A Subtractive Modernity
D:GP begins with the supposition that the heavy carbon economies inherited from industrialization have reached an unsolvable impasse, and must at their core must be redesigned, reformed and replaced. Furthermore, as it is now amplified by planetary-scale computation, industrial modernity is now so radicalized that its ubiquity is matched only by its imminent dissolution. But other conditions are possible. They have to be. Computation does not (necessarily) replace what comes before it, but under the right circumstances it can and does, and under more rarified conditions still, it should. Deep systemic crises invite three interrelated and apparently opposing responses: modernism, inertia and fundamentalism: fight, hide, and flight, accordingly. Toward this D:GP recognizes the emergence of another, alternative modernity. Where industrialization provided heaviness, expansion, production, and consumption, our successor modernity is one of lightness, contraction, subtraction and restoration. It is an interfacial modernity not of identity and maximalization, but of externality and transference. Where industrialization was a modernity for tabula rasa, today a subtractive modernity curates a world that is infinitely full. Its radicality is not drawn from the historical or geographic momentum of a “new world,” but rooted in the precarity of globalizations that are as irresolvable as they are interconnected.
California is our site condition, a hyperactive geography overlapping the precipices of both modernities. Our experiment --indeed everyone's experiment for the coming decades-- is tied to the potential of “green” ubiquitous computing, the gamble that underpins all others. The question: will information computing technologies --in some configuration of clouds, objects, tags, spimes, interfaces, sensors, algorithmic phyla-- provide the lightness necessary to organize a restorative, subtractive, resilient modernity, or will its own voracious energy appetite, toxic production footprint and alienating virtualization finally overwhelm all? Put another way, will pervasive computing prove to be, in some guise, the integral media of real de-industrialization, allowing for light but powerful interfaces of governance and exchange, or instead, the final, most unsustainable technology consuming the remaining resources into its virtual black hole? Is it all or nothing?
Governance as Platform / Strategy as Policy
While Calit2 leads in the development of pervasive computing technologies D:GP's role as a technology-focused interdisciplinary policy platform, is to strategize their emergence and evolution, to deliberately pre-design their potential positive impacts on complex social infrastructures, and to contribute to the retooling of governance through the experimental application of preferred policy visions.
High Risk/ High Reward
If every new technology brings with it inevitably a new kind of accident, then every new accident brings with it a new technology. Planetary-scale computation is both. The fragile potential future of ubiquitous computing that would lighten the planetary resource load depends on its exceeding mere instrumentality, and becoming an environmental medium of global and local self-governance. D:GP works toward to conditional possibility of that new constitution.