Convergence Technologies: NBIC and the Future

If they will not understand that we are bringing them a mathematically faultless happiness, our duty will be to force them to be happy.

– Yevgeny Zamyatin, WE

Dr. Mihail C. Roco Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology at the National Science Foundation tells us that the convergence of knowledge and technology for the benefit of society is the core opportunity for progress in the 21st century, based on five principles:

  1. the interdependence of all components of nature and society,
  2. decision analysis for research and development based on system-logic deduction,
  3. enhancement of discovery, invention and innovation through evolutionary processes of convergence that combine existing principles and competencies, and divergence that generates new ones,
  4. higher-level cross-domain languages to generate new solutions and support transfer of new knowledge, and
  5. vision-inspired basic research embodied in grand challenges. It allows society to answer questions and resolve problems that isolated capabilities cannot, as well as to create new competencies, knowledge and technologies on this basis.

A book that will support this new progressive agenda tell us the convergence in knowledge, technology, and society is the accelerating, transformative interaction among seemingly distinct scientific disciplines, technologies, and communities to achieve mutual compatibility, synergism, and integration, and through this process to create added value for societal benefit. It is a movement that is recognized by scientists and thought leaders around the world as having the potential to provide far-reaching solutions to many of today’s complex knowledge, technology, and human development challenges. Four essential and interdependent convergence platforms of human activity are defined in the first part of this report: nanotechnology-biotechnology-information technology and cognitive science (“NBIC”) foundational tools; Earth-scale environmental systems; human-scale activities; and convergence methods for societal-scale activities. The report then presents the main implications of convergence for human physical potential, cognition and communication, productivity and societal outcomes, education and physical infrastructure, sustainability, and innovative and responsible governance. As a whole, the report presents a new model for convergence. To effectively take advantage of this potential, a proactive governance approach is suggested.  The study identifies an international opportunity to develop and apply convergence for technological, economic, environmental, and societal benefits.

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Operational Neuroscience: The Militarization of the Brain

“Why design a machine to read thoughts when all you have to do is shut down a few circuits and have your subject read them out for you?”

– R. Scott Bakker,  Neuropath


In a presentation to the intelligence community five years ago, program manager Amy Kruse from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) identified operational neuroscience as DARPA’s latest significant accomplishment, preceded by milestone projects that included the Stealth Fighter, ARPANET, the GPS, and the Predator drone. National security interests in operational neuroscience encompass non-invasive, non-contact approaches for interacting with a person’s central and peripheral nervous systems; the use of sophisticated narratives to influence the neural mechanisms responsible for generating and maintaining collective action; applications of biotechnology to degrade enemy performance and artificially overwhelm cognitive capabilities; remote control of brain activity using ultrasound; indicators of individual differences in adaptability and resilience in extreme environments; the effects of sleep deprivation on performance and circadian rhythms; and neurophysiologic methods for measuring stress during military survival training.

Anthropologist Hugh Gusterson, bioethicist Jonathan Moreno, and other outspoken scholars have offered strong warnings about potential perils associated with the “militarization of neuroscience” and the proliferation of “neuroweapons.” Comparing the circumstances facing neuroscientists today with those faced by nuclear scientists during World War II, Gusterson has written, “We’ve seen this story before: The Pentagon takes an interest in a rapidly changing area of scientific knowledge, and the world is forever changed. And not for the better.” Neuroscientist Curtis Bell has called for colleagues to pledge that they will refrain from any research that applies neuroscience in ways that violate international law or human rights; he cites aggressive war and coercive interrogation methods as two examples.

Read Article: Neuroscience, Special Forces and Yale by Roy Eidelson.

R. Scott Bakker: Why not simply yet another affection, this one dispositionally prone to yelp, ‘Me-me-me!’

My friend R. Scott Bakker makes a point about my recent posts here and here on Hume and his views of the Self as interpreted by Gilles Deleuze in his Empiricism and Subjectivity, and the conclusions I draw from my reading, saying:

I said: “This reflexive movement of synthesis is an intervention or cut in time and its extension in historical reflection upon that cut or splice in time. It is this gap between two intervals, the time of intervention and the time of reflection between affection marked and affection reflected that produces the sense or synthesis of self. The self is this process of a double reflection. Neither form nor substance the self is the gap or cut between two modalities that is resolved not at the level of understanding but within the moral and political domain of culture. Neither intentional nor directed the self becomes a synthetic unity brought into play by the mind’s own innate processes, and yet these very processes cannot be reduced to the physical manifestations of the brain itself which is both origin and qualifier of the mind’s reflexive nature.”

Scott asked: What ‘gap’? I just don’t see what motivates the distinction into two modalities here. If ‘reflection’ is affection (and what else would it be?), then what makes it different than any other kind of affection? Why should affection working the trace of previous affections give rise to anything so exotic as ‘cuts’ and ‘gaps’ and ‘irreducible entities’? Why not simply yet another affection, this one dispositionally prone to yelp, ‘Me-me-me!’

As soon as that particular affection subsides, the self subsides with it, as it does in sleep.

Ok, if we take the standard definition of the term “affection” as: attraction, infatuation, or fondness – a “disposition or rare state of mind or body”. And, a  disposition as a habit, a preparation, a state of readiness, or a tendency to act in a specified way.

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Power, Knowledge, Self-Reference: Guattari’s Triad

Edmund Berger of Deterritorial Investigation Unit has a great post on a little understood aspect o Guattari’s thought, explication his Schizoanalytic Cartographies.

Deterritorial Investigations

DCF 1.0

“Machines,” wrote Gilles Deleuze in his examination of Foucault’s thought, “are always social before being technical. Or, rather, there is a human technology before which exists before a material technology.”i With this simple statement, the entirety of processes in development of Western civilization – achieving a truly global, or even cosmological reach with the accelerations of neoliberal capitalism – is revealed for what it is: a machinic order. Marx had situated labor, or more properly the relationship between labor and the modes of production, as the base for social organization; here, we can see that this is incorrect. Deleuze’s understanding of the machine does extend beyond the purely technical, and into the array of social and power relations that are tangled within it, but it becomes essential to acknowledge that the technical precedes the varying modes of labor. What emerges from this picture is, therefore, a feedback loop, with…

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