martes, 19 de febrero de 2013

The consciense according to User Interface Design, prosthetic limbs and fuzzy gates

This will be highly intuitive; like a painting of (Tina) Turner.

Logic, machines of the mind.
Logic, prostheses of the mind.
Computers, prostheses of the brain.
A "closed prosthesis" is a prosthesis with a well defined (stable) IN and OUT. Oriented towards reliability.
An "open prosthesis" is a prosthesis with a 'not so well' defined IN and OUT. Oriented towards versatility.
Conscience as a coordinator of open prosthesis articulations. Conscience as a cell membrane allowing and resisting influence. Conscience is social but also a personal alter-logic movement. Conscience is an act of criticism, conscience is an act of absurdity and civilization. Conscience is a construction, and constructions are acts of absurdity and civilization.

Machines as a prosthesis of the body. The body as a prosthesis of the mind. The body as a bureaucrat between the machines and the mind.

Conscience is outside logic. Logic vulnerable to the scrutiny of others, other sources of meaning. From your peers criticism to your very own alter-logic. Conscience is related with the alter-ego of a tool. If the characteristic of a tool is its functional reductivism, conscience is portrayed as a non-reductive machine. To use logic consciously is to take logic out of its familiar functional environment and to apply it into new functional requirements, hence its relation with versatility. Nevertheless, versatility is not a privilege of conscious agents; kids, after all, are known to be highly versatile. So it is worth to ask, what do we gain by having conscience if kids are more versatile? Perhaps conscience is a prosthesis, a cultural object of adults allowing them to recover some of the cognitive versatility of kids. Learning a new language seems a good example in this behalf. Kids learn language much easier than most adults, but adults seem to use logic to hack into the natural intuitionist way of learning. Most adults have no longer the cognitive resources that would allow them to learn by intuition (unconscious logic), so they use formal logic (conscious logic) to replace such deficiency. Conscience would in this case act as a prosthesis, or more precisely, as a way to coordinate the proper articulation of known (intuitionist) and new knowledge. It provides to the knew knowledge a transient environment where it can start to take eventual intuitionist roots. Learning a new language by formal logic is to develop a representation between intuitionist structures of the mind and an external, unfamiliar structure. The intuitionist structure adopts the new structure for enough time as for the new structure to be able to walk through its own intuitionist steps, a transient relation of logical subordination. Even if that is valid for the learning of language it may not be a determinant case example for the status of conscience. There is a key idea, thought, in the latter example that help us to give a more general setting, the idea of conscience as a cultural object. I want to invoke such term in its condition of being an open ended device; a device whose purpose, whose conclusive meaning, is not well define. Like a letter from the alphabet who is ready to be articulated into higher structures of meaning. So the idea is to explore a definition of conscience that involves the coordination of low-end movements –like logical steps within the mind– into the unfamiliar purposes and meanings of the external environment, the unfamiliar. For the mathematician, the 'unfamiliar' means pretty much everything that is not required by the very movement of logic. For the romantic, it means the beloved alienation of nature or the hatred alienation of industrial civilization. Politics, civilization itself, is the very act of pulling the phenomenizing epiphenomenology, is to connect events hitherto not attached by "nature", is the rising ecology of power, the creation of markets within markets, the negotiaton of the future(s) and the past (historical revisionism), to impose taxes to casinos in order to address climate change, in a way, civilization is the very craft of absurdity. But absurdity, in this context, is a double-edged feeling; it is attached to fear, nostalgia and ignorance, but also to the sense of awareness about having more power than knowledge of cause and being cautious in response.

Lets point to a paradigmatic example.

Towards a pragmatic formulation of conscience: "logic inside", "logic outside". Its incarnation in the realm of software design; the classical dilemma between User Interface Design: how much parameters should we put available to the user without risking frustration, risking program's stability or reaching user's memory saturation? And movements oriented to go beyond this dichotomy: multi-stage tools for progressive empiric education, fractal software environment where highly developed Helps create a non-hierarchical language that pursues a stable and not so stable (careful not to draw the user into a promiscuous vacuous erudition of the software) user gravitating environment, etc.

Even if the user has the education to use a low ended, highly versatile language, the day to day experience will determine the eventual "figuration" of the software (people that use Fortran with the same object-oriented conscience as if they were using Win 98). In other words, freedom is not a substantive, is a verb. This dichotomy should not be push to hard, though, we should provide a space of action for the user against unexpected situations and in general substantive freedom provides a shelter for the unpredictable verbs to come... to come into practice into a daily basis. Furthermore, there are machines whose very purpose is to be non-reductive; an anti-tool, a meta-tool, a humanist being, etc. Or if you are a hard nose pragmatist, a tool to conceive new tools, a workbench, an Integrated Development Environment, etc.

About the moral aspect of conscience [in here I fail to connect with the former reflection and instead try to pour some redundant poetish blablabla, nevertheless… license of sketch]. If consciousness is indeed that membrane, that interstitial region, that last shelter of the ego within the rise of closed tools –as solid as their optimization can be–, that new stone age, then consciousness is indeed the ultimate object, the realm of the undefined in dispute, not a statical unknown, but the frontline of civilization. Doubt is the smell of freedom, and freedom is the rough material of morality. It is the place of reality because it is the place of history. A turbulent history, a turbulent morality is a state of multi-scale existence, but are "we" to be a scale or a bot in the fractal software of history? Perhaps we, as body, are bots. While the fractal environment we explore is the mind, the ego –there is no canonic ego despite how hard we try to believe so (what an argument!)–. That simulacrum of the body which we call the individual ego is just a transient ego of maintenance of the body infrastructure. The purpose of the body is to be a historical incarnation of the complex ecology of egos taking place in the history (of civilization).

jueves, 7 de febrero de 2013

Spelling Desire

It isn't enough to talk about sexual identity and sexual orientation as parameters of social choice. This leaves some options undefined, as for example, a woman that feels fine with her body but prefers to be masculine. To cover these is sufficient to specify whether the attributes of identity and orientation are to take place within the realm of the body or the mind. And by the latter I mean culture, aesthetics. The fact that nowadays the available attributes of the mind resemble that of the body is just a transient stage of cultural evolution, the stage of irony and simulacra. We should learn to distinguish and allow the free recombination of the attributes of identity and orientation within the realms of sex and gender. The philosophically oriented reader will have to dismiss me for treating sex and gender as different categories without further discussion. An interesting question for those with progressive agendas regards the potential shapes of a post-sexual world [1]. If we formulate the question as: can a simulacrum survive its conditions? The answer is, no. But if the question is: can a simulacrum survive its historical incarnations? The answer is, yes. Hence, the underlying question is whether sex is the condition of gender or just one of its incarnations [2]. As we identify the most basic conditions giving evolutionary rise to gender, only then, we can say if these conditions will still hold in the foreseeable future [3]. At this point we are pushing the notion of simulacra beyond its transient nature. What begins to take place in an affirmative answer to the future of post-sexuality is a notion of simulacra as a symbiosis between history and economy. And by economy I mean a set of persistent conditions preceding the production and reproduction of strategies. History would provide the signifiers, the conventions, on top of which the strategies are placed. Is as if history would provide a natural shelter for strategies, and as for any shelter it may prove useful to preserve it as long as the costs of creating a tailored one are greater. I treat nostalgia, in this context, as an instinct of tradition and I will not stress further on it. What I mean by signifiers is not just the material object on top of which the meaning takes place, I also mean symbols, objects which have multiple incarnations but which are not invoked as meanings. For example, aesthetic or alphabetic forms; they have no meaning other than that of the conventions on which they are ascribed, nevertheless as forms they can be "incarnated" in multiple substrates [4].

[1] Regarding the dilemma of talking of "post-gender sexuality" or "post-sexual gender". In this two formulations there is an interplay of meaning and valuation. For the first formulation the word sex is invoked in its basic mechanic existence. In contrast, gender is seen as an anachronism on social relations. Verbs like penetration are its epitomes. There is no distinction between organic or inorganic bodies, the many forms of "penetration" are to be explored. It is akin, for example, to cyber-punk literature. For the second formulation, sex refers to the body condition regardless of what you do with it. It is seen as an anachronism to be overcome through a transcendence of the mechanistic conception;  it doesn't looks for new mechanical forms as is the case of the first formulation. The possibilities of social intimacy in the realm of lasting feelings rather than fragmented emotions is to be explored. While the utopic territory of the first formulation is the skin, for the latter is the heart.  I am not sure, though, whether the dichotomy at stake can by reduced only to an issue of continuity and fragmentation or if there are other fundamental antagonisms involved. 

[2] One may precipitate to think that the very existence of homosexuality proves that the "classical" meaning of sexual relation is just an incarnation. Nevertheless there is a possibility of homosexuality being a simulacra of heterosexuality and not being able to survive without it (in the same way that dramatic art would not survive without real life).

[3] Evolutionary means are much wider nowadays than literal darwinism.

[4] Behind this is the idea of the relativity of the signifier and signified.