Tecnologie e Società

The Singularity and human communication versus a future that does matter
Leo Lake

Singularity theorists think they see an important similarity between humans and computers: they both think. However, given the vast differences in the circumstances under which humans and computers compute, this discovery of similarity is both a remarkable and a suspicious one. Even when thinking only of thinking, the differences between both seem to be more important. The current machine computer performs it's tasks in glorious isolation from which it can be interrupted, the human computer is closely linked to it's environment: it is fundamentally event-driven. If a human computer is not driven by events it comes to an halt. A machine computer is more likely to halt when it is, occasionally, interrupted.


The excess of control
Felix Stalder

The openness of the Internet was not the result of its somehow inherent nature, as many of the early pundits thought, but a consequence of specific design decisions. Perhaps the most important technical decision was to follow the "end-to-end" (e2e) principle. The e2e principle says that the network itself is kept simple and "stupid" while the "intelligence" is pushed towards the edges, i.e. the individual machines plugged into the network and the applications running on them. The Internet, in its original conception, was simple in the sense that it handled all packets equally, without regard to content or ownership. The early engineers took this approach deliberately because they had the humility to understand that they could not foresee the future uses of network. In order not to artificially limit future innovation, they designed the network to treat all applications equally. This e2e principle, and the fact that the protocols were released into the public domain, created a "commons of the wires."


The Ass Between Two Chairs
Howard Slater

Under the regime of bio-political power we could say that the subject is reduced to a knowable being rather than an unknown and unforeseeable becoming. The possible is reduced to what is probable, empircally ascertainable and exhaustible. Here knowledge [...] reduces life to a state of equilibrium by excluding the non-knowledge of the emotions, the sensuous knowledge of affectivities. These latter, as provocations to forms of thought that resist categorisation as "knowledge" and as such defy the surety of being, are factors that can inform a "labour as subjectivity" and secure its potential to resist a bio-political power that values "knowledge" as that which reinforces being as an object, that delineates it to the point of incarcerating it. [...] Can there be factories of everyday life wherein knowledge is sensualised away from its status as private property to become a component in the production of subjects as "non-definitive affectivities'"? Can these factories produce pre-individuals as the affective classes?


Memo Mori
Mark Dery

For Ballard, the literary productions of executives, scientific researchers, and the stage managers of consumer psychology (advertisers, marketers, public-relations firms), properly read, are an inexhaustible fund of insights and inspiration, perfectly attuned to the neuroses and psychoses of everyday life in the 21st century – unlike the mainstream novel, still suffering from a humanist hangover that blinds it to our increasingly posthuman reality of designer babies and intelligent interfaces, computers that run on bacteria and heart valves made of engineered tissue. [...] Hence, his arch prediction that, when the electronic cottage and the free-agent economy make the corporate office obsolete, the prosaic communications of today's companies will become precious things, transformed by their obsolescence from memos into mementos. [...] But Ballard's "one day in the near future" has arrived ahead of schedule, on the wings of a horror unimaginable to him or anyone, burying his prediction under an irony heavy as death.


The degree zero of politics: virtual cultures and virtual social movements
Tiziana Terranova

What I am arguing is that these groups' engagement with the medium is informed by an intuition. The intuition is that such degree zero, as it can be glimpsed at some level through the Internet itself, is not some kind of easy utopia, where differences are allowed to co-exist or go their separate ways if they want to. On the contrary, it is the ways in which the Internet allows such processes to take place that reveals the hard work that such scattering implies. This scattering, this tendency to disconnect and separate, coupled with that of connecting and joining, presents different possible lines of actualisation: it can produced virtual ghettos, amplify solipsism, reproduce old forms of power and so on. However, it also offers the potential for the production of a different type of politics, where the capacity to connect and disconnect is used productively as a kind of degree zero to which it is important to return and relate to. Such capacity in fact is in itself not so much neutral as not immediately given.



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