Computer rationality: shaping the way we see the world
Julian Assange clearly fits the description of a dissident - a person who offers dissent, who questions deeply the way things are, or who rebels against the system. Interestingly, Australia futurist Richard Slaughter (just voted one of the top four futurists in the world by the Foresight Network says it is the duty of all critical futurists to offer dissent. It is not good enough to simply predict the future, but to question deeply what is happening, or what might likely or possibly happen. I am in essential agreement with Slaughter. And although Assange would not describe himself as a futurist, he is a person committed to not only critiquing the way things are run, but also changing the way the future unfolds. In this sense I am sympathetic to his attitude.
Nonetheless, I have argued in previous posts that a vital requirement for a truly responsible action in the world - and that includes activism - is to become more conscious of our inner worlds and connections with the spiritual domains of mind. I argued that Assange, like all of us, is driven by soul issues which will inevitably affect the results of his actions. There is a certain drive for power and control within his psyche. My perception of this comes from my intuitive reading of him via Integrated Intelligence, not so much from observing his real world behavior.
The ways of knowing (WOK) Julian Assange employs in his everyday life and work greatly affect what he is able to perceive and understand about the world he is trying to change. His preferred and habitual ways of knowing also restrict his capacity to fully comprehend the cognitive “systems” in which his consciousness is embedded. In other words, the way he thinks affects his capacity to understand both himself and the world.
Make no mistake. Julian Assange is no different from you and I in this respect. The reason I am going to explore his case a little deeper here is because the WikiLeaks case is so important for the possible futures that are about to unfold, and Assange represents certain prominent features of the modern mind and its relationship with the world.
My purpose is thus not to judge or condemn him in anyway, merely to highlight how he and the WikiLeaks saga represent a great opportunity for conscious individuals to reflect on their lives and the future.
The essence of what I am going to argue is this. Assange’s case points to the limitations of “computer rationality” as a means of engaging in dissent in a way that is genuinely transformational, genuinely wise. Computer rationality is perhaps the primary way of knowing in the modern world, as I shall explain.
The ways of knowing that we use to see the world greatly shape the way that world looks to us. In my own case, as a young man I generally employed the intellect to understand things. This is quite understandable, given that many years of formal education had shaped the way I thought. When you sit in a classroom or a library and study a topic, you do so through the standard ways of knowing of modern education. You analyse, criticise, classify and memorise. These are all standard ways of knowing in modern developed cultures, right around the world.
As mentioned, another way of knowing which is increasingly used nowadays is “computer rationality”. This is a combination of various ‘rational’ WOK, but mediated through computer technology. It is increasingly becoming the dominant way of knowing and seeing the world. For instance, recently when friends and I were looking for a jazz bar (see previous post), my friend simply pulled out his phone, and whipped up Google Earth. The locale that we were about to travel to via taxi was displayed neatly on his palm. He zoomed in on the streets, from a God-like position, as if descending from the stars. We “found out” where the bar was, then jumped in a cab and went there.
The key point about computer rationality is that the world we “see” is not real. It is a model of the world, and that model is inevitably stripped bare of certain “information”, especially that which we do not recognize in our particular “worldview”. Google Earth, for example, is a Flat Earth. It zooms in on mostly inanimate objects (although, as is well known, it captures some unsuspecting life forms as well!).
This brings me back to perhaps the most important story doing the rounds of the media and blogosphere at present: the WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. The way the typical computer hacker/geek processes reality is particularly intriguing. There are aspects of the process which both expand certain intelligences, and retard others. The act of hacking has a strong potential to inflate the human ego, especially the messianic God-man archetype (The “I am God” delusion). It can exacerbate the illusion of control over “the system”, and of perceived superiority over others. The best hackers are often viewed with a kind of awe in the hacker world, as being super intelligent. The whole hacker “community” tends to see itself as being above and beyond “the system.” Hackers also become locked into using computer rationality to make sense of the world.
As I have often mentioned in my writings, there are important ways of knowing that are typically neglected in modern education and society. They are the intuitive ways of knowing, including Integrated Intelligence. These ways of knowing are very important, as they connect us to spiritual realms of knowledge, and help give us a deeper relationship with the world, and help us understand the bigger picture. Computer rationality, mediated as it is through machines, tends to shut down this deep connectivity with the body, the world, the spirit.
In my next post I will take a closer look at Julian Assange and his ‘world’.