The Great Separation
Abstract: One of the great virtues of Information Technology is that it helps to make the Government fade away into irrelevance. But the world of knowledge, science, certainties, truth and facts is as much part of the Era of Government as information itself. Separating information from its carrier or medium is part of scheme by the Government to preserve its power. In future times, we will look beyond information and experience creative expression as active participants, rather than as mindless observers.
The Problem with Information
Information is often pictured as something that exists on its own. But this fits in with science, with objectivity, with a history full of facts. When information is presented as perfect knowledge, absolute facts, unbendable rules, undeniable dogmas and the one and only truth, then there is something wrong.
The problem lies in the concept information itself. Identifying something as information implies separating this information from their makers and users. It implies that such information can exist on its own and can be observed and manipulated at will, without changing in the process (see also the article: The Information Conundrum).
The Government has long followed a strategy of separation. Religion typically separates physical beings from spirits, as if one can exist without the other. By claiming authority over a spiritual world, the Government as an institution has long managed to enslave people.
The education system also fits into this strategy of the Government. The education system preaches that teachers are the ones who possess knowledge. In this system, the Government has appropriated all knowledge, as if it owns it itself. Historical facts and scientific truths are supposed to be in the public domain as universal truths, yet they are tainted by nationalism in schools all over the world. Students can read about it, but they will never possess it, as all knowledge supposedly remains in the public domain, i.e. under control of the Government.
The Great Separation was also the theme of the February 1995 issue of Optionality, that featured the following article on education: Integrated Learning - the forbidden Alternative.
Instead of focusing on information, the better view is that people express themselves. Such expression usually is a response to a specific situation, e.g. a reaction to what other people say or do. Such an expression should be seen in such a context. Even an artist who creates work in isolation does so in a specific context.
Looking at such creative expressions as information is taking it out of its context. Once creative work is taken out of its context, it becomes an asset, at best it becomes tradeable information for which the creator receives money, at worst the creator is totally disregarded. This is when facts are false, not so much in their detail, but in the way they are presented. Taking an event out of context and presenting it as sterile data, categorized in accordence with supossedly universally valid rules, implies endorsement of ownership, separation, universal rules and absolute power of the Government.
This is an inferior approach from the perspective of optionality, in comparison with respecting the events in their contexts.
DonParagon's Vision of the Future
In DonParagon's Vision of the Future, the Information Age will be followed up by a Post-Government Era referred to by Don as Improvisation Time. In such future times, science will no longer be the dominant belief, instead people will predominantly believe in optionality. Trade will not be as dominant as it is now, information and knowledge will not be seen as exclusive assets that have to be bought and that will, when possessed, determine success. Instead, embracing creativity will be more important in enhancing prosperity. Encouraging improvisation, seeking and developing talents are some of the steps to take in order to stimulate such creativity.
Appendix A: Optionality an Ideology?
Some readers have argued that DonParagon hypocritically presents optionality as an ideology or a philosophy. Their arguement is that Don does exactly what he blames others, i.e. that Don presents information as the one and only truth and that Don in the process takes such information out of context and handles it in an absolute sense.
Quintessence's response to such arguments is that DonParagon does not present his views as a philosophy in the conventional scientific way. Don's Vision is interpretated by Quintessence from Don's work, and articles in the WEBzine Optionality are based upon Don's views, but Don himself expresses himself through his music. If this implies that Quintessence takes DonParagon's views out of their context, then Quintessence is to blame, not DonParagon. It is the deliberate policy of the WEBzine Optionality to present Don's interpretation of optionality as one out of several that are regularly discussed, not as the one and only truth. Also, the concept optionality inherently opposes the idea of one, single, absolute truth.
Furthermore, optionality is only one part of Don's Vision. As such, it may be regarded as the ideological part, but it clearly is just one out of many components that - in Don's views - will shape future times, next to improvisation, creativity, etc. For Don, optionality is something he believes in. Don rejects science as a presumptious search for universal rules, laws and order. This is a controversial position that requires some further elaboration.
In Don's views, science works like this. Two scientists may make observations and, after comparing their data, conclude that they both see, say, a chair. But this detaches the chair from the observer as if the chair existed independently as an object. For Don, such a chair remains primarily an observation that exists in the head of the observer.
For Don, any observation is part of the way an individual or a group looks at something. Their observations, their remarks, their actions are part of what they want to achieve. They see what they want to see. If they want to see chaos, they find chaos. If they want to see order, they will look for rules and laws, and conclude that they have found order. If they want to see objects that exist independently from themselves, they will claim to see such objects. But Don argues that what they see is part of what they happen to believe in. They first detach themselves from the objects of their observation - they presume there is an observer and there is an object. Subsequently, they triumphantly claim to have found such an object. This is the big fraud of science. Science presents its own presumptions as universal truths.
Don, instead, simply sings his songs, without intending to make such universal statements. Don regards his songs as part of something bigger than sound and Don's interpretation of optionality is similarly part of this. A guitar or piano used by Don when he sings his songs is part of the same thing. Don does not regard such instruments as physical objects, but as contributors to his music. Even the chair Don sits on is similarly part of this context.
The conclusion of the Editors is that the accusations (that Don's vision hypocritically represents an ideology) do not stick, moreover, that they promote an ideology of science, logic and objectivity and they do so by stealth, without openly articulating this ideology behind their arguments. Their approach is secretly pushed forward as the one and only rightful one. By contrast, DonParagon is quite open in expressing his feelings towards the coercion and scheming of the Government. Don does not claim to have discovered a new science, instead Don rejects all such science, logic and objectivity as part of the world of the Government.
Appendix B: Separation from Work
The Government's tactic of separating people from their work is not restricted to the above-described case of intellectual property. Throughout the centuries, the Government has enslaved people, made them subjects, possessions of the State. In recent times, people think that abolition of slavery has made all people free. But people now work as employees (if they can find work), giving away their work in exchange for money. People do not own their own work and, as a result do not care much for their work. Instead, people just follow orders.
People effectively have been forced into separate identities, as employee at work, versus family person at home. Public roads, beaches, community buildings, parks, the sky, the Government owns the lot. The Government now starts to collapse, most likely taking large employers down in its slipstream. People scramble for identity, as they can no longer identify with the "community", with the "local people", with their employer, with their "fellow citizens". Family means less and less in modern times.
But the biggest scheme is the Governments appropriation of Information Technology (IT). The buzword IT combines concepts that are all part of the culture of Government, such as information, technology, science, knowledge, etc. But all such IT was created by people and taken from people by coercive taxes, under duress of legal threats or other methods used by the Government. The most insidious way used by the Government to appropriate creations of people is by calling it scientific facts, public information or technology that is in the public domain and that should be freely available to educational institutions. This is of course outright theft.
But privatizing information will not bring us out of the Era of Government. We need to realize that the very process of regarding information as something separate, something tradeable, is part of the scheme the Government uses to hang on to its power.
Appendix C: Computers: are they good or bad?
The question whether computers are good or bad seems to come back all the time. Many regard computers as part of the world of the Government, dealing predominantly with scientific data, facts, financial transactions, taxation, etc. The Internet has long been a conglomeration of networks for the military, Universities and government departments.
Changes have taken place recently, transforming the Internet into a public network, putting a computer into many homes, even handling audiovisual information.
Yet, the computer itself seems to remain an instrument of logic, of extreme singularity, making yes or no decisions be it at gigantic speed. Are there alternatives in computing, or is computing inherently logical and linear? As an example, Perth-based Formulab Neuronetics recently revealed its Richter Paradigm Computer, named after its architect, Tony Richter. This Paradigm computer is claimed to use an advanced form of multiprocessor technology mimicing the human brain, rather than following the linear one step after the other Von Neumann cycle that is used in standard computers. Of course, there are many other efforts in this field, often referred to as neural networks, parallel processing and artificial intelligence.
The problem is not a technical one, but a cultural one. The deeper problem with computers is the same as with all technology, with science, information and logic. They are all placed separate from the people who made them. They are all detached from the people who use them. They remain instruments, objects that are used to achieve certain goals. Computers are not part of "us". As a result, computers are often pictured as the enemy in a "we" versus "them" conflict between humans in their natural environment on the one hand and lifeless robots on the other hand.
The way out of this perceived conflict is to stop the great separation that is enforced upon society by the Government. We must rethink our own identities, the way things, people and the environment are classified. If we want to be able to choose our own destinies, we must first of all be able to choose our own personalities and we must accept our work as part of us.
Appendix D: Intellectual Property
The legal system of intellectual property is part of this scheme of separation. The Government's strategy is to separate owner and possession. Scientists can make discoveries, but the scientists will not be recognized as the makers, only as the finders of something that was supposedly already there. At most, scientists are thus granted naming rights, not property rights.
As an example, Robert Dicke and James Peebles concluded that, if there had been a cosmological big bang, relict radiation from that event should be detectable. Separately, Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias stumbled upon radio noise that they couldn't get out of their system. Puzzled, they were advised to contact Dicke, who told them it was these were microwave frequencies corresponding with a temperature of three degrees above absolute zero, i.e. background noise of the big bang. Subsequently, Wilson and Penzias won a Nobel prize for their discovery, even though other scientists had other theories. The establishment wanted certainty, it decided that the truth had been found and honoured the finders of that truth, not the person who came up with the theory. Some suggest that Dicke should have published his theories as part of a science fiction novel - that way he would probably have earned a lot more than as scientist.
Similarly, patents can be granted to inventors, but their inventions are regarded as part of the world of nature, of scientific rules. In the commercial world, inventors are merely regarded as making something that was already possible in theory, in accordance with the laws of science. Patents are typically granted for only a number of years, as a temporary exception to general competition laws. What is granted is a temporary monopoly on production, not ownership rights over the principle.
Creative work can be owned by the artists, designers, etc, who made it, but it falls into the public domain after some time, in Australia some 50 years after the death of the artist. Possession of trademarks can last even longer. But in the commercial world, intellectual property is typically owned by business, not by an individual.
Granting of ownership rights over creative work should not be regarded as a definite retreat by the Government. The Government is still the one judging who owns what and the Government will only recognize one, exclusive owner out of many claims. Also, the Government attaches all kinds of conditions to such ownership. The Government keeps its position of power as the one that decides how society should be organized and operate, while selected business is granted the right to make profits, as long as it endorses the Government's supervision.
Intellectual property rights are part of the scheme by the Government to separate information from people. The artist may be glad to sell a painting or song, but in the process the artist actually endorses this system. A song that is sold, becomes information that can be traded, it becomes an investment. Such songs are no longer communication between singers trying to express themselves and listeners interested in hearing them. The difference is that the owner's approach is to deny listeners access, unless they make certain payments. Whereas the singer was keen to let anyone hear the songs, the new owner uses all kinds of methods to deny people access to such songs, in the belief that this strategy will be financially profitable. Separated from their songs, singers lose their voices, while the songs become assets that are traded for their entertainment value. The Government has effectively silenced the singer, while gaining tax revenue to strengthen its own position. Detached from their makers, information becomes a nameless asset that is ruled by the laws of commerce or, more generally, by the Government.