Language in popular culture is often shrunk down to text, speech and visual language. Language, dialects, vocabulary and parts to a whole encompass far much more than this oversimplified semiotic and semantic rubber stamp. Language is not static nor is it immortal. Subjectivity is the kaleidoscope each individual holds in their perception and preferences. Languages sadly die and phrases fade into obsolescence and obscurity. Words die. Ideas get shoveled over sometimes in the ash bin of history as well.
Language in the general context and concept is also of course a sort of bargain and handshake between creator and reader/receptor, a signal across the ether. Language as written transposes authorial voice both figurative and at times literal with familiarity into basically a series of bent lines in blank space, of letterforms, those odd sculptures in rows and clusters here. English as a system for example is also the most convoluted Frankenstein monster of referents and roots with at times extremely obtuse and contradictory rules yet here it is. Also, one could argue that metaphor is born from raw necessity in the face of language crashing and breaking in the face of nuance and complexity. A first love or sense of peril cannot be captured whole by the engineering and architecture of vocabulary and grammar. Language is in itself symbolic yet ironically in its general function is the barren field not the blooms of poetry.
Parallels can be found in functions of climate and Meteorology. The basic fair-weather cumulus, the cute, innocuous cotton ball is the most reproduced image in weather across the arts yet on deeper analysis this image and concept is deceptive. The cumulus lives an average of fifteen to thirty minutes. It endless self-edits, decays, replicates sections as others dissipate and is formed both by floating debris and invisible water vapor and heat channels and air flows, sometimes airflows greatly divergent at different altitudes and quite turbulent. It is a cliché of calm and metaphor for the pastoral, yet it is in reality chaos and complexity. The winter storm is endless dying and being reborn in sections, in interactions with other air-masses and high and low pressure systems along with cold and warm frontal systems that are affected by land topographies. The serpentine form of lows and cold, and high and warm fronts may in a few frames or single image appear to be clear in its architecture and effects, but this is deceptive. Climate change has already been shown to be slowing the movement of high pressure systems and thus troughs and sea temperature anomalies are altering jet stream patterns and local pressure systems at an increasing rate. It is also crucial to note that a key term in Meteorology is “Teleconnections.” Systems for thousands of miles effect each other in the outdated metaphor in the term of the old telephone switchboard. Systems are micro to macro and vice versa as is true in animal behaviors and migration shifts and in the plasticity of language itself.
Ants communicate along lines from antennae of chemical compound sequences. This is language. Bees dance to share data and updates as well as warning. This too is language. Tree roots share data. This is increasingly being understood as language in all capacities. Flocking algorithms are seen first in birds and schools of fish. These are not just areas to study in terms of computational forms and robotics, but also tied to biomimetics or the study of the engineering within biology and nature to apply to design, as well as computation.
Computers once filled rooms, then were large mainframes, then desktops, then laptops, and the now ubiquitous smart phone. The languages of computation shift of course all the time as well with new forms and tied to shifting hardware and software. The construct of the computer like language is never static. Smart looms long ago spun faster using punch cards as later did computers for quite a while. Memory systems have had a long lineage as well as have the aesthetics of the shell of the computer which is arguably the common semiotics of computer in the currency of images in popular culture. The machine is shrinking and by the powers of ten. The problem for historians is that emails are mostly not saved, and email attachments are not archived. Efficiency has reached an apex, but it also has begun a swampy morass of perhaps too many images and brevity where more intimate and detailed communication is disappearing.
This however is a fascinating progression as the machine is literally shrinking over time and this leaves in the algorithm/cybernetic flow chart a tantalizing possible next step. The machine ceases to exist in the known forms at all. This is moving toward the work in wearable computing as well as emerging forms of biodegradable cell phones and organic computing. It also is increasingly pointing toward a wilder avenue: the move back to nature but using human engineering and computation. The smart phone is more powerful than the machines that flew space shuttles, but it is purchased mostly for the pixel ratio on the camera, the phone is used less frequently for calls with studies indicating most people use it to send sms texts.. Thusly, one could argue that for many, it is no longer a phone at all. It is instead a pocket computational device with high end camera.
Imagine the future scenario: a hike leads a group of friends through a grove of trees while off the coast fish and dolphins swim in groups in the ocean. Sounds banal and familiar but every few trees is one that to the touch is familiar bark but the bark is synthetic. The tree within is a supercomputing cluster that has biomimetic skin, and the roots are connecting with other tree roots in the rhizome under the soil. The roots are communicating data of soil and moisture and this tree is listening. It also is extrapolating data and tracking patterns and running dataset collisions for possible future scenarios in a protective mode that are sent to scientists and researchers. This does not intrude on the aesthetics of the forest and is working to predict fire conditions, dry rot and other future event possibilities similar to how weather modelling crashes data and previous scenarios to analyze possible events of beauty or concern and even disaster.
In the earlier permutations, the tree will be a machine with a synthetic skin that feels and looks like bark. In later permutations it will function like a tree to the core with organic computation within natural compounds and even possibly living tree aided with connected biomimetic roots and branches that assist it in life functions and tracks things like beetles and root rot. This is extremely important as fire prevention and fuel reduction as well to aid the environment.
A key component of climate change is that the ocean waters are also heating and that it is to change the chemical composition of the waters in critical ways over time. A beautiful tropical beach with clear water is what is long called a kill zone and the water is not clouded with smaller organisms. Animal migration patterns have been increasingly and at times shockingly shifting across the globe. This has been especially true in the oceans. An emergent data pattern is that food availability is shifting as is water temperature belts. This is in itself critical. The emergence of soft robots and autonomous and semi-autonomous robotics brings into the realm of possibility scenarios similar to the trees above. Imagine that accepted in pods of dolphins, schools of fish and even in groups of smaller organisms are data collecting biomimetic organisms/machines that can relay in real time both migration patterns and their rearrangements and shifts in water temperature and chemical composition.
Mapping and cartography as well as geo-locative awareness and augmentation are also languages, dialects and vocabularies. They are also ever evolving. Meteorology relies on a few satellites, ship reports and observers’ data beyond radar and satellite. These broadcasting points of data are gridded and extrapolated and tied to previous events, pattern recognition and analysis of possible data interactions that lead to weather predictions. These biomimetic entities have the potential to thus grid out GPS, GIS and other data modelling of data, micro to macro data sets and eventually predictive modelling of future patterns of sea life as well as the health of the oceans themselves.
The time is now. The unprecedented heat waves and fires globally are only accelerating and reaching new levels of damage. The ocean is already nearing in some areas, levels where the chemical makeup and stability of the waters will shift and become more toxic and uninhabitable. Technology will be a selfish human-centric pretense if it does not evolve and shift its dialects to assist the earth, animals, oceans, air and balance of ecosystems and planet. Already computer and cell phone junk is choking poorer parts of the world and illegal dumping has long poisoned areas such as the California desert, whereas so called legal disposal, is poisoning lands and water masses in the global south.
These concepts are now absolutely crucial as the world warms beyond all previous predictive analysis. The analog of technology may have already reached a complexity apex. The circle would close when we move toward helping the organic world and the concerns therein. Complexity is many layers or parts working together, but when overpacked, it becomes overly complicated. The key difference is a sophisticated and layered system that moves into too many parts, the obstruction, and obfuscation of a better path toward optimal functionality and solutions. The time is now to raise the alarm as well as to celebrate the ways that technology and data analysis be it tied to AI or not to can aid the world itself.