28C3, v.2: Musing darkly on robots, donuts and 2011

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{ eric joyner’s ‘robots + donuts’ expertise, link below. }

work-in-progress

Note: This was our preface piece, written the night before 28c3 began … and now we’re working on a 2ND musing, in response to the many inspiring insights gathered thus far. Cory Doctorow’s incredible talk the first night, has triggered many thoughts… and many concerns and alarms, which relate to some of what we address here below, but we want to examine it further. And be sure to check out our streaming notes, resources + links at 28c3 v.1, previous post.

Musing darkly on robots, donuts and 2011 ( part 1 )

It has been a profoundly disturbing 2011! And Oddly we’ve gotten in the habit of ending our gregorian earth calendar years in the presence of the “orphan hackers” at Chaos Communications Congress (#28), which offers a varied mix from radical resistance inspirations to a depressing glimpse of the techno-alienations that continue spreading like a slow terminal brain + body + community fungus. Don’t get us wrong, we love this deep-thinking community, and we have immense admiration for the pioneers who are, for the most part, seeking to establish a community ethic + code + platforms, to cultivate a fertile ground out of their customized cracks in the dominator system.

We so often begin our musings here in the Podopolog by finding the potent images that will accompany our often thinking-a-loud texts. Perhaps it has a little to do with having been marinated in visual mediums for so (too) long, to need this crutch, a little sensationalism, some provocation, some comic remedy, this quick cut-to-the-chase.  We’ve used Eric Joyner’s brilliant paintings once before ( and hope he’ll be ok with it again, no time to contact now ), which give a perfectly cracked + baked analysis of what we’ve come to describe as California Technotopian Ideology,  and the Assembly-line Culture. Does it also work as well for our mass-produced “reality tunnels” in the international spheres and increasingly on-gadget planet?

The painting above called “Summer” happens to hit home a few stark ‘Winter” realities…  thinking of our earlier days on the Cali coast, having observed the strange harvests of Silicon Valley intoxicate and toxify our (ontological) shores for many years. And now in 2011, we can’t help but think of the barely reported implications and unknowable longterm effects of Fukushima, spilling its hubris, its lies, its eternal poison, its superhuman-made stew into the Pacific. A godzilla-like mind-of-its-own walking out into the depths.

Nuclear energy and the information age, can these two technological paths be analyzed as parallel tracks ??

Well, we’ve experimented with this analogy before. For us, we have often seen a lot of the IT world as something that’s been dumpster-dived from the Military Industrial Complex. And becoming the centerpiece of the new Military Entertainment Complex. Can such things be redeemed and/or tamed for civilian use? Some brave new worlders have crawled in to seek the new black gold, others are trying to re-purpose it for better living, some will bring it to the underground party, cause the time + money’s running out, and we are just getting by on the ‘dirty’ new language, and happy to have whatever’s around to … ur, um, eat ?! …

The donuts may symbolize for us this inedible, factory line, this abstract code, and/or consumable objects lacking the more tangible local community concepts or praxis, lacking any of the deliciously personal + unique artistry ( not mass replicable) for a nutritious and modest , and literal person-2-person, garden variety.

And, contrary to much technotopian thinking, we’ve used this analogy for the purpose of pointing out that Some technological tracks are deadly cul de sacs, experiments which need to be aborted. Some genies we’ll need to stuff back in there bottles as much as they ever can be. Those Pandora genies, those genies which are also agendas + vested interests wielded over us by elites w/ little intention for public good. And could Some genies give you the power to get those things, which you later wished you hadn’t ?!

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An increasingly expansive, vibrant and radical hive is the hacker world. One of the most promising new social phenomenon of today is the community hacklabs, sprouting everywhere like wild mushrooms! And yet we have to ask, can the language(s) which brought about this truly rapidshare mindfuck of globalization, at a rate previously unimaginable, redeem us!? Yes, all those lovely tools and infrastructure ( i.e. the net , the digitalia ) are an essential part of  the most unprecedented consolidation of wealth and corporate power in human history, and yet we still think that these technological/communication/media tools in ever-more-ubiquitous forms will be our way out ? Is that a sane conclusion, in the given predatory climate ?

Granted we Are in a technological + consumer arms race, and kind of hard to imagine now an exit without a means of self-defense ( and new means of productivity that doesn’t rely on earth’s finite resources ), and yet fresh daily articles are strange eye-openers: 1. Long-range drones now being used by the Sea Shepherds to track illegal whalers, and 2. Tim Pool, occupy archivist , experimenting with DIY “occu-copters” to monitor police (link). Sure, clever + tactical appropriations, but are they like 2-steps fwd and 3-steps back in terms of creating intelligent + sharing communities? Do they become seeped in the spy/control/war games? It certainly does not break with the DNA of the colonizers and empire. It is certainly not always a development in better living or healthy social productivity, over the logic of markets and ‘progress’ at all costs. And in fact, the dangers also lie in the fact that currently every technological invention is far more appropriable by big industry with its seemingly endless reach for capitalization and exploitation. And everything that lands on the global market can become a menace rather than progress to the whole.

[ A third story from another angle came in while writing this. via a Bruce Sterling tweet. 3.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-16323437 "This vending machine with machine-vision must have Philip K. Dick chuckling." ]

Are we winning this game, this war, or empowering the enemies? Escaping or opting-in ? Hard to say, but 2011 for us felt like we got our asses kicked Again !

Which gets at our current XLt themes: Nearly every technological invention in the currently militarized-capitalist operating system can be co-opted against community. So long as the dominant operating system is in place, so many technological advances have the potential to become a new (bio-)hazard,  lead to heavier alienation, weaponry, and/or a more idiotic and fragmented consumerism ! Is there a territory, a species, of “organic invention”, that can be less utilized by the dark operating system ?

But we don’t want to end with mere critique and analysis, we want to open up a dialogue and debate. And we wish to propose a few pro-active maneuvers to our CCC – and 28c3 – orphan family on the eve of 2012 over the next few days!

i.e.

Would it be useful to devise a creator’s scale?

M  < ———- | ———- | ——– | ———- | ———- >  H

For now, a bit of a ridiculously simplified scale to measure the possible outcomes of a technological tool in relation to its machine or human closeness. Putting our creativity on a map to see if it has more organic than machinic function. More community tool than weapon ? More socially constructive than mere technological advance? More artistic + unique than replicateable ? etc..  Graphs To be elaborated and played with….

Jussi Parikka  tweets 2day : “Codes—by name and by matter—are what determine us today, and what we must articulate if only to avoid disappearing under them completely.”

But we’re not so sure. The more we allow ourselves to be determined and demeaned by code, make ourselves at ease with it, the more we allow ourselves to be fed into the non-living logic + system. And into the mechanisms of the fully militarized capitalism.

Sure all the post-humanists and technotopians and addicted hyper-faustians will scoff, but they seem ready to don their helmets and migrate to the robot + donut world, daring to launch themselves into the cold black space. Where the incompatible monster/machine heads out to take a dip in a rusty junked ocean, and the sugar-glazed bad dreams wash up like some disneyland oil spill.

Many are migrating into the donut hole !

While some of us still prefer the art of a living, evolving, un-plastinated, un-vacated earth.

Snakefightej

tbc…

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