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All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace
Alex Steffen, 9 Sep 07

Ally Renee Blodgett brings us this Richard Brautigan poem:

I like to think (and the sooner the better)
of a cybernetic meadow
where mammals and computers
live together in mutually
programming harmony
like pure water
touching clear sky.
I like to think (right now please!)
of a cybernetic forest
filled with pines and electronics
where deer stroll peacefully
past computers
as if they were flowers
with spinning blossoms.
I like to think (it has to be!)
of a cybernetic ecology
where we are free of our labors
and joined back to nature,
returned to our mammal
brothers and sisters,
and all watched over
by machines of loving grace.
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Comments

A technology of communication, education,
and quiet transportation,
land-use being
sensitive to the properties of each region... 

Careful but intensive agriculture
in the great alluvial valleys,
deserts left wild for those
who would live there by skill. 

Computer technicians who run
the plant part of the year
and walk
along with the Elk
in their migrations
during the rest.
Gary Snyder, “Four Changes” 1969


Posted by: gmoke on 9 Sep 07

This poem scares me.


Posted by: Adam Brock on 10 Sep 07

Interesting. And in a mundane but related note, I think human androids would be great for desensitizing human-aggressive dogs, and realistic dog-robots for dog-agressive dogs.


Posted by: mara on 10 Sep 07

Reminds me of one of Terence McKenna's "visions" for a future state, which from the outside looks like some kind of prehistoric forager existence, but from within, via contact lenses absorbing an ambient datasphere, allows full access to stored human knowledge and communications. Certainly more interesting (though perhaps less probable) than the glittering and/or chaotic urban hive existence we seem to unconsciously drift towards.


Posted by: Gyrus on 10 Sep 07

This poem by Richard Brautigan was one of our inspirations for the Community Memory Project in Berkeley/San Francisco, 1972-74, world's first computerized bulletin board system (BBS), and speaks to the planet-caring aspirations of the noosphere pioneers. An interesting thought is that it seems necessary to keep mammalian human beings in the programming loop (so that they are in the call-by-future of programmable heuristics), so that we do not achieve out-of-control artificial intelligence, but rather symbiotic care. The emergence of "social software" could be a promise of this.


Posted by: Mark Szpakowski on 11 Sep 07

This poem by Richard Brautigan was one of our inspirations for the Community Memory Project in Berkeley/San Francisco, 1972-74, world's first computerized bulletin board system (BBS), and speaks to the planet-caring aspirations of the noosphere pioneers. An interesting thought is that it seems necessary to keep mammalian human beings in the programming loop (so that they are in the call-by-future of programmable heuristics), so that we do not achieve out-of-control artificial intelligence, but rather symbiotic care. The emergence of "social software" could be a promise of this.


Posted by: Mark Szpakowski on 11 Sep 07

This poem by Richard Brautigan was one of our inspirations for the Community Memory Project in Berkeley/San Francisco, 1972-74, world's first computerized bulletin board system (BBS), and speaks to the planet-caring aspirations of the noosphere pioneers. An interesting thought is that it seems necessary to keep mammalian human beings in the programming loop (so that they are in the call-by-future of programmable heuristics), so that we do not achieve out-of-control artificial intelligence, but rather symbiotic care. The emergence of "social software" could be a promise of this.


Posted by: Mark Szpakowski on 11 Sep 07

Anyone who's been watching the ambient informatics/ubiquitous computing space in the last couple years is likely to have at least a very faint resonance between this poem and Adam Greenfield's now-seminal essay (of the same title) on 'ethical guidelines for user experience in ubiquitous-computing settings', which later grew into his book 'Everyware'. The essay is still online here, and should be of some interest to Worldchanging readers.


Posted by: six on 14 Sep 07



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