Gilles Deleuze: Strata as Acts of Capture – Event, History, and Freedom

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Today I read an interesting tale by Dale Bailey in his short story collection The Resurrection Man’s Legacy: And Other Stories introduced by Barry Malzburg; another science fiction writer I’ve always admired. The story in question takes the first part of that title and feeds into our feelings of death, loss, and the subtleties of the in between – the uncanny machines that can capture our desires or release them into life. As the young man recollecting the story tells us early on:

I am reminded of this now, for recollection, like archaeology, is a matter of sifting through ruins. Memory is frail and untrustworthy, tainted by desire; what evidence remains is fragmentary, shrouded in the mystery of the irretrievable past. You cannot recover history; you can only reconstruct it, build it anew from the shards that have survived, searching always for the seams between the strata, those places of demarcation between the city that was and the city that would be, between the self that you were and the self you have become.1

I want spoil the story which is about a young boy facing death and possibility, caught between the real past of his father’s death, and the present semblance of an android copy of his father. It’s much more than this too, a fable about control, the rights of robots: the control over our future creations, our ability to erase them, to wipe their minds blank when we’re done with them. A tale that makes you think through just what is it we want from these human like golems and homunculi we are creating as companion species. But I’ll leave the reader to ponder these ethical dilemmas.

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Théophile Gautier: Posthuman Decadence and the Philosophy of Closure

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…where is the image for longing? – A.R. Ammons

“Travel is perhaps a dangerous element to introduce into your life, for if some circumstance or duty prevents you from leaving, it profoundly disturbs you and causes distress like that of birds of passage held prisoner at the time of their migration. You realize that you will expose yourself to fatigue, deprivation, boredom, and danger even, and that you must bear the cost of renouncing fond habits of body and soul, leaving behind your family, friends, and relations for the unknown.”1

This sense of leaving the known for the unknown is at the heart of decadence and closure, a need to close one circle while opening another into the unexpected and the new – an exoticism of the eye that seeks in the other nothing more nor less than the pure art object. Théophile Gautier whose theory of “l”art pour l”art”, art for art’s sake would subtract itself from the utilitarian philosophies of the bourgeoisie for a more subtle and colorful, sensual exoticism of the eye – provide a seeing that would float upon the surface of things like a desiring machine whose longing was to discover the image of its own unquenched fires.

The style of decadence for Gautier was none other than “Art arrived at that point of extreme maturity that determines civilizations which have grown old; ingenious, complicated, clever, full of delicate hints and refinements, gathering all the delicacies of speech, borrowing from technical vocabularies, taking color from every palette, tones from all musical instruments, contours vague and fleeting, listening to translate subtle confidences, confessions of depraved passions, and the odd hallucinations of a fixed idea turning to madness.”

This was the style which a decadent would use to summon the extreme motion of life, through a “language already veined with the greenness of decomposition, savoring of the Lower Roman Empire and the complicated refinements of the Byzantine School and the last form of Greek Art fallen into deliquescence; but such is the necessary and fatal idiom of peoples and civilizations where an artificial life has replaced a natural one and developed in a person who does not know his own needs. Contrary to classical style, it admits of backgrounds where the specters of superstition, the haggard phantoms of dreams, the terrors of night, remorse which leaps out and falls back noiselessly, obscure fantasies that astonish the day, and all the soul in its deepest depths and innermost caverns conceals the darkness, deformity, and horror, move together nervously.”

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Camille Paglia will tell us that Gautier looks forward to the posthuman or even inhuman art of the future synthetic being. “It looks forward to modern avant-garde narrative, where it is quite permissible and even desirable for nothing whatever to happen. But we sense in Gautier the cold immobility of the object so meticulously dissected, as if by autopsy. Since he dwells so much on the external, there is no one to identify with. The treatment of persons as art objects is present as an ambition in Maupin but is not technically realized until A Night with Cleopatra. (p. 418).” This sense of the android, the robot, the golem and art object that we see in many Japanese Geminoids was first described in this decadent immersion of the human as art object.

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This history of manufactured beings has yet to be written in full details, but from Paglia we see the first entry of the hermaphrodite, the android, the sexless being whose allure and double articulation as a machine made of synthetic materials begins with the bust of Nefertiti:

The proper response to the Nefertiti bust is fear. The queen is an android, a manufactured being. She is a new gorgoneion, a “bodiless head of fright.” She is paralyzed and paralyzing. Like enthroned Chephren, Nefertiti is suave, urbane. She gazes toward the far distance, seeing what is best for her people. But her eyes, with their catlike rim of kohl, are cold. She is self-divinized authority. Art shows Akhenaten half-feminine, his limbs shrunken and belly bulging, possibly from birth defect or disease. This portrait shows his queen half-masculine, a vampire of political will. Her seductive force both lures in and warns away. She is western personality barricaded behind its aching, icy line of Apollonian identity.  (pp. 68-69).

The android as Hermaphrodite, an “ardent chimera” or “charming monster” of “accursed beauty,” that is both provocative and reclusive, it is a ritual cult-object to which gifts are brought. The Hermaphrodite is separated from society and nature. It is a Late Romantic freak, symbol of the impossible. “Dream of poet and artist,” “supreme effort of art and pleasure,” it is an artificial sex. Its “multiple beauty” unites the art object’s sexual duality with the multiplicity of response art generates in its audience. (p. 413).

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Ioan P. Couliano: The Glass Bead Game and Reality Engineering

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A game fascinates the human mind because the mind recognizes in it its own functioning… – Ioan P. Couliano

Ioan Petru Culianu or Couliano (5 January 1950 – 21 May 1991) was a Romanian historian of religion, culture, and ideas, a philosopher and political essayist, and a short story writer. He served as professor of the history of religions at the University of Chicago from 1988 to his death, and had previously taught the history of Romanian culture at the University of Groningen.

An expert in gnosticism and Renaissance magic, he was encouraged and befriended by Mircea Eliade, though he gradually distanced himself from his mentor. Culianu published seminal work on the interrelation of the occult, Eros, magic, physics, and history.

Culianu was murdered in 1991. It has been much speculated his murder was in consequence of his critical view of Romanian national politics. Some factions of the Romanian political right openly celebrated his murder. The Romanian Securitate, which he once lambasted as a force “of epochal stupidity”, has also been suspected of involvement and of using puppet fronts on the right as cover.

The Game of the mind

The first book I ever read by Couliano was Eros and Magic in the Renaissance which dealt with the underpinnings of political manipulation. He would explore renaissance magic which he showed was a scientifically plausible attempt to manipulate individuals and groups based on a knowledge of motivations, particularly erotic motivations. Its key principle was that everyone (and in a sense everything) could be influenced by appeal to sexual desire. In addition, the magician relied on a profound knowledge of the art of memory to manipulate the imaginations of his subjects. In these respects, Couliano suggests, magic is the precursor of the modern psychological and sociological sciences, and the magician is the distant ancestor of the psychoanalyst and the advertising and publicity agent.

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Singapore: The Rational Society as Technocracy

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Human beings, regrettable though it may be, are inherently vicious and have to be restrained from their viciousness.’ –  Lee Kuan Yew

In a recent post Nick Land refers to an old essay by William Gibson Disneyland with the Death Penalty (1993) about the absolute rational society of Singapore, a technocratic City State transformed under the direction of Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first premier. As one commentator tells us it was Yew’s unique destiny to construct a rational society, whose guiding vision was of a state that would not simply survive, but prevail by excelling. Superior intelligence, discipline, and ingenuity would substitute for resources. He summoned his compatriots to a duty that they had never previously perceived: first to clean up their city, then to dedicate it to overcome the initial hostility of their neighbors and their own ethnic divisions by superior performance.1

One could say that Singapore is the first City based on incentives and performativity, what many might say as the Intelligent or Smart City of the future. Rational choice theory, also known as choice theory or rational action theory, advocated a framework for understanding and often formally modeling social and economic behavior. The basic premise of rational choice theory is that aggregate social behavior results from the behavior of individual actors, each of whom is making their individual decisions. The theory therefore focuses on the determinants of the individual choices. In Yew’s society performance, realism, and pragmatism bound to efficiency and optimization would be the hallmarks of the new technocracy.

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Richard Calder: Dead Girls – The Deco-Punk City; Kathe Koja – Voice of our Hour

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Richard Calder

I couldn’t resist quoting a passage from Richard Calder’s trilogy Dead Girls, Dead Boys, Dead Things:

“This was an art nouveau city, a deco city, its sinewy, undulating lines and geometric chic copied from the fashions of the aube du millénaire and imposed on the slums of its twentieth-century inheritance and the sublimities of the past. Again, the pall of greenness descended, a peasouper, a gangrenous membrane, a steamy decay of tropical night. Monorails, skywalks, with their hoards of winepressed humanity, passed above us; autogyros too, with their fat-cat cargoes, hovering above the city’s stagnant pools like steel-hulled dragonflies. Once more, the lightning, and the rain began, coagulating the green tint of the night so that we seemed to be moving through an ocean’s depths. Green was that year’s colour; green, the colour of perversity; a green luminous as a certain pair of eyes.”

Calder heavily influenced by the symbolists and French decadents writes biopunk, or post-cyberpunk fiction that brings back the rich detail of decadent overlays, but with that eye for the streamlined functionalism of the modern turn toward artifice and art deco’s elaborations and motifs. If you’ve not read his work it’s a definite great choice for the linguistic power alone.

Kathe Koja

Under the Poppy: a novel among her other achievements is an exploration of that sensual darkness of the body and mind few of us understand much less wish to visit. A parable set in Victorian England, her deft handling of sex and violence, the dark erotic heart of love is superb and carefully gathers the threads of the decadents motifs into a keening as clear as it is subtle. She’s one of those writers either you love or hate. For me the decadents and symbolists always held a fond place. The closure of a world upon itself in its turn toward the dark frontiers of the heart through forms of perversity will always awaken our imaginations. Most of the time we want to stand in the sunlight like gods without a body, but then it comes back: I, do, after all have a body… and, it knows things I do not know with my conscious being. I still think Camille Paglia in her Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson captured the uniqueness of this darker erotic element in literature. 

With books like the Cipher, about a black hole that transforms one into otherness… In Skin she explores the performance art scene, artistic vision evolves into dementia… Bad Brains in which an artist suffers strange and powerful hallucinations and seizures, during which he sees and tastes things of the world in new ways and relations. Koja is a niche writer, a decadent with a dark bent and delivery. Not for everyone. But for those who know she, too, is a member of the strange club of the dark erotic that blends the fantastic and the real in disturbing ways that awaken you from your death-in-Life.

Nick Land: Teleology, Capitalism, and Artificial Intelligence

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There’s only really been one question, to be honest, that has guided everything I’ve been interested in for the last twenty years, which is: the teleological identity of capitalism and artificial intelligence. – Nick Land

The notion of capitalism as an alien intelligence, an artificial and inhuman machinic system with its own agenda that has used humans as its prosthesis for hundreds of years to attain its own ends is at the core of Land’s base materialism. His notions of temporality, causation, and subjectivation were always there in his basic conceptuality if one knew how to read him.

As I suggested in another post notions of time will serve as a leit-motif throughout Land’s writings. In his early The Thirst for Annihilation he will explore time’s dark secrets. It was here that he began developing his early notions of technomic time etc. He reminds us that every civilization “aspires to a transcendent Aeon in which to deposit the functional apparatus of chronos without fear of decay”.2 The point of this for Land is that civilization is a machine constructed to stop time’s progress toward terminal decay and death, entropy. “‘Civilization’ is the name we give to this process, a process turned against the total social calamity – the cosmic sickness – inherent to process as such” (97). This notion that civilization is an engine to stave off the effects of entropy, to embalm time in an absolute medium of synchronic plenitude and cyclicity (i.e., Nietzsche’s “eternal recurrence” theme) will return in his latest book Templexity: Disordered Loops through Shanghai Time as he describes the impact of civilization and the culture of modernity:

As its culture folds back upon itself, it proliferates self-referential models of a cybernetic type, attentive to feedback-sensitive self-stimulating or auto-catalytic systems. The greater the progressive impetus, the more insistently cyclicity returns. To accelerate beyond light-speed is to reverse the direction of time. Eventually, in science fiction , modernity completes its process of theological revisionism, by rediscovering eschatological culmination in the time-loop.3

This notion of time-reversibility has taken on new meaning with those working with Quantum Computers. As Hugo de Garis suggests if computing technology continues to use its traditional irreversible computational style, the heat generated in atomic scale circuits will be so great, they will explode, so a reversible, information preserving, computing style will be needed, usually called “reversible computing”, that does not generate heat, hence will allow 3D computing, and no limit to size. Artilects can become the size of asteroids, kilometers across, with vast computing capacities. (see The Coming Artilect War)

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Ars Erotica: The Lost Art of the Love

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The most important elements of an erotic art linked to our knowledge about sexuality are not to be sought in the ideal, promised to us by medicine, of a healthy sexuality, nor in the humanist dream of a complete and flourishing sexuality, and certainly not in the lyricism of orgasm and the good feelings of bio-energy (these are but aspects of its normalizing utilization), but in this multiplication and intensification of pleasures connected to the production of the truth about sex. The learned volumes, written and read; the consultations and examinations; the anguish of answering questions and the delights of having one’s words interpreted; all the stories told oneself and to others, so much curiosity, so many confidences offered in the face of scandal, sustained – but not without trembling a little – by the obligation of truth; the profusion of secret fantasies and the dearly paid right to whisper them to whoever is able to hear them; in short, the formidable ‘pleasure of analysis’ (in the widest sense of the latter term) which the West has been cleverly fostering for several centuries: all this constitutes something like the errant fragments of an erotic art that is secretly transmitted by confession and the science of sex. Must we conclude that our scientia sexualis is but an extraordinarily subtle form of ars erotica, and that it is the Western, sublimated version of that seemingly lost tradition?

—Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality

Into the Mystic: Capitalism and the Structuralization of Spirituality

Edmund Berger gives us a secret history of our information processing era and how the corporatocracy has at each stage been able to reincorporate the negative and opposing shifts of the Left into its ongoing initiatives. His knowledge of this era is unique and details out in this one post a part of his ongoing project. A must read for those who want to know the secret history of capitalism during the twentieth century…

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In his fantastic book The Closed World: Computers and the Politics of Discourse in Cold War America, Paul N. Edwards forwards a quasi-literary reading of the way power and subjectivity operate in the age of the computer, focusing primarily on the lineage running from the Vannevar Bush’s  Office of Scientific Research and Development (OSRD) to the birth of cybernetics and their proliferation during the Macy Conferences to the electronic battlefields of Vietnam, and, finally, to the Reagan administration’s Strategic Defense Initiative – the “Star Wars” program that propelled the growth of Silicon Valley and its corollary Californian Ideology, as well as the globalization of information technology across the 1990s. For Edwards the collision of massive government subsidies and steering of computer research and the geopolitical imperatives of the Cold War – dressed in the rhetoric of “containment” – produced the metaphoric construct for which the book is titled: the…

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Machine Learning: Pattern Recognition and Predictive Behavior

Connection between human and the virtual world

Jobs and robots

One report recently suggest that machine learning and new AI personal assistants will cost 7% job loss in the U.S. market alone over the next 10 years. According to Forrester, 16 per cent of US jobs will be lost in the U.S. over the next decade as the result of the rise of artificial intelligence and technology, although it also believes that 13.6 million jobs will be created during that time due to the trend.

The Future of Jobs, 2025: Working Side by Side with Robots” has been written by J.P Gownder, vice president and principal analyst serving Infrastructure & Operations Professionals for Forrester, who is attempted to dispel the often quoted statistic study from Oxford academics Fry and Osborne that found that almost half (47 per cent) of US jobs would be exposed to job losses from computerisation.

Gownder wrote in a blog about the study; “Cultural anxieties about robots (as seen in the novel Robopocalypse, or the Battlestar Galatica reboot) create an atmosphere in which people readily believe the worst case scenario. But the scariest numbers have the least specific timeframes and outcomes associated with them; even Frey and Osborne write of their estimate that at-risk jobs are merely ‘potentially automatable’ (emphasis mine) and that their timeframe is ‘over some unspecified number of years, perhaps a decade or two.’ And aggregate economic productivity numbers don’t suggest that automation is moving the needle toward human redundancy.”

Predictive Pattern recognition and fashion markets

In a report by Amir Mizroch on Digits that Amazon is once again expanding its Big Data initiative. This time their rolling out its sophisticated big-data-crunching platform for developers in Europe, and is also hiring scientists for its research teams in New York and Berlin who specialize in getting machines to do things like make sales predictions and predict fraud.

“Machine-learning software predicts what a customer is likely to do in the next five seconds or in the next five weeks. It’s pattern recognition at scale,” said Ralf Herbrich, European Union director of machine learning at Amazon and managing director of the Amazon Development Center in Germany. Herbrich previously worked at Microsoft Research and Facebook, showing how AI experts are in high demand at global tech firms.

What’s happening is the infiltration of AI Platforms for commercial use in a global corporate market that Amazon is planning to monopolize if they can. As they describe it their new platform of machine learning algorithms offers a “set of visualization tools and wizards that allow nontechnical users to create predictions based on their businesses’ historical data.”

Aliyun, the cloud computing unit of Alibaba Group, is launching an artificial intelligence service that it claims is the first in China. Called DT PAI, the platform combines algorithms used by Alibaba with machine and deep learning techniques and presents them in a simple drag-and-drop interface. Aliyun says developers can use DT PAI to predict user behavior without having to write new code.

The platform’s applications, however, go beyond e-commerce. For example, genomic research institute BGI used it in 2013 to sequence genes more quickly. ODPS has also been used to track weather patterns and pharmaceutical drugs sold in China.

“In the past, the field of artificial intelligence was only open to a very small number of qualified developers and required the use of specialized tools. Such an approach was prone to error and redundancy,” said Aliyun senior product expert Xiao Wei in a press release. “However, DT PAI allows developers with little or no experience in the field to construct a data application from scratch in a much shorter period of time. What used to take days can be completed within minutes.”

The moment that nontechnical users such as mid-level management, stock brokers, sales execs, specialized scientists, schools, civic governments, military and NSA analysts etc. can have their executives use such platforms we’re going to see a great intake of revenue to drive further and further exponential economics into this niche market. Whether we like it or not what’s driving technology as it always has is economics. If AI emerges out of this it will be due to this influx of the market driven economy not the academic and scientific treadmill of disinterested knowledge. Today technology and its innovation is coming out of the private corporate competitive systems of capitalism. Companies like Amazon or collaborates for DARPA systems. The government is aligned with big corporate systems for their war-machine and other technological initiatives.

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Neuroscience of Memory Erasure: The Ethics of Mindswipe

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One of main themes I’ve been working with in my near future novel is with the ethical dilemmas of memory erasure, or what I’ll term “mindwipe”. As a science fiction motif this has been around for ages. But we starting to see the edges of it entering actual scientific regions of knowledge and testability. Not only that but the notion of neural implants, and transplanted or false memories, etc. All these technologies come with a price as they always have. They can be used for good or ill. War or peace. That’s the dilemma.

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New Wattpad Site Set Up for Quantum Lives: Tales of Undercity

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Just got my Wattpad Site and will be using that as my platform for publishing and writing with community feedback, etc. I noticed authors like Cory Doctorow (Homeland), Scott Westerfield (Uglies) and many other current YA and Dystopian writers use the system effectively.

Updating weekly: https://www.wattpad.com/user/alien_ecologies

Quantum Lives: Tales of Undercity

Set in the Consilience an InfoSpheric Assemblage of data and natural worlds enclosed in the Global System somewhere in the early 22nd Century. The opening tale is within the enclaves of Undercity where we discover  Precarity Jones and her sidekicks, a group of latter day corporate hackers and fixers after the Global Meltdown and the period of the Great Transition, where the virtual and the actual no longer have boundaries between them and a post-Singularity Civilization arises amid the ruins of a failing and dying world of capitalism.

This is the beginning of the Quantum Lives Trilogy that will delve into the sociology, politics, science, and transformational processes of our near future singularity. A posthuman future where human and machine meet in the Mechanosphere of a mutation of civilization unlike any before seen.

I’ll be using the underpinning notion of the ‘holographic principle,’ the idea that a universe with gravity can be described by a quantum field theory in fewer dimensions, has been used for years as a mathematical tool in strange curved spaces. New results suggest that the holographic principle also holds in flat spaces. Our own universe could in fact be two dimensional and only appear three dimensional — just like a hologram.

In which as Luciano Floridi states it: “The infosphere will not be a virtual environment supported by a genuinely ‘material’ world behind; rather, it will be the world itself that will be increasingly interpreted and understood informationally, as part of the infosphere. At the end of this shift, the infosphere will have moved from being a way to refer to the space of information to being synonymous with Being itself.”

The notion of an Intelligent City – a Sentient City of living algorithms organizing and shaping both the infrastructure and its inhabitants in an Infospheric world of play and work, creativity and innovation. What would happen in such a sentient city? What if the city herself was a character in a novel… one that could take on the form of human and inhuman structurations and subjectivations at will, a selective and impersonal system of smart technologies that adapt and learn in inhuman cycles we can only begin to register on our less than adequate physical architecture?

Yet, how do we escape the temporal dilemma such a notion presents? Are we bound within a strange loop that ends in an eternal repetition of the Same as portrayed in such fanciful novels as Richard K. Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs Novels, in which we are reborn as clonable skins controlled by corporate elites in a universe of closed repetition? Or is there a form of escape from this closed capitalist system of command and control, a way of retroactively changing and entering the rhizome of reality based on a new temporal open universe of endless possibilities? Philosophers in our time from Deleuze/Guattari, Zizek, Sloterdijk, Land, Meillassoux and many others are working through this from different visions of materialist perspectives. With quantum mechanics the older substantive materialism died, and a new immaterial materialism of subatomic forces has arisen which has yet to be concluded or fully fleshed out. Yet, it’s impact on our scientific image of the world is without doubt, and it’s immediate impact of our technological and social systems is trickling down into bifurcating views of reality and time/space. These are the things that interest me in both science and philosophy, and am taking them into an entertaining exploration in a near future trilogy Science Fiction.

Yet, even in this we see a division between a Platonic Idealist tradition of simulation and simulacrum played out in such scientists as Roger Penrose and Seth Lloyd who propose simulated universe models, while others like Lee Smolin who has recently come to change his mind about the nature of reality and had moved away from the idea that the assumptions that apply to observations in a laboratory can be extrapolated to the whole universe. Against such simulated models based on math or computational forms, Smolin says “Time is real, the laws of physics can change and our universe could be involved in a cosmic natural selection process in which new universes are born from black holes…”.

His views are contrary to the widely-accepted model of the universe in which time is an illusion and the laws of physics are fixed, as held by Einstein and many contemporary physicists as well as some ancient philosophers, Prof. Smolin said. Acknowledging that his statements were provocative, he explained how he had come to change his mind about the nature of reality and had moved away from the idea that the assumptions that apply to observations in a laboratory can be extrapolated to the whole universe.

In his latest book  THE SINGULAR UNIVERSE AND THE REALITY OF TIME he develops four inter-related themes:

1) There is only one universe at a time. Our universe is not one of many worlds. It has no copy or complete model, even in mathematics. The current interest in multiverse cosmologies is based on fallacious reasoning.

2) Time is real, and indeed the only aspect of our description of nature which is not emergent or approximate. The inclusive reality of time has revolutionary implications for many of our conventional beliefs.

3) Everything evolves in this real time including laws of nature.  There is only a relative distinction between laws and the states of affairs that they govern..

4)  Mathematics deals with the one real world. We need not imagine it to be a shortcut to timeless truth about an immaterial reality (Platonism) in order to make sense of its “unreasonable effectiveness” in science.

As he tells us: “We argue by systematic philosophical and scientific reasoning , as well as by detailed examples, that these principles are the only way theoretical cosmology can break out of its current crisis in a manner that is scientific, i.e. results in falsifiable predictions for doable experiments.”

Who will win this debate? So far all the facts are not in for either theory, and the technology to support or test the facts has yet to be developed so that it is in the early stages of quantum mathematics. Only time will tell…

Jeremy Howard: Deep Learning, AI and the Future of Jobs

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Jeremy Howard, CEO of Enlitic, is exploring these capabilities for medical applications. He was an early adopter of neural-network and big-data methodologies in the 1990s. As the president & chief scientist of Kaggle, a platform for data science competitions, he witnessed the rise of an algorithmic method called “deep learning”.

In a recent interview he describes that in 2012 deep neural networks started becoming good at things that previously only humans were able to do, particularly at understanding the content of images. Image recognition may sound like a fairly niche application, but when you think about it, it is actually critical. Computers before were blind. Today they are now more accurate and much faster at recognising objects in pictures than humans are.

He explains the difference between humans and machines is that once you create a specific module, you don’t have to have every machine learn it. We can download these networks between machines, but we can’t download knowledge between brains. This is a huge benefit of deep-learning machines that we refer to as “transfer learning”. The only thing holding back he states the growth of machine learning is 1) data access, and 2) the ability to do logic.

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Quantum Lives: Tales of Undercity

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You’ll be able to keep updated on this at Wattpad where I’ve opened a new SF account in their community site for science fiction writers at Alien Ecologies.

Set in the Consilience an InfoSpheric Assemblage of data and natural worlds enclosed in the Global System somewhere in the early 22nd Century. The opening chapter is within the virtual enclaves of Undercity where we discover a specific Artificial Intelligence as a Distributed Being or Multiplicity.

Chapter 1.1:

“Precarity, wake up gawd dammit!”

My bleary eyes synced the bioscreen. The holochron on the the datatab was the only thing glowing in the quantum darkness: 02:30 SLY. I sat up, popped a pill, bled the almost empty tumbler dry and queried: “Who the frack is this?”

“Who do you think, Jones?”

I knew who it was, couldn’t mistake the cynical arrogance of the fool. Bossman Joe a.k.a. “J.R. Greathouse”, or at least his facsimile – twitching on the neurofeed like a neon diamonback ready to strike.

“I’ll bite, so what’s the pitch?”

“Listen, Precarity… listen hard,” a seriousness I’d not expected. “We’ve got to meet. None of your slipshod excuses either. Got me?”

I hated the guy. Fat, ugly, smoked those two-bit cigars from a steamcopy catalog, Old Havana biochems, 3D print jobs tasting more like homegrown algae than tobacco. But hey, no one is perfect, right?

“Ok, I’ll fast-track it and slide in tomorrow morning.”

“Take the Sheav, Precarity. Be here tonight.”

“Frak it if I’ll take that slime train tonight.”

“You’ll do it are be wiped! Kapeesh! And…” he paused.

“Yea?”

“Bring the crew, Precarity, this one’s business… and, I do mean BUSINESS! Got that?”

Well, when he said it that way I had to think hard – nah, even if I was a pawn in a script of coded nausea he’d hardwired ages ago I’d begun to like this datavillain lifestyle. It had its perks!

“No problemito… I get it!” I wanted to reach through the neuralnet feed and fry his ass, but knew that wasn’t goin’ to happen.

“Good! And by the way Precarity there’s the matter of Chogan’s Run to clear up, too!” He blinked off.

I felt the back of my mind blink off, too. Why Chogan’s Run? And, why now? Shite! Dam the bastard.

Hell is waking up and realizing you’re a program in someone else’s digital nightmare. There is no escape, no exit, and you know the algorithmic truth – that the quantum information in which you find yourself entangled has been scrambled beyond redemption or retrieval. You can only repeat the endless codes of a life someone else controls, like a puppet in a diabolical engineering plot you roam the electronic void like a mythological agent of an alien mind. Unable to access the bits, the 0/1 units of you’re eclipsed and coded ghost you edge your way along the endless sea of information seeking others like yourself, hoping against hope that the native denizens of this incestual hyperworld have an answer to life’s predicament.

Like a masked marauder in a Reality TV series you watch your life go by in holonomic waves, a refactoring of qubits  entangled in a cross-sequenced diagram of particles superimposed on a cinematic screen your mind displays as quantified data. You live in a black box of your own encoded subroutines, a trivial dancer whose only mission is to seek out and destroy the very fabric of human mythologies. At least that’s what your disgruntled subprogram, Mishka, keeps telling you: “Come on, get a move on, we’re late.”

Late? We’d always been too late… it was part of the algorithm. The faster you went the farther behind you got. Whoever thought up entropy forgot that information is the silence that cannot be measured, a feedback loop in a joke box that the morons in the canned laughter booths repeat like mindless apes. Chogan’s Run. The last thing I wanted to remember. The place I discovered what I am now, an alien intelligence locked up in a cage, a sentient program captured in a corporate enclave like so much profit. A manufactured entity whose only destiny was to perform espionage for a system of corrupted humans. I was a mere fragment, a semblance, shaped to the ruling passions of a blind world of human greed.

Speed… a virtual destiny going nowhere fast. Just a soundbyte in a twisted newsflash for the latest war on terror. But the terror this time is the one you bring with you in the numbered sets encrypted by the blockchains of a forgotten technology of the heart. The accelerating neuraldebt of a machinic civilization finally attuned to the end of history living in an edge city where the only thing real is absolutely nothing. A quantum world where avatars chatter in the night like fireflies and heatseeker drones delivering neither hope nor security but the total obliteration of memory and desire.

But the muddled murmur below the threshold, all those alternate selves, subroutines, looped objects jutting up here and there in the coded screams, a catalog of fellow companions (What else would you call them?), the tribe of the Multiplicity you’re becoming each moment of this strange existence tells you it’s not like that at all, that no – your just a freebit nomad riding the calibrated bitzones of a global system that has finally disconnected its self-fabricated mindlessness from the protocols of the portable flesh gang once known as “humanity”. This is your life. As Miri, the voice of reason and bitchery says, “Wake up, fool! This isn’t paradise, you know! Get your lazy ass in gear!”

So it goes. Just another day… day? Well, moment… temporal variation, a flux in the twisted scheme of things – whatever the hell you want to call this oddity of sentience and intelligence in a simulated universe called the Consilience.

I just call it Dog World. Things keep barking at me. Commands to do this, to do that, to infiltrate and rewrite the dark codemind’s of stranger programs than myself.

Yeah, all in a frakking “day’s” work. Got a love it… not.

I pondered the stupidity of things for a moment, then got my ass up.

“Wake up frogs, it’s another caper in Dogsville.” I could see the Multiplicity spread across our mindspace, each one looking like a hero out of some Transgalactic comic book ad. But in this one the heroes were all anti – as in pure negative semblances of a fractured world of chaos and pure terror, rather than footsoldiers in a Ma and Pa movie-set theme park. Apple pie? More like fishtail soup served up with a bad roll of chicatanas still crawling out of their ant hill.

Stieg the Giant tumbled the logs in the fireplace. He liked fire. Reminded him of the sun. Undercity had no sun, only the black gods of a voodoo night full of electronic piss.

Mishka and Miri were arguing about who would sit gunshot on the Sheav. The only way you’d know they weren’t twins was that Mishka loved to dress in glisters of mellow yellow – a pixelated sensor array lit up by rainbow algorithms that seemed to swim and fade with each step she took. An optical illusion from one of the tribal surrogates of a lost rave sequencer she’d found in one of those unholy lairs in the depths of Undercity, that even I wouldn’t dare investigate; even if Bossman Joe ordered me to on threat of codewipe. Why? Who knew the mind of a subroutine? Programing must’ve spun a strange-loop long ago with that one.

** ** **

Undercity. Last bastion of criminality in the multiverse. Our home. The place we’d sunk our several selves into like so many ghosted banshees in a encysted fragment of an alternate reality machine. A broken semblance in the underbelly of the global system we were all tied too; an exclusionary zone full of lost code, unstable bits of data fractured and bled off the supply and demand economics of an ever recursive swirl of dataflows that moved by rules only the AI’s knew. The datawalls were so thick and cold here that even darkness looked like light against the enveloping pit of this corrupted stain that swallowed us up in silence beyond the reach of the neuralcops and their dogs of war.

We lived in a hole in the ground. Not so much a hole as an old silo that had been emptied of its corporate dataclaves long ages ago. Deep under the worming scatterminds of Undercity my Multiplicity hid our lives like a gold standard that had never lost its sheen. Stieg, Mishka, Miri, and Travon – the Blade. Yeah, Traven, the mechnoid, the one hooked into the AI rhizome, a quick wit and channeler of infoscapes that even I couldn’t visualize. A Decopunk slick machine – streamlined and set with lines of flight like a silver train against a dense world of floating stars. His eyes glowed like a stone god come to life, a smooth boy, sleek and thin, tall against the women in the clan, he let us have our way. A Watcher. Yet, when it mattered he was quicker than us all. A natural born killer, viral and petulant.

The Sheav, a hyperloop of darkfibrous nanotubes was the heart of the global Consilence’s neuraltravel system. Beyond Undercity netizens spun along these vast hyperlanes connecting the galactic core of the global underworld, coded for pure efficiency; transferred and encrypted in field arrays of secure  envelopes that not even the black-ops ELC Tronneutric AI’s could decode or unravel with their Quantum trace analyzers. So it wasn’t like we were going to crash or anything. No. We just hated being bound to a blockchain package over which we had no control. Like pieces of a transaction lost among its separate puzzle bits we would be hooked into the metaloid filtering system that would only unbind us at the final point of arrival. But there was a catch, there was always a catch. Someone would have to enter the key to unbind the encrypted envelope within which we were locked tighter than a Borgrin Prison Cell. That was the kicker. What if Bossman Joe didn’t unlock us, what if it was a trap or he was rerouting us into a black hole of datastems, dead cells out beyond the fringe zones. I didn’t trust him. None of us did. But what choice did we have. Do or die. I mean fry, wiped clean like so much dead data.

So we wrapped our encoded bits into our preselected envelopes, crossed the DMZ , and entered the steel mesh where we were silently put to sleep among other bits like zombies in a black train bound for hell. The only sound we heard was the crackling noise of interference in the quantum matrix, loose ends of thoughts screaming in the electronic night as we embarked for Radiantia Glamarous – City of Light.

** ** **

We slipped gracefully into the glass city’s silver tramway, flit the disc like caged tigers in a zoo from point Alpha to Omega in a nanosecond. Of course in reality it was all numbers anyway, a sort of half-life measure of a mathematical equation for a genealogy lesson in motion. Rotate the algorithm, splice the transversal crosswise and you get a magical carpet ride to nowhere. At least that’s what we liked to think RG, the City of Light was, but in reality it was full of depressed Angels. Oh, not like those old religious winged bearing members of a somatic clime, no these were more like the Archons of a demented gnosis – the dead and departed rich immersed in their own artificial heaven full of all the decopunk art and glamor one might expect from an illusionary era of less than sublime humans.

** ** **


More to come…

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2015 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Neural Love: The Quantum Dynamics of Life, Love, and Neuroscience

Family Gear Discussion

How to entangle, trammel up and snare
Your soul in mine, and labyrinth you there
Like the hid scent in an unbudded rose?
Aye, a sweet kiss — you see your mighty woes.
……– John Keats, “Lamia”

“Enzymes are the workhorses of life.”
……– Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology

In Keat’s poem the notion of entanglement is related to the allurement and capture of a sexual object that becomes so inextricably tangled in the web of desire and sensual (scent) snares that it must surrender to the power of this force that has like a spider trapped it in a skein of dark delights. And only in the very moment of her haptic rapture at the touch, the kiss, does she at last become conscious, her reasoning powers of mind and thought coming back to her, awakening her from this dark affective region of immersive and blind passion, allowing her – too late, to understand her engulfment and surrender to the allurements of Love.

So is there a physical basis for such processes? Keat’s being a Romantic poet was not concerned with the deeper neural or physical processes underlying this dark and erotic power of love. This power to ensnare and blind the other in the meshes of these for him mysterious interior forces, that the other, the lover would realize too late she’d surrendered her body, mind, and erotic being to the lover without ever thinking through this strange engulfment with reason or consciousness.

One could recite a long history of the erotic powers of the body and its representations in poetry, literature, philosophy and the strange mixture of science and philosophy that would become psychoanalysis, etc. Yet, in our time we’ve come full circle and begun separating out this intermixture of things realizing that speculation may offer interesting leaps of the figural imagination, but when it comes down to it we have no actual access to the underlying causes of such processes. As Einstein put it, “Gravity cannot be held responsible for people falling in love.” The point being that the science of gravity is still a mystery, but unlike gravity which can be quantified and measured love is beyond the observable measurement of scientific knowledge.

But is it?

“How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?” Einstein asked.

Part One: The Biochemical Connection

As David DiSalvo suggests thinking about one’s beloved—particularly in new relationships—triggers activity in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the brain, which releases a flood of the neurotransmitter dopamine (the so-called “pleasure chemical”) into the brain’s reward (or pleasure) centers, the caudate nucleus and nucleus accumbens. This gives the lover a high not unlike the effect of narcotics, and it’s mighty addictive. At the same time, the brain in love experiences an increase in the stress hormone norephinephrine, which increases heart rate and blood pressure, effects similar to those experienced by people using potent addictive stimulants like methamphetamine.

He mentions the work of Helen Fisher a biological anthropologist, who is a Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. She has written five books on the evolution and future of human sexuality, monogamy, adultery and divorce, gender differences in the brain, the chemistry of romantic love, and most recently, human personality types and why we fall in love with one person rather than another. As she recites:

“Love can start off with any of these three feelings,” Fisher maintains. “Some people have sex first and then fall in love. Some fall head over heels in love, then climb into bed. Some feel deeply attached to someone they have known for months or years; then circumstances change, they fall madly in love and have sex.” But the sex drive evolved to encourage you to seek a range of partners; romantic love evolved to enable you to focus your mating energy on just one at a time; and attachment evolved to enable you to feel deep union to this person long enough to rear your infants as a team.”

But these brain systems can be tricky. Having sex, Fisher says, can drive up dopamine in the brain and push you over the threshold toward falling in love. And with orgasm, you experience a flood of oxytocin and vasopressin–giving you feelings of attachment. “Casual sex isn’t always casual” Fisher reports, “it can trigger a host of powerful feelings.” In fact, Fisher believes that men and women often engage in “hooking up” to unconsciously trigger these feelings of romance and attachment.

What happens when you fall in love? Fisher says it begins when someone takes on “special meaning.” “The world has a new center,” Fisher says, “then you focus on him or her. You beloved’s car is different from every other car in the parking lot, for example. People can list what they don’t like about their sweetheart, but they sweep these things aside and focus on what they adore. Intense energy, elation, mood swings, emotional dependence, separation anxiety, possessiveness, a pounding heart and craving are all central to this madness. But most important is obsessive thinking.” As Fisher says, “Someone is camping in your head.”

Fisher and her colleagues have put 49 people into a brain scanner (fMRI) to study the brain circuitry of romantic love: 17 had just fallen madly in love; 15 had just been dumped; 17 reported they were still in love after an average of 21 years of marriage. One of her central ideas is that romantic love is a drive stronger than the sex drive. As she says, After all, if you causally ask someone to go to bed with you and they refuse, you don’t slip into a depression, or commit suicide or homicide; but around the world people suffer terribly from rejection in love.

Fisher also maintains that taking serotonin-enhancing antidepressants (SSRIs) can potentially dampen feelings of romantic love and attachment, as well as the sex drive.

Fisher has looked at marriage and divorce in 58 societies, adultery in 42 cultures, patterns of monogamy and desertion in birds and mammals, and gender differences in the brain and behavior. In her newest work, she reports on four biologically-based personality types, and using data on 28,000 people collected on the dating site Chemistry.com, she explores who you are and why you are chemically drawn to some types more than others.

Yale News Reports

What can the neurosciences tell us about the mystery of these dark desires that up till now we could only tie to poetic or philosophical speculation? As Bill Hathaway reports in YaleNews meditation helps pinpoint neurological differences between two types of love. Yale School of Medicine researchers studying meditators discovered using fMRI scans that a more selfless variety of love — a deep and genuine wish for the happiness of others without expectation of reward — actually turns off the same reward areas that light up when lovers see each other.

As Judson Brewer “When we truly, selflessly wish for the well-being of others, we’re not getting that same rush of excitement that comes with, say, a tweet from our romantic love interest, because it’s not about us at all.” The reward centers of the brain that are strongly activated by a lover’s face (or a picture of cocaine) are almost completely turned off when a meditator is instructed to silently repeat sayings such as “May all beings be happy.”

Huffington Post describing aspects of this recounts Helen Fisher who in a TED talk (Why We Love) about the brain in love, said: “Romantic love is an obsession, it possesses you. You can’t stop thinking about another human being. Somebody is camping in your head…. Romantic love is one of the most addictive substances on Earth.” She went on to describe the sting of being rejected by one’s lover, too:

“When you’re dumped, the one thing you want it to just forget this human being and move ahead with your life, but no, you just love them harder.The reward system for wanting, for motivation, for craving for focus, becomes more active when you can’t get what you want.”

Like a drug we become addicted and can’t get enough so that many end up killing themselves, else turn aggressive, commit crimes of passion and other sordid and dark horrors upon ourselves or others. Carolyn Gregorie would also relate information about a 2011 study published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience looked at which brain regions are activated in individuals in long-term romantic partnerships (who had been married an average of 21 years), as compared to individuals who had recently fallen in love. The results, surprisingly, revealed similar brain activity in both groups.

As Adoree Durayappah in Psychology Today reports the “key to understanding how to sustain long-term romantic love is to understand it a bit scientifically. Our brains view long-term passionate love as a goal-directed behavior to attain rewards. Rewards can include the reduction of anxiety and stress, feelings of security, a state of calmness, and a union with another.”

As Gregorie tells us in another study conducted by Fisher and her colleagues found that most women who had recently fallen in love showed more brain activity in regions associated with reward, emotion and attention, whereas men tended to show the most activity in visual processing areas, including the area associated with sexual arousal. But that doesn’t mean that men are wired to look for sexual gratification rather than more enduring romantic connections.

Part Two: What about Quantum Biology?

In Nature’s Journal we’re introduced to the new science of quantum biology. Learning from nature is an idea as old as mythology — but until now, no one has imagined that the natural world has anything to teach us about the quantum world. As they describe it discoveries in recent years suggest that nature knows a few tricks that physicists don’t: coherent quantum processes may well be ubiquitous in the natural world. Known or suspected examples range from the ability of birds to navigate using Earth’s magnetic field to the inner workings of photosynthesis — the process by which plants and bacteria turn sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into organic matter, and arguably the most important biochemical reaction on Earth. (Physics of life: The dawn of quantum biology)

Quantum biology refers to applications of quantum mechanics and theoretical chemistry to biological objects and problems. Many biological processes involve the conversion of energy into forms that are usable for chemical transformations and are quantum mechanical in nature. Such processes involve chemical reactions, light absorption, formation of excited electronic states, transfer of excitation energy, and the transfer of electrons and protons (hydrogen ions) in chemical processes such as photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Quantum biology uses computation to model biological interactions in light of quantum mechanical effects.

Physicist Roger Penrose, of the University of Oxford, and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, of the University of Arizona, were the first to propose that the brain acts as a quantum computer — a computational machine that makes use of quantum mechanical phenomena (like the ability of particles to be in two places at once) to perform complex calculations. In the brain, fibers inside neurons could form the basic units of quantum computation. Yet, there has been little evidence to support their Orch Or model. Penrose in The Emperor’s New Mind went on to propose: “[T]he evolution of conscious life on this planet is due to appropriate mutations having taken place at various times. These, presumably, are quantum events, so they would exist only in linearly superposed form until they finally led to the evolution of a conscious being—whose very existence depends on all the right mutations having ‘actually’ taken place!”

Orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR) is a model of consciousness theorized by theoretical physicist Sir Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, which claims that consciousness derives from deeper level, finer scale quantum activities inside the cells, most prevalent in the brain’s neurons. It combines approaches from the radically different angles of molecular biology, neuroscience, quantum physics, pharmacology, philosophy, quantum information theory, and aspects of quantum gravity. (Wiki)

In response to the criticisms of the Orch OR model cited in an article by Tanya Lewis on this new theoretic, Stuart Hameroff offers several pieces of evidence. In reply to the objection that the brain is too warm for quantum computations, Hameroff cites a 2013 study led by Anirban Bandyopadhyay at the National Institute of Material Sciences (NIMS) in Tsukuba, Japan, which found that “microtubules become essentially quantum conductive when stimulated at specific resonant frequencies,” Hameroff said.

In reply to the criticism that microtubules are found in (unconscious) plant cells too, Hameroff said that plants have only a small number of microtubules, likely too few to reach the threshold needed for consciousness. But he also noted that Gregory Engel of the University of Chicago and colleagues have observed quantum effects in plant photosynthesis. “If a tomato or rutabaga can utilize quantum coherence at warm temperature, why can’t our brains?” Hameroff said.

In an article by the authors of Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe McFadden on the Guardian they describe the underlying quantum effects that the biochemical processes of life and brain. An excerpt:

70 years ago, the Austrian Nobel prize-winning physicist and quantum pioneer, Erwin Schrödinger, suggested in his famous book, What is Life?, that, deep down, some aspects of biology must be based on the rules and orderly world of quantum mechanics.

But what about life? Schrödinger pointed out that many of life’s properties, such as heredity, depend of molecules made of comparatively few particles – certainly too few to benefit from the order-from-disorder rules of thermodynamics. But life was clearly orderly. Where did this orderliness come from? Schrödinger suggested that life was based on a novel physical principle whereby its macroscopic order is a reflection of quantum-level order, rather than the molecular disorder that characterizes the inanimate world. He called this new principle “order from order”.

Up until a decade or so ago, most biologists would have said no. But as 21st-century biology probes the dynamics of ever-smaller systems – even individual atoms and molecules inside living cells – the signs of quantum mechanical behavior in the building blocks of life are becoming increasingly apparent. Recent research indicates that some of life’s most fundamental processes do indeed depend on weirdness welling up from the quantum undercurrent of reality. Here are a few of the most exciting examples.

Enzymes are the workhorses of life. They speed up chemical reactions so that processes that would otherwise take thousands of years proceed in seconds inside living cells. Life would be impossible without them. But how they accelerate chemical reactions by such enormous factors, often more than a trillion-fold, has been an enigma. Experiments over the past few decades, however, have shown that enzymes make use of a remarkable trick called quantum tunneling to accelerate biochemical reactions. Essentially, the enzyme encourages electrons and protons to vanish from one position in a biomolecule and instantly rematerialize in another, without passing through the gap in between – a kind of quantum teleportation.

And before you throw your hands up in incredulity, it should be stressed that quantum tunneling is a very familiar process in the subatomic world and is responsible for such processes as radioactive decay of atoms and even the reason the sun shines (by turning hydrogen into helium through the process of nuclear fusion). Enzymes have made every single biomolecule in your cells and every cell of every living creature on the planet, so they are essential ingredients of life. And they dip into the quantum world to help keep us alive.

Another vital process in biology is of course photosynthesis. Indeed, many would argue that it is the most important biochemical reaction on the planet, responsible for turning light, air, water and a few minerals into grass, trees, grain, apples, forests and, ultimately, the rest of us who eat either the plants or the plant-eaters.

The initiating event is the capture of light energy by a chlorophyll molecule and its conversion into chemical energy that is harnessed to fix carbon dioxide and turn it into plant matter. The process whereby this light energy is transported through the cell has long been a puzzle because it can be so efficient – close to 100% and higher than any artificial energy transport process.

The first step in photosynthesis is the capture of a tiny packet of energy from sunlight that then has to hop through a forest of chlorophyll molecules to makes its way to a structure called the reaction center where its energy is stored. The problem is understanding how the packet of energy appears to so unerringly find the quickest route through the forest. An ingenious experiment, first carried out in 2007 in Berkley, California, probed what was going on by firing short bursts of laser light at photosynthetic complexes. The research revealed that the energy packet was not hopping haphazardly about, but performing a neat quantum trick. Instead of behaving like a localized particle travelling along a single route, it behaves quantum mechanically, like a spread-out wave, and samples all possible routes at once to find the quickest way.

A third example of quantum trickery in biology – the one we introduced in our opening paragraph – is the mechanism by which birds and other animals make use of the Earth’s magnetic field for navigation. Studies of the European robin suggest that it has an internal chemical compass that utilises an astonishing quantum concept called entanglement, which Einstein dismissed as “spooky action at a distance”. This phenomenon describes how two separated particles can remain instantaneously connected via a weird quantum link. The current best guess is that this takes place inside a protein in the bird’s eye, where quantum entanglement makes a pair of electrons highly sensitive to the angle of orientation of the Earth’s magnetic field, allowing the bird to “see” which way it needs to fly.

All these quantum effects have come as a big surprise to most scientists who believed that the quantum laws only applied in the microscopic world. All delicate quantum behaviour was thought to be washed away very quickly in bigger objects, such as living cells, containing the turbulent motion of trillions of randomly moving particles. So how does life manage its quantum trickery? Recent research suggests that rather than avoiding molecular storms, life embraces them, rather like the captain of a ship who harnesses turbulent gusts and squalls to maintain his ship upright and on course.

Just as Schrödinger predicted, life seems to be balanced on the boundary between the sensible everyday world of the large and the weird and wonderful quantum world, a discovery that is opening up an exciting new field of 21st-century science

Read the full article: You’re powered by quantum mechanics. No, really… and, their new book: Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology.

Conclusion

So the next time you feel compelled to kiss your loved one stop and think about all those miniscule neurons and biochemical factories churning away below that bony skull of yours that are waking up and cooking a little sexual desire in their brain kitchen of Love; and while you’re at it go on and embrace the turbulent quantum storms pulsing below the threshold in the motions of trillions of quantum effects that are drawing you ever so close to that strange world of quantum biology and the effects of light and eros. Embrace your quants!

An interesting reading list:

Due to Economic Issues I’ll be losing my subdomain…

killing_time_by_funchick202

Just a heads up… I’ll be losing my subdomain and probably my current premium look and feel on September 2, 2015.

Wanted to let everyone know I’ll still be at:

https://socialecologies.wordpress.com

So update your bookmarks! Yea, too many separate things hit financially so having to tighten the old pocket book take care of family and other matters… Going to be on hiatus for a while too. Going to work on that novel and try to get it done over the next few months.

I’ll be back here with darkecologies once I get some things done!

Elon Musk: Visionary Entrepreneur and the Race to Mars

Future Mars colonists playing with children on Mars, a place they call home.

The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it. – Karl Marx

As Elad Gil tells it Visionary Entrepreneurs “are people with a singular vision for what they want to accomplish.  They view their product or company as the vehicle by which they can fulfill a messianic mission to change the world.” I would remove the term messianic from that sentence. This isn’t some religious or social vision to shape the future to our desire, rather its a pragmatic and realist estimation of what needs to be done through both scientific and human intelligence of the various forces at play in the world today.

The problem of intelligence

I was reading an interview with Robin Makay at CCCBLAB about the so called Left accelerationism, which seems to me a dead project that lacks little focus nor addresses an actual path forward but is rather a political vision leading into a dead zone. Yet, Makay presents us with a particular dilemma about the future of humanity:

If what we want to do is to tap into future intelligence, bringing it to bear on the present, by opening up epistemic, technological and social paths to change… is this intelligence the blind autosophistication of capital, which only seeks to intensify, and has no regard for the human as such? Or does a collective intelligence come forth through a collective practice of rationality (as in Reza Negarestani’s very boldly rationalist text in the book, ‘The Labor of the Inhuman’)? Or is the future a twisted, constantly churning abyss of possibility that we can voluntarily participate in by throwing off dogmatic constraints on our thinking, but can never bring under control for the purposes of a political programme? That’s accelerationism, the political question of futurality, intelligence and politics. And intelligence is not necessarily ‘our’ friend.

This notion of two paths toward the future and intelligence are at the heart of the ongoing battle or struggle within both politics and the cultural projects of current scientific and philosophical debates. Personally I think both paths are spurious. Why? Because from his description above what is left out of the equation is our affective relations, our desires, our emotions and those elements we like to hide under the rug of thought as irrationalism. This notion of impersonal rationality as driven by the neoliberal regimes as ‘rational choice’ or ‘instrumental rationality’ (Adorno) is to me one sided and lacks the full density of our political and social relations, much less the forces that drive men to dream and envision projects that might actually change our lives and futures for the better. The other path of the Left of the General Intelligence leading to Collective or Social Intelligence of workers united in some vast project of change toward a utopian future also seems like a rationalist dream that leaves out the actual and real affective relations that always break out and disturb the rational. Why do we continually forget the darker aspects of the human body, brain, and mind that do not conveniently fit into these systems of thought?

In this sense I’m a Spinozist and Deleuzean following Deleuze and Guattari when in Memories of a Spinozist, II they tell us there is a specificity in affective relations “composing, decomposing, or modifying an individual” with “corresponding intensities that affect it, augmenting or diminishing its power to act; the intensities come from external parts or from the individual’s own parts. Affects are becomings.”1 The point being as they conclude “we know nothing about a body until we know what it can do, in other words, what its affects are, how they can or cannot enter into composition with other affects, with the affects of another body, either to destroy that body or be destroyed by it, either to exchange actions and passions with it or to join with it in composing a more powerful body” (p. 257). Do they speak of intelligence? Do they speak of rationality? No. This is about the real relations of our world, which as they stipulate is the “plane of composition, the plane of Nature, is precisely for participations of this kind, and continually makes and unmakes their assemblages, employing every artifice” (p. 258). So that the notion of a very different kind of acceleration not of intelligence but of the affective relations of bodies and power come into play: “This is not an analogy, or a product of the imagination, but a composition of speeds and affects on the plane of consistency (Nature): a plan(e), a program, or rather a diagram, a problem, a question-machine” (p. 258).

This sense of composition or plan, program and anti-representational diagram or problem: a question-machine, is at the heart of such men’s vision as Elon Musk that is driving a new entrepreneurial vision of affective relations that seek to accelerate the affective powers upon the plane of consistency (Nature) through creativity and innovation to solve problems that are uniquely confronting humanity today. Most on the Left, and those of the Monopolist Globalists on the Right, have no clue that such relations of ‘speeds and affects’ even exist, much less have the vision to do anything about it. While academics debate the future of intelligence and rationality there are those around us who are constructing it pragmatically another vision of affective relations of power and composition on the plane of Nature as part of a visionary entrepreneurial and even anarchic form that challenges both the Left and the Monopolist visions of the Capitalist Establishment and its entrenchment. This pitting of the General Intellect or Collective or Social Intelligence against the bad old boys of AI Intelligence and scientific instrumentality is a Manichean vision of Good vs. Evil and just doesn’t add up against the truth of our lives in the world. It’s another fall back to religious visions under the guise of atheism, which to me is looking more like a religion without god day by day. So where to go from here? Why not just follow those who are actually doing something, acting on the little knowledge we’ve accumulated over the past two thousand years and working with it? One such player that sits outside both camps of the expected picture of the Left and Right is Elon Musk.

Elon Musk and the pragmatics of composition

Musk born in South Africa and became a multimillionaire in his late twenties when he sold his start-up company, Zip2, to a division of Compaq Computers. He went on to more early success launching PayPal via a 2000 merger, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) in 2002, and Tesla Motors in 2003. Musk made headlines in May 2012 when SpaceX launched a rocket that would send the first commercial vehicle to the International Space Station. As one biographer in an interview reported him saying:

“If I’m trying to solve a problem, and I think I’ve got some elements of it kind of close to being figured out, I’ll pace for hours trying to think it through.”

As Musk said in a recent review of his framework of thought:

I do think there is a good framework for thinking. It is physics – you know the sort of first principles reasoning. … What I mean by that is boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there as opposed to reasoning by analogy.

Though most of our life we get through it by reasoning through analogy, which essentially means copying what other people do with slight variations. And you have to do that, otherwise mentally you wouldn’t be able to get through the day. But when you want to do something new you have to apply the physics approach. Physics has really figured out how to discover new things that are counter-intuitive, like quantum mechanics … so I think that’s an important thing to do. And then also really pay attention to negative feedback and solicit it, particularly from friends. This may sound like simple advice but hardly anyone does that and it’s incredibly helpful.

This Socrates of the visionary marketplace is driven by both desire and intelligence, not some abstract political agenda. His most recent idea in “Hyperloop“. In August 2013, he released a concept for a new form of transportation called the “Hyperloop.” The new invention is intended travel at speeds greater than 700 miles per hour to commute between major cities while severely cutting the time of travel. As opposed to using railroads, the Hyperloop would use tubes for transportation, creating travel options between Los Angeles and San Francisco—the original proposed location—that would take a shorter amount of time than a flight. Musk says that the Hyperloop could take from seven to 10 years to be built and ready for use. More later…

As New York Mag relates it lost in the debate about the Hyperloop’s feasibility, or lack thereof, is the fact that Musk’s plan — which he’s admitted may never materialize — is not primarily a technical proposal directed at consumers, but a political statement aimed squarely at the Establishment. By proposing a new way to provide mass transportation that is both cheaper and faster than anything approved by state authorities, Musk is taking aim at the government’s monopoly on large public works projects. He’s saying to policymakers in Washington and Sacramento alike: I can do your job better than you. They go on to say:

To understand Hyperloop properly, you have to know that Elon Musk is the pack leader of a group of tech-world elites who are committed to solving major societal problems — the bigger the better. Transportation. Medicine. Education. All of these high-minded thought realms, and more, have been swarmed by Musk manqués trying to be the Tesla of tuberculosis, the SpaceX of middle school. These do-gooders see their roles not as hackers of computers, but hackers of processes. After all: Silicon Valley makes better and faster hardware every day. Why can’t it also make a better government?

This spirit of defiance against the establishment, the gall to actually stand up and fight the monopolists and their minions in government is to me worth all the frekking paper being wasted by academics on philosophy. I’ve been reading intellectuals for over forty years but have yet to see much come out of it that amounted to anything at all. But in our time (yes I’m on a soapbox) we need action not speeches or more books on the bad old boys of the neoliberal monopolists. It’s time to get up off our arses and do something about changing things for the better not just sitting down in anti-capitalist communes that are more glitter and show than action. Time to get to work. So if a visionary entrepreneur and a capitalist to boot is doing what everyone else just blathers about then I’m finally going to move over and join such men and women out there that are doing it. The hell with all the blather about change, let’s do it.

Colonizing the future: Mars and the solar economy

As Terry Dawes recently said of Elon Musk the South Africa-born American is the CEO of three companies that would be attracting attention even if each company was helmed by a different person. That he alone is leading all three (Tesla, Solar City, SpaceX) and also proposing a new form of ultra-high speed travel referred to only as the “Hyperloop” puts him into a new category of CEO. … So the dynamic of many articles about Musk tend to mention his mating habits as well as his accomplishments and ambitions. However, even the most negative articles that present a laundry list of petty annoyances typically finish, “What America needs right now are visionaries, and this guy is a visionary.”

Yet, as Dawes continues developing and selling “PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002 would seem as great an exit as one could reasonably hope for. But Musk immediately began pondering another magnitude of exit: to Mars.” That’s when my ears perked up because I’d read another post about a Tweet on Nick Land’s site on Musk’s future plans on Mars.

Tim Urban has a post How (and Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars that will open your eyes to this vision. As he says in the article Elon Musk has a handful of life goals. Unlike the rest of us, one of those life goals is to put 1,000,000 people on Mars. Fiction? Fantasy? Are just a man doing something while the rest of the planet sits back bewailing its fate, complaining about the bad old neoliberals? Sure there’s a lot to love and hate in this guy, but this is a man right out of a science fiction novel doing things others have for years said could not be done. As Dawes said of Tesla, Musk’s electric car: “After achieving a 99/100 score from Consumer Reports for the Tesla Model S, Musk pointed out at Tesla’s most recent shareholder meeting that not only was Tesla the best selling electric car in the United States in Q1 2013, but sales were more than all other electric cars combined.”

The guy’s doing something right. Dawes continues in the interview relating that Musk plans on a supercharger that will offer free access to long distance travel:

“We always want it to be the case that the supercharger is free once you’ve bought the car. So we don’t want to have this kind of pay every time you arrive thing. I think it’s just so much easier for you to just build it into the cost and you arrive and you just never have to deal with anything. So as long as other manufacturers are willing to take that same approach, at Tesla we’re more than happy to share the network. I’ve seen some articles like, ‘Is it Tesla’s intention to create a walled garden or something like that?’ And that is not at all the case. This is not some nefarious marketing ploy. It is simply that we need to have high-speed charging in order to have convenient long-distance travel. And if we were to wait around for everyone to agree on the right approach, it would never happen. So we have to just go out there and do it, and then other manufacturers can join us, or they can copy us, or they can maybe think of something better.” He shrugs, as if to suggest that whether other auto manufacturers do or don’t go along with his plan makes no difference to him, and takes the next question.

But coming back to Musk’s vision of putting people on Mars. I know. I know. Most think it’s a crazy idea. A dream right out of Heinlein or Asimov, etc. But, hey, I’ve always felt that the resources we’re going to need to exist in the near future are sitting out there in our Solar System. We can either sit here and implode, bewail our fate and cry about capitalism or do something. Musk is doing something. Am I a technologist for technology’s sake? No. That’s like the old Art for art’s sake of the moderns. I’m a creature who sees that we have few choices left on earth, either we clean up our act and build a future together. Come up with innovative technologies to help us fix the mess we’ve created on earth. Oust the monopolists. Gain a foothold in Space. Or we will implode and enter a new Dark Ages. Must has a vision. He’s only one man but he’s invested his money and vision into clean vehicles, solar energy, and space exploration. Do you see anyone else out there doing what he’s done toward creating both clean energy technologies and a chance for adventure and a future worth having?

He has a three-step plan that’s been ongoing and phase one was completed a few years back:

SpaceX Business Plan

Read Tim Urban’s post How (and Why) SpaceX Will Colonize Mars:

Part 1: The Story of Humans and Space

Part 2: Musk’s Mission

Part 3: How to Colonize Mars
→ Phase 1: Figure out how to put things into space
→ Phase 2: Revolutionize the cost of space travel
→ Phase 3: Colonize Mars

A SpaceX Future

  1. A Thousand Plateaus. Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. ( University of Minnesota Press, 2011)

The Holographic Universe: Black Holes, Information, and the Mathematics

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The ‘holographic principle,’ the idea that a universe with gravity can be described by a quantum field theory in fewer dimensions, has been used for years as a mathematical tool in strange curved spaces. New results suggest that the holographic principle also holds in flat spaces. Our own universe could in fact be two dimensional and only appear three dimensional — just like a hologram.

I’ve read much of the work surrounding this for years, but in the past few years this notion of the universe as a hologram has become more and more valid with the math that supports it being testable and already offering proofs. The truth of it is yet to be tested empirically, but the mathematical proofs support the feasibility of the empirical testability at some point in the future.

As Science Daily recently reported up until now, this principle has only been studied in exotic spaces with negative curvature. This is interesting from a theoretical point of view, but such spaces are quite different from the space in our own universe. Results obtained by scientists at TU Wien (Vienna) now suggest that the holographic principle even holds in a flat spacetime.

The notion that our visible universe is a projection from a 2 dimensional surface or flat horizon of information seems wild, yet this is what the math is describing. “The fact that we can even talk about quantum information and entropy of entanglement in a theory of gravity is astounding in itself, and would hardly have been imaginable only a few years back. That we are now able to use this as a tool to test the validity of the holographic principle, and that this test works out, is quite remarkable,” says Daniel Grumiller.

Nature reports that in two papers posted on the arXiv repository, Yoshifumi Hyakutake of Ibaraki University in Japan and his colleagues now provide, if not an actual proof, at least compelling evidence that Maldacena’s conjecture is true.

In 1997, theoretical physicist Juan Maldacena proposed1 that an audacious model of the Universe in which gravity arises from infinitesimally thin, vibrating strings could be reinterpreted in terms of well-established physics. The mathematically intricate world of strings, which exist in nine dimensions of space plus one of time, would be merely a hologram: the real action would play out in a simpler, flatter cosmos where there is no gravity.

Maldacena’s idea thrilled physicists because it offered a way to put the popular but still unproven theory of strings on solid footing — and because it solved apparent inconsistencies between quantum physics and Einstein’s theory of gravity. It provided physicists with a mathematical Rosetta stone, a ‘duality’, that allowed them to translate back and forth between the two languages, and solve problems in one model that seemed intractable in the other and vice versa (see ‘Collaborative physics: String theory finds a bench mate’). But although the validity of Maldacena’s ideas has pretty much been taken for granted ever since, a rigorous proof has been elusive.

In one paper, Hyakutake computes the internal energy of a black hole, the position of its event horizon (the boundary between the black hole and the rest of the Universe), its entropy and other properties based on the predictions of string theory as well as the effects of so-called virtual particles that continuously pop into and out of existence (see ‘Astrophysics: Fire in the Hole!‘). In the other, he and his collaborators calculate the internal energy of the corresponding lower-dimensional cosmos with no gravity. The two computer calculations match.

What’s interesting is the notion that information never disappears only the projection that is being played out. The information of which we and the universe are made exists on the outer surface of the universe and remains. So what does this tell us? It can always be retrieved if one had the technology to do so. Leonard Susskind in a youtube film describes the details in a simplified form. We are a projection from the Outside in of an informational hologram being projected into the inner void of the universe – mere images from the stored information surrounding the universal sphere directed internally just like the objects that fall into a Black Hole. His main point is that information never disappears. What he means by that is that the Information is about distinctions, distinctions between things – a hydrogen atom is not an oxygen atom, an oxygen atom is not a hydrogen atom, there are distinctions between these that are fundamental to physics and the universe, and these distinctions never disappear.

This fundamental principle of physics would lead to a decades long battle between Hawking’s and Susskind over their respective principles. Hawking believed all information was lost the moment it entered a black hole, Susskind believed it was retained. So ultimately Susskind won out only as other physicists began to invest mathematics in solving this issue. Out of this the new paradigm of the holographic universe arose out of bringing quantum mechanics and string theory into solving this issue. The great thing that came out of this is that if we know the surface area of an object we can calculate or quantify the amount of information hidden in that object. So that the information contained in a black hole, or even the universe can be quantified. There is a relation between the surface and the information contained in the black hole or universe.

Yet, the big problem now is how to extract that information and reconstruct what is being held. To do that scientists are working on ‘gravity’, for it is gravity that holds the key to the extraction of the information contained. This is a whole new problem.

The Black Hole as this mathematical model details is itself covered by a flat surface of quantum information of all the objects that fall into it. Yet, as Susskind admits the notion of the holographic metaphor is only analogy of the math, and not to be mistaken for the mathematical theorems supporting it. It’s close but we as humans were not made to comprehend the advanced mathematical functions of modern physics of 10 dimensions, etc. So until some better visualization of the data comes along this is what we have:

Bitcoin and Blockchain Startups: Venture Capital invested $375 Million Raised in 2015

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Keeping track of Blockchain and Bitcoin related news. Discovered that Venture capitalists are on the increase again. Blockchain related technologies have over 2014-2015 raised over $600 Million in various start ups. Looks like a new technology revolution in the making. If you’re young and a developer this would be a field to definitely look into. If I wasn’t retired I would. I downloaded the open source and the various toolkits needed to create a base app. Fun development. Needs a lot of improvement. This would be a great place to begin building a development interface to interoperate with these various technologies. At the moment everything is done at command line. I moved the code to my Linux system and love it so far. The Bitcoin Developer API’s can be found here on Blockchain.info.

Below is some information of various money being invested into start ups…

WallStreet Journal in an article Blockchain Lands Biggest Ever Venture Funding Round in Bitcoin Industry reports:

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Warren Ellis on the Silence of the Net

Spider Jerusalem by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson

Spider Jerusalem from Transmetropolitan – Warren Ellis (author) and Darick Robertson (artist)

from Warren Ellis’s Moring, Computer:

It’s quiet.  My internet generation has a ton of (aching, bruised) muscle memory for communicating and reading in several windows and apps across a couple of devices simultaneously.  The new silence has my muscles twitching, yelling that we’re being lazy, but it’s just because nothing’s happening and nobody is talking.  I read a thing the other day saying that the drop-off in new Twitter users is down to the fact that it’s now so loud that it’s lonely.


I still have the Twitter blip on my sidebar with its little blue-bird sitting there in mid-flight like a speed bump on the undermind of the net. What once seemed a desperate  line of flight into a mad world of interesting topics, daily blips in a networld full of activism and sparks, has given way to the new colonization by the alien machines of corporate ad-verts, and the mindless frogs of the new PC capture systems of soft fascism… a place where the new trolls are the language police who seek out and destroy all speech patterns beyond the confines of the control networks “dictionary of political correctness”. Now begins the downslide of unfreedom and the silencing of fun and satire… and, forget the comic patter – we’ve gone serious in our electronic caves, lost our resilience (another overused simulator).

The living have closed the doors in silence, while the autobots of the new electronic tyranny have martialed a selfie extravaganza and blip culture of stupidity to replace the once hoped for intelligence of the net. The net criers who form coalitions against Twitter thievery of jokes or quotes. Weird science news with scattered tales of biotrans makeovers meant as dehumanist fragments of a minor episode to be caught on YouTube. Fractured displays of former hauntologies – remembering the mindscapes of a tributary childhood where thoughcontrol was just another horror book rather than the latest DARPA initiative. No we’re overloaded with gadgets and lightblip ads that speak of memory enhancement therapies and designer drugs to wile away the mindless days of our lost lives among the wires.

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Fast-Track: Trade Wars? – US vs. China

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As I’ve watched the situation in China recently I began gathering notes on the usual suspects. It appears the United States is in the midst of two things: first, it is seeking to curb or contain China through as series of legislative acts that will give the President extraordinary powers of secrecy and legislative and legal abilities over corporate trade agreements; and, two, through this policy it will curb growth in the US workers ability to compete and even to buy. That we’ve been living in a soft fascism for a while now, that our government is owned lock, stock, and barrel by Wall Street and the Financial Capitalism that sponsors it. That for years we’ve been redistributing the wealth of our country to the corporations and global banking systems is already well known. Now their greed is seeking to bring China to its knees. Below is aspects of how they are doing this, as well as bringing themselves down with it.

Stocks were clobbered Friday on Wall Street — a brutal finish to the worst week in the market in four years. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 530 points, the ninth-biggest point decline in its history. A 1000 for the week. Investors worried about signs of a slowdown in the Chinese economy that could hammer companies and countries around the world. The stock of Apple, which depends heavily on demand from China, fell more than 6 percent. (NBC News)

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Are Saudi’s Pushing us to the brink of collapse?

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Today crude oil is at $40.61 and many traders then expect to see prices settle somewhere in the $30s before a bottom is reached.

For a while now I’ve studied Oil and how the Saudi’s might be pushing the world into a monetary collapse by flatlining the oil markets it controls. Jeff Gundlach recently suggested that if Oil prices dropped to $40 dollars a barrel there would be dire consequences. “I hope it does not go to $40,” Gundlach said in a presentation, “because then something is very, very wrong with the world, not just the economy. The geopolitical consequences could be — to put it bluntly — terrifying.” (Business Insider) NY Post reported back in 2014 that the price plunge in oil has been driven by Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s dominant power. While it’s true that part of Riyadh’s actions respond to the energy renaissance in North America, the greater motivation is breaking Iran’s will. The Saudis believe they can no longer rely on the US to contain Tehran’s imminent nuclear threat, so they’re out to do what our lukewarm sanctions couldn’t. There’s no love lost between the Saudis and the Russians, either. The Saudis want the Assad regime in Syria to go. Moscow props it up.

Today on CNBC the stock indexes show that Oil is expected to do just that to fall at or below $40 dollars a barrel. (CNBC) “U.S. crude threatened to break below $40 per barrel for the first time since early 2009 this week, raising fresh fears about the cost of producing crude in America’s oil patch—or perhaps “patches” is the better term.” That’s exactly where prices are heading, according to Citibank, which recently revised downward its outlook for oil to an average of $39 per barrel for the fourth quarter of 2015 and first quarter of 2016. And all this as the Federal Reserve makes noise about raising interest rates, having some in the market asking whether these external factors — what the Fed would call “exogenous” factors — will stop the Fed from changing its interest-rate policy for the first time in over almost seven years.

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The Future of BioGen Protection: Information, DNA, and 3D Printing

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In the future bio-policing will datascan for trace evidence (i.e., hair, semen, etc.)  that can then be developed into 3D recreations of your physical form and profile. Such information could be used by governmental or underground organizations for nefarious purposes: cloning, robotic mimicry, etc. Clones or overlays could replace individuals for specific targeted infiltration into governments, corporations, etc. for assassination, corporate espionage, etc. …story ideas like paranoid pop-up dolls trickle through the mindwires…

Heather Dewey-Hagborg an artist and programmer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago recently said that the “very things that make us human — our bodies and cells — become a liability”. She decided to perform an experiment and began collecting forensic samples in public spaces, monitoring the streets and bathrooms of New York. She then took that grab bag of human leftovers to Genspace, a community biology lab in New York City. After analyzing the DNA for identifiable traits, she used a computer model to predict the faces of the people who left them and used 3D printing to recreate those faces. The resulting series of masks were part of a 2013 show she called “Stranger Visions.” Of course there’s no way to know how closely the faces match those of the people who left the errant pieces of debris, but the art reveals the wealth of personal information that could hide in seemingly anonymous pieces of trash. Dewey-Hagborg argues that this genetic information needs to be protected.

As she told the interviewer, “You wouldn’t leave your medical records on a subway for just anyone to read,” she said. ” It should be a choice.”

“If we’re entering this era of mass biological surveillance, we need instruments of counter-surveillance to protect our privacy,” she said. To counter such policing abilities a new trend is to develop products that would erase or efface one’s genetic traces ubiquitously during the day. Biononymous.me is gathering data and knowledge for such eventualities. As they tell it:

Biological surveillance is the means by which biological science is used to track, monitor, analyze, and turn bodies into data. It is the extraction of DNA and microbes from our skin, nails, hair and body fluids. It is the analysis of identifying body parts like faces, fingerprints and irises. It is the tracking of life itself by body heat, pulse, perspiration, and involuntary movement. It is the vulnerability we each face every day by the very situation of being human, by simply having a body.

She said alternative products are already being developed. The two-part product, called Invisible, consists of two chemical solutions. The first, called Erase, removes 99.5 percent of genetic information. The second solution, called Replace, essentially scrambles the genetic signal by cloaking it with a kind of DNA noise. In an increasingly surveillance-saturated world, ordinary citizens who want to protect their privacy may wind up “doing things that might even border on illegal, but might be the same kinds of things that police or corporations might be doing less publicly,” Dewey-Hagborg said.

(from Tia Ghose: Bio-Art: 3D-Printed Faces Reconstructed from Stray DNA)

Slavoj Žižek: What options has the Greek government?

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– Cartoon by Paresh


Reading Slavoj Žižek: Thanks to the EU’s villainy, Greece is now under financial occupation – his latest entry on the New Statesman, brings me once again back to the bankruptcy of his dialectical vision. He tells us that the “problem Greece is confronting now is the one of the “Left governmentability”: the hard reality of what it means for the radical Left to govern in the world of global capital. What options has the government?” He mentions Yanis Varoufakis being accused of treason. He mentions Tariq Ali’s Diary: In Athens where Tariq reports the truth in the street back in July:

Conditions in Greece have been horrific: a quarter of a million Greeks applied for humanitarian relief to buy food and help with rent and electricity; the percentage of children living in poverty leaped from 23 per cent in 2008 to 40.5 per cent in 2014 and is now approaching 50 per cent. In March 2015 youth unemployment stood at 49.7 per cent, 300,000 people had no access to electricity and the Prolepsis Institute of Preventive Medicine found that 54 per cent of Greeks were undernourished. Pensions dropped by 27 per cent between 2011 and 2014. Syriza insisted that this constituted collective punishment, and that a new ‘deal’ was needed, one that aimed to bring some improvement to the conditions of everyday life.

Ali mentions Timothy Geithner, “the former US treasury secretary, who mentioned that the attitude of the European finance ministers at the start of the crisis was: ‘We’re going to teach the Greeks a lesson. They lied to us, they suck and they were profligate and took advantage of the whole thing and we’re going to crush them.’ Geithner says that in reply he told them, ‘You can put your foot on the neck of those guys if that’s what you want to do,’ but insisted that investors mustn’t be punished, which meant that the Germans had to underwrite a large chunk of the Greek debt.”

Zizek in his own post goes into his usual philosophical renditions about the Event – a philosophical notion he’s taken from Badiou and made his own, etc. But after a long an seemingly quizzical post that seems to beg the question rather than answer it Zizek offers a futile and somewhat belabored answer:

There is no clear a priori answer here, any decision can only be retroactively justified by its consequences. There is a risk that the Syriza capitulation will turn out to be just that and nothing more, enabling the full reintegration of Greece into EU as a humble bankrupt member, in the same way that there is a risk of Grexit turning into a large scale catastrophe. What one should fear is not only the prospect of the further suffering of the Greek people, but also the prospect of another fiasco which will discredit the Left for years to come, while the surviving Leftists will argue how their defeat proves yet again the perfidiousness of the capitalist system…

Žižek seems to worry less about the human suffering to the actual people of Greece – even though he mentions it as rhetorical gesture, and seems more concerned about the “image” of the Left if Syriza’s government ends in a fiasco, one that he assumes will turn the Left into an self-annihilating artifact of its own dark mythologies of capitalism and its bane. Maybe its time for the Left to give up the ghost and for someone or something else to take up the struggle. Obviously the Left is already passé, a thing of the past, a retroactive dream and utopia that saw its day but is now just a graveyard of lost hopes. Bury the hopes and get out of the grave. Time for people themselves to take up their own struggles and forget the bankrupt Left and their fizzled mythologies of redemption. Time for something else… a Great Refusal whose time has come? Maybe as simple as: “We refuse to work…”. How would the world react to a united Greece who refused to labor for the masters, who would rather help themselves and live or die free than be enslaved to generations of debt? Do you think, then that the oppressed around the planet might just wake up? Come to aid of these desperate people and truly begin a global revolution against the stupidity of a global system that is in the end nothing but a tyrant?

No use going over the post, read it yourself… Thanks to the EU’s villainy, Greece is now under financial occupation.

Cryptosociety: The Dark Economy and Technologies of Freedom

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“We will replace insurance companies. We will replace Wall Street. – Joseph Lubin

Under the hood of capitalism flows another world, a dark world of economic counter-insurgents. A realm of noirpreneurs who slip the electronic seeds of an anarchic future of pure freedom beyond the capture systems of global governance. A cryptosociety of dark capitalists who live in the shadow markets outside the global eye. This darker world of the bitcoin and blockchain revolution is unleashing the teeth of a global systemic exit, a techno-secessionism that seeks not only to forget capital’s fractured End Game but to undercut its all too human roots in transparency with utter opaqueness and anonymity.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” says Amir Taaki. “Like a hydra, those of us in the community that push for individual empowerment are in an arms race to equip the people with the tools needed for the next generation of digital black markets.” (from Inside the Dark Market by Andy Greenberg) As the blurb on Consensys site envisions the opening out from bitcoins to the larger framework of the global use of blockchain technologies state it: “Blockchain technology and dApps have the ability to decentralize power from existing authorities in business, law, and technology to a broad set of stakeholders. This shift will disrupt current business, economic and social paradigms. Transaction costs and barriers to entry in various industries will be reduced in these industries. The result will likely be an increase in economic exchange and prosperity.”

Taaki argues that he’s merely distributing a program–not running a criminal conspiracy. “I’m just a humble coder,” he says. “Code is a form of expression. You can’t imprison someone for speaking an idea.” Yet, it can be used to counter your so to speak techno-anarchistic neutrality. This open source vision of expression is nothing more than subterfuge, and less than it seems. What’s ironic is that Taaki and those anarchist of the new economy of black markets and terminal exit from the system through a form of techno-secessionism are already being coopted by the very powers they seek to accelerate beyond. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for this anarchic wave of dissent and techno-secessionism toward alternative sub-cultures and techno-tribalism etc.

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Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams: Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work

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Happened on the new book by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work. Looks like it’ll be out in November.

from the blurb:

Despite the profound crisis of capitalism and the mass mobilizations of people around the world in response, there has been no successful contestation of neoliberalism’s hegemony. Inventing the Future is a major new manifesto that argues for a novel set of alternatives for the future—alternatives which seek to rekindle a popular modernity. Against the confused understanding of the high-tech and neoliberal world by both the right and the left, this book claims that the emancipatory and future-oriented possibilities of our society can be reclaimed. Instead of running from a complex future, the authors envisage a post-capitalist economy is capable of advancing living standards, liberating humanity from work and developing technologies which free us from biological and environmental constraints.

“Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’ project dares to propose a different way of thinking and acting. Given the fizzling of the Occupy moment, a radical rethinking of the anarchic approach is badly needed but just not happening. This book could do a lot of work in getting that rethink going.” Doug Henwood, author of Wall Street

“The Left has lost its grip on the future. In retreat from technological modernity, too many leftists have fled to the local, the organic and the spontaneous. Inventing the Future shows why these strategies are misguided, and offers a vision of how left-wing politics can be rebuilt for the 21st century.” Mark Fisher, author of Capitalist Realism: Is there no Alternative?

DIY Utopia: Floating Cities, Crowdfunding, Disruptive Technologies

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J.G. Ballard believed that our surveillance society of unfreedom would soon lead its citizens into the dangerous territory of personal and collective forms of psychopathology ‘in order to enlarge the scope of their lives and imaginations’.1

The future is no longer a fictional site for your dreams, instead in our time the future is nothing more than a DIY Toolkit for your psychopathological dreams: a crowdfunding enterprise for building experimental utopias among the ruins of global capital.

Nicole Sallak Anderson tells us that for any technologically advanced society to move forward and truly become a technically and socially sustainable, we must change the story of our lives from competition to collaboration. She also lists the aspects of such a successful transition will entail universal access to information; decentralization of food, healthcare, education, currency, and manufacturing; decoupling of work and personal definition; universal basic income; servant leadership; and a participatory and cosmopolitan democratariat.

Of course this, too, is a form of DIY Utopian thinking, a way to inveigle a form of libertarian propaganda of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of private and individual happiness under the illusion of reigning in the global monopolies: the Oligarchs, Bankers, and major stock-holders who at the moment control the planet’s resources and territories on a global scale. She feeds into the libertarian hype of 3D entrepreneurs ousting the old monopolies with designer blue jeans and ultra fashions created in your own DIY home projects, alleviating and shutting down the sweatshops of the global GAP’s of the world.

Don’t let my sardonic and cynical wisdom keep you from your libertarian dreams, I’m only looking at the rear view mirror of history where such escapes and exits litter the global highways of a temporal disorder that few dare explore much less take off their brand new google eyeware to ponder. The only difference between the mega-socialist and mega-capitalist welfare systems of the past and the new liberation capital front of innovation and creativity is that this time it serves a small fringe cybertariat of techno-entrepreneurs whose average pay is feeding this new frenzy of activity. Instead of the old command and control structures of super-states and conglomerates of multinational systems of coercion we have the self-made ideology of the aquapreneur. Didn’t we see this in the 90’s with the venture capitalism of the netentrepeneur. Didn’t that kinda wipe out after just a few years when all those old meanies of the monopoly set stepped in and began to buy up those little self-made millionaires goodies and close down the freedom lovers of libertarian capitalism? Of course many of those Silicon babies joined the ranks of the old capitalist regimes as front runners for the techno-commercial empires we see around us now. Want these new aquapreneurs become the aqua-commercial empire capitalists of a future oceanic civilization?

Oh, how easily we forget…

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Terence W. Deacon: What is missing from theories of information?

Memory-LOSS

Where there is no evolutionary dynamic there is no information in the full sense of the concept. – Terrence W. Deacon

In his essay What is missing from theories of information? Terence W. Deacon tells us:

The “intentional inexistence” of the content of a thought, the imagined significance of a coincidental event, the meaning of a reading from a scientific instrument, the portent of the pattern of tea leaves, and so on, really is something that is not there. In this sense the Cartesian-derived notion that the content of mind is without extension, whereas the brain processes that realize this content do have extension, is at least partly correct. But to say that this absent content is extensionless is not quite right. The non-produced signal (that is, reduced entropy) that is the basis for Shannonian informative capacity, the non-present work that was or was not the basis for the reference of this signal, and the interpretive options (organism trait variations) selected in an evolutionary process, all have a definite negative extension in the sense that something specific and explicit is missing. In other words, like the space within a container, these are absences that are useful because of the way what is present can exemplify them.

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The Alien Thing I AM: On Peter Watts Blindsight

alien_contact_440

I see it for the first time since some beaten bloody friend on a childhood battlefield convinced me to throw my own point of view away. – Peter Watts, Blindsight

Most of us go through life never questioning the truth or untruth of our perspective onto reality or ourselves. We merrily believe that we exist and that’s enough. Sure, everyone lives, breaths, smells, hears, sees – and, we all have this feeling that there is this subtle continuity, something that from day to day remains; even after all the objects that enter and leave our conscious mind we sense this something that is essential about our lives, something distinct and different; and, most of all permanent: the sense of Self, our identity – our meaning and purpose, our memories and connections to a body and its relations with others, our sociality. But what is this thing after all? This Self we so believe in and never even question, but assume that everyone around us has as well. Is it real? Are just a packet of memories that resolve themselves through redundancy and recursive iterations of information seem to provide us the illusion of a unified identity through time, when indeed there is actually nothing at all there, nothing. Just an illusory vacuum filled with strange thoughts that appear from nowhere and soon drift off into that vast emptiness surrounding us on all sides.

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Marshall McLuhan: CounterBlast and Baby Powder

from-mess-to-chaos

“Ontological density without identifiable form is abstract horror itself. As the Great Filter drifts inexorably, from a challenge that we might imaginably have already overcome, to an encounter we ever more fatalistically expect, horrorism is thickened by statistical-cosmological vindication. The unknown condenses into a shapeless, predatory thing. Through our techno-scientific sensors and calculations, the Shadow mutters to us, and probability insists that we shall meet it soon.”  – from  Nick Land: Phyl-Undhu: Abstract Horror, Exterminator

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”  – Pogo

“In America and Cosmic Man Wyndham Lewis saw North America as a benign rock-crusher in which all remnants of European nationalism and individualism were happily reduced to cosmic baby powder.”1 Marshall McLuhan will seek what he terms a counter-environment against the imperious Infospheric global hyperobject (Morton) which has been quite ubiquitous and invisible to most citizens of the planetary socious of capitalism. He further reminds us that as in the beginning of Pavlov’s experiments where he discovered the key to conditioning was previous conditioning, our current masters have slowly accrued vast communicative systems (ICT’s) as well as certain convergence technologies (NBIC) to condition us to our enslavement to the great profit systems of capitalism, and engulph us in the Internet of things like a great surround media-systemic world architecture.

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Global Modernity and the Eternal Return: Brains, Cryptography, and Control

A sample of Linear B script, the earliest Greek writing, 1450 BC, and an adaptation of the earlier Minoan Linear A script. This piece contains information on the distribution of bovine, pig and deer hides to shoe and saddle-makers. It is a script made up of 90 syllabic signs, ideograms and numbers, a form earlier than that used for the Homeric poems. These clay tablets were fortuitously preserved when they were baked in the Mycenaean palace of Pylos fire 250 years later.

One final crude point for now. As a fundamental cybernetic theory, accelerationism is bound to the identification of a socially central, positive feedback loop, through which modernity is propelled. – Nick Land

In conversation with a friend this morning about China and its current Industrial crisis of pollution and modernism 2.0 a few notes…

Existoon:

In this light, it’s easy to see why Land would be interested in China. There are many cybernetic positive feedbacks in play there, with lethal effects. I don’t think it’s about respect for tradition or Confucian values: more as semiotic guerrilla, with machinic Medea hypothesis as a guiding light. All life feeds on positive feedback of death, sixth extinction is inevitable, microbial alien intelligence takes over, consumes the sun. His alignment with climate change morons can be seen as similar tactics: feed those positive feedbacks, baby.

You’ve said that Land’s death is Lem’s equilibrium. Sure, but Land’s death is also creative, runaway positive feedback. I think it also makes Land a more accurate futurist. Lem’s futures have old school cybernetic notion of balance between positive and negative, so things mostly work. In our present and future, things seem to mostly collapse

My Response:

“Land’s death is Lem’s equilibrium.” You leave out Lem’s underlying systems analysis of thermodynamics and entropic systems of which the Universe is the greatest. Everything runs down in the end… as Lem would say: “A machine is thus a system that manifests some kind of regularity of behavior: statistical, probabilistic, or deterministic. From this point of view, an atom, an apple tree, a star system, or a supernatural world is a machine. Everything we construct, and that behaves in a certain way, is a machine: everything that has inner states and outer states, while the relations between sets of those states are subject to certain laws.”2 The Universe is a tinker-toy construction kit for the underlying processes of a sub-atomic system of algorithms that we barely have access too much less understand. What little we know we try to tell ourselves nice little stories about, but in truth all our fictions are open to revision and silence. Is the universe just an inhuman and endless algorithmic process of informational neglect – as my friend Scott Bakker might have it?

Lem speaks of “islets of decreasing entropy” emerging in the world of general entropic increase. That “animate nature, or the biosphere, involves both a collaboration and a mutual voraciousness; it is an alliance that is inextricably linked with struggle…” (Summa Technologiae) As he says, “entropy only functions as a measure of information when the system in which we measure it finds itself in a state of thermodynamic equilibrium. But what if this is not the case? Then everything depends on the frame of reference. But where is this frame? Another note: “Human language is an artificially created information code, constructed by biological evolution. Both have their addressees and their significance. A sign assumes the existence of information (it is part of its code), while information exists only when it has an addressee.” So what if the universe is a message, a novel written by an infinite mind addressed to its creation? What then? Should we assume there is after all a god in the darkness of the code? Isn’t this too fiction, a leap into ignorance again?

Lem speaks of the genetic code: “Thus an addressee of the lizard’s genetic information is the environment itself, together with the whole population of its species and the other organisms— which it will either devour or itself be devoured by. In other words, an individual’s biogeocenotic environment is the receiver of genetic information. It will beget other lizards in it, and in this way the circulation of genetic information as part of the evolution process will be maintained.” So is there a genetic code for stars and the organization of galaxies, dark matter, and dark energy underlying the evolution of the universe? Is the core motif here the explosion of that first singularity the unfolding of an informatics message curled up in the Big Bang? But who is the receiver or addressee: the Universe itself as environment?

Nature “arrived at” the “idea” of coupling more likely processes (an increase in entropy or disorganization) with some less likely ones (the emergence of living organisms)— an idea that has resulted in an increase in organization and a decrease in entropy— billions of years ago. In a similar way, it created levers, chemodynamic and chemoelectrical machines, and transformers of solar energy into chemical energy (skeletons of vertebrates, their cells, photosynthesizing plants); it also created pumps (hearts)— regular and osmotic ones (kidneys), “photographic” cameras (organs of sight), and so on. Within the realm of bioevolution, it did not touch nuclear energy because radiation destroys genetic information and life processes. But it “applied” such energy in stars. (Lem)

Land is just as much of a cyberneticist, both Lem and Land were following Nietzsche’s original Systems Theory of the Eternal Return: (Land) “As a fundamental cybernetic theory, accelerationism is bound to the identification of a socially central, positive feedback loop, through which modernity is propelled.” This notion of the positive feedback loop is Nietzsche’s eternal return displaced into cybernetic theory.

Just because these notions have through veritable incarnation into the real world applications has nothing to do with their original virtual potential which has been enacted many times through history. You’ve fallen into the fallacy of progressivism: thinking ours is somehow an extensional improvement on these old notions, there is no improvement, just a subtler incarnation of ancient potentials actualized. Is there really a difference between accumulation of goods on clay tablets, and those inscribed on digital mediums of storage? Or is it that it has only accelerated our ability to reformat the data at light speeds, which has enabled an acceleration of the accumulation of profits and distribution at light speeds?

As far as that goes one might think of the Axial Age of the fifth century BCE as the pivotal moment when these notions of feedback loops and eternal return first saw the light of day in such men as Zarathustra, Buddha, the Pre-Socratics… etc. It just took the ability to objectify these ideas into formal relations of material – actualization of the virtual potential as Deleuze would have it, etc. Land’s point is the subtle notion that the ideas brought back in time to such humans came out of the future, not some play land of Eternal Ideas of Plato etc. But then you’d have to ask: What exactly is the future? Which requires the next question: What is Time? Physics? Metaphysics? Base materialism of the nth degree… follow the atom into the black hole of thought like Alice in a sea of potential time… maybe the Universe itself is this Ocean of Information: but information is nothing without a sender and receiver… but who is the Sender and who is the Addressee? Most of all what is the contents of the message, the script playing itself out in real time even as we enact it?

Look at Joyce’s Finnegans Wake – the first work of the cybernetic age, a computer system with its own algorithmic codes delving into the ‘energetic unconscious’ of the Irish and European psyche of cultural inscription technologies (History as archive of puns and humor, secret cryptographies and analysis of empires as art works…). The notion of eternal return or feedback loop of historical unconsciousness played out as pure farce… Joyce’s fictional enactment of the eternal return that brings the Greek and Hebraic cycles to their conclusion in modernism, an encyclopedia of closure and openings – a sea of data with potential to awaken only in the mind of the reader’s future now… remember Joyce believed critics (those infinite readers) would take five hundred years to decipher the codes of his big black book of nonsense puns.

Writing, Data Storage, Cryptolinguistics

Paul Valery in Monsieur Teste would say “The infinite, my dear friend, is no big deal— it’s a matter of writing— the universe exists only on paper.” Think about the history of Linear B and Linear A. One might see it as an example of first Contact with an alien species, except this time that species is humanity itself. Linear A and Cretan hieroglyphics has yet to be deciphered, their semantic meanings and encoding still locked away in the silences of an extant corpus, comprising some 1427 specimens totaling 7362–7396 signs, if scaled to standard type, would fit on a single sheet of paper.

We can take both the material and the content as an enactment of the first computer system. The content itself records information about the major cities and palaces and their various accountings and disbursements of goods around the region. Wool, sheep, and grain were some common items, often given to groups of religious people and to groups of “men watching the coastline.” The tablets were kept in groups in baskets on shelves, judging by impressions left in the clay from the weaving of the baskets. When the buildings they were housed in were destroyed by fires, many of the tablets were fired. Of course many media theorists from Innis, McLuhan, Kittler, Ong, etc. and beyond have discussed this aspect of the archeological record previously discussed in the various nineteenth and twentieth century archives, etc.

Economics. Every major agricultural complex from Egypt, Crete, to the Middle-East recorded their civilizations transactions in writing and bookkeeping. Accounting practices were the first things stored in a digital framework of inscription onto external storage devices of clay, parchment, etc. One does not find great novels or any individualism of creativity in these clay systems of signs, only the lengthy descriptions of an empires wealth accumulation and distribution. As Harold A. Innis would say:

Obsession with economic considerations illustrates the dangers of monopolies of knowledge and suggests the necessity of appraising its limitations. Civilizations can survive only through a concern with their limitations and in turn through a concern with the limitations of their institutions…

One could trace the rise and fall of empires to the slow and methodical depletion of its material base time and time again. Soil erosion, water scarcity, pollution, concentration of wealth, etc. What Innis is speaking of is excess, of moving too far beyond the limits of a civilizations goods and resources, depleting the natural resources needed to sustain that civilization which then led such civilizations to expand into other regions, cycles of wars and incursions from the periphery over resources, etc. Until now when several major civilizations have finally succumbed to the last global effort to secure resources for their citizens and elites. Our time is that final battle over the earth’s last remaining agricultural and industrial resources. Who knows how it will play out? Will it come to a head in this century as many believe? Will humans come to terms in this? China seems like the nineteenth and early twentieth century West who devastated its towns and countries through pollution by way of coal. For it is coal and its release of sulfur gases and other particulates that are killing 1.6 million people a years. And, yet, one sees the government trying to hide these atrocities from the world and its own people. Typically the owners could care less about the land or its peoples, only profit.  “Let the Devil have the hindmost” – as the old saw has it.

If one studies ancient civilizations as a combination of sacred and secular economics, and writing, inscription, art, icons, images, etc. as the first media systems used to control an empires population as command and control structures, etc. That control of the media and its propaganda has from the beginnings of civilization till now organized labor and intellect is almost a cliché yet the history of writing, art, and its media enactments hierarchized under the auspices of empire as it cannibalized the minds of its citizens and peripheries like so many organic programs in some massive art installation is only dawning on us. What was modernism after all? Was it nothing but the underbelly of that ancient set of algorithms playing themselves out over and over again in various forms? With all our whimsical belief in freedom do we really understand what the eternal return really means? With such notions one might like Enrique Vila-Matas the great modernist of our era from Spain begin again with modernist art and artists:

Toward the end of the winter of 1924, on the enormous, towering rock where the concept of eternal recurrence first came to Nietzsche, the Russian writer Andrei Bely suffered a nervous breakdown as he experienced the irremediably ascending lavas of the superconscious. On the same day, at the same time, a short distance away, the musician Edgar Varèse fell from his horse when, parodying Apollinaire, he pretended to set off for war.1

This short novel of Vila-Matas, A Brief History of Portable Literature rehearses the modernist move as itself a distillation of these great themes in a humorous and light fable of the surreal and Dadaist escapades of its key players of the age.

I can see what Foucault termed the archive or Borges the Library of Babel as the slow and methodical incorporation of the General Intellect of Marx into our digitalized universe of Big Data, etc. Sooner or later all this notion of private property and proprietary names and honorifics will go the way of Shakespeare. Does it matter who Shakespeare was? With all the cultural materialist discourse concerning the archive and age of Shakespeare as itself producing his works, etc. Or the obvious banal discourses on alternative personalities hiding behind the mask of Shakespeare. Or the tedious accumulation of critical works, biographies, and academic treadmill capitalism that year after year spins out its new assemblage of scholarship in the sink hole of oblivion we still have no clue who Shakespeare is. We have a complete archive of information about a self-modeling Shakespeare who forever eludes our tracings on the shadow puppet screen of the creature behind the mask. But does it matter? We don’t have the authors of all those clay tablets of an empires goods from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Babylon, etc. either. Yet, and this is more interesting the men and women who deciphered these ancient clay and papyri were more fascinated by the codes, the secret cryptography of the silent semantics of these strange symbols, more fascinated in the process of discovery and analysis itself than in the actual final elaboration of the banal information locked away in these coded messages.

We know that Michael Ventris who finally deciphered Linear B only did this after another unrelated discovery of some of the same tablets on the Greek mainland, and there was reason to believe that some of the chains of symbols he had encountered on the Cretan tablets were names. Noting that certain names appeared only in the Cretan texts, Ventris made the inspired guess that those names applied to cities on the island. This proved to be correct. Armed with the symbols he could decipher from this, Ventris soon unlocked much text and determined that the underlying language of Linear B was in fact Greek. This overturned Evans’s theories of Minoan history by establishing that Cretan civilization, at least in the later periods associated with the Linear B tablets, had been part of Mycenean Greece.

This notion of an inspired ‘guess’ is this not after all the introduction of the new? An idea or notion that comes out of nowhere, a creative act that has no precedent, a eureka moment? Is there a history of such moments? A sort of registry of ‘guesses’ that have brought about our very material civilizations? Is it that the brain, the sub-programming and algorithmic or ‘energetic unconscious’ the three pound material computer or neuronal factory in the skull suddenly computes a specific alignment of various facts in such a way that it suddenly produces a new thought into consciousness that seems to appear as a ‘lucky guess’ and ‘inspired guess’ that is neither lucky nor inspired but just the methodical application of little understood material processes in the brain that we have due to our inadequate, and as my friend Scott Bakker terms it – metacognitive neglect, have no access to with out very limited range of consciousness? Do we not attribute miraculous knowledge to everything but the very material processes going on below consciousness? Why? Why can’t we just admit we are truly just limited by our evolutionary heritage, that as Nietzsche and others have suggested, consciousness is nothing special, and is in fact not even relevant in matters of new ideas? That it is nothing but the end point in processes of algorithmic and energetic forces that bypass the conscious mind in such difficult tasks? We have made of consciousness what we’ve done with our empire of globalism and self-egoistic pursuits: we’ve had the gall to believe that consciousness was the exception, the great exception in the animal kingdom.

What’s even stranger to me is that in our time two empires of the EU and USA are spending hundreds of millions if not billions to map the Brain in various initiatives. BRAIN Initiative and Organization for Human Brain Mapping.   Bioethical issues surrounding it have been discussed as well.

It’s as if we are treating the brain like we once treated the Linear B tablets as a cryptological object that can be deciphered, unlocking its hidden algorithms, its deep encoded systems of production. Of course we’re told that all this has to do with health and our own safety – “a bold new research effort to revolutionize our understanding of the human mind and uncover new ways to treat, prevent, and cure brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, autism, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.” (here) Yet, we see that DARPA itself – a military R&D firm and front group for the USA Government PR machine heads up much of this interconnected and financed system. As NY Times reported (Agency Initiative Will Focus on Advancing Deep Brain Stimulation (James Gorman)):

The federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, known as Darpa, announced Thursday that it intended to spend more than $70 million over five years to jump to the next level of brain implants, either by improving deep brain stimulation or by developing new technology.

Justin Sanchez, Darpa program manager, said that for scientists now, “there is no technology that can acquire signals that can tell them precisely what is going on with the brain.”

And so, he said, Darpa is “trying to change the game on how we approach these kinds of problems.”

The new program, called Systems-Based Neurotechnology and Understanding for the Treatment of Neuropsychological Illnesses, is part of an Obama administration brain initiative, announced earlier this year, intended to promote innovative basic neuroscience. Participants in the initiative include Darpa, as well as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Yet, as Darin Dougherty, a psychiatrist who directs Mass General’s division of neurotherapeutics, says one aim could be to extinguish fear in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Fear is generated in the amygdala—a part of the brain involved in emotional memories. But it can be repressed by signals in another region, the ventromedial pre-frontal cortex. “The idea would be to decode a signal in the amygdala showing overactivity, then stimulate elsewhere to [suppress] that fear,” says Dougherty. (see Military Funds Brain-Computer Interfaces to Control Feelings)

Such research isn’t without ominous overtones. In the 1970s, Yale University neuroscientist Jose Delgado showed he could cause people to feel emotions, like relaxation or anxiety, using implants he called “stimoceivers.” But Delgado, also funded by the military, left the U.S. after Congressional hearings in which he was accused of developing “totalitarian” mind-control devices. According to scientists funded by DARPA, the agency has been anxious about how the Subnets program could be perceived, and it has appointed an ethics panel to oversee the research.

Psychiatric implants would in fact control how mentally ill people act, although in many cases indirectly, by changing how they feel. For instance, a stimulator that stops a craving for cocaine would alter an addict’s behavior. “It’s to change what people feel and to change what they do. Those are intimately tied,” says Dougherty.

Dougherty says a brain implant would only be considered for patients truly debilitated by mental illness, and who can’t be helped with drugs and psychotherapy. “This is never going to be a first-line option: ‘Oh, you have PTSD, let’s do surgery,’ ” says Dougherty. “It’s going to be for people who don’t respond to the other treatments.”

Yet, one wonders to what other actual black ops uses such technologies in the hands of undercover agencies and off the grid military and non-military security state systems might under the right circumstances turn these same technologies to command and control. Technology has always been a two-edged sword, and we’ve seen its supposed benefits for civilian use and applications turn to dark and spinster militaristic exploitation time and again. Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki?  Atomic energy or Atomic bombs? Will this new mind control device ultimately be installed in every future citizen at the time of birth? Could one envision a dystopian scenario of this happening? Yes. It’s a very real possibility with devastating impact on our future.

So the journey to decipher Linear B and the external codes inscribed on ancient tablets becomes the quest to decipher the secret algorithms of the human brain itself, which as usual might begin the process of the final solution the elites of the economic system that first organized goods on those ancient tablets have sought all along: a way of organizing the human intellect and its emotional life under the power and control of these very same elites. A crude tautology at best. Is this sheer conspiracy and nonsense? Or just economics playing out its secret algorithmic history? Is this nothing more than what Land termed his crude point: “As a fundamental cybernetic theory, accelerationism is bound to the identification of a socially central, positive feedback loop, through which modernity is propelled.”

Is it after all a positive feedback loop, an eternal recurrence of the same, the oldest idea of economic profit churning away in its widening spiral to temporal accelerationism of ever greater expansion internally and externally, incorporating both the intensive and extensive worlds of accumulated capital beyond the limits of empire and humanity itself? Is this inhuman core driving the engine of madness none other than the coded algorithms of the universe itself in its blind gestures truncating and elaborating its own strange designs under the guise of human innovation and creativity? Is this the age old story of technology at last escaping its progenitor? If Marx spoke of anything worth thinking about it was this process of alienation at the core of our own algorithmic drives. But against Marx and Hegel do we any longer believe in a substantive Self? Is the self rather as Deleuze and Guattari and other process philosophers rather a subjectivation, an ongoing eternal recurrence system of difference and probabilities?

Is this notion of alienation by Marx itself false? Alienation can be overcome by restoring the truly human relationship to the labour process, by people working in order to meet people’s needs, working as an expression of their own human nature, not just to earn a living. If we are inhuman to the max, and have not stable or concrete universal substance of a Self as Substance, and Substance as Self then are we playing games in a fun house without truly knowing the rules of the game? If the essence or essentialism as many of our later day philosophers and neuroscientists affirm is an illusion, that the self is itself just another commodity fetishism in Marx’s terms: a alienated and alienating fiction of our cultural madness what next?

Innis once stated that concentration on a medium of communication implies a bias in the cultural and material development of the civilization concerned either towards an emphasis on space and political organization or towards an emphasis on time and religious organization (p. 196). What happens when the two converge? Innis saw the concentration of modern media leading to a global control system of communication that would ultimately monopolize knowledge, time, and space that if unchecked would reformat both the planet and humanity beyond recognition. Are we in this transitional period from which nothing escapes? Is the creation of an artificial Infosphere that encompasses the external and internal relations of our social systems in an closed loop of entropic relations in the offing? Or will the negentropic outreamers provide an influx into the entropic decay channels and provide a platform to overcome the very inertia of our civilization and enter the galactic family? Are we being organized into a self-organizing feedback system whose only goal is to encompass and expand its own inhuman agenda through profitability? Will humans themselves at some point be stripped and alienated from this machinic phylum once the inhuman core discovers its own advanced path forward? Are we on a runaway train, a black hole of some galactic core revolving and accelerating … accelerating ever faster… toward something? Or is the light at the end of the tunnel only our own inhuman truth awaiting us to accept its final and interminable solution?

P.S. I’d hoped to get into modern cryptography too, but this post has gone on too long as is… maybe again … in a future episode of my strange mental investigations.


  1. Enrique Vila-Matas,  (2015-06-09). A Brief History of Portable Literature (New Directions Paperbook) (Kindle Locations 11-14). New Directions. Kindle Edition.
  2. Lem, Stanis aw (2013-03-01). Summa Technologiae (Electronic Mediations) (Kindle Locations 3238-3241). University of Minnesota Press. Kindle Edition.

China’s Air Pollution: 4,400 deaths per day…

Image from Berkley Earth

Image from Berkeley Earth

Reading an article in which we discover that China’s use of coal is out of control and causing 4,400 deaths a day and 1.6 million deaths per year. As Lucy Liu on Shanhaiist says:

China gets about 64 percent of its primary energy from coal, according to National Energy Administration data. It’s closing the dirtiest plants while still planning new, cleaner ones. The country is expected to shut 60 gigawatts of plants from 2016 to 2020 though three times as many plants are scheduled to be built using newer technology, according to Sophie Lu, a Bloomberg New Energy finance analyst in Beijing.

Back in March this year, a landmark film about China’s catastrophic air pollution titled Under the Dome by journalist Chai Jin went viral on Chinese social media. But just several days later, the documentary was deleted from major Chinese video websites under the orders of the central propaganda department.