Theories and Metaphors of Cyberspace- Abstracts


By Eric Schwarz

  • Centre interfacultaire d'etudes systemiques, Universite de Neuchatel, CH-2000 Neuchatel, Switzerland.
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  • Abstract:

    TELECOM 95, the quadriennal communication grand mass and the accompanying "Technology Summit", entitled "Join the October Revolution" is just closing in Geneva. Most of the preoccupations of the participants can be classified in three categories: business, technique and social aspects.

    Business is obviously the main attractor of the processes taking place in this kind of global meeting. It has been claimed that the cost of this exhibition correspond to the cost of achieving the telephone network in Africa. This fact is an indication of the high degree of logical closure of this exploding relatively autonomous techno-economical system.

    A second level of preoccupation is filled with the purely technical questions: physical aspects of networks, optical fibers, wireless technology, broadband sevices, satellite technology; management questions, interactive services, public and corporate networks, rural networks, intelligent (computer controlled) networks, multimedia, etc. In the business networks, the trend is toward the breakdown of the barriers between customers, manufacturers, suppliers through real-time graphic-intensive multimedia exchanges.

    Some companies fear that with the increased competition between suppliers of communication services, the customers' buying power will increasingly set the rules of the business. Therefore they initiate sociological research programs to try to predict the future needs of the individuals in their professional as well as in the private lifes, based on some models of lifestyle evolution.

    The above mentioned activities of the actors of the telecommunication techno-economical system, businessmen, engineers, sociologists, are important because they exist and, as such, shape the evolution of the whole system. But they just say nothing about the new global features emerging from their interactions, from the actual causal network of the hybrid whole system constituted by the human agents and the cybernetical artefacts, which we call cyborg. We think that the cartesian empirico-analytical epistemology used by most of the active agents does not enable them to perceive these emerging holistic features.

    In this paper we propose to interpret the emerging cyborg and its cyberspace with a non-reductionist language based on an evolutionary generic metamodel presented in the preceeding meeting of this Conference*). We will show that the events taking place today in modern society can be seen as a meta-human self-organizing process which represent a major step in the evolution of life on this planet, as important as the transition from unicellular to multicellular organisms. We will discuss the possible evolution of this new entity and the possible impact of its recognition on the process itself.

    *) E. Schwarz, A Metamodel to Interpret the Emergence, Evolution and Functioning of Viable Natural Systems.

    in : E. Trappl, ed, Cybernetics and Systems '94, p.1579. World Scientific, Singapore.