[-empyre-] Resistance is Futile :)

Simon Biggs simon at littlepig.org.uk
Wed Jul 3 13:36:22 EST 2013


The questions posed in the blog you reference are salient to our discussion, so I'll take the liberty of pasting them here (author: Michael Sacasas)

What is a Borg Complex?

A Borg Complex is exhibited by writers and pundits who explicitly assert or implicitly assume that resistance to technology is futile. The name is derived from the Borg, a cybernetic alien race in the Star Trek universe that announces to their victims some variation of the following: “We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile.”

What are some other symptoms of a Borg Complex?
1. Makes grandiose, but unsupported claims for technology

Of MOOCs: “Nothing has more potential to lift more people out of poverty — by providing them an affordable education to get a job or improve in the job they have. Nothing has more potential to unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems.”

2. Uses the term Luddite a-historically and as a casual slur

”But [P2P apps are] considerably less popular among city regulators, whose reactions recall Ned Ludd’s response to the automated loom.”

3. Pays lip service to, but ultimately dismisses genuine concerns

“This is going to add a huge amount of new kinds of risks. But as a species, we simply must take these risks, to continue advancing, to use all available resources to their maximum.”

4. Equates resistance or caution to reactionary nostalgia

“There’s no reason to cling to our old ways. It’s time to ask: What can science learn from Google?”

5. Starkly and matter-of-factly frames the case for assimilation

“There is a new world unfolding and everyone will have to adapt.”

6. Announces the bleak future for those who refuse to assimilate

“Technology can greatly enhance religious practice. Groups that restrict and fear it participate in their own demise.”

7. Expresses contemptuous disregard for past cultural achievements

“I don’t really give a shit if literary novels go away.”

8. Refers to historical antecedents solely to dismiss present concerns

“… the novel as we know it today is only a 200-year-old construct. And now we’re getting new forms of entertainment, new forms of popular culture.”

best

Simon


On 3 Jul 2013, at 02:29, David Golumbia <dgolumbia at gmail.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> 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
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
>> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> 
> 
> -- 
> 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.php
> http://ssrn.com/author=519293
> 
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> 
> 
> 
> -- 
> David Golumbia
> dgolumbia at gmail.com
> _______________________________________________
> 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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