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Re: <nettime> The Age of Spiritual Machines (Part 1)
ana peraica on 26 Sep 2000 03:58:36 -0000

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Re: <nettime> The Age of Spiritual Machines (Part 1)

1. Definition of the human and transitional question
2. Conspiracy or hidden tendencies of writers
3. Metaphysics or invented power ­ models for politicians
4. Real question of philosophers
5. On Lyotardıs sado-masochism concerning AI and AL
6. How tyrants and following discussions die?
7. On Pinocchio, parrots, monkeys or on computer and the Third World
8. AI/AL bet solved ­ laptops and illegals




There are some, no less important and following, aspects of both of the
older AI and latter AL discussion on the epistemological and ontological
status of the computer agent. If they are to be claimed similar, the problem
is ­ to what similar, how do you define a human, at the end of whatever. In
the time so sensitive on differences, any of pulled over similarity can be
seen political. Yes, similar, but to precisely which human; not to
uneducated worker in the factory of Korea, and - if alive, it doesnıt mean
half-dead as hungry people are in Africa. If any, does it mean some new
rights, as some authors stated ­ and do those rights describe, really,
status of all humans on this planet? Or, are those laws of defining general
enough? Or the agent is more Western European, well educated, enjoying that

I am taking AI/AL questions simplified, for which, again, I need to
to specialists of the field. So, I would treat them in a commonsensical "are
computer thinking or not" (and of course; thinking on what? Can thinking on
survival be seen as thinking?) or "are they to be included among living
beings or not" (and which group of living beings?), to avoid the autism
theory is capable for, since the syndrome of the specialization that lead to
complete blindness of the general consequences caught it, as well.
Standpoint of the thinker ­ that first of all chooses, and then approves the
position ­ is as well crucial for the discussion.

Seem both of those questions, are only parts of the very old, Aristotelian,
definition of the human being "thinking" + "animal". The one we can take as
the most general, in connecting even todayıs global politics situation, in
which, of course, ones are more "thinking", and the others more "animals".

But, to analyze it more, it is worth to note, both of questions, are in
philosophy transitional, or as soon they are answered, they provoke another
questions until reaching the other areas of thought, and finally
the whole system (where system is not taken as not only theoretical, but as
well practical; as we have to be aware of thoughts that had indeed huge and
sometimes fatal consequences for the civilization; as Scholastics, Marxism,
and others deciding at the end on life and death questions).

So, any of answers to those two questions, being straight or hesitating
(with the "but" or similar addition) transforms and shifts; in this case -
from epistemology to the ontology, and at once entering to the area of the
former metaphysics (which, and that is another note - today is
meta-political discussion issuing more clearly problem of the power; of that
what is invisible, beyond experience and makes things as they appear; and as
being still very especial position, usually consolidated with the paranoia).


On the back turn - hidden tendencies of thinkers (or, again practitioners)
clarified. With the awareness of the influence of the thought on the
practical life, and as well practical "philosophical systems", philosophy
can be read the other, less naïve way, in terms of power frustration of
Plato, Aristotelian hesitations, over Narcissism of solipsist, schizophrenia
of Descartes and Socrates (on which already Russell noted), Nietscheıs deep
complexes, to the Marxist theoretical sabotages

And at the end one realizes there are not too many of theorists that are
nice people, at the same time, and if they are managing to border world with
personal, and in the global constellation completely irrelevant questions.
Or, maybe they are to be treated as artists for those who have a time for


Related to the main focus of this text ­ relation of the practice and
theory, it is important to note, again, metaphysics (that means even in the
contemporary, not-religious version) is a fascistic territory, formed on
basis of the paranoia and xenophobia.

To this can be added there are, as well, some suicidal tendencies of the
thinkers in the area, methodologically starting with the alienation
(skepticism), going over segregation and ending up in divine thoughts of
total irrelevancy for the rest of the world, if they are not supported by
real tyrants, as dealing with a sole phantasm (or to put it different ­
you like to spend a day with a solipsist that would deny your existence all
the time?). Things are commonsensical ­ after some obsessive thoughts there
is nothing more to do than to kill the carrier, and I really admire
Descartes quick God-solution to his deep paranoia that can be taken as the
realest Deus ex Machina in theory.

>From the position of inhabiting metaphysical territory ­ or power one, rules
are the same for the AI ­ AL discussion mentioned above is followed, in
tactics of inhabiting a "lost throne", of once consultants to the real

But, still it can be done virtually. That strategy is known for the politics
since old time, and mythomany is just a device of the tyranny. It involves
virtual class of enemies or friends.

Although, it is not virtual for the first time, as once it included the
hierarchy of; Gods (different ones, meaning laws) ­ humans (we, meaning of
course and only I) ­ others (related to different Gods, meaning possible
slaves). Or it formed on the basis of; law ­ ruler ­ slaves, or program ­
owner ­ public or other variants. The contemporary variant is has two forms
of the "computer as a companion" or the " computer as the enemy", known
through the history of philosophy of technology
(1) It is simple choosing sides, as well known for those interested in a
war, for personal reasons, or course, or in the other case ­ if they are
sick persons and idiots only war-scenario can be followed.

At own starts philosophy of technology tested forms of pervious systems, as
for example, one of first machines that could be named "philosopher-machine"
was a Lullian one (2) that was invented to convert Muslims to Christians,
and give to the author some credibility on the real political scene.

That conquering through religion relation, being disturbed in real with the
start of the XX century, ended up in the new questions of identifications of
the ghost; who could be God if there is no God? Or, like a character of the
comic Iznogud approves, for being a "Kalif instead of the Kalif", there are
a lot of volunteers, but only some of them are clever, and only some of them
are a race that would never give up; frustrated wall painters, metalworkers,
or similar who ­ want to be philosophers. And, seems, it is not only about
their frustrations, but as well the philosophyıs own potency. Rarely some
dictator chosen to be a writer of fairytales.

Strategies resemble. "Divide at impera", that can be seen in the AI and AL
antagonism is simple. "Thinking" and "animal" separately, in which
philosophers usually focus on the first part, as animals are not so
interesting for them (and that is the reason AI discussion is still so
vivid). Without an idea of the whole, as would be for example the idea of
Enlightenment ­ humanism, it is easy to manipulate. Of course, if one would
ask computers to be ethical, it would be too much, as it would in reverse,
ask the humans to be so. But, asking to think (even wrong) or assume living,
it is not such a request.

Finally, treating questions separately, in practice, as a model for
politicians, those that especially like philosophy (usually including into
it Carlos Castaneda), would have large consequences for the AI and AL


So the real question, an intrinsic question of the AI discussion is ­ if
computers are thinking, would they replace philosophers one day? Or even
those that would like to be philosophers.

It can be easily shown on the "Marxist turn", that base of this question was
political in terms of the political consistency, but as well ego-centered in
the branch of theorists. Today we are confronted with sadder, melancholic

"Yes, it can be a machine to replace a worker", Marxism of the sixties was
answering, organizing first symposiums on the machine intelligence in the
East Europe, but it suddenly gave up, as until it was about the average
intelligence of the mass, the answer was fine, but latter, it started to
concern philosophers, and many of them that wanted to be so. The other
reason that socialism felt (added to the one of the East and Waste topic of
designing of the rubbish) is ­ there were too many philosophers, and not too
many workers.

The vanity of discussion on machine among Marxists turned out to be similar
to the position of the Catholic Church deciding on abortion, while being
mostly man and homosexual.

As the "stealing place" problem of the thinking machine is crucial, I would
like, in the "real foundation of the metaphysics" question, with the rest of
my text approve that it is more payable to choose affirming AI, than denying
intelligence, in a form of Pascalıs bet.

But, first of all, some consolidation of the real-metaphysics question.

1. Carl Mitcham, Thinking through technology (The University of Chicago
Press, Chicago and London, 1994)
2. Android Epistemology edited by Kenneth M. Ford, Clark Glymour & Patrick
J. Hayes (AAAI Press/The MIT Press, Menlo Park, Cambridge, London, 1995)

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