Nick Land On Sino-Robotics


Nick Land on Urban Future has an interesting article describing the first robotic article written in Chinese that mimics human reporting better than humans; yet, as in all things it is not exactly what you think it is. Quoting a source he tells us a robot called Dreamwriter wrote the 1000-word article, using algorithms that search online sources and data, in just 60 seconds. What’s interesting in the appended section is the simple truth that reporters in China “…are not allowed to express doubt or really investigate reports against the authorities. So robot reporters could easily replace a lot of Chinese reporters like this nationwide.”

Reading Bataille of late on Surrealism my thoughts came this way: “Surreal automatism without the insubordination – totalistic conformity and subordination with the Law. Chinese Society: the perfect Automaton.” It’s as if the Chinese leaders live in a mirror of Narcissism where all truth must mirror only the thoughts of the leaders, therefore the society lives in a box of mirrors, a fun house of lies where the future becomes a machine that is no longer afforded the luxury of short-circuits in the system; rather, the world becomes a puppet world filled with automatons who spout the Party Line – whatever that line happens to be in the minds of the Leaders. But this is not just happening in China. Look around your own backyard… we’re all conforming to the mythologies of imbecility even if we think we’re free to think for ourselves. Our lives are mediated by machines everywhere we are – and, if truth be told, we are ourselves puppets to our own outmoded linguistic automatisms.

Language is the most ubiquitous robot of all and we are its servants. Bataille once said of Hegel’s Master/Slave dialectic concerning language and freedom: “The slave triumphs, but his apparent sovereignty is nothing but the autonomous will for slavery: sovereignty must inhabit the realm of failure.” He would add: “I am sure of one thing: humanity is not composed of isolated beings but of communication between them.” It is only in a “network of communication” (oddly reminding me of Nicklas Luhmann) with others that we reveal our subjectivation:

We bathe in communication, we are reduced to this incessant communication whose absence we feel, even in the depths of solitude, like the suggestion of multiple possibilities, like the expectation of the moment when it will solve itself in a cry heard by others. In ourselves human existence is nothing but shouts, a cruel spasm, a giggling fit where agreement is born from a consciousness which is at last shared between the impenetrability of ourselves and that of others. (Literature of Evil, p. 199)

These machines like Dreamwriter may mimic communication, but they will not communicate. Instead they will mark out the folded immensity of human erasure.

I cannot consider someone free if they do not have the desire to sever the bonds of language within themselves.
…….– Bataille, On the subject of Slumbers

12 thoughts on “Nick Land On Sino-Robotics

  1. I guess such projects aren’t just about elite narcissism: more about sino-social engineering: keeping up appearances and drowning any non-Party politics with ocean of Party spam. It may be quite effective because there’s a fundamental information asymmetry: AI is always better at spewing out garbage than filtering (understanding) it. Even if you somehow get hold of antiparty spam filter (which is/will be a crime, I suppose) it will still leak enormous amounts of garbage, so any act of participation will just wear you down.

    Let’s face it: humans are not very good at discerning intelligence (this weakness also applies to human introspection). So, when algorithms and statistics get near the threshold of human discernment (or simply overwhelm it with sheer mass of data) … what then ?

    Some of the directly observable results seem touchingly human: philosophies of machinic autonomy and singularity business: blind eyes looking towards supposed intelligence inside, searching for it outside, lack of discernment and discrimination.


  2. A thought…

    Will a society like China, if it keeps progressing towards this “fun house of mirrors” that you’re describing … ever “implode” on itself in this progression?

    That is, what if the majority of the population simply ignores the automated propaganda altogether? Or, is this not possible?


    • It will go like others: either revolt or just pretend like North Koreans do to the point that the belief of belief is itself a belief that can no longer be believed but must still be accepted publically. A slavery without the appearance of slavery: a slow suicide…

      Liked by 1 person

      • So you don’t think it is (currently) possible for a human population to “revolt” by ignoring propaganda altogether. By perhaps developing ways to “block out” the noise?

        I do like your “a slavery without the appearance of slavery” thought, though. Describes the U.S. too (we just use different tools to accomplish the same end).


      • Our problem is that the common mind is already so propagandized and educated to mediatization that even the notion of being outside propaganda is itself erroneous: we’re locked in a self-reinforcing system that is so ubiquitous that there is no outside. When one moves to exit one just moves to a new circle of propaganda, one does not leave it. All exists lead to the center of the circle now.

        Liked by 1 person

      • “When one moves to exit [propaganda] one just moves to a new circle of propaganda, one does not leave it.” I like this, and agree with it realistically.

        The sad thing is, physically, we “could” break out of the circle (by cutting off all media influence and moving out to a cabin in the woods etc…) but won’t, because we keep searching for the exit … instead of exiting (which requires that we don’t resume our normal mode of existence).


      • Moving to a cabin isn’t an exit, it’s suicide: cutting one’s self from the communicative network is to die in silence. Which just means to accept the fate of tyranny rather than to exit it…

        Liked by 1 person

      • “Moving to a cabin isn’t an exit, it’s suicide: cutting one’s self from the communicative network is to die in silence. ”

        Unless others do it with you, that hold the same (or very similar) principles that you do. I wasn’t suggesting isolation in the cabin, rather a “restarting” of a smaller society without the infinite narcissistic propaganda loop that is suggested here.

        But again, I do agree with you realistically … we humans won’t do it (break the cycle).


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