30 June 2015

Softwarization Anthropology (cont’d)

Who can’t remember the amazing movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”. Movie starts with early hominids realizing how to use a bone as a tool. In the movie, millions of years later space technology and artificial intelligence (HAL) have become the new tools brining humans to a challenging voyage to Jupiter

The way humans make and use tools is what determine our species evolution, perhaps making it unique.

Well, softwarization can be seen as the new tool for humanity, offering new ways for communicating, producing-consuming ICT services, creating the Digital Society and Digital Economy. In fact, it will be a tool capable of distorting, reducing space-time dimensions of Digital Society in this data-centric era.

Telecommunications and ICT are making distances are shorter and shorter, and space is being morphed by the digitalization of objects, things and processes. Causes-effects latencies are being dramatically reduced, and “control loops” intertwined as in Complex Adaptive Systems. Non linearity is going to characterize the socio-economic variables of our world.

So softwarization will bring big changes, as it will allow implementing into reality our cognition models.

In fact, we’ve mentioned several time that softwarization will allow pervasively sensing and collecting massive data (by sensors, terminals, smart things, machines, robots, drones, etc); exchanging data (via fixed and mobile networks with high bandwidth and low latency); analyzing quickly big data (with Cloud-Edge Computing) in order to elaborate decisions (e.g., with AI methods, algorithms, heuristics) for actuating local actions (by any actuators)… That's how a "nervous system" works. And this will boost pervasive robotics and intelligent machines applications. The “Second Machine Age” is really coming.

I believe that, from an anthropological perspective, this is also very much resonating with what R. Bandler and J. Grinder called “distorsion”, as one of the processes which allow us to survive, grow, change…a process which allows us to make shifts in our experience of sensory data. Indeed, future Telecommunications and ICT services will allow transforming our experiences, digitalizing everything around us. 

Also  Marshall McLuhan in “Understanding Media” argues that the web, media, Telecommunications in general are bringing to a sort of social "implosion", as people and processes are more closely connected and interworking.  This unification, through implosion, for McLuhan, will allows for the idea of living in a "global village" to emerge. And emergence is a phenomenon of Complex Adaptive Systems.

But I think that this  "global village" will be also populated with digital beings such as virtual and embodied agents or software processes, becoming characters of socio-economic surroundings and life conditions. ICT is reaching such a level of maturity that it will fade into the physical reality, merging with it. So it won’t be just a matter of technology records !

Also, it will be very much important realizing how to make this "complex" merger (of the natural and softwarized worlds) really acceptable from a socio-economic perspective, by addressing issues such as the overall sustainability and the compatibility, in the respect of Nature.