Monthly Archives: November 2015

Floridi’s Fourth Revolution

With The Fourth Revolution (The Fourth Revolution. How the Infosphere is Reshaping Human Reality. Oxford University Press, Oxford 2014) Oxford philosopher of information Luciano Floridi enters into the mainstream debate on net culture and new media. Indeed, as the title suggests, digital media are “revolutionary” and not merely an extension of broadcast media. Floridi likens the revolutionary significance of digital media to that of Copernicus’ dislocation of humankind from the center of the universe. This was the first revolution. Similarly, the second revolution, which Darwin initiated, dislocated humans from their privileged place in the animal kingdom. The third revolution was Freud’s psychoanalysis, which dislocated human consciousness from its sovereignty within the realm of mind. The fourth revolution, the age of information and communication technologies (ICT) has finally dislocated human intelligence from its claim to be the only “intelligent” form of being. What is left? Floridi’s answer is that humans have become “inforgs” (not cyborgs which Floridi considers science fiction). Inforgs are beings who are their information. Inforgs, however, are more than a bundle of bits and bytes. They also process information. This quality they admittedly share with their algorithmic neighbors in the “infosphere” (the digital domain of reality). In distinction to ICT’s, however, inforgs are semantic information processors (“semantic engines”), whereas the algorithms are only syntactic information processors (“syntactic engines”). Inforgs make meaning, whereas algorithms make calculations. This has implications for many important issues in current discussions of the digital revolution. One example is the issue of privacy.

Continue reading