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There is perhaps no scientific research field in which the gap between discoveries made in scientific research programs and their economic and social applications is so large - and paradoxical - as with regard to cybernetics. Most of the technological revolution, and following it social change, nowadays derive from cybernetic discoveries. Yet there is no awareness (even in the scientific community) of the theoretical discoveries that cybernetics developed as the scientific research of consciousness (or the communications and control of communications and control) in organizations of humans and machines. The potential implicit in cyberspace is not employed for meaningful issues like human development, conflict resolution and the other problems of humankind which are far too complex for present formulations. The usage of the Internet, for example, suffers from superficiality, from the lack of a dimension of psychological depth or spiritual height (which potentially exist, see below).
The proposed infrastructure research will enable experimentation with information environments which support the elucidation and development of complex issues and decision on them. Through observing the development of a discussion for solving complex problem it would be possible to guide the formation of understandings and the advancement of solution. Instead of the need to exchange between them enormous quantities of data (as in video conferencing) which is largely irrelevant, it would be possible to conduct a virtual conference of cybernetic display-images (Tselems) where the conferring parties will exchange between them instructions how to change the display-images of their psychological/cognitive structures through the conversation and will observe a display that expresses the growth of the conversation between them and its fruits.
In response to the recognition by the Ministry of Science and the Arts of the need to create special frameworks for creative research in areas which are not yet properly established - the aim of the proposed infrastructure research is to characterize rigorously - using visual aids - that relevant information which passes in conferring and which brings about events of cognitive-resonance and synchronization of concepts. The proposed experiment is to design a utopian information environment (a "womb") in which there confer virtually participants who desire and agree to reach full understanding between them and who would agree to engage in it in a conscious and explicit (namely ritualistic) manner which is appropriate for that special environment. This experiment will allow to demonstrate an ideal information-transfer among a large group of users who are aided by appropriate facilities and design of the information environment (cyberspace). The model display facility which we shall build will allow the user to go through several stages of cultural and personal development: selection of his/her ideal information environment, followed by choice to build understanding (initially as agreements to disagree) with other participants. Most of the guided work will then be in the production of understandings, and through them to discovery of new and creative options, (which may lead to selection of a preferred life style). (See appendix "A").
Most of the conceptual and basic problems of such a research program have already been solved by the "Conversation Theory" and "Interaction of Actors Theory" (IA) of the cybernetician Gordon Pask. These theories applied Pask's basic belief that "Information Transfer" does not consist of the transport of "data", but the creation of synchronization among two a-priory independent cognitive systems. Pask has succeeded to bring clear definitions and sharp-valued observations of the formation of concepts, agreements and understandings in such systems. (an account of Pask in appendix "D").
Appendix "B" below proposes several "Information Utopias" for the selection of the committee of the Ministry of Science and the Arts as they prefer. (Thus, for example, for the aim of the Ministry of Science itself - to nurture infrastructure-research for future-oriented Israeli industry - proposed here is an ideal information-environment for the elucidation and synthesis of appropriate research programs - an "utopia" as a distinguished virtual-conference of a scientific forum for a national scientific research program. The sages who will gather in that virtual chamber will represent "the Seventy Sciences" (and Arts) which generally have distinct and different languages. The understandings forming between them would form significant interdisciplinary research programs).
The infrastructure research of human communications is the main component of the proposed research (and is the part for which is asked a grant from the Ministry of Science and the Arts. This research will require the development of a working prototype with the appropriate aids for the operation of such an ideal information environment which will allow the conduct of the appropriate observations and will, moreover, allow a clear and attractive display of the opportunities for commercial developments (see below).
The part of the research to be supported by the Ministry of Science will include: 1. the preparation of computer programs for the building of understandings between couples and among groups, 2. the cybernetic design of virtual (robot) servers which serve the achieving of reconciliation among parties, 3. An IA- and AI-aided authoring program of appropriate "scenarios" for resolving various painful present conflicts, and 4. computerized interface for the operation of problem-solving forums, and especially the operation of distinctive types of conferencing (as what is nowadays called "Transformative Conferencing") in the utopian information environment that we shall design. (see appendix "A").
Assumings that the human qualities and the proposed technological developments necessitate leaning upon the social sciences and the humanities in ways that may be both too general and too detailed for the conduct of such research in the usual frameworks, and based on the experience that even the idea of positing utopia may be rejected offhand in most disciplines (without stopping to regard its instrumental value as tool for consciousness, see appendix "B") - the organization for this research is based both on the capabilities of the proposer and on the cooperation with two informal scientific networks, the Academy of Jerusalem and the circle of the friends of Gordon Pask together with the enterprise and flexibility of a business company under my direction, Hi-Or Inc..
The proposer has academic qualifications in the areas needed for the proposed research which are among the best in the world, with degrees in architecture, systems-analysis and cybernetics (see appendix "E"). Personal apprenticeship with two trans-disciplinary geniuses (Buck minster Fuller and Gordon Pask) has advanced him much conceptually, but made it difficult to adapt to the disciplinary academic environment. From the experience of him and his colleagues that seek interdisciplinary work and realization of ideals was put up "the Academy of Jerusalem" which is, minimally, a club of scientists, writers and artists who are interested in the realization of a Zionist utopia - including researchers, theoreticians and practitioners in psychology, psychotherapy cybernetics, Kabbalah, media, architecture and art (see appendix "F"). The late Gordon Pask was the most senior scientist of the Academy of Jerusalem, and the proposer and the Academy of Jerusalem have thus personal and practical liaisons with a circle of about a hundred people, admirers of Gordon Pask, who are among the world's most senior cybernetician and are interested in applications of the methods of their teacher.
The Hi-Or company, directed by the proposer, has lately been turned around to the business of development of technologies for human development. Hi-Or Inc., in a joint project with a multimedia company, are already doing an initial work in the development of a computerized graphic interface which re-presents different cognitive levels and personal conceptual constructs of the users by within an investment of $50,000. The proposed research - if accepted - will comprises a joint venture in which Hi-Or Inc. is ready to raise and invest, as leverage resource, matching sum in the development of facets of the prototype which are necessary for the design of the site in a rich and attractive manner, to complete it beyond the research stage towards operating it (or a site derived from it and containing the tools developed in the research) in a business manner to deliver results. Hi-Or Inc will thus be ready to invest further $50,000 in building a model of "a cyber-utopia" consonant with this research.
This business cooperation is based on the prospect that this infrastructure research of the prototype would usher the development of information environments as "virtual real estate" in which people will be ready to pay to stay in them, as in a club or a recreation site - such as in time-sharing schemes. We believe that after the building of the prototype there would come many commercial investments in additional development, thus this investment would lead to multi-million information-industries with base and infrastructure in Israel.
The unique advantages of the cooperation with Hi-Or Inc and the Academy of Jerusalem will allow the exploitation of an existing integration of the entrepreneurship and flexibility of a small business firm with a nonprofit, even idealistic, academic framework.
(Note: In case the Ministry of Science stipulates the conduct of the research in connection with recognized academic institution, it will be possible to conduct the proposed research in cooperation with the Jerusalem College of Technology.)
1. Alternatives for the Ideal Virtual Modeling Facility.
In the Western tradition, ideal environments are represented by "utopias", which literally mean "no real place (the novel "AltNewLand" of Dr. Theodore Herzl, for example, is a typical 19th century utopia, albeit one that won unusual degree of realization and is still capable of many improvements). It seems to us that "Virtual Reality" has exactly the meaning of "utopia" and that "Cyberspace" is precisely the place to build utopias in. A necessary utopia, and one which is definitely already realizable already today is as Internet site in which people participate expressly to build agreements and understandings, to gain insight and even - and as the real objective - to organize to help realize their utopian ideals in the real world. To outline attractive utopias it is possible to use the services of designers and gifted playwrights, in the spirit of the playwright Benjamin-Ze'ev Herzl "if you will, then this legend will become real".
In appendix "B" below we list a partial selection of "shrines" for communications-utopias. Many of these employ some traditional Jewish images of the ideal environment, such as "Heikhal" and "Temple" in order to attract potential users and to bring about their agreement to undergo "rituals" of strict operations which they need to perform in order to reach understandings and insights. But the principle here is that these should be seen not as idols but as instruments for raising consciousness and that these "temples" will serve acknowledged modern needs, such as the research needs of the Ministry of Science and the Arts. The final suggestion, which is more international, is dedicated to the memory of Gordon Pask, the world's first cyber-artist and the formulator of the theories which enable the development of the proposed information-utopia - with the intention of involving some of the world's best cybernetic pioneers in the proposed infrastructure development. The choice of the specific utopia can be made by the delegates of the Ministry of Science and the Arts. (Within the proposed prototype through the Ministry grant, the selected utopia may be realized as only a skeleton and a story board, to be realized with the experienced gained in the demo facility and the Hi-Or Inc. matching contribution).
2. Multimedia representation of "Computer Angels" to guide conversations
For the majority of the information utopias listed in appendix "B", it would be advantageous to design the virtual servers (the current Internet crop are called "robots") as "computer angels". In Jewish tradition, the angels appear as messengers and as representing people ("and Jacob sent Mal'akhim to his brother Esau", and by RaShI's comment "real angels"), and are even produced through human actions (see "The Thirteen Petaled Rose" by R. Adin Steinsalz and "A Band of Angels" by Morris Margolius on angels in Jewish tradition). In classical Christian art, angels are the representatives of edifying meanings. In the world of cyber-art, such as in computer games, there is an increasing usage of angels as carrying some function in the game processes. Our colleague professor Mel Alexenberg, dean of the New World School of the Arts (and former professor of education at Bar-Ilan university) developed a system of "computer angels" (mainly sent by fax) to guide various arts events, including "The Four Corners of the USA" happening this year. Our representation will employ the concepts of levels of discourse of Conversation Theory and its Jewish parallels to design figures that will carry those meaningful messages which are the conditions for fruitful conversation and for reconciliation between enemies until they reach the state of fraternity. In essence, design of "Angles of Peace", or in viewing them as agents of peace processes, as "Angles of Reconciliation". (It is reasonable that the representation of angels of peace will develop from two-dimensional models (as in the proposed development for this research) to three- and four-dimensional (animated) models, within evolving technical contexts from simple charts to the formation of appropriate holographic figures in the space between the participants.)
3. Computerized mediation for multi-level Conversations.
Just as there already exist computerized interfaces for learning and for group decision-making, it is possible to build computerized mediation to facilitate the performance of the various activities needed for the guidance and building of understandings. Pask's Conversation Theory has, as noted above, solved most of the conceptual problems entailed in it. In the proposer's dissertation, the charting of a track of progress to the group's final aim, through building understandings over an information territory that represents the likely problems was called "redemptive scenario". The computerized mediation that will be built within the proposed infrastructure research will embody patterns of multi-dimensional conceptual space in which there can crystallize more-or-less stable solutions which are recognized by the computer as "agreements", "understandings", "innovations" and "realizations" which are capable of rigorous characterization, and will place in them the figures ("angels") of the agents of the participants in this multi-dimensional space. In a computerized game which we shall develop for this aim, the agents/angels will pass between the participants, mediate between them and signal to them how to act within a given context in order to reach understandings, innovations and realizations. The patterns of the angels will supply the needed clues for building understandings, but the contents of which will be completely dependent on the concepts of the participants and their preferences.
4. Computerized Interface for "Transformative Conferencing"
A communications aim of many-user conferencing is "Transformative Conferencing" in which the participants undergo such intense information-event that the knowledge they gained is realized in their improved, even transformed, lives. Historical precedents to these are religious rituals and rites of passage, such as "revivals" among charismatic Christians. The distinction of the proposed development is that all the processes would be performed through detailed individual considerations, yet there form environmental effects of empathy and through it seemingly "telepathic communications". The social and cultural possibilities that such an interface in the Internet will allow are legion. For example, the image of "The Star of Redemption" of a reconciliation-communications satellite discussed in appendix "C" will be appropriate for embodying the "brain" of meetings aimed to heal the religious fanaticism of the Middle East.
The computerized interface for conferencing will resemble in some of its details "Cellular Automata Models" of AI or a model of the evolution of transformation matrices. In such models the neighborhood functions determine the emergence of stable collective meta-patterns, even complex ones.
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"The House of Choice"
"Palaces of Science and Arts"
"The Temple of Reason"
"The Sanhedrin of the Sciences and the Arts"
"The Heavenly Assembly (Knesset) of Israel",
"The Heavenly Land of Israel",
"the Star of Redemption"
Cybernetic "Fun Palace"
(Note: for each alternative that is of interest, we shall be glad to supply the appropriate explanations which we have).
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1. Design of an Utopia and the formulation of Redemptive Theory it represents.
(for example: the design of "the Star of Redemption" inspired by Franz Rosenzweig in his expansion to a comprehensive redemptive theory which encompasses also Islam and global ecology. Research fellow: professor Manfred Vogel NWU, expert on Rosenzweig and the history and literature of religions). Specific graphical interpretation of the computer program in accordance with the kind of utopia selected. Budget of $10,000 from the grant of the Ministry of Science. Possibility of additional investment within $50,000 from Hi-Or Inc.
2. Cybernetic multi-level design multimedia representation of "Angels of Peace"
(note: the design of the agents figures as "angles" will be made only in the appropriate cases, and other cases will receive another semantic and graphic interpretation. Research fellow: Professor Mel Alexenberg, Dean of the New World School of the Arts). Budget of $10,000 from the Ministry of Science grant. By business projection, the research grant may serve as key for investments in the order of $200,000 of commercial factors to create almost-life-like figures.
3. Computerized interface for multi-level "redemptive conversations".
Research Fellow: Dr. Dov Yanai, director of the Adam Group of Applied Psychology. Computer applications: Ronnie Wolf son, Yewho multimedia. Budget $10,000 from the Ministry of Science grant. Experimentation at the Adam Institute.
4. Designing an Interface for "Redemptive Conferencing"
Responsible researcher: Dr. Y. Hayutman with research fellows Dr. Moshe Dror, media futurist at BGU and Beit Yatsiv and Antony Judge, a world expert in Transformative Conferencing. Budget of $10,000 from the Ministry of Science research grant. The research will include research application in an appropriate congress.
5. Project Guidance and Coordination:
Through Hi-Or Inc., administrative director Oriana Or. These services will be given free for rights in certain incidental programs and demos from among those developed at the research. The service will include also help in finding further applications.
6. Dissemination, Guidance and Monitoring:
Dissemination on the Internet through a WWW site of the Academy of Jerusalem, who will guide the proceedings, monitor and report the results. Budget of $10,000 from the Ministry of Science grant. Building of a working prototype with budget with budgetary contributions from Hi-Or Inc.
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