…in the absence of minds to appreciate its benefits.
Futurism is therefore not only about technology, but also about people. More to the point, it is about the effects of technology on ourselves and our communities.
Technology is also not simply a matter of “gadgets”, even of products or services in the broadest sense, but is really about technique applied to certain ends. Even the most primitive tools are considered to be the beginnings of technology, and so to understand technology’s potential to change our lives we should look at it not as a thing, but as a kind of catalytic process.
We must attempt to explore some possibilities in that realm, between the possibilities of technology and the kind of things which engage people now, giving them some point of access to this process transforming our lives and societies.
Previously On Transhumanity.net…
There are various ideas we can upon here (all outlined in previous Transhumanity.net articles), such as Culture Mining, Futurist Arts, and
Gamification. In the briefest possible terms, these are the ideas that we can (1) use AI to find new patterns and meaning in our increasingly complex societies, that (2) we can explore those new realms using readymade tools like certain electronic music subcultures, and that (3) treating all this as a kind of serious, highly imaginative game may well allow us to explore radical new possibilities in a relaxed, light-hearted, and flexible way.
Gaming Futures, Joining Dots
So, where do we begin? How do we join the dots between simple fun and meaningful exploration of the new societal vistas being opened up by technology? In the Western world, and particularly the US-UK Anglo-Saxon West, we have a rather Protestant tendency to separate the notions of simple play and meaningful work. In reality, however, it is quite clear that play encourages exploration, and that in a world of radically expanding risk and opportunity we need more explorers!
To begin modestly, let’s imagine a kind of crowdsourced culture mining algorithm… i.e. a game which incentivizes finding connections between new technological opportunities and the ways in which they might help people. The goal is worthy enough, necessary to our society’s health and growth in fact, but it would merely be the byproduct of such a game, which is focussed on having fun. That’s how the process of human evolution has always worked in the past after all, so why stop now?
Fun with Technology: A Group Activity
To summon the smallest glimpse of a way forward, let’s start with a small thought experiment:
Imagine that you are the proud owner of an incredible, transformative new technology. The details of that technology are up to you, but it has something to do with enhancing social relationships. Use your imagination. Now, the technology might as well not exist if noone knew of it, or was affected by it. If you alone knew of it or felt its effects, it would be of some value, but its potential impact would be nowhere near fulfilled.
Now let’s say, for argument’s sake, that the technology is most effective when people self-organise into small groups, say of no more than half a dozen people. Now ask yourself:
- Who would you share the technology with?
- What beneficial effects of the tech might you hope for?
- What traditional institutions or ideas might this tech disrupt?
- Is this a good thing? What could make it a good thing?
- Is some version of this tech remotely plausible in the near future?
If you can answer those questions for yourself, then you have taken a step toward helping to transform the future, for the benefit of others, using technology. Perhaps this idea will stick with you, and develop over time or inspire others.
Perhaps the idea will be so terrible that it encourages you to try again, and do better! In any event, you have begun to see a world in which tiny changes ripple out across our social networks in increasingly powerful ways, disrupting and transforming everything they touch.
And you’ll have seen a future in which technology may be nothing in and of itself, but in which it can also be – or change – everything.
Transhumanity.net links referenced above: