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Living Technology : Toward a New Science of Integrated Information

An evolving body of research by Branden Collins

What is information?

Information is an abstract concept that refers to that which has the power to inform. At the most fundamental level, information pertains to the interpretation (perhaps formally) of that which may be sensed, or their abstractions. Any natural process that is not completely random and any observable pattern in any medium can be said to convey some amount of information. Whereas digital signals and other data use discrete signs to convey information, other phenomena and artifacts such as analogue signals, poems, pictures, music or other sounds, and currents convey information in a more continuous form.[1] Information is not knowledge itself, but the meaning that may be derived from a representation through interpretation.[2]

The concept of information is relevant or connected to various concepts,[3] including constraint, communication, control, data, form, education, knowledge, meaning, understanding, mental stimuli, pattern, perception, proposition, representation, and entropy.

Watch : How Information Helps Us Understand the Fabric of Reality


We show that the evolution of culture represents the emergence of universal technological convergence within complex living systems. With this, we propose that cultural media & expression represent a time-bound record of universally evolving "consciousness" (i.e. self-stimulation) through "living technologies".

We define “living technologies” as any technology (tools, cultures, customs, traditions, social systems, etc.) that emerge from & interact with living systems. This includes living organisms that could be considered “conscious”. (in this context we recognize life and living organisms as technologies in and of themselves).

Slide 4 highlights a video from a performance piece entitled Communication, which I created in 2013 with artist Madeline Moore as a part of my Pandrogeny exhibition. The work illustrates the inherent challenges of communication between two sources (in this case costumed avatars), it’s a concept that I only later discovered aligned exactly with the description of mathematician and information scientist Claude Shannon’s theory of information in 1948. Part of my core hypothesis is the need for an update to this theory and the resulting paradigm shift in our understanding of communication & information will lead to a revolution in information infrastructure.


⁃ Show the origin of living technology and its relationships with mathematics, physics & biochemical systems. Similar to Cosmosapiens, we attempt to draw a connective thread of the evolutionary history of “living technology” from the beginning of the universe, the emergence of living systems, to living technologies of today and into the future. Describing some of the ways in which this ongoing evolutionary process results in the emergence and re-emergence of new dimensions of reality and new forms of life.

⁃ Establish that culture is a technology that emerges from complex living systems

⁃ Reestablish that all technology is inherently "natural" and examine the implications of this.

⁃ Confront the necessity of the social experiment as an aspect of evolutionary process & survival.

⁃ Establish the basis for cultural elements to be regarded as technologies central to social progress and economic infrastructure by
  • Using qualitative & quantitative analysis to trace the evolutionary trajectory of cultural elements.
  • Developing methods for estimating the probability that cultural elements will emerge (for elements that currently exist and those that do not).
  • Establish a quantifying metric for the value of cultural elements based on the probability of emergence
  • Evaluating the necessity of emerging technologies, their viability in the marketplace, and design the means & methods by which they will be produced.

Understand where individual ideas, individual cultural elements, & culture more broadly come from. How does an individual (creative) idea or cultural element emerge? What is culture? How does culture evolve?

Describe the means by which ideas and culture emerge from complex living systems (via. Mathematics, information theory, physics, biology, etc.)

Define “living technologies” as any technology (tools, cultures, customs, traditions, social system, etc.) that emerge from & interact with living systems. This includes living organisms that could be considered “conscious”. (in this context we recognize life and living organisms as technologies in and of themselves). All “living technologies” transfer information.

A more nuanced understanding of what technology is.

Show examples of technology and culture present in nature.

Illustrate that cultures effectively constitute new “dimensions” of reality

Illustrate a more complete picture for the potential of biomimicry by showing how nature develops technology and culture.

Establish the potential for various media technologies, within the context of a postmodern, hyperreal society, to effectively bring about the emergence of new forms of reality and life.

Establishes the basis for Communion systems, platforms & community structures. Essentially the philosophical & technical framework that guides how we approach experimental communities, design & development.

Establish qualia (the quantification of subjective conscious experience) as a transfer of information/mass/energy and therefore describe the potential for the basis of a biological “currency” in a transitional economic framework. (Perhaps underpinned by the physics definition of “work” as a substitute for labor?)

Establish a method for qualifying and quantifying consciousness & cultural elements as a basis for experimentation and accelerated adaptation, transitioning to new socioeconomic structures & technological paradigms. What is the “real” value of art? Based on the proposed framework that culture emerges from biology, physical & mathematical laws. Based on a physics definition of work as a potential replacement or supplement to socialized concepts of labor. Extracting the true value of creative output based on its underlying inputs, i.e. creative output redefined as, among other things, a form of data systems analytics.

Propose that cultural media & expression represent a time-bound record of universally evolving consciousness (i.e. self-stimulation) through "living technologies". This then opens the possibility that the emergence/convergence of exponential living technologies acting as time-bound records could resolve various temporal paradoxes. We examine these probabilities.

Propose that the convergence of mixed reality, spatial computing & other exponential extended reality technologies may require an update to Shannon’s Mathematical Theory of Communication.

Working towards an evolving legal/ethical framework for shared/mixed realities & personal information technologies more broadly.

  • Working towards an evolving legal/ethical framework for mixed realities & personal information technologies more broadly.

  • Establishes experimental framework for the study and observation of / integration with the emerging ”Noosphere”/“Holosphere” We argue that the singularity is not near, but the plurality is here (and has always been) but we have not in recent history taken seriously the task of recognizing it, understanding it, and unlocking the potential of synthesis.

Overview & Intruductory References:

Introduction: How Information Helps Us Understand the Fabric of Reality
Kevin Kelly, Technium Unbound
Emergent Information: A Unified Theory of Information Framework

Information theory is the scientific study of the quantification, storage, and communication of digital information. The field was fundamentally established by the works of Harry Nyquist and Ralph Hartley, in the 1920s, and Claude Shannon in the 1940s. The field is at the intersection of probability theory, statistics, computer science, statistical mechanics, information engineering, and electrical engineering.

A key measure in information theory is entropy. Entropy quantifies the amount of uncertainty involved in the value of a random variable or the outcome of a random process. For example, identifying the outcome of a fair coin flip (with two equally likely outcomes) provides less information (lower entropy) than specifying the outcome from a roll of a die (with six equally likely outcomes). Some other important measures in information theory are mutual information, channel capacity, error exponents, and relative entropy. Important sub-fields of information theory include source coding, algorithmic complexity theory, algorithmic information theory and information-theoretic security.

Applications of fundamental topics of information theory include source coding/data compression (e.g. for ZIP files), and channel coding/error detection and correction (e.g. for DSL). Its impact has been crucial to the success of the Voyager missions to deep space, the invention of the compact disc, the feasibility of mobile phones and the development of the Internet. The theory has also found applications in other areas, including statistical inference, cryptography, neurobiology, perception, linguistics, the evolution and function of molecular codes (bioinformatics), thermal physics, molecular dynamics, quantum computing, black holes, information retrieval, intelligence gathering, plagiarism detection, pattern recognition, anomaly detection and even art creation. (via. Wiki)

The fabric of objective reality is woven out of threads of information — not space, time, or matter. At the heart of reality, we find a computational engine which needs to be fed with information. The entire universe is computational in nature.
- James B. Glattfelder
Physicist, Complexity Scientist, Philosopher, Author of Information—Consciousness—Reality : How a New Understanding of the Universe Can Help Answer Age-Old Questions of Existence

Notable References:

Cosmosapiens : Human Evolution From the Origin of the Universe
Cybersemiotics: Why Information is Not Enough
The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics Pioneer Norbert Wiener on Communication, Control, and the Morality of Our Machines
Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience: Information & the Origin of Qualia
Qualia Research Institute: Discovering the Mathematical Structure of Consciousness
Journal of Mathematics and the Arts: Quantifying Patterns in Art & Nature
Timothy Morton: Hyperobjects
Human Energy Project, the Third Story of the Universe & the Formation of the Noosphere
Quantum Gravity Research
Fotoni Markoupolou & Quantum Graphity


0 : 0 SourcesSignificant research sources, and academic papers.

0 : 0 Technoculture: Toward a Unified Theory of Living InformationIntroduction. Sets the overall purpose & abstract of the theory. Methods used to establish it, what we anticipate to read. Picking up where Pandrogeny, Another World is Possible, Cosmosapiens left off, incorporating culture as essentially a new layer of reality that emerges from and is entangled with living systems, giving rise to exponential technologies like methematics, language, genders, the internet, AI, etc., and the implications of these things as they give rise to new forms of life and ways of being. That culture &  life itself are “universal living technology”.

0 : 1 The Emergence of 0: Consciousness as a New DimensionExamining emergence and zero and other universal concepts, and how they relate to our evolving understanding of reality, consciousness, and the structure of living systems. Show how the simple concept of binary (and non-binary) within complex systems extends itself to many areas of life and establishes a basis for thinking about simplicity emerging from intricacy and vice versa (entanglement, retrocausality).

0 : 1.1 Memetics & the Codes of LifeExtend the idea of the binary to show how these “code switches” manifest & emerge across living, “non-living” and cultural systems. Specific examples from information theory, computer science, biology, genetics, etc.

0 : 2 Convergence: Mass, Energy & The Informational Origin of QualiaWe establish that the Mass-Energy-Information-Equivalence principle & the geometry of qualia are the basis for converting information into mass/energy across complex systems of consciousness. The mind (as a quantum field) collapses into thoughts (information as probability reduction) which then collapse into form and motion (General Relativity <> Quantum Theory), through transitioning conscious experience over time. Show how these codes, mathematical structures, binary & nonbinary systems converge to shape the dimensions of conscious experience (phenomenology) & related physical actions. Mathematic information >= Qualia (shape of conscious experience) >= biomechanical/chemical systems 

0 : 3 The Evolution of BiomechanicsShow how biomechanical “living” systems emerge from “non-living” systems, underpinned by the same “codes” and principles. Ex. Cell division <> Banach-Tarski Paradox

We confront the notion that there may be no real way to distinguish living from non-living systems, or that this is more a result of perspective. Establishing that life is an experience of networked relationships that emerge from processes in physics, i.e. information transfer through complex systems.

0 : 3.1 Evolutionary Playground  : Bodies of KnowledgeWe move from showing the basis for biomechanical evolution to showing how the body acts as an “experimental playground” to progress the evolutionary story. Principles in game theory, adversarial networks, and risk analysis in data systems (ex. Gut bacteria) lead to innovation via adaptation & error.

0 : 4 Go With Your Gut : The Origins of Culture in Living SystemsChaos, Information, Prediction & Probability.
We use principles in game theory, systems theory & the study of the behavior of the microbiome to show how the mind and body navigate complex change through communication <> communal practice, and play (experimentation).

Move from a broad recognition of evolution through adaptation to show the relationship between bacterial culture in the gut, food culture, to culture more broadly in social systems. Not that food is the only origin point of culture but that it is a very important one across social species.

0 : 5 Indigenous Cultures of The Animal KingdomWe show the evolution of cultures in the animal kingdom. Show that essentially all forms of non-human animals exhibit some form of culture. Kurzweil's “How to Create A Mind” gives valuable insight into the role organization, redundancy, information transfer, and hierarchical structuring of concepts result in different kinds of cultures animals exhibit. (Maybe lean into examples centered around food, then reproduction, communication, etc.)

0 : 6 Identity as Concept, Experience, Performance & CommodityWhat is culture (specifically in the human social context)? How does it evolve? We show the transition from animal to indigenous to non-indigenous & contemporary cultures (internet native), and how they connect. How cultures become commodities. Start broad, then specifically anchor to the American Mythology, the construction of Black culture. This establishes the basis for the commodification of culture in the context of the current hyperreality.

0 : 7 Human Cameras: The Emergence of HyperrealityStart with some evolutionary basis for hyperreality then connect with contemporary technology, consumer culture, & their intermingling/interdependence with hyperreal technologies (we can center on sight but also touch on other hyperreal tech like radio) mimicry > basic symbolism/markings > ancient drawing > painting > photography > television/film > Reality TV > Universe as media

0 : 8 The Evolving Internet: Culture, Communication & Space/Time Convergence  Touch on the original intent for the internet. Show historical context (newspapers, books, and other forms of social information technologies that set the stage for the internet). Show an evolutionary trajectory. Examine theoretical principles that establish the internet as a pathway to unlock new spatial/temporal possibilities. Show challenges (context collapse, misinformation, viruses, redundancies) May need several sub-chapters. 

0 : 8.1 Simulacra: Hyperreality TodayExamine the reemergence of Hyperreality in the context of the internet of everything, Deepfakes, GANs, AI, Memes, Mixed Reality, VR, AR etc. A hyperreality made of hyper realities which result in a kind of Simulacra, i.e. a hyper hyper-reality (Omni-reality?) with no distinguishable source of origin. (Plurality/Multiverse/Network)

0 : 9 Another World Is Possible: Imagination, Speculation & the Foundation for New RealitiesReintroduce the concept & implications of the “digital native”, i.e. indigenous internet culture. 

We reestablish technoculture and set the stage for Another World is Possible (alter-globalization) and Communion (allude to versions of this same central concept) which lead to practical methods toward spatial/temporal possibilities. (Instagram save references) Essentially show the potential evolutionary trajectory in the near & distant future. Lean more into imagination and support with theory to show that imagination directly shapes reality, with the internet & contemporary exponential technologies as essential conduits. (This is not to necessarily espouse notions that anything we believe will happen will happen, this is the theoretical basis + philosophy + speculation through fiction/design)

Essentially establish the idea that because of contemporary exponential technologies, in context,  imagination today has more immediacy and power to create alternative physical realities. Anything that is imagined can be realized, but what is needed as the next significant shift is more accessible facilitation & mediation technologies (Communion) in order to reach new, equitable potentials.

0 : 9.1 Exponential Technologies Open New Dimensions in Space, Time & IdentityWe show the speculation in context with current evolving exponential technologies to firm up the reality of new worlds today. (this is the real work being done, the application of theory and reality related to speculative fiction) The internet + the convergence of these other technologies and philosophies could lead to… A, B, C, D

0 : 9.2 Technoculture: Mythologies of Today Shaping Realities of TomorrowExamine the mix of cultures today that are shaping the future. Point out a few salient examples. Root in some historical context. How mythologies (as one form of technoculture) merge with media technologies to directly shape the future & living environment. Essentially showing: Cultural concept > results in these real-world impacts > and here are some that might shape our environment in the future. 

This should be added to over time as an ever-evolving archive...

Examples could include: 

The Circle
The Holy Bible
Concept of Race
Gender Concepts/Constructs
Blackness as a concept
The Birth of A Nation (recalling section 6) 
The Mandala
Anansi, Grandmother Spider, World Wide Web, Cosmic Web (spider & web archetypes)
MCU (Infinity War)
Ethnoastronomy: Astrology in context & the persistence of Astrology in contemporary culture
Papa Legba
Mother Archetype 
Father Archetype
Blue as infinite set
Many more…

0 : Communion: Living Technologies for A New World Establish the definition of living technologies in the context of ꙮ, described as a framework for regenerative communities.
Outline the different ways ꙮ could emerge across various markets & sectors.