Donnerstag, 7. Juni 2012

global mind

We stand before a singular evolution. It represents a jump into the unknown. Carbon based technology is our springboard, but this flight will achieve sustainability through itself, in itself and by itself.

The global mind has always been there. It resides in the inbetween. It is the residue of communication. It is the connection. It has prescribed a curve from gesture, through the spoken word, the printed word, and the projected word. Telecommunication has become ubiquitous. Its proliferation has taken us to this precipice, one foot on the springboard.

The individual can already chose to be available for communication at any time, with anyone else who also makes this choice. For some it is no longer a choice, and has instead become a requirement of their prescribed survival. The processes involved are being streamlined. Where once we had to dial an operator and request a connection to reach the person we wished to speak with, we now have voice command. Where once we had to send off each letter in an individual envelope, we now have a hoard of followers, instantly aware of any musing. Interfaces are becoming more adaptive and responsive to our needs and abilities. They are becoming more mobile, and more invisible. How long before we lose the headset altogether? How long before thought command replaces voice command?

This is not beyond the bounds of technology. An implanted device, capable of responding to a brain wave. We will think the name of the person we want to reach, they will hear our call. A phone-call in our minds. Will we even have to speak? Why waste time, and risk misunderstanding, if we can learn to focus our message into a thought pattern.

Without knowing it, that was the big step, the first foot off the springboard.

How long then before people begin to experiment in mind sharing? Two people, madly in love, decide not to put the receiver down. They stay connected, sharing thoughts, going deeper into each others self. Another, an extrovert, sends a constant stream out to anyone willing to tune in. They find it exciting, addictive, they begin to broaden the message until whatever they think is broadcast before they even have time to consider censoring it. Some people see huge benefits. Working on a project together, two minds become quite literally better than one, the speed and clarity of communication helping each individual to foster further ideas and in turn breed new ones. Except that it will no longer be the idea of an individual. Synergy will conquer the constituent. The sum will be greater than the parts.

Groups will emerge. Some mad or brave few will go even further and open themselves to an entirety, sending and receiving what at first will become a numbing white noise, but gradually through design and control will build the basis of a singular mind. Many will of course turn away from what will be seen, and initially proven, as a dangerous technological avenue. Many more will continue in more or less the ways we can witness today, simply enjoying a new ease in discussing business and family matters. But whether as underground movement, controlled experiment or libertarian expression, the first benefits of shared thought will begin to become apparent. Complex problem solving will explode, entirely new realities will become apparent. In the last days of our current species model, we will eradicate disease, stabilise our environment and conquer fear.

Gradually, and in steps which each of us cannot begin to grasp, individuality will erode away completely. It will no longer be important or useful. Our planetary consciousness will have achieved a major evolutionary stepping stone, ready for its next stage of contact.

Two feet... off the springboard.

Sonntag, 15. Januar 2012

campbell's soup tower

In the early hours of this morning Campbell's rather charming oversized three-dimensional advertising hoarding in Kings Lynn was demolished. Built in 1959, briefly before Warhols love affair with the soup giant, it represented a processing point for the surrounding agricultural economy.

Although its branding as a tower seems rather euphamistic when viewed in the immediate robust, industrial context, in this low-lying part of the British Isles it stood as a landmark visible from the Fens and beyond. Architecturally there was an interesting, and possibly entirely subconscious play between postmodern boasting, no doubt boosted by Warhols endorsement, and a sort of abstract, scaleless homage to modernism. As with most of its industrial cousins the Soup Tower failed to aspire to its pop-art potential in the public eye however, instead assuming the role of much maligned eye-sore and evil ruler of the economy, towering above village church spires and Poplar trees in the mind's skyline.

Perhaps this ever presence helped script the nature of its downfall. The creeping shadow lands may have had this site earmarked for an extra Tesco or two, but the role of public executioner being handed to a local who lost her father to an accident in the building make the final twist to the story intriguing. 100s gathered in the dawn light to witness an unpunished criminal brought to his knees. The blogosphere cries justice is done. A modern day public lynching?

The demolition offered the bereaved a chance for closure, honourable, but viewed jurastically, examining the charges laid on the building in justifying the nature of its verdict, it opens up an interesting new playing field. The idea that the presence of the soup tower was an issue in coming to terms with the death of a family member (which is perfectly reasonable), suggests that the building carries some of the blame, and perhaps implies that this blame rises above the responsibility of any legal person associated with the building in what happened, instead settling in a sort of independent will. A soul?

Will we see a new branch in tort law, with prosecuters levelling charges of incompetence and neglect towards buildings involved in accidents? Not only must architects and contractors, occupiers and owners fear consequence, the very building itself faces sentencing. Will this new condition of the building give it the right to a defence in the case of future demolitions? I for one believe if we are starting to gloss over the spread of post-industrial landscapes by applying mob rule, then we should at least give the building a final word.

Or a fitting epitaph.

I gave you soup and silk pop-art
I sold your souls and broke your hearts
I stood still watching changing time
I fell until freed from forgotten crimes

Forget me now, my fair Fens
Offer Tesco all your woe
Spare me from your 'ifs, buts, whens'
Once you lose faith in this new foe

Montag, 3. Mai 2010

push it, but mind the gap

We were all equal in the primordial soup. We were one, free for all. Then the giraffe went and stretched his neck.

Epigenetics puts a new spin on the old mother's tale of not making faces lest they stay that way. It's the science of destiny, the new theory of evolution. Printed on to our DNA like a texture map, epigenomes take information directly from the environment. There's no feedback loop, no eons of waiting for opposable thumbs to twiddle. This isn't Nature selecting from above, it's the mind selecting from within... to a degree.

Lifestyle and habits as defined by the environment we live in have a direct consequence on our genetic -or epigenetic- material. The decisions we make or are forced to make pass on to our offspring. If you smoke in puberty your child will die younger, if you keep fit your child will be healthier. The fundemental change in understanding comes from the realisation that our lifestyle makes small 'software' changes to our biological make-up, and that these get passed on, along with the hardware.

To a degree this is common sense, to a degree this is scientific complication of what we must all know. 'Horizontal evolution', the fire that stokes these mysterious epigenes, is surely just a byword for communication. But maybe we have been unaware of the degree to which this is significant. The impossible only becomes impossible when it is considered.

The lingering question is just how we can harness this understanding. The scientific community is paving the way for epigenetics, the cat has caught it's tail? In fitting with the theme, the solution should be more proactive; we just need to understand our potential. Or perhaps we need to agree on our potential.

Introducing ethics into the story makes things all the more awkward. After all, isn't this where we've been all along? But with the impossibility now considered, of engineering a super human race not through scientific meddling, but through social change, the danger arises that it will be all the more selective. We can make our personal choices, and aid or abet our grandchildrens future -now more than ever- but the great struggle must go on hand in hand; it's not a sprint, it's a marathon, and there is no race involved.

And here the circle trips over it's loose end and neatly closes shut. Still, having peered behind the scenes only to be looking back out at the audience at least allows time to remember the first okapi who gazed up at the tasty green leaves in the crown of the trees and thought "maybe, just maybe..."

Dienstag, 2. März 2010

it's easy

If everyone forgets the past, what will the present be?

How many people does it take to make a world? And how long does it take them? It must start with two, with an understanding, with a line that connects them. Maybe someone else crosses the line, or somehow disrupts it. The first two realise what happened, and laugh...

What if 2 people had an understanding, and they met 7 normals in a room devoid of any recognisable features. Could they convince them? Just for a short while maybe... but that would be like an eternity.

There is emission and absorption, and that is it.

Dienstag, 5. Januar 2010


I finally learnt the word ecumenopolis. I've been looking for it for a while, and I learnt it just in time; not long now until we can use it to describe this planet.


Dubai set a record the other day for longest amount of time spent preparing a fireworks display. As with many astronomically expensive monuments built to welcome a new era, the initial fanfare is already making way for worrisome head scratching on what to do next. How do you fill 160 floors of real estate?

Dubai has long been walking a thin line between construction and demolition, with every ecological scar necessitating an even more outlandish break from reality, and every break from reality setting it further down the path toward economic self destruction. A perpetual oscillation between metropolis and apocalypse has been set in motion. The view from the top is of a wasteland, a landscape neglected; but it is better to gaze out at the wasteland than live amongst it. The crisis may not have escaped Dubai, and Dubai certainly hasn't escaped the crisis. With the ultimate 'Al Burj' (simply: The Tower) project canceled, and the fickle world economy looking for a new muse, the Burj Khalifa may come to represent Dubai's Icarus moment. That final firework was the pyrotechnic climax of modern Babylon.

For our impending ecumenopolis however, the pattern is set. The rich will live above the clouds, the poor will live in the windswept gutters. Environmental enlightenment notwithstanding, Dubai will eventually come true. There will be two types of land cover: urban and desert. Cloudscapes are the renaissance gardens of our gothic future.

Dienstag, 29. Dezember 2009

over extended

Mankind is imprisoned by the limitations of his senses. Until he has the opportunity to acquire information gleaned by someone who may have seen different things, or seen things differently, the individual is confined to his horizons. Yet even the collective mind reaches only as far as the furthest step taken, and even the collective mind is limited by the boundaries of its most imaginative protagonists.

So when we probe, we use what we know. We look, we listen, we smell, we prod. Our universe is constructed from basic perception. And when we can see no further or hear no more we don't search for a new tool, we buy the upgrade. We extend our boundaries rather than shifting them. That makes sense.

Since the very beginning we have gazed out into the depths of space, and our regular ocular upgrades are a good milestone for this sensory extension. With that comes the new horizon, the new perspective. Just as Copernicus and his telescopes gave us a heliocentric universe, modern instruments have helped visualise our new centre. Witness Sagittarius A*, the black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.

The vision doesn't end there. An article in this month's National Geographic brings us up to date on developments in our single greatest mission, our true integral quest: the search for new Earths. Huge orbital telescopes, such as the Keplar satellite (a 95-megapixel digital camera that captures 100,000 stars in one go - highly sought after by many paparrazi), detect the slightest dimming in distant stars. This often signals the passing of a planet. Like a moth flying past the moon. Another method is the Doppler technique, where starlight is analysed for evidence of a wobble. This again would suggest the presence of another heavenly body, exerting its gravitational pull. Like a squirrel shaking a tree.

Both techniques represent real progress, the ultimate extension of our feeble natural eyes into subspectral light-sensing superdetectors capable of measuring minute change in stars which are thousands of light years away. Both are totally insane. To be fair, NASA and their pals have so far discovered 370 'exoplanets'. Most of these are larger than Jupiter and sound totally inhospitable. They "circle their sun in 3 days", or "blast off their atmosphere" like a comet. Some, about a dozen, have been labelled 'possible terrestrial planets'. The closest is 15 light years away.

If we are looking for other planets, we're doing alright. I seem to remember when I first read about the Doppler technique some years ago, we had found a few dozen exoplanets. Now there are almost 400. If however we are looking for new Earths, alien life and extraterrestrial resources, then this is silly. Pushing our eyesight to the absolute limit is not going to help us make first contact. Even if we discover an earthlike planet - the right size, the right build up and the right distance from the right kind of sun - and even if we design the telescopes which can detect its 'red edge', or other bio-signatures, to make absolutely sure they harbour life, that still won't help us communicate with them. Let alone reach them. The image of two stranded castaways, gazing at each other from their desert islands springs to mind. It would be an interstellar tragedy.

Extension isn't always the right attitude. It's inevitable, but not necessarily successful. Whilst we use the collective mind to great effect to focus our efforts, we continue to rely on individual limitations. Focus may be the main road towards progress, but sometimes the answer lies in the periphery.

The paradigm shift is often an accidental consequence. Just think of Columbus. The discovery wasn't in the distance, it was in the inbetween.

Montag, 28. Dezember 2009

non-linear blogging

Everything that ever will be already was,
And everything that once was is happening now,
And everything that is now will be forever,

In this sense, nurbn never really stopped, and now it isn't really starting again.
When the time is right, it will all be here from the beginning.

Drawing by Kim Sin Hye