Sunday, September 29, 2013

Digital Literacy: Learning Newtech for its Own Sake

Digital literacy is a new capability and feature of our modern world, where consciously or unconsciously, there is a category in our lives called ‘learning newtech.’

There are two levels: first the basic skill acquisition and conceptual understanding required to learn a newtech, and second, the psychology of the digital learning curve which includes evaluating and justifying the time investment and utility of learning au courrant digital literacy tools with the appreciation that they will be almost immediately obsolescent.

We might complain about the effort required to master contemporary areas of digital literacy like learning mobile app development, the big data statistical manipulation language R, and scripting frameworks like node.js and jQuery. At the same time as we forget our many digital proficiencies, and the time invested to acquire them; previous generations of digital tools like file sharing, photo-uploading, Excel macros, Microsoft Word, PREZI presentations, file archival, and system restoration.

It is arguable that we should devote explicit effort to digital literacy, and further that digital literacy for its own sake could also be an objective. Taking Stanford University as an example, all incoming students must take a software programming class; pedagogically the language requirement is still in place, but it has shifted from French, Spanish, or German to C++, Java, or Python.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Axiologie: An Economy 2.0 Understanding of Valorization

Axiology is a third major branch of philosophy dealing with the study of the nature, types, and criteria of values and of value judgments. Axiology includes valorization, the according of value (or lack of value) to things, and aesthetics, relating to the beauty or pleasing appearance of things. Axiology is often overlooked in favor of its higher-profile philosophical cousins metaphysics, dealing with the nature of existence, and ethics in the 1.0 sense, dealing with rules of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad.

Axiologie (e.g.; Axiology 2.0)
Axiology 1.0 needs to be extended to Axiology 2.0 or Axiologie in a technology philosophy sense to denote the new kinds of valorization that are present in the shift to Economy 2.0. Economy 2.0 is a world where economic transactions are highly-automated, affinity-based, multi-currency, unobtrusive, and on the way to post-scarcity for material goods.
One of the most visible aspects of the transition to Economy 2.0 is the multi-currency dimension - individuals are increasingly accumulating value in alternative non-monetary currencies such as reputation, authority, attention, intention, time, ideas, creativity, and health.
The multi-currency Economy 2.0 is also called the gift economy, the reputation economy, the attention economy, and the intention economy.

Science fiction has already envisioned future economic worlds where reputation points are the only currency and vary dramatically up and down like video-game points, typically viewable in virtual reality goggle Heads-up-Displays like Cory Doctorow’s whuffie-driven economy in ‘Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.’ Technology philosophy’s Axiologie deals with the acknowledgement, valorization, visibility, invisibility, modes of understanding, transferability, storage, investment, and use of alternative currencies.

Part of an ongoing series of Technology Philosophy Conceptology

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Economics 2.0 Unbounded Upside: Pay-Forward Debit Karma Society

Unbounded upside is a concept applicable to future economics and the economy 2.0, but also the whole future more generally.

So far, in much our human endeavor, we have been oriented around a baseline and the goal of maintaining, achieving, or re-achieving that baseline, completely ignoring all of the possible outcomes on the positive side of the base line.

In finance and credit, loans are made, and the best anyone can hope for is to regain baseline, to have all of the monies repaid, or to achieve an as perfect as possible credit score.

We do not even have terminology for the conceptual opposite of credit, but what would a society based on debit, positive credit, or paid-forward karma look like? 

One vision is considering that in our societies, the financial surplus and resources already exist, and could be apportioned away from bureaucratic programs to instead pay-forward every person a sustainable living allowance each month or year. This would shift the focus to unbounded upside as everyone wonders what can they do not what they have to do for survival.

Regaining baseline is also the paradigm in other areas such as medicine and psychology: cure is returning a pathology to baseline, not going beyond baseline to improved wellness, enhancement, or future prevention. The advent of new fields such as Positive Psychology in the 2000s helps to expose the pervasive baseline mentality and potential expansions therefrom.

As it has been easier and more obvious to focus on reductionist practices in science, so too has been easy and a clear view to focus on the territory below baseline because it is a bounded defined area, whereas above baseline is open and unbounded, in other words, pure opportunity in the most Deleuzian and Bergsonian sense.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Future of Life Sciences: Top 10 List

The next wave of the biotechnology revolution is underway and promises to reshape the world in ways even more transformative than the agricultural, industrial, and information revolutions that preceded it.

It is not unimaginable that at some point, all biological processes, human and otherwise, could be understood and managed directly.

Here is a top ten list of key areas of contemporary advance in life sciences:
  1. Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology 
  2. Regenerative Medicine and 3D Printing 
  3. Genomics, “Omics,” and Preventive Medicine 
  4. Neuroscience 
  5. Nanotechnology 
  6. Big Health Data and Information Visualization 
  7. Quantified Self (QS), Wearable Computing, and the Internet-of-Things (IOT) 
  8. DIYscience, Citizen Science, Participatory Health, and Collective Intelligence 
  9. Aging, Rejuvenation, Health Extension, and Robotics 
  10. Space 
More information: Slideshare talk from the Max Planck Institute

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Subjective Experience and the Existence of Free Will in Bergson

With burgeoning progression in neuroscience projects across a variety of fields including stem cell generation, brain scanning, and natural language processing, the free will / determinism debate remains vibrant. One resource for understanding the problem is French philosopher Henri Bergson and his claim that free will exists, and can be understood through how time and free will are connected.

Henri Bergson lived 1859-1941. 1900s. He was well-known in philosophy and intellectual culture more broadly in the early 1900s, including for anticipating quantum mechanics 30 years ahead of its discovery due to his assessment of time as being asymmetrical. In the 1960s, the French philosopher Gilles Deleuze reawakened interest in Bergson, highlighting the importance of Bergson’s concepts regarding multiplicity and difference. Now Bergson continues to be relevant to neuroscience and other areas interested in the understanding of subjective experience, free will, and mind/body dualism. Bergson published three masterworks:
  • Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness (1889) arguing in favor of free will 
  • Matter and Memory (1896) resolving mind/body dualism with a larger problem frame taking both dimensions into account 
  • Creative Evolution (1907) linking the idea of the time as energy and the energy of time to evolution 
Linking Time and Free Will 
According to Bergson in Time and Free Will, and as explicated by Suzanne Guerlac in Thinking in Time, we cannot treat the inner world of consciousness and subjective experience with the same model we use to understand the physical world. We need to purify concepts from their objective scientific use for the purpose of examining subjective experience, where the important features are the intensity of qualities, the multiplicity of overlapping mental states, and duration, the lived experience of time. Time is a force because it has a causal role in experiences not being the same each time, or over time, and in allowing experiences to accumulate through memory. Time is therefore a force, but an internal force not subject to the laws of nature as external forces. Exactly because time is not governed by mechanistic external forces, it allows room for the exercise of free will. The force of time makes free will possible and we exercise it when we are living in time, tuned into our subjective experience, and acting passionately and decisively. A more accurate conceptualization of our freedom is not in deciding between two alternatives but rather in experiencing free actions carving themselves out of our hesitation as we plunder though the constant becoming of life. 

Further explanation: YouTube video