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Thursday, October 9
by Ron on October 9, 2008 08:57PM (PDT)
I've taken the liberty of typing in all of Chapter 4 of my copy of this important book, because it powerfully addresses one of the main themes of SCIY, the manifold relationships between science, culture, and consciousness. (ron)
"It is a paradox of the work of Artificial Intelligence that in order to grant consciousness to machines, the engineers first labor to subtract it from humans, as they work to foist upon philosophers a caricature of consciousness in the digital switches of weights and gates in neural nets. As the caricature goes into public circulation with the help of the media, it becomes an acceptable counterfeit currency, and the humanistic philosopher of mind soon finds himself replaced by the robotics scientist. ...
"Both the mechanists and the mystics say that we are now at a great bifurcation in human evolution. The mechanists like Ray Kurzweil, Danny Hillis, and Hans Moravec prophesy that we are at the end of the human era, and that 'nanobots' are about to be embedded in our bodies until our antique organs of flesh are entirely surrounded by a new silicon noosphere of networked computers. Like ancient mitochondria or chloroplasts surrounded by the gigantic eukaryotic cells, we are about to be engulfed in the next evolutionary stage. So the mechanists see noetic technologies surrounding human culture and consciousness and compressing it into an endosymbiont in a larger and swifter and more elegant evolutionary vehicle. ...
"Mystics flip this literalism over to see technology as a system of externalized metaphors that derive from pre-existing ontological modes at play and at large in the universe... For the mystic — be she Cabbalist or Sufi — an angel is a 'Celestial Intelligence' — a form of cosmic noetic organization that does not require a detour through animal evolution. So when Kurzweil claims that by 2030 implanted nanobots in the bloodstream will enable humans to turn off to the outside world to attune to a virtual reality, the mystic would recognize a literalist rendering of the process of meditation. Kurzweil's vision of the world in 2030 reminds me of Borges's 'Library of Babel'. 'I suspect that the human species — the unique species — is about to be extinguished, but the Library will endure: illuminated, solitary, useless, incorruptible, secret'.  And here we need to be sensitive to the full force of Borges's use of the word 'Babel'. ... " more »
Tuesday, April 29
by Ron on April 29, 2008 04:00PM (PDT)
...This has been a pretty remarkable month, actually, with all the problems of "The Long Emergency" accelerating impressively. Oil is now testing the $120 mark, the airline industry is imploding (largely over fuel costs), the housing scene has reached a degree of collapse unseen since the 1930s, food shortages have strayed out of the Third World and begun to affect Japan and the USA, bats are dying of a mysterious disease in the Northeast, and the Arctic sea ice is shrinking away to nothing.
We're in a strange collective psychic bubble. We'd like to forget about all these troubling rumors of hardship and bad weather and just get on with the daily task of making a living and paying for stuff and enjoying our customary entertainments. The comforting ceremonies of everyday life seem to continue. The freeways are still full of cars. Nancy Grace comes on TV dependably at 8 p.m. and is there deploring the latest pervert arrest. The baseball season has ramped up and the teams are criss-crossing the nation in their chartered airplanes. The stock market is actually going up -- what's wrong with that?
But there's an equally eerie vibe out there that things are seriously out-of-whack. We're on the edge of something. We're at the entrance of a dark passage where some of the ceremonies of daily life meet resistance. You go to the WalMart and five of your six credit cards are refused. Uh oh. It begins to dawn on you that you're spending a quarter of your take-home pay filling up the gas-tank every week. There's no dial tone when you pick up the telephone. How could all the supermarkets in town be out of rice? The local hospital just declared bankruptcy. The neighbors down the street auctioned off all their furniture in the driveway last week. Why does the cat pick up so many ticks these days? ... more »
Friday, April 11
by Rich on April 11, 2008 06:23PM (PDT)
The shadow side of these integral theories or practices I have narrowed to three main thrusts which for lack of better terms I will define as:
For example, if as Althusser asserts, that ideologies construct the imaginary relationship between a subject and his/her real conditions of existence, then Spiral Dynamics literally colors the imagination of the subjective view it constructs. It does this by reducing complex individual and social phenomena to a color coded map of reality which its spiral wizards have constructed and by ordering all value systems by its own valorizing meta-system in a perfect hermeneutic circle... more »
Monday, January 7
by Ron on January 7, 2008 11:48AM (PST)
Here's an interesting article re the OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) Project. I disagree with the article's conclusion (it omits the vast online support to be provided to olpc students), but I think it deserves further discussion here on SCIY. What do you think?
At the Consumer Electronic Show this week, the One Laptop Per Child foundation was supposed to make two announcements—the number of computers it sold under the Give One, Get One holiday program and a new olpc machine made jointly with Intel. But now Intel has pulled out or been pushed out of the project with olpc, depending on who you believe. It’s a mess and a mess of huge dimensions that encompasses a conversation of profit vs. nonprofit, nationalism vs. colonialism, technology vs. pedagogy, rote vs. experiential learning, Western design vs. Eastern design, good intentions vs. bad intentions. It doesn’t get bigger, or nastier. ... more »
Monday, October 8
by Ron on October 8, 2007 06:52PM (PDT)
Wearing a new hat in Galadima, a hamlet in Abuja, Nigeria [photo added by ronjon]
In November, you’ll be able to buy a new laptop that’s spillproof, rainproof, dustproof and drop-proof. It’s fanless, it’s silent and it weighs 3.2 pounds. One battery charge will power six hours of heavy activity, or 24 hours of reading. The laptop has a built-in video camera, microphone, memory-card slot, graphics tablet, game-pad controllers and a screen that rotates into a tablet configuration.
And this laptop will cost $200... It’s an effort by One Laptop Per Child (laptop.org) to develop a very low-cost, high-potential, extremely rugged computer for the two billion educationally underserved children in poor countries...
OLPC slightly turned its strategy when it decided to offer the machine for sale to the public in the industrialized world — for a period of two weeks, in November. The program is called “Give 1, Get 1,” and it works like this. You pay $400 (www.xogiving.org). One XO laptop (and a tax deduction) comes to you by Christmas, and a second is sent to a student in a poor country. ... more »
Friday, September 14
by Ron on September 14, 2007 02:11PM (PDT)
I came across this interesting article when Googling the term "dromology" -- which Rich used in an earlier comment.
For Foucault, biopower was the essential missing link in genealogy of capitalist modernity. As he insisted in 'Discipline and Punish': " ... the two processes - the accumulation of men and the accumulation of capital - cannot be separated." On the other side of the equation, Paul Virilio has stressed that his focus on speed in no way detracts from the importance of capital. As he insisted in 'Pure War': "Wealth is the hidden side of speed and speed is the hidden side of wealth." And lest we forget, Marx also understood the political advantages of the collision of dromological/biopolitical technology: ...
Nowhere better do we find resonances of this "vulgar stimulation" than the ensemble of discourses that seem now in the ascendant (the discourses of globalism and globalization), fast overtaking the globe, and in the same movement creating anew a fast globe. These discourses, and their subsidiaries (informatisation, risk, competition, efficiency) - reflected and enacted in a whole panoply of specific practices - are all linked in the double movement sketched out above (the "will-to-speed" and "modern governmentality"). Taken together - I argue - we stumble across the unwritten history of globalization, and in that, the unwritten history of contemporary advanced capitalism.
The links are fairly simple. Dromology: the will-to-speed finds its final realisation in the destruction of the space (astronautical flight, space obliterated in proportion to the velocity of the vehicle). This destruction, as a social principle (Mumford's "desire to get somewhere"), has reduced the expanse of the world to naught, thrusting us into the global epoch. Governmentality: we need look only to the proliferating discourses of risk, competition, informatization, self-monitoring, self-organization, efficiency, effectiveness and excellence to get a taste of the ways in which the discourse of speed works to order the world into which individuals - indeed whole societies - are thrown. Each element feeds of the other: dromocratic power has encouraged the release of the will-to-speed through which we face what Virilio has termed the "negative horizon" (the implosion of space under the violence of speed). In parallel, disciplinary society has actively sought to produce this violence of speed (first in the military, then in the factory, then in the school, then in the prison) as a technical instrument in the ordering of populations ("populations at speed"). ... more »
Friday, August 24
by Ron on August 24, 2007 11:11AM (PDT)
Burning Man 2006 satellite view. (~ 40,000 participants)
Well, I'm off to Burning Man 2007 tomorrow (Saturday) and will be pretty much out of touch with SCIY (no phones or Internet access out there on the remote playa). Rumors are that this year's festival will be the biggest in its 18 years, even more than the record 40,000 last year. This is truly a remarkable experience when you realize that all the infrastructure for a self-contained international city is literally created by volunteers out of nothing in a few days on a barren, hot, lifeless desert site. It's fully populated for a week, and then completely dismantled, in accordance with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management regulations for use of the site, with no evidence of it having been there, not even a flake of glitter! ... more »
Tuesday, August 21
by Ron on August 21, 2007 10:55AM (PDT)
His name means the Green One or Verdant One, he is the voice of inspiration to the aspirant and committed artist. He can come as a white light or the gleam on a blade of grass, but more often as an inner mood. The sign of his presence is the ability to work or experience with tireless enthusiasm beyond one's normal capacities ...
And I have felt....a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man,
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things.
~ William Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey more »
Sunday, August 19
by Ron on August 19, 2007 09:31AM (PDT)
Every year, tens of thousands of participants gather to create Black Rock City in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada, dedicated to self-expression, self-reliance, and art as the center of community. They leave one week later, having left no trace. Read Burning Man's mission statement, 10 Principles, and learn more about this incredible experience. ... more »
Saturday, August 18
by Ron on August 18, 2007 02:59PM (PDT)
Entheon, meaning “a place to discover the spirit within,” is an effort to promote sustainable cultural re-evolution that heals relationships between the people of the earth and our planet. The mission of Entheon is to demonstrate a future in which sustainability, ecological responsibility, environmental stewardship, and meditative and mystical consciousness are a welcomed and integrated part of society, and where art, spirituality and creativity is central to that vision.
[The] Entheon [camp at Burning Man 2007] will be a grounded gathering place offering an intellectual, therapeutic, artistic and creative cornucopia of interactive opportunities. Lectures, workshops, renewable energy demonstrations, visionary art, zen meditation in a zendo, holotropic breathwork sessions, and performance come together in the spirit of celebration to co-create our shared vision of global healing and a broader awareness of ecological responsibility. ... more »
Saturday, July 21
by Ron on July 21, 2007 10:40AM (PDT)
... Though, al Qaeda may—emphasize "may"—still have the capacity to mount the occasional major operation, that doesn't mean terrorism should be treated as an omnipresent, existential threat. -- In reality, this fight bears only a faint resemblance to a real war. Only rarely can al Qaeda and its imitators manage a strike against their prime enemies, Britain and the United States, and even more rarely can they succeed. Like the alleged terrorists who planned to attack Fort Dix and JFK International Airport, the perpetrators in Britain were not trained professionals but bumbling amateurs.
On Sept. 12, 2001, it was easy to believe that we would suffer dozens of major attacks on U.S. soil over the next six years, and almost impossible to imagine we would suffer none. Instead of being the opening blitz of a "long, global war," 9/11 was a freak event that may never be replicated.
In a real war, such as the ones we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, many people die, week in and week out. But John Mueller, a national security professor at Ohio State University, notes that in a typical year, no more than a few hundred people are killed worldwide in attacks by al Qaeda and similar groups outside of war zones. ... more »
Tuesday, April 10
by Ron on April 10, 2007 09:25AM (PDT)
In The Great Turning, Korten argues that corporate consolidation of power is merely a contemporary manifestation of what he calls “Empire”: the organization of society by hierarchies of domination grounded in violent chauvinisms of race, gender, religion, nationality, language, and class. The result has been the same for 5,000 years, fortune for the few and misery for the many. Increasingly destructive of children, family, community, and nature, the way of Empire is leading to environmental and social collapse.
The Great Turning makes the case that we humans are a choicemaking species that at this defining moment faces both the opportunity and the imperative to choose our future as a conscious collective act. We can no longer deny the need nor delay our response. A mounting perfect economic storm is fast approaching. A convergence of climate change, peak oil, and the financial instability inherent in an unbalanced global trading system will bring an unraveling of the corporate-led global economy and a dramatic restructuring of every aspect of modern life.
Thanks to Mario Santonm for recommending this book. ... more »
Monday, March 26
by Ron on March 26, 2007 11:47AM (PDT)
I got to know the remarkable Helena Norberg-Hodge, the Founder of ISEC, back in the 70's, when she was setting up the Ladakh Project, for which she shared the 1986 Right Livelihood Award, otherwise known as the 'Alternative Nobel Prize.' –- Her selfless, Buddhist commitment to protecting the indigenous peoples of the Tibetan high plateau from Western commercial development deeply impressed me. I'll always remember her inspiring photos of the unique and glowing faces of the Ladakh people who hadn't yet been exposed to Western culture. Knowing Helena, I can unreservedly attest to the quality and integrity of ISEC. ... ~ ron more »
by Ron on March 26, 2007 11:12AM (PDT)
This informative list of annotated links compiled by Resurgence Magazine includes interesting initiatives in the areas of Activism, Agricultural Development, Ecology, Economics, Education & Community, the Internet, Political & Corporate, Publishing, and Scientific Principles. The few I’ve had a chance to check out so far look like they’re indeed doing important work; e.g., ISEC (the International society for Ecology & Culture), which I’ll post more info about in my next article. — Recommended. more »
Sunday, February 25
by Ron on February 25, 2007 11:46PM (PST)
Former vice president Al Gore used the success of his documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," to expand his efforts to educate people about global warming — and to tell a few jokes. — The film turned Gore's road show about climate change into a film that won Academy Awards for best documentary and best song.
Earlier in the evening, Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio took the stage to unveil a series of efforts the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences took to make this year's awards more environmentally friendly. ... The win was especially pleasing to Gore because it came during a year when the academy had taken steps to save energy and preserve the environment.
Oscar ballots were made from partially recycled paper and organic produce was served at the Gov.'s Ball. The academy joined with the Natural Resources Defense Council to reduce energy usage and increase recycling. — "For the first time in the history of the Oscars, this show has officially gone green," DiCaprio said. ... more »
Saturday, January 13
by Ron on January 13, 2007 09:26PM (PST)
The leading voices in science studies have argued that modern science reflects dominant social interests of Western society. Following this logic, postmodern scholars have urged postcolonial societies to develop their own "alternative sciences" as a step towards "mental decolonization". These ideas have found a warm welcome among Hindu nationalists who came to power in India in the early 1990s. In this passionate and highly original study, Indian-born author Meera Nanda reveals how these well-meaning but ultimately misguided ideas are enabling Hindu ideologues to propagate religious myths in the guise of science and secularism.
At the heart of Hindu supremacist ideology, Nanda argues, lies a postmodernist assumption: that each society has its own norms of reasonableness, logic, rules of evidence, and conception of truth, and that there is no non-arbitrary, culture-independent way to choose among these alternatives. What is being celebrated as "difference" by postmodernists, however, has more often than not been the source of mental bondage and authoritarianism in non-Western cultures. The "Vedic sciences" currently endorsed in Indian schools, colleges, and the mass media promotes the same elements of orthodox Hinduism that have for centuries deprived the vast majority of Indian people of their full humanity.
By denouncing science and secularization, the left was unwittingly contributing to what Nanda calls "reactionary modernism." ... more »
A Review of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "Provincializing Europe" by Amit Chaudhuri (London Review of Books) Debashish
AntiMatters vol 3 no 4 is out koantum
Classicism, post-classicism and Ranjabati Sircar’s work: re-defining the terms of Indian contemporary dance discourses by Alessandra Lopez y Royo Debashish
LACMA 111909 - Debashish Banerji Debashish
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler