Thursday, December 29, 2005

Information Overload? has an article called 'Age of information overload' which writes:

"Books are being scanned to make them searchable on the Internet. Television broadcasts are being recorded and archived for online posterity. Radio shows, too, are getting their digital conversion -- to podcasts.

With a few keystrokes, we'll soon be able to tap much of the world's knowledge. And we'll do it from nearly anywhere -- already, newer iPods can carry all your music, digital photos and such TV classics as "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" along with more contemporary prime-time fare.

Will all this instantly accessible information make us much smarter, or simply more stressed? When can we break to think, absorb and ponder all this data?

"People are already struggling and feeling like they need to keep up with the variety of information sources they already have," said David Greenfield, a psychologist who wrote "Virtual Addiction." "There are upper limits to how much we can manage.""

As I previously wrote about the drive to place all human knowledge on the web (Google's aim), coupled with always-on access: how will this affect us? Will it be too much? We are known to be social creatures, yet is it our destiny to be connected to each other all the time.

What is information anyway: it is not wisdom. What good is information without the human spirit and depth of understanding to wield it?

I'll be absent for a good week at least - will be in Lisbon having a break.


Top 10 tech trends for 2006

The end of year report on speculative technologies that will rise dramatically over 2006 are discussed in an interesting article from Mercury News called: 'Top 10 tech trends for 2006'

The report discusses the increase in WiFi blanket coverage of larger and larger areas, as in cities, to be possibly replaced by WiMax which may become the technology to provide global 24/7 'always-on' coverage. If so then this will be a great step upon the breakthrough needed to provide access of information to all people.

And with the European Galileo satellite being positioned and coming online over the next decade we will see global coverage a possibility. With such detailed global mapping, this could lead to both revolutionary interactions and communications. It will also impliment technologies of greater surveillance and tracking - until nothing is outside the mesh. An attempt to map all uncertanties?

2006 will be a year of great change in terms of possibilities...lets keep a watch!

Friday, December 23, 2005

A Web of all Connections

The future is a mesh (thats not a spelling mistake - I know what a mess is!).

Many people for a long time now have been envisioning how the future evolution of humanity and technology will be a merged evolution. Perhaps not quite the same scenario of robo-wars and armageddon, yet a symbiotic meshing between the human biological organism and non-biological intelligence.

My own thoughts here refer to a stage where the Internet will become networked with the human. We already have an early stage of this - our devices and gadgetry perform this function. And the world around us is already wired with computer functioning. Most of the things we now commonly buy have computer chips either in the end product or in their manufacture. The world is already shared.

Now we need to upgrade. Everything has to become smarter. The world around us needs to come alive with intelligence: some call this ubiquitous computing; others refer to it as the mesh; some as the hypernet. Our environment will begin to speak with us, interact, and share information. It will begin to work for us in new ways. This is the new network currently under creation. This is the new Internet - version IPv6 (for Internet Protocol version 6).

There was a recent article in the Guardian newspaper called 'Bigger and better: the internet gets a sixth sense' which discusses this move, and helps to clarify its basic points. More are talking about it now - the new Web 2.0 is for the people, they say...

Yet we need this next stage: we need to become smarter; and more collectively smarter. We need to emulate Nature. She too is networked into an incredible web of active intelligence, of symbiotic patterns and relationships.

We need to share intelligence over bio and non-bio forms if we are to lift intelligence to its final conscious state.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Web Agora

I have mentioned in past posts about the work of French systems thinker and biologist Joel de Rosnay - especially in regard to his thoughts upon the 'symbiotic man' relationship between a networked humanity and technology. De Rosnay talks of new processes of coevolution that are emerging between the biological world and the mechanical, and between the biological world and the electronic.

De Rosnay sees a marriage between the technosphere and the noosphere: coevolving the biological and mechanical revolutions - thus blurring the lines of classical evolutionary theory: 'This traditional approach to the future is linear, analytical, and sequential. We should instead view communications systems globally and look for the principles of self-organization, self-selection, and emergence.'

De Rosnay has also talked of collective intelligence, of an agora, or meeting-place for a global mind (in a similar fashion to fellow french philosopher Pierre Levy). In this respect de Rosnay has established a website for citizen journalism called the Agoravox which at present only exists as a French site yet soon has a sister English site coming out. If anyone is interested in getting involved and participating with the english site, please note your details at the site here.

The future of this cyber-agora looks interesting, and I shall be keen to follow it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Truth.....and the Nobel

The recent Nobel Prize acceptance speech given by British playwright Harold Pinter deserves to be recognised, and pointed to here.

Harold Pinter opens the Nobel Lecture with these words: "In 1958 I wrote the following:

'There are no hard distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.'

I believe that these assertions still make sense and do still apply to the exploration of reality through art. So as a writer I stand by them but as a citizen I cannot. As a citizen I must ask: What is true? What is false?

Truth in drama is forever elusive. You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive. The search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond to the truth, often without realising that you have done so. But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as one truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. These truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost".

The video of the speech, plus the full text can be accessed here

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The future demands a new worldview

Thinker, scientist and humanist Ervin Laszlo considers the cosmos as one living system of which we are an integral part. In a recent article - only available by subscription from WIE magazine he discusses the changing state of the world. It is a very short interview. I post about half of it here:

WIE: These are problems of a magnitude and complexity that humanity has never faced before. It's intriguing that as a scientist, you're not looking toward technological solutions but, instead, toward a fundamental change in our thinking. What is this new thinking, and how can it help us?

LASZLO: It's about a new worldview with new values adapted to living, surviving, and developing on this planet. The rise of spirituality and the rise of meditation techniques and involvement with inner growth are all part of this phenomenon. And it's already occurring, but it has to be accelerated.

Now, you can get to this new worldview by rational or intellectual means. You can get to it intuitively, through art, spirituality, or religion. And you can get there through science. If you look at developments in science, you'll find that science is increasingly recognizing that everything is connected very strongly with everything else. Everything that exists is an open system. Nothing is entirely closed or independent—everything is very sensitively connected.

The implications are enormous wherever you look. So, for example, we are not just a block of cells, like a building is a block of bricks. Most fundamentally, our living tissue is not made out of hard-core elements—atoms and molecules—it is made of waves. Thus, we are living systems that are continuously receiving and transmitting information. This information transmission is faster than any conceivable biochemical mechanism, because what happens in one part of the organism simultaneously happens to the other part. It's constantly interactive on multiple dimensions. It's a remarkable thing—going way beyond any technical, biological, mechanistic, and materialistic concept of the organism.

As so much of the spiritual literature says: we are not limited to five slits in the tower—meaning that we don't just see the world through the five sense organs. To me, it's very obvious that consciousness is not a byproduct of the brain, produced by a complex set of neurons. It's something that's pervading the whole universe. It's there in the whole body, in all living systems, probably all the way down to the quantum level. We are living in a universe that itself is conscious. And so, we can open the roof to the sky. In creativity you open up—you have a possibility to open the roof to the sky. Then you're no longer alone. I had these moments as a young musician in concert—a sensation of being part of a larger universe. You have united with something larger than yourself.

I believe that these things will give us a new paradigm of a universe that is connected. We are far more interconnected to one another and to all elements than we ever thought. A friend who I admired very much, Jonas Salk, said that a new paradigm in science and in society is like a response of the immune system, because it enables you to think in ways that are more adapted to coping with new problems. So, if this paradigm would begin to penetrate into society, we would have more solidarity, more humanity, and a better relationship to nature and to each other, because we would recognize what William James said in The Varieties of Religious Experience—that we are separate on the surface but connected in the deep. Or what Buddhists know—that we are connected to the cosmos. It's also what I think Jesus meant when he said, “You have to love each other, as I love you, because you are all part of the same.” All of the great prophets have said this. But we've lost this interconnectedness in our fascination with technology, the economy, and power itself. Recognizing the subtle element connecting all of nature and its effect on our mind, our consciousness, could go a long way toward making us more human—and by the way, help us to survive the crisis that we are now facing.