Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Saturday, April 05, 2008

What I Work On, What I Think About, What I Blog On

Professionally, I suppose, my most legible area of research is in science and technology studies, especially technocultural and technoethical theory. My primary interest these days is the political theory of networked societies in a moment of transition from broadcast to p2p, especially
[1] what I think of as peer-to-peer democratization (encompassing the analysis of Netroots organizing, copyfight struggles, basic income advocacy as what I call "pay-to-peer," and also connections between p2p formations and the history of nonviolent activism, what I think of as p2p peacework or peace in pieces),

[2] what I see as the conjunction of p2p practices and permaculture practices (encompassing commons models of seed/water sovereignty politics, networked/decentralized models of renewable resource provision, thinking of the role of mass-mediation in the emergence of planetary political consciousness, networked localisms, and what I call appropriate and appropriable technology discourses), and

[3] what I think of as the prevailing biopolitical regime of neoliberal-eugenic bioremedial networks (encompassing work on medical surveillance, normalizing therapization in the name of universal care, ongoing enclosure of the genomic commons, precarity and duressed corporate-militarist experimental subjection) together with the possibilities for informed nonduressed consensual prosthetic self-determination and planetary lifeway multiculture as an alternative regime facilitated by p2p networks.
That's what I'm working on, thinking about, and teaching in my courses when I can. (I spend a lot of my time lecturing in the history of philosophy, critical theory, political theory, aesthetic theory, all of which is of course pitched at a level of generality and covers timescales that have me emphasizing different issues than these in my classes -- fortunately, these are enormously provocative and fun things to devote one's time and attention to as well.)

The superlative discourses to the critique of which I am devoting so much of my blogging these days seem to me to symptomize prevailing irrationalities of technodevelopmental discourse in a neoliberal/neoconservative epoch. These would be well worth understanding on terms other than the ones they use to promote themselves for that reason alone, quite apart from my sense they are dangerously anti-democratizing as well.

From that more polemical standpoint, transhumanism, singularitarianism, techno-immortalism, neoliberal-eugenicism, technocratic elitism, scientistic reductionist triumphalism and my other usual targets for critique are marginal (some more than others) sub(cult)ural locations that are connected to more prevailing and more influential discourses and rhetoric and frames (on which they depend and to which they perniciously contribute) that stand in complex relations to corporate-militarist technodevelopmental formations in the present in ways that demand the scrutiny of democratically-minded people. However marginal they are (and the fact of their marginality is in some respects intriguingly different from the fact of their actual influence rhetorically/discursively) they also could become far more actively dangerous even where they are now palpably marginalized by way of more than one plausible funding or organizational pathway (inklings of which I already see in motion in some cases) and it is good to expose these possibilities and fight them on that level as well in my view.

9 comments:

De Thezier said...

Dale Carrico said:

What I Work On, What I Think About, What I Blog On

It be might useful and even fun if you could write a constantly updated Amor Mundi Lexicon in which you provide your personal definition of key words and expressions (such as "superlative technocentric", "bioconservatism", "corporate-militarist", and even "Robot God") that you often use in your writings.

Anonymous said...

that stand in complex relations to corporate-militarist technodevelopmental formations in the present in ways that demand the scrutiny of democratically-minded people.

Does "democratically-minded people" mean "progressives" or "people who agree with you?" There are many democratically-minded people who don't mind "corporate formations" (not militarist ones) too much.

Dale Carrico said...

Corporatist tools are such great champions of democracy.

Martin said...

what I think of as peer-to-peer democratization (encompassing the analysis of Netroots organizing, copyfight struggles, basic income advocacy

Ironically, the laissez-faire capitalist system of grassroots exchanges of money is p2p, while basic income guarantee represents a centralized, "broadcast" form of economic exchange.

networked/decentralized models of renewable resource provision

Probabably the most important form of decentralization that we'll need in the 21st century.

thinking of the role of mass-mediation in the emergence of planetary political consciousness

WikiLeaks.org
TheMemoryHole.org

The corporate-governmental elites have nowhere to run.

what I think of as the prevailing biopolitical regime of neoliberal-eugenic bioremedial networks

Whaaa? You think this is the prevailing biopolitical regime? Would that it were. Methinks it's bioconservative mythofascism.

Dale Carrico said...

I mentioned: networked/decentralized models of renewable resource provision, which Martin agreed are: Probabably the most important form of decentralization that we'll need in the 21st century.

To which I will add that unless there are laws, regulations, and global treaties to demand these practices and distribute their effects equitably you can be absolutely sure that incumbent interests will destroy the world instead, fatally undermining the beneficial effects of this decentralized infrastructure for resource provision in their eagerness for parochial profit. This will not happen as a spontaneous order through either the love and good will of an Age of Aquarius nor through the market magic of titanic capitalists innovating in a spontaneous order.

I mentioned the role of mass-mediation in the emergence of planetary political consciousness, to which Martin added WikiLeaks.org, TheMemoryHole.org, and then said The corporate-governmental elites have nowhere to run.

Well, I was actually talking more about the mass-mediated facilitation of a planetary environmentalist awareness that trumps more parochial attachments in at least some cases than about wikileaks, which I agree is pretty cool. I must admit that hearing you say "elites have nowhere to run" scares me to death, because it reminds me a bit of cypherpunks crowing about how encryption was going to smash the state in the 90s. The elites always have somewhere to run, their resourcefulness, their ruthlessness, their advantages should never be underestimated.

p2p democratization so far has emerged out of some really small changes in transaction costs for certain kinds of organized activity, changes so small that almost nobody ever grasps their significance until they find themselves wallowing in the effects. Never underestimate the impact of losing Net Neutrality battles, losing media consolidation battles, losing copyfight battles, losing privacy battles on the ongoing p2p revolution. There is nothing inevitable in the marvelous thing that is happening around us. We have to fight for it. Instituting Net Neutrality, breaking up media monopolies, providing free fast wifi everywhere, subsidizing p2p with basic income can make p2p practices harder to circumvent and strengthen democracy, but these measures require struggle. It's too early for triumphalism, especially any foolish triumphalism inspired by faith in the fantasy of inherently libertory technologies presumably at hand.

Anonymous said...

Corporatist tools are such great champions of democracy.

Yes, they are.

Dale Carrico said...

Brave, Anonymous, how right you are! What we need round here is more corporatism so we can reconstruct the whole world to look like post-invasion Iraq and post-Katrina New Orleans. Then, at last, we will all be free! Oh, when oh when will the poor benighted lefties step aside and let spontaneous order crytallize into the mighty cathedral of libertopia! When will they make way for the great innovative minds of our rich and wonderful betters!

Anonymous said...

Brave, Anonymous, how right you are! What we need round here is more corporatism so we can reconstruct the whole world to look like post-invasion Iraq and post-Katrina New Orleans. Then, at last, we will all be free! Oh, when oh when will the poor benighted lefties step aside and let spontaneous order crytallize into the mighty cathedral of libertopia! When will they make way for the great innovative minds of our rich and wonderful betters!

You don't have to support corporate formations to not mind them.

Anonymous said...

post-invasion Iraq and post-Katrina New Orleans

You don't have to be against corporate formations to help fix them...