M11: 2021 --> 2022
Technology meets society
Every writer wants readers and I am no exception. I would much appreciate it if you shared this post 🙏🏾
It’s been quite the long year, 2021 has. Back at its beginning, I was writing daily pieces on the Trump to Biden transition, in the middle of which was an unbelievable raid on Congress. My last post in that thread:
None of the challenges I posed then have gone away; if anything straight up denialism, supremacism and fascism have become the default positions in the Republican party. In a parallel universe, straight up denialist-supremacist-fascist who are in power in India had a spectacular failure of governance in the second wave of the pandemic. Everyone I know, and I really mean EVERYBODY, lost friends or family. The official death toll in India is off by an order of magnitude with estimates of actual casualties running ~ 4 million. And yet it doesn’t look like there will be consequences for those who slept on the wheel.
In India and the US, politics lives in a virtual universe that’s diverging dangerously from the real. Which is why a deep investigation of the virtual has become an existential need.
That’s the cue for my ongoing Interverse series, which has two sources of inspiration:
AI+XR+Crypto are coming together to make possible the next stage of the internet - the current stage being the era of mobile computing.
The culmination of the internet is a direct human to human interverse, which will shape what it is to be human.
Re: the second point; I am sure the internet will have as much impact as printed text, if not writing itself. From passing notes to your friends in class to books that have lasted millennia, writing shapes what it is to be human.
Or to use another analogy: telescopes were first used for commercial and military purposes (e.g., to spot ships on the horizon before others could and raise prices for luxury goods accordingly) but it was Galileo who pointed that device at the heavens and lent credence to an entirely new way of understanding the universe. I believe the internet is like that: a family of protocols and technologies that has mostly been used for commercial and military purposes but can be pointed elsewhere: to expand the scope and limits of human experience and consciousness. That’s how the interverse will revolutionize what it is to be human, but in order to do so, we need the parallel evolution of artistic forms (like the novel has been for print culture) and technological forms.
Cyborgs, arguably, are both: representations of humanity that can be artistic or technological depending on the context. Maybe so, maybe not, but the larger point remains: we need new artifacts that satisfy the writer and the engineer at once. Or as I say later in this essay, artifacts that are simultaneously Promethean and Machiavellian.
Now for a quick run through of what I have written so far in this series. Facebook’s transition to Meta signaled that the new Web is of great importance to one of the major players of the current phase:
which is also prefigured in these two pieces:
The Interverse was introduced here:
and continued here
Technology meets humanism in the concept of identity, which can be given a technological twist using data and crypto, a social twist when we play different roles in different online spaces and a philosophical twist as haecceity. The previous three essays were about that topic:
Much of this remains informed speculation, which was highlighted in
The interverse is the first technology in human history that combines Prometheus and Machiavelli in one package:
By Promethean I mean: the ability to mold things to our desires aka Internet of Things.
And Machiavellian: the ability to mold people to our desires, aka Internet of People.
The internet of things and the internet of people aren’t distinct internets - they are actually one and the same thing. When I come back next year (probably mid-Jan), I want to dig deeper into the two fields/flows that underpin much of this business:
There are people who say ‘everything is data’ and there are people who say ‘everything is money.’ AI prefers the first model and Crypto prefers the second. Both are mechanisms of registering and representing the world symbolically and in their AI and Crypto avatars, both are forms of computing. What does the unification of the two look like? What problems must it solve? Starting in January, I will be exploring the data<>money nexus from a technical and a human perspective. Back in a month.
Until then: goodbye 🖖🏾. Have a relaxing end to 2021 with family and friends!