Understanding technology to understand life

I was watching this interview with James Bridle by Fabrica. The interview setting did not go into depth of some of the interesting topics James addresses, but as a true man putting a black card in the rendering of the future, he triggers some thoughts with me I like to freeze here.

The interesting part emerges from a mismatch (in my opinion) between the interviewer focusing on the output layer of the projects mainly the new aesthetics 8-bit stuff and the thoughts James addresses. What I find interesting is how James his sketching with technology is quite different in its approach for seeing and doing stuff. He seems to want to understand how the technology works and creates new reality, as far as I can conclude. Or maybe not fully understand, but develop a language technology and humans both understand, getting in a flow to communicate and interact on a same level. All his talks and those of others like Kevin Slavin, choose this theme. We move into a state where the technology is developing a will of its own and we will loose contact and maybe agency over technology. If we understand how technology ‘thinks’ and acts we maybe get back in the flow.

My main wonder emerging from listening is if the whole quest for understanding this technology soul is in essence driven by the quest for understanding life. We made technology ourselves, and if it is evolving in more smarter and more humanlike systems, growing slowly (or less slowly) into systems that are compatible to the system we are as human. In that sense it could learn a lot on the way human works. Not in the functional part, but in the way we having a soul and feelings etc. If we get computer systems that are comparable than we have cracked that code. Of course you need to believe that we as humans are not more than a set of rules and nodes just like computers are. But in that huge amount of nodes and and speed of inter node connections we are far away from simulating this.

There is a lot more to say on this, and to think about. For instance what is the scale of the technology model of the human . Is it one device or is it the sum up of all the devices in the world making a collective brain, like Kelly is preaching for some time. Also, in the evolution technology will be part of a common sense and this will influence the modelling.

The basic concept is not new at all, the link between technology evolving and human behaviour, but it is mostly taking the side on how technology will become smarter as humans. I think it an interesting thought that this quest for understanding could also well be triggered by the urge to understand ourselves as humans.

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I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.

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