Book: Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff
Team Human by Douglas Rushkoff investigates the impacts of current and emerging technologies and digital culture on individuals and groups and seeks ways to evade or extract ourselves from their corrosive effects.
After you read the book, please post your thoughts as comments to this post or, if you prefer, as new posts. There are interviews and other resources about the book online. Feel free to recommend in the comments those you find meaningful. Also, the audiobook is available through the Albuquerque Public Library but may have a long wait queue (I’m aiming for a record number of ‘q’s in this sentence).
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Here’s a link to Ruskoff’s TED talk I posted earlier: https://albuquirky.net/2019/03/05/rushkoff-team-human/
In Chapters 22 and 23 he talks about memes. He reduces all memes to invoking fight or flight reactions, completely by-passing our higher faculties of reason. Hence even if one creates memes with benevolent intent, given the nature of memes they cannot be effective in reaching reason. I disagree. The cognitive science of framing has demonstrated that reason itself is dependent on emotion. Hence memes can be shaped in a way that elicits higher emotions like compassion, empathy etc. while also activating reason. Effective framing, even in meme form, requires activating strong emotions. Empathy is just as strong a motivator… Read more »
I agree. Otherwise, he offers some interesting insights on memetics I don’t think I’ve encountered in the same formulations before. For example, he connects the dots between (a) memetic activation of perceptions and behaviors and (b) automation. This is in line with his broader point on media ‘programming’ referring to managing attention (‘look here; there’s nothing interesting over there’), shaping perceptions, and nudging behaviors. As an automation professional, it strikes me to think of much of today’s information and communications technologies (ICT) and their orchestrated use for ‘experience design’ are the platform and practices of people programming.
See the story for details. Big Tech needs to join Team Human.
“Google, and Microsoft have all struck lucrative arrangements—collectively worth billions of dollars—to provide automation, cloud, and AI services to some of the world’s biggest oil companies, and they are actively pursuing more. […] While Google, Microsoft, and Amazon may put on a progressive air towards climate change and extol their own clean energy investments, they are in reality deep into the process of automating the climate crisis.”
Memes were originally designed to bring attention to legitimate but marginalized issues. However propagandists used the tech to operationalize conflict. Where I disagree is that he claims memes by both sides are used to dehumanize the other when we need to relate to the other. Progressive memes do not dehumanize opponents with differing beliefs; they make apparent the dehumanized ideas that are promoted by weaponized memes. Progressives love the humans who mistakenly accept atrocious ideas and want to provide them with the means and opportunity to improve their lives, while at the same time fighting the weaponized ideas hiding behind… Read more »
I had similar thoughts while reading. Rushkoff is correct in his diagnosis of how our evolved attention/belief/action systems are used by mindless, yet goal possessing, algorithms to manipulate us in alienating and dehumanizing ways (‘weaponized memetics’). He fails to adequately acknowledge how limbic and other neuro-emotional systems are necessarily involved in pro-social activation and he fails to sufficiently justify his position that viral messaging should never be used for even pro-social purposes. I suspect he harbors an underlying belief in some form of predominantly rational human agency–if we but appeal with the right formulation of non-memetic logic, any neurotypical person… Read more »
Monbiot: How media got corrupted. See the story here. Corporate media, given a strictly financial motive, is in large part responsible for the Dump Presiduncy.
This Santa Fe Institute (SFI) discussion addresses some of the issues presented in Team Human. A number of panelists note that what’s the point of going to other planets if we haven’t learned how to treat our own, since we’ll likely just carry that same mindset elsewhere and destroy that environment too. Others think that exploring the notion of creating livable environments on other planets will force us to look at creating a more livable one here on earth, and how we are failing. And yet some panelists are of the transhumanists variety, that we as a race will transcend… Read more »
Rushkoff talks about the Dem circular firing squad here. On the other hand, the DNC and DCCC are using the framing of a circular firing squad to criticize progressive policies, saying they are far left and impractical. They accuse progressives of attacking their own Party instead of being united. Understand that that very criticism is part of the circular firing squad to silence progressives and has nothing to do with Party unity. It is to maintain the status quo power structure of the corporately funded Dems at the expense of we the people’s agenda as voiced by the progressives. Which… Read more »