Heaven and Earth – Cloud and Territory in the Internet

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When John Perry Barlow declared Cyberspace as independent from the common territory and sphere of influence by economy and state in 1996 he could not know what happened afterwards. All the dreams of immateriality and exclusion from state power had to recede from a reality of internet infrastructures that became more and more massive, resource consuming and dominant. What developed into the metaphor of The Cloud at the same time settled as a highly influential new power rivalling with democratic institutions of the state on its territory. According to Galloway it is the new means of power, the protocol, that reigns technology and society. The key question of this paper is if there is a close connection between the family of internet protocols and the regulatory means of state. My tentative answer is: yes, indeed, there are close connections between the two spheres that seemingly were incompatible: heaven (The Cloud) and earth (the state territory) couple strongly. The approach is done by Luhmannian Systems Theory, the term being “interpenetration” and “structural coupling”. The example will be the Chinese Social Credit System. The main thesis is that the Chinese Social Credit System couples its protocol to the laws and regulations of state and economy, also conceptualized as being protocols, via the internet as its common language. It turns out that the coupling and interpenetration could be highly efficient thus for the first time enabling a co evolution of a highly mobile turbo capitalist economy and a strict authoritarian state territory, a marriage between heaven and earth.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHuman-Centric Computing in a Data-Driven Society : 14th IFIP TC 9 International Conference on Human Choice and Computers, HCC14 2020, Tokyo, Japan, September 9–11, 2020, Proceedings
EditorsDavid Kreps, Taro Komukai, T.V. Gopal, Kaori Ishii
Number of pages13
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer Schweiz
Publication date01.01.2020
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-62802-4
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-62803-1
Publication statusPublished - 01.01.2020
Event14th IFIP TC 9 International Conference on Human Choice and Computers, HCC14 2020: Human-Centric Computing in a Data-Driven Society - Chuo University Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 09.09.202011.09.2020
Conference number: 14