Comment on The Luxurious Ambiguity of Intelligence in Hyperconnectivity

Wildcat Thu, Jun 2, 2011
thank you Kurt, as always your comments bring a sharp eye to difficult subjects which demand of me an effort of clarification.

K:”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.”

W: I really like this definition of yours:” somewhat redundant aggregation and randomization function” though I do believe that we will be able to create such a function I am not certain that the redundancy will be an inherent factor, as I see it we already contain such a skill, though admittedly in most cases we are quite unaware to the fact that we ‘narrate’ a fragmented sense thought state of mind into an ‘apparent whole’. I think that to a very large extent we are comfortable (at least in private ‘mind talk’) with containing a multiple, or a multitude to follow Whitman’s usage in ‘song of myself’. I definitely am with you on the peril of disintegration without embodiments, however it may be the case that the function you alluded to is the new kind of embodiment we are creating.

K: ” 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).”

W: rethinking the example I gave of banking I agree with you that the necessity is for the ‘stable, verifiable identity’ however I think that this will be much harder a nut to crack than it seems on face value. There are so many crucial factors that need be taken into consideration, unless of course the whole banking system changes radically. I am quite uncertain as concerns bitcoin and other future of money project, before a fundamental metamorphosis of our self described agency, as in ‘intentional agency’ has happened, which is partially what I am trying to advocate here.

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

K:"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.

W: yes I am quite aware to the difficulties involved in creating an adequate language that will encompass the needed plasticity, though it may be argued that the hyperconnected reality we are enmeshed in supplies a kind of linguistic ground to which at least part of the new generation of young adults are subject, and are factually subscribing to. (There’s some new research in this respect, especially by Danah Boyd at MS, I’ll try to find the relevant pdf). Nevertheless I believe that many minds are changing their usage of certain terms without even noticing, and though it may not seem so at present since we are still at a very early stage of the transit period of virtualization, the motion I think has already set in.

K: “ w:”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”

K:”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 consciousness.

W:” of course that is what I am trying to do here but any advice as pertains introducing new metaphors in a way that can catch on is more than welcome. Also in this respect I am not sure the constraints exist as such in our collective consciousness, maybe if we substitute ‘constraints exist’ with ‘ habits have been formed’

K:” w:”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”

K:"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.

k:"w:.. 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.

K:"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

W: if these are the options I would rather side with the broader implication in which even simple representations in virtual space are fundamentally ambiguous, which is much more than to say they have an element of indeterminacy about them. As I see it the relation avatar-originator is a newly born realm of exploration that is truly only a prelude to the next step in the evolution of human civilization. To my eyes the revolution of mind extended via technologies of hyperconnectivity resides exactly in this domain of intersubjectivity (in the case I am trying to elaborate here the avatar has as much subjectivity as the originator, creating a new tension, or existence that I term an event. Actually it may not be untrue to posit that sooner or later the conscious aware state of mind will change location from being supervenient on the brain to being supervenient, not on the avatar, but to the tension field of avatar-originator. Eventually re-describing the whole of human experience via a new set of characteristics, which I am in the process of unfolding.
In a way the above is highly controversial and radical, but I think that as some of our sensory data is already mediated via electronic devices and augmented to a form that some call surreal, or hyperrealism, some of that which previously was called ‘a thing, or object’ is increasingly becoming ‘informatized’ (receiving a kind of new background or infocology previously lacking to our immediate observation). Given this new state of affairs I think that the whole issue of responsibility will need be re-evaluated, for in the case that I perceive a new basin of attraction (the tension avatar-originator may be seen as a strange attractor) will be considered as the new reflective point from which agency and intentionality arise.

(divided my answers into multiple for ease of reading..)