Rethinking the liquid natures of the human and machine ecology

A preamble - the following topic is incredibly vast and spans across multiple disciplines. This non-exhaustive snippet is meant to document the convergences I have noticed - at my workplace and in my own research scavenging . am still actively trying to formulate my thoughts around it 

with advances in philosophy, computer engineering and intelligent automation, we should be taking a renewed look at our digital milieu and our relationship within it. I believe it warrants a stronger recognition of the 21st century condition as what it always has been time perennial: multiple ecologies of humans and technologies.

we are unable to comprehend this worldview without the knee-jerk Ludditean reflex of estranging ourselves ontologically from the very tools we exist-with, understandably symptomatic of the culture-technics divide, i.e. technology is separate from us — i attribute this to the lag in updating our normative beliefs about being and perception.

briefly indulging in counter-intuitions, what happens if we just embrace a process view of the world?

the boundaries between the ontological status of humans and technology dissolves, as we pay more attention to the liquid natures of socio-technical systems; its flow being the fulcrum in which we orient our lives and perspective around.

(Fieldnotes) difficulties in defining human and machine collaboration (hmc)

Defining human and machine collaboration has been challenging (albeit prescient & useful) at my workplace.

I argue that this is because hmc is an age-old phenomenon that now requires a (drastic) shift in epistemologies to grasp it — from a substance paradigm to a process-based view. It forces us to question our ways of knowing. In a substance paradigm of knowing the world, we unwittingly base our metaphysics on static entities like substances, objects, atemporal events. Case in point: at work, we have now settled for the fact that hmc refers to "a spectrum of technologies", rather than the debates on what its component technologies are.

Implicit in this claim is that human and machine collaboration is an emergent behavior of multiple layer(s) of components dynamically interacting. The human and machine ecology, if you would, is a complex adaptive system of humans and machines interacting.


And it is in such precarious times of pervasive and complex technologies where such collaborations achieve higher levels of abstraction and hence, more metaphysically suspect.

Process Philosophy with Complexity Science

a networked, process philosophy is nothing new. there are existing schools of philosophical thought that study this, such as the classic Latourian actor-network theory, or Alfred N. Whitehead's work. To give this metaphysical statement more weight, I do feel we need an attempt at a transdisciplinary convergence of cybernetics, complexity science and cultural theory.

Slightly over a decade ago, cham & johnson (2007) pointed out the gaps between poststructuralism, complexity science and sociotechnical systems:

The science of cultural systems as part of complex systems theory is the postmodern science for the digital age.

A nod to the reading that inspired this piece, it states:

… the need to move from a model-driven, component-oriented and intrinsically static view of systems to a more organic one, where the complex entanglement between the social and the technical, as well as between the human and the artificial […] leads to considering community morphogenesis…

Extractions from the literature

You can check out my are.na on human and machine ecologies, which I am actively updating. Still, here are some informative quotes on the topic:

Blended coalitions of human and AI

The cognitive health system

The degree to which humans can control a cyber-social system depends on the nature of human-machine coalitions […But] our understanding of how blended coalitions of humans and AI function is just as unevolved and requires interdisciplinary study".

There is little to add to this inspired and inspiring viewpoint by @EnricoCoiera. We've recently focused on a specific type of cyber-social systems, those bound together by a sense of collaborative effort and common ground. We called'em cyborks, to recognize their liquid nature.

Ancient humans and technology: A history

*Experimental evidence for the co-evolution of hominin tool-making teaching and language*

Our results support the hypothesis that hominin reliance on stone tool-making generated selection for teaching and language, and imply that (i) low-fidelity social transmission, such as imitation/emulation, may have contributed to the B700,000 year stasis of the Oldowan technocomplex, and (ii) teaching or proto-language may have been pre-requisites for the appearance of Acheulean technology.

Process philosophy and self-organization

Process philosophy

Self-organization: Process metaphysics has traditionally been motivated by the fact that it seems to give the best explanation of the phenomena of emergence, originally understood as an integral feature of evolution. Since the development of scientific theories of “self-organization,” “chaos,” and “complexity” have begun to alter our understanding of evolutionary change, there is a new need for a metaphysics that can accommodate all sorts of phenomena where dynamic organizations exert causal constraints. While older, speculative, process metaphysics embraced the idea of purposes and creativity in nature, and allowed for the explanatory category of a ‘self-realizing’ or ‘self-engendering’ entity (in various terminological guises), present-day analytical processists confine themselves to arguing that “downward causation” becomes perfectly intelligible once physicalism has been divorced from the assumptions of the substance paradigm, and most especially from the principle that causal powers cannot be attributed to dynamic organizations.