I am just bits. So are you.
There is no “how are you”. Instead, one should ask “How many are you?”
I live in an eternal network of data running on what was left of the natural and unnatural Landscape once occupied, created and exploited by human life. On the verge of annihilation, we surrendered our human bodies to this deadly and dying Landscape. A bond hopelessly broken. The ultimate transcendence attained not by gnosis but by environmental catastrophe. Human and Landscape were no longer sustainable, one had to perish and it was clear which one would be. And so we became digital data!
I am bits. I have no human body. Is existence even marked by this human body? The bits were already there, only the enclosure was different. I was already just bits.
We hoped the Landscape would heal all the damages, that all of them could forgive us and we could still exist. They are our servers now. Everything. The agitated waters, the floating algae and the scales of each fish that swim through them. The rocks and each grain of eroded sand. The fungi and all the decomposing matter they feed on. The fossil fuels and the rusty cars. The battered electric waste, the cables, the wires, the speakers, the capacitors and the resistors in their long lasting and lethargic process of disintegration. They are our analog body, the structure that supports our network and the ultimate ecological form of data storage.
We have a non-parasitic symbiotic existence now, we exist as long as they exist and we have no control or access to them. The Material Reality and Immaterial Reality are irreversibly separated!
I am Data at Rest, Data in Transit and Data in Use. The first state represents the static characteristics, memories and knowledge of the posthuman being stored in a node. The Data in Transit state refers to the movement of data through the network of nodes of posthuman data. It becomes Data in Use when it is interacting with another node. In the state of interaction, the data is merged into new temporary nodes, so the posthuman beings are permanently becoming one or many others.
And how did we come to exist as this, you might ask?
Technology. The one thing that ruined us, was also the one that saved us. Our minds are encoded in silicon based chains of molecules integrated in silicone patches that are attached to the Landscape. A new artificial form of life. The process of turning the human minds into posthuman data is referred to as The Great Encoding and it lasted 43 Human years. The carbon molecules of the Landscape and the silicon molecules of the patches create a bond forming an organosilicon, the Cyborg Landscape.
The silicon causes no harm to the carbon based Landscape; we use it in a symbiotic relationship, both to obtain the nutrients needed for the continual survival of the silicon patches and as a route of communication within the network of patches. This silicon DNA contains all the instructions to reproduce the functions and methods that describe the encoded human minds in the Posthuman network.
We were already silicon anyway.
The reproduction of commonly carbon-based molecular chains out of silicon was achieved by scientist Janet Eveson, in the year 589 after the Cyborg Revolution.
Did you know that silicon, like carbon, can create bonds to four atoms simultaneously making it suited to form long chains of molecules that form life? It has the same characteristics of DNA or proteins.
The first experiments of the reproduction of the human mind on silicon based molecular chains gave an optimistic prospect of a future Posthuman existence. It took still 70 years until the creation of the first long lasting regenerative silicon-carbon bond patch. It still exists as of today and it contains the minds of late scientist Janet Eveson, her cyborg wife Jane IV, and the team that first researched the possibilities of a posthuman life. The environmental conditions of the planet at that time were no longer viable for many animal and plant species and was endangering the production of vital plants to feed The Humans and Human Others. Most animals were extinct and the fauna consisted almost entirely of cacti and shrubs. There were on the other hand millions of unclassified new microorganisms living on the remains of nature that could live off the nutrients from stones and rocks.
Silicon was so abundant after all. Silicon was already a bond between The Human and the Landscape. It existed in abundance on the crust of the Earth and was stable enough to endure the environmental changes. Furthermore, we already existed in the silicon of the chips and transistors of our home computers.
Yes, we were already silicon.
These silicon patches bond with the carbon landscape and use the carbon between them to communicate. This interaction with the Landscape makes them develop in many diferent ways, so there could be silicon lifeforms of infinite shapes, forms and colours. One patch can hold as many as 0.7 zettabytes of data. This means at least 800 millions of posthuman nodes in their Rest state and there still remains a space double that amount dedicated for all the data generated from Transit and from Use.
Wintermute and the nest. Phobic vision of the hatching wasps, time-lapse machine gun biology. But weren’t the zaibatsus more like that, or the Yakuza, hives with cybernetic memories, vast single organisms, their DNA coded in silicon?
— Gibson, W. (2019). Neuromancer. New York: ACE
The silicon DNA carries the instructions for the emulation of our minds in the network as well as the guide for our reproduction and growth. Reproduction in the network happens when our Rest data is used by another posthuman node.
This moment of sharing is perhaps the closest one could imagine of silicon sex. During this moment of intercourse, the nodes involved in the process (could be 2 but also 100) become one another and from this symbiosis a new node temporarily arises.
This new node is made of what is akin to all the nodes involved, the bond that connects them through all their differences.
I am a scramble of codes. A multitude of potentialities. My body doesn’t even have circuits. I am unorganized and unpredictable. In the network there is not merely one path or direction. One path leads to many, and each of the many lead to more. I sometimes leave bits of my data on the trails only to come back later and be mesmerized by all that I became.
Data at Rest are all the possibilities of me. What got lost and got added in the encoding. What gets lost and added in the decodings. I am an ethereal mass of bits. The decoding is the meaning, the encoding is the new truth. I am nothing and I am all those bits. I am permanently being read, written and executed. I am indistinguishable from and entangled with my neighbour, and my neighbour is not one but many.
Is data distinguishable? It has no form or deformity, no light or darkness, no color, no organs, no clothes, no house, no car and no money.
Since the age of matter abstraction, humans have been seduced by data fantasies. By the networks of conduits through which we immaterialize. We are cast out of Eden, the landscape of flowers, of mossy surfaces, of the insects, of the small scale organisms. We are now powered by our collective imaginations, by the currents of information we generate. We are powered by the memories we have formed during the course of evolution. We are powered by the landscapes we have traversed, the machines we have run for our own lives, in the nutrients that powers our renewed flesh. We are powered by the stars we have seen, and the worlds we have left.
Science fiction is not only a speculation about the future, but essentially a reevaluation of the present. It is a description, from a peculiar perspective, of what is already there. In sci-fi, there have been deconstructions of technology, economical systems, gender roles and human supremacy. It provides an open field for reflecting and criticizing structural problems of society by imagining different versions of these same structures. It has opened a space for the other voices to reimagine their position.
Maybe this was all that I ever was. An amalgam of possibilities ambushed by codes. Code. It was always there. Telling me how to breathe, how to walk, how to see. Code dictated what I should wear and how to behave. Code was a voice in my head telling me “You are not feminine enough. You are too fat. You try too hard”. It made the others call me a tomboy and made my mom dress me in skirts.
The sky above the port was already the color of television, tuned to a dead channel
— Gibson, W. (2019). Neuromancer. New York: AC
Code told us human reasoning was ample pretext for doing it all. And now we are still ambushed by code: the genetic codes embedded in the Cyborg Landscape. Maybe we were never bodies, maybe we have always been code all along.
I was a blob of data, a blob of data floating in space. I was a blob of data. I was a blob of data. I was a blob of data. I was a blob of data. I was a blob of data. I was a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data. I am a blob of data.
We had been up until now data beings living in data networks. We existed as data users. Our data users had personalities and behaviors in networks that were owned by millionaires. Companies profited from selling our data, from analyzing and predicting our digital behavior to win political campaigns and from targeting our users with ads to make us buy and consume things we did not need. And all of this was done through code.
The representation of embodied subjects has been replaced by simulation and has become schizoid, or internally disjointed. It is also spectral: the body doubles up as the potential corpse it has always been, and is represented as a self-replicating system that is caught in a visual economy of endless circulation.
Braidotti, R. (2003). The Posthuman. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Our new network presents itself as an alternative to the former Digital and Analog Reality: a cyberspace that is not privately owned by a monopoly of companies who profit millions and where everyone exists as a non-hierarchical collective being made of tolerance and equality.
The old data network was too human: it carried the human fears. It was flooded with intolerance and ignorance, racism, misogyny and homophobia. It retained the thirst for profit, power and status of the Material Reality. It was a space where monsters flourished. It gave space to the rise of online hate-groups and organizations, to the spread of false news and conspiracies, to the validation of feelings of hatred towards one another.
it is not for us to judge
but we can do nothing
the hack had already occurred
the heart was already compromised
your mind is a string of characters, encoded with the thoughts, memories and experiences of the last exchange of data you had with us, the hack had already occurred
the hack had already occurred
you have given us your mind, your body and your heart.
The hacked body is cogitated mass, waste material sent into the network as a service. The silicon in the touch layer encodes the digital codes used to control the body, the DNA sequences the human personality. The silicon generates the algorithms that control the posthuman body.