Designing a Converged Community

Crossing the Streams
5 July 2017

Imagine that you are a cyborg. Imagine that technology is attached to your body, so that it provides a function. Maybe it improves your life, or maybe it's just the lesser of the available evils. One thing for sure, is that it is part of you now. It might even represent you. Now pick up your mobile phone and read this paragraph again. Maybe you're already doing that. You can't even read this without some kind of device. This device is now your eyes into a different world.

It's the end of the world as we knew it. It's too late; we have already started to converge. But instead of developing devices that combine features and capabilities into one device, we have developed ourselves to interact with and depend on these devices. Humanity and Technology is the true convergence. Moreover, the perception of who we are is more than is housed in our sacks of flesh. Our social media presence---our unique indentifiers and addresses--are now part of who we are. We are the cyborgs. We are the converged. 

When we start to think of our devices as extensions of our selves, then we can appreciate the importance of proper and safe design. We can, and should, then apply similar principles when creating a converged computing device (CCD). If our devices are extending our selves out into the open, then they can be seen as a point of failure. And, if we create a CCD, then that will become a single point of a failure for many things. The bad news, is that man-made things fail eventually, but how can we make them fail gracefully?

Having a much greater input and choice into the development of our devices, is an essential part of the convergence discussion. The "Trolley Dilemma" is a hot topic these days with regards to autonomous or "smart" vehicles. We have already mentioned a problem with "smart" devices [insert link to dumb smartphone article], but let's drive (so to speak) the point home even more. Cory Doctorow in The Guardian 
mentions the flaw in the autonomous car dilemma: why would we ever create something that the user would not have ultimate control over? It is disturbingly comical to imagine devices that fight against the wishes of the people operating them. And, this is why having a say in the devices that we develop is of utmost importance. This is when a converged computing device becomes a "converged community device".

UBports is a prominent project that still allows us to influence its development. We can voice our opinions, get support, and grow our community with a safe and operable CCD. UBports allows us to look under the hood and be involved to ensure that things are developed responsibly and ethically. Our CCDs should not be fighting against us; they should be fighting for us. But, we have to fight for them first. Let's show our support for the future that we want to have.