7 Costless Switching

The Logic of the Switch

Switch and switching defined

Switching as computation and logic: on/off becomes
zero/one - numbers

yes/no - choice among options

if/then - rules and procedures

Switching as data routing: connectivity, the possibility of interaction, regulation distributed in geography

Switching as buffering: regulation distributed in time


Source of dilemmas

The precipitous fall of the cost of switching has created new dilemmas

High capacity and ubiquity of information sources mean you can't keep the information away.

The "Information Age" is not the presence of PCs but the diversity of perspectives forced upon the society (e.g., Soviet Union, China).

Conflicting views and values impinge on the individual citizen.

Reconciliation of diverse perspectives requires personal responsibility and the acknowledgment of subjectivity.

Deluge of data and information in society leads to vastly increased capability for change, accompanied by vastly increased complexity.

Capacities for information complexity and change are increasing at a rate far higher than individuals can handle.

Source of solutions

The same technology that creates dilemmas is the source of solutions: the costless switch provides the means to handle complexity with complexity.

Costs of computing: cheaper, faster, better

Metaphor of the telephone network: explosive growth, natural evolution, parallels to computing in that cost of switches has fallen, cost of wires far less so

Natural evolution of the switching network to "geodesic network" as function of its "structure in use"

Some innovations that arise from the evolution and innovation in switching

The new "highways" of vast interconnectedness, meaning vast potential for new interactions (points of contact, sharing of data and information, conversations)

Sharing of computing resources across networks

Neural nets: avoid trap of pre-description and pre-analysis, and become responsive "in the world"

From mainframes to timesharing to PCs and back again in a new computing paradigm: massive parallelism

New "computational" modelling:
on/off becomes fuzzy or probabilistic

modal or multi-valued logics of relational, contextual meaning

computing "artificial life" and autonomous systems

solving the "3-body logic" problem

New descriptive models:
theory of nets and limita-tions of connectedness

breaking of social barriers

changing habits of work