Choice Architecture within a Technological Puzzle
This essay elaborates on the Choice Architecture within a Technological Puzzle in which we are all enmeshed. The interplay and complex, simultaneous interactions of our world, amplify, annihilate, and trigger possibilities and windows of opportunities, and shift windows of perception, or irreversibly eliminate opposite choices, and alternatives for preferred future developments. The question this article aims to answer is, can we increase our agency within the process of the realization of future images, in order to access previously sealed options for alternative directions? Can we still coherently reveal the actual condition of a complex and confusing reality, and do we still know what is good for us? The hypothetical and theoretical occupation of the futures appears in this context not good enough. Knowledge about the future can be useless, if we do not know how to design the socio-economic and psychological environment to tackle the issues we are facing, and which we are about to face, with a delay in time, as consequences of our own unconscious choices.
It is here where we begin to elucidate the concept of Memes and Temes, which specifically spread through the actions and behaviors that they generate in their hosts. Or in other words, the viral assimilation they imply make them powerful units that ubiquitously inform and define the future realities we are about to experience. Here, the futurist has to be aware of the organismic mechanics of pattern and randomness that are at work and which are literally beyond and above our individual ability and urge to “control”.
Choice Architecture within a Technological Puzzle deals with a fraction of such a futuristic imbroglio by delineating the part we can actually influence, design, and shape. However, it is not the attempt of dissecting the subject as a form of fragmented thought, or as the illusion of reductionism. We consider Choice Architecture as a key component to aim at a preferable image, since it essentially derives from the understanding that an experience is always already the responsibility of the architect. The architect first imagines or perceives, then articulates, communicates, visualizes, designs, and manifests physical or psychological structure and organization within the realm of spacetime. It eventually becomes accessible and is then shared as an experience.
If we then substitute our wicked problems with the world Puzzle, we can first of all utilize a metaphor that helps us to understand that “there must also be rules that limit both the nature of acceptable solutions and the steps by which they are to be obtained.” The rule then, or established viewpoint, or preconception within a particular research field is something we are supposed to play according to. But technological memes teaches us a transformative and evolutionary capacity, which offers us continuing paradigm shifts, to play, not according to the rules, but instead, to play with the rules, which is not a relativistic point of view, but a position of emancipation and thus essentially striving towards a better equipped puzzle-solving ability. Consequently, we work with the term of a technological puzzle, embracing the connotation of playful interaction with the problems that can be likewise perceived as our playground, where the tools we apply shape us in return, and a choice architecture that seeks to comprehend the whole malleable dimension of these paradoxic constitutions of semantic abstraction.
The ideal is unquestionable the non-zero sum game, in which cultural conditioning is dissolved, and the continuing exploration of unforeseen forms of existence, the playful exploration of our dreams and fantasies within the virtual hyperspace, namely, the process of imagineering, leads to transitions and transformations towards better worlds, which our hearts know are possible. Our impression however is, futurists right now claim to work for the future, but might actually threaten with misconduct future well-being and future viability, simply since they advance the exacerbation and malignancy of capitalist realism as well as relativism, both through opportunism.
Relativism is a response mechanism in regard of shifting baselines and relates to the mind-numbing affirmative denotation of tech-optimism, the technological fix, solutionism, as well as an uncritical perspective, a lack of reflecting upon power hierarchies, and one’s own complicity. Shifting baselines itself is a phenomenon of distorted and limited perception of change. The relativism we describe is an abuse and misuse of our understanding of the multiplicity and pluralistic futures. If some become too lazy and too well fed, and do not put any effort into penetrating the inconvenient truths, since they are beneficiaries of their own ignorance, and instead justify their own complicity, the resulting lack of radical and critical thought, towards content and context, leads literally to emotional and intellectual impotence, a paralysis that symbolizes the ‘rasanden Stillstand’ (rampant stagnation). Any approach that holds contempt for free expression and abandons the pursuit of absolute values through relativism, will eventually result in societies starving of stagnation. But it is our responsibility to create the foundations to unlock the true potential of the super-organism called humanity, to nurture and to nourish the collective and individual striving towards the yet unforeseen but preferable, and yet still impossible.
To be more precise, the responsibility of a futurist should be a continuous striving towards emancipation, and not a role of complicity in the atrocities we should actually aim to abolish, the obedient and shallow subordination towards the misdirection some of us are already consciously aware of. Greed-based self-preservation and fame-seeking propagandistic apple-polisher have been the cause for holocausts in the past, and they will be the cause for holocausts in the future. In short, if you can’t stand for something, you will fall for everything. The dilemma consists within the consumerist, paradoxic-archaic-cyber-capital infused ideology that suggests a passive lifestyle, seeking pyramid pleasure that is based on others suffering, delineated by comfort zone and filter bubble, where totalitarian tendencies are in disguise, painted as smart and convenient lifestyle choices, while actually enslaving one into mindless complicity of collectively consuming the future.
Unfortunately, the pathological, psycho-path tendencies have advanced its agenda and will continue to do so, in order to protect the mind-numbing, and repetitive traditions of our decadence. What we suggest is a sense of possibility opposing the bureaucratic inertia and ethnocentrism, which are both traditionally supportive of totalitarian tendencies. From the perspective of a sense of possibility, an understanding of the paradox of choice, meaningful choices, choiceless choices, and the illusion of choice can thus serve us in our endeavor to overcome the obstacles on the pathway of our normative aspirations towards the preferable.
However, the sense of possibility is apparently being systemically and strategically opposed by all those, who defend the status quo with their own privileged positions in fear of uncertainty and anarchistic conditions. The evolutionary struggle for survival leaves the infrastructure of an ill-guided, even self-destructive apparatus untouched, since it demands fierce competition of a species conditioned to be unsocial, in order to protect a systemization of competitive exploitation through artificial hierarchies, while deliberately being distracted with superfluous and superficial discourses. Choice Architecture should illuminate the arena of darkness of inconvenient truths, where a deep regulatory capture of education in form of a paradoxic-archaic-cyber-capital infused factory learning diminishes the human potential to emancipate. Future openness is here essential in regard of choice architecture. It rejects the futurist as corporate slave and as a sell-out for own personal gain, while illuminating the game-like choices we have and of which we should be essentially aware of.