International Journal of Research Studies in Management (2019)
ABSTRACT: The growing use of advanced AI, ambient intelligence, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR) technologies of the sort found within the emerging cyber-physical smart workplace has been described as enabling new forms of human-computer interaction (HCI) that are “magical” in nature. This study shows that from an anthropological perspective, such a workplace environment can indeed be understood as “magical”; however, that “magicality” is a double-edged sword that can potentially both enhance and damage user experience (UX) for workers and other occupants of such environments. First, by analyzing existing social anthropological and philosophical anthropological accounts of magic, typical elements of magical practice are identified. Using Nielsen’s empirical analysis of HCI usability heuristics as a basis, a prospective heuristic evaluation is then carried out for the usability of a generic “magical” environment, in order to identify elements of magical practice that might be expected to enhance or impair user experience when they are required for interaction with the environment. A more specific heuristic usability evaluation is then performed for the “magical” aspects of HCI created by two kinds of constituent technologies that are typical for a cyber-physical smart workplace: those of (a) ambient intelligence and IoT-enabled systems and (b) AR and VR systems. It is shown that the magical aspects of HCI within the emerging cyber-physical smart workplace differ significantly in their potential UX impacts from the magicality involved with earlier forms of computing, and the implications of this fact for the management of future workplaces are identified and discussed.
the VIII Scientific Conference on Modern Concepts and Management Methods: Management 4.0 – Modern Trends in Public, Social and Business Sector • Military University of Technology in Warsaw • December 6, 2018
ABSTRACT: The widespread application of Industry 4.0 technologies relating to social robotics, embodied AI, the Internet of Things (IoT), ubiquitous computing, and advanced human computer interfaces is giving rise to a growing range of “cyber-physical” entities. By building on established definitions and analyses of the cyber-physical system, cyber-physical-social system, cyber-physical society, and cyber-physical-social-thinking space, this text formulates a conceptual framework for understanding the emerging “Workforce 4.0” as a specialized type of “cyber-physical-social-intentional system.” Attention is given to the heterogeneous agency, technological posthumanization, functional decentralization, and planned architectures or spontaneously self-organizing topologies manifested by Workforce 4.0. It is shown how such a workforce is situated within the context of cyber-physical space, a cyber-physical organization, cyber-physical ecosystems, a cyber-physical society, and the larger cyber-physical world.
Kwartalnik Nauk o Przedsiębiorstwie 48 (2018), pp. 31-39; MNiSW 2016 List B: 12 points
ABSTRACT: Increasingly, organizations are becoming “technologically posthumanized” through the integration of social robots, AI, virtual reality, and ubiquitous computing into the workplace. Here a phenomenological approach is used to anticipate architectural transformations of the workplace resulting from posthumanization’s challenge to traditional anthropocentric paradigms of the workplace as a space that exists at “human” scale, possesses a trifold boundary, and serves as a spatiotemporal filter.
In ICTM 2018: Proceedings of the International Conference on ICT Management for Global Competitiveness and Economic Growth in Emerging Economies, edited by Jolanta Kowal, Anna Kuzio, Juho Mäkiö, Grażyna Paliwoda-Pękosz, and Piotr Soja • University of Wrocław, 2018
ABSTRACT: The processes of “posthumanization” can be understood as those dynamics by which a human organization or society comes to include members other than “natural” biological human beings who contribute to the structure, activities, or meaning of that organization or society. In the world of business, such posthumanization is commonly identified with the growing use of social robots, autonomous AI, and joint human-computer systems to perform work that in earlier eras would have been performed by human beings acting alone. Such “technological” posthumanization is often presented as a new phenomenon occurring largely in those developed economies that are pioneering Industry 4.0 paradigms (e.g., by expanding workplace automation) and that are uniquely positioned to harness such forces to drive economic growth. Here, however, we contend that such emphasis on the novelty of technological posthumanization overlooks forms of non-technological posthumanization that have been at work in human societies for millennia. Such dynamics of non-technological posthumanization have weakened significantly in many developed economies since the mid-20th century; however, they remain relatively strong in emerging economies. In this study, a conceptual framework is developed for identifying and comparing phenomena through which processes of technological or non-technological posthumanization manifest themselves in developed and emerging economies. It is argued that the ongoing and robust experience with non-technological posthumanization possessed by many of the world’s emerging economies may offer them unique and underappreciated psychological, social, and cultural mechanisms for integrating effectively into their enterprises, organizations, and institutions those novel forms of non-human agency that are at work in key Industry 4.0 technologies, like those relating to social robotics, autonomous AI, and advanced human-computer interfaces.
In Information Systems Architecture and Technology: Proceedings of 39th International Conference on Information Systems Architecture and Technology – ISAT 2018, Part III, edited by Zofia Wilimowska, Leszek Borzemski, and Jerzy Świątek • Springer International Publishing, 2018
ABSTRACT: The discipline of enterprise architecture (EA) provides valuable tools for aligning an organization’s business strategy and processes, IT strategy and systems, personnel structures, and organizational culture, with the goal of enhancing organizational agility, adaptability, and efficiency. However, the centralized and exhaustively detailed approach of conventional EA is susceptible to failure when employed in organizations demonstrating exceedingly great size, speed of operation and change, and IT complexity – a combination of traits that characterizes, for example, some emerging types of “technologized” oligopolistic megacorps reflecting the Industry 4.0 paradigm. This text develops the conceptual basis for a variant form of enterprise architecture that can be used to enact improved target architectures for organizations whose characteristics would otherwise render them “unmanageable” from the perspective of conventional EA. The proposed approach of “enterprise meta-architecture” (or EMA) disengages human enterprise architects from the fine-grained details of architectural analysis, design, and implementation, which are handled by artificially intelligent systems functioning as active agents rather than passive tools. The role of the human enterprise architect becomes one of determining the types of performance improvements a target architecture should ideally generate, establishing the operating parameters for an EMA system, and monitoring and optimizing its functioning. Advances in Big Data and parametric design provide models for enterprise meta-architecture, which is distinct from other new approaches like agile and adaptive EA. Deployment of EMA systems should become feasible as ongoing advances in AI result in an increasing share of organizational agency and decision-making responsibility being shifted to artificial agents.
In Business Models for Strategic Innovation: Cross-Functional Perspectives, edited by S.M. Riad Shams, Demetris Vrontis, Yaakov Weber, and Evangelos Tsoukatos, pp. 11-24 • London: Routledge, 2018
ABSTRACT: Neuromarketing utilizes innovative technologies to accomplish two key tasks: 1) gathering data about the ways in which human beings’ cognitive processes can be influenced by particular stimuli; and 2) creating and delivering stimuli to influence the behavior of potential consumers. In this text, we argue that rather than utilizing specialized systems such as EEG and fMRI equipment (for data gathering) and web-based microtargeting platforms (for influencing behavior), it will increasingly be possible for neuromarketing practitioners to perform both tasks by accessing and exploiting neuroprosthetic devices already possessed by members of society.
We first present an overview of neuromarketing and neuroprosthetic devices. A two-dimensional conceptual framework is then developed that can be used to identify the technological and biocybernetic capacities of different types of neuroprosthetic devices for performing neuromarketing-related functions. One axis of the framework delineates the main functional types of sensory, motor, and cognitive neural implants; the other describes the key neuromarketing activities of gathering data on consumers’ cognitive activity and influencing their behavior. This framework is then utilized to identify potential neuromarketing applications for a diverse range of existing and anticipated neuroprosthetic technologies.
It is hoped that this analysis of the capacities of neuroprosthetic devices to be utilized in neuromarketing-related roles can: 1) lay a foundation for subsequent analyses of whether such potential applications are desirable or inappropriate from ethical, legal, and operational perspectives; and 2) help information security professionals develop effective mechanisms for protecting neuroprosthetic devices against inappropriate or undesired neuromarketing techniques while safeguarding legitimate neuromarketing activities.
ISBN 978-1-944373-21-4 • Second edition • Defragmenter Media, 2018 • 238 pages
Key organizational decisions made by sapient AIs. The pressure to undergo neuroprosthetic augmentation in order to compete with genetically enhanced coworkers. A corporate headquarters that exists only in cyberspace as a persistent virtual world. A project team whose members interact socially as online avatars without knowing or caring whether fellow team members are human beings or robots. Futurologists’ visions of the dawning age of ‘posthumanized’ organizations range from the disquieting to the exhilarating. Which of these visions are compatible with our best current understanding of the capacities and the limits of human intelligence, physiology, and sociality? And what can posthumanist thought reveal about the forces of technologization that are transforming how we collaborate with one another – and with ever more sophisticated artificial agents and systems – to achieve shared goals?
This book develops new insights into the evolving nature of intelligent agency and collaboration by applying the post-anthropocentric and post-dualistic methodologies of posthumanism to the fields of organizational theory and management. Building on a comprehensive typology of posthumanism, an emerging ‘organizational posthumanism’ is described which makes sense of the dynamics of technological posthumanization that are reshaping the members, personnel structures, information systems, processes, physical and virtual spaces, and external environments available to organizations. Conceptual frameworks and analytical tools are formulated for use in diagnosing and guiding the ongoing convergence in the capacities of human and artificial actors that is being spurred by novel technologies relating to human augmentation, synthetic agency, and digital-physical ecosystems. As the first systematic investigation of these topics, this text will be of interest to scholars and students of posthumanism and management and to management practitioners who must grapple on a daily basis with the forces of technologization that are increasingly powerful drivers of organizational change.
International Journal of Contemporary Management 16, no. 3 (2017), pp. 139-55; MNiSW 2016 List B: 14 points
ABSTRACT: Strategic management instruments (SMIs) are tools used to analyze an organization’s strategic situation, formulate effective strategies, and successfully implement them. Despite SMIs’ importance, there has been little systematic research into them – and especially regarding the impact of emerging technologies on SMIs. Here we investigate whether the forces of technological posthumanization that are creating a new class of ‘cyber-physical organizations’ can be expected to affect innovation in the use of SMIs within such organizations. Through a review of strategic management literature, we identify nearly 100 SMIs and categorize them according to their use in (a) strategic analysis, (b) strategy formulation, or (c) strategy implementation. Meanwhile, an analysis of cyber-physical systems and technological posthumanization reveals three dynamics that are converging to create an emerging class of cyber-physical organizations: (a) roboticization of the workforce; (b) deepening human-computer integration; and (c) the ubiquitization of computation. A framework is developed for mapping the impacts of these dynamics onto the inputs, agents, processes, and outputs involved with the three types of SMIs. Application of the framework shows that technological posthumanization should be expected to both facilitate and require innovation in cyber-physical organizations’ use of all three types of SMIs.
The 3rd DELab UW International Conference: Ongoing Digitalisation of Economies and Societies • Digital Economy Lab, Uniwersytet Warszawski, Warszawa • September 29, 2017
ABSTRACT: Efforts to formally define ‘magic’ and to identify the aspects that distinguish magical practice from other human pursuits have been made from both a theological perspective (e.g., St. Thomas Aquinas) and, more recently, an anthropological perspective (e.g., Frazer, Mauss, Durkheim, Malinowski, and Tambiah). Frequently cited elements of magic include its use of esoteric symbols, gestures, and speech that are only understood only by a small, elite group of initiated practitioners; its use of specially prepared ritual instruments; its attempt to harness the power of invisible, intelligent, nonhuman entities (such as demons or nature deities) to produce specific physical effects; and its attempt to manipulate hidden (or ‘occult’) forms of causality rather than obviously explicable physical causality.
As early as the 1970s, scholars noted that the practice of computer programming reflects several such aspects of magic as it is traditionally defined. For example, conventional computer programming requires mastery of an esoteric body of knowledge passed down between generations of programmers; it employs arcane symbols arranged in elaborate sequential scripts structurally similar to magical incantations; and it allows computers to perform highly complex, seemingly ‘intelligent’ behaviors by means of causal processes that may be comprehensible to programmers but which to ordinary computer users appear quite mystifying.
In this presentation, we argue that it can be expected that the ‘magical’ aspects of computing technology will be transformed and enhanced over the coming years through the development of increasingly sophisticated technologies for virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and ubiquitous computing (UC) that converge to create ‘magically responsive’ digital-physical ecosystems and ‘enchanted’ cyber-physical societies.
ISBN 978-1-944373-11-5 • Synthypnion Business, 2017 • 298 pages
The challenge of developing sound organizational strategy is growing increasingly difficult as accelerating technological change transforms the world’s competitive ecosystems in ways that render many traditional approaches to strategy obsolete. What are the concrete tools and techniques that a contemporary strategic analyst can employ to understand the critical elements of an organization’s internal structure and dynamics and external competitive environment – and to predict the ways in which they may evolve in the future? This book provides a practical step-by-step guide to using dozens of the most important tools for generating organizational insight and foresight, along with an investigation of their underlying nature and purpose. It serves as an accessible introduction for those seeking to learn the essentials of strategic analysis, as well as a comprehensive reference for the experienced organizational strategist.
The book employs the concept of the Strategic Futures Hub as a means for understanding eight domains that are key to the development of strategic foresight for any organization. These are: (1) an organization’s financial resources and realities; (2) its internal architecture and capacities; (3) its current and potential products; (4) consumers’ needs and anticipated future behaviors; (5) competitors and their expected future behaviors; (6) the current and future dynamics of the organization’s competitive ecosystem; (7) causal chains and possible, probable, and desirable organizational futures; and (8) potential organizational strategies. For each of these domains, the reader is taught when and why to choose (or avoid) specific techniques in order to answer a range of the most frequently encountered strategic questions. The volume explains not only traditional analytical tools like market opportunity analysis, benchmarking, resource analysis, stakeholder analysis, SWOT and PESTEL analyses, and the Delphi method, but also emerging techniques like internal prediction markets for organizations, as well as longer-range diagnostic tools from the field of futures studies, such as emerging issues analysis, backcasting, morphological analysis, the futures wheel, and cross-impact analysis.
The nature of each analytical technique is clearly and succinctly described, along with recommended approaches to its use and investigation of practical considerations such as the time commitment and skills required. Discussion of the techniques is enriched by a wealth of diagrams and extensive bibliographic references to the best contemporary scholarship and practice. While a few of the analytical techniques are targeted specifically at commercial enterprises, most will also be of great value to nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and other non-commercial entities that are seeking to better understand their current realities and prospective futures from a strategic perspective.
ISBN 978-1-944373-07-8 • Synthypnion Academic, 2017 • 312 pages
This volume serves a resource for the design and analysis of neuroprosthetic supersystems, which can be defined as organizations – either small or large, simple or complex – whose human members have been neuroprosthetically augmented. While numerous other texts focus on the biomedical engineering of neuroprostheses as technological devices or on the biocybernetic engineering of the host-device system comprising a neuroprosthesis and its human host, this volume presents a unique investigation of the intentional creation of higher-order supersystems that allow multiple neuroprosthetically augmented human beings to interact with one another and with external information systems in order to accomplish some shared task. In essence, this can be understood as the work of designing and managing neuroprosthetically enhanced organizations.
Individual chapters present an ontology of the neuroprosthesis as a computing device; a biocybernetic ontology of the host-device system; an ontology of the neuroprosthesis as an instrument of ‘cyborgization’; motivating and inhibiting factors for the organizational deployment of posthumanizing neuroprostheses by military organizations and other early adopters; an introduction to enterprise architecture in the context of technological posthumanization; an exploration of the implications of neuroprosthetic augmentation for enterprise architecture; and considerations for the development of effective network topologies for neuroprosthetically augmented organizations.
The conceptual frameworks formulated within this book offer a wide range of tools that can be of use to policymakers, ethicists, neuroprosthetic device manufacturers, organizational decision-makers, and others who must analyze or manage the complex legal, ethical, and managerial implications that result from the use of emerging neuroprosthetic technologies within an organizational context.
ISBN 978-1-944373-09-2 • Second edition • Synthypnion Academic, 2017 • 324 pages
How does one ensure information security for a computer that is entangled with the structures and processes of a human brain – and for the human mind that is interconnected with such a device? The need to provide information security for neuroprosthetic devices grows more pressing as increasing numbers of people utilize therapeutic technologies such as cochlear implants, retinal prostheses, robotic prosthetic limbs, and deep brain stimulation devices. Moreover, emerging neuroprosthetic technologies for human enhancement are expected to increasingly transform their human users’ sensory, motor, and cognitive capacities in ways that generate new ‘posthumanized’ sociotechnological realities. In this context, it is essential not only to ensure the information security of such neuroprostheses themselves but – more importantly – to ensure the psychological and physical health, autonomy, and personal identity of the human beings whose cognitive processes are inextricably linked with such devices. InfoSec practitioners must not only guard against threats to the confidentiality and integrity of data stored within a neuroprosthetic device’s internal memory; they must also guard against threats to the confidentiality and integrity of thoughts, memories, and desires existing within the mind the of the device’s human host.
This second edition of The Handbook of Information Security for Advanced Neuroprosthetics updates the previous edition’s comprehensive investigation of these issues from both theoretical and practical perspectives. It provides an introduction to the current state of neuroprosthetics and expected future trends in the field, along with an introduction to fundamental principles of information security and an analysis of how they must be re-envisioned to address the unique challenges posed by advanced neuroprosthetics. A two-dimensional cognitional security framework is presented whose security goals are designed to protect a device’s human host in his or her roles as a sapient metavolitional agent, embodied embedded organism, and social and economic actor. Practical consideration is given to information security responsibilities and roles within an organizational context and to the application of preventive, detective, and corrective or compensating security controls to neuroprosthetic devices, their host-device systems, and the larger supersystems in which they operate. Finally, it is shown that while implantable neuroprostheses create new kinds of security vulnerabilities and risks, they may also serve to enhance the information security of some types of human hosts (such as those experiencing certain neurological conditions).
In Social Robots: Boundaries, Potential, Challenges, edited by Marco Nørskov, pp. 177-98 • Farnham: Ashgate, 2016
ABSTRACT: Much thought has been given to the question of who bears moral and legal responsibility for actions performed by robots. Some argue that responsibility could be attributed to a robot if it possessed human-like autonomy and metavolitionality, and that while such capacities can potentially be possessed by a robot with a single spatially compact body, they cannot be possessed by a spatially disjunct, decentralized collective such as a robotic swarm or network. However, advances in ubiquitous robotics and distributed computing open the door to a new form of robotic entity that possesses a unitary intelligence, despite the fact that its cognitive processes are not confined within a single spatially compact, persistent, identifiable body. Such a “nonlocalizable” robot may possess a body whose myriad components interact with one another at a distance and which is continuously transforming as components join and leave the body. Here we develop an ontology for classifying such robots on the basis of their autonomy, volitionality, and localizability. Using this ontology, we explore the extent to which nonlocalizable robots—including those possessing cognitive abilities that match or exceed those of human beings—can be considered moral and legal actors that are responsible for their own actions.
In 9th Annual EMAB Conference: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Digital Ecosystems (EUROMED 2016) Book of Proceedings, edited by Demetris Vrontis, Yaakov Weber, and Evangelos Tsoukatos, pp. 876-90 • Engomi: EuroMed Press, 2016
ABSTRACT: A growing range of brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies is being employed for purposes of therapy and human augmentation. While much thought has been given to the ethical implications of such technologies at the ‘macro’ level of social policy and ‘micro’ level of individual users, little attention has been given to the unique ethical issues that arise during the process of incorporating BCIs into eHealth ecosystems. In this text a conceptual framework is developed that enables the operators of eHealth ecosystems to manage the ethical components of such processes in a more comprehensive and systematic way than has previously been possible. The framework’s first axis defines five ethical dimensions that must be successfully addressed by eHealth ecosystems: 1) beneficence; 2) consent; 3) privacy; 4) equity; and 5) liability. The second axis describes five stages of the systems development life cycle (SDLC) process whereby new technology is incorporated into an eHealth ecosystem: 1) analysis and planning; 2) design, development, and acquisition; 3) integration and activation; 4) operation and maintenance; and 5) disposal. Known ethical issues relating to the deployment of BCIs are mapped onto this matrix in order to demonstrate how it can be employed by the managers of eHealth ecosystems as a tool for fulfilling ethical requirements established by regulatory standards or stakeholders’ expectations. Beyond its immediate application in the case of BCIs, we suggest that this framework may also be utilized beneficially when incorporating other innovative forms of information and communications technology (ICT) into eHealth ecosystems.
In 9th Annual EMAB Conference: Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Digital Ecosystems (EUROMED 2016) Book of Proceedings, edited by Demetris Vrontis, Yaakov Weber, and Evangelos Tsoukatos, pp. 891-904 • Engomi: EuroMed Press, 2016
ABSTRACT: Standards like the ISO 27000 series, IEC/TR 80001, NIST SP 1800, and FDA guidance on medical device cybersecurity define the responsibilities that manufacturers and operators bear for ensuring the information security of implantable medical devices. In the case of implantable cognitive neuroprostheses (ICNs) that are integrated with the neural circuitry of their human hosts, there is a widespread presumption that InfoSec concerns serve only as limiting factors that can complicate, impede, or preclude the development and deployment of such devices. However, we argue that when appropriately conceptualized, InfoSec concerns may also serve as drivers that can spur the creation and adoption of such technologies. A framework is formulated that describes seven types of actors whose participation is required in order for ICNs to be adopted; namely, their 1) producers, 2) regulators, 3) funders, 4) installers, 5) human hosts, 6) operators, and 7) maintainers. By mapping onto this framework InfoSec issues raised in industry standards and other literature, it is shown that for each actor in the process, concerns about information security can either disincentivize or incentivize the actor to advance the development and deployment of ICNs for purposes of therapy or human enhancement. For example, it is shown that ICNs can strengthen the integrity, availability, and utility of information stored in the memories of persons suffering from certain neurological conditions and may enhance information security for society as a whole by providing new tools for military, law enforcement, medical, or corporate personnel who provide critical InfoSec services.
ISBN 978-1-944373-05-4 • Second edition • Defragmenter Media, 2016 • 442 pages
What are the best practices for leading a workforce in which human employees have merged cognitively and physically with electronic information systems and work alongside social robots, artificial life-forms, and self-aware networks that are ‘colleagues’ rather than simply ‘tools’? How does one manage organizational structures and activities that span both actual and virtual worlds? How are the forces of technological posthumanization transforming the theory and practice of management?
This volume explores the reality that an organization’s workers, managers, customers, and other stakeholders increasingly comprise a complex network of human agents, artificial agents, and hybrid human-synthetic entities. The first part of the book develops the theoretical foundations of an emerging ‘organizational posthumanism’ and presents conceptual frameworks for understanding and managing the evolving workplace relationship between human and synthetic beings. Subsequent chapters investigate concrete management topics such as the likelihood that social robots might utilize charismatic authority to inspire and lead human workers; potential roles of AIs as managers of cross-cultural virtual teams; the ethics and legality of entrusting organizational decision-making to spatially diffuse robots that have no discernible identity or physical form; quantitative approaches to comparing the managerial capabilities of human and artificial agents; the creation of artificial life-forms that function as autonomous enterprises which evolve by competing against human businesses; neural implants as gateways that allow their human users to participate in new forms of organizational life; and the implications of advanced neuroprosthetics for information security and business model design.
As the first comprehensive application of posthumanist methodologies to the field of management, this volume will be of use to scholars and students of contemporary management and to management practitioners who must increasingly understand and guide the forces of technologization that are rapidly reshaping organizations’ form, dynamics, and societal roles.
Fronda Lux 78 (2016), pp. 10-21
SUMMARY: This text envisions two different “employee onboarding documents” provided to new workers joining a global conglomerate in the year 2050. One neuroprosthetically augmented and genetically enhanced worker – who joins the company as a Reality Designer – is granted a drastically different welcome from the other worker, an unmodified human being, who joins the company as a Biological Service Drone. A variety of scholars have formulated two radically divergent conceptions of the future of human work: one vision imagines that the development of advanced artificial intelligence, nanorobotics, and other technologies will create a utopian society in which human beings are freed from the drudgery menial labor to focus on art, leisure, and self-fulfillment; the other vision imagines that such technologies will result in the wholesale oppression, instrumentalization, and disintegration of human beings. This text highlights the fact that these two extreme visions of the future are not necessarily incompatible – and might even be reflected within the activities of a single company.
50 Shades of Popular Culture International Conference • Facta Ficta Research Centre, Kraków • February 19, 2016
ABSTRACT: Here we argue that five emerging social and technological trends are creating new possibilities for the instrumentalization (or even “weaponization”) of popular culture for commercial, ideological, political, or military ends and for the development of a posthuman popular culture that is no longer solely produced by or for “humanity” as presently understood. These five trends are the: 1) decentralization of the sources of popular culture, as reflected in the ability of ordinary users to create and upload content that “goes viral” within popular culture, as well as the use of “astroturfing” and paid “troll armies” by corporate or state actors to create the appearance of broad-based grassroots support for particular products, services, actions, or ideologies; 2) centralization of the mechanisms for accessing popular culture, as seen in the role of instruments like Google’s search engine, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Wikipedia in concentrating the distribution channels for cultural products, as well as efforts by state actors to censor social media content perceived as threatening or disruptive; 3) personalization of popular culture, as manifested in the growth of cultural products like computer games that dynamically reconfigure themselves in response to a player’s behavior, thereby creating a different product for each individual that is adapted to a user’s unique experiences, desires, and psychological characteristics; 4) automatization of the creation of products of popular culture, as seen in the automated high-speed generation of webpages, artwork, music, memes, and computer game content by AI systems that could potentially allow venues of popular culture (such as the Internet) to be flooded with content designed to influence a social group in particular ways; and 5) virtualization of the technological systems and mechanisms for creating, transmitting, and experiencing the products of popular culture, as witnessed in the development of all-purpose nodes (such as smartphones) that are capable of handling a full range of cultural products in the form of still images, video, audio, text, and interactive experiences, and the growing digitalization of cultural products that allows them to be more easily manipulated and injected into the popular culture of other states or social groups, bypassing physical and political barriers.
While these trends are expected to yield a broad range of positive and negative impacts, we focus on a particular subset of these impacts. Namely, we argue that the convergence of these five trends opens the door for the creation of popular culture that: 1) does not exist in any permanent, tangible physical artifacts but only as a collection of continuously transforming digital data that that is stored on the servers of a few powerful corporate or state actors and is subject to manipulation or degradation as a result of computer viruses, hacking, power outages, or other factors; 2) can be purposefully and effectively engineered using techniques commonly employed within IT management, electronics engineering, marketing, and other disciplines; 3) can become a new kind of weapon and battleground in struggles for military, political, ideological, and commercial superiority on the part of corporate, state, and other actors.
In order to stimulate thinking about ways in which these trends might develop, we conclude by considering two fictional near-future worlds – those depicted in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Transhuman Space: Toxic Memes – in which the further evolution of these five trends is shown as leading to the neurocybernetically facilitated manipulation of popular culture, “memetic warfare,” and related phenomena. We suggest that these fictional works represent examples of self-reflexive futurology: i.e., elements of contemporary popular culture that attempt to anticipate and explore the ways in which future popular culture could be purposefully engineered, instrumentalized, and even weaponized in the service of a diverse array of ends.