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Out Of Control
The Rise Of Neo-Biological Civilization
last updated March 22nd, 2005 and is permanently morphing...
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Surfing the Learning Curve of Sisyphus
On the most rudimentary level there is simply terror of feeling like an immigrant in a place where your children are natives--where you're always going to be behind the 8-ball because they can develop the technology faster than you can learn it. It's what I call the learning curve of Sisyphus. And the only people who are going to be comfortable with that are people who don't mind confusion and ambiguity. I look at confusing circumstances as an opportunity--but not everybody feels that way. That's not the standard neurotic response. We've got a culture that's based on the ability of people to control everything. Once you start to embrace confusion as a way of life, concomitant with that is the assumption that you really don't control anything. At best it's a matter of surfing the whitewater.
Barlow, lyricist for the Grateful Dead and cofounder of the Electronic
Introduction from the book _Cyberia: Life In The Trenches Of Hyperspace_ (1994) by Douglas Rushkoff
book _Out Of Control: The Rise Of
The Neo-Biological Civilization, Social Systems and the Economic World_
authored by Kevin Kelly, editor for _WIRED_ magazine in 1998
Paperback Reprint edition (May 1995)
Perseus Pr; ISBN: 0201483408 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.39 x 9.24 x 6.16
In many ways, the 20th century has been the Age of Physics. Out of Control is an accessible and entertaining explanation of why the coming years will probably be the Age of Biology -- particularly evolution and ethology -- and what this will mean to most every aspect of our society. Kelly is an enthusiastic and well-informed guide who explains the promises and implications of this rapidly evolving revolution very well.
...the best of an important new genre. The book offers a pointed reminder that self organization...is the essence of innovation, progress, and life itself. These are eternal ideas -- and ideas whose time has come.
...represents an attempt to comprehend the possible future evolution of everything. This is the wonderful sort of subject which can quickly transform a reader's idle curiosity into an obsessive craving for more knowledge and imaginative interpretation. Kelly offers plenty of both, with hackle-raising enthusiasm, eloquence, and even that scientific rarity, a sense of humor.
In a book about the marriage of the born and the made--the biologicalization of everything from computers to government--the executive editor of Wired chronicles the dawn of a new era in which the machines and systems that drive our economy are so complex and autonomous as to be indistinguishable from living things.
The author, www.wired.com/staff/kevin
, May 24, 1996
Why you should read this book This is a book about how our manufactured world has become so complex that the only way to create yet more complex things is by using the principles of biology. This means decentralized, bottom up control, evolutionary advances and error-honoring institutions. I also get into the new laws of wealth in a network-based economy, what the Biosphere 2 project in Arizona has or has not to teach us, and whether large systems can predict or be predicted. And more: restoration biology, encryption, a-life, and the lessons of hypertext. Yes, it's a romp, in 520 pages. But the best part, my friends tell me, is the 28-page annotated bibliography. If you have suspected that technology could be better, more life-like, then this book is for you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE MADE AND THE BORN
The triumph of the bio-logic
Learning to surrender our creations
do it: distributed governance
The collective intelligence of a mob
Asymmetrical invisible hands
Decentralized remembering as an act of perception
More is more than more, it's different
Advantages and disadvantages of swarms
is the icon of the 21st century
MACHINES WITH AN ATTITUDE
Entertaining machines with bodies
Fast, cheap and out of control
from dumb things
The virtues of nested hierarchies
Using the real world to communicate
No intelligence without bodies
Biology: the future of machines
Restoring a prairie with fire and oozy seeds
Random paths to a stable ecosystem
How to do everything at once
The Humpty Dumpty
What color is a chameleon on a mirror?
The unreasonable point of life
Poised in the persistent state of almost falling
Rocks are slow life
friendship or foresight
THE NATURAL FLUX
Equilibrium is death
What came first, stability or diversity?
Ecosystems: between a superorganism and an identity workshop
The origins of variation
Life immortal, ineradicable
The fourth discontinuity:
the circle of becoming
EMERGENCE OF CONTROL
In ancient Greece the first artificial self
Maturing of mechanical selfhood
The toilet: archetype of tautology
Bottled life, sealed with clasp
Man breathes into algae, algae breathes into man
The very big ecotechnic terrarium
An experiment in sustained chaos
ecosystem, like California
POP GOES THE BIOSPHERE
Co-pilots of the 100 million dollar glass ark
Migrating to urban weed
The deployment of intentional seasons
A cyclotron for the life sciences
Pervasive round-the-clock plug in
Bad-dog rooms vs. nice-dog rooms
Programming a commonwealth
Having your everything amputated
Instead of crunching, connecting
Factories of information
Your job: managing error
Crypto-anarchy: encryption always wins
The fax effect and the law of increasing returns
Anything holding an electric charge will hold a fiscal charge
Peer-to-peer finance with nanobucks
Fear of underwire
Theories with an interface
A god descends into his polygonal creation
The transmission of simulacra
Seamless distributed armies
A 10,000 piece hyperreality
The consensual ascii superorganism
Letting go to
IN THE LIBRARY OF FORM
An outing to the universal library
The space of all possible pictures
Travels in biomorph land
Harnessing the mutator
Sex in the library
Breeding art masterpieces in three easy steps
Tom Ray's electric-powered evolution machine
What you can't engineer, evolution can
Mindless acts performed in parallel
Computational arms race
Taming wild evolution
Stupid scientists evolving smart molecules
Death is the best teacher
The algorithmic genius of ants
The end of engineering's
THE FUTURE OF CONTROL
Cartoon physics in toy worlds
Birthing a synthespian
Robots without hard bodies
The agents of ethnological architecture
Imposing destiny upon free will
Mickey Mouse rebooted after clobbering Donald
AN OPEN UNIVERSE
To enlarge the space of being
Primitives of visual possibilities
How to program happy accidents
All survive by hacking the rules
The handy-dandy tool of evolution
Hang-gliding into the game of life
THE STRUCTURE OF ORGANIZED CHANGE
The revolution of daily evolution
Bypassing the central dogma
The difference, if any, between learning and evololution
The evolution of evolution
The incompleteness of Darwinian theory
Natural selection is not enough
Intersecting lines on the tree of life
The premise of non-random mutations
Even monsters follow rules
When the abstract
The essential clustering of life
can't code for everything
An uncertain density of biological search space
Order for free
Net math: a counter-intuitive style of math
Lap games, jets, and auto-catalytic sets
A question worth asking
A 4 billion year ponzi scheme
What evolution wants
Seven trends of hyper-evolution
Brains that catch baseballs
The flip side of chaos
Making a fortune from the pockets of predictability
Operation Internal Look, Ahead
Varieties of prediction
Change in the service of non-change
Telling the future is what the systems are for
The many problems with global models
We are all steering
WHOLES, HOLES, AND SPACES
What ever happened to cybernetics?
The holes in the web of scientific knowledge
To be astonished
by the trivial
Hypertext: the end of authority
A new thinking
THE NINE LAWS OF GOD
How to make something from nothing
A to L
M to Z
We're just part of the process of turing mountains into computers.
"A pair of coevolutionary creatures chasing each other in an escalating arms race can only seem to veer out of control. Likewise, a pair of cozy coevolutionary symbionts embracing each other can only seem to lead to stagnant solipsism. But Lovelock saw that if you had a vast network of coevolutionary impulses, such that no creatures could escape creating its own substrate and the substrate its own creatures, then the web of coevolution spread around until it closed a circuit of self-making and self-control."
"...if Earth is reduced to the size of a bacteria, and inspected under high-powered optics, would it seem stranger than a virus? Gaia hovers there, a blue sphere under the stark light, inhaling energy, regulating its internal states, fending off disturbances, complexifying, and ready to transform another planet if given a chance."
In Out of Control, the flagship volume of this technological post-Darwinism, Wired editor Kevin Kelly argues that we are heading into a neobiological civilization defined by organic technologies, machinelike biologies, and the prevalence of networks and hive minds. In this Teilhardian world, evolution and engineering become two sides of the same out-of-control force of adaptive learning and holistic feedback loops. Amassing loads of research, Kelly attempts to convince the reader that the spontaneous, symbiotic, and self-organizing capacities of complex systems amount to nothing less than an "invisible hand" of evolution-one that he thinks should be allowed to run riot.
Instead of musty old governments, outmoded humanist philosophies,
and moribund social institutions, the creative novelty of the universe itself
should guide technological development, economic networks. and human culture.
Kelly would bridle at the label of metaphysician.
but he closes his book with some neo-biological rules of thumb, bumper-sticker
slogans like 'seek persistent disequilibrium' and 'honor your errors' that he
calls the "Nine Laws of God." ' Though Kelly himself is a born again Christian,
his God is in many ways the polar opposite of the topdown lawgiver of traditional
biblical faith. Instead, his Nine Laws recall the process theology that has
quietly built up steam in some twentieth century religious circles, a theology
that supplants the transcendent one-shot Platonic Creator with a more Taoist
and Heraclitan sense of creative evolution and constant becoming.
- Erik Davis - _Techgnosis: Myth, Magic & Mysticism In The Age Of Information_
"Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: Some things are within our control, and some things are not. It is only after you have faced up to this fundamental rule and learned to distinguish between what you can and can't control that inner tranquility and outer effectiveness become possible."
- Epictetus, Greek Stoic philosopher
Laney's probably a more conscious metaphor in that what he does with the nodal points is sort of like what I see myself really doing in that part of my work that some people regard as predictive. There are several places in these books where Laney says: "Look, I can't predict the future. But I am sensitive to some areas from which change is emerging." I think that's pretty much the best we can do these days, because change is both exponential and in some weird, either new or newly revealed way, out of control. You know, who's running the show? Well, nobody. That's why conspiracy theories are so popular. Conspiracy theories are big because they're comforting. Any conspiracy is infinitely less multiplex than the real deal, which is sort of multiplex to the point of being unknowable.
In _Out of Control_, Kevin Kelly discusses "God games" like Populus and SimEarth, which allow players to play demiurge, tweaking creation by altering levels of carbon dioxide or the rate of urban development. Kelly points out that these games parallel the science of artificial life, where researchers "grow" synthetic life-like forms by introducing basic rules of behavior and then letting whole worlds of code evolve inside the computer. "I can't imagine anything more addictive than being a god," he writes. "A hundred years from now nothing will keep us away from artificial cosmos cartridges we can purchase and [then] pop...into a world machine [in order] to watch creatures come alive and interact on their own accord."
- Erik Davis
track _No Control_ byBad Religion off of _No Control_ 12" on Epitaph (1989)
Culture was the seed of proliferation
but it's gotten melded
Into an inharmonic whole, to an inharmonic whole.
Consciousness has plagued us and we cannot shake it
Though we think we're in control, though we think we're in control.
Questions that besiege us in life are testament of our helplessness.
There's no vestige of a beginning,
no prospect of an end.
When we all disintegrate it will all happen again.
is so rock solid in the minds of the hordes but they can't
Explain why it should slip away, explain why it should slip away.
History and future are the comforts of our curiosity but here we are
Rooted in the present day, rooted in the present day
Questions that besiege us in life are testament of our helplessness.
There's no vestige of a beginning,
no prospect of an end.
When we all disintegrate it will all happen again
If you came to conquer, you'll be king for a day,
But you too will deteriorate and quickly fade away.
And believe these words you hear when you think your path is clear...
We have no control. We have
no control. We have no control, we do not understand.
You have no control, you are not in command. You have no control. We have no control. No control. No control. You have no control.
Note: The "There's no vestige..." line is from Hutton, 1795. So there.
"If those in charge of our society - politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television - can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves."
Howard Zinn, historian and author
"Anarchy doesn't mean out of control. It means out of 'their' control." - Jim Dodge
film _Matrix: Reloaded_
Everything begins with choice.
Merovingian: No. Wrong. Choice is an illusion, created between those with power, and those without. Look there, at that woman. My God, just look at her. Affecting everyone around her, so obvious, so bourgeois, so boring. But wait... Watch - you see, I have sent her dessert, a very special dessert. I wrote it myself. It starts so simply, each line of the program creating a new effect, just like poetry. First, a rush... heat... her heart flutters. You can see it, Neo, yes? She does not understand why - is it the wine? No. What is it then, what is the reason? And soon it does not matter, soon the why and the reason are gone, and all that matters is the feeling itself. This is the nature of the universe. We struggle against it, we fight to deny it, but it is of course pretense, it is a lie. Beneath our poised appearance, the truth is we are completely out of control. Causality. There is no escape from it, we are forever slaves to it. Our only hope, our only peace is to understand it, to understand the `why.' `Why' is what separates us from them, you from me. `Why' is the only real social power, without it you are powerless. And this is how you come to me, without `why,' without power. Another link in the chain. But fear not, since I have seen how good you are at following orders, I will tell you what to do next. Run back, and give the fortune teller this message: Her time is almost up. Now I have some real business to do, I will say adieu and goodbye.
Out Of Control Online - the entire book