algorithm, apparatus of capture, authority, biopolitics, call for papers, code, control, cybernetics, desiring machines, einstein, ethics, humanity, language, media, metaphysics, technology

Thinking Cybernetics

(Matt Dixon)

Thinking Cybernetics:
Mapping the Intersections between Metaphysics, Technology, Biopolitics

(abstract for panel)

The purpose of this panel is to gather together ideas, perspectives, and questions from a diverse variety of thinkers and disciplines relating to the theory and practice of cybernetics. Our goal is to raise a series of critical questions concerning the intersection between biopolitics, metaphysics, and technology.

While each paper is devoted to a specific author or authors and is generally focused on a particular theme or aspect of cybernetics, all of us in some way are arguing for a larger transformation of philosophical, political, social, and technological categories. There are many urgent questions posed by cybernetics; and moreover, its development has so far tended to furnish many other fields of investigation with new tools for studying new problems. As St-Exupery wrote in 1939: “The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature, but plunges him more deeply into them.” What does philosophy have to tell us today about our relationship to technology? What does cybernetics imply for metaphysics, ethics and epistemology — or even for the future of writing?
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abstract machine, catastrophe, chaos, communication, conservatism, cybernetics, decentralization, derrida, distinction, exteriority, godel, humanity, machine, metaphysics, ontology, spencer-brown, spirit, writing

Deconstructing Cybernetics

Notes on Derrida and Cybernetics

Let us conjecture that the invention of the transistor — an auto-controllable circuit — indicates the attainment of a critical level of development in cybernetics, a “tipping point.” Then for writing the corresponding moment is the invention of the video camera, perhaps more precisely the photograph: now seeing is writing, literally marking. Visio-literature is the only kind that can ever exists for us today — even ancient literature is post-modern for 21st-century readers. We cannot simply forget the history of writing, which is also the history of humanity — a spirit which is more like a ghost successively inhabiting our bodies, then our writing-instruments, then our machines, and next…?

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automation, control, cybernetics, derrida, history, human, machine, metaphysics, nonhuman, system

Systems of Control: Derrida and Machines

(notes for an abstract)

If the theory of cybernetics is by itself to oust all metaphysical concepts — including the concepts of soul, of life, of value, of choice, of memory — which until recently served to separate the machine from man, it must conserve the notion of writing, trace, written mark, or grapheme, until its own historico-metaphysical character is also exposed.

[…[E]ven before being determined as human… or nonhuman, the gramme — or the grapheme — would thus name the element. An element without simplicity. An element, whether it is understood as the medium or irreducible atom, of the arche-synthesis in general, of what one must forbid oneself to define within the system of oppositions in metaphysics, of what consequently one should not even call experience in general, that is to say the origin of meaning in general.]

(Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology 9)

Norbert Weiner introduced the neologism ‘cybernetics’ — in connection with the ancient Greek root meaning ‘governance’ — to denote a new science of systems of control. Cybernetics studies real complex systems and their automatic management, but it is also a rigorous science of energetics and pure information. The most essential expression of cybernetics itself and its own working ontology can perhaps be traced to Von Neumann, who conceived of a swarm of networked machines which could also function together as a kind of generic factory, and so would be able to reproduce all of its own component elements (and hence itself.) In this image we perhaps witness a glimpse of an “adult” cybernetics — the closure of metaphysics, the end of writing, the convergence of biology and cybernetics — a “transubstantiation” of flesh into the virtual.

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actualization, artificial intelligence, behavior, being, cinema, cybernetics, drama, existence, image, interactivity, interface, language, one, reverie, story, theory

Literary Machines: Between Drama and Artificial Intelligence


Insofar as it tends towards a studied negation (or counter-actualization) of our numb existence, endlessly dramatizing the existential narrative of escape, contemporary cinema conveys an intense and disturbing truth about modern reality. It is not just the easy and everyday dissociation that life is a movie, but more surprisingly, that movies have become indistinguishable from our real lives. Drama is not merely a terrifying absence, simply the dissolution of the synchrony of the One, but an enigma even more puzzling still– the cinematographic interface is already an incontrovertible diachrony, a renegade communication across an abyss of broken myth. Cinema: the art of time turned in upon itself. The surface story splits the world in Two, by drawing a sacred circle (or rectangle) in which larval intensities can escape from their segmented order of time (or space.) Images transcend history.

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algorithm, complexity, computation, consciousness, cybernetics, deduction, emil post, godel, hologram, hooft, information, information processing, laws of form, physics, psychoanalysis, quantum gravity, spencer-brown, string theory, structure, Turing, wolfram

Universal Computation and The Laws of Form

Remarks on Turing and Spencer-Brown

(Joseph Weissman)

Introduction

Computation is holographic. Information processing is a formal operation made abstract only by a reduction in the number of free variables, a projective recording which analyzes from all angles the entropy or information contained in the space. Thus, basing my results partly on Hooft’s holographic conjecture for physics (regarding the equivalence of string theory and quantum theory,) and by extending Spencer-Brown’s work on algebras of distinction (developed in his Laws of Form,) I will sketch the outlines of a new theory of universal computation, based not on system-cybernetic models but on holographic transformations (encoding and projection, or more precisely, fractal differentiation and homogeneous integration.)

Hooft’s conjecture allows us to extend the Laws of Form with an “interface” model where computation doesn’t require an observer, only the potentiality of being observed. In other words, all we need is the construction of a interface (positive feedback system, i.e., an iterative calculation or mutual holographic projection) in order to process information. Light itself can be thought of as encoding information, and in particular, electromagnetic waves form a necessary part of holographically recorded information. In other words, to operate in a formal system is to derive information only from interfaces, simpler than but in some way equivalent to the “real” objects.
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biology, crystal, cybernetics, form, individuation, knowledge, machine, physics, psychology, Science / Mathematics / Technology, Simondon, structure, technology, tension

Simondon and the Machine: Technology, Individuation, Reality

Fractal Effervescence (2006), David April

 

Simondon and the Theory of Individuation

There is something eternal in a technical scheme… and it is that which is always present, and can be conserved in a thing.

Gilbert Simondon

Gilbert Simondon’s reformulation of information theory on the basis of a new philosophy of technology has, in comparison to earlier attempts, at least the following major advantages to its credit:

His thought introduces us to an entirely new way of understanding technology. His earliest work investigates the intrinsic nature of the machine. He asks about the conditions of the genesis of machines in the world, the essential nature of their concrescence from an abstract model.

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abstract machine, biology, cybernetics, form, information, model, ontology, structure, system, theory

Machinic Autopoesis

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Process

In Mechanism and Biological Explanation [Maturana 1970], Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela argue that machines and biological forms are very closely related — so closely, in fact, that biologists can reasonably claim living systems are machines. This is not meant merely as a pedagogical metaphor, but rather as a rigorous analogy, which emphasizes important symmetries, and even better, expresses concisely specific experimental and theoretical aims. In what sense, then, are living systems machines?

A machine is defined by a group of abstract operations, satisfying certain specific conditions. An abstract machine is this system of inter-relations which is itself independent of the actual components which ‘realize’ the machine. A fishing boat can be made from many kinds of wood, sailed on many bodies of water, used to store many species of fish; a game of tag can be played with an arbitrary number of arbitrary people in any suitable space. What matters is not the specificity of a given component but the specificity of its relationships. We can define living systems as specific groups of components and their inter-relations, according to both abstract structure and specific functionalities. But insofar as we are only considering their structure, living beings are isomorphic to collections of finite groups of abstract machines: biology considers micro- and macro-structure, whereas systems theory studies inter- and intra-relations.
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