8OS – Body/Mind Operating System

Update: Since we wrote this text in 2016, 8OS has evolved and while we want to keep this text intact for the archives you can explore the current state of this research on its own website www.8os.io

Operating system at its essence is an interface between the machine and the tasks that it has to perform. Without an OS we do not have a clear and formalized way of making relations between the form (hardware) and the function (hardware). And while there are many operating systems for machines (Android, iOS, Unix, Windows), it is not so clear whether there is an operating system for humans. And if so, is it the one that we wrote or it’s the one that was written for us? Is it still supported? How frequent are the updates?

Ethics, laws and moral rules of conduct traditionally take the role of operating systems in our society. They cover intersubjective relations and occasionally venture into our mind, in order to give directions to the process of thinking and channel our actions into a more rational realm.

Various body/mind practices such as yoga, meditation, religion, martial arts traditionally cover the realms that are more physical and intuitive. Many of those operating systems originated from a long time ago, before we had a well-documented archive of our own history to learn from, before exponential technological growth that augmented and enhanced human capacities. This newly obtained knowledge and power also requires responsible use in order to not become dangerous for ourselves. We also need to reconsider many of our behavioral patterns in order to adapt to the new world and continue along evolutionary path. This requires a new discipline and new habits (both on the mental and physical levels), the new ethics, new morals, new ways of learning, sharing, and exchanging our knowledge.

The project of writing a new operating system requires a starting point. When we’re talking about belief systems or practices there is always a certain element of “truth” contained in each of them, so what we need is to identify those “true” points for the OS that we are building. Those points should be general enough not to cause too much contradiction and yet specific enough in order to be functional. One such truth that can be accepted by nearly all traditions and rules of conduct is that everything in this world is essentially made from repercussions of waves. Even the planet itself, as well as the Solar System and our galaxy are in the process of constant expansion, the ripple-waves of the Big Bang or whatever contains the original dynamic essence of life.

If everything is based on waves, we can simply observe the different ways waves move in order to understand the laws and even – in some cases – the ethics of this operating system. One of such qualities is continuity – if a wave stops it’s not there anymore, so there’s a constant movement and no interruptions. Stillness becomes a dynamic process as well. Some things do not need to be moved to be moving. Another quality is relaxation – the water is not tensing up when it meets an obstacle. It intensifies and flows around the object instead, assimilating its totality into itself.

If the main qualities of the operating system for the body/mind are continuity and relaxation, there are also some principles or rules that help indirectly produce those qualities. These principles are:

– Assimilation
– Redirection
– Dissipation

These principles can operate on many levels: physical, communicative, relational, etc. Therefore it is possible to build rules, methodologies and – eventually – new skills based on algorithms that arise from the most beneficial use of those principles.

The notion of benefit (from old French bienfet – “a good deed”) in this context can itself be constructed based on the same operating principles. Something that is “good” for any given system in a way that is sustainable is something that allows it to maintain its operational equilibrium and to evolve. Therefore, benefit in the context of 8OS is a state of non-equilibrium stability that allows for the unobstructed throughflow of energy. An even bigger benefit when the system is learning something in that state to be better adapted for future changes and to use them for its future evolution – the ability to transform itself in relation to the environment.

On the physical level these notions presuppose a certain way of relating to one’s own bodymind (and through that bodymind –– to the environment).

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Bodymind is perceived as a liquid medium, which propagates impulses in waves. During this propagation certain transformations occur and the differences between the input and output point to the specialization of every particular agent activated within this transmission. (The absence of difference can still be regarded as a kind of specialization: the one based on unobstructed propagation of information through agent network).

In terms of the movement that means complete relaxation and freedom. Responding to gravity waves by default, using wave-like movements to navigate through space/time and natural shapes like that of a strange attractor or a spiral to bring certain physical situations to a stable conclusion.

The next step is to introduce a more detailed narrative into the patterns of interaction with the outside world. For example, the 3 steps of Assimilation, Redirection and Dissipation (ARD) can be applied to deal with physical and emotional stress in the body. Experimental studies have shown that the levels of endurance and physical stamina increase when the arising tension is processed through the A-R-D routine. Specifically, the arising physical impulse (e.g. pain or muscle strain) is calmly assimilated and accepted into the system (instead of fighting against it or “enduring the pain”). The constant rate of breathing which establishes a stable internal rhythm helps to find that non-equilibrium stability that spans between the physical, emotional, intellectual and respiratory realms. The pain/tension is then redirected to other parts of the body, as if one is playing Tetris with it, allowing it to move and oscillate inside the body. Finally, through a combination of ripple-wave movement through the body the pain/tension is dissipated and expelled from the system.

Similar approach can be used in the social realm. For instance, in the context of negotiations it is quite common to have escalation leading to conflict. Using the A-R-D principle we can instead assimilate the point of view of the partner, then redirect their attention to another issue that could be added to the first proposition, and therefore dissipate any possible tension by steering the process  to a more fluid realm.
In other words, when social tension is encountered one does not go straight-forward against the obstacle, but, rather, redirects their movement into another direction, going around the obstacle, like water, in order to proceed further and regain its original path (if that is required) or follow the new path that emerged through the encounter.

The notion of waves also brings in the notion of propagation. A useful model for describing propagation is a network. A network consists of nodes (solidifications or temporary stabilities) and edges (dynamic relations between them). A stable group of nodes forms a cluster. Networks that have clustered structure with clusters interconnected through most connected nodes (hubs) are most efficient for information storage (small-world networks). Such networks are also good for propagation of information and maintenance of several stable positions within one structure (diversity or polysingularity). Such behavior of small-world networks is very common-sense: it is easier to spread information across the whole network through reaching the hubs in every different cluster first (nodes with the highest betweenness centrality) and then letting those nodes pass on the information further in their respective communities.

In 8OS the network structure itself cannot stay the same for a long period of time. In order to maintain wave-like oscillatory movement on the meta/structural level the formation of the network itself has to constantly change. The old clusters lose their connectivity and the nodes form new communities. The new hubs arise, those who were at the periphery move towards the center, those who were at the center move towards the periphery. In terms of political model of development such approach is very close to the notion of panarchy, which attempts to include both stability and change into a coherent political process (continuous change of government, periods of degrowth/growth).

Therefore, every node in the network is following a simple directive: keep the connections that you already have and develop the new ones, both on the inside and outside of your cluster. This way you will belong to different clusters, so you will have access to all the different points of view and yet you also can choose to structurally position yourself in the role of an engaged observer in relation to them.

Historically, norms of social behavior, ethics and morals were developed to keep certain structural stability within our society. Marx questioned this system and so did Foucault and others. However, every agent has the capacity to act autonomously and to establish a new system of understanding that will promote dynamic stability as opposed to rigid vertical/horizontal structures that are imposed on individuals by various corporate and political interests.  For this every node should have the ability to have a detached view of the structure, to allow for random (and unpredictable) events. And yet every node should also have an insight on specific relationships to not lose the essence of the social fabric that connects them all.

An agent in such network is building a database of experiences, sensations, interactions, and patterns – the outcome is to create an organized variety, which avoids any ideological and aesthetical restrictions by simply insisting on continuous movement, transformation and redistribution as the natural principle for evolution.

As soon as an obstacle arises (an old system, external influence, physical barrier), one can simply assimilate its existence and use the friction that was produce to redirect one’s intention in order to lead the impulse of propagation along a route that is different in shape but similar to the original direction.

2020 Update: You can find out more about project on www.8os.io

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