Candide Kemmler – IT Expert

Software engineer. Currently working for a great Belgian startup in Medical Imaging called Osimis.

In the last few years, I worked on several projects that have more of a social/societal goal. One is called – currently stale, and is an open source aggregator for personal data, the idea being that if Google and Facebook amass so much data about us, we should at least be able to see all of what we produce in a synthetic way; and indeed, having your geo data, calendar, notes, activity, heart rate and photos all at the same place can be an interesting tool to “debug your system”. I was fortunate to work on this with Anne Wright (CMU), whose main motivation was to better understand some severe gut problems that she had. So yes, this is Quantified Self stuff, although I feel that the movement is sometimes painted in bad colours. Quantified Self is mainly made of Meetups where people meet IRL and discuss something that is perceived as a weird and fascinating phenomenon: our newfound ability to quantify so many things about ourselves and about the world around us. So much as I despise the kind of performance-obsessed maniacs who strive to optimize everything about themselves so as to win an edge over the others, the QS meetups can be, sometimes, a very interesting experience.

Another project I got involved with was more of a thought experiment I conducted with two US lawyers who were fascinated with blockchain technology. One of them, John Clippinger, is also an author and has written a lot about digital identity. Although we worked on this for about a year, very little came out of it in terms of actual software. During our short collaboration however, we participated to a few conferences around Blockchain and the startup world, and I honestly didn’t really connect with any of it. Under the anarchist/libertarian varnish, you’ll find the usual powerful undercurrents of greed and power hunger. Not my cup of tea. Plus, there is this incredibly blatant fallacy about smart contracts that require millions of machine to execute the exact same code in order to guarantee consensus, which amounts to a gigantic waste of electricity for very little added value in the vast majority of cases. In that regard, it seems to me that Ceptr’s HoloChain is an interesting departure for building truly decentralized architectures.

The last project I worked on was with philosopher Pierre Levy, of the University of Ottawa. I created a basic editor for his collective-intelligence-enabling script called IEML. It’s a fascinating project, you should check it out.

When I have some time, I still long to do something philosophically meaningful with technology, whatever that means, perhaps around the idea of a data commons to explore our collective intelligence. I’m dreaming of the kind of best-case experience I had at some QS meetups, but where everyone would discuss a common pool of personal data – personal data that would be about things that really matter to us: our dreams and desires, our frustrations and the ways we struggle with our shadow (all expressed in IEML, of course). How to interpret this data, how to make it into a collective mythology that “works” and use it to project ourselves into the future?