I'm having multiple flashbacks - great people beginning to talk about things that feel like deja-vu - hunting mixed with sadness, but in the end uplifting. First there is the discussion between Sam Harris and Jordan Peterson on moral maps. I'll dig out the exact terminology they use and add the videos below, but first let's see how it differs from a series of bad jokes that evolved in me over about 15 years.
1. GOD stands for Global Online Database (1996) 1. GOD is not a relational database (2002) 1. GOD is an acyclic graph (2006)
# Stage 1
Stage 1 represented the stage of exploration of social-psychological, economic and political structures that you are forced to consider when you design and build collaborative multimedia authoring systems in art and science. There is a great optimistic rush about how the right use of such collective intelligence can benefit... well benefit absolutely everything. Then you start to see the down-sides.
For me this stage lasted from 1989- 1996, which covered the periods when I created the Medical Multimedia Authoring Centre at Charing Cross Hospital in London, then later the Virtual Theatre Company exploring the same techniques I worked of for knowledge sharing and teaching in medicine, but for art and performance instead.
During this stage we began to notice the behaviour these insights induced in people. It was very close to a religious experience. I would see new people who came across these ideas in the early 90's and their eyes stared wide - their excitement was palpable. These were the days of the early internet (which came along a few years after all this multimedia stuff). We used to say they had "gone non-linear", and smile recognising the times when we had been through the same.
As Google rose to fame, based on algorithms essentially the same we tried to apply to knowledge and reputation graphing in science, but targeted at advertising revenue, we started a more politically introspective phase.
Much of these centred around communities in Berlin, Vienna and the US. Google clearly wanted to be GOD, and did no evil. I was working on a multimedia show called Babel at that time, and thinking a lot about advertising. The show was structured around a hypnotising tower of the best TV adverts, set in a market place - Spitalfields Market. We wondered how this new GOD might fall.
# Stage 2
Stage 2 was more prosaic. It followed, or at least accompanied a cataclysmic event - the discovery of Pareto distributions and small world networks. Also a rather brief experiment in trying to implement the graph oriented data structures I was using for democracy and community currency work onto small distributed sqlite databases. That was not fun. God was definitely not a relational database.
# Stage 3
Stage 3 was constructive, i discovered language, and understood the importance of interface - not as surface but as ceremony. I had to rethink value, not just from a technical sense - the latter simply emerged through the work of coding, designing and implementing currency and governance systems.
No, it came through working with people and trying to understand why they found it so hard to work together, what they were feeling and thinking. It came from trying to understand paranoia, cryptography, and the wide range of nerd and alternative cultures.
It came from loving hippies, and the amazement of exploring the dark and strange world of crypotgraphic hackers. We needed the dark side. We began to love the diversity, though we were not fully conscious of what that meant.
This was the stage of synthesising these ideas around a graph, of looking to visualise and navigate these graphs together with groups of people in architectural charettes, unconferences, artist-led organisations, companies and collectives of different forms. During this time we worked on the Emotional Dictionary.
God was clearly a graph based structure, not a "network" that conveyed utterly the wrong set of values - it was clear what type of structure this was aesthetically. It was a type of biological structure that I know call Life Like, but at that time was represented by a huge tent we constructed for worshipping and manufacturing yoghurt. God was an acyclic graph. There was a question mark about whether he was directed.
Around 2013-2014 I understood how people wanted to capture GOD. They hyped to tame her or rather establish and construct immutable proofs. Not all graphs were the same. I was introduced to the Merkle DAG. She had become a machine.
I decided to concentrate on the second wave, which would come after the first over-hyped rush for gold. To work on value, on how we discuss and decide in groups, and on process. We now call this Life-like Governance, and we need to visualise her in a respectful way. It would not show respect to do this without a sense of humour. That would be a machine. We wanted to be life-like.
# Talking to machines
All this time we knew that we had to speak to machines. This was built into hacker culture. We could see the future, or at least a part of it. Unfortunately they could not see feelings, or the social. To reach them, we had to speak to machines.
This meant using logic, and algorithms. Yes we could use art as well, but they would not be ready for that. To convince, we need to proceed in steps. Domain specific languages, Liquid Law, argument mapping, genetic algorithms, neural networks, bayesian decision networks - we tried to show these things how to fall in love.
Love of Diversity was a recent attempt. The aim here is to create an evolving organic map of linked data, with emergent ontologies, constantly being shaped and crafter by groups of wise people, and attacked by processes of decay and bad actors.
The fundamental property of any good process within this living graph - was the love of diversity. I now know this concept under the term Life-like governance - thanks to the perspectives of Christopher Alexander via Dil Green and Ward Cunningham. We have begun to become more social, and find other thinkers who resonate.
This logic build on techniques of argument, outlined by Karl Popper - build the strongest version of your enemy (another take on love-of diversity), make it your own, before you are able to counter it. Technically we know this function as the power of fork. It is an important aspect fo Liquid Democracy. And to do this we need again, we always come back to this, to visualise this map.
Sam Harris has seen this map, so has Jordan Peterson. from what I have seen Jordan Peterson has a deeper understanding of the nature and form of this map, but does not understand the risk of boredom, while Sam Harris does not understand how to make poetry safe. But these videos are old. I wonder who else has seen this map, and thought through its consequences. I would love to ask E.O Wilson this question.
YOUTUBE h1oaSt60b0o Sam Harris & Jordan Peterson in Vancouver 2018 (with Bret Weinstein moderating) — Night One. Broadcast on 1 Sep 2018.
There appears to be a series of these very long dialogues. The quality of constructive dialogue is very high. It is strange to see them wrestle with the problems of language and assumptions of the other. The invisible person on stage was Jordan Peterson, Sam couldn't see him (initially), and Jordan appears to find it very hard to see himself. Video must be such a therapeutic medium for him.
# See also