2016/09/10 Tim Ingold, “The Sustainability of Everything” (web video)

Talk at the Centre for Human Ecology, Glasgow, announced at http://www.che.ac.uk/tim-ingold-talks-about-the-sustainability-of-everything-10th-sept-2016/

Video posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncLv9Gk7XrI and https://vimeo.com/182572764

This digest was created by editing the text transcript generated by Youtube. View the video yourself for a more authentic reproduction. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

[00m39s] This talk actually began life as the conversation I had a few months ago with Claudia Zeiske, who’s the director of Deveron Arts which is a us a local arts based organization in the town of Huntly in Aberdeenshiare, and she was planning an event to celebrate the planting of new woodland, and whe wanted me to talk about the principles of sustainability as they bear on friendship and peace, on grassroots democracy, on art, ecology, and culture.

[01m15s] “You mean you want me to talk about the sustainability of everything”, I said.  Well, it seemed to be a pretty impossible thing to do but the more I thought about it the more it seemed to me that sustainability is either of everything, or it is nothing.  Because it can’t be of some things and not others.  It can’t be a sustainability that has boundaries of inclusion and exclusion.  So that we will say we’ll sustained some things but it doesn’t matter if we throw away the others.

[01m46s]  So the questions it it left me with are three-fold.

[01m53s] First is in what kind of a world has a place for us and for everything else hboth now and for future generations?

[02m05s] Then secondly what does it mean for such a world to carry on, because I think that’s what sustainability is about carrying on?

[02m12s] And thirdly of course how can we make it happen?

[02m16s] And to answer these questions I think we have to take a closer look at the meanings of our two keywords, that is, sustainability and everything,  And I’m afraid being an academic and I’m obsessed with the meanings of words — all academics are — but I happen to think, actually, the words a terribly important.  Then it is important to be clear about their meanings because we can’t have sensible debate about things like sustainability unless we have some clarity on what we’re talking about.  [….]

[02m56s]  I want to start with everything.  This is one of those words we use all the time but often don’t think about very much what it means.

[….]

<< A huge section is omitted here, as the content is rather consistent with earlier Tim Ingold talks and publications >>

[31m17s] So much for everything.  We’ve got an idea about what everything is.

[31m21s] It’s a movement.  It’s uncountable.  It’s made up of folds.  And it is carrying on through time.

[31m40s] But then the question is, if if you agree that everything is a correspondence of parts, in that sense, then what’s the meaning of sustainability?  What does it mean to talk about sustainability?

[31m46s] If we imagine a world like that — that the trouble at the moment is that — most of the rhetoric about sustainability is numerical.  It’s done in terms of data accounting and statistics, and this numerical calculation calculus of sustainability tends to treat entire tracks of the earth’s surface and the resources they harbor as standing reserves for the continuing benefit of a globally distributed humanity, much as one might administer a trust fund for future generations.

[32m32s] So to protect the Earth — in a way within the numerical rhetoric of the sustainability — is to protect the Earth in rather the same way that the company protects its profits, and that’s not a question of personal care based on familiarity and experience, but of bookkeeping and rational management that is balancing recruitment and loss in renewables, as one might balance monetary income and expenditure.

[33m04s]  Of people thinking — about well — you know the way we hold the earth as a trust fund for future generations, and therefore we’ve got to make sure that we don’t take out faster than we put back, or that we don’t take stuff out faster than it’s capable of renewing itself.

[33m23s] So thinking in terms is of these quantitative terms of management.

[33m26s]  But it seems to me that, if we say that the world is something that is fundamentally Lucretian, if we say the world is fundamentally given in movement, then sustainability is actually about carrying on.

[33m42s] It’s about keeping things going, not about maintaining some sort of numerical steady state, or making sure that you’ve got a balance of accounts in your books.

[33m52s]  It’s about about allowing the movement that generates things, that is life, to carry on.

[34m02s]  So, it’s somehow about lasting, about making things last.

[34m10s] But again, when we talk about making things last, this is not in the sense of a preservation of form, as we tend to do in the museum.

[34m18s]  In the museum you might be a museum curator, and you’ve got these objects to look after, and the thing you’re most concerned about is it they should maintain their form for as long as  possible.  They shouldn’t change.  They shouldn’t decay,  They shouldn’t decompose.

[34m35s] But that’s not what lasting means, here.   We need to think of lasting in terms  perhaps, in the sense of the life cycle.

[34m44s]  So, if you ask for example, “how long does a person last?”, you wouldn’t say well how long did they seem to stay exactly the same and will have they changed.  You would say, for example, well, how long have they live?  When were they born?  Whether they die.  Okay, they lived for 80 years, 90 years, 55 years, whatever it is.  That’s how long they lasted, and we’re thinking of lasting there in terms of the life cycle of a person, not in terms of the preservation of their particular form.

[35m17s] We don’t put people in museums in the way we put objects in museums.

[35m20s]  So, if sustainability is really about carrying on, then there’s no real — not really — any opposition between preservation and change.

[35m35s] I may may give you another example which I like very much.  It comes from a study by an anthropologist called John Knight, who worked with foresters in a mountainous region of Japan, and was looking at their traditional practices of forestry and then what had happened to them in in recent decades.

[35m55s] The traditional practice was this — that the forester would plant, and grow,  and look after the trees for generations.  Something like 30 years went from the conifers, so you planted the tree, you attended, you looked after it to make sure things well with it.  And once a suitable period had elapsed you would cut it down.  And then having cut it down, you would use those trees to make timbers for your house.  And then, so, during the first 30 years of the growth of the tree, you’re looking after the tree.  In the next 30 years the tree has become a house timber and it’s looking after you.  You and your family living inside the house.  And they call this the second life of trees.

[36m41s]  So, the first life is when the tree is growing in the ground, and when and you’re looking after it.

[36m47s]  The second life is when the tree is in your house and it’s looking after you.

[36m52s]  That also lasts about 30 years during which time you’ve planted a new set of trees.  They’ll be harvested and they’ll replace the old timbers as they begin to go rotten.

[37m01s]  Perhaps, by that stage — and so that way — you gotta a perfect interlocking of tree lasting and human lasting — that is, tree life cycles, and human life cycles — that are kind of in phase with one another,  and carrying on indefinitely through time.

[37m17s] That was all fine, until the conservationists came along and said you can’t cut those trees!  These trees are part of nature!  We need to preserve nature! So they denied the trees the possibility of their second life.  They just stood there getting older and older in the ground, until they eventually drew out, as conifers do, sort of died down.  They died on their legs, and died in their roots, and became dead trees standing in the ground.

[37m47s]  And the foresters didn’t have the raw materials to build and restore their houses.  So what happens now is we have ancient trees and concrete houses, in the name of preservation, and thinking of sustainability in terms of the preservation of form, rather than the continuation of life cycles.

[38m12s]  So, that’s what I mean, in terms of, that if we compare a way of thinking of the world, which the Japanese foresters had.   Something that is in movement, that is continually evolving over time, or whether we think of the world as some sort of steady state.

[38m30s]  So, what that example reveals, I think, is a difference in ways of thinking about the future.  And, of course, that’s precisely what sustainability is about.  How do we how do we think of the future?  And one way which — in this case one would associate with the conservationists — is in terms of projection; and the other way is in terms of anticipation.

[39m01s]  One way to think about the future is, as in many of climate change scenarios, what will the world — we try to think — what will the world be like in 2050 or 2102?  Trying to project the future.  Project what we do want.  What we don’t want and try and take steps that will produce the kind of future we want.  That is thinking about the future in terms of projection.

[39m25s] Thinking about the future in terms of anticipation — as again John Ruskin put it — is not about predicting the future, but about knowing the ways things are going.  Being able to be sensitive enough to one surroundings to see.  To have a sense of the ways in which things are going, and then perhaps enter into those ways and modify them.   Bend them this way and that, to suit your purposes but not to project or impose an anticipated or — sorry — a projected future state imagined in the present

[40m01s]  And so, again, I would want to say — it would have to be sustainability of everything — sustainability has to be about anticipation, not about projection, in terms of that distinction.

[40m152] Now, I just wanted to finish with a few words about what the implications of this notion of the sustainability of everything would be, on:  firstly for science and art; secondly for democracy and citizenship;  and thirdly for peace and friendship.

[40m35s] And, so far as science being a big issues that I can only just touch on, then ….  But so far as science and art is concerned — and it’s a  personal thing for me, because I started off very much — I actually started off as a natural scientist — and before moving into anthropology — and so I started off in a primary science-based approach.  And now find myself talking mostly to artists and in many ways feeling deeply uneasy about the present state of of the scientific project

[41m08s]  And what strikes me is that … in many ways in science — and particularly the science of ecology — has lost its original sense of environmental sustainability — environmental responsibility — and that art — environmental art in particular — has taken on that responsibility that science is lost.  In other words, that is,  if you think who it was — that who are the people — who are really arguing for some form of environmental sustainability, it’s not the scientists but the artists.

[41m53s]  And this is something that’s happened, I think, over the last two or three decades.  And I’ve been rather curious as to understand, what exactly has happened to science?

[42m09s] And I do feel — worry — that, been particularly fueled by the digital revolution — sciences –well, it’s very hard to generalize about science, it’s a big thing and so messy and full of so many different approaches, but — mainstream science is, anyway that — the mainstream science that has the big funding, seems to have turned into some immense data processing exercise, in which living beings, including us human beings, have more or less disappeared.

[42m46s] That it often seems that the global science, in collusion with the multinational corporations that it more and more serves, treats the rest of the world — and in including the vast majority of its increasing the impoverished and apparently disposable human population as standing reserves of data to feed the insatiable demands of the knowledge economy.

[43m10s] So, I feel in many ways, that  science has reneged on its original environmental sensibility, and has left art in some senses to pick up the pieces.

[43m33s] The implications for democracy and citizenship are, I think, that we do have to find a different way of thinking about what these are.  That we have we have to realize that sustainable citizenship is not some sort of a priority entitlement, as though you’re a citizen of your country or the world, simply by virtue of the fact that you were born in a particular place and then just got it along with your passport and birth certificate and everything else.  But it’s something that you actually have to work at.  And that this work involves a process of what I want to call commoning.

[44m13s]  And, by commoning, I don’t mean working back to find, or what is it that all human beings have in common?  Or what was this human nature?  Maybe we can use what we all have in common as a baseline on which to build a democracy.

[44m27s]  It is rather to suppose that, actually, we’re all different and that each of us speaks with our own particular voice, and we are different because we are part of this life process because it’s that process that the generates difference.

[44m46s] But, at the same time, we are committed to getting along together.  And getting along together means not looking back to see what we have in common, but looking forward to see how, through a stretch of imagination, I can begin to see how my experience can join with and respond to yours, so that we can, so to speak, get along together,

[45m10s] And, that’s a different sense of democracy.  It’s not thinking of democracy in terms of the identity of interests. It’s thinking of democracy in terms of the the differentiation and commoning of life trajectories.

[45m26s]  So, I think, what we need then, is a politics of difference rather than the politics of identity.  Not trying to gang together on the basis of common interests but to recognize difference, celebrate it, and show how, because we are different, we can actually work together.

[45m52s] Because in the end, similarity divides us like beans in a sack, but difference is what brings us together.

[46m00s] And the implications for peace and friendship, well, we have to go back to the etymology of the word harmony.   I mentioned earlier that for Greeks — for the ancient Greeks who developed the term harmony — one of the epitome of harmony was the rope with its twist in opposite directions which hold it together.  And recognize that harmony includes tension and agonism,  as well as resolution and — sorry — as well as and resolution and conviviality.

[46m35s]  But it’s the tension of differentiation, as for example, the knots of the tree that hold things together.  So we actually need tension.  We need agonism.  We need, what we might sometimes called conflict, in order to create a world in which we can carry on together.  The top-down enforcing of common interests, or the trying to pretend that we’re all the same,  is not going to produce a coherent, and form, of sustainability.

[47m12s]  That’s what I have to say.  Thank you very much

<< long commentary from audience member >>

[50m47s] I think, well, this is a question about hope and … a question what we can do. Because it won’t help anybody to be fatalistic, and it won’t help anybody to lose hope.  So,  the risks of of a global catastrophe, whatever form it takes, whether it’s a nuclear holocaust or or a climatic and total disaster, or the extermination of the bee population and the food crisis — whatever it is.  We have to recognize that —  I suppose that these possibilities are there and another thing could happen.  There could be a ….  Yellowstone might blow up. There could be a cold era, which has got nothing whatever to do with us, but could nevertheless render the earth uninhabitable,  and that could happen anytime.

[52m00s]  What we do in those circumstances?  In a way, it’s not a question of just shutting our minds out and saying, we don’t want to think about it.  It doesn’t help.  I think we’ve got to — how to put it  — we’ve got to be hopeful, and we’ve got to be hopeful for ….  Because otherwise, it’s not fair on our children.  It’s not fair on our children to tell them, every day, actually the world that were passing on to you is going to blow up and you’re going to be dead or going to have a miserable life.

[52m50s]  Surely it’s our responsibility to to our next generations to invest as much hope in them as we can.

<< response from audience member >>

[54m03s] The thing is, you see, that there are parts of the world — we don’t often realize this but — some of the most polluted, and now, because of pollution, uninhabitable parts of the planet, are in the far north.  I think the most polluted part of the planet is the Kola Peninsula, which used to be inhabited by by Saami people and some others.   Most of it is now uninhabitable, because of the extraction of heavy metals and nuclear weapons testing, mostly during the 1950s.  And, it’s going to take thousands of years before that environment — which looks like an unspoiled wilderness actually, it’s impossible to live there — it is going to take the thousands of years before that is inhabitable again.

[55m05s]  So, for that people who … for whom that was their homeland, this catastrophe that you’re worrying about has already happened.  And in a sense they’re living in the aftermath of it.  And across the world, a lot of people are living in in those sorts of circumstances.  Think of Bhopal.   Think of some of these industrial disasters that have already killed large numbers of people, quite apart from Nagasaki and Hiroshima which was with throughout conflict.

[55m44s] So in a way …. What what strikes me is that the really intractable problem is:  how one can deal with those parts of the earth which have already been rendered, and uninhabitable, for a very large, very long periods of time.  After all,  there’s a records of weapons testing in the Pacific Islands in the1950s, when nobody really understood just how harmful radiation was.

<< audience responses off mic >>

[57m30s]  Yes, because that way, you’ve got a system that can, in principle carry on as long as you like.

<< audience responses off mic about sustainability>>

[58m40s]  It actually depends on how you do it, …

[58m45s]  The way it is mostly done is by — for example in clear felling — you clear fell an area and plow it up and then plant not a lot.  And the results are usually disastrous because for the trees to thrive, they’re usually different species of the growing together, and they depend on one another. So …
[59m08s] So, if you destroy all that, and mono crop with a particular variety of trees, it’s not going to work.   But what these Japanese foresters are doing traditionally was much less drastic.   Individual trees, here and there, they would know the ones that are ready, they would cut those in a mixed forest and and replant.  You’re not destroying.  You’re not plowing anything up.   They’re not destroying the fungal vegetation.  You’re not destroying the species diversity.  In that situation,  you can replant and it’s okay.   It’s not by clear felling and mono cropping and at a pace that doesn’t work.  So, it depends how you do it.

<< audience off mic concern on sustainability, going back to original >>

[61m01s]  What you said is right, and a lot of the problem is lighting other engineering type systems thinking, where the systems are supposed to be somehow closed, and tight, and therefore predictable, when when actually they’re not.

[61m15s]  But, take the case of — I know a bit about it  — climate change in the north, where we know that they’re there are huge changes taking place, for example, in Greenland.  The ice is melting.  New areas of land being exposed, and so on,  and and this is forcing people who live there to make, or fairly radical,  adjustments to their livelihoods of fishing and hunting and and so on.

[61m44s] But, so far as they’re concerned, they’re not particularly concerned about the whole climate change thing, because their view is that there never has been such a thing as a stable climate.

[61m54s]  If they look back through their own oral traditions and so on, there have been periods of warming,  periods of cooling, there was a little ice age, there was one here after the little ice age.

[62m02s]  And the critical thing was that people had the flexibility, and the experience and knowledge, to be able to respond to whatever was happening with their environment.  And they would do that simply by using a good deal of common sense and knowing knowing the place well.

[62m26s]  But they never supposed that there was some sort of steady initial state, from which things had diverged.  So the notion of change climate doesn’t make sense, if you’d never thought that it was stable to begin with.  But the key thing is this ability to respond and to have that ability to respond.  Then people have to know … not only do people have to know their environment well, but they also have to be allowed to use that knowledge rather than being told that all that’s just their folk wisdom and what you really need to bring in is the scientific experts who will tell you what to do.  That’s the problem, or that they’ll send the experts who will say to the local people “you can’t hunt there” when people know that you can.

[63m11s] So, it’s that ability to care for and respond to one’s own environment that you know really well, that we have to respect.  And that’s why I just get so fed up with big science because …. and this cult of expertise.

[63m36s]  There’s nothing wrong with experts, so long as they don’t reckon or suppose that there’s some kind of global experts have come in and tell everybody else what to do.  And, they usually get it wrong.

<< audience off mic on threads and knots, we’re good at making them, moderate them >>

[65m51s] There’s some truth in that.   But the catch in what you’re saying is the we, as the who actually we are.   Because …. And that’s where the politics comes.   Because knots that some of us are creating are then making life impossible for other people.  So … actually causing other people to be excluded.

[66m29s] The classic example of that is in wildlife conservation, in so many areas of the world, where people have been pushed off their land, which they used to live on, in order to make way for conservation of gorillas or elephants or whatever it might be.

[66m51s]  And so, you might think that the conservationists are creating knots of their own, yes.  But those are knots that are also creating boundaries and the  that the distinction want to make there.   A knot itself doesn’t have boundaries.  If you think of a knot as this tangle of threads, and they’re going off this way and that way, it’s not wrapped up in itself.

[67m25s]  The problem comes when one person’s line is another person’s cut. So, when in Namibia, the military, the South African military constructed roads to take its military hardware from A to B through the Kalahari Desert they cut through the parts of local hunter gatherers.  And if they came out onto the road, they were in danger of getting shot at.  So, that one very powerful actor’s highway is another’s less powerful barrier that is very dangerous to cross.

[68m12s]  And I think that’s actually where the problem comes.  Maybe not in the knotting itself, but in the way in which one person’s line, can be another person’s line of life, can be another person’s wall of death.  I mean literally sometimes.

<< audience off mic, inaudible >>

[68m40s]  Andm even if we did, who would be able to who could get up, and tell the rest of the world this is what you’re supposed to do?   This is a real problem.

<< audience off mic, our paths, culture, relating the world, how to benefit the whole world? >>

[69m55s]  Well, I think that we we need to learn from others.  My own sort of little local protest — and because I work in the university and I’m an academic and an academic anthropologist — I get annoyed by the way in which even in my own discipline, which has a fairly good record on the whole, but still wants to collect material on other people in order ultimately to analyze them and to turn them into objects of knowledge.

[70m39s]  Whereas the important thing, I think — although maybe that’s all right up to a point — what we need to do is to actually learn from what people are telling us, and and see how what we can learn from them might help to form our thinking.

[70m57s]  That’s in … in this world, basically we need all the help we can get  And, therefore we need to be prepared to listen to and learn from anybody.   It doesn’t mean we have to agree with them, and in fact, they might be awful people and have terrible ideas, but but at least we need to engage with — as much as possible — to get some sort of sense about where to go next.

[71m22s]  And to do that I think we need a different attitude within the academy itself.  So this is actually in some sense of a problem for the university.  There’s something that’s exercising, quite at the moment, because where we are.

[71m39s] But the thing is that we have had universities, and they’re at the moment … I think … have reached a crisis point because across the world universities are being taken over by corporations as basically research institutes for generating profit.  And that is manifestly unsustainable.

[72m00s]  Universities will either disappear — or at least disappear in any sense that we recognize them —  and therefore we have to have another ….  We have to be clear about what the alternative is, what a university should be.

[72m13]  And, I think in in a world where we can no longer claim,  as the academy used to claim, that as academics and scientists researchers we can deliver a superior account, or an authoritative account, of the way the world works.   Like we know and we can tell everybody else.

[72m33s]  In the post-colonial, world that’s no longer the case.  But it seems to me that the university is a place where ideas matter and where people with different ideas can meet and talk in safety and in an ecumenical spirit.   And we need to we need institutions where that can happen.  And for me the university is that institution.

[72m57s] So, part of the answer to your question, I think, is how we reform the universities, or, if we can’t reform them how do we build an alternative university system in its place.

<< audience off mic, religions with nations, natural philosophy, Tao, physics >>

[74m10s] I hope there is hope in science, and what you say is true.  I have no problem with individual scientists.  Any … most any of the scientists I know, they’re wonderful people, and thoughtful people, and considerate and caring people.  The problem is almost entirely with the institutionalization of science.  It’s almost as though …  There’s the scientists i talk to, and say “of course I agree with everything you say but how am I going to get my papers published, and how am I going to get my job, unless i do what is expected?   Published in this kind of way.  Collect my data in that kind of way.  Do this experiment.  I know it’s wrong.  I know it’s unethical.  I know it know that it’s all fabrication”.  But that’s where they find themselves.

[75m07s] I mean, actually the reason why I jumped ship from science, was because I found the whole institutionalized, institutional machine so constricting, and so rigid, and so opposed, actually, to real thinking, that I thought this is not the place for me to work in.

[75m28s] So, there is perhaps an increasing disjunction between between institutionalized mainstream science and what many scientists themselves are doing and thinking.  And, I find that scientists I talk to are themselves deeply concerned about that — they at least they find it a source of a very considerable frustration and and often talk to me is that they’re envious.  They say, if only we could have the freedom that you have in anthropology to think in ways that are different from required patterns.

[76m18s]  And in … just a case in point of that, in biology, there is this tradition of Gothean science that goes back to the ideas of Goethe and how one should study plants.  I really getting to know them very deeply, and the way in which that is treated by mainstream science is is is utterly appalling.

[76m46s] I mean that it blows apart the myth that science is an open system of knowledge.  And there have been other traditions where in mainstream science has virtually come to book burning, and saying we won’t allow any of this nonsense.  So, we have is curious situation in which science, in principle is a very open-ended enterprise, but where because of the way it’s been taken up —  perhaps because of the way it’s been tied to the ambitions of the state — it’s become very rigid in its structures, I think.  But there’s hope.  Yeah, there’s always hope.

<< audience last question, coming from the art world, shifting this conversation into the mainstream >>

[78m33s]  I don’t know, but, perhaps,  strategically we shouldn’t even be trying to get into the mainstream. I sometimes wonder so I think about my own discipline of anthropology, which is sort of, by most accounts, a bit marginal and/or regarded as a bit way out compared with the mainstream subject.  And people sometimes say you know if only anthropology had the clout, the power, the numbers, the funding, the popular appeal of some discipline like psychology ….  I believe there are more psychologist in psychology than there are practitioners of any other disciplines.  Enormous.

[79m15s]  And then you think, would you really want anthropology to become like that?  What would you actually want this subject to become mainstream?  And I think,  probably not,  because it would become normalized. It would lose its critical edge.   So, maybe I just don’t know how to answer it, but maybe that’s the wrong ambition, to say “I want to be mainstream”, and that the right ambition is to think “I want to change the world” and leave it at that, and not worry about whether you’re on the margins or on the mainstream.   And then see, once the world’s changed, where it’s landed up.

[80m06s]  But, I appreciate the difficulty and and and know that people are compromised on both sides of the art/science fence.  That I am struck by the extent to which this really, some really good, challenging interrogating work that’s going on in the environmental arts,  however you want to categorize them.  Much more now than 30 years ago.

[80m36s] And I’m struck, at the same time, by how the sort of ecology that was really strong in the 1950s, 60s, 70s,  which was field ecology mostly, with people working very closely with certain landscapes, environments, animals ….  how that has become sidelined in current bioscience.  That the two things seem to be somehow … Well, they’ve happened at the same time and they seem to be somehow connected.

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2016/09/07 “One World Anthropology | Tim Ingold | AIBR

Plenary presentation by Tim Ingold, at the 2nd @AIBR_ International Conference of Anthropology.
Plenaria Tim Ingold 1, AIBR Antropólogos Iberoamericanos en Red

The 2nd AIBR International Conference of Anthropology brings together anthropologists from different parts of the world under the theme “Identity: Bridges, Thresholds, and Barriers.”

[….]

[6:58] So what is the relation between the life of the soul and soul life, or to put it in more general terms, between the particular life and life itself. Is it a relation of part to whole? Now, I have nothing against the idea of life as a whole, so long as we do not think of this whole as a totality. Holism is one thing. Totalization is quite another, and it is vital to acknowledge the distinction. Totality to my ear at least implies addition and completion, but life itself is never complete, nor, as I have tried to show, can we approach it by any process of summation, whether addititive, additive or multiplicative. It is not a completion but the continual origination. Life as one elder from among the women she Cree of northern Canada told the ethnographer Colin Scott life is continuous birth. It is the generative potential of a world in becoming a world that is forever worlding.

[8:20] So is the particular life a part of life as a whole. Is the life of the soul apart of soul life? And, again. I have nothing against the idea of lives as parts but then we should think of these parts too, as ways of carrying on like the voices of a composition. And the analogy I have in mind is that of polyphonic music in which every voice, for every instrument, carries on along its own melodic line. In music the relation between parts and whole is not summative, it is neither additive nor multiplicative, but contrapuntal. Think of the tenor part in the chorus or the cello part in the symphony and I want to think of the life of every particular soul.

[9:19] Likewise, as a line of counterpoint, that even as it issues forth, is continually attentive and responsive to each and every other. Souls as we might say are answerable to one another, a condition that carries entailment of both responsiveness and responsibility. Precisely because souls go along together and because their continual regeneration is nourished and impelled by the memory of their association the composition formed by their contrapuntal movement cannot be decomposed without causing grief if not destruction to the lives of its parts.

[….]

[….]

[29:02] And I think it is to the oneworldness of this whole that anthropology must remain committed.

[29:11] As I stated at the outset the world is a conversation, it is not the object of our conversation. In this conversation lies ontogenesis, the becoming of being. And it is high time to restore ontogenesis to life. We will then see that every particular life is both an open-ended exploration of the possibilities of being that are one world affords, and a contribution to it its ongoing formation, that is to its worlding.

[29:49] It is in a sense a never-ending quest for an answer to the problem of what being human, or what living in this world actually means. But every answer is a response, and not a solution. Responding to the question, we respond to one another, that is, we correspond. And in this we do not so much look out from a position as long for one that is forever beyond our grasp

[30:22] Life is a question to which there is no answer but in this one world of ours we are all tasked with looking for it, and it is in the search that all life is lived. And it is just as well that there is no final solution for that indeed would put an end to us all.


Plenaria Tim Ingold 1 | September 2016 | AIBR Antropólogos Iberoamericanos en Red at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3TbG2Lo_9fk

Plenaria Tim Ingold 2 | September 2016 | AIBR Antropólogos Iberoamericanos en Red at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fn9DfiAteFQ

2nd AIBR International Conference on Anthropology program is at http://2016.aibr.org/en/programaen/search .

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Service Platforms, Living Labs, The Future of Open Innovation | Henry Chesbrough | Sept. 2016 | Berkeley Exec Ed (web video)

Responses @HenryChesbrough on service platforms, living labs, and the future of open innovation.  Since 2003, he has provided a precise definition, as the godfather of open innovation.

InFocus Podcast with Dr. Henry Chesbrough. Dr. Chesbrough is the Program Director for the UC Berkeley Executive Education program, Corporate Business Model Innovation.

[12:34] >>Interviewer: When you talk about service platforms and you need a good service platform to succeed, is that what you’re talking about, or can you explain to us what a successful platform is?

>>Dr. Chesbrough: The service platform resolves a fundamental tension in this idea of adding services to be more intimate with your customers to escape the commodity trap.
Basically to make things affordable, you want to standardize them so you can share and reuse as much as possible. The problem is we don’t all want the same thing. The best way to give us what we want is to have everything be fully customized, get exactly what you want, which may be different than what I want.

The tension between standardization and customization is where the service platform comes in. You embed in the platform the things that can be shared and reuse widely, and then you extend off of the platform to deliver the customized things that individuals want.

A quick example of this would be all the apps on our smart phones. The smart phones themselves and the app store that deliver them are the platforms, but none of us have the exact same suite of applications on our smart phones nor do we have to. We get the things that we want but we get them in a way that makes it very affordable for us as well.

So that’s the idea of a service platform.

[13:54] >>Interviewer: I’d love it if you could explain, too … I know you’ve been quoted talking about living labs. Obviously it must apply to open innovation. Can you give us a little background on what that is?

>Dr. Chesbrough: Living labs is something that’s really emerged out of Europe.

I had the great pleasure of spending nine months last year in Barcelona, which if you have to leave Berkeley, Barcelona’s a great place to spend some time.

One of the challenges in Europe, they’re very envious of us here in the US especially in Silicon Valley for the magic we have of turning all these great ideas and research into new ventures, new products, new businesses. In Europe they complain about what they call a innovation gap. They’ve got great science and great technology, but they don’t have the same vibrant startup environment, the same new culture toward entrepreneurship that we have in the US.

So living labs is a response to try to close the innovation gap.

When these research and technology projects are concluded in the university setting, can we find a place to put them to nurture them further and bring them to life? So it’s not a traditional academic research lab. It’s a much more practical place to work more on these technologies to really get them ready for use in industry.

One area where we’re seeing these living labs is in smart cities where municipalities like Barcelona or Amsterdam or London or Paris are trying to put technology to work to really reshape the urban environment in which these people live in ways that make citizens’ lives better, bring new sources of revenue to the city, and often save money or improve safety of these kinds of things using technology and experimenting through these labs.

[….]

[24:56]>>Interviewer: How about the future for open innovation? If you had a crystal ball, if you were looking down the road 10, 15, 20 years from now, where do you see it going?

Dr. Chesbrough: Let me give you a short-term and a long-term answer.

In the short-term, open innovation is moving from collaborating between individual firms or organizations to collaboration throughout an entire ecosystem of companies, developers, third parties, users, suppliers, a very rich, multifaceted thing. This is actually been labeled open innovation 2.0 by the European Commission which has really gotten behind this as part as their policy going forward. In the short-term, it’s easy to say because it’s already starting to happen. This is where open innovation is going.

In the longer-term, I think open innovation might follow a path like that of the quality revolution.

In the 1980s, the US companies woke up to the gap with Japan and how much more reliable many Japanese products were relative to US products, and so US companies really embraced quality as a strategic imperative. They had quality departments, quality organizations, and they embedded in the companies a real need to do this well from the very beginning of the design, not just inspecting at the end of the process.

Today, most of those quality organizations are gone. The thinking is there, but it’s now embedded in how the company does business so you no longer need the quality department overseeing all this. That’s a possible long-term future for open innovation. Openness is not going to go away, but it may become part of the fabric of the company. Instead of today having open innovation departments and people with titles of manager of open innovation, director of open innovation, and my personal favorite, vice president of open innovation, in 30 years those titles may be gone, those organizations may be gone, and this may just be part of how companies do business.

“InFocus Podcast with Dr. Henry Chesbrough | September 2016 | UC Berkeley Executive Education at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxhrg_ndz9M

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2016/05/11 “Apache Open Tech is fueling tomorrow’s game changing innovations” | Todd Moore | ApacheCon North American 2016 (web video)

History of open source at IBM from 1998 @tmmoore_1 @ApacheCon NA 2016, and current IBM Open Cloud Architecture.

Todd Moore, VP of Open Technology at IBM will share a retrospective of IBMs deep roots ASF and then follow with some crystal ball gazing on some key projects that are poised to become engines of new innovation both within and in conjunction with ASF projects.

[00m30s] [slide: IBM has a long view of open source]

[00m57s] There are 62,000 IBMers who are trained up in open source contribution and participation. There’s about 400,000 of us in total. I run that program across IBM. Many of our open source committers, main contributors to the project, are part of my organization. [….]

[01m40s] About ’98, we started looking into Linux …

[02m35s] … at the time, Robert LeBlanc was in charge of software strategy. Robert, in his quote, basically as part of that press release, said we expect this to foster skills, to build communities, and to build markets. And that is exactly what that has done. [….]

[03m18s] These were bets. We didn’t know if open source would grow. We knew that there would be roadblocks and things that we would have to overcome along the way, but we thought that it would have promise and would be the way of the future. It was a strategic move.

[03m38s] [slide: Apache’s steady growth]

[04m26s] We started to build the fences around open source. We then also showed clients and customers, and all of the rest who might come out and develop in it, that it was a safe place to do that. By the fact that we were in these organizations, and the other businesses were in there with us, we were making a commitment that this was a safe place to go and work. And I think that’s what really turned the corner. Because, now, with that backing, people could come in, evaluate, play with, see the quality of the code that was being done — great code, done and being out in the open — and feel comfortable about it. That’s been part of the engineer of growth that has fuelled our success at Apache.

[05m13s] [slide: Community plus strong believers and supporters] Just doing some surfing using e-mail addresses to figure out where contributions are coming to, and who some of the backers really are. This is looking over the last year, it’s not any kind of completeness. Just to hit some of the key folks who are in here, contributing into these projects being part of it. Obviously IBM, about a third of the work in relative investment of company size, Google, HP, Microsoft, others, Twitter, Red Hat, etc., making large contributions into the community. [….]

[05:50] The companies are behind it. We’ve got really deep support in here.

[06:00] [slide: The next bets … in the Cognitive, Cloud Era]
[dw Open projects, now incubating at Apache]
[- SystemML]
[- Toree (Spark Kernel)]
[- Quarks]
[Existing Apache projects]
[- Mesos]
[- Spark]
[- Kafka]
[- CouchDB]

IBM has 936 projects, I looked out on Github this morning. Kinda hard to figure out what’s really important, what’s not important. We started an effort last year to cull that down to make something that is understandable. It’s a work we call developerWorks Open.

[07m20s] Two-thirds of our activity in Apache right now is SystemML.

[10m50s] [slide: IBM’s Open Cloud Architecture]
[IoT: MQTT, Node-RED, Quarks]
[Web and Mobile: jQuery, HTML5, Apache Cordova, Loopback, Activity Streams, JSON]
[Runtimes: node.js, Java, Swift, Go]
[Data and Analytics: Spark, CouchDB, Redis, TinkerPop, Titan, Hadoop, MongoDB, data.gov]
[Security: OAuth2, OpenID]
[Operating Environment: Cloud Foundry, Docker, OpenStack, Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Open Container Project, OpenPower, Mesos, Linux, OpenVSwitch]
[DevOps: Ansible, Git, … Jenkins, Chef]

“Apache Open Tech is fueling tomorrow’s game changing innovations” | Todd Moore | May 11, 2016 | ApacheCon North American 2016 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG2iZBLz9g8&index=2&list=PLGeM09tlguZTvqV5g7KwFhxDlWi4njK6n

ApacheCon schedule archive at https://wiki.apache.org/apachecon/Past_Conference_Resources#ApacheCon_North_America_2016.2C_Vancouver.2C_BC.2C_Canada

Via “IBM’s Wager on Open Source Is Still Paying Off” | Ian Murphy | August 2, 2016 | Linux Foundation News at https://www.linux.com/news/ibms-wager-open-source-still-paying

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2012/03/13 Tim O’Reilly interviewed by Andrew McAfee, “Creating More Value Than You Capture”, SXSW Interactive

Digest of an interview of @timoreilly by @amcafee below, abstract from schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP100142:

Tim O'Reilly, SXSW 2012

One of the great failures of any company – for that matter of a capitalist economy – is ecosystem failure. Great companies build great ecosystems, one in which value is created not just for a single company or group of industry players, but for partners who didn’t even exist when the product or service was introduced. Many companies start out creating huge value. [….]  Since the cycle of capitalism depends on consumers as well as producers, and consumers are less and less able to find employment, at some point, we’re going to have to start thinking about how to put people to work, rather than how to put them out of work. At O’Reilly, we’ve always tried to live by the slogan “Create more value than you capture.” It’s a great way to build a sustainable business and a sustainable economy.

Andrew McAfee, SXSW 2012

Andrew McAfee, author of “Race Against the Machine,” will engage with Tim about these ideas, and about how rethinking the economy becomes even more urgent in the face of the trend he explores in his book, in which jobs are being outsourced not just to low-wage countries, but increasingly to machines.


[long introduction]

[… skipping ahead to focus on the ideas on policy  …]

[21:40 AM] A lot of what these people did was what you called the Clothesline Paradox.  Can you tell us more about that?

[21:42 TO] … It’s a paper I read in 1975 in Coevolution Quarterly …

[23:30 TO] … We kicked the can down the road …

[….]

[23:40 TO]  Back to this clothesline paradox.  Steve Baer had this insight.  He said, when somebody decides to hang their clothes on a clothesline, instead of putting them into a dryer, we don’t take that little energy savings, and move it from the fossil fuels column into the energy renewable column in our accounting.  It just disappears.

[24:05 AM] So it’s literally a shrinkage in the economy.

[24:07 TO] That’s right.

[24:08 AM] It looks small than it used to.

[24:09 TO] That’s right.  So you can look at a lot of issues — like in the SOPA — it’s a great metaphor for how we think about the Internet economy, when people entertain themselves by watching free Youtube videos, or interact with friends on Facebook, instead of watching Hollywood movies or buying copyrighted content.  The copyright industry says “look at the value that was destroyed, the free Internet is destroying value”.

[24:40 TO] But it’s quite clear.  It’s like the utilities people saying, those people hanging their clothes on clotheslines are destroying value.  They’re not using our product.

[24:52 AM] And by that definition, the open source software movement has shrunk the software industry.

[24:55 TO] Absolutely.

[24:56 AM] And therefore destroyed value.

[24:59 TO] Except, no.  That was exactly what Bob Young, who started Red Hat, said:  my goal is to shrink the share of the operating system market.  And you look at MySQL, shrunk the size of the database market.  But it didn’t really, of course, it actually grew it.

[25:17 TO] What we understand, now, is that when we now have these breakthroughs in generosity, you grow the market.  You grow value for society.

[25:28 AM] But you don’t grow the economy that we know how to measure, that we’re kind of pointing our measurement instruments at.

[25:35 TO] Often you grow it, we just don’t look at the instruments.

[…]  [The book, Race Against the Machine]

[28:35 TO] We really need to think about a new shape of the economy. …

[28:37 AM] And this is actually a great segue, because this is the next set of questions that I wanted to post to Tim.

[28:41 AM] So we have one set of challenges, which are pretty clear and substantial about measuring value in our economy.

[28:47 AM] We have another set of challenges around compensating people for contributing value in this economy.  Because, as Tim says, a lot of the people who are putting value out there, are doing it in ways that don’t immediately lead to recompense or compensation.

[29:02 AM] There’s another problem, which Eric and I dove in on, in the book, which is as technology just races ahead, and continues to demonstrate just weirdly powerful new capabilities and skills, the data are pretty clear that it’s leaving some people, and a larger number of people, behind, in our economy, over time.

[29:25 AM] And the super-shorthand way to talk about that is:  think about what happens when we hook up Siri to Watson, and let both of those technologies improve for a few years.  Cause if they follow the trajectory of Moore’s Law, and they’re going to follow them with at least that much acceleration, they’re going to be about 16 times better than they currently are, in 6 years.

[29:49 AM] Now I think that puts a lot of people who are doing what they are currently doing for a living right in the sights of the automation of the economy.

[… customer self-service …]

[… customers create jobs …]

[32:37 TO]  It’s a situation that’s been, first of all, framed by the race of our economy to take labour costs out.  What we’ve failed to do is to find a way to redistribute those gains.  We have them go disproportionately to a very small number of people.  I find it fairly inconscionable that companies are basically firing workers while paying hundreds of millions of dollars to a few top executives, because “we can’t afford …”  That’s just bullshit.

[33:09 TO] The fact is, we’ve made choices about who we’re going to reward, and they’re ultimately self-destructive choices for our society.

[33:17 AM Okay.

[33:18 TO] But now what we have is the race of technology, with more and more jobs being taken over by machines,

[33:35 AM] You and I had a fascinating conversation, a while back, because I was laying out the things I was saying.  And I found it really easy to find examples of encroaching automation in jobs under threat.  Tim did the best job of pointing me toward examples of job creation, not just among the data scientists and web designers of the world, which I was anticipating, but you’ve given great examples of people putting labour back into our economy.

[33:59 TO] Let me put it this way.  I’m looking for those examples, and I’m starting to find them.

[34:03 TO] The way my mind works, is I kind of have some notion, and then I start looking for some data to support that notion, or to disprove it.  In this case, the notion I came to was, oh, given what I said about if you don’t have any consumers, you don’t have any businesses, we’re going to have to put labour back into the economy.

[34:22 TO] We have to find a way to pay people. Or people will have to find a way to pay each other. Or we’ll have a very new shape to the economy.  That’s really what’s the heart of what I’m trying to talk about, here.

[… some green shoots, use of computers to add value to low-skilled jobs that we’ve been trying to ring out of society …]

[… The Apple Store …]

[… Walgreen … home health care IT people …]

[… Kickstarter, Etsy … examples of putting labour cost back into the economy]

[38:13 TO] Somebody basically took a commodity product, and lovingly added value to it, and then resold it.  I thought, that’s kind of an interesting data point.  I think we’ll be doing more of that added value for each other, in this future economy.

[ … Youtube economy, where artists are starting to make a living, based on an advertising economy]

[… P2P sharing economy … AirBnB …]

[39:25 TO] It seems to me that, when you see a sharing economy, it eventually does get monetized.  The early web, everybody was just equal, we were just doing things each other.  Then, this advertising economy grew up around it.

[39:46 TO] There’s still a huge distance ahead for the advertising economy.  The Internet average share of advertising is still a fraction of television, even though there’s more hours now spent on the Internet, entertaining each other, than there are spent on television.  So there’s a lot of money to come from industry into another.

[40:05 TO] So that kind of leads me to a policy recommendation.  Policy makers need to focus on protecting the future from the past, rather than protecting the past from the future.

[40:18 TO] Most of the policy that we see is oriented towards protecting incumbents, because of course they have the loudest voices …

[40:28 AM] … and the biggest chequebooks.

[40:30 TO] I had this interesting conversation with Nancy Pelosi about SOPA and PIPA.  It was eye-opening.  I was just explaining my experience as a publisher.  We’ve been publishing books DRM-free, and yes, some people steal them, particularly in countries where they weren’t going to pay us anyway.

[…]

[40:56 TO] It does not keep me up at night, because, in fact, our business is growing.  We were selling in markets we could never have sold in, before.  It’s a rapidly growing part of my business.

[41:08 TO] I’m trying to explain, and she says, we have to take into account the concerns of Hollywood.  I said, no you don’t.  You have to find the right answer for society.  Your job is to work for all of us.  It’s not to work for this interest group versus that interest group.

[… open for questions from the audience …]

[44:24 audience]  Do you have an axiom that you would consider for a startup founder who’s trying to make decision between where to create value for the investors, where to cleave the line and say that this should be something that goes into the ecosystem?  How you make that judgement call?

[44:47 TO] I think it should be scientific.  I remember having this argument with Richard Stallman about open source.  I said the difference between free software and open source is that open source should be science, not religion.  In other words, it should work.  The decision you’re making, if you’re looking over time, you should believe that it’s better for the investor, as well as for society.  Because, in fact, short-term thinking is not best for a long-term investor.  So that means, of course, that you also have to find an investor who is thinking in the long term.  Of course, great investors do think longer term.  They’re not looking for the quick exit.  They’re looking to build the great company that survives and grows and serves customers over the long term.  If you’re doing it right, you should, in fact, be looking at building a vibrant ecosystem around your company that creates value for a lot of other people.  You’ll find that’s actually better for your company.  So look fo rthat win-win .   […]  Although these days, win-win seems to mean we win twice for our team.

[more questions, audio ends at 1h01m01s

Audio replay available at “Create More Value Than You Capture” | SXSW Interactive | 2012 at  http://schedule.sxsw.com/2012/events/event_IAP100142

[download audio]

Subsequent blog post, Andrew McAfee, “Tim O’Reilly on Putting Labor Back Into the Economy” | March 2012 at http://andrewmcafee.org/2012/03/mcafee-sxsw-tim-oreilly-labor-automation-race-against-the-machine/

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Cognitive overload as business opportunity for IBM since 2005 | Ginni Rometty | June 1, 2016 | Code Conference (web video + audio)

Cognitive overload is a challenge IBM has worked since 2005, says @GinniRometty in @KaraSwisher interview @RecodeEvents. Thus, cognitive computing combining man and machine is more than artificial intelligence. Better decisions in open domains will lead to solving problems not solved before.

In T-shaped thinking, not just the jack-of-all-things of unstructured data + natural language + images, but the depth in domain knowledge to understand, reason and learn. If it’s digital, it will be cognitive. In education, reading and mechanical skills won’t be enough, will have to teach and learn data skills.

Blockchain could be even bigger than Watson, with opportunities in efficiencies in supply chains and capital flows. Open source will be important, the Hyperledger project gives transparency to regulators and institutions.

Ginni Rometty, IBM, at Code 2016

[The full video of 27m44s is online from recode.net.  A 4m19s excerpt is searchable on Youtube]

[5:00 Ginni Rometty] The reason we don’t call it artificial intelligence — which is much easier to say, by the way, and spell … I’ve heard this from everyone. It is a little bit of history. It’s really all about man and machine. And I know there are various views about this. And AI can have a loaded set of connotations with it.

[5:25 Kara Swisher]: About destroying the earth.

[5:26 Ginni Rometty]: More than that. Jobs, many other things that people bring up about that topic.

[5:31 Ginni Rometty]: The point was, it was man and machine. We got started on this, Kara, in 2005, when we started our work on this. We’ve been at this on for a good decade, now. And it started because we said, look, people are going to be overloaded. There’s so much information. It’s cognitive overload. You’ve got to do something about it. And that’s what started us down this path. And therefore, this really true belief that you will make better decisions, and you will in fact solve problems that haven’t been solved before.

[5:56 Ginni Rometty]: Which is why, good or bad, we picked the first thing with healthcare. It is the most … I would have to ask everyone … Does everyone think? There’s not even really a system around it, it’s so dysfunctional. There’s so much waste. 8 trillion, a third of it is waste.

[6:12 Kara Swisher] Let’s talk about the decision to go with AI. [….] How do you turn that into a business? [….] From being, ooh, isn’t it cool, to being able to beat the chess guy. Which is fun …

[6:51 Ginni Rometty] And then Jeopardy. Because chess is really such a long time ago. And chess has many more — yes, you were thinking Jeopardy — because chess has many more mathematically determined …. That’s just horsepower, when you’re doing chess. But that’s not true with Jeopardy. Jeopardy is open domain, so it’s infinite answers. It’s a very different set of issues that are there.

[7:08 Ginni Rometty] When you say why, and can it be a business? This goes back to thinking that it could be an everyday, impact. I would say that in 5 years, there is no doubt in my mind, that cognitive AI will impact every decision made. 5 years. In some way, in some sense. It can be everyday stuff. And when you say, to make it a business, just look at healthcare, education, I look at what we’ve done in financial services, and I can see what clients are doing. [….]

[7:58] One thing that is important for everything thinking in the future of AI … a couple things. It’s easy to think about, okay, you’ll have to deal with unstructured data. Mary talked about natural language. But it’s not just that, and it’s not just images. It’s going to have to be domain knowledge, and that this ability to understand, reason and learn. And if you can do that in a domain, you’re in a way different world. It’s not like being a jack-of-trades on a really thin thing.

[8:25] This is going down the path, if you’re an oncologist, how can you look at an EMR, look at x-rays, look at the knowledge that has been printed out there, form hypotheses, decide your level of confidence … What experts want — what you and I want, when we want to make a decision … You don’t want to be told the answer. You want to see, here’s the different reasons, here’s how I thought about it, here’s the evidence that proves it. When you’re being treated for cancer, you may not want your hair to fall out. That may mean a lot to you. So there is no right or wrong answer.

[8:54] So I see this world … This is where we’ll going to want to deal with the grey area. And that is really a different business. And I think most businesses are there.

[….]

[9:07 Kara Swisher] Right now, you put cognitive businesses at $4 billion, about 20% of your business.

[9:12 Ginni Rometty] Oh, no, no. [….] Analytics is $18 billion, and increasing. [….]

[9:25 Kara Swisher] You don’t break out how much the Watson is …

[9:30 Ginni Rometty] We don’t, for a reason. Anyone who’s building something … It’s going to be a silver thread …

[9:58 Ginni Rometty] If it’s digital, it’ll be cognitive. Anything you do digital, it will be cognitive. So, if you think that, you’re going to be a way that you really run your business. [….] We will solve things that haven’t been solved. [….]

[11:10] The other parts of the business, I say, they’re not growing, they’re declining. But, my, good, we run the railroads, the airlines, the banks of the world. Those are systems, by the way, that are to be changed. I hope we do do talk a little about systems like blockchain, which, I believe, as much as discussion as we have about AI, the blockchain will have as much as an influence on many different ways that businesses are run.

[ … story about Jill Watson ….]

[16:40 Kara Swisher] That is the friendly view of AI. […] Your thing is not so much doing the why, you’re showing the path of decision-making. But at some point, two things could go wrong. One is replacing jobs. Completely replacing jobs. [….] The other one is evil in taking over the planet.

[17:30 Ginni Rometty] I think there are a couple points that you should think about. When you think about … I’ll keep using the word cognitive, because AI is a subset. For me as an engineer, technically, AI is a subset of cognitive. There are many more statistical engines in here, and what it does. But what really matters is who teaches these things. Watson is taught. When you come in, it’s both the data you use to teach, and who does the teaching. So, as an example …. This is why verticals become really important. So, when you’re in healthcare, IBM has been taught by the world’s greatest oncologists right now. [….]

[18:20] This idea of knowing which data to use for what …. If you are going to diagnose someone, would you go to the journals, and all of the literature of medicine, or would you go to Twitter? [….]

[18:34] … if you were trying to predict the pandemic, you might also have to go there. But there’s the idea of knowing which way to go is really important. And who does the training is important. So when you’re in verticals, you will be trained by experts. [….] For one of the most important business decisions, who does the training is important.

[18:57] Your other point though, is what about job? I think that is is inevitable. Things that are repetitive, they will have a job impact. That is foolish to say it won’t. We’re doing the work on radiology today. [….]

[19:29] The radiologist can do what he really should be doing, and that’s what he’s going to be putting the premium on. But this will circle back …. The root of this is going to go back to education. Because, you aren’t going to stop it. Mary had that chart up on transportation. The trend is going to keep moving, right?

[19:45] The chart on transportation …. If you go back to farming, people had to read. The industrial age, then they had to teach mechanical skills. I think what ever we’ll end up calling this age, people will have had to learn all of these data skills, right? [….] I do think that there will be tons more of jobs that will open up. But there will be this discontinuity period. They don’t always line up. That’s the thing about transitions.

[….]

[20:25 Kara Swisher] Last question, blockchain. Why do you think it’s going to be important?

[20:30 Ginni Rometty] How many people are familiar with blockchain? [….] How many of you think it’s going to have a profound impact on some of the biggest business processes in the world? I would say, maybe 60-70%.

[20:45] We have about 200 projects going. But, we did something else. And ghis is probably the most instructive. Cause blockchain for me …. Anything that is a supply chain, you can improve its efficiency. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a people supply chain, numbers ….

[21:08] IBM Global Financing is $40 billion, one of the world’s largest. So we’ve put up our own ledger on a shadow blockchain already. Very interesting. I place a lot of commercial paper. I start to place my own commercial paper. Some people don’t fit in that flow. The flow goes down, money’s shortened. I can see it happening already. I have a big services business. There’s lots of supply chain. People parts moving around. You have tons of people on both sides that are reconciling. Blockchain addresses it. I have banks, reconciliation, stock exchanges, not very liquid assets, trading. Big shippers, to big retailers. So, I can see the the efficiency. This is another area. It will be efficiency. Efficiency of capital flows, and efficiency ….

[21:55] It’s a great opportunity. You need two things to do it. You need transaction flows, and cryptography. And I also believe, it’s going to be important to be out in open source. We actually put the fabric for it, in Hyperledger. Because you will need visibility in the world. The regulators, the federal banks we worked with, you have to have it. I think — and we didn’t talk about it at all — I think that the opportunities are super-great around this. I see tons of little companies popping up, taking all different applications. I think it’s almost limitless what the ideas will be, what the people will do with this. In the good way that you’ll need to have transparency with this, and we’ll go through some learning. Again, some of the vehicles out there are not transparent, they’re opaque, you won’t be able to do that with financial transactions.

[… audience questions and answer follow ….]

“Full video: IBM CEO Ginni Rometty at Code 2016” (27m44s) | Recode at http://www.recode.net/2016/6/8/11829636/ginni-rometty-ibm-full-video-code

Excerpt 4m19s “Using AI to combat cognitive overload | Ginni Rometty, CEO IBM | Code Conference 2016” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uy3lZhQ5Cb8

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Posted in Talk Audio Download, Talk Video Streaming

“Conversation about Cybernetics” | Joi Ito, Paul Pangaro | MIT Media Lab | Mar 17, 2016 (web video)

Conversation at the MIT Media Lab about cybernetics with Paul Pangaro, Nathan Felde, Mike Bove, Iyad Rahwan, Edith Ackermann, Joi Ito and Lorrie LeJeune.

A few background posts:

jods.mitpress.mit.edu/pub/designandscience
dubberly.com/articles/cybernetics-and-counterculture.html

Chat posted live on Facebook Mentions at facebook.com/joiito/videos/961545600598042/

Conversation at the MIT Media Lab about cybernetics with Paul Pangaro | Joi Ito | March 18, 2016 at joi.ito.com/weblog/2016/03/18/conversation-at.html

[Warning: the audio recording level on Youtube is low. An audio amplifier will be helpful for listening]

[00:00 Introductions]

[….]

[09:45 As we started to think about the future of Media Lab … and the Media Lab has recently been getting into machine learning, synthetic biology, and other complex adaptive systems. If we go back to the roots of Media Lab, there were some roots of cybernetics there, but for a while a lot of our focus is on computer-human interface and things that were a little more objects. And then we started to get into networks, and systems. But now, we’re shifting into a lot of the hard sciences in self-adaptive complex systems.

[10:30] And then, as I looked at people like Kevin Esvelt who has been doing CRISPR gene drive, he thinks much more about how do we think about who should decide, and how should that enter the system, and less about what is the specific technology that is in the gene drive. And there he can see the design across scales, where at each scale you have a complex system that interacts with other systems across scales.

[10:55] As we start to put all of the science together, what we’re realizing is that the traditional disciplinary science rewards a very focused, single object, rather than systems connected. Now, there is systems thinking going on. But also multiple systems across scales. If you look at Ed Boyden’s lab, he’s got about 50 people working — at very interdisciplinary and antidisciplinary — we touch multiple systems, we create tools that look at multiple systems, and we perturb multiple systems.

[11:30] And then we’ve got people like Kevin Slavin who have come in, sort of talking about participatory design. You’re not stuck in traffic, you are traffic. You put that together. We had a conference last year called Knotty Objects, which is about design. We brought Paolo Antonelli and they talked about critical design. One of the things I realized is that there’s critical design, which was a lot about people not doing it, but critiquing it. And then we had the Media Lab kids who tend to do things, but not being as self-critical as you might want. And they thought more in objects, than systems.

[12:05] So, we were grappling with how do we think about what we were all doing, and how could science be more responsible. We launched this Journal of Design Science, which was to try to break design into science, which means thinking about all of the systems, thinking about things as iterative interventions in an unpredictable complex system, rather than how do I make those predictable things more efficient. Then, how can we change design so it’s less focused on the customer, and more on nature, or the system, across scales.

[12:35] So, as I was searching for the right word to describe what we were doing, I found I was repeating on second order cybernetics.

[12:50] We were having a discussion at the faculty meeting about being interdisciplinary / antidisciplinary. The Media Lab was where all disciplines were brought to work together. Well, there actually was a thing called cybernetics where all of the discipline had come together in the Macy Conference, where was this wonderful moment where it felt like we were going to go transdisciplinary. But, sort of in retrospect, somehow it disappeared.

[13:12] So, how did it disappear, where did it go? Stewart Brand would say “it got bored to death”. Some people said it got too academic, some people said the Macy Conferences ended and disappeared. Some people said the applications got so compelling that it ended up being applied. Theoretical. So there were a lot of reasons why it disappeared.

[13:40] So, I traced someone holding a torch. So now, what I want to explore is a couple things. One is, is there a way to connect cybernetics into what we’re doing in research? Now that I’m turning 50 this year, as an old-timer, I hear the crypto-currency people saying the same things that I was saying back in the 90’s, and making the same mistakes we made when we were building the Internet. I don’t like to repeat mistakes. I don’t like to rehash stuff that’s already been done. So, what can we can learn from cybernetics’ successes? But there are also learning from its failures. What could you or we have done better?

[14:15] We can look at the met-catalyst(?) movement in architecture, which was about bringing biology and architecture together. It was Tungay in Japan that did it. But it kind of died. I think it was because we didn’t have the tools to bring biology into architecture. Today, we do. There are a lot of things, like machine learning, and other things, where the technology has caught up to the theory, so we can apply it.

[14:40] So is it possible that maybe some of the things that we thought about in second-order cybernetics are more relevant and more possible now? [….]

[15:05] So one thing right now that is an argument — a disagreement — at the faculty level is about whether we should grab cybernetics, or not. Shouldn’t we just use the word “design”? Cybernetics comes with a lot of baggage. There a lot of people who are practitioners of cybernetics. When I wrote a little bit about cybernetics, I found some very enlightening comments coming in. But some people who had done stacks of work that seemed a little bit too … like the tools they were using to think about it, they weren’t using the new tools. I didn’t want to diminish what they were doing, and get on their turf, but I didn’t think I could grab the whole lot. [….]

[15:50] Since all of you are in touch with where we are with the Media Lab, or at least you know the DNA of the Media Lab, and you also know the history of cybernetics, I’d love to find — talk about the history of cybernetics, and talk about the forensics of it, and where it is today, and then maybe talk with about how you think it might apply to the future. [….]

[19:00 Paul Pangaro starts the discussion with “what does cybernetics offer”?]

[….]

[59:25] So where is this discussion, now, around, what is the terminology?

[59:30] This has been a useful conversation. We’re launching this idea around — we’re using the words “extended intelligence”, to be what we’re using instead of AI, to talk about this environment. We’re also going to be doing this meeting around AI and governance. And we’ll be launching what it means to put society into the loop.

[1:00:00] In terms of doing, we’re doing. I think a lot of the idea and the words you’re talking about resonate with what we’re thinking. We launched this Journal of Design Science, and are now working on how we describe it. We’re trying very hard — and Stewart has been helpful in thinking about this — to keep it a conversation, rather than be a series of peer-reviewed papers. The way we’re trying to do it is to have a conversation; have the online — we’re using a platform called PubPub that allows versioning and commenting — for the output to also be a reflection of the conversation. […]

[1:00:55] So, we’re moving forward. What would be interesting — talking about cybernetics — would be to learn from cybernetics, and also to see, if you and other people working in cybernetics can take some of the things that we’re working on — like say, machine learning, or evolutionary biology [….]

[1:01:50] The tricky part for me is, how do we have this conversation? I do think that kids don’t read books any more. It’s an ongoing conversation. The words are very fluid. Some of them mean different things to different people. [….]

[1:02:25] The world is much more global, now. Macy was kind of confined, in the cultural context. You talked about the influence of the Austrians. But now we have the impact of everyone. How do we have this conversation across languages?

[1:02:40] To me, that may be the harder thing.

[….]

[1:10:35] So that’s my personal meta place. What is the institution? I look at Bauhaus, I look at Black Mountain, I look at RLE, and all of the other institutions. And for some reason, the Media Lab has sustained over 30 years. I think a lot of it is the approach. [….]

[1:11:00] That could be what we learn about the forensics of cybernetics. [….] Some people had a tremendous amount of impact, but not sustainability. The Media Lab has a weird thing. We like orthogonality and disagreement, we build tools, we’re not obsessed about theory, although we have it, not as a primary output. And then, we’re happy to move along, as new tools come, and new technologies come.

[….]

[1:14:00] I feel like the best designer designs themselves, as the intervention. And, so, it’s me personally, and then the institution. The journal is for us, but I don’t want to create the church. So you have to make the membrane permeable, but humble in that I want to affect myself. In affecting myself, I may affect the environment, in a responsible way … but not to be evangelical about it.

[….]

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