[-empyre-] Resistance is Futile :)

David Golumbia dgolumbia at gmail.com
Wed Jul 3 11:29:00 EST 2013

exclusively re: "resistance is futile" with regard to advancing technology,
see http://thefrailestthing.com/2013/03/01/borg-complex-a-primer/

On Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 10:13 AM, Christina Spiesel <
christina.spiesel at yale.edu> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>  Dear All,
> Two problems:  1) Big data is full of junk data because it is just
> scooped. The assumption is that the junk will just become noise. Does
> anyone know if that's ever been tested? 2) Big data reports trends or data
> on individual phenomena, data on persons.  So on the one hand we have a
> portrait of humans dominated by the statistical person which can say
> nothing of use about an individual. When it reports trends, individual
> variation is dropped out. When big data  reports a collection of stuff
> affiliated say with an email address, meaning made out of that collection
> of stuff is subject to all kinds of misinterpretation because the context
> for any one bit of information is lost and yet one bit of information or
> another may be endowed with "meaning" by the viewer of the data. She *read
> * that book? Must mean....A lot of humans seem to be concrete thinkers
> around the meaning of things and there is a lingering fantasy that because
> we can be impressed powerfully, we are literally impressed by things we
> see, rather like a new version of the old idea that pregnant ladies should
> only look on beautiful things to avoid having an ugly child.
> Two more problems: 1) To borrow a thought from a terrific book (Jan
> Lauwereyns' *Brain and the Gaze: On the Active Boundaries of Vision*)****, our visual systems are "meaning making machines" and to understand them,
> we have to understand both the brain and the gaze, and so the problem of
> the subjectivity of the observer is always in play. This is an argument for
> the whole mind, not just a particular function of it, imho, but to tell the
> truth, I'm not finished with the book yet. 2) Our brains, just like our
> statistics, drop information in order to clarify. So like "junk" DNA, we
> are discovering that what is dropped is often more important than we
> imagined at first.
> I am a bit agnostic over the question of whether and how our brains are
> changing. The more I read history, the more I am discouraged by the thought
> that little has changed. But for survival, we have to do a better job of
> projecting into the future, need to learn to envision a longer term than we
> have been doing. Would pulling the past along with us a little more help or
> hinder?  Does everyone need to learn more biology (to climb out of a
> physics machine model) and semiotics?
> My best,
> Christina
> On 7/2/2013 8:13 AM, Simon Biggs wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hi Terry
>  Some very interesting and nuanced ideas here. Where is thought? Where is
> mind? Where is the voice in our heads we often characterise as thinking?
> What other forms might thinking/thought assume, especially in a
> technological society? How can we, in this context, avoid a dualist
> dead-end? Contested territory.
>  Philosophers like Andy Clark might propose that mind and cognition are
> not functions of the individual sentient being but a networked and extended
> process that engages multiple agents - not just people but technical and
> other systems. Sue Hawksley (another of this month's discussants) undertook
> her PhD supervised by Andy and she might wish to comment on this. Bruno
> Latour's work on on inter-agency is highly salient here.
>  James Leach, an anthropologist who was a guest on empyre about a year
> ago, might propose that mind is not a property of the individual but a
> negotiated collective (social) state from which we individually emerge
> (although in his thinking the notion of the individual is likely
> problematic). In this context the individual mind/self/internal-voice
> emerges from a complexity of voices that situate themselves through various
> performative activities.
>  Big Data could be considered in these terms - a sort of dark matter that
> permeates what we recognise as knowledge - that which we can articulate as
> a shared understanding of things. How does Big Data, as a form of
> collective pre-knowledge, relate to our perception of things and sense of
> self in a technologised society? Returning to Latour, how might his
> insights into scientific practices interact with Leach's ideas concerning
> the social performance of the self? More generally, how might we consider
> these questions in relation to networked social media, where many of these
> processes can be seen played out?
>  I fear you will read what I've written here and think it is of an ilk
> you might consider as an "obsessive compulsive rehearsing of highly
> stratified bureaucratic cataloguing of meaning". It might well be. If so
> then I'd be especially interested in your thoughts.
>  best
>  Simon
>   On 2 Jul 2013, at 08:36, Terry Flaxton <Terry.Flaxton at uwe.ac.uk> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> I'm not sure how the list works but I offer what follows as a provocation
> for discussion:
>  I sat through ISEA, as with many other conferences and for a long time
> an idea has been growing in me that challenges what I've been hearing: I *
> feel* that theoretical constructs *alone* are without worth. Put another
> way: The end of theory is nigh.
>  Take a construct like that of 'Big Data' where we now have accepted an
> idea that there are trawling algorithms that can find sufficient meaning to
> agglomerate a conclusion from our collective behaviour both online and via
> social media. But this is a narrative construct about one behaviour that
> has *appeared* to have been successful. Whether it is really successful
> is another thing.
>  Big Data, if it exists, is a consequence of two things:
> Industrialisation of repetitive tasks and the tendency of the Western Mind
> to require a *particular* kind of answer. The 'repetitive tasks' in this
> case are the so called democratic free thoughts of earths individuals -
> thinking as if freely and yet constrained by an obsessive compulsive
> rehearsing of received thinking. I'm not sure whether the Eastern Mind is
> susceptible to the same level by left brain dominant thinking - I suspect
> though, that this is also the case.
>  ...But Big Data does not exist. It is a fairy tale for consumption.
>  A cognitive approximation of hope and fear distributed within a
> fairy-tale mime.
>  Theory, or the obsessive compulsive rehearsing of highly stratified
> bureaucratic cataloguing of meaning, by the societal grouping known as *
> academia* (and associated groupings)*, *is now dead.
> Here are my reasons for *thinking* this:
> For several million years the human project has advanced its requirement
> to export memory and knowledge outside of itself, beyond the material, into
> its exogramatic form, data.
> Prior cognitive distributive networks are reconfiguring to enable this
> development to engage in valuable exchange, but the 'language' that has
> served us well previously, is no longer fit for task and is currently
> responsible for remediating the vista before us – the consequence is that
> the landscape we view seems to appear as one thing, but is in fact
> something else altogether.
> Effectively our thinking minds are getting in the way.
> New 'language' is developing but due to an increased velocitisation of
> human experience language is lagging behind neural developments - the
> reason being, theoretic language per se developed from the needs of the
> prior paradigm and is of a ratiocinatory bureaucratic construction. Using
> it to describe something that is beyond its nature renders it inherently
> reductionist.
> We now need to conceptualise new forms of communication to suit and be
> relevant to the paradigmatic changes within cognitive distributive networks
> – Fortunately for us, Art is the primary vessel for this communication.
> Unfortunately for us, current artistic behaviour is rehearsing past and
> increasingly irrelevant concerns.
> In developing an appropriate response to the nature of the incoming
> paradigm, we need to *cognate* beyond the kinds of thought we have known
> until now - we need to create new behaviours that utilise our next
> developmental stage of mind, which uses entrainment rather than
> ratiocinatory, rehearsed frontal lobe behaviour, as its primary form.
>  …So I've stayed away from the analogue based theoretical language of the
> last 70 years because that use of language compromises the possible
> changes. Given my proposition, ratiocination is the 'worry-beads' of the
> mind, but entrainment is a possible way of leading towards a way in which
> the human psyche can now begin to respond. There’s nothing wrong with the
> thinking mind – in its place - which is to follow, rather than lead human
> cognition.
> The thinking mind takes its lead from the deep cognitive mind.
> Between the two is the intermediary state, which used to be described as
> intuition. It processed deep cognition and rendered it understandable to
> the thinking mind - intuition in gnostic circles was known as inward
> teaching, where the thinking mind was 'instructed' in its duties. Now
> intuition is simply *the intermediary process - *because our late
> Enlightenment thinking requires demystification. But demystification
> empowers thinking and disempowers intuitive cognition.
> This description is another fairy tale - but:
> Becoming sensitive to the production of this mechanism is the primary
> behaviour required for understanding the incoming paradigm - and
> resistance, in this particular case, is futile.
> Terry Flaxton
> Professor of Cinematography and Lens Based Media
> University of West of England
>  http://www.visualfields.co.uk/flaxtonpage1.htm
>   _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> Simon Biggs
> simon at littlepig.org.uk
> http://www.littlepig.org.uk @SimonBiggsUK
> http://amazon.com/author/simonbiggs
> s.biggs at ed.ac.uk Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
> http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/edinburgh-college-art/school-of-art/staff/staff?person_id=182&cw_xml=profile.php
> http://www.research.ed.ac.uk/portal/en/persons/simon-biggs%285dfcaf34-56b1-4452-9100-aaab96935e31%29.html
> http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/  http://www.elmcip.net/
> http://www.movingtargets.org.uk/  http://designinaction.com/
> MSc by Research in Interdisciplinary Creative Practices
> http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees?id=656&cw_xml=details.php
> _______________________________________________
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> --
> Faculty homepage: http://www.law.yale.edu/faculty/CSpiesel.htm
> Book: http://www.lawondisplay.fromthesquare.org
> Publications available on-line:
> "More Than a Thousand Words in Response to Rebecca Tushnet"
>  http://www.harvardlawreview.org/issues/125/january12/forum_798.phphttp://ssrn.com/author=519293
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David Golumbia
dgolumbia at gmail.com
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