Leo Lake on Tue, 9 Apr 2002 08:53:26 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> LL 26 The Singularity, Communication versus a futurethat does matter

Leszi wrote:

> This is really interesting.  My own thinking has run in similar lines, and
> maybe I can share some stuff that could be helpful.

Thanks for reacting in public and for sharing your enlightening thoughts
on this somewhat esoteric subject.

My theme was that the the whole idea of being a person is both a construct
of our brains and a fundament of a great part of our thinking and

Note: a construct and a fundament.

I think this is very important because it gives us a basis for ethics and
politics (by emphasizing 'being a person' as a fundament), while, at the
same time, it limits the latter (by emphasizing the 'construct'-aspect).
'Personhood' is one of the very few concepts that can be safely used to
start thinking about being-human and hence about the future (including, of
course, the future of the internet): it is important, it is pervasive, and
it is understandable.

We communicate with eachother under the assumption that the other is a
person like you or me. Our brains have evolved to develop such a concept.
This notion is not a mere phantasy, but can plausibly be reduced to
in-born brain-growth mechanisms, as Lesie Brown made clear.

Communication between humans is based on this concept of person.  
Realizing that this is a construction of our brain makes it possible to
ponder alternative constructs. In other words, we are in a position to
transcend our person-to-person-communication-bound existence.

Focussing on methods for finding truths is one of those options (it is the
way of science) and the singularity theorists seem to claim that
computerized thinking brings us even closer to the truth than using our
language because the latter is too close coupled with inter-human

They have a point. But their future is human-less.

So, perhaps it is more challenging and more fruitful to consider
"post-person" communication, without abandoning personhood: to think
through, or conjure up, variations in personal identity constructs.

I am a sincere coward, so I will stop here.

> Maybe.  I spend a lot of time alone, though, and my persona doesn't go away.
> I can buy your two brains thing if one of them can be a pet, or imaginary.

Yes! I agree. Perhaps even a wall or mirror would do the trick, one 
brain may be imaginary :)

> Have you read McLuhan, _Understanding the Media_?  He lays out a pretty
> plausible way to understand what the computer/communications net is in
> relation to the human brain, and was remarkably prescient (in 1964) about
> what some of the effects would be.  Coined the term, 'global village,'
> predicted the Net, and that it would cause the 'collapse of time and
> space.' The nettime list owes A LOT to McLuhan.

I have to admit that I am not really familiar with his work. But perhaps 
I should read him more carefully. Thnx:)

E. lake@lake.nl
W. http://www.lake.nl

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