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Vortrag vom 2009-12-29.



Einreichungstext für den 26c3 (noch nicht klar ob angenommen oder nicht "rejected", dafür dann in der c-base parallel zum Congress):

Event title: Identity Wars: the End of Human Society

Subtitle of the event: How internet culture challenges the identity mappings that human society depends on.

Abstract: Our social structures depend on our being locked into stable identities. Internet culture erodes these stabilities. Not only do our political and cultural affiliations become more flexible (which challenges hegemonies like that of the nation, the ethnicity and the political party); it is our very selves, the value of concepts like personhood, humanity and individuality, that become more and more confused in a digital world of identity theft, personalized chatterbots and artificial and/or collective intelligence; a world where borganisms like 4chan's "Anonymous" start to act as willful political agents. This calls into question not only specific political power distribution systems like "democracy" (dependent on a concept of "citizenship" only for individual human heads that seems old-fashioned in these new contexts) but the very ideas of politics and society themselves.

Full Description: For many thousands of years, human civilization has been a complex web of carbon-based life and its needs, biological and artificial intelligence, memetic systems, productive machinery and many other factors. Ideology and the law have tried to force this sprawling, chaotic life force into order: into stable political terms, entities and bottlenecks; into personhoods and citizenships and institutionalizations of discursive and political processes; into property, nationality, class and gender; into strict identity determinations.

The internet erodes these identity lock-ins on many levels. It dissolves the natural and artificial borders of stationary cultures ("nations") and thereby opens them to destabilizing shock waves of new influences. It loosens the affiliations of individuals to static political parties by strengthening their ability to engage in spontaneously emerging intelligent political mobs. It also loosens their assignments to attributes that are flexible in online identities, like looks, sex, ethnicity. It calls into question the need to decide at all about an identity: One can split into many different virtual identities and act out every possibility at the same time.

This would be harmless play if it weren't for the empowering dynamics of the internet; these give a strong voice, hand and social reflection even to an "Anonymous Coward". The internet allows participation in its intelligence and power apparatus to any person, any process, any thing that brings the kind of intelligence into it that the new global intelligence machinery digs. This includes brilliant or dumb human individuals, real or fake, as well as fluid collective open source identities like 4chan's "Anonymous". It also includes intelligent algorithms, bots, spam, virusses, worms and cat pictures with stupid text on them. In a way, these all have equal rights in the new post-human democracy of the "information society", because all of them are information. Our old merely-human democracies in the carbon world look quite DNA-racist in comparison: They give citizen rights and a voice only to those information processes that carry the human genome code (and that only in a specific physical medium, the DNA). Maybe sufficiently intelligent and lively memes and spam bots too deserve rights to citizenship and personhood?

But the structures of the old society -- centered on configurations of personalized homo sapiens sapiens animals -- won't just sit back and watch. They feel the gathering storm. They desperately try to force a mapping of everything that emerges on the net to individualized "citizens" or "legal persons" (like companies, a posthuman form that was only successfully integrated into human society's control after much work) that can be made responsible according to the letter of human law, be it by fines or by imprisonment. This is where the wish for a total surveillance of the internet comes from: the urge to reduce the powerful new uncontrollable identity clouds to identity forms that can be controlled and punished with the old structures. A post-national, post-ethnic, post-genderist human individual can still be imprisoned or shot; an intelligent identity virus that jumps freely from host to host is much harder to control.

This description should not necessarily be understood as a call to antipathy towards the old power structures; maybe they are just doing their job in defending a specifically human society against a posthuman takeover through the borganism of the internet. Or maybe assimilation in this borganism is just what we want?


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