Alan N. Shapiro, Visiting Professor in Transdisciplinary Design, Folkwang University of the Arts, Essen, Germany

Blog and project archive about transdisciplinary design, media theory and creative coding

Conference on Quantum Culture in Venice

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After the conference on Digital Culture in Milan, I arrived in Venice. I took the Vaporetto number 2 towards my hotel. I meditated about how I have had enough of conferences about Digital Culture.

During this Vaporetto ride, the answer dawns on me: we need to develop the paradigm of Quantum Culture. Curate a conference on Quantum Culture and Quantum Thinking. The conference will take place in Venice.


The main principle of Quantum Thinking is to hold two seemingly opposite ideas in one’s mind at once and understand both ideas to be fully true.

 

At the conference, we should consider six areas of Quantum Culture: (1) New Mathematics and Quantum Computing in Software (2) Quantum Medicine (3) Politics (4) Language (5) Real/Virtual Institutions for the Dissemination of Knowledge (includes education, museums, and Wikipedia) (6) Embodiment (includes a certain advanced kind of electronic art, dance, and social choreography).

The real, the virtual, the digital, and the quantum will all someday merge into a higher synthesis. But for now, media theory and cultural studies continue to focus obsessively on the idea of “Digital Culture.” This has been going on for 20 years, at least. Now they tell us that Facebook is utopia realized. The humanities scholars go on endlessly quoting Foucault and Deleuze. The techie programmers go on endlessly tweaking bits and bytes.

We need a new paradigm to move thinking, practice, and creativity forward. This paradigm is: Quantum Culture. This is something genuinely new and will wake things up. The mid-twentieth century physicists who discovered quantum mechanics did not have the philosophical training necessary to understand what quantum physics means. They only spoke about it in metaphors. They only used applied quantum physics statistically. Quantum Thinking will change our way of dealing with everything. Another “frame of mind” to understand everything.

Once you start thinking in a “quantum” way, the answer to almost every question becomes “yes and no.” And both sides contain huge truths which cannot be negated by the other. So what do I think of “famous people” like Deepak Chopra, Ken Wilber, Anton Zeilinger, Hans-Peter Dürr, Rupert Sheldrake, Ray Kurzweil, Michio Kaku, and Eckhart Tolle?  Are they the embodiment of quantum culture? Yes and no. In a very important sense, these thinkers, scientists, etc. are very much on the right track. In another sense, a sense that is very important to me, quantum culture does not yet exist at all. We are in the very earliest phase of it…

For example, those  thinkers and scientists have completely ignored French philosophy. It was Jean Baudrillard who, more than anyone else, understood the implications of quantum physics for revolutionizing sociology, political science, and economics (although Baudrillard himself wouldn’t use those 3 terms, but I’m not him).

Every intellectual (or spiritual, etc.) tradition that we respect has more or less operated independently from all the others. From the point of view of my Star Trek belief-system, the dream of a global culture, what we need now is a quantum leap forward to an epistemology where I have my own commitments, coming from my own biography and traditions, but I am also much more understanding of the importance and value of other traditions. We need a global thinking, in my view, one that is also deeply respectful and understanding of the singularities of each tradition.

One Response

oh how nice to meet you. where can i buy tickets for such a conference? i’m writing quantum fiction, and i’ve got this very thing happening at dragoncon, where quantum thinking finally hits critical mass and changes everything. i hope you don’t mind if i help myself to your ideas (all this surfing i’m doing at the moment is actually research). hope to see you at next year’s conference. i’ll buy you a drink.