Synaptic Transfer

For all its fibre-enabled, live-video-streaming, 24/7-connected promise, our information network encapsulates a fundamental flaw: It is proving a sub-optimal system for keeping the world informed. While it embraces nodes dedicated to propagating a rich seam of information, because the Internet’s governing algorithms are optimized to connect us to what they believe we’re already looking for, we tend to retreat into familiar and comfortably self-reinforcing silos, – idea chambers whose feeds, tweet, and updates inevitably echo our preexisting prejudices and limitations.

The wider conversation, a precondition for a healthy intellectual culture, isn’t getting through. The signals are being blocked. The algorithmic filter is building even higher walls. Facts are being invalidated by something called “post-truth.” And that is just not healthy for the quality of informed debate that Edge has always celebrated.

In an ever more atomized culture, it’s the connectors of silos, the bridgers of worlds, that accrue the greatest value. So we need to promote the intellectual synapses, the journalistic synapses, the political synapses, – the rare individuals who pull down walls, who connect divergent ideas, who dare to link two mutually incompatible fixed ideas in order to promote understanding.

Today we need synapse builders who break down filter bubbles and constrained worldviews by making connections wherever possible. These are the people who further gainful signalling by making unsolicited introductions between those who might mutually benefit; who convene dinner salons and conferences where the divergent may unexpectedly converge.

Synaptic Transfer
David Rowan
Editor, Wired UK