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Comment on The Luxurious Ambiguity of Intelligence in Hyperconnectivity

klaitner Mon, May 30, 2011
I find the idea that plastic identity is a stepping stone to virtual minds very much worth exploring. I am of the opinion that the singularity (the version where we upload our brains) is not likely to be successful, as minds without an embodiment constraint to force them to stay integrated would disintegrate - a post singularity insanity, if you will. If we are to survive the transition it will require that we gain skills in managing multiple sub and supra-identities. We must become comfortable being a somewhat redundant aggregation and randomization function.

When considering platform design for identity systems or systems which depend on identity, it is advisable to think carefully about the emergent properties of the structures underpinning the system. In this regard I completely agree that the designs should specifically avoid rigid designators wherever they are unnecessary. I don't agree that banking is a good example of appropriate use of rigid designators, though the dating site example is valid re gender (though gender on a spectrum, a slider if you will rather than a checkbox). Banking requires a stable, verifiable identity, not a bio person linked one. It is rather governments that require bio person identities for the purposes of taxation and control. It is also my shared concern with yours that identity cards for the internet are extraordinary inappropriate for the medium, and that increasingly the old institutions will criminalize new behaviors until a revolution ushers in the new age (see debates around bitcoin, internet anonymity).

Rigid designators should not be allowed to imply ontology and / or metaphysics. .. reflect the necessity of accurate empirical representation


This is a nice thought, but I am unsure of the ability to enforce, except through moral suasion. I expect human beings in general are not capable of using designators purely empirically. This is why, including in your project, it is often necessary to use esoteric language to be very specific about meaning, avoiding common vernacular is it is overloaded. This naturally makes the exercise more exclusive and less capable of viral spread. The ties between language and thought (causal or not) imply word coinage may be necessary to combine the virtues of simplicity and non-traceability.

There's a degree of transference of historical notions into a domain of existential realism to which those notions are not adapted and are factually obsolete


This is the theme of any new conceptual context, that the old metaphors are recreated in the new medium, until such time as the new medium finds its own 'true' expression. Witness documents and folders on computers. The key is to introduce the new metaphors in a way that can catch on, such that we do not become limited in an essentially free medium to the constraints that exist only in our collective conciousness.

In fact, on first appearance it may seem that due to the motion from the actual to the virtual, much information is lost and thus our capabilities of discernment and discrimination are the poorer for it.. this apparent paucity is in fact a false impression .. based on rigid identifiers


This is a beautifully made point. Again it is based on trying to represent old metaphors in the new medium. Having paper on your computer screen and wondering why you cannot tear it or dog ear the corners, missing entirely the new affordances of the medium.

.. certain identities in virtuality are not extensions of our physicality but have, as it were, an independent or semi-independent existence ..


it's highly likely that given enough time and diversification, including mutations, alterations and transformations no [mapping of avatar to originator] will be possible or desirable.. the relationship between the avatar and its originator is an indeterminate one that inherently exhibits the characteristics of ambiguity and fuzziness.


I wonder whether you are making the obvious point of intelligent agents being extensions of their creators but existing in a context unknown or even unknowable by their creators, and the responsibility tracing back to the originator (say a virus and its author), or a rather broader implication that even simple representation in the virtual space has an element of indeterminacy about it - that the context and interactions the avatar has with its surroundings make it something other than an extension of self - I also wonder about the responsibility attached to the butterfly that flaps its wings for the hurricane half way around the world, not all emergence is unknowable - please comment

I do very much like the use of originator rather than owner as it reflects the fluid interests in a particular avatar or representation that become more distributed with time and interaction. This is another design feature of interest for a social platform.

.. we can no longer assume that the motion of intelligence is still, in all cases, directed from the actual to the virtual.. it is an interplay of flows, symmetry is not implied .. asymmetry reigns supreme ..


This is a fascinating theme and intuitively satisfying. What is the intelligence you are referring to here? The projection of identity? Directed causation? how does this definition

There are many ways to understand intelligence, and in many contexts, issues of problem solving, capacity of reasoning, adaptability to new environments, learning from experience, pattern recognition, judgment exercising, imagination, originality, artistic and abstract perception, complex interpretation and so on, are all possible interpretations, definitions and usages of the concept


map to your flows?

.. our cyborgization processes of becoming .. is fundamentally ambiguous .. and should be considered as a flow of in-betweens .. domains of interests, passions and relations.. a fundamental structural instability .. [an] inherent approximation


A lovely softening of the hard lines of object centric sociality, a gestalt figure and background swapping from traditional social networking models.

I propose to make this particular ambiguity [the Avatar-Originator relationship] a kind of benchmark reflection on the concept of identity. I want to see a radical motion towards a possible liberating procedures in which our concious usage of the ambiguity of this relationship replaces the closely coupled, rigid designations we still transpose from the actual to the virtual


So you think facebook sucks a priori :) I would agree this would be a fascinating design for a social network. Certainly it can merely be a usage, but as a meta layer of semantics, much more powerful / dangerous .. do you dare to eat a peach?

The indeterminacy of our identities in the hyperconnected infocologies we are presently enmeshed in, is, I believe, only an indication or the beginning, if you like, of a much greater fuzziness that is waiting for us in the process of cyborgization, to which the virtualization of identity is a crucial step.


This is a key point, that our acceptance of greater degrees of ambiguity through the virtualization of identity is the training ground for cyborgization / mind upload is compelling.

It is my view that the evolution of intelligence, is currently undergoing a dramatic shift towards a greater uncertainty and openness, a deeper ambiguity and larger indeterminacy, a new state of affairs of mind, through which we may, if sensibly and wisely managed, become more free.


Indeterminacy and ambiguity leads not only to greater freedom but to more natural action. Perhaps this also implies a movement towards the now, disengagement from the past and future, a simple engagement with the present not cluttered by temporal norms of identity behavior (ie consistency, alignment).

There seems to be a theme of intelligence and identity being closely linked, I wonder if you could elaborate on the nature of this relationship. Moreover, once the imperative grouping function of the body is no longer a constraint, and for example minds are all uploaded (as an extreme example) whither this relationship? Are stable forms now more akin to attractors in a chaotic flow than the bio-stabilized identities we now employ?

Thank you as always for the stimulation.