Posted by: Edward | June 15, 2006

Building New Social-Machines

Originally posted on: Wed, Feb. 8th, 2006 04:39

I am interested in the idea of machine in two different ways, the tool as object to achieve a purpose and the automation as object of mechanical operation. Society is machine in both of these senses. It is a human-relation-machine. On the one hand it was formed as and, in my opinion should remain as, a tool facilitating human interactions and cooperation. On the other it seems to situate human interaction as mechanical relations and humans as parts of this social-machine.

One potential out from this situation is to create less totalized social machines adjacent to the existing society and to each other each acting as tools for small interaction functions and slowly, as we have machines to support us, we can unplug from the current society. We need to adjust our role from machine-part to tool-operator.

The network is one such social-machine. The advantage of it is, it emphasizes that the part of the social experience that matters is our connections to and interactions with other people not the abstract social structures that individuals have very little control over. Out of these networks the next machines to arise are the interest groups. They either share a topic or share goals or perhaps both. They share vectors or intentionality in common and so are grouped together in terms of them. After this comes the trust group. At the fundamental level the trust group is that subset of an individual’s network connections that the individual trusts. Past this point individual people can interconnect their trust so that you can have groupings where each member knows and trusts each other member. Interest groups and trust groups are built on networks but are independent of each other. They can, however, overlap. Trust-groups that are the same as interest groups, that have all the same members, are in a powerful position. They can now work together towards the goal or topic-interest that they share in common. This new group structure could be titled the subject group, as Deleuze and Guattari title it, as it is in position to act rather than be acted upon.

An important point to make is that just because a particular group is a subject group at some time A doesn’t mean it will be or even should be, at another time B. Individual’s interests or trusts can change and if we ignore that and force the individual to remain subsumed in the group then people are no longer the tool-operator, they are again the machine-parts.

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