Steve J. Moore

Posts Tagged ‘Philosophy’

The Ghost in the Machine: Part 2

In Philosophy, The Web on February 4, 2009 at 11:26 pm

Part 1 was posted over on NonDeScript first,  Nathaniel Carroll’s budding blog based in Springfield (like me!). I suggest that you click on over there first to prime the conversational pump for this seemingly simple discussion. Below is my reflection.

  • What is then Internet?
  • How do we relate to it?
  • How does it relate to us?
  • Is the Internet “art”?

The Internet is a function of art and life times expression.

I=ƒ(a,l)e

So, if we look at the events that are taking place in people’s lives around the globe each day, they exist either as art or not based on opinions, evaluations, and judgments. If we decide that “life” is a general term for every event that takes place in or outside of our awareness, then it operates as a separate coefficient from “art.”

Am I starting to bore you yet? Maths and art? There will be graphs soon, I promise.

Expression can give either negative or positive effect upon the function as a whole, but in order for the identity to be defined, it is required. The Internet cannot exist without “expression” in some form.

I won’t even attempt to ask why “we” exist, but I’d like to know how we exist and function in relation to “I”, the internet. If “P” stands for people, then people are a function of their experiences and other people.

P=ƒ(x, p2)

So, if we examine a person or a group of people’s experiences, then it goes without saying that people besides the said person or group will have an influence upon him or her (notwithstanding the desert island scenario).

Graph Time!

maths2

As the above graph illustrates, the functions I and P are integrated, highlighting the importance and interrelatedness of the identities. Ok, so maybe it’s just a nonsense graph I drew on some newspaper, but as Carroll pointed out in his post, the Internet is inextricably connected to our lives today.

Maybe I’ll follow this mathematical tangent a while longer (oh, the puns, they hurt me). If you’ve ever been in the 4th grade, then there’s a good chance that your teacher read to you, as mine did to me, Madeline L’Enengle’s masterpiece A Wrinkle In Time. If not, head to your local library, check it out, and spend a few hours in a coffee shop alone with it.

A “tesseract” is what the characters in the book use to travel through dimensions and time. In math a tesseract is, basically, a cube inside another cube that is also connected. It is  a shape that represents another direction, another dimension of existence. That sounds very philosophical, but it just means lines that extend from the same points into different places.

Before I continue–rather, before I can continue letting you suffer through this math read, I need to make a qualification.

“For me, math is like this: An attractive lady that I never have a chance of actually dating, but with whom I enjoy flirting very much.

Ok, thanks. Now I’ll go on. So if the Internet (which I have to keep reminding myself is a capitalized proper noun) is a function connected to people, then it is like a tesseract; the Internet is a cube inside of another cube that is not floating, but is connected.

Here’s where things get interesting. You can tell from the picture below that this tesseract shape is fairly easy to conceive. It kinda looks like a sugar cube or, if you’re a chemist, maybe some compound’s crystalline structure.

tesseract

With the exception of all the little greek symbols which I know nothing about, the sape is not a strange escher-esque, floating, mobiüs strip type thing. It’s just a cube inside another cube. Maybe the internet is like this…Maybe the cyberworld, which obviously exists within the human world is just a reflection of the human world.

Math people, you know what’s coming most likely, but regular folks (myself included) prepare to change your pants.

how does it do that?!!?

how does it do that?!!?

Which cube is which? What is the cyber world and what is human? Is the Governor of California going to come out of this cube like a Magic Eye picture if I stare too long?!

The tesseract changes when it is rotated; both cubes stay completely intact, but their positions become interchageable. This is the conclusion that I draw about the relationship of people to the Internet; they are reflexive of one another. They are coefficients of the same variable.

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The Ghost in the Machine: Dialogue on the Influence of the Internet

In Nature, Philosophy, The Web on February 4, 2009 at 3:14 pm

This post is from Nathaniel Carroll’s blog “NonDeScript” and is a collaborative conversation. If you have another blog and would like to join in let us know!

“Life imitates art far more than art imitates Life.” – Oscar Wilde

This week, an e-friend of mine, Steve J. Moore, proposed an interesting question: Does the Internet reflect Humanity or vice versa? To start the discussion, we will take a look at life before Internet. Then, we will examine the life after Internet and its impact on the individual.

Information is power
Nikola Tesla began tinkering with the wireless transmission of information in 1891. The first television broadcasts were transmitted in 1928 to mechanical tv sets with horrible picture quality. In the mid thirties to the beginning of the forties, mechanical sets were commercially available for home use, but production soon stopped as manufacturing efforts became focused on World War II. After the war, the technological boom began to pick up speed again. The first full-color set came in 1954 and cost $1,000.  Today, one thousand bucks buys you a 50″ flat screen tv like this.

Figure 1.1

Figure 1.1

There seems to be an inverse correlation between the availability of information and its value (see Figure 1.1).  In other words, the easier accessing information becomes, the less we are willing to pay for it.  To learn more about this correlation, read Thomas L. Friedman’s book, The World is Flat.  The expansive virtual bank of knowledge has made the world seem much smaller.  Thanks to Mobile 2.0, we expect information to be readily available to us at all times, to the extent that even email is considered an inferior form of communication.  I drew Figure 1.1, photographed it with my phone, sent it to my email address, and uploaded it to the blog in less than one minute.  We want information now, and we want it to be free.

The Shape of (Human) Things
I am twenty three years old.  My first vivid memory involves my father busily working on a thesis under the blue glow of a Tandy 1000 computer screen, my curious finger, and a large red reset button (I’ll post the whole story sometime).  The internet, in a relatively archaic form, already existed.  But even in my youth, when I wanted information for an Earth Science research paper on volcanoes I made photocopies of encyclopedia entries in the school library.  The card catalog was not computerized until I was in high school.  Back in my day, you had to be patient – you had to wait for information to come to you.  Back in my day, you had to be dilligent – you had to spend countless hours scouring tiny print and irrelevant factoids in search of answers.  Back in my day, you had to respect the information you sought.

Today, the quality of content published on the internet spreads from precise, powerful information to pure unsolicited crap.  Because the good stuff can be accessed through the same medium as the bad, it has to be free and effortless.

With regard to the value we assign information, I say that Internet reflects Humanity.  Internet – 1, Humanity – 0.