Wednesday 10 February 2010

Luciano Floridi on the fourth revolution and the infosphere

In a Philosophy bites interview, Luciano Floridi talks about the fourth revolution - the information revolution.

I've removed the emedded audio because it was taking a long time to load - please go to the site instead if you want to listed to it.

Some notes and comments:

Four revolutions which change our understanding of where we stand in relation to the universe.

1st Copernicus
2nd Darwin
3rd Freud
4th The information revolution. ICT modifies our interaction with reality. "Things exist if we can interact with them."

"The infosphere", goes back to the invention of writing, expanding to include more and more aspects of our reality.

A square with four corners:
1 knowledge
2 ethics
3 our self-understanding
4 how we make sense of reality

ICT has changed all four. 4th: Things exist if we can interact with them - "For example, in the world of physics"... we have become used to treating as existing subatomic particles that we have never perceived but we have been able to interact with"

He talks about the way in which we can play different roles and characters online (as in Second Life) and makes the point that if someone spends a lot of time playing these roles it can feed back in to who that person is.

This reminded me of an episode in "The Joke" by Milan Kundera, where the narrator is in a jail, and the man in charge of the jail is young and cruel. Kundera argues that his cruelty arises from not knowing how he should behave, so he has to create a role for himself:
The young can't help playacting; themselves incomplete, they are thrust by life into a completed world where they are compelled to act fully grown. They therefore adopt forms, pattern, models - those that are in fashion, that suit, that please - and enact them.
My point is that it is not just online that we act out roles. Maybe, though, the virtual world provides somewhere we can start afresh, and escape from the role we created in the physical world?

"We are 80% 90% information"

"There is a sense in which people who are not online do not exist"

Information technology has given us reasons to reconsider the classical problems from a different perspective.

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