Tag: Theory

Wild Systems

The Biosphere Code Manifesto

As a result of a discussions that took place during the event The Biosphere Code in Stockholm on 4th October 2015, Stockholm University researcher Victor Galaz and colleagues outlined a manifesto for algorithms in the environment.

The precepts for an in-progress Biosphere Code Manifesto are a recommendation for using algorithms borne out of growing awareness that they so deeply permeate our technology “they consistently and subtly shape human behavior and our influence on the world’s landscapes, oceans, air, and ecosystems” as The Guardian wrote in an extensive article.

We are just starting to understand the effects that algorithms have on our lives. But their environmental impact may be even greater, demanding public scrutiny. Here the Biosphere Code Manifesto v1.0, with its seven principles.

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Anthropocene

The Anthropocene Explosion

Biologically, there is nothing remarkable in the fact that humans are agents of ecological change and environmental upset. All species transform their surroundings. The dizzying complexity of landscapes on Earth is not just a happy accident of geology and climate, but the result of billions of years of organisms grazing, excavating, defecating, and decomposing. Nor is it unusual that certain lucky species are able to outcompete and eventually entirely displace other species. The Great American Interchange, when North American fauna crossed the newly formed isthmus of Panama to conquer South America three million years ago1 is just one among countless examples of swift, large-scale extinctions resulting from competition and predation.

What is remarkable, however, is the stunning speed of human adaptation relative to other species, and that our adaptation is self-directed. From sonar and flight to disease immunity, humans can “evolve” exquisite new traits in a single generation. The Anthropocene represents a catastrophic mismatch between the pace of human technological evolution and the genetic evolution of nearly every other species on Earth. As with many other geological epochs, the Anthropocene has been heralded with a mass extinction, one which is generally accepted to be the sixth great one to occur on Earth.2

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Humane-Technology

Love Your Monsters

Why we must care for our technologies as we do our children.

By BRUNO LATOUR

In the summer of 1816, a young British woman by the name of Mary Godwin and her boyfriend Percy Shelley went to visit Lord Byron in Lake Geneva, Switzerland. They had planned to spend much of the summer outdoors, but the eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia the previous year had changed the climate of Europe. The weather was so bad that they spent most of their time indoors, discussing the latest popular writings on science and the supernatural.

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Wild Systems

Pyramid of Technology

How Technology Becomes Nature in Seven Steps.

From stone-axes to mobile phones, throughout history people have given birth to a wide range of technologies that extend our given physical and mental capabilities. Today, it is almost impossible to imagine a world without technology. Every human being on the planet employs technology of some sort, and every human has to cope with technological change at various points during his or her lifetime. Yet, despite our deep-rooted relationship with technology, and the fact that we are wholly surrounded by it, most of us are still relatively unaware of how new technologies are introduced, accepted or discarded within our society.

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Back to the Tribe

Douglas Coupland: A radical pessimist’s guide to the next 10 years

Douglas Coupland is a writer and artist based in Vancouver. For the canadian newspaper Globe and Mail, he wrote The ‘radical pessimist’s guide to the next 10 years’ a dystopian view on the near future. One of the the underlying ideas behind the guide could be translated as the observation that evolution continues, whether we like it or not. Our next nature might be as wild, unpredictable and out of control as ‘old nature’ once was. Read the original article here, or simply scroll down.

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Back to the Tribe

There is not enough Africa in Computers

Brian Eno – artist, composer, inventor, thinker – spoke to Kevin Kelly about the meaning of Africa for music and technology.

“Africa is everything that something like classical music isn’t. Classical—perhaps I should say “orchestral”—music is so digital, so cut up, rhythmically, pitchwise and in terms of the roles of the musicians. It’s all in little boxes. The reason you get child prodigies in chess, arithmetic, and classical composition is that they are all worlds of discontinuous, parceled-up possibilities. And the fact that orchestras play the same thing over and over bothers me. Classical music is music without Africa. It represents old-fashioned hierarchical structures, ranking, all the levels of control. Orchestral music represents everything I don’t want from the Renaissance: extremely slow feedback loops.

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The Playboy Interview

In 1961, the name of Marshall McLuhan was unknown to everyone but his English students at the University of Toronto — and a coterie of academic admirers who followed his abstruse articles in small-circulation quarterlies. But then came two remarkable books — The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962) and Understanding Media (1964) — and the graying professor from Canada’s western hinterlands soon found himself characterized by the San Francisco Chronicle as “the hottest academic property around.”

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