Bernard Stiegler

Bernard Stiegler, the French theorist, was one of the most interesting people for me that we studied in this class. He was the leader of the technogenesis movement. One of the most interesting facts about Stiegler was he was incarcerated in Toulouse, France for armed robbery at the Saint-Michele Prison. The prison held many Germans post WWII before it was reestablished into what it was during Stiegler’s time. He did much of his studying and thinking during this period alongside that of Gerard Grenel at le Universite de Toulouse le Mirail. 

What is interesting about all of this is the fact that I lived by this prison for three months while I interned in the U.S. Consulate In Toulouse, France. This internship was with the United States State Department. A lot of the work we did involved public and economic diplomacy in the South West region of France. Everyday I hopped on the metro right in front of the to get to work

It is no longer used as a prison and every week there is an article in the local newspaper of how they were going to repurpose it. The popular idea was turning it into a music school/ theatre because of its large walls. It would be able to echo the music that was being play all throughout the city. You can see its large walls would be perfect for the echo effect. The prison basically never gives tours of the prison because of his Nazi Germany history.

 

I did a lot of work with the Universite de Toulouse le Mirail also. In the consulate we gave many grants for students to study in the United States. We also gave a lot of grants for American professors to come and give conferences at the University. One of the most populous Universities in Toulouse, it plays an important role in the city. We have many relationships with the University. There international business school is rather large with students from America specifically with the University of Cincinnati. Recently the name of the School has changed to just the University of Toulouse. The reason with this is because the name “Mirail”has a negative connotation attached to it. When people thing of le Mirail, they think of poor people at Gypsys or Romanians. So the city voted on changing the name in hopes of making the school more of an International hub.

France and the city of Toulouse specifically has an interesting political sphere when it comes to Romanians. There is a large portion of the city that is somewhat racist towards the Romanians. They have a movement that is particularly popular in Toulouse against the Romanians called the Front Nationale.  This group is somewhat similar to our Tea Party in the sense that it is very Nationalistic. It wants to keep everyone that is not French out and protect its borders just like the Tea Party wants to keep illegals out. 

2001: A Space Odyssey

I just want to start off by saying I thought this was an incredibly weird movie. Nothing about it really makes sense the first time you watch it. Honestly, at the end I don’t think I’ve ever been more annoyed by a movie. I don’t think I can talk about this movie and not give the whole thing away so, just stop reading if you haven’t watched this and plan on it.

I think this movie is a perfect example of technogenesis albeit a very odd and quirky one. The first time watching this movie I couldn’t figure out what it was about. After a few watches I’ve come up with this. In the beginning we see a group of apes who are surrounded by this large obelisk that I will now refer to as the thing. After a while these apes are so mesmerized by the thing they end up messing with it. While an ape is messing with the thing something happens. It’s almost as if, like in many cartoons before it, a light bulb turned on above his head. He grabbed a fairly large bone and started smashing things with it. The monkey had made the first tool. And according to the movie the rest was all history. That was the moment man was born, the first time he used a tool.

I think it’s pretty interesting that this is how man is signified as evolving from an ape, when he uses his first tool. The writer of this story would obviously agree with the idea of technogenesis, in that technology and man’s evolution are one in the same.

The real question in this movie is what is the thing? Where did it come from, why is it here, and who did it? The thing as we see it is assisting the evolution of man. When the apes find it, they suddenly learn how to use tools. This event leads the apes down a path of technogenesis to become highly advanced humans. The main part of the movie follows Dave, an astronaut, on his journey. After finding another thing on the moon which is emitting a signal, Dave is sent to Europa, a moon of Jupiter to further investigate.

Once Dave is at Europa, after a few hiccups on the way, another event with the thing happens. There is another one on Europa and Dave goes through some transformation. He goes through a worm hole and is transformed into some weird star baby. So somehow the thing assists in the progression of human’s evolution.

The hiccup that Dave experienced on his way to Europa is with the computer that is on the spaceship. The computer named HAL is intelligent and what seems like self-aware. He gives Dave a notification that their navigator is broken. When Dave checks this with mission control they tell him otherwise and state that HAL is malfunctioning. Dave and a shipmate plan to disconnect HAL. Hal overhears this and plans on killing the whole crew. HAL decides that the mission objective is more important than the lives of the crew. I was originally going to write about this, but I decided to write about the thing since it was so relevant to technogenesis. Here’s a pretty famous video of HAL trying to kill Dave.

http://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/read/artificial-wombs-are-coming-and-the-controversys-already-here

I first want to take a look into the creator of this article: Vice. We talked in class many different times about who is creating the news that we consume everyday. Usually we look to CNN, Politico, MSNBC, FOX, or The New York Times but there is a new player in the game. Vice news has taken what it means to be a news provider and turned it upside down. They are creating real news the goes super in depth to issues that younger generations find interesting. They no longer are creating news that is cut and dry and very typical. They are making stories that are sensational but not in a bad way. Vice is able to go to war torn countries and talk with real people about the issues. They do it almost in a fun way, they cuss and act like real people. Typically with the other news sources I provided above keep to a very strict pattern on giving the news. I thought it was important to introduce Vice before I introduced and talked about the article.

Science is constantly coming up with new and game-changing technologies. I will be talking about how scientist are slowly starting to be able to create fetus’ outside of the womb. As the article title says, the controversy is already here. The article specifically talks about how this is a direct example of transhumanist. In this specific case, it is asking the question of whether or not creating offspring in a tube should be considered human. This idea of creating humans inside embryo’s is something non-fiction often depicts as the savior of human kind.

One of the most interesting parts of this article is how these embryo’s will decide gender. If this is something that actually works and we start to use it, we will now have the capability to decide what gender the baby has. This could definitely be problematic because of certain cultures that favor men to women. China and India specifically have a overpopulation problem. Their cultures typically tend to favor men to women which often results in the mistreatment of women in their culture. If people were able to choose the gender of the baby peoples culture could have an effect on the amount of men to women born.

This article talks about the importance of women in our world in general. Women have the role of actually creating new offspring. This goes along with what I had to say earlier, but what role would women have in a world where they are not needed to birth babies anymore. Will it have a positive effect where women now can base more of their time focusing on the workplace and not have to worry about the 9 months of carrying a child? Or will it have the negative effect of women being ousted in society because they no longer play that vital role in our society. These questions are extremely important to ask when new technologies like this are created.

Capitalism Post 2 – Money as Distributed Cognition and a Measure of Trust

Definitely at this point, it is obvious that I would be someone who agrees with the merits of capitalism/a free market.  I got some interesting comments on the first article I wrote regarding captialism, I have talked about capitalism before in the discussions, and it is a relevant point of discussion for the class.  This blog is going to talk about money’s function as a sophisticated technology and an integral part of capitalism.

In the last post I made, I talked about the merits of having a currency as opposed to a barter system or nothing.  Building off of that, it is import to deconstruct the idea of money in the modern context.  We all use money every single day.  We use money as a standard of measurement, a means of motivation, a form of glamor, and a trading device – just to name some uses.  Money is all of these things, and yet it is not bound to any gold standard (a way to directly define a material worth to a note or coin) or hold any other physical value besides the raw metal of coins.

In recent years, the suggestion of bringing back a gold standard for the US dollar has become somewhat of an issue due to concerns of over inflation of the US dollar.  I mentioned in a comment (not sure how many people saw) that inflation was a good thing for an economy with a growing population to have because it provides adequate access of currency and a general increase of value of goods and services in the economy.  I also mentioned that deflation is much more terrifying and destructive than inflation.

To touch upon deflation, as it is a good example of my point, consider the following situation (and this would be just one element of a situation of rapid deflation).  Imagine you want to go buy a car for $20,000 (true value) and also imagine this action is the only thing going on in the economy (I know it sounds silly).  When you get to the dealership, you have all the $20,000 in your right pocket, but the car you want is $20,500 so you decide to wait until it goes on sale.  That dealer has had a hard time selling that car so he decides to lower the price.  You walk back into the dealership the next day and the dealer for the car has marked down the car to $19,000 dollars.  Stunned, the price fell so much in one day, you decide to wait till tomorrow.  That night the dealer who thought you would buy the car for $19,000 lowers the value again to $18,000 because he needs to sell this good, even if he is making less money from it.  So this downward spiral would continue to occur.  You would refuse to buy because you believe the good is worth less but in reality the value of the good can’t change in that sense.  Yes this is kind of a silly/flawed example because it is such an extreme microcosm, but what would occur on a national scale would be a large scale devaluing of goods, debt, and services as the currency becomes devalued.  Everyone gets a lot poorer, a lot faster.

So why does this relate to having a gold standard?  If we now pretend the US is currently using a gold standard what would happen if there was a large injection of gold supply into the market?  Supply affects demand which affects the price.  More supply means less demand, lower price.  If there was a discovery of a huge gold mine outside of Toledo, or if there was a gold robbery from Fort Knox or more realistically, if there was an embargo imposed upon a gold exporting country all of these things directly affect the health of the US dollar because the dollar would be a function of the gold present in the economy.

As it is now, the dollar is a representation of trust that is backed by the US that it can pay back debts.  That’s all it is and that is a good thing, it isn’t dependent on anything material, just people.  People are defining the value of money in the system.  It functions as a form of distributed cognition among the masses and with 315 million citizens, it is an extreme measure of trust in our government.

Technogenesis in Final Project

When looking at the progression of the teenage human, one can also look at the technogenesis of the teenage human. The teenage human could be fading out of existence leading to a human life entering adulthood at a much younger age and somehow preprogrammed with the knowledge that one would have acquired during the teenage years. On the other hand, the teenage human could take over other stages of human or be extended, shortening the span of the adult human. Seeing how the teenage human has developed so far, the later option is more viable. Roughly fifty years ago it was fairly common for teenage humans to enter the workforce at a younger age doing trade jobs. Teenagers would drop out of high school and pursue money. It was also more common for smoking habits to develop, in some cases even before the human reached the teenage human. Working and smoking, traits indicative of a more adult human seen in teenagers has slowly died off and been pushed back. More teenagers now pursue higher education and advanced degrees, etc. Students are staying in school longer and almost reliving their younger years at an older age. It is possible that this notion indicates that it is taking humans longer to grow up and grow out of their teenage human self. It is not uncommon for humans to be in school until their mid to late twenties as opposed to entering the workforce at eighteen years old in the 1950s. The technogenesis of a teenage human will extend beyond the teenage years. Whether this will help or heed society is unsure. With more education, new findings and breakthroughs could arise. With more time spent in the teenage glory years, more destructive decisions could be made damaging the Earth.

Humans progress and mature at different rates. A common theme is to be considered grown up once you turn twenty (more importantly twenty-one) but as the human has evolved this may not be an accurate representation anymore. Teenagers cannot transition into adults based on age. There are plenty of individuals in their twenties that act about fifteen years old but are considered adults. My idea of the transformation of a teenage human into a “mid-life” human is supported by this fact. The teenage years are trying to be extended with technogenesis.  

In the 1950s, an eighteen-year-old would be considered an adult and it was an accurate model. They may not have been the same as a forty-year-old adult but an adult nonetheless. It is very rare to see an eighteen-year-old in the present day that can be thought of more as an adult than as a teenager.

The transition to prolonged teenage years can be attributed to more dependence on the teenager’s parents, social media, and education. As I have explained in my project, teenagers are far more dependent on adults and supervisors in the present day than they were roughly thirty years ago. Teenagers need more guidance now. Wrapped up in social media, present day teenagers have a heavy reliance on their friends which allows an entire friend group to grow up together, leading to a slower process. Also, with the advances in education, it is far more common to stay in school for longer, earning more degrees and gaining more knowledge. The idea of schooling and education is associated with youth and life after schooling is associated with adulthood. This also contributes to the technogenesis of the teenage human.

First steps on Moon

For my project I am analyzing the space program from the point of view of technogenesis and public media. Technogenesis refers to the co-evolution of the relationship of humans with technology. We build tools to help us solve problems and maser out environment but these tools reshape our spatial and temporal relationship and even our ideas and concepts. For this blog I will be showing how the first steps on the moon have given the public a new sense of being human. It has changed our conceptions of space, time, gender, age, race and power. We were also able to obtain priceless moon rocks creating material metaphor showing there’s more outside our atmosphere.

Since Apollo 8, which was the first American capsule to orbit the moon it was able to broadcast the Earth on TV while orbiting the moon. This created a sense of what is human and perhaps equally important that the earth appears as one planet with humans inseparable from their environment. Apollo 11 followed with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Alrdren who were able to reach the moon and to be congratulated by President Nixon over the phone. Over 600 million viewers watched the first steps on the moon live on television making it the most watched show. This inspired young scientists and developed a path for the public to learn about space exploration.

This created a new perspective on something that defines us while Neil Armstrong’s quote “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” illuminates this. Apollo 11 was able to place an American flag both a material metaphor and a symbol of this technogenesis. This flag represents the effort and technological advances that allowed us travel to the moon and win the geopolitical space race. Normally planting a flag is associated with conquering new territory or winning a war. This accomplishment has shown humans love the challenge and can accomplish anything, which is to say master the environment. While the space program emphasized the importance of saving the ecology of the planet and perhaps planting a seed to even consider the Gaia Hypothesis, which places humans on an equal co-evolution footing with other life.

The space program forced humans to reconsider a number of social aspects. Including who would be entitled to newly found land or would it undertake the same values of capitalism in the newly dominated space? In response to that the United Nations sponsored an Outer Space Treaty, which allowed outer space to be a common ground. Also the international Moon Treaty of 1979 forbid the private property ownership of the moon. However Russia did not sign onto these.

In conclusion the space program was much more than just rockets going to the moon. It has led in motion a interaction with humans that has reproduced our set of values which at the same time changing them. Including values about age, gender, property rights, what is human and out relationship to other species, as well as the relationship between people and the environment.

Technogenesis with Rockets

 

For my project I am analyzing the space program from the point of view of technogenesis and public media. For this blog post I will be talking about how rockets and the space race gave the humans a new mindset on what is human since now we have been able to launch ourselves outside the Earth and look back on ourselves and see how our small blue planet is nothing but one giant rock with a variety of living mixtures of life growing on the rock. I will also incorporate some other facts relating to class discussions like HeLa cells.

Rockets were the first worldwide technogenesis developing a path to the public about space exploration and being human. Launching these rockets was often broadcasted on worldwide TV. Since the first Russian rocket carrying Sputnik 1 launched in 1957 caused “virtually every American ham operator, physicist, radio astronomer from Boston to San Diego, and on ships at sea was either listening or feverishly assembling equipment to listen to Sputnik’s beeps(Reif).” These events caught media’s attention, which has encouraged young scientists to discover the science and art of rockets. Russia also launched the first person and animal (dog) in space. However, it was later revealed that Russia had gained inside information from improper channels, so NASA began creating high tech security to protect their data files. This was the true start of the space race as America began sending rockets up with people and experiments on board. The first American rocket sent in 1961 carried a man to find out what happens to HeLa cells when introduced to microgravity. HeLa cells are a immortal cell from Henrietta Lacks. These cells on there own replicate faster, grow stronger, and tougher. . “In 1960, HeLa cells were sent into space in a Soviet satellite prior to the flight of any astronaut. NASA later included HeLa cells in their first manned mission, and they discovered that cancer cells grow faster in space.” (Kappel) As the need to lift more weight into space, rockets had become larger and more advanced with multiple mini launch phases to thrust toward the moon. As the media covered Apollo 8 orbit the moon, approximately 40 million people watched it happen. However, once Apollo 11 launchings brought crowds of people to the launch pad, the event broadcast became the most watched event on television. The Apollo 11 moon landing had an estimated 600 million people watching from our Earth as we could see it rise over the horizon. This was the big moment, which brought humans to ask themselves what is human. Our co-evolution with these rockets has given us the power to master our environment while reshaping the ideas and concepts to help solve the greater problem of “Why are we here?”

Rocket sizes space race

 

Figure 1 These show the Rockets Scout to Saturn 5 on the American side for the space race.

 

I also do recommend checking out this site to see how Saturn 5 was built as this was one of the major rockets of that time and still is how they are used in multiple stages of launching.

http://www.space.com/18422-apollo-saturn-v-moon-rocket-nasa-infographic.html

 

Bibliography-

  1. http://www.hq.nasa.gov/pao/History/SP-4215/ch1-2.html

 

  1. http://dujs.dartmouth.edu/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/11s_final-12-13.pdf