Tweeting the future

A quick post in the morning before going off to school/work. There’s nothing like a little freewrite-ish post in the morning to prepare the morning for a day of hard work ahead. I keep on meaning to do one of the more ‘serious’ posts on this blog but for some reason my fingers stop typing whenever the topic gets a little too professional in any way. When I do a spur-of-the moment writing, however, I can write and write for hours on end, on all sorts of topics from personal to somewhat more academic themes, something that’s really beginning to piss me off. I can write when I want to but I can’t write when I should be writing.

Most of you have heard of twitter by now. I’ve been on it a lot lately jotting down little notes and thoughts via SMS and sometimes even having a small conversation on it time to time. The amount of theme-specific information I can get from twitter, from topics on android development to synthetic biology, is second only to the friendfeed except that twitter has the added benefit of being mobile and more active (I can’t remember the last time someone actually used the physicist room on friendfeed. What gives?). Most of all, twitter provides a tool to create a constant thought-stream from my brain to the net that can be indexed and searched later on by myself or others. Twitter is one of those things that doesn’t sound like much on paper but turns out to be really handy once you figure out how to use it properly. I’m willing to bet that if some sort of ubiquitous connection to the net is implemented in human beings sometime in the future (like the Clatter system imagined by Warren Ellis), it will be in form of twitter rather than IM protocols.

The real life examples of twitter being put into good use are too numerous to write here in its entirety. Lot of people heard about the Mumbai bombing the moment it happened from people standing in the actual ground zero, streaming messages to the net as the events came to pass. I’ve heard about the Russian/US satellite collision incident in the space faster than the local news through twitter. Now these examples are at best gonzo journalism that may or may not appeal to some people out there. How about this? It’s a PLoS article on the benefits of microblogging tool like the twitter in conference reporting. Twitter provides an access for enthusiastic public of scientific bent to gather insight into major academic events and the concise key points that might have been lost in bustle of person-to-person conference. I myself tried to do a little bit of microblogging during the synthetic biology 4.0 in Hong Kong, something I didn’t get to do much due to the difficulty I had with my laptop during the event (like trying to find a suitable power converter). My understanding was that lot of people were still very interested in the venue, both from the professional and hobbyist sector of the public. Twitter provides an efficient networking tool between fellow professionals so that they can share information and insight over the net and beyond.

All of this means nothing. The medium of twitter is new. The very nomenclature of microblogging is quite new to most of us and the bubble we are experiencing may someday die out, perhaps even with the twitter itself. However I do suspect that the very format of microblogging itself will only mature as the time goes on doing what it does best. Providing a human-to-network interface, where everyone becomes a broadcasting center with all their stream of thoughts encoded into digital information regardless of their physical location, accessible by the net as a whole. There will be set backs, and most of the content on the thought-streams will be useless. I mean, who really cares if someone in Brussels had pizza for lunch or not? We must keep in mind, however, that in any form of media any worthwhile content is a mere fraction of the total output of the said media (I think someone came up with a math for this, but can’t quite recall it in the morning rush). There are probably thousands of new books published per day. How many of them are actually worth reading? How many do you actually get to read during your lifetime? The same can be said for movies, or even, academic papers on printed journals.

People are still looking for ways to define what microblogging is and how to use it properly, in both its physical usage and integration of the results of microblogging into conventional infosphere. Like data mining for information within the thought-stream provided by people all over the place. This isn’t some random text cloud we are talking about. This is the kind of information already filtered once or more by living thinking human beings according to their interests. Google and other such information based corporations are probably eyeing the twitter-verse and other potential microblogging services as if they were goldmines.

The potential of twitter and twitter-like microblogging services as a sort of radio station of the future present is really interesting for me. The information people stream into twitter can be channeled through cellphone SMS providing ubiquitous access to information. Say you like works by Bruce Sterling and are interested in hearing more of his thoughts. You can set your twitter account so that you can receive his twitter updates via SMS, wherever you are. That’s basically a radio station isn’t it? It’s only that twitter isn’t censored or regulated by the conventional authority like it is the case with normal or pirate radio station. Twitter, it turns out, is the result of the abstraction of modern technology and infrastructure into simple little pieces that can be integrated into each other.

The question of how to best use twitter still remains a great unknown for me. I do admit that I am a moderate twitter user, doing everything from complaining about some daily event to jotting down notes or thoughts on artificial life and such when I am on the move. I even set my cellphone up so that I can receive updates from some of the more eccentric personalities across the globe on the convenience of my cellphone. What I can’t figure out at the moment is how to use all this ‘properly.’ Every time I use twitter I am surprised by its potential, and at the same time I am enveloped by certain uneasy feeling that I still do not understand twitter, and that there must be some way of using it properly. I feel as though there is some arcane method for twitter that escapes my notice every time I send or receive an SMS update on my cellphone to/from the twitter. And that empty feeling make it impossible for me to predict the future of twitter, and the future of the world with microblogging.

Microblogging is a natural evolution of blogging for people who don’t like to write much. Such statement might sound like a bad thing but it isn’t. Some people don’t want to write stories. They just want to write down ‘something’ without spending a large portion of their life doing it. Not everyone can end up writing ‘In Search of Lost Time.’ Microblogging combined with ubiquitous communications technology give people an output for something to do whenever they feel like doing something. It plays on the basic human instinct to be doing something all the time instead of lying on their backs with dead fish eyes. And the result of the medium of ubiquitous microblogging is a continuous stream of thought posted on the net that numbers in the millions and counting. All of them mine-able for information, all of them capable of being broadcast into any cellphone and any machine with internet access, instantaneously. This makes nomenclatures of web 2.0 look old and grumpy. I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of future this picture will evolve into, because I don’t understand what’s happening. I don’t think anyone has a clear picture of what’s happening at this moment.
I guess I should tweet more for the time being.

Wordie=Not too wordy.

A little update on the state of my life first. I have been working on something that might be awesome for the io9 madscience contest. Although I am approaching the contest through a sort of team-based brainstorming and responsibility sharing method, I have become increasingly aware of my limited understanding of the molecular biology and genomics, so there are a whole lot of things I need to brush up on before the contest deadline of August 25 midnight PST. So no blog posts about nothing for a while, folks.  I would like to take advantage of this moment to urge anyone still not aware of the awesome coolness that is the io9 madscience contest on synthetic biology to get cracking for that secret mad science idea you have been hoarding to yourself, and drag all your friends and families with you into participating.

Despite the busy lifestyle I lead between the study for all the crazy exams and the field of synthetic biology, I also manage to surf the web and fish out interesting websites… Which might suggest that I am not actually busy but I assure you that I am nearly numb from all the busy-ness that is my life. Eating fast and sleeping less does wonders for time micromanagement-on-the-go. Anyway, I came across this website, wordie during one of my excursion around the Internet. It is one of the many web 2.0 based sites we see popping up all around these days, with emphasis on entering and making lists of words, while sharing those lists and favoriting other peoples lists and words… Basically a web 2.0 community website devoted to the pursuit of lexicographical side of the world. The feeling and layout of the website reminded me of the eponymous everything2 for some odd reason… And I believe that the spirit and purpose of the website is not very far from some of the more obvious characteristics of the everything2 as well. Which is a good thing.

I was rather surprised to find out that the *words* I could enter into the website database were not necessarily limited to words in dictionaries, or words in any form, actually. One of the most commented on words at the wordie website at the moment is *shaken baby syndrome* which is quite clearly something you will not find in any dictionary that came off the printing press. There are a number of words in foreign language, like Chinese (though such are few at the moment, who knows what will happen in the future?), with the function to make diverse lists and being able to favorite words I especially like being some of the more notable, and welcomed features.

What I especially love about the wordie webpage is its design. Just white background and black letters, with the fonts I find attractive for some odd reason. I think the wordie blog Errata is especially representative of the minimalist aesthetics underlying the design of the main wordie webpage. It is simple, it gets the point across, it is easy to access using variety of Internet-enabled devices, and the service as a whole seem to integrate well with other Internet/communication services, which I admit is a work-in-progress but shows great potential nonetheless. Sometimes people underestimate what can be done with simple arrangement of black things on white spaces and certain choices of fonts.

I like what I have seen so far of the wordie. I think this is a service I see myself using frequently for a long time, whether it be entering an interesting word I found, or tagging and commenting numerous words already present in the webpage. If you have a minute or two to spare, maybe you might want to give it s try as well. Who knows, maybe it will even increase your vocabulary.

Hacker attitude

The ‘hacker’ culture had been around for so long, and involved in so much of the substantial progress of the last half of the decade, to have their own ethos and philosophy into codified laws, somewhat like the ten commandments. Except that these rules are, as pertaining to the hacker subculture itself, a matter of choice for the most part. If you are finding yourself agreeing to the code, than you are probably a hacker, regardless of whether you know about computers or not. Even if you regularly write in assembly language for living, if you cannot agree to the codes outlined by the hacker culture, you are probably not a hacker. In a way calling it a ‘code’ and comparing it to the ten commandments would be something of a misnomer. Think of it as something of an identification tag, to be used between people of similar disposition.

There are five fundamental common attitudes shared by most hackers, and they are as follows.

1. The world is full of fascinating problems waiting to be solved.
2. No problem should ever have to be solved twice.
3. Boredom and drudgery are evil.
4. Freedom is good.
5. Attitude is no substitute for competence.

It is rather interesting that all of the five attitudes go against common beliefs and pratice held by most public school education system. At least for the inner city schools I know of. Around those schools teachers and administrators can say they are trying to teach children how to respect the authority without even blushing in shame. That’s right folks, not respect to your fellow men/ladies, and not respect to yourself. The primary goal seem to be built around having the kids in middle and high school stages of education to respect the person who has the right to call the police or security on them. Of course, I am being rather crass here, but this is the sentiment shared by most if not all urban city youths, the same feeling I shared when I was their age. And who am I supposed to blame for current less-than-fantastic state the public education system is in? Kids or experienced, supposed ‘professionals’ who get paid to study the children and lead them to the best possible future?

As I grow older I’m finding that this ‘hacker’ mindset is not new at all. I believe it had been around since the very beginning of civilizations, and that this is a part of natural instinct of being a human being. It is becoming increasingly certain that you don’t need to know about computers to hack things. What you need instead is the insight and wisdom to seem through the system of the world. It’s like applied cybernetics. As long as things affect each other in certain way they form a system. A system of human society is a system like any other, albeit fundamentally more complex since such systems are usually evolved rather than designed. As long as something can be considered a system, it can be, and perhaps should be, hacked. A mudlark in highly hierarchical society later becoming a shipping magnate, or a leader of a nation, is as much a hacker as the computer science major hacking with python and C++ in pursuit of digital artificial life. A writer, a cook, a musician, the applicable list goes on and on. The field of synthetic biology, though fledgling at the moment, seem to be shaping up as the next contender to the hackerdom’s primary pursuit, in the search of the ability to hack the life as we know it. Who knows what we’ll be hacking some distant time into the future? Perhaps the very nature of space and time itself. Maybe even designer universes.

And from this standpoint of the universal hackery, I must ask, would it be possible to hack the human world? Would it be possible to hack the public mind and the generational zeitgeist to nudge the rest of humanity into some vision of future? Is it possible to hack the origin of all the situations and motivations, the human itself?

Giorgio de Chirico- Ariadne to artificial life

painting ariadne

On my recent excursion to the Met, I’ve had chance to sit in front of Giorgio de Chirico‘s painting Ariadne. On days like that I enjoy strolling among the vistas of my thoughts, sightseeing in my own mindscapes. Sometimes I reach some interesting idea, and I’d like to share this particular one with you. I start with the first hand observation and speculation on the painting, and goes on to the social contexts and perspective on the relationship between art and artificial life. Of course, I am in no way educated in matters of art, so what I say about the painting is purely personal and speculative. If you want proper information about the painting itself, I’d suggest the official Met description and associated sources.

Ariadne awaits outside the labyrinth, frozen cold as a statue. The towers and progresses of the world slip by outside, unnoticed by her and the observer locked within the wall. Ariadne is a statue, but as I look closer she begins to resemble a stone cover of an ancient sarcophagi. It would fit with the melancholy atmosphere pervading through the painting. Theseus walked into the labyrinth ages ago with the thread of Ariadne, and he is yet to emerge from its dark paths. Or perhaps he has left the empty husk of the labyrinth a long time ago? Defeating it of the ferocious monster inside, leaving it as an empty dark corridor. Only the desolation remains and shadows haunt the dark corridors of the labyrinth.

When did Ariadne pass away? What had happened to Theseus? Perhaps he met the same fate he would have met within the dark corridors of the labyrinth, as a desiccated corpse. The activity of the world surrounding the walls begins to throw an ominous hint as to the fate of our hero and heroine. The heroic and dramatic gives way to the tides of the mundane.

The sense of timeless waiting and longing, intermingled with the thick taste of isolation and desolate serenity fill the whole of the canvas with strange attraction, and makes it stand out among the numerous canvases displayed in the white halls of the modern art exhibition of the museum. As I stare into the painting the position of the observer becomes uneasy, as I begin to wonder whether to apply myself to Ariadne, Theseus, or even the bustling activity of the world outside the wall.

Depiction of Ariadne as a sculpture provides some interesting insight into the world of the painting. What was the fate of Ariadne? In the state she is in now she has become a symbol in the lexicon of the consciousness. As I consider the matter of Ariadne and the rich symbolism of labyrinth in human history, I feel as if the world of the painting is being spread from the mind of the artist to my own. Perhaps the inside of the wall (though it might be argued that the stage is set outside, there is no way to tell) can be understood as the collective unconsciousness of the human world. Maybe it is a desolate, timeless place buried within the waves of zeitgeist. Perhaps the place within the wall is an ancient, timeless place in our psyche, waiting for some sort of resolution that we know for certain will never be found.

It is no secret that the mythical labyrinth associated with Ariadne held a minotaur within its dark corridors, and is a frequently visited theme across variety of cultures depicting the primordial passages of the human psyche. As such, labyrinths of almost any cultural significance is a path to some sort of resolution, guarded by difficult ordeal or mythic beast that must be overcome. Even within the labyrinth depicted in the painting, quite clearly devoid of all life, one cannot help but to think that some sort of secret still lurks inside, throwing an overwhelming curiosity toward us that soon borders on obsession. In fact, beneath the veneer of timeless desolation and serenity, one cannot help but to perceive of certain intense quality of questioning, as our eyes drift toward between the archways of the entrance to the labyrinth. The whole painting begins to metamorphose into a question in the back of the observers psyche, isolated from the world yet longing for something, some kind of attainment.

Here is where the conventional notion of the classic and the modern splits. Being classical or modern in this case has nothing to do with timeline in this case, of course. Classic and the modern are mindsets, values impressed into the very fabric of our social consciousness. The classics are obsessed with the idealized patterns, the equation of the human with the superhuman, contemplation of the nature of superhumanity and underlying human pursuits, and so on. A kind of peculiar disdain toward contemporary human condition and urges to metamorphose is a common universal sentiment among the arts and ideas commonly referred to as classical. The prevalent attitude encompassing almost every single work of art and ideas considered classical, all superhuman, not because human is, but because the human strives to be.

Yet certain indefatigable essences of the modern runs directly contrary to such sentiments. Consider the works of Gustave Courbet and his realism. Gustave Courbet and his realism is widely considered to be the first step of the true modernism in painting, in a twilight zone where the classical begins to turn modern. The most conspicuous feature of the modern is the depiction of the human wants. No more hero becomes the motto of the day, either by making everything heroic or denying the concept of the heroic. And as the process continues the art increasingly becomes the depiction of the art rather than depiction of the human of art.

It almost feels as if there is some sort of cycle, propagating through the stages of Middle Ages-Renaissance-Baroque-Rococo-Neo Classic-Empire, which are not as clearly defined as they would appear on paper but still retains certain zeitgeist that is apparent to a methodical observer. They all seem to revert back and forth in the relationship between the art and the human. Is this a primarily European (thus Christian) fluctuation? I am beginning to doubt it, for many other cultures like those in the Far East, show similar fluctuations of the relationship between the art and the human.

Such fluctuation is interesting in light of the oncoming possibility of artificial life. What will the art of artificial life be like? Idealized pursuit or depiction of the basic principles of the life? Life-like physical system treated as an art is a valuable opportunity to clarify some of the dilemma facing the issue of art and art’s relationship to the world and the human, though the precise form it would take is difficult to predict at the moment. Art, real or ideal, is quite discontent to be sitting on canvas and velvet lined pedestals. The art will inevitably flow out into the world (in some sense it already has) and walk and talk with us. Perhaps the divide between the real and the ideal, the focus on the art of art and the art of the human would manifest as a debate on the form of artificial life in human world. Perhaps it will be a debate on whether the human should BE artificial life.

Why my ongoing interest/obsession with the artificial life and the art? Why do I believe in art as life and life as art? Why my belief that the science and art should, and will, become inseparable from each other?

There was an interesting accident a few years back, when a young child stuck a chewing gum on a priceless painting of modern art, and gave an excuse to the horrified museum authorities that he did not think it was art. It is true that art in modern times seem to be an acquired taste, which is very peculiar to me. Isn’t art, at its naked core, a search and depiction of beauty? The nature of beauty might remain as illusive as ever, but for all intends and purposes it is universal. And if the social conception is in such a way that capacity to feel beauty must be educated into someone’s head, we have a problem. This might be the root cause behind today’s absurd separation between the field and practices of arts and sciences. Art in its inception should be universal to all of us, and that means it should be universal to all senses and all brains, something fundamentally integrated into the human system’s architecture that might even be replicated in non human life forms. The true nature of the origin that powers people to perform art and the true nature of the beauty that cativates us and evokes things and ideas that we never consciously thought of before, must in someway be related to our own physique, for life and consciousness cannot manifest without a body.

If the existence of the physiology and metabolism of life is essential to the process of art and aesthetic fulfillment, we have a pressing need for artificial life, both as scientists solving the great and observable problem of the human phenomena and as artists searching for the manifestation of art. The art will walk and talk among us, and no child will dare to stick gum on their faces. Everyone, even those without the art education and art sensitivity drummed into their heads will be able to intuitively grasp the presence of beauty and revel in the process of aesthetic fulfillment, since, in the end, human beings best understand things that resemble them. And what better resembles us than life, staring at us in the eye?

Synthetic biology

I’ve been looking around the synthetic biology scene for a while now. Although my academic specialty doesn’t revolve around the field of biology, I try to keep at least an amateur’s perspective upon the advances and techniques of the field. Considering that my passion lies in the study and realization of artificial life I find it important to keep broad view of things irregardless of specialty or the immediate requirements of my own job.

I’ve often noted that the field of synthetic biology had suffered quite a bit of misunderstanding since its inception (which wasn’t that long ago actually), so I thought I might as well do a little write up of what synthetic biology really is.

Synthetic biology is an approach to engineering biology instead of being an academic field of specific goals. Simply put, synthetic biology as a whole is an approach, which may be utilized toward a specific application dictated by the case/individual/group etc.

In order to become a tool in engineering biology its link with conventional genetic engineering is inevitable. The breakdown of the similarities and differences between synthetic biology and genetic engineering is as follows.

Conventional genetic engineering is composed of three primary stages.

1)Recombinant DNA

2)PCR (stands for polymerase chain reaction)

3)Automated sequencing

The step one and two are about writing the DNA of specific purpose, and the step three is about reading the recomposed/component DNA. While these three steps are integrated to the core of the field of synthetic biology, it includes three more stages which differentiates it from pure genetic engineering.

4)Automated construction of DNA

5)Standards

6)Abstraction

The fourth stage, automated construction of DNA refers to the divide between the designers and builders of the DNA. Within the structure of the synthetic biology the designing of a DNA sequence and actually working in forming such DNA sequence (which is an expensive and time-consuming process) is separate from each other, making student-amateur oriented biological machine design possible within currently existing technical/industrial infrastructure. However, simply having a separate industry deal with mechanical parts of the synthetic biology would be meaningless without stage five and six, formation of standards, and abstraction of genetic interface. The last two stages run along the lines of the advance of computer programming scene, where formation of standard (html) and abstraction (most users don’t type in zeroes and ones anymore. We click buttons) brought on an explosion of global userbase and subsequent integration of the computerization into the very fabric of modern human civilization. Synthetic biology as a field encompasses all the six stages I’ve written about so far, each of them an integral part that reinforces another. In a way, synthetic biology is intimately linked with the garage-biology or biohacking movement in that it allows individuals to focus on designing their own novel biological contraptions using freely available and globally present database of biological/genetic abstractions and standards, while leaving the complexities and drudgeries of bioengineering to the mechanism of economy/industry.

I personally consider the field of synthetic biology to be a movement. Nothing as pretentious as some political gather-up, but a real movement like a wave spreading across the surface of the human society, a tell-tale sign of something gigantic beneath the surface. People used to build computers in their garage. Look where we are now. I can’t begin to imagine to full impact of well-executed synthetic biology as movement/industry/economy in the course of the future. Many little children these days are aware of tools like python and java, and some of them even utilize them with surprising efficiency and familiarity. Imagine the same children in the future, not with imaginary numbers but with the stuff of life. A little risky, but it’s certainly the type of world I want to live in.

What I also find to be interesting is the method of thinking behind synthetic biology. I don’t know how to put it succinctly yet, but as I have noted in the previous write up ‘transhumanism and the human network’, there is an underlying method of thinking that is showing up in universal scales, regardless of locale and cultural background. Am I correct in assuming this peculiarly wide-spread method of thinking as a type of zeitgeist? If so, where and how did it originate? And what role does the human network and its emergent properties take in the shape of the world we live in?

Maybe, once the biological hacking is done, the little children will hack the human civilization itself.

For those of you interested in slightly more detailed insight into synthetic biology, I give you two links.

www.openwetware.org

The openwetware website, definitely worth a look.

http://openwetware.org/images/3/3d/SB_Primer_100707.pdf

A simple primer to synthetic biology, covers the basics so it applies to other fields of biology as well.

Hackability of the world

I’ve been thinking and writing about the whole steampunk and tranhumanism ‘movement’ (if it can be called as such) all over the net. Though they were nothing more than novelty writings, jumbled things that came straight out of my mind without much introspection, I think I’m beginning to see some underlying pattern here. I do not particularly believe in attitude or belief of any specific cultural movement like the steampunk or the transhumanism. As someone dedicated to the study of sciences the ideas of transhumanism does appeal to me, but I still think appeal alone doesn’t make for a sound prediction of the future, and the St. John’s apocalypse-like images espoused by some of the more enthusiastic believers of the transhumanism thinking doesn’t really help things either.

What I am really interested in, is the shape of the world that is beginning to emerge underneath all the superficial beliefs and cliques of various social/cultural movement. A human network that is being accelerated and consolidated into an emergent and concrete form by the technology of near instantaneous connection between individual members of the humanity, which seem to form the backbone of the majority of the changes that make up what we call the ‘modern age’, web 2.0 generation, and etc etc. It’s really just a thought, nothing eloquent and lucid enough to be a theory… Perhaps this is merely adaptation of the mathematical theory of networks and links in the fashion of Barbarasi to the perspective of social theory… But something doesn’t sound quite right to refer to it as such.

Formation and linking of human beings to ideas, the belief and search for the method to change/control the world through variety of means, linking which leads to a form of phase shift, the compounding between the idea and the human being… A history is a fundamentally human story… If linking between ideas and human beings, ideas and ideas, human beings to human beings is viable and displays emergent characteristics so common in their physical equivalents, the term zeitgeist begins to take more significant meaning in the structure of the world.

If the ‘structure’ of the world and its interactions can be defined as such , wouldn’t it be possible to hack the system of the world to gather wanted result from it? A giant machine-construction formed of human dreams and lives, that are linked with each other so that while each part may be independent the whole remains homostatic, hacking such system to follow certain path would be tantamount to hacking the Genie of the lamp or the holy grail, since, in the end, the only thing that responds to human wishes is the human world itself. This giant human world, soon to be even bigger, is in effect a substitution of the human wish and the human will.

All the fad associated with the UCC or the web 2.0 generation will come and pass. Yet the wisdom and experience gained from this generation will invariably effect the other. Who is to say that the brave new world will bring with it social concepts and mundane practices so powerful and so fundamentally human that it would form an entity on its own, political, scientific, and artistic ideas living and traveling across the world like full-bodied life, while the human beings are both subject to its whims and a master of its path, raising and training it like pets.

Should such a day ever come, it would be the beginning of the age when arts may finally walk among the humanity.

Transhumanism, and the human network.

A little something I scribbled down a moment ago. Maybe it would be an interesting read for some of you, especially when viewed in light of the digital art -social networking age we live in right now.

The term transhumanism is thrown around a lot these days. It’s almost as if it is fast becoming a whole generational movement instead of a novelty philosophy catering to a limited cadre of technophiles. The true attraction of the movement I believe, is the real possibility that many things currently considered impossible might become possible in the future, not through any institutional reform but through a technological revolution capable of suiting individual tastes and goals. In many ways the movement of transhumanism is intensely political yet at the same time as politically neutral as it can be.
It seems transhumanism is about increasing the capacity to do things on the individual level without regards to a unified direction. After getting the ability you want using technological means, you can be a hardcore communist or a hardcore libertarian. The movement of the transhumanism itself doesn’t dictate what its proponents should do after becoming ‘transhuman’, and the only political ideal directly associated with the philosophy of transhumanism is the one necessary in making it come true, free and unrestricted access to technology and information. It can be said that the transhumanism and the theory of singularity so many people attribute to the movement of transhumanism is like deus ex machina come to life, the proverbial genie of the lamp given flesh in human adaptation of technology. However, it should be noted that the post-cyberpunk transhumanism ideals aren’t quite as clean and wish-wash as some of its predecessors of the enlightenment and industrial revolution, instead opting to put its faith in the very opening of the possibilities themselves rather than what those possibilities can ultimately achieve, and I dare say that it is this new way of thinking that defines the current generation’s zeitgeist regardless of geological locale or technical proficiency. Propagation of systems of thought through generational sentiments instead of any strict governmental or academic structure (that might even go beyond regional and cultural taboo), a sort of social-blogging approach to the propagation and practice of systems of thought. Yet in this case, the physical entity of the net is not a necessity. Instead, majority of the network-forming, linking and subsequent emergent behavior results from interactions between people and ideas, the technical infrastructure only acting as a catalyst for already present elements in precipitating metamorphosis.

As the idea of physical distance becomes fuddled in the future and virtual density of the human population increases, the idea and practice of the net-less networking built into all conscious life forms in the innate interaction between life forms themselves and the life and idea-structures will become more and more profound, its effects more and more pronounced, perhaps enough to truly dictate the course of human history, and perhaps, even human beliefs.

In search of connections

I haven’t written a decent blog entry for a whole week now, I think. My life had been a little hectic with the things at the lab and all, but that’s not the reason for the sudden fall in my blogging output. I have been thinking about the relationship of arts and sciences in general, trying to find some way that goes further than the dictations of intuition so commonly attributed to the study of art and inspirations of science.

As I have written before, the origin of human creativity is a single topic that seem to show up persistently in some corner of my mind, bumping into me like a boogie man regardless of what I’m doing at the moment, from trying to calculate oscillation for a complex plasma to walking through a gallery of abstract expressionists. I consider the problem of the origin of creativity to be the problem of a complex system, deeply intertwined with variety of other questions regarding the nature of beauty, perception, self-recognition, origin of life-like system in nature and historic/cultural zeitgeist. And the questions are quite overwhelming for me. The more I seek, the more questions I find, without a clue as to what the answer to any one of them might be. So I decided to do what almost anyone with a science background does. Formulation and mathematical analysis, with moderation and deep retrospection given the nature of the problem I’m trying to understand. As with many artists I began with the beginning of human history and civilization viewed from the perspective of art, identifying general similarities and isolating persistent homocentric behavior that shows up on universal scale without regards to economic or technological sophistication. A search in collectively unconscious human behavior some might say. After identifying some of them, I applied the idea of complex emergence in regular complex science to those universal characteristics… To no understandable solution.

To be honest, beyond the technical jargon and back-of-the-napkin logic, the whole idea is rickety and I have no idea what exactly I’m looking for, or what I should do with what I get.

I do have an idea of some of the consistently recurring topics like formation of myth/folklore and metamyth/metafolklore, presence of ‘sudden madness’ as a type of primordial force/catastrophe much in the same fashion as the ancient’s concept of flood which strangely enough also acts as a deus ex machina of sorts (like the cult of Sakhmet), near-obsession with metamorphosis on the global scale, and contributions to and from zeitgeist and its different names and understanding throughout times and cultures. But how to connect them into a persistent structure that would let me have an insight into it all? I have no idea. Or rather, I have about a thousand ideas and don’t know what to do with them all.

I’ve frequently made clear my conviction regarding the nature of arts and sciences, and I’d like to state it again. The very idea that arts and sciences somehow exist on opposites ends of a spectrum is a load of bollocks. They are meant to be together, and they are meant to be applied in similar reasoning and purpose. The question is how they would be able to be together. Simply saying that arts and sciences should both follow aesthetic conviction and reasonably sound thinking is not enough because, frankly, we had been doing it since the beginning of civilization, with mixed results. There is a strange and as of yet little understood way these things work, perhaps intimately linked with how lives and brains are formed in this physical universe. Thus study and understanding of arts and sciences require resources from variety of other academic disciplines, because in the end everything is artistic and scientific as long as human beings are involved in it. And this is the reason why I push for the study of artificial life as a zenith between the limitations of the field of art and the field of sciences, a connection between the physical world and the perceived world.

Maybe I’ll do a summary posting of my thoughts on Jasper Johns or complex plasma later. I really need time to sort out all the things in my head.