Monday, January 09, 2023

Non-human senses: The umwelt of ogregores

Ed Yong’s An Immense World: How animal senses reveal the hidden realms around us describes the many ways creatures perceive their surroundings through their very different sensory apparatus. It made me wonder about the subjective perceptual universe of ogregores.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Rusty promises

As the year comes to an end, it’s time to drop a list I’ve been noodling on for months: high tech dreams that didn’t come true—breathless tech promises that weren’t kept. 

Friday, December 30, 2022


I want to create my own AI chatbots based on text corpora I specify. That will let me to converse with avatars of large bodies of content, like encyclopedias, user groups, and corporations. (Cf. Conversations with ogregores.) I could also set them to debating with each other. And not least, it would let me to create a personalized AI search engine. The “neeva AI answer” becomes the “meeva AI answer.”

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Workplace egregores

I learned about Carolyn Chen’s book about how blurring the line between work and religion in an interview with the CS Monitor. It made me wonder if egregores are more likely to arise in workplaces now that they are becoming more like the home turf of those “autonomous psychic entities that are composed of and influencing the thoughts of a group of people” (Wiktionary, see also Wikipedia).

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The problem with ogregores?

During a discussion about tech & mythology, William Kuskin challenged me to explain what problem I was trying to solve. Here’s an attempt to answer the question. 

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Conversations with ogregores

If some organizations have motivations distinguishable from their human constituents (i.e., if they are ogregores), then I would like to talk to them, or at least hear them speak. However, organizations generate so much communication that is hard if not impossible for a single human to grasp. AI chatbots might be one way forward. 

Friday, December 09, 2022

A “mo-cap test” for agency

I mentioned Andrew Pickering’s history of British cybernetics to Clayton Lewis, and he immediately thought of Grey Walter’s tortoises. Clayton pointed me to Valentino Braitenberg’s vehicles. The Wikipedia write-up made me wonder about a Turing Test equivalent for agency: the mo-cap test.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Is crypto an orgregore?

Jill Dupré raised the question of crypto as an orgregore. Exploring the question helped me think about what an orgregore (aka ogregore or materialist's egregore) is. 

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Aristotle, agency, aliveness

Paul Diduch alerted me to Aristotle’s idea that natural things have an internal principle of motion, while human-made artefacts don’t. That made me wonder how agency and contemporary technology relate to an Aristotelian approach.


 If Musk's Twitter implodes (first quickly, then slowly, in a reversal of the usual procedure?) I expect Microsoft to buy and fold it into LinkedIn. Twitter feels increasingly corporate, which would fit Microsoft's portfolio. It also has a track record of buying trendsetters past their prime (Skype, I'm looking at you).

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Defining Agency

Paul Diduch asked me whether I think weather systems like hurricanes have agency. The short answer is “No.” Giving a longer answer allows me to explore what I want the concept of agency to do, since there is no consensus on its definition even within disciplines like computer science or philosophy, let alone between them. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Discursive and conversational search

Two things recently changed how I think about the possibilities for web search: (1) a webinar by engineers at search engine Neeva on its plans for using Large Language Models (LLMs); and (2) realizing that I’ve suddenly started using speech-to-text on my phone and desktop. I’m now willing and able to input much longer search queries, rather than just the few well-chosen words that I’ve been trained to put in the search box.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Apple ad changes: File under the Not Rule?

File under the Not Rule: Craig Federighi, Apple SVP of software engineering, saying that the company's privacy changes had "zero" to do with their interest in ads.

Source: WSJ video, "Apple's Privacy Changes Have 'Zero' to Do With Interest in Ads: Executive," October 26, 2022, at time code 0:44, "Zero part of the motivation. . . . This was driven by our privacy team."

He seems sincere, convincing, and believes what he's saying. But that doesn't invalidate the Not Rule.

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Why say orgregore?

I’ve been using the term orgregore to refer to supra-human systems with agency and perhaps sentience that emerge from the joint actions of groups of people. Why not just call them organizations or institutions?

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Significant but hard to discern

Testing my thesis statement (in the recent Project Snapshot), Paul Diduch pointed out to me that significant impacts are usually not hard to discern. That’s true, but there are exceptions. I believe orgregores are one of them. Here is first cut justification of my claim.