David Bausola – infomorphic beings and the post-human internet

51% of the traffic on the internet is now non-human. David Bausola is unleashing informorphic beings, Weavrs, on the net - and they're exploring the swamp beneath the uncanny valley.

Is empathy a natural thing? Or is it something we learn, about seeing how others see the world?

He works for the majority of the internet – 51% of traffic on the internet is non-human, through bots and services and agents.

They make Weavrs – bots which hang out on the internet and in real places. They whistle, sound derived from the ASCII codes they’re using. You create them via a web form. They make about 40 blog posts a day, as they start connecting the keywords you’ve given them, and defining themselves. They go walking – user Layer to look for them, and you might see 30 surrounding a building. They’re used by market research companies for mass ethnography.

For want of a better phrase, Weavrs are behavioural search – they’re designed to mimic the way humans search. They travel around the social web, looking for what they want. If you run 1000s of Weavrs with the same profile, you get clear trends, both existing and emerging topics. They can spot things that are going to break in the coming weeks. They though Gangnam Style was a bug, when Weavrs kept throwing it up.

“God is a lobster, or a double pincer, a double bind” – Deleuze & Guttari

Everyone is trying to do the same thing – make users press a button. Weavrs press the button for you. Mechanical bliss – photos of gamers at play shows genuine emotion. Produce emotion, get acceptance – that’s it. That’s service design, that’s social software.

We’re building layers and layers of stuff – but social media is turning burlesque – we can’t help showing off. There’s a new aesthetic being created by our participation. There’s no central topics, just fresh McGuffins – daily. Markov invented a sorting algorithm in the 1850s – which was great on paper. It’s the basis of all recommendation engines – and the source of the filter bubble, which only shows us stuff we already like.

Clay Shirky’s work has lead to industrial strength empathy… All social marketing managers are trying o be honest and transparent. It’s becoming creepy – like very human-like robots which are so close that the feeling is uncanny. The uncanny valley describes this phenomenon. Underneath that is the uncanny swamp – where dead things live – corpses and Facebook adverts. Humans can recognise emotions in random polygons. Creepy.

The journalist Jon Ronson went crazy when they “cloned him” via his Wikipedia page, and made a Weavr about him. There are 40 Weavrs dressed as Alice in Wonderland characters running around Berlin – they were meant to meet up in certain coffee shops at certain times of the day. They don’t always do it. They’re like disobedient dogs.

Where Andy was talking about the internet of things – he’s talking about the internet of non-things. Weavrs are infomorphic beings. Could your fridge and toaster be having an argument when you walk into the kitchen in the morning? Could there be non-human mythologies, stories build of data, without human intervention?