Thursday, December 26, 2013

Power to the programmers! is it ok?

Have you noticed how your behavior is influenced by computer code written by programmers hired by technology companies? They write the code that sometimes requires you to identify yourself with a credit card; also the code that allowed the U.S. government to spy citizens; and the code that makes it difficult to identify who is the real sender of an email message and so on. As well as the code that dictates different behaviors among users of different apps.

As more of our life is intermixed with the internet, more power is assumed by unelected programmers. Is that ok? See my review at Amazon of Lawrence Lessig's "Code 2.0" book.

Surfaces and Essences by Hofstadter & Sanders - a summary/review

In this accelerated life when available time gets ever squeezed, I had never read huge books like Tolstoi’s War and Peace… until I encountered Hofstadter & Sanders “Surfaces and essences”, a 500+ page book which may some day be considered a literary masterpiece like Hofstadter’s Pulitzer-prize-winning book, “Godel, Escher, Bach”.   I have always been captivated by Hofstadter’s thinking depth, and clear and witty writing style; qualities rarely found together in academic researchers. See my review at Amazon.

(Acknowledgement: editorial improvement of the review by Joana Kennington of More English

Friday, September 20, 2013

Homeland Earth 3 - The Earth in crisis

This is the fourth essay of a series on the book “Homeland Earth” by Edgar Morin, and part of a larger series on The predicament -and hope- of mankind. Better read in order.

Are there problems of problems? meta problems? problems of "the second order"? Yes there are, and the third chapter of Homeland Earth is dedicated to exploring some of those: widespread, deep and sometimes invisible problems that need to be solved before or at the same time that other problems are solved.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Homeland Earth 2 - Citizens of the Earth

(for those navigating straight here… this is the fourth essay on a series dealing with The Predicament and Hope of Mankind)

In this second chapter of the book, Edgar Morin follows the development of Science as it discovers the origin and development of the Cosmos, the Earth, the biosphere and finally Us humans. Then he calls for a universal recognition of the anthropological unity of all human beings, whatever diverse their culture or development.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Homeland Earth 1 - the Planetary Era

This is the second essay about Edgar Morin’s brief “Homeland Earth” book and part of a series of essays on The Predicament and Hope of Mankind.

The Planetary Era began when humanity started to discover our round planet, a tiny part of the solar system and the rest of the cosmos; and simultaneously, when disperse civilizations began to communicate with each other on a global basis. This chapter of the book describes in 25 pages this seven centuries adventure until 1992 - an adventure framed by colonialism, independence, wars, industrialism, the birth of the nation state...;  and also framed by the gradual emergence of a planetary consciousness as humanity’s history oscillates between integration and autonomy of people and societies. I add some notes to update this history until 2013.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Homeland Earth 0 - The history of History

Terre-Patrie 0 - Tierra-Patria 0 - la historia de la Historia

This is the first of a series of essays on Edgar Morin’s “Homeland Earth” [1], and part of my series on The Predicament - and hope- of Mankind.

The title of the prologue of the book - “The history of History” is a recursive play of words so common in Morin’s writing. The chapter condenses in three and a half pages the history of humanity from hunter-gatherer times until “the birth of History”* (Mesopotamia) and on until the start of “the Planetary Era”, when humans began to realize that they live in a finite planet. Morin also follows the development of the science of History from its birth to present time - thus the history of History.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The predicament -and hope- of Mankind

Welcome back my faithful readers =) Bienvenidos de regreso mis cuatro lectores =).

Over the summer I happened to read a series of books that nicely complement each other into an either tragic or hopeful sequence.

In 1972, it was published the famous report: “The limits to growth: a report to the Club of Rome project on The Predicament of Mankind”. It described World3, the name of a [Systems Dynamics] model of the planet and humanity. The authors used the model to analyze several possible future scenarios for the Earth and its inhabitants up to 2100. Some of these scenarios ended in a planetary collapse due to pretended infinite growth in a finite planet;  some were hopeful but required difficult changes to world politics and institutions. I borrow part of the sub-title of that book for a series of essays that partly deal with this topic: the predicament of Mankind, including some dashes of hope...