Against Imposed Normativity

The following fragments are from sections of a paper Divergent Design Lab is reading as part of the After Agency conference, 12-14 November 2019, Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center, Street Jana Pawla II 10, Poznan. Humanities/Art/Technology Research Center

Post-Networked Reality

Post-networked reality is everything connected to The Network. This concept has outgrown the previous descriptor ”The Internet.” The Network is all that is connected. Other networks exist that are not connected to The Network yet, but that which is connected to The Network is now part of a network of realities.

The Network describes a technical set of connections, as did The Internet. In order to consider this more critically, it helps to invert the concept.

We do not connect to The Internet anymore. We are already connected to an entire reality that is networked. That which is imposed by the Internet is not an ideology to believe or purchase, but a lived reality that is mostly unavoidable.

We cannot extricate ourselves, or our data, from the internet.

When did that become a reality? Even if we managed to disappear completely, like Phil Agre, our data remains on the network. Agre disappeared after writing about artificial intelligence, and how extending computers to things turned those things into computer-like systems. Agre described a process of phenomenological colonization, then he disappeared.

Non-Networked Reality

Non-networked reality is a hypothetical reality consisting of all aspects of reality that cannot possibly be colonized by networked reality. We cannot assume that non-networked reality even exists, given achievements in massive storage; the use of meta-data to tag incoming data; and the potential for artificial intelligence and machine learning to find ways to network, or simulate, any concept, any existence, or any life.

Every day post-network reality can access, acquire and store more data than it ever has before. Its ability to acquire complex relationships at scale was once limited to enticing people to use social media or other communication systems, but “virtual assistants” and “smart televisions” are already moving into homes, ready to listen to everything that happens. 
What is less clear is what can be predicted from the data captured about an individual, and about the interaction between individuals.

Sara Ahmed wrote, “It is by understanding how we become oriented in moments of disorientation that we might learn what it means to be oriented in the first place.

Divergent Design Lab is working to build a social engineering code library for altering semantic structures, and manipulating individual perspectives on reality. We have real studies published in real journals, with real experimental results.

What we’re doing here in Poland is oblique. As Ahmed put it, “‘queer’ is a way of describing what is ‘oblique’ or ‘off line.’”

As an attempted solution, the pressure to ensure that nothing happens, together with police surveillance of the territory, will only intensify. The unmanned drone that flew over Seine-Saint-Denis last July 14th — as the police later confirmed — presents a much more vivid image of the future than all the fuzzy humanistic projections. That they were careful to assure us that the drone was unarmed gives us a clear indication of the road we’re headed down.

The Coming Insurrection, comité invisible (emphasis mine)
Paige Treebridge

Paige Treebridge co-directs Divergent Design Lab, focused on vulnerability and exploitation using cybersecurity, new media art, user experience design, and social psychology paradigms. Twitter @PTreebridge

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