Re: [-empyre-] Re: a-life intimacy / transpecies relations..

Dear Mitchell, Melinda, Paul, Mauro, Maria and Erwin and the vast empyre group consciousness, what fantastic and interesting questions and dialogue.  Thanks to all for your thoughts and philosophies. A few parting thoughts below:

>>Are we scared of the possibilities of a-life and emergence and
>>rationalising it to distance ourselves from it..? or are we embracing it,
>>can we humans cope with not being the centre and/or pinnacle of life in the
>>thanks for your thoughts so far
>This is really an interesting question which I repeat myself continuously without to be able to reach a stable answer.

This is a wonderful question and I believe we are very much ready and willing to embrace the kind of complex manifestations that are the result of a life programming and installations. I have often felt that nature has defined what is beautiful and complex and I do believe that there is a biological basis for beauty both in terms of how we receive the beauty and utilize natural systems as model.

I do get very excited and am fascinated with the recursive and generative patterns which emerge in Mauro's Contaminazione work. That my eyes cannot ever fully resolve their complexity keeps me transfixed and interested. I think nature has conditioned our seeing since we are biologically based.

In Paul's Chromos I have greatly admired the presentation and the geometric play which creates new form and suggests larger metaphorical issues but again, that out of simple linear and connection geometrics we are treated to a complex and unresolved series of connections, which for me really do suggest the kind of constituative dynamics of  complex forms which can arise from simple forms. Bottom up.

 In Maria's and Erwin's work that their Tickle creature is a kind of fusion of a strange biological tractor tread mixed with the mechanical form also interests me greatly..l suppose because it comes through the sensation of touch and direct experiential elements it creates a kind of fusion/symbiosis of desire for touch and stroking with our need for such. Skin has so many nerve endings and is so often ignored.

This sort of makes me think of a great article that was written by Machiko Kusahara. "The Art of Creating Subjective Reality: An Analysis of Japanese Digital Pets. Kusahara looked at the Sony Aibo and how the product was created for a younger market of consumers. What really ended up happening is that elderly woman in Japan became the primary purchasers of this product because somehow the laws of Japan forbid live animals in many apartments and there happens to be many elderly single woman who have desire for companionship. Honda's Asimo is another example of our excitement and willingness and curiosity to accept digital companions.

But we will also begin to see a new class of AI and AL robots which consume and start to fill niches of functionality. In the New Scientist Sept 2004 pg 19 a robot that is powered by digesting flies with microbial fuel cells is in development...but I must admit while I do admire my little robotic vacuum and am fascinated with it's negotiation of furniture legs I still find my rabbit Hoover infinitely more petable and certainly more complex.

>Especially in the installations, I try to use these two components of the human reaction in front of a-life entities: attraction and fear.
>The attraction seems connected especially to a sort of self-identification with anything is living: -the life is continuously search for the life-. Furthermore the evolution selects that organisms which are naturally inclined to the reproduction: - born to re-create life -.   In this sense, anything seems living immediately activates a process of empathy, attraction and protection.
>On the other hand, the same primitive instinct, tell us to evaluate the potential of danger in the "alien". Is it dangerous for us ?  is it a predator ?    The answer is quite simple with known living beings but what about unknown creatures ?.   In some sense this emotional situation recalls the unknown creatures populating our infancy or our ancestral dreams.

For me the materiality of the work can play a major role here. I wonder if the treads of  Tickle were black or red if that would imply danger? The white seems to imply friendliness.

>We cannot avoid these two instinctive reactions. But after a while our mind try to activate simulations for the future of this kind of creatures. Unlikely or Likely (?) we are full of catastrophic collective imaginary about wars between the human beings and aggressive robots. I could estimate about 99 % of movies/books on this topic are catastrophic. So before all, we should free our mind from this collective ancestral panic. With a free mental space we could take into account some different aspects.

I have often wondered myself why our culture is so obsessed with real and virtualized violence. I derive great pleasure in the peaceful and playful uses of technology that this group has manifested. As a culture I think we are still quite obsessed with Darwin's notions of survival of the fittest which seems to imply or be eaten..but these artists and their approaches point more to notions of symbiosis ...more akin to researchers like Lynn Margulis who point to the factors of symbiosis as a primary method of evolution.

>The idea that humans can "download" direct intelligence in a creature seems an utopia.

I agree. Many years off. Farther off than Morovic's predictions. Many of these ideas about the emergence of machine intelligence seem to forget including the trillions of cells that constitute our bodies and feed our minds experientially.

>A social evolutionary process is generally necessary to develop creatures with an intelligence able to constructively interrelate with humans.

Great thought.

>An evolutionary process it means a long process of co-evolution between human societies and robot societies. Necessarily they should live very close to us (at the extreme, they could life inside our bodies).

At OSU we have research into micromachines designed to deliver insulin for diabetics:

>In any case there is a very important factor to take into account: they live in our physical space, so this process is so long (centuries ?) that we will have time to co-evolve in a pacific way.
>By my point of view, this is not the real focus of the problem: the world of the intelligent robots is very far us. This is something emerging from our dreams but our reality is completely different. We have connected millions of computers and created the digital dimension. In the idea of Jack Monod ("Le hazard et la necessitè"), the appearance of a new media should corresponds to a new evolutionary jump. This jump will be the explosion of the digital life on the net (ten-twenty years ?).
>The digital life will be not confined in the net but it will be present everywhere in our home, office, car, dresses. Furthermore you should take into account that digital life can re-built an evolution similar to the humans in few computing months with impressively huge populations. So this my first conclusion: digital life is the real focus of the next alien intelligence.

I do agree here and I would add that until we can understand the thoughts of the flea, fly or the bat that they will also be seem as  alien intelligences.  I am recently quite excited by the notion of using statistical languages to decode the body languages and communication of cuttle fish.

>With digital life, we loss any possible reference. They don't have a body, they travel quickly from an extreme to the other of our planet. We cannot see, we are not sure they really exist.
>There is a great confusion about these common ideas.
>I appreciated a lot the text wrote from ken. I am fascinated by the poetic mixing of organic and robotic parts in Autopoiesis. Here I report a sentence of  this text.


>>Since we exist in physical space and do not question our state of "being
>>alive," it seemed logical that, in order for the works to have the aura of
>>"being alive," they needed to exist in physical space.
>The concept ken expresses for a artwork, normally is widely accepted by the community as a "condition for life". I would like launch new two questions for the list discussion:
>-        Have digital entities a body ?

 Certainly, virtualized AL creates artificial environments which allow complex evolution and these can be triggered by external stimulii but does the evolution change the physical form? Must the digital come into contact with with world of the physical for complex manifestations to arise?  I do not think it is absolutely necessary though Jordan Pollack and Hod Lipson's Golem project seems to have built a nice bridge between virtual evolution and a physical manifestation of that evolution.

>-        Is the body-mind distinction so critical as a condition for life ?
>I prefer does not give a general answer. I would speak about my experience.
>In my installations there are "digital entities". They have sensors in the "physical" human environment. They produce visual and acoustical actions that invade the "physical" world.
>They are "physically" located in the computer. Their action is a complex organization of the dynamics of changes between 0 and 1 in the memory cells. Similar to the consistence of my body that activates a complex signal dynamics in my neuronal synapses.  We have completely different bodies and media, but similarities in the evolving mechanisms. What I do, is to build "inter-media interfaces" which embody both physical and digital dimension (I call it "hybrid ecosystems" in Human-Artificial Ecosystems: Searching for a Language,  ) and "languages"  to communicate and manifest our reciprocal presence.
>So my second conclusion is that to find (prepare) a new relation between humans and intelligent (future) digital entities we have to reconsider these possibilities and destroy the last residuals of the mind-body dualism.

Yes I very much agree with this notion and if I may stretch it a bit more....our mind body dualism and the notion that somehow we are also separate from the living systems that surround and inhabit us. The bacterial life which we depend on to digest our food or protect our skin and the dynamics of the complex intertwining of all living systems with our planet may also be thought of as intelligent, evolutive, symbiotic and as an alien entity of some sort. The noetic networks (Roy Ascott) which we have created are also now fundamentally a part of that evolution and this has created another strange alien intelligence.

>We have to forget the idea that sw is the mind and hw is the body. This is an inheritance of the computational theory of the mind that we cannot solve in this simple black-white approach. More complex answers and languages are necessary to prepare the interrelation, like new inter-media interfaces, better comprehension of the difference between the conscious human mind and the unconscious digital mind, new inter-languages. At this moment all these concepts are still in embrional and emotional germination. Art could play the role of the ice breaker in the exploration of human/digital mind, society and intereelations.

thanks all,


>empyre forum

Ken Rinaldo
Associate Professor
Art & Technology
The Ohio State University
Columbus Ohio

614 292-5072

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