Tecnologie e Società

The sensible reality between obviousness and uncertainty
Pier Luigi Capucci

Humankind has been wandering about the topic of reality, and around its meaning since the acquisition of the symbolic ability. The status of reality has been in turn a hot topic in magic, religion, philosophy, science, and it has been also hugely discussed in the media. However, it is especially thanks to the advancements in physics’ theories and discoveries, that the idea of reality is put into question and becomes confused, uncertain. The arts are also the privileged realm where the “common sense reality” is put into discussion, where the emergent new visions of the universe are presented and challenged. Reality is not what it seems, there are other “parallel realities” beyond or besides the world’s appearance. Reality is not unique, but there are plenty of realities in the outer and the inner worlds. Further, thanks to the technologies and the new media it is even possible to create realities which simulate the “real reality”.

Magic Hat

Simulation is not the Opposite of the Real – Jean Baudrillard on Simulation and Illusion
Gerry Coulter

In this paper I delve specifically into Baudrillard’s thought on simulation as a way of contributing to Noema’s effort to encourage discussion of this vital subject today. Jean Baudrillard published 47 books between 1968 and his death in 2007. Simulation is discussed in 30 of them. What can we learn from his writings on this intriguing concept? Baudrillard recognized that all of human culture is the result of the collective sharing in / of simulacra and that the real “has only ever been a form of simulation”. Capital, the one entity to which our entire system is tethered, is nothing more than a very complex simulation. Whatever else it is, the emergence of the bourgeois model of social organization has been a gigantic exercise in simulation (which is now attempting to globalize). For Baudrillard there is a maximum of simulation in the contemporary which coincides with an unfortunate minimum of sociability. What has changed today is that simulation is a integral part of the vast and extensive media networks and techno-sciences in which our lives are immersed.

The Technological Herbarium

Conversation between Alan N. Shapiro and Franco Torriani about Gianna Maria Gatti’s The Technological Herbarium
Alan N. Shapiro, Franco Torriani

Franco Torriani: In your text introducing Gianna Maria Gatti’s The Technological Herbarium, I have the impression that you consider some major currents of the relationship between the arts and the techno-sciences, the trend of the coming together of nature and (new) technologies, the continuous evolution of the link between ‘natural’ and ‘artificial’, and the glimpse of a new real (italics is yours). It seems to me to be a vision opening onto a new worldview. Do you agree on this point?
Alan N. Shapiro: It’s not easy to reply to your excellent question without repeating what I have already said in my preface to The Technological Herbarium. I think that it is at some point psychologically critical for a thinker to avoid repetition. I definitely feel that the collaboration between Gianna Maria Gatti and me, which has had as its concrete result the English edition of this amazing book, amounts to the documentation of the vision of a new worldview. It is the birth of a new worldview beyond the binary oppositions and dualisms that many of the great thinkers of the 20th century, like Varela, Bateson, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Derrida, pointed out. And not just talking about overcoming dualisms but living that.


Visualizing Dilemmas: when information and biology converge in the visualization of viruses
Roberta Buiani

Technically speaking, computer and biological viruses are affiliated to two unbridgeable and well-separated spheres, one prevalently pertaining to the domain of information and the other to the one of carbon-based life. Their material formation contributes to such divergence: while computer viruses are normally fabricated by and partially depending on human agency, biological viruses are mostly understood as naturally occurring. Worms, Trojan horses and computer malware are often described as if they were a digital version of the natural ecosystem. However, a real intertwining and merging with such system is still confined to the domain of science fiction. The two realms do not speak to each other. While the first only understands the lingo proper of information technologies, the second takes in the language of the biological. Communicating by means of binary code, computer viruses are a separate category. Their circulation within the world of digital circuits, and electronic networks, makes them unquestionably distinct from their biological counterparts. There seems to be no real intersection between the two categories.

Human Evolution

Simulation as a Global Resource
Pier Luigi Capucci

So simulation, in its variety, is a constant presence in human culture: humans have always been simulating nature, the living, the world they live in, in the arts, the sciences, the technologies... But maybe simulation is at the core of the evolution itself, beyond the human realm. Apart from the mirror neurons system, which is also present in other species, what about those animals whose fur changes colour adapting to the season’s change, or about the species’ mimicry in the environment? And, in the end, couldn’t the natural selection process, the “survival of the fittest”, that is the survival of the best adaptation to the environment, be possibly interpreted as a kind of simulation? Recurring simulation in the anthroposphere could be intended as a confirmation that we – and all that we build – are nature. And, to a more general extent, the presence of simulation in nature could lead us to a higher level: nature which simulates nature. More questions emerge. Could simulation, in all its forms, also be considered as a universal presence, like a sort of cosmic background radiation? Could it emerge as a compatibility tryout, as a mutual adaptation, as an exchange of information, as a flux of energy among systems? Could it be considered, at any levels, as a consequence of interaction?



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