Nick Land: Modernity, Blockchain, and the Intelligence Explosion


Interesting interview with philosopher Nick Land – Ideology, Intelligence, and Capital:

Justin Murphy: So the way you see it is that, perhaps, for contingent, historical, institutional reasons, it’s in Europe that something which human civilization, up until then had tried to contain — was able to, to some degree, contain — was able to get out of the box, as you put it, and you think that that is especially, uniquely, related to the arrival of zero in human mathematical capacities within Europe. You think that that was a profound qualitative rupture that allowed something to escape and something that we’ve really never been able to put back in the box since then?

Nick Land: Yes, I would say that’s exactly what I think.

Justin Murphy: So maybe we could think a little bit about what exactly is that thing that escaped, because, I mean, I guess one plausible candidate would be, perhaps we just call this intelligence itself?

Nick Land: The crucial notion is intelligence production. There’s always been intelligence kicking around, but what is specifically modern is the fact that you’re actually able to lock in a positive feedback circuit on intelligence production, and therefore, to have a runaway intelligenic process. This is something that is uniquely modern. Often when you’re looking at the highest examples of intelligence in a culture, you’re looking precisely at the way that it has been fixed and crystallized and immunized against that kind of runaway dynamic — the kind of loops involving technological and economic processes that allow intelligence to go into a self-amplifying circuit are quite deliberately constrained, often by the fact that the figure of the intellectual is, in a highly-coded way, separated from the kind of techno-social tinkering that could make those kind of circuits activate. And so what we’re talking about with modernity, or capitalism, is the fact that the inhibitor system on that kind of circuitry becomes dysfunctional and ceases to obtain.


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