radical techs

Adam Greenfield‘s radical technologies

rad techs.png



loc 61

which rhythms precisely?… the rhythms of daily mobility and by extension the broader econ

so.. the wrong rhythms.. the not-us rhythms..


correlated geographical patterns of socialization and economic activity, and the rhythms of media consumption


this kind of slippage between an even that happens in the world and the event’s pre in the networked record is routine

and routinely.. not us


rhythm of city itself


that which had once been liminal becomes clear.. the gaze of the state intensifies but the state may find .. its subjects command many of the same capabilities and are gazing right back upon it

all of this moot.. if data not us.. no?

yes, we can now perceive the rhythms of the city thru the use of our tech.. but more pertinently, networked digital info tech has become the dominant mode thru which we experience the everyday.. simultaneously the conduit thru which our choices are delivered to us, the mirros by which we see ourselves reflected and the lens that lets others see us on a level previously unimagined

again.. what does any of this matter if it’s not us

let’s be clear: none of our instincts will guide us in our approach to the next normal. if we want to understand the radical techs all around us, and see just how they interact to produce the condition we recognize as everyday life, we’ll need a manual… that is the project of this book.



no train man.

and we’ll pay particular attention to he ways in which these allegedly disruptive techs leave existing modes of domination mostly intact, asking if they can ever truly be turned to liberatory ends..

god.. yes please..

a nother way


it even inhibits our ability to think meaningfully about the future, tending to reframe any convo about the reality we want to live in as a choice between varying shades of tech development

spinach or rock ness

the extent to which it orgs the everyday is one of the defining characteristics of our era, and for all the apparent power it offers us, our attempts to master it observably leave most of us feeling overwhelmed/exhausted. if we are to have any hope of retaining our agency and exerting some measure of control over the circumstances of our being in the years to come, we will *need to know a lot more about where these radical techs came from, how they accomplish their work in the world and why they appear to us in the way they do..

*or perhaps.. just try a nother way to live..

there’s no way you can train everyone on this man made ness (ie: what language will you use..?) .. rather than teach/whatever it (graeber model law).. let’s try to listening deeper (holmgren indigenous law).. trusting people (idio jargon et al)


ch 1 – smartphone – the networking of self


once each of the unremarkable acts we undertake in the course of the day… has been reconceived as a digital transaction, it tends to dematerialize


.. the entire interaction tends to disappear from sight and consequently from thought

didn’t it do that anyway..? disappear via habit..

replacing the.. phone.. boombox.. radio.. watch.. calendars..


..ways we gain entry to restricted spaces.. (tickets, keys..)

.. ways we conveyed id… address/direction.. money..


what need is there for any of these metropolitan rituals now

was there a need before..? were they conducive to eudaimoniative surplus..?

much of what he’s describing that the smartphone is replacing.. sound just as robotic/unthinking  (ie: watch tv elections/games.. shopping.. ).. [and from previous – talking in same language]


this is our life now: strongly shaped by the detailed design of the smartphone handset

we’ve been manufacturing consent and voluntarily compliancing for years.. no? – perhaps it’s not more obvious.. perhaps now we’ll wake up to doing something about it (aka: same fractal/problem.. just more visible/blatant – the less visible ness making it more visible)


there is one final quality of the smartphone that is highly significant to its ability to mediate everyday experience: it is incomplete at time of purchase… activate by provider.. choose which corp ecosystem to participate in.. et al…


but behind every handset is another story: that of the labor arrangements, supply chains and flows of capital that we implicate ourselves in from the moment we purchase one… shenzhen et al..


require raw materials that have been wrested from the earth by ruthlessly extractive industries


thought these facts might give us pause in just about any other context, we don’t appear to be too troubled by them when it comes to the smartphone. the smartphone isn’t like any other product, and in fact ranks among the most rapidly adopted techs in human history. and so we suppress whatever qualms we may have about the conditions in the mines/factories/environment.. or the authoritarian govts we ultimately support thru our act of purchase..


on phone..how the constant stream of notifications serves up slices time into jittery, schizoid intervals, and may well be eroding our ability to *focus our attention in the time between them

*true.. but could also free us.. from mandated focus.. ie: in school.. on language/supposed to’s..

camera has turned us all into citizen photojournalists.. significantly altering social dynamics surrounding police violence… maps.. locate ourselves


two dollars’ worth of gps circuitry utterly transforms our relationship to place and possibility

so let’s use that for 2 convos ness.. . facil ing everyday curiosities .. finding our people

furnish w a great deal of insight into the networked condition

zoom dance ness


we become reliant on access to the network to accomplish ordinary goals… the performance of everyday life as mediated by the smartphone depends on a vast and elaborate infrastructure that is ordinarily invisible to us

an extraordinarily heterogeneous and unstable meshwork, in which cellular base stations, undersea cables, and microwave relays are all invoked in what seems like the simplest and most straightforward tasks we perform with the device. . the handset is primarily a tangible way of engaging something much subtler and harder to discern, on which we have suddenly become reliant and over which we have virtually no meaningful control..


we tend to assume that our maps are objective accounts of the environment, diagrams that simply describe what is there to be found. in truth, they’re nothing of the sort; our sense of the world is subtly conditioned by info that is presented to us for interested reasons, and yet does not disclose that interest

ie: according to google, 4 in 5 consumers use map app to make local searches, 1/2  wind up visiting a store w/in 24 hrs.. and 1 in 5 searches results in a ‘conversion’ or sale.

imagining life beyond consumerism.. ie: use similar stats (or better stats.. or no stats) .. to talk about eudaimoniative surplus.. finding our people to do our thing.. everyday..

there are two aspects of this to take note of:

1\ the seamless, all-but-unremarked-upon splicing of revenue-generating processes into ordinary behavior.. and


2\ the fact that by tailoring its depiction of the environment to heir behavior the smartphone present each individual user w a diff map.

both of these are insidious in their own way, but it is the latter that subtly erodes and experience of the world in common.. we can no longer even pretend that what we see on the screen is a shared, consistent rep of the same, relatively stable underlying reality. a map that interpellates us in this way ensures, in a strikingly literal sense, that we can only ever occupy and move thru our own separate lifeworlds.

or not.. this same thinking.. could be what frees us.. from the status quo.. one size fits all.. wilde not us law..

true that we are on the course you suggest.. but am thinking.. not because of tech capabilities.. but rather.. your #1.. if we can let go enough.. disengage from made up money (any measuring of transactions).. #2 changes completely.. what i see as the ni we crave..

not only way smartphone sunders us from one another… in world we’ve made it.. those who enjoy access to networked series are more capable that those w/o.. someone who is able to navigate he city in the way the smartphone allows them to will, by and large, *enjoy more opps of every sort .. more power to determine terms of engagement.. and not by a little way, but a great deal.

*wow.. huge assumption there.. all i see is opps that deal with money/consumerism/credentialing..


we are straightforwardly trading our privacy for convenience

begs.. gershenfeld sel.. ps in the open


the bargain now sets the conditions of the normal, the ordinary and the expected.. both we ourselves and the cultures we live in will be coming to terms w what this means for decades to come..

unless we try something different.. ie: 2 convos


equipped with these devices, we’re both here and somewhere else at the same time, joined to everything at once yet never fully anywhere at all..

well.. that’s what we’re thinking now.. what if that’s more suited for our nature.. blurring space? and what if that’s what gets us fully alive.. wherever..

now we make networks, and they shape us every bit as much as any building ever did/could (churchill’s – we shape our buildings and our buildings shape us)

unless we try.. one ginormous/small tweak.. ie: change our input (self-talk as data)

on not being able to escape.. low-grade persistent sense of world and its suffering… to… what keeps us twitching at our screens, more even than the satisfaction of any practical need, is the continuously renewed opportunity to bathe in the primal rush of communion

so.. let’s just focus on that.. maté basic needs.. perhaps then we’ll stop perpetuating the suffering ..


in the end maybe the network we’ve wrought is only a chunky way of literalizing the connections that were always already there and waiting to be discovered..

yes.. that

let’s hasten/facilitate that..


ch 2 – the internet of things – a planetary mesh of perception & response


i prefer to see it for what it is: the colonization of everyday life by info processing… the iot isn’t a single tech.. but an unruly assemblage of protocols, sensing regimes, capabilities and desires, all swept under a single rubric for the sake of disciplinary convenience..


whatever the context in which these connected devices appear, what unites them is the inchoate terror that a single event anywhere might be allowed to transpire unobserved, uncaptured and unleveraged.

scales of activity: quantified self.. smart home.. smart city..


for now, this takes the form of a carrot (imposing choices)


if these practices of the quantified self ever do spur any one individual to genuine introspection, impelling them to reckon w the true nature of their self as it manifests in this body and this life.. then so much the better.. but the delphic injunction to ‘know thyself’ hardly seems honored in the decision to strap on a fitbit.. and whatever gain.. they pale in comparison w everything that is sure to be lost…. when the posture of the body and all the details of its situation in space and time are used collectively to construct models of nominal behavior we’re all thereafter forced to comply with

the clear aim of such ‘smart home’ efforts is to as nearly as possible short-circuit the process of reflection.. that stands between one’s recognition of a desire and its fulfillment via the market


whose entire value proposition is that you press it when you’re running out of detergent

again, the aim of devices like the dash button is to permit the user to accomplish commercial transactions as nearly as possible w/o the intercession of conscious thought


i don’t this it’s unair to say that at this moment in history, iof propositions are generally imagined, designed and architected by a group of people who have completely assimilated services like uber, airbnb and venmo into their daily lives, at a time when pew research center figures suggest that avery significant percentage of the population has never used )or even heard of) them. all of their valuations get folded in the things they design. these propositions are normal to them, and so become normalized for everyone else as well.

but the main problem with the virtual assistant is that it fosters an approach to the world that is literally thoughtless, leaving users disinclined to sit out any particularly prolonged frustration of  desire, and ever less critical about the processes that result in the satisfaction of their needs/wants


the sense of boundary transgression is intense


understand too that the overwhelming majority of such vulnerabilities will never be patched. as internet security legend bruce schneier argues, the parties that understand the vulnerabilities – device manufacturers – aren’t incentivized to fix them, while the end user doesn’t have the expertise to do so..


the security crisis of the internet of things was effectively inevitable, implicit in the ideology of ease and fundamental proposition of bns of cheap devices installed and managed by ordinary people


and all of this invoked every time you press the button, just to ensure you never run out of laundry detergent..


the ambition beneath the instrumentation of the body is a nominal self-mastery, and that of the home convenience, the ambition at the heart of the smart city is nothing other than control..

just as our bodies and homes have become comprehensively instrumented, so too has the terrain thru which we move..


we see the strongest and most explicit articulation of this ideology in the defn of a smart city offered by the multinational tech vendor siemens……

there is an implicit theory a clear philosophical position, even a world view, behind all of this effort. we might think of it as an unreconstructed logical positivism, which among other things holds that

the world is in principle perfectly knowable, its contents enumerable and their relations capable of being meaningfully encoded in the state of a tech system, w/o bias or distortion


every single aspect of this argument is problematic…perhaps most obviously, ..

the claim that anything at all is perfectly knowable is perverse.. t

can be sense accurately, raised to the network w/o loss, and submitted to he consideration of some system capable of interpreting it appropriately

been doing this for some time now (sans digital tech) .. science of people ness

laura kurgan has argued, ‘we measure the things that are easy to measure.. the things that are cheap to measure’


when discussing their own smart city venture, senior ibm execs argue, in so many words, that ‘the data is the data’: transcendent, limpid and uncompromised by human frailty. this mystification of ‘the data’ goes unremarked upon and unchallenged in the overwhelming majority of discussions of the smart city. but surely these intelligent and experience professionals know better. diff values for air pollution in a given location can be produced by varying the height at which..

deeper than that.. if humans not themselves.. most data we’re collecting is irrelevant..


the fact is that the data is never ‘just’ the data, and to assert otherwise is to lend inherently political and interested decision regarding the act of data collection an unwonted gloss of neutrality and dispassionate scientific objectivity.

indeed.. ie: science of people

as individuals and communities, the people who live in them hold to multiple competing and equally valid conceptions of the good, and it’s impossible to fully satisfy all of them at the same time

well.. when we’re not us.. but if we’re us.. (ie: if we go deep enough) we can.. and with means we have today to facil this for 7 bn people.. we can’t not..


we should know by now that there are and can be no *pareto-optimal solutions for any system as complex as a city

*relating to or denoting a distribution of wealth such that any redistribution or other change beneficial to one individual is detrimental to one or more others.

i don’t know.. i think there’s a way.. a nother way.. that we’re missing.. that can be for all of us..

i don’t think it’s been possible before.. but i believe we have the means now.. that’s why i’m all in .. we have to give it a go

that such a solution, if it even existed, could be arrived at algorithmically is also subject to the starkest doubt…

it matters what the data input is (so it matters that 7 bn are free/eudaimonious first).. then it matters how we agenda ize the algo..

assume for the sake of argument, that there did exist a master formula capable of resolving all resource allocation  conflicts and balancing the needs of all of a city’s competing constituencies.

i’m thinking.. this is wrong agenda for algo..  1\ resource allocation completely diff if people are awake/free  2\ competition/constituencies become irrelevant..

i’m thinking.. agenda is to facil curiosities.. by listening to 7 bn of them everyday.. w/o agenda/judgment.. and using that data to help people find their people locally everyday.. shortening gap between intention and action.. everyday..


these are tools developers already know how to use, an din the right context and at the appropriate scale (air rights.. land reserved for parking et al), they are surely helpful.. but *the wholesale surrender of municipal management to an algorithmic toolset seems to repose an undue amount of trust in the party responsible for authoring the algorithm

whoa.. i’d suggest that *the wholesale surrender of human management to assumed activities (commercial real estate, parking, driving cars, speaking a certain language, et al) .. seems to repose an undue amount of trust in this broken system we’re now blindly swimming in..


for me.. many years of thinking/working in this domain have left behind a clear and vivid picture of that world.. it seems strange to assert.. dominant emotional tenor, but the iot does.. that tenor is sadness.. the entire pretext on which it depends is a milieu of continuously shattered attention, of overloaded awareness, and of gaps between people just barely *annealed w sensors, apis and scripts..

*biochemo – recombine dna in the double stranded form following separation by heat … heat (metal or glass) and allow to cool slowly, in order to remove internal stresses and toughen it

so let’s go a nother way – biochem et al – closing those gaps.. by all of us becoming indigenous – rather than hooked/locked up (sensors/apis/scripts)

implicit in its propositions… bullshit jobs.. stifled by exhaustion and the incapacity or willingness to be emotionally present..

the iot in all its manifestations so often seems like an attempt to paper over the voids between us, or slap a quick technical patch on all the places where capital has left us unable to care for one another.. t


most sobering .. who it is that winds up in possession of the data .. and what they choose to do with it..

sounds like today’s:


How Barcelona is giving citizens #data sovereignty govinsider.asia/inclusive-gov/… (with the help of @francesca_bria)

sovereignty irrelevant if wrong data.. begs mech to detox us (wake/free us up) first ie: self-talk as data.. as the day [aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…]


(on hollerith cards and regimes and corp acquisition and human clumsiness)

begs we go gershenfeld sel for 100% of us.. no more inspectors of inspectors.. renders all you list as irrelevant


what this precedent reminds us is that data can be acted upon to shape the world, leveraged to produce such an outcome. but also:

that in some way this outcome was always already nestled w/in the data, from the moment of its collections. t

exactly.. because we were assuming data was for measuring things.. was for 10 day care ness.. we have to disengage from that.. and then.. outcomes.. not nestled in

this is the grim reality underneath the pat foucaldian formulation *‘power/knowledge’ and it stands in sharp rebuke to an age in which we not merely submit to the continuous siphoning of info from out cities, spaces, and bodies, but do so willingly and even enthusiastically.

*brings me back to the decentralization/equity (everyone getting a go everyday) that comes from things like – idio jargon..  language/proper-verbiage.. a power trip

begs we not worry about ‘6 lines written’ being dangerous.. and worry more about 7bn people so busy doing something else.. the thing they can’t not do.. that no one has time to find/hang/terrorize/kill/measure/et-al


it’s imperative for us to ask just what *vision of universality is being evoked in it – what vision, and whose..

*vision of 100% of us.. has to be.. or it won’t work


ch 3 – augmented reality – an interactive overlay on the world


here is one of the core premises of ar: that everything the network knows might be brought to bear on someone or thing standing in front of us, directly there, directly accessible, .. a direct extension of our own senses… ie: used to address.. sopagnosia.. faceblindness..


in the abstract, the ambition of using ar in this role is lovely – precisely the kind of sensitive technical deployment i believe in, where tech is used to lower the barriers to socialization, and reduce or eliminate the social discomfort that might otherwise prevent us from knowing one another better…

too many articulate parts are involved in this interaction, too many dependencies – not least of which is the coop of fb, google or some other enterprise w a reasonably robust database of facial biometrics..

so let’s try a nother way.. to know each other better


ar effectively endows its users w the ability to see thru time


1/ tech infrastructure does not yet exist.. the hard fact is that for a variety of reasons having to do with national electromagnetic-spectrum allocation policy, a lack of perceived business incentives for universal broadband connectivity, and other seemingly intractable circumstances, these issues are nowhere near to being ironed out..

2\ not accurate info.. but we’ll believe it more


3\ comfort/effect of wearing/not-wearing device – vertigo – of taking it off – disorientation


mann, in his own words ‘developed a dependence on the apparatus.. has found it difficult to function normally on the few occasions he has been forcibly prevented from accessing his array of devices… (has worn  since mid 1980s



not entirely ridiculous thing to think.. at this point the network of processes that constitutes steve mann’s brain – that in some real albeit reductive sense constitutes steve mann – lives partially outside his skull..

emodiment.. augment brain w trails.. et al

objection could be made that this is always already the case.. for all of us: that some nontrivial art of everything that make us what we are lives outside of us, in the world, and that mann’s situation is only different in that much of his outboard being subsists in a single, self-designed apparatus..

more worrisome.. it’s precisely because mann develop and continues to manage his own mediation equipment that he can balance his dependency on it with the relative freedom of action enjoyed by someone who for the most part is able to determine the parameters under which that equipment operates.

if steve mann has become  radically hybridized consciousness, in other words, at least he has a legit claim to *ownership and control over all the places where that consciousness is instantiated..

true.. but *thinking ownership is not key.. deciding what data is .. is key.. ie: ability/freedom to let self-talk be data.. via whatever you choose to convo ..however you choose communicate.. as the day [aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake…].. gershenfeld sel huge – or won’t work – has to be all of us


what does our immersion in the interface do to our sense of being in public, that state of being copresent with and available to other that teaches us how to live together, and ultimately furnishes the metropolis with its highest and best justification

but mann seems to say he sees it making him more present..

it only beings to make sense when we grant ar its proper place in the technological imaginary

indeed – and it matters – if it’s all of us.. and it matters – if all of us are free.. partial is killing us here

what discourse around ar shares w other contemp narratives.. is a frustration  w limits of the flesh.. and a frank interest in transcending them thru tech means

or perhaps.. limits of intoxicated flesh.. flesh sans turtle shell.. and how to get us back to indigenous us


first steps toward the fulfillment of a deeper promise: that of becoming-cyborg

becoming cyborg..? or begin being..? eudaimoniative surplus et al

anyone who cares about what we might call the full bandwidth of human communication – very much including transmission and reception of those cues vital to mutual understanding,, but only present beneath the threshold of conscious perception – ought to be concerned about the risk posed to interpersonal exchanges by augmentive mediation.. wearable devices clearly have the potential to exacerbate existing problems of self-absorption and mutual inconsideration

true.. but too.. what about what we’ve created to date..? we are on an extreme scale of not listening.. to self/others..

and too.. can’t just be the tech.. we have to do this first.. free people.. so we’re dealing with awake/alive/authentic ness..


what happens to the un augmented human under such circumstances

won’t work unless it’s all of us.. and vision is that mech would drive to local/unaugmented connections..

the deepest critique of ar is sociologist anne galloway’s.. and it si harder to answer.. galloway suggests that the discourse of computational augmentation, whether consciously or other wise, ‘positions everyday places and social interaction as somewhat lacking or in need of improvement’

sounds like the mindset we’ve already perfected via ie: school.. science of people et al..

and again.. why this is a means to get us back to us.. realizing we’re already enough.. rather than something beyond us..


maybe the emergence of these systems will spur us to some thought as to what it is we’re trying so hard to augment or escape from

roots of healingmaté basic needs..

philip k dick once defined reality as ‘that which, when you stop believing in ti, doesn’t go away..

deep enough ness


the question then becomes *what kind(s) of shared space will be produced by people endowed with this particular set of capabilities, individually and collectively – and **how we might help the unmediated contend with environment unlike any they have known before, enacted for the convenience of the ambiguously *transhuman, under circumstances whose depths have yet to be plumbed..

*what and **how.. perhaps like this: a nother way book

***and again.. i’d say.. human.. just back to being fully human and alive..


ch 4 – digital fabrication – towards a new political economy of matter


john von neumann – theory of self-reproducing automata – mid 1940s.. publishes 1966, outlined principles of a ‘universal constructor’ able to pluck resources from its environment and, given enough time, arrange them into anything desire.. including.. crucially.. exact copies of itself..


boyer’s vision of a self-replicating future implied not merely an enormous increase in planetary production capacity, but its radical democratization as well


for many of its most passionate enthusiasts, though, digital fabrication was never about a small-scale, narrowly defined commercial success. it was about upending every assumption the culture holds about how things are made, and who gets to make them.


the general adoption of digital fabrication is incompatible w much of what we understand and experience as the capitalist everyday..

at issue is nothing less than the final defeat of material scarcity.

the psychology of everyday life, the structure of the economy, and the form of our cities all stand to be utterly transformed in a post-scarcity world..

the ability for any individual to make more or less whatever they want, whenever they wanted it, ..

gershenfeld sel for 100% of us


too.. we’ll see.. personal experience w fabrication has important consequences for how we understand ourselves and our own ability to make meaningful change in the world..

more than we know.. because not so much about making stuff.. rather making art

significant areas of the economy might stand to be reclaimed for the commons

maybe all the areas


what need for any notion of property under such circumstances

if there is a need.. we’re doing it wrong


put simply, an established practice of distributed fabrication is freedom from want

or perhaps freedom from need.. to pursue whatever we want..

if ‘human nature’ is a constructed thing, an inseparable from the material circumstances thru which it’s expressed, then in principle radical changes in those material circumstances ought to result in *new natures: fresh chapters in the species-being, **entirely novel expressions of what it means to be human

*new and old – eagle and condor.. getting us back/present to human nature

**idio jargon et al – beyond words


what rifkin, mason, srnicek and williams all celebrate and invest much hope in is an as yet notional practice of manufacturing that is simultaneously: distributed (locally available everywhere); on demand (satisfy needs as they emerge); short-run (produce only as many iterations as needed); materially agnostic (make everyday needs from wide variety of base materials); circular (recover/reuse waste)

jeremy, paul


above all.. ultra low cost.. costs involved cannot simply be wished away

could be modeled away..


despite their operators’ best intentions, many of these spaces still intimidate the people who would most benefit from using them, their very language, branding and framing confronting more than a few would-be users with an insuperable psychic challenge ramp.. any vision.. would require  such sites to be not merely free and formally open but actively welcoming, and that has yet to be achieved just about anywhere.. t

tried to share on twitter.. but wouldn’t let me – so just typing quotes.. rather than sharing from ipad

begs idio jargon/(no train) as invitation


the obvious answer to these challenges.. is to gather many diff kinds of fabrication capability in one place, together w people trained in their use. this is the fablab approach, advocated by mit digital fabrication pioneer neil gershenfeld..


gershenfeld has always been clear on the model’s constraints, positioning fablabs as a ‘means of invention’ rather than a way of accomplishing scaled production, but ti works beautifully as a proof of concept


the picture that is beginning to emerge.. is that the benisons of digital production can be enjoyed most widely/equitably when fabrication engines of a few diff kinds are deployed in neighborhood-scale shared workshops


part of what makes digital fabrication truly radical is that it’s iterative… thinking-by-making.. which can mean great waste


because the law – precisely as it is intended to – keeps fabrication prices artificially high, and their supply constrained (on explaining why ie: makerbot went closed ecosystem)… preventing from being enclosed, packaged and sold as a market commodity is vital..


for every activist designer motivated by a strong commonist ethos, there’s a ceo trying to trademark even the words you use to describe what you’re doing – and it’s moreover likely to be the case that the ceo can afford better lawyers, or at least more of them..

should any such practic actually start to erode the logic of profit in the core markets of the developed world, it would be certain to come under concerted attack, technically as well as legally. until specifications for all kinds of useful things are hosted in a decentralized way, so that no one party is meaningfully able to assert control over them, we have to regard access to them as contingent and inherently revocable..

begs we leap.. for (blank)’s sake


given all this – inadequate distribution of facilities..doubtful sustainability of material-energetic flows..uncertain intellectual property regime – it feels a trifle premature to be lodging any hope in the notion that digital fab might transform the political econ of everyday life

unless.. we leap

the question then becomes at what point does the economic calculus shift (from cheaper in mass et al), and the logic of local fab start to make sense?

things you list (oil price soar, higher labor costs..) .. yes.. but perhaps more effective.. let’s do this firstfree art-ists.. for one.. then making only what is needed.. which is way less than what we have now.. because eduaimoniative surplus ness.. and another.. competition/commodity ness fades as we include everyone – even the inspectors of inspectors of ceos et al..


if digital fab cannot be justified on the grounds of economics, it must be justified on the grounds of ideology. and in the main, that means two things: either the ideology of forbidden things (from clitoris to guns), or that of fabrication itself..


on need to articulate need for fabrication.. ie: barcelona.. turning food bank into fablab.. made no sense to people..


until the residents of meridiana perceive a direct connection between the things that a 3d printer or a cnc milling machine can do and the wants they experience in their own lives, a fablab or anything like it is the worst sort of imposition. and this is true in every similarly situated community on earth..

schooling the world ness.. begs we go deep enough for 7 bn to resonate with today.. via  a mech simple enough for 7 bn to access/use/grok today.. in a system open enough to model/fractal 7 bn doing it today..

all this fablab stuff can come as needed.. it’s showing we know it is possible.. but it’s not the first step to a nother way


in his book the craftsman, richard sennett describes the flood of new material objects into the household of renaissance europe… ie: 1600 items


we already live in a post-scarcity world, even before any particularly elaborate digital fab capacity is brought on line.. and yet we still seem to suffer from a pervasive sense of want and lack..

exactly.. because we have yet gone deep enough.. and/because people aren’t free enough to listen.. to what their hearts crave..


wealth is not quite the same as having many things, not even the same as having something whenever you want ti. and conversely, poverty is not so much the lack of things as it is dependence on others to furnish the basic needs of life. the essence of what is offered to us by dgit fab isn’t so much the ability to satisfy a material necessity, but that you be able to do so yourself. that **you can perceive a need – .. and devise a response to it, locally, experimentally, iteratively..

*poverty – the absense of all shalom

yeah.. so let’s facil **that.. ie: via 2 convos.. as the day.. trust ourselves that that would be enough.. (why we haven’t yet gotten to global equity)


those interested in seeing digi fab used as part of a project of radical transformation will need to invest a great deal of effort into ensuring that the way in which one would go about using it is actively invitation, not merely demystified and formally accessible..

as in.. letting people do the thing they can’t not do.. inviting people to exist.. et al..


in this world we need to have things, or a certain kind of things, or at the very least a certain number of them, to sustain a robust sense of ourselves – more, we need to be seen to have them

having and being.. our dire need for detox..

that debt that hangs over so many of us constitutes a stunningly effective disciplinary mech..t

debt.. earning a living.. et al


to whatever degree our addiction to things contributes to that burden..t

begs we try rat park


we remain at the proof-of-concept stage: we now know that in principle, these things can be done. but all the social and intellectual heavy lifting begins now..

graeber model law.. our means/mech for 7 bn to leap


ch 5 – cryptocurrency – the computational guarantee of value


all written accounts of the technological development we know as ‘the blockchain’ begin and end the same way…. bitcoin.. solve problems of trust  that foxed previous digital money..  blockchain’s potential to transform the way we exchange value…. the exciting possibilities beyond currency: the world of smart contracts, distributed applications, autonomous orgs and post-human economies.. all mediated by ‘trustless’ cryptographic techniques



all convos begin/end in perplexity.. this is the first info tech i’ve encountered in my adult life that’s just fundamentally difficult for otherwise intelligent and highly capable people to comprehend..

usually proceed (new ideas) by analogy…. but where bitcoin/blockchain… are concerned, there aren’t really any handy metaphors we can bring to bear

seems there are.. seems we’re missing the potential of blockchain.. by not letting go of this measuring ness of transactions


at every step of way a new primitive seems to crop up one fundamental term or idea that won’t make sense until everything leading up to it has been worked out, but which absolutely must be defined before any of what’s already been set down on the page makes the slightest  bit of sense..

to me.. that’s a sure sign we’re on the wrong track..


what concerns me.. at present, only a very tin number of people truly grasp how bitcoin and its underlying techs work to create and mediate the transmission of value..

that is concerning.. and again.. to me.. a sure sign we’re on the wrong track..

at its core, bitcoin is a digital medium of exchange that has been designed to act like cash.. in all the ways we appreciate and none of the ways we don’t..

none are good for humanity.. so wtf


)on people being to afraid to embrace digital monies in 2008).. maybe a time of cratering confidence in existing institutions is precisely the correct moment at which to propose something fundamentally new..

bitcoin..? fundamentally new..?


if it’s foolish to repose one’s trust in the governance of a nation state, isn’t it more foolish yet to let a currency’s valorization ride on the whims of virtually unaccountable institutional actors like the imf? this certainly seems like something you’d want to avoid if you were going to redesigning money from scratch

more foolish still.. to redesign money..  when we have the means to disengage from it..


satoshi’s masterstroke: bypassed reliance on any centralized int/ledger.. replaced trust with cryptographic proof of validity, transactions authenticated.. value maintained.. by and emergent process of consensus among a globally distributed network of peers..

we’re missing it guys.. life is so not about measuring transactions/us


the complex, decentralized process by which a block of transaction histories is validated and added to the permanent record is called mining.. and it’s the single aspect of bitcoin’s mechanics that most seems to confound efforts at comprehension..


all would-be miners are required to solve a problem of known complexity before submitting a block for confirmation, essentially by running random numbers thru an equation until a specified value is matched. this calc is called proof of work, it is based on the unique hash value associated with the transactions in each block and it’s deliberately designed to tax computational resources by consuming as much electricity as possible

how crazy are we..?


if it’s so costly to participate in the process of validation, why would anyone rational ever do so? this is where the considerable elegance of satoshi’s design really manifests itself: to incentivize undertaking the burdensome proof of work calcs the first miner to submit a valid proof of work for a given block is rewarded w freshly minted coin. at time of writing this bounty was set at 25 btc, worth just north of 11 000

oh.. totally worth it then. yay humanity..

this is ridiculous.. even w/o considering how irrelevant validation is in the first place


*every participant in the network is therefore strongly incentivized to enforce the purity of the one true ledger.. and there is its: *the emergence of distributed consensus, and with it a functioning, usable cryptocurrency.


*let’s imagine rather.. 7 bn incentivized to live eudaimoniative surplus.. everyday.

**with the emergence of ginorm/small (infinitesimal) consensus.. not public – 24/7 emergence


by 2015, the british govt was citing estimates that he bitcoin network consumed on a daily basis an amount of energy ‘in excess of 1gw and comparable to the electricity use of ireland.’


confronted w empirical evidence of the network’s concentration or the declining interest in accepting bitcoin at retail, they’ve started to bruit about instead the notion that electronic cash was never really the point at all, that the genuinely disruptive innovation is blockchain applications. (depending on what exactly they mean by ‘blockchain’ they may even be right)

depending on what they mean to be the point.. matters much more.. any measuring of transactions compromises us.. wastes our energy..



something valuable in bitcoin. it turns out that the coord of parties unknown to one another , *who don’t necessarily trust one another – who would be, in fact, very well advised to not trust one another in the slightest – is a standing hard problem,..t

something that has long bedeviled a great many disciplines and communities of interest..

*indeed.. it’s why we haven’t yet gotten to equity (everyone getting a go everyday..) but has nothing to do with making people trustworthy.. rather..we have to let go.. and assume good.. gershenfeld sel can help us with that.. distract us from our obsession with ‘advising ourselves to not trust one another’


bitcoin contribution – abstracted from the question of value exchange, the blockchain offers us a tool of surprisingly broad utility that we didn’t know we needed, and didn’t even have the language to properly describe, until it was dropped in our laps..

if the blockchain can be extracted from bitcoin, perhaps the idea of a networked, self-sustaining framework *for the development of consensus can be further elaborated, beyond the constraints imposed by the blockchain itself.. freed in particular of the impossible thermodynamics of p of work the provocative notion of a robust , programmable and widely available trust infrastructure becomes credible.. in principle this infra is something we might use to **org ourselves in entirely new ways, opening up approaches to collab that none of our previous institutions could have supported..

*rather for the facilitation of curiosity.. why do we need consensus.. when we have the means to **bring like-curiosities together.. locally.. daily..


what any of this might mean for the political econ of everyday life anywhere on earth is as yet far from clear..

well – far from mic’d

as w other techs.. need to sift the options presented… and make judgment as to how and under what circumstances we will allow them to structure our reality.. but the post satoshi explosion of interest in *techs of distributed consensus has catalyzed an intellectual ferment that is still working itself out, **bringing startling new ideas about org, corrd and coop to the table.

*techs of distributed consensus.. that could be terminology for – disengaging from public consensus.. but i’m guessing the power that be still are expecting some waggle dance..

**well yeah.. but we aren’t listening.. to all the voices.. and we’re missing it..


ch 6 – blockchain beyond bitcoin – a trellis for posthuman institutions


you could almost hear the gear grind as the conventional wisdom pivoted; the new line was that the enabling tech of the blockchain itself was more interesting..  far beyond the financial sphere

yet.. we haven’t left that sphere.. still measuring transactions with all forms of blockchain

proof of concept.. crypto verification of id, universal ledger w transparency/persistence, and a procedure for consolidation of agreement.. all founded on a diffuse decentralized serverless architecture ….. liberated from the specific context of bitcoin .. *this is a powerfully general vocab.. and it **can be used to build all kinds of useful things

*yeah.. some of it (ie: sans verification.. consolidation of agreement) .. but appears vocab is all it is.. perhaps because locked up in verification and consolidation of agreement..

**only if we’re brave enough to let go (of ie: verification/consensus/et-al)


it would live on network,, placing it *beyond reach of meddlesome bureaucrats..

*that’s part of the problem.. this has to be for all of us.. not beyond reach of some of us..

it would *replace paper agreement w **contracts writing directly in code that afforded no ambiguity of interpretation and executed with literally ***inhuman precision

*replacing?.. much like charter schools had to replace the 500 policies in a district.. not much of a chance for change there..

**contracts.. not smart.. not us

***inhuman precision.. no need


buterin as an unknown.. and a thiel fellow.. used it to improve upone satoshi’s design… to ethereum

buterin, thiel ..ethereum


this ability to trigger events should certain contingencies arise is something the bitcoin blockchain could not do.. buterin had designed it into his creation from the start..

this is the core of an idea that had been floating around cryptological fintech and libertarian circles for more than two decades, but had lacked any practical enabling infra until buterin came along w his programmable blockchain: the so0called ‘smart contract’

smart contract


(on contracts legally implicit to 3rd party – the law – that enforces agreement.. then on inability via ie: translation to be exact)


as implemented on ethereum, the smart contact addresses all of these formal limitations..


in fact, because the overhead imposed is so minimal, it becomes feasible to deploy contracts in contexts where they wouldn’t have been remotely economic before.

oy. 10 day cares. killing us.

if the atomic unit of the bitcoin blockchain is transactions, then, that of the ethereum blockchain is contracts. this ‘simplest form of decentralized automation’ is key to everything else ethereum does or proposes to do. armed w this mechanism, it is capable of *binding previously unaffiliated peers in a meshwork of obligation, whether those peers are human, organizational or machinic

*oh my. obligation. killing us.


we need to prep ourselves for the eventuality that its advent will only accelerate existing tendencies and consolidate existing distributions of power in the world (if blockchain used to bring together all data files)

only true if we keep focusing on (wrong) data

wouldn’t be true if our focus was ie: self-talk as data


what is central to blockchain’s appeal is that it appears to enable modes of largescale collective action that bear *very little resemblance to govt as we’ve known it. much of the current activity along these lines – and indeed most remainging hope for liberatory implementations of the blockchain – is dedicated to something called the distributed autonomous organization or dao

*unfortunately.. enough to still poison/compromise us

many of bc apps we’ve discussed so far are not actually all that novel. but the dao is that genuine rarity: a new thing upon the earth, something that really could not have been conceptualized before the techniques underlying it were in place


ethereum’s official doc describes it as a way to ‘automate direct interaction between peers or facilitate coordinated group action across a network’

great.. let’s do it this way: 2 convos.. as the day [aka: not part\ial.. for (blank)’s sake. . won’t work if it’s partial]

but that doesn’t really shed much light. amidst all the motivational ambiguity, definitional idiosyncrasy and sheer unnecessary complexity so endemic to this space, then, our task its to understand what a dao is, how it works and what it might allow us to do..

it might allow us to be freed to idio jargon.. (no train et al) ..for one..  and then that idio jargon ness.. freeing us from privacy and id .. et al.. for two..


by their very nature, though, second gen programmable blockchains like the one at the heart of ethereum are ideally suited to handling most all the *tasks imposed by management of a formal group, such as low level logistical housekeeping details that eat up so much of any coordinator’s time and energy. what’s more, any group harnessed via a shared ledger – even a relatively informal, ad hoc gathering – might find itself equipped w the ability to *collect and dispose of whatever assets were tabulated by that blockchain. bound only by code, such a group could receive investment, marshal property, disburse benefits, and in general act in the world w as much potency as any other kind of assembly

what if all those *things.. are irrelevant to human nature.. imagine time and energy saved by realizing – and then disengaging from all that


then.. each one of these *decisions would have to be translated into terms **legible to the ethereum blockchain..

what if we have *decision making and **legibility.. all wrong

and.. we’re living in a time we can do something about/beyond it..


by decentralized org buterin meant something quite specific, beyond any way in which the term might ordinarily be understood: *a group of human beings whose agreements are specified in code and coordinated via blockchain

imagine this slight change: *all human beings whose curiosities are specified in code and coordinated via blockchain.. hlb that io dance..

*decision-making authority is diffused across such an org via the use of multiple-signature technology, **which requires a predetermined number of parties to sign off on a course of action before it can be enacted.. buterin now proposed to use this as a model for a still more ***flexible kind of transhuman assembly, in which one or more of the parties involved in steering a group might themselves consist of code

imagine *decision-making authority diffused across such a gathering via the gathering and/or authority ness irrelevant

imagine **no req’s

imagine ***ultimate flexibility for humanity – via augmentation/facilitation/listening of daily curiosities

it could serve, rather, as a the coord mech of any group of people bound by common purpose, whatever that purpose might be, however widely scattered they might find themselves.. t

yeah.. that..

back to tweeting off ipad.. i guess wifi was off


but neither buterin nor the team around him set out with the intention of designing a gen org form suitable to the complexities of 21st cent culture. the question they proceeded from was specific, forthright and entirely explicit: ‘how can revenue be generated w/in a purely decentralized environment’.. so let’s take them at their word and start by considering how the dao might work in its *original intended role, as an investment vehicle.. how would this work

rather *compromised role.. original (as you have suggested) is that of connecting people per interest.. let’s go to that original.. why hash out what’s clearly not working..(for humanity)..  clearly not getting us to equity.. (so now what you’re writing.. dao present would-be investors.. tokens.. voting rights … et al.. sounds like blah-blah)

why..? because we can’t seem to let go of the measuring ness..


if tokens sounds an awful lot like shares of stock, you’re not wrong. terrified of exposing the whole scheme to regulation, though, this plain equivalence is something the theorists involved have taken the greatest pains to deny)


token ness. . oy

in the dao, we se the same pattern we did in bitcoin’s provisions for privacy:

a tech brilliantly designed to be disruptive falters at its point of interface w everyday practice.. 

just like an ‘anonymous’ bitcoin user finding their privacy compromised the moment they try to turn their btc into dollars/pounds, the investors in a dao will have to reckon w the way power works in the world..

why we need to disengage from made up money and measuring et al .. shirky transaction law

we have to realize what’s irrelevant: money, privacy, ..


the lack of clarity on basic points of governance and regulatory compliance almost certainly dooms their attempt to use the dao as a revenue-generating investment vehicle. but curiously, it doesn’t necessarily undermine the forms’ utility for a diff cohort of users, motivated by an entirely separate set of values..


.. it gives organizers the ability to form associations rapidly, and equips them with clear, binding and incorruptible decision processes. it allow members to float proposals, raise points for discussion among their peers, and ensure that the =re is adequate time for deliberation before a question is called to a vote

this is so not our potential in the 21st cent..

we’ve got to let go of these irrelevants: binding/incorruptible/decision/discussion/vote ness..

rev of everyday life.. becoming antifragile.. et al.. begs we just live.. listen-to/follow our whimsy/heart/curiosity..

a mech – perhaps based on blockchain.. can facilitate that obvious/welcome chaos


in this oddball investment vehicle, some of the most dedicated community activists i’ve ever met glimpse the makings of an operating system for a planetary anarchism

so.. beyond investment.. beyond activism of *irrelevant problems..  imagine.. cure ios city

*irrelevant is we were truly living differently.. sans.. money/B/b/et-al

ie: a nother way book; short version graphic – 2 convos; shortshort bp; short/bit


(on.. dao req’s: president.. owner.. voting.. binding.. rules.. buying shares..)

doesn’t sound like that bite of explanation for buterin’s original mission..  rather.. compromise (voluntary compliance/pluralistic ignorance) laden ..to supposed to thinking

this req is imposed by the ethereum framework itself: a dao is woven of smart contracts, and like all such contracts running under ethereum, pays a sum of ether to the network node that executes it. this may well be refreshingly honest in the materialist sense, emphasizing that everything that takes place inside history has a cost, and that this cost must be borne by some party.. but it’s curiously at odds w our time-honored understanding that political participation should be accessible to all. . hard to imagine members of the brazilian landless workers’ movement or slum and shack dweller international finding much comfort in a democracy they need to *buy into in order to **have a voice.

not *buying into.. rather.. abandoning all the issues we spend our days protesting about today.. a leap would make all this irrelevant..

not **voiceless ness.. a leap would make all voices heard.. and.. they would be talking about what matters to them.. not spending their time/energy/words.. trying to resolve irrelevant (in a nother way world) issues/disputes.. et al


i think it’s worth asking if the dao’s capabilities can be lifted whole out of the matrix of their origins, and *rerouted to some entirely different destination.. perhaps, as buterin and others insist, this organizing tool can indeed give rise to exciting new forms of mutuality, in what is otherwise so often a world of atomized sovereign, armored individuals..

*absolutely.. let’s try this: chip ness

it comes down, yet again, to he central importance placed on relations of property and ownership in the theory woven around the dao

do if both are irrelevant/gone.. changes a lot toward human potential

this for ie is how buterin conceptualizes human sociation: ‘in general, a human org can be defined as combo of two things: a set of property, and a protocol for a set of individuals, which may/maynot be divided into certain classes w diff conditions for entering /leaving the set… including rules for under what circumstances the individuals may use certain parts of the property’


here’s where the danger of trying to reconstruct the furniture of the world from first principles becomes clearest. because as it happens, that’s not at all how  great many human orgs are defined.. ie: 15m, occupy, blm… each .. able to make some increment of change occur in the world w/o property or formal membership

yay Adam


any conceptual schema that treats the effectiveness of a social formation as being primarily founded in the property it owns is going to have a very hard time accounting for the success of such movements.. and running in parallel w the dao’s misplaced emphasis on the property rights is a similar fascination – ‘obsession’ is not too strong a word – with markets.. t

indeed.. with anything that seeks to measure transactions and validate us..

w smart contracts… a dao makes a market where there was none before..ie: sweep the streets.. using contractors.. rather than neighbors..


if you already believe that on some level all public affairs are transactional exchanges of quid for quo, this aspect of the dao won’t present you with any particular problem. but for many, the market is an organizing principle every bit as obnoxious every bit as pervasive and every bit as powerful as the state, and for those of su who should such beliefs, there’s not particular *succor to be found in the dao..t


as it happens.. there is a progressive social tendency entirely consistent with the fundamental framework of property ant the market offered by the dao: the cooperative movement.

yay Adam

a cooperative is an association chartered to provide a product/service, much like any other company. what sets coops apart from more conventional enterprises is that they are entirely owned by the people who work for them.. their members.. and that their policies and growth strategies are steered by the membership itself, via some kind of democratic decision-making process. all benes/rights.. distributed equally w/in org..


though participants drawn to coop movement by a concern for basic tenets of fairness and econ justice, there’s nothing it it that conflicts w private ownership/property rights of the market as a mechanism of resource allocation. it seems possible then to instantiate a coop as a dao w/o doing too much conceptual violence to the principle on which it is founded.

advent of dao may therefore constitute good news for those invested in coop form, or who have otherwise made their peace w the market. but they are hardly a means of achieving postcapitalism, and anyone who aspire to build a space outside state and market both is bound to find them unsatisfying..


in recent decades.. such aspirations have found a home in the global community dedicated to the commons.. ostrom’s findings.. communities all over the planet had spontaneously developed techniques that allowed them to manage such resources ‘w reasonable degrees of success over long periods of time’ and that these .. bore no resemblance to the mechs of market/state


so how to encode ostrom’s 8 principles in a dao..

what we learn when we undertake this challenge, even as a thought experiment, is that the dao – at least as buterin .. describe.. is poorly suited to either context..


not merely property ness.. it’s the smart contracts on which daos are built, by their very nature, render decisions in the present on situations that were conceptualized at some arbitrary point in the past..


this quality of being bound in time can only undermine the supple management of common-pool resources.. (then goes into ostrom’s boundaries.. which would work with dao.. but adds that ostrom’s are subject to negotiation).. and in general remain far more fluid than the implacable, binary worldview encoded by a blockchain

i’d suggest.. we live in a time where we need none of that.. because it’s extra energy/time spent on speculative decision making et al.. meaning.. i don’t think we need ostrom’s 8.. we don’t need to spend time deciding who’s in and who’s out of a group.. who can get temp access w supervision.. et al..  i believe with gershenfeld sel addressing maté basic needs  (via 2 convos everyday) – and if it’s indeed all of us – that thinking becomes irrelevant.. because ie: greed becomes irrelevant

we don’t have to talk/discuss/dispute/negotiate who gets what.. rather we all become indigienous

stavros – argues that it is the fundamental openness and porosity for any true common space – its invitational quality – that enables it to survive over time..t


to seal off opportunities for participation is to invite metabolic death. and.. dao does in a dozen tiny ways..

yay Adam


it seems absurd to spell all these things out (ie: dao as nonheirarchical or leaderless is problematic) – somewhat like pointing out al the reasons why a tire iron planted in soil is unlikely to flower, … but activists on the participatory left are just as easily captivated by tech hype as anyone else, esp when that hype is couched in superficially appealing language…

we find ourselves enticed by the diea that in reconsittuting themselves as a dao, neighborhood assemblies and ffinity groups might intervene in teh world as concretely effectively and enduringly as any private entrerprise or govt body..


and it may yet be so. but it will not be as a commons – not in any sense which that term is currently understood. the recapitulation of ostrom’s principles, and their point-0by point reconstruction on the blockchain, isn’t really the issue. the virtue of the commons as a mode of thought and action isn’t simply that it provides for the scaled management of pooled resources, but that it spurs us to envision away of life founded in interdependence, mutuality and shared responsibility for the outcomes experienced by others.

so.. what you’re saying about this not being able to be done w/dao ness (and i agree with).. i also believe it’s not able to be done with ostrom ness.. it’s too detailed (when we have the means for it not to be.. ie: the means to facilitate the chaos of 7bn curiosities everyday)

(next few pages on ensuing demise of dao)


it was evident that *nobody involved in the project understood the very first thing about human nature, or had bothered to **consult the several thousand year record of collective attempts to compensate for that nature..

*i don’t think any of us know the very first thing about human nature.. actually.. i think we all know.. but it’s so buried.. and we’re not allowing ourselves to believe it.. ie: assume good.. trust us/interconnectedness..

**oy – record of collective attempts.. aka: science of people..


if the collapse of the dao holds any lesson for us, it’s that any envelope of potentials in which these things are possible must also necessarily contain monsters..

unless we gershenfeld sel it for 100% of us

and for those of us who are motivated by commitment to a specifically participatory politics of the commons, it’s not at all clear that any blockchain-based infra can support the kind of flexible assemblies we imagine.. t

no.. but might support daily curiosities .. as in hlb.. so that the assemblies can ongoingly/whimsically/emergently/antigragily.. io dance..

i myself come from an intellectual tradition that insists that any appearance of the word ‘potential’ needs to be greeted with skepticism..

? if you define it as a prescription.. yes.. but if as zinn energy law.. then skepticism is theh very poison.. keeping us from us


this was never more relevant than in the discussion around blockchain techs.. many thinkers.. including not a few i hold tremendous respect for, argue that these techs give ordinary people a way to org themselves.. but these discussion are always couched in terms of their potential: what might happen, what could be achieved.

nobody has yet shown that a distributed autonomous org has done so..among any group of people, anywhere on earth.. t

agreed..  we haven’t yet let go enough to see.. even though it works best if it’s all of us.. we haven’t even tried it within an open enough ecosystem to model/fractal 7 bn of us.. doing/being it..

god Adam..  let’s do this..  short bp

i strongly suspect that, in the end, the libertarian roots of these techs will tell – that they portend not the democratization of governance but its full privatization, in a world where only those with the *bent of mind to understand the arcana of cryptofinance have the means to prevail

exactly why humanity begs a way that has nothing to do any *bent of mind to understand.. only hearts to listen.. deeper.. to the rhythm.. and let that .. be us


on dao ness..blockchainers.. et al.. conceiving of humanity as something to be transcended.. anne amnesia: the unnecessariat

right.. so let’s take the reigns and try something humane.. eagle and condor time


automation – the annihilation of work


tech unemployment via john maynard keynes – 1928.. his .. full-leisure society – has not come to pass, not even remotely..


what i wish to argue is that whether they are brought together consciously or otherwise… automation et al.. constitute a coherent set of techniques for the production of an experience i call the posthuman everyday

as he goes on to describe it.. sounds like what we’ve been doing for years.. why we haven’t been us for years.. ie:

shaped not so much by our own needs but those of the systems that nominally serve us, and in which human perception, scale and desire are no longer the primary *yardsticks of value..

see.. i think *yardstick ness.. is where we wandered off from us.. long ago..

so we’re already dealing with a misshapen.. not us.. posthuman everyday..

begs we model how to get back to us.. via a leap..


sociometer used to measure/monitor employees/behavior


all too often work cost us our health, our dreams, our lives. but it also offered us a context in which we might organize our skills and talents, it gave us some measure of common cause with others who labored under similar conditions, across all bounds of space and time, and if nothing else it filled the hours of our days on earth.

wow.. dang.

thought these goods came at far too high a price, i don’t know that we are wise to consider living entirely w/o them, or are practically prepared to do so..

we are wise enough.. if given the change.. and being prepared is counter to leisure..

i don’t know that we’re pyschically equipped to withstand total freedom from obligation..t

we are.. we crave it.. that’s what will help us come alive.. and then.. we will all.. do/be our best art..

let’s do this firstfree art-ists.

for (blank)’s sake


it remains difficult for me, at least, to conceive what an economy might be fore, if not the generation of apportionment of wealth as humans experience it.

? not sure what you’re meaning by economy.. since it just followed.. impoverished..


ch 8 – machine learning – the algorithmic production of knowledge

.. we haven’t yet paused to reflect on what data is.

let’s start with the thought that *whatever set of events life presents us with, we need to situate ourselves in the world, evaluate our circumstances and the possibilities they afford us for purposive action, and the decide among the options we’re presented with (ie: friends in kindergarten.. weapon in war)

dang .. what a sad lock-in to spinach or rock ness..


simple way of defining data then might be: facts about the world, and the people, places, things and phenomena that together comprise it, that we collect in order that they may be acted upon..t

dang.. school and war are not facts that comprise the world.. they are manmade cancers of the world..

let’s try this.. a reboot.. where self-talk as data ..is our only data.. let’s play with.. act upon.. just that.. for a while.. just to see..

but before we can act upon any such collection of facts, we have to make sense of it..a commonplace of info science holds that data, info, knowledge and wisdom forma a coherent continuum, and that we apply diff procedures at every stage of that continuum to transform the facts we observe into insight and awareness. there are many versions of this model but they all fundamentally assert that we *measure the world to produce data, organize that data to produce meaningful, actionable info, synthesize that info with our prior experience of the world to produce knowledge, and then.. in some unspecified probably indescribably way – arrive at a state in which we are able to apply the things we know with the ineffable quality of balance discernment we think of as wisdom…

whenever we say data however, what we’re really referring to is that subset of the world’s infinite aspects that have been captured by some instrument or *process of measurement..

*dang adam

what if all the things you list as data.. id.. payment..address.. credit cards.. are irrelevant to a fully alive humanity..

dang.. you’re dao ing us


like any of us an algo will ideally be equipped w the ability to learn from its experiences, generalize from what it’s encountered, and develop adaptive strategies in response. over time.. learn to recognize what distinguishes a good performance from and unacceptable one. and how to improve the odds of success..


it will refine its ability to detect what is salient in any given situation, and act on that insight. this process is called ‘machine learning’

what distinguishes this from ‘deep’ learning as some would have us call the process thru which a machine develop insight?

write programs.. for parsed problems.. 1980s.. abstract the accumulated expertise of a human diagnostician or trial lawyer into a decision tree built on a series of explicit if-then rules…

the mathematizing of us.. ak: people measured and weighed.. et al


these are things our brains do trivially and w/o conscious thought. but precisely for this reason, because we cannot explicitly reconstruct how we arrive at the decisions involved, we’re generally unable to encode them as instructions computational systems would be able to make use of

we’d have a very hard time making those principle concrete enough to articulate and convey to a machinic system not overfond of ambiguity..

(machinic systems) would have to be provided with some way of acquiring knowledge that does not involve explicit instruction..

enter the neural network, a way of organizing individual processing units into meshes that mimic the way neurons are interconnected in the human central nervous system…

neural networks


over 1000s of iterations.. neural network will learn how to recognize complex feature from data that is not merely unstructured, but very often noisy and wildly chaotic, in the manner of the world we occupy and recognize as our own..


this stacking accounts for the ‘deep’ in deep learning, in at least one of the circulating defns


some degree of anthropomorphism is difficult to avoid in describing how this process works; of course, the algo doesn’t ‘think’ anything at all, but has assigned a weighted score to the image, representing the probability that the care in the image is the one its calculations suggest.


overfitting means that an algo has ‘memorized’ training data rather than learning to generalize from it.. which most often happens when the training set sharply diverges from what it experiences in the real world..t

kind of like school.. so close to 7 bn.. overfitted.. no chance for embodiment

.. it will therefore have problems with accurate id..

indeed.. wilde not us law – all because we’re trying to make humans more like efficient mechinic systems..

in context of machines learning.. bias means that even after extensive training, an algo has *failed to acquire anything essential at all about the set of target objects it’s being asked to id… **basically taking random stabs in the dark, however much confidence it may seem to be mustering in its labeling

like us .. *missing maté basic needs

..and **faking/masking it


unsupervised learning: rather than being assigned to a k now category.. by an instructor, an unsupervised algo will group together an emergent cluster of all the images sharing a particular constellation of features…

unsupervised learning/connecting: chip with self talk.. as the day


the more data it has available to train on, the better an algo..

so say.. 7 bn + curiosities.. everyday


(on data analytics – collecting/sifting/inspecting/acting.. as predictive policing.. as..


reaching down into all the murk of our affairs to wrest the single salient truth from a whirling storm of confusion..

3675 – 3687

intent recognition.. to extract actionable intelligence from utterances..

so that.. w/o policing/judging… and where people are truly free.. to do whatever they want.. but with far less risk.. ie: no policing.. and if match is wrong.. try again tomorrow..


and this speaks more deeply still to the question of automation, and all the contexts in which it might be welcomed for its supposed rationality, objectivity and neutrality. the evidence presented to us by the current generation of algorithmic tools suggests that this is a a fool’s errand, that there can and will be no ‘escape from politics’ into the comfort of governance by math..t

it’s the math that’s getting us.. the politics.. or whatever..  the math as judge/police/elite/inspector..

whether we will ever summon the courage to confront those consequences w integrity is something that no algorithm can decide..

and perhaps .. we leap over that.. make those consequences disappear/irrelevant


(on using algos to determine: how many troops.. anticipatory surveillance….


bruce scheier – ‘many of these techs are nowerhe near as reliable as claimed’.. but.. not whether techs work as advertised.. whether someone believes they are and acts on that belief


in the end, the greatest threat of overtransparency may be that it erodes the effectiveness of something that has historically furnished an effective brake on power: the permanent possibility that an enraged populace might take to the streets in pursuit of justice.. these algo – a series of tech counters to liberty.. steps toward eclipse of freedoms..

kafka ness



(on it being hard to tell if our actions are our own or because of the algos – which are either kept secret .. or out in the open but incomprehensible)


quite simply, some parties derive advantage from the fact that we don’t understand the tools used to rank and order us.. t

and this results in a pronounced and troubling asymmetry in the world, when the actors in a position to determine our lives know far more abut us that we know, or will ever be able to find out, about them.

beyond tech ness – goes back to maths..


(on developed world econ – credit et al.. via algo of wealth manager..)

we should understand this as what it is: an unprecedented intervention by a small set of private and unaccountable actors in the structure of opportunity, and the distribution of life chances.

worst.. credit score.. ssn .. then credit score..


cathy o neil documenting.. bad/bias algo ness


as things stand now, there is little to no incentive for anyone to fix the situation, and this is esp distressing when that same credit score conditions access to so many of the other goods produced by our society


the only way to prevent all such correlations from being used w discriminatory intent is to ban data capture in the first place – and that’s obviously off the table in any technologically advance society

perhaps.. but imagine if all of us (even the inspectors of inspectors making tools to inspect inspectors).. were too busy doing something else.. and focusing on diff data.. imagine a way/day where discrimination is our equity..

this suggests that it isn’t so much the obscurity of any specific algo that present *would-be regulators w their greatest challenge, but the larger obscurity of the way in which sorting algos work..

rather.. the problem/challenge is that we have/assume/accept/empower/perpetuate..  regulators at all


the neoliberal practice of governmentality, which tends to individualize hazards and recast them as issues of personal responsibility or moral failure, rather than structural and systemic issues..

systemic ness


this begins to gesture at the ultimate complication w laws designed to produce algorithmic accountability. it’s one thing to feel like you’re in the grip os someone else’s agenda… sill worse is the fear that there is no overriding logic at all to the decisions that shape our lives… perhaps worst of all, though, is the fear that there is a logic behind such decisions, but that it resides on a plane of complexity permanently inaccessible to he human mind. this is the realm of ‘opaque intelligence.’ *who can say, in a layered, cascading, probabilistic model of behavior, what originally triggered a determination that someone is trustworthy, insurable or reliable.?

and.. why are we spending energy on *those questions in the first place.. imagine our energy level.. if we just assume good..


(on florida senator brandes.. trying to leap over mass transit.. to autonomous vehicles and ending up in desperate need of mass transit)

the imaginary folds back against the actual, constraining the choices we have in the here and now, forcing us to redesign our lives around something that may never come into being. the lesson for all of us is clear: beliefs about the shape of the future can be invoked, leveraged, even weaponized, to drive change in the present.. advancing some agendas/interests and not others..

begs a vision deep enough for all of us..


ch 9 – artificial intelligence – the eclipse of human discretion


often the researchers involved have displayed a lack of curiosity for any form of intelligence beyond that they recognized in themselves.. and a marked lack of appreciation for the actual depth and variety of human talent. .. t

project to develop ai has very often nurtured a special kind of stupidity in some of its most passionate supporters – a particular sort of arrogant ignorance that only afflicts those of high intellect..

as reach teaching machine to think.. no longer thought of as ai.. which is progressively redefined as something perpetually out of reach

rt yesterday:

Andrew Ng (@AndrewYNg) tweeted at 12:04 PM – 1 May 2017 :

If you’re trying to understand AI’s near-term impact, don’t think “*sentience.” Instead think “automation on steroids.” (http://twitter.com/AndrewYNg/status/859106360662806529?s=17)

*Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Eighteenth-century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think (reason) from the ability to feel (sentience).


hoping.. there are some creative tasks technical systems will simply never be able to perform

the essence of learning, though, whether human or machinic, is developing the ability to detect, recognize and eventually reproduce patterns. and what poses problems for this line of argument (or hope, whichever it may be) is that many if not all of the greatest works of art – the things we regard as occupying the very pinnacle of human aspiration and achievement – consist of little other than patterns… rich/varied.. but nothing magical..

the humanist in me recoils at what seems like the brute-force reductionism of statements like this, but beyond some ghostly ‘inspiration’ it’s hard to distinguish what constitutes style other than habitual arrangements, whether those be palettes, chord progressions, or frequencies of word use and sentence structure. and these are just the sort of feature that are ready-made for extraction via algorithm.

habitual arrangements.. chord progressions.. on composing/orchestration ness – ben folds composes in 10 min – orchestra knows what to play – plays in sync


everyone will have their own fav ies of an art that seems as if it must transcend reduction. for me, it’s the oval phrasing of nina simone.. the ache and steel of life in her voice..


the notion that everything i hear might be flattened to a series of instructions and executed by machine..


‘to extract the features that make rembrandt rembrandt..’ for algo’d.. next rembrandt


alphago isn’t just one thing, but a stack of multiple kinds of neural network and learning algorithm laminated together


deep blue ..a special purpose engine exquisitely optimized for – and there fore completely useless at anything other than – the rules of chess.. alphgo is a general learning machine..


.. simply brute force. that may well have been how deep blue beat kasparov. it is not how alphago defeated lee sedol.. for many i suspect, next rembrandt will feel like a more ominous development than alphago


constructed bushido is unquestionably something that resides in the human heart, or does not…this matters when we describe a machine, however casually, as possessing this spirit.


points toward a time when just about any human skill can be mined for its implicit rules and redefined as an exercise in pattern recognition and reproduction, even those seemingly most dependent on soulful improvisation

improv\e and algo ness



what we now confront is the possibility of machines transcending our definitions of mastery,pushing outward into an enormously expanded envelope of performance..t

so maybe the issue is.. with mastery and performance.. maybe those things aren’t the soul of a humanity.. and so.. they are able to be algo’d.. but don’t rep/define us

lee sedo: i’t not a human move. i’ve never seen a human play this move. so beautiful.

so to with flying.. et al.. doesn’t mean it’s more human.. means it’s augmenting a human/animal performance..

the ai player, *unbound by the structural limitations, the conventions of taste or the inherent prejudices of human play, explore fundamentally different pathways – and again, there’s an aesthetic component to the sheer otherness of its thought.. t

thinking *this is what we need ai ness to do.. to get us back to us.. as a means to listen to each of us.. everyday.. w/o agenda/judgment.. et al..


i don’t know what it will feel like to be human in that posthuman moment. i don’t think any of us truly do. any advent of an autonomous intelligence greater than our own can only be something like a divide-by-zero operation performed on all our ways of weighing the world, introducing a factor of infinity into a calculus that isn’t capable of containing it..t

i don’t know.. maybe it’s that ability to divide by zero that will blur our mathematical lines/assumptions of what it means to know things.. even what it means to be human

eagle and condor ness


ch 10 – radical technologies – the design of everyday life


this approach treats individual modules of code as the building blocks of a generative grammar. these elements can then be composed and assembled.. plugged into one another… this is the logic behind well-documented *apis and cloud services, as it is of the modern **web, and it is absolutely central to digital tech’s ability to evolve new propositions w such starling ***rapidity

*api..ness that can io dance.. on the **www.. toward ***leaping.. for (blank)’s sake


who is it.. by and large.. that’s responsible for doing so..? (bringing techs together)

no human institution, state or private, is yet of a scale that it can develop bespoke apps.. devices, and services for every last end it might conceivably want to pursue

that’s what we’d do.. via hlb

there are.. a small number of commercial enterprises.. now span much of the terrain – apple, amazon, google, fb, microsoft..  bruce sterling calls these ‘the stacks’ ..emphasizing the strategy of vertical integration by which each of them seeks to control the network.. foremost.. google.. what they haven’t pioneered.. they purchase..



troubling.. that a single entity controls all these products/services


one school of thought might hold then, that we are to a degree protected from the worst excesses of centralized control over emerging tech by the profound seamfulness and disharmony of any human org


each of the stacks nevertheless has the same goal: to mediate and monetize everyday life to the max possible extent


the names, logos and share holders might be replaced.. but the colonization of everyday life by info tech, the measurement and monetization of ordinary experience, and the cementing of existing power relations would all proceed apace..

if we want to understand how we might experience emerging info techs in the years to come, and get any meaningful handle on the ways in which they might come to inform our daily lives and choices and environments, we’re going to have to take a leap beyond everything we know.. t

yes.. a nother way.. beyond science of people.. et al


the question they present us with isn’t so much – what do our techs let us do? as it is – what do we choose to do w our techs?

then shares scenarios: green plenty

4633 – here (green plenty) a ubi isn’t necessary, because goods of life are essentially free for the taking..



this (green plenty) more or less a form of manifest fully automated luxury communism, a world of cornucopian excess for all.

if this becomes possible anywhere, it will be hard to see how it can be prevented from happening everywhere. . t

indeed.. model for 6-12 months.. global w/in next year.. for (blank)’s sake

but.. troublingly founded on an ex machina retuning of human nature. it depends on something coming from outside to *release us from the shaming psychic smallness of scarcity. what if no such thing every happens.. t

*detox for shell less turtles..


scenario 2 – the widening gyre – sounds like coops galore.. individualized .. non sharing.. ad hoc .. coops


scenario 3 – stacks plus – like now only moreso.. ubi.. bullshit jobs..


scenario 4 – perfect harmony – chinese-styel rewards conformity.. penalizes deviation


scenario 5 – no name – failed civilization on planetary scale


conclusion – of tetrapods and tactics – radical techs and everyday life


what is salient is not anything their visionary designers may have had in mind when imagining them, but what states of being they are actually seen to enact..


if committed to a tech.. on other hand.. if committed to achieving a particular social outcome.. you’ll occasionally find one or another tech serves.. you’re compelled to undertake the much harder work of organizing for that outcome directly..

indeed.. equity.. no matter how/whatever


demand enormous investments of time/effort.. and is by no means guaranteed to end in success..

let’s zoom out further.. because this time is allowing us to.. and all 7 bn of us focus on a problem deep enough for all of us.. rather than ‘enormous investments’ on partials..

all the others can then be taken care of.. or .. may become irrelevant..


human propensity toward laziness

not true.. toward work that matters.. often perceived.. even acted out.. as laziness.. but not in our human nature/propensity


and beyond theory lies practice. can we make other politics w these techs? can we use them in ways that don’t simply reproduce all-too-familiar arrangements of power”.. t

yes – there’s a nother way

at the moment in which i write, for all the reason i’ve laid forth here, i’m not particularly optimistic on this count; we appear to be laboring under a certain *hegemony of the stacks and, more precisely, of the approach to tech that they emblematize..t

*leadership or dominance, especially by one country or social group over others.


even in this airlessness, there is possibility..t

ginorm small possibility.. we can’t not give it a go


a time of rad techs demand a gen of *rad technologists, and these networks are the material means by way of which we can help each other become that..

rather.. *awake humans.. 7 bn of them..

lifeways that were founded in solidarity and neighborly conviviality and an everyday life that was more spacious and tolerant of imperfection..t

antifragile.. via rev of everyday life..

let’s facil that..

listen past my idio jargon adam.. let’s connect.. this is so doable..