Monday, May 26, 2014

Futurist Ethics of Immanence

The ethics of the future could likely shift to one of immanence. In philosophy, immanence means situations where everything comes from within a system, world, or person, as opposed to transcendence, where there are externally-determined specifications. The traditional models of ethics have generally been transcendent in the sense that there are pre-specified ideals posed from some point outside of an individual’s own true sense of being. The best anyone can ever hope to achieve is regaining the baseline of the pre-specified ideal (Figure 1). Measuring whether someone has reached the ideal is also problematic tends to be imposed externally. (This is also an issue in artificial intelligence projects; judgments of intelligence are imposed externally).

 Figure 1: Rethinking Ethics from 1.0 Traditional to 2.0 Immanence.

There has been progression in ethics models, moving from act-based to agent-based to now situation-based. Act-based models are based on actions (the Kantian categorical imperative vs utilitarianism (the good of the many) or consequentialism (the end justifies the means). Agent-based models hold that the character of the agent should be predictive of behavior (dispositionist). Now social science experimentation has validated a situation-based model (the actor performs according to the situation (i.e., and could behave in different ways depending on the situation)). However all of these models are still transcendent; they are in the form of externally pre-specified ideals.

Moving to a true futurist ethics that supports freedom, empowerment, inspiration, and creative expression, it is necessary to espouse ethics models of immanence (Figure 1). In an ethics of immanence, the focus is the agent, where an important first step is tuning in to true desires (Deleuze) and one’s own sense of subjective experience (Bergson). Expanding the range of possible perceptions, interpretations, and courses of action is critical. This could be achieved by improved mechanisms for eliciting, optimizing, and managing values, desires, and biases.

As social models progress, a futurist ethics should move from what can be a limiting ethics 1.0 of judging behavior against pre-set principles to the ethics 2.0 of creating a life that is affirmatory and expansive.

Slideshare presentation: Machine Ethics: An Ethics of Perception in Nanocognition

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Wearables-Mobile-IOT Tech creates Fourth Person Perspective

So far the individual has almost always existed in the context of a society of others. This could change in the farther future as individuals might be in the form of a variety of digital and physical copies in different stages of augmentation. It could become more difficult to find ‘like-others.’ My claim is that the function of alterity (an awareness of others that triggers subjectivation) would need to persist for individuals to fully become themselves, but it would not need to come from others that are like us.

All that is needed is some sort of external otherness that can show us ourselves in a new way to facilitate a moment of development. There is nothing in the function of alterity to suggest that it must be an ‘other’ that is like us. It is just that it has been this way historically, because other humans have been the ready form of ‘the other.’ It has been easiest and most noticeable when another human serves as a device like a mirror allowing us to see ourselves in a new way.

However, it is quite possible that the alterity function could be fulfilled in many other ways that do not involve a self-similar subject. One mechanism that is already allowing us to see ourselves in new ways is quantified self-tracking gadgetry. The ensemble of QS gadgets creates a fourth-person perspective, an objective means of seeing ourselves via exteriority and alterity that can trigger a moment of subjectivation. Now understanding the alterity function as such, there could be many alternative means of fulfilling it. 

Longer video on the topic: Posthuman Interpretation of Simondon's Individuation

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Interactive Media Environment to Drive Next-Generation Collaboration

A key feature of the contemporary media environment is interactivity. From clicking big data into information visualizations to personal digital assistants to MMORPGs to crowd-produced digital art to on-demand video content integrated with real-time social networking, interactivity is the underlying expectation of any contemporary media experience.

So far, the interactive media environment and its deployments have been realized mostly in the areas of entertainment and information, and at the level of the individual. While it can be argued that ‘interactivity as a feature’ is an obvious progression in the evolution of technology, something much more profound is happening. At a higher level, the interactive media environment is facilitating the fuller development of the individual, and also of groups.

As Clay Shirky heralded, online interactions are progressing from social networking to content sharing to action-taking. The expectation of interactivity and sociality as a feature of web properties means that an interesting next level of human collaboration can be envisioned. Some of the examples of this include eLabor marketplaces, software communities like Wikipedia and Linux, and problem-solving groups like Foldit and EteRNA.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Enterprise IoT: Connected Product User Communities

A key hurdle point for any newtech’s becoming truly mainstream is adoption by the enterprise market. The newtech innovates its way into a variety of business applications geared to improve efficiency and save time and money. This is not just internally to the enterprise, but as a widespread feature of products and services offered. Some examples are the Internet, email, video conferencing, IP telephony, virtual worlds, and wikis.

One big shift is towards making all products connected. This means actually connected via sensors, not just a website to look up for product information and customer services. This is revolutionary to businesses because immediately, every product can be transformed from a one-off shelf purchase to an ongoing service that is part of social community.
Every product can be a relationship with the consumer. 
Connected products can phone home with continuous information about product usage and failure (most ethically with customer opt-in).

Just like the ability to interact with content on websites and engage in social networking with other users became an expectation with web properties, product user communities have already been evolving to be more interactive with product web sites, Facebook pages and likes, Twitter accounts, and sometimes fan fiction. Connected product user communities is the next step and it could be giant. If the requisite infrastructure is in place, connected products could deploy quickly because of the more intimate relationship vendors perceive as attainable with consumers from the high-resolution continuous information exchange.

IoT ecology design is crucial. IoT sensors must operate in concert with other communications networks, but their low power requirements could draw from the existing infrastructure of the user’s wearable ecosystem (smartphone, smartwatch, wearable display (Glass), wifi, cloud), smarthome (Nest, Hive, Tado, etc.), automotive data networks, and other IoT tracking infrastructure. With IoT sensors, the 10:1 ratio of person to connected devices could quickly exponentiate to 100:1. The IoT ecosystem requires an architecture that is quite different from the Internet’s packets, redundancy, lookups, and TCPIP switching, a design that can accommodate higher bursts in traffic, data input from sensor clouds (a sensor landscape acting like a school of fish), and more kinds and types of data transmission, but can also power share, massively distribute, and intercommunicate.