2015 could be an exciting year of Zero-to-One paradigm-busting innovation, honoring and distancing humanity from Excellent Sheep mode, bringing online more of our 7 billion people in a rich and connective collaboration to scale forward progress in a truly global society.
Bergson claims that free will exists. It occurs in moments when a living being experiences duration, which is tuning into the internal sense of an experience, and a freely-determined action flows from this state. His reasoning is that “if duration is heterogeneous [if we are tuned into the internal sense of experience], the relation of the psychic state to act is unique, and the act is rightly judged free.” An act is free if it flows from an internal qualitative experience. He suggests we understand this by considering an example in our lives of having made a serious decision; where even searching for such an example already starts to evoke the qualitative aspects, unique psychic states, and then the free-action undertaken as a result. The crux is that “We should see that, if our action was pronounced by us to be free, it is because the relation of this action to the state from which it issued could not be expressed by a law, this psychic state being unique of its kind and unable to ever to occur again.” Turning inward to our unique experience causes freely undertaken action to flow as a result, even if this action is a formulation of our mental state.
Philosophy of Cognitive Enhancement
The reason that Bergson is useful for the philosophy of cognitive enhancement is that he provides a reasonable ontological explanation for free will with prescriptive recommendations for its achievement. He draws our attention to the qualitative and characterizes it in usable detail instead of dismissing it as inaccessible due to being subjective (as did Kierkegaard). This could help in developing a philosophy of cognitive enhancement by articulating some of the goals and experience of what it might mean for humans to engage in such practices. It is not necessary to agree with Bergson's claim in favor of free will to implement some of the underlying ideas. What is important to us in cognitive enhancement (the targeted improvement of natural human cognitive abilities) is not just better memories, but accelerated subjectivation - the ability to extend our capacity by becoming ‘more’ of who we are and can be more quickly.
Cognitive Enhancement Tools
One first cognitive enhancement application of Bergson might be in having greater activation of free will; catalyzing more ‘living now’ moments where free will could be realized. Our everyday acts are quantitative and undoubled but cognitive enhancement tools might be able to help with greater activation of the qualitative experience of life. Another application could be exploring the emergence of freedom as a property of internal experience. Bergson does not discuss whether we are free to perceive our inner states in different ways, or just one default way. It would seem that qualitative multiplicity could extend to having discretion over experience. This could inspire an ethics of perception, and an ethics of reality, as topics of cognitive enhancement philosophy. Another application area could be quantitative-qualitative transitions; tracing how the quantitative becomes the qualitative, as this might be a way into a richer, ongoing, free will-activated experience of life. There could be many applications trying to help improve our psychic states, both in their quality and accessibility, and in our awareness and perception of them.
Reference: Bergson, Henri. (2001, 1889). Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness (Essai sur les données immédiates de la conscience). London UK: Dover Publications.
Bergson, Free Will, and Cognitive Enhancement
Cryptocoin multiplicity is just one kind of currency multiplicity in the modern world. More broadly, we are living in an increasingly multi-currency society with all kinds of monetary and non-monetary currencies. First, there is currency multiplicity in the sense of monetary currency in that there are many different fiat currencies (USD, CNY, EUR, GBP, etc.). Second, there are many other non-fiat, non-cryptocurrencies like loyalty points and airline miles; one estimate is that there are 4,000 such altcurrencies . Now there is also a multiplicity of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Dogecoin. Fourth, beyond monetary currencies, there is currency multiplicity in non-monetary currencies too like reputation, intention, and attention as discussed above.
Market principles have been employed to develop metrics for measuring non-monetary currencies such as influence, reach, awareness, authenticity, engagement, action-taking, impact, spread, connectedness, velocity, participation, shared values, and presence . Now blockchain technology could make these non-monetary social currencies more trackable, transmissible, transactable, and monetizable. Social networks could become social economic networks. For example, reputation as one of the most recognizable non-monetary currencies has always been an important intangible asset, however was not readily monetizable other than indirectly as an attribute of labor capital.
However social network currencies can now become transactable with web-based cryptocurrency tip jars (like Reddcoin) and other micropayment mechanisms that were not previously feasible or transnationally-scalable with traditional fiat currency. Just as collaborative work projects like open-source software development can become more acknowledgeable and remunerable with github commits and line-item contribution-tracking, cryptocurrency tip jars can provide a measurable record and financial incentive for contribution-oriented online activities. One potential effect of this could be that if market principles were to become the norm for intangible resource allocation and exchange, all market agents might start to have a more intuitive and pervasive concept and demonstration of exchange and reciprocity. Thus social benefits like a more collaborative society could be a result of what might initially seem to be only a deployment of economic principles .
 Lietaerm B. nad Dunne, J. (2013). Rethinking money: how new currencies turn scarcity into prosperity. London, UK: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
 Swan, M. (2010). “Social economic networks and the new intangibles.” Online text from the Broader Perspective blog.
 Swan. M. (2009). “New Banks, New Currencies and New Markets in a Multicurrency World: Roadmap for a Post-Scarcity Economy by 2050.” Create Futures IberoAmérica, Enthusiasmo Cultural, São Paolo Brazil, October 14, 2009.
French philosophers Bergson and Deleuze bring to nanocognition and machine ethics interfaces the philosophical conceptualizations of image, movement, time, perception, memory, and reality that can be considered for implementation in tools for both cognitive enhancement and subjectivation (the greater actualization of human potential).
From the standpoint of an Ethics of Perception of Nanocognition, Bergson and Deleuze stress the need to see perception in itself, and machine ethics interfaces could possibly help us do this through the concept of Cinema 3: the perception-image. Having had only one default (undoubled) means of perception (taking the actualized perceptions of daily life as the only kind of perception, just as we have taken linear, spatialized, narrative time as the only form of time) has meant that we have not considered that there may be multiple ways to perceive, and that these might exist on a virtual plane of possible perceiving, and coalesce through difference into actual perception. At minimum, our nanocognitive prosthetics might be able to introduce and manage the notion of multiplicity in virtual and actual perception.
Bergson-Deleuze exhorts us to notice the doubled, internal, qualitative, subjective experience of lived phenomena like movement, time, perception, reality, and ourselves. In particular, nanocognition allows us to see the full doubling of perception, because there cannot be a doubling if there is only one unexamined mode, if perception in itself cannot be seen. It is only through duration - the doubled, subjective experience of perception (the experience of perception itself) that its virtuality and multiplicity (possibility) can be seen. Importantly, the consequence of seeing the doubled side of perception and reality is that it allows us to tune into the possibility of possibility itself. The real goal of Bergson-Deleuze is not just seeing different possibilities for ourselves, but seeing possibility itself; this is the ultimate implication for nanocognition – conceiving of nanocognition as pure possibility in and of itself.