
……does the subculture create the demand that leads to the creation of the technology or does the technology in fact create the subculture. It’s sort of a interesting cause and effect. Well you know you can argue this on both sides. But I think the technology permits the subculture. Once you have a whole bunch of young people who can communicate their ideas and values freely then culture arises naturally. And that culture comes out of, yes, it comes out of experiences and harmonizing with other cultures, and yes, it is already in the record, but it also comes out of the temperament of young people. The desire to find allies and friends and share in a process, and to remove power from old people…..
……The big issue with globalization is that you can be an arsehole and move your money elsewhere. Fast EFTs, fast wealth movements, fast signing of contracts, which are a type of wealth movement–these encourage opportunism…. money can move faster than political sanction, then you just keep moving the money through the system. And growing it as it moves through the system. And have it become more and more powerful, and by the time the moral outrage comes to stop it, it is too late, it’s gone. So what’s happening now on the internet is that political sanction – [by political I don’t mean party politics but body politic] – is now able to move a lot faster than it did before. Possibly as fast as money. Not in any individual transfer, but in the complex structuring arrangements you need to make transfers, these can take a while.” (source)
Then a squeeze from another angle by Jaron Lanier “Right now, many of these decisions are being made by the geeks of Silicon Valley, who run a lot of things that other people pretend to run. The crucial choice of which intergenerational information is to be treated as computational grist is usually not made by educators or curriculum developers but by young engineers.”
So what is my point, well as I said maybe I am just a biological relay for ‘information’ that fits my algorithmic profile, or maybe I want to make the point that we should give more attention to the tools/technologies/environments (depends on where your bias lies) that we are living a huge quantity of our lives with AND consider leverage that this meaning has (so we don’t become relays). I suggest this aught to be done in conjunction with an effort to coherently describe how we ‘be’ in the world at a bodily scale that considers both micro and macro, so we don’t fall into the reductionist trap of super-partiality that relies on too many assumptions or on the good guesses of those with some experience working with a topic.
Bohr seems to capture this well in his description of complementarity “the impossibility of any sharp separation between the behaviour of atomic objects and the interaction with the measuring instruments which serve to define the conditions under which the phenomena appear. In fact, the individuality of the typical quantum effects finds its proper expression in the circumstance that any attempt of subdividing the phenomena will demand a change in the experimental arrangement introducing new possibilities of interaction between objects and measuring instruments which in principle cannot be controlled. Consequently, evidence obtained under different experimental conditions cannot be comprehended within a single picture, but must be regarded as complementary in the sense that only the totality of the phenomena exhausts the possible information about the objects.” (I highly recommend the quotes source).
In essence in Bohr’s reflexivity his insight of complementarity helps us model an approach to studying computing that recognises that we cannot separate the conditions of our interaction with each other and with knowledge (economic, political etc), from the computing complex that is a part of it. However once appreciating this, the insight of complementarity is that we cannot necessarily integrate into a single picture, the knowledge and relationships deeply embedded in the computing complex and those that are not – we form pictures of complementarities.