People Empowering Technology: The Cyberspace Ecosystem

An early visualization of the Cyberspace Ecosystem. (Image: SENDS)

An early visualization of the Cyberspace Ecosystem. (Image: SENDS)

By Carl Hunt and Richard Raines

Last week on Armed with Science, John Ohab posted a remarkable video of Army LTG Benjamin Freakley on the topic of “Technology Without People is Just Very Cool Stuff.” This video is an insightful piece about the role military people play in the development, deployment and uses of technology on the battlefield.  LTG Freakley called it “soldiers working, empowering technology.”

What a great way to put it: people making technology better…empowering it.  His talk visualized a true socio-technological convergence, where both people and technology mutually benefitted, and where military missions benefitted from increased likelihoods of success.

It was a “remarkable empowerment by regular soldiers, thinking through age-old problems,” as LTG Freakley said later in the video.  People acted as problem-solvers, tackling the challenges of leadership of the socio-technological dilemmas that have surfaced with the advent of hyper-connected cyberspace.

The Science Enhanced Network Defense and Secure Social Spaces project (SENDS) views cyberspace in a similar way: people in exchanges with each other, facilitated by the technologies of cyberspace.

While LTG Freakley didn’t overtly refer to the ecosystem of people and technology, it is the way we think about it in SENDS. Others in the government and academia are, as well.  Since the June 2010 kickoff of the SENDS Pilot Project, we’ve been describing an early visualization of the Cyberspace Ecosystem as shown above and described in the SENDS blog.

The image above shows how much of a role people play in this ecosystem through the emergence of human behaviors, cultural development and governance constructs that help us make sense of and interact within cyberspace. Through this model, we can even put technological emergence into better context.

This basic graphic has helped us to organize our thoughts about all the interdependencies and emergences that lead to how people empower cyberspace.  This also includes an understanding of the importance of the threat to keep improving the environment: ecosystem perspectives help clarify even non-intuitive thinking.

SENDS offers an opportunity for people from all disciplines to participate in discovering the nature of cyberspace and how we will achieve national and global security and prosperity through its exploration; we’ve pointed that out in previous Armed with Science blogs on SENDS (here and here),

The SENDS 2010 Project Review highlights how SENDS brings together a diverse group of people to write about an “open-source” Science of Cyberspace, even while we are all jointly creating it. People, as LTG Freakley cites, are at the heart of empowering technology. SENDS is helping to facilitate a scientific study of how people interact with each other and the technologies that compose cyberspace…how they empower that technology.

The SENDS Project can only make systemic progress if people are involved.  People must empower cyberspace, to paraphrase LTG Freakley.  We invite the readers of Armed with Science to become a part of the ecosystem and help us inform the study of cyberspace to solve the challenges of developing a science of cyberspace.  Visit us and we’ll tell you how.

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