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The Wizard is Us: Symbiogenesis by Networking Part 1

Arturo Sinclair, New Media Profesor/Artist in Residence, Digital Worlds Institute

Date: Wednesday, April 21

Time: 11:45 - 11:52 AM

Location: Salon E

As early as 1926, the Russian biologist *Konstantin Mereschcowsky* proposed in his theory of Symbiogenesis that larger and more complex organisms (like lichens) evolved from the symbiotic relationship between less complex ones. The theory proposes an evolutionary mechanism based on cooperation rather than competition and as such it is of interest to those of us working in models of open source, both in software and hardware and ultimately knowledge.

Our entire society is based on the concept of information, and throughout history we have created and established the routes and the networks, the smoke signals and the semaphores, the nodes and relays that carry the fluid that nurtures commerce, warfare and knowledge. 

It took only ten years, from 1958 when Bell labs researchers invented the modem (modulator-demodulator) that enabled communication between computers, to 1968, when the first RFP for ARPANET was published and the "Interfaith", as Senator Edward Kennedy called it, was funded by ARPA as the first "message processor". 

Decoding and interpreting signals, packets, gestures etc. is what we call communication. Since the birth of the computer, that viral mechanism has established a symbiotic relationship with their creators, to the point where humans cannot longer function as a society without them. As we merge and augment our senses, our machinic self takes over a majority of functions that we once considered essential for survival, including memory, the control of vital organs and appendices. Carbon and silicon, en route to the next evolutionary stage, collaborate to bring about the inevitable transformation. Telecommunications and the internet have become mobile. We are the nodes, the packets and the modems. We are still the storytellers, and we wish to share the magic around the digital fire. As we pull the curtain we discover that the Wizard is Us.

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