Beings of Boundless Space

“Why is utopia a condition of all revolutionary movements? Because much historical experience, more or less buried in the social consciousness, tells us that goals unattainable now will never be reached unless they are articulated when they are still unattainable.” — Leszek Kolakowski

Le ballon [The Balloon]

It was while he was on the ramparts of Paris, when the town was besieged by Prussian troops in 1870, that Puvis had the idea for The Balloon.

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The future has sped in, in our perpetual today and yet we find ourselves living in elapsed decades of dumb zombies yesterdays.

Oligarchs and family dynasties assume their power positions with the full invitation and acquiescence of a creaking, corrupted and ineffective democratic system, a system that has in its early senility lost remembrance of the fervor of its reason.

When democracy loses the passion of its purpose, the home to the Enlightenment it becomes the cold ash of waste and greed, of deceit and deception. Hilariously capitalism consumes itself in a cartoonish autocratic version of itself and the once upon a time historical tragedy of fascism is recycled as farce.

A civilization that has lost its purpose loses the ability to distinguish reality from illusion. Charlatans are crowned. The con is on and on and on.

Lies colorful, lies sly

Lies that wink racist and pornographic implications, bad hair lies.

Smiling, teeth showing, such sunny, bright, well groomed hair ways. Lies paternalistic. Old noble lie.

Lies looped and hammered and nailed into the inside roof of your skull!. Golgotha semblances not forsaken or is it meant simply to crucify the solidity of any sort of collective verity?

Throw away meaning, throw away world, throw away people everywhere.

Lies disguised and meant to disfigure, meant to distort. To rise up a core of animosity, of bile. Bigly — hair — plug — puked — orange — crush — dyed — ugly evil — lies — dismantling meaning with teensy — weensy — but — so — terrifically — furious — hands — much better hands than your hands, that I can tell you.

The mind soaking in the oceanic brine of lies, pickled by powers self regard.

Politicians build governance on a series of lies, lies all the way down, even past the turtle. The bedrock for the standard politico is not the planet, life itself, our cosmic placement, delight and accountability, but the particularly short term goals of their own designation, their own job, the void of power, which is power over others.

Justice is the goal of democracy, its raison d’être and this is where the rule of law engendered by ethics comes to the fore. The authority of law, its meaning, its value can only be relied upon if law is founded on ethics, on ethical acts and substance, on words that have a basis in the sanctity of life’s potentiality. The preeminence of Justice in the idea of civilization is originated by truth, truth in words and truth in fact.

Justitia blindfolded and holding balance scales and a sword.

“The new tyranny, like other recent ones, depends to a large degree on a systematic abuse of language.” — John Berger, Le Monde Diplomatique, February 18, 2003

A venal kleptocracy is our emerging hierarchy, though there is nothing particularly new to the formula — power equals corruption, and absolutely does so absolutely. A searing equation, sadly perennial, that has been tested and proven in laboratory settings, most recently at the University of Lausanne, by professors John Antonakis and Christian Zehnder.

“The results, published in the journal The Leadership Quarterly, were unequivocal. With increasing power — that is, number of subordinates, under the leader or the number of decision choices available to the leader — leaders were inclined to look out for their own self-interest at the expense of those for whom they were responsible. Even those who have honest and socially acceptable attitudes at the moment of their accession to a position of leadership rather easily changed their moral perspectives once they got a taste of power.

But that isn’t all. The researchers also measured the participant’s baseline levels of testosterone, which other studies show predicts antisocial behaviour and self-centredness, as well as a lower capacity for empathy. The study discovered that individual differences, such as endogenous testosterone level, influence corruption.

Specifically, leaders were more corrupt when they had plenty of power and a high testosterone levels. It is therefore possible to predict the behaviour of a leader taking into account these two factors: the degree of power and the individual determinants.”

#1. We are monkeys. #2. Basically opportunists, organically bad monkeys. #3 Monkey politics are carried on primarily through an alpha male system. #4. Most become even worse monkeys when they get to be the hoarder of the commons bananas. Then they get to manipulate their fellow primates. {The neurohistory of warfare and politics needs yet to be written.}

Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Given: Technologies, and new combinations of technologies are already superseding our own capabilities in many fields, soon in all fields. The most prominent development is in the fields of Artificial Intelligence — neural nets for machine learning powered by massive amounts of computational capacities accessing equally ever increasing data infinitudes.

“All the systems which explain so precisely why the world is as it is and why it can never be otherwise, have always called forth in me the same kind of uneasiness one has when face to face with the regulations displayed under the glaring lights of a prison cell.” Ernst Jünger, The Glass Bees

neural network artificial intelligence

So what if we treated governance and economy as a philosophical and aesthetic creative project, a matter of solving technical issues rather than warring clans fighting over the remains of the rapacious and absurdly imbalanced system?

What if we lived, worked and contributed in the reality of one decentralized planet rather than the programming of the corporate nationalist state?

What if we demanded much more from our political culture than a choice every four years between that which is sufferable and that which is worse?

What if we took ideology, religion, ego and even personality out of governance?

Say — what if we rid ourselves of politics entirely and conceived governance, the management of resources, as a plumber might a toilet system, a farmer might a compost pile, a network theorist a web of relationships or a composer a symphony?

Data can be incorrect — but that is just bad data. Unlike our politicians, however, data does not go out of its way to lie, to deceive and to steal.

Politicians should be first in line for the guillotine of our cybernetic AI overlords. Politicians can be replaced fully by logical ethicists who help guide and teach our highly gifted children, our AI governance program.

Painting by David, Le Serment du Jeu de paume

I am of the mind with Arthur Koestler that our species’ most horrendous inclination is to be found in our passion to submit to an ideal cause, our loyalty to our tribe, our leader, our obsession over our “Gods.”

That our tragedy is not so much an excess of aggression, but an excess of devotion to our beliefs, to our guy, to our ideology. “Man has always been prepared not only to kill, but also to die for good, bad, or completely hare-brained causes.” — Arthur Koestler

Arthur Koestler

In the same book, Janus, A Summing Up, Koestler proposes that our evolution has resulted in our current “schizophysiology”, a profound rift in our ability to be whole, with a tendency towards group mindedness and a history clocked with periodic bloodbaths. Though no doubt his science is dated, his prognosis remains pertinent as does his corrective.
 
 “…if our sick species is to be saved, salvation will come, not from UN resolutions and diplomatic summits, but from the biological laboratories. It stands to reason that a biological malfunction needs a biological corrective.”

There is only one attribute of the human that can address such responsibility; the quest for knowledge and its application to solve, or at least moderate difficulties. It is knowledge that imparts a passion of associative reveals — knowledge as a form of appreciative openness to the complexity and dynamics of the world. That is the good curious monkey, the young primate allured and enchanted by the interconnectedness of the world.

This is the base line; though the singular cause is not agreed upon, nor a defining date, there is a consensus amongst scientists that humans have instigated a new geological era for the entire planet. This new geological era is called the Anthropocene. The negative human impact on biodiversity forms is one of the primary attributes of the Anthropocene. We are in charge and we are at present eminently and imprudently leading the planet to its biospheric death. Since at least the time of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki it has been up to us to prove that we are sufficiently mature to be responsible for our planet. For the past seventy-two years we have been proving the opposite.

Hiroshima Watch

Advances in digital (including AI) and telecommunication technologies, allow for (but do not in any sense guarantee) an increase in our ability to be responsible (communally and as an individual) for our ecology — and for our ‘social mind’ ecology. Not being ‘one way’ information technologies can be professed to increase diversity allowing for greater mutational and imaginative solutions accelerating our responses to crisis. However it is the inflexibility and archaic entrenchments of our central institutions, the ego/status bound constructs that underpin our governance, financial, and educational institutions and our democracies that simply use the tools without an appreciation of their cultural and artistic value — their evolutionary potential — that hamper the enlightening speed of the new tools.

The ecological foundation, the support on which all rests, is not a homeostatic operation but the observance/engagement of the inconceivable tangled weave of evolutionary and syncretic potentialities. This is also a description of art, the possibility of accessing the unknown, the cloud of immense value, the source of the transformative.

“All that is not information, not redundancy, not form and not restraints is (to us) noise, the only possible source of new patterns.” Gregory Bateson

GAME 2, MOVE 37 — It’s Not A Human Move

“It’s not a human move. I’ve never seen a human play this move. So beautiful.” Fan Hui — the three-time European Go champion on the drastic and startling move by DeepMind’s / Google’s AlphaGo winning play in Game 2, Move 37 against Lee Sedol, one of the world’s best Go players.

Go, for those unfamiliar, is an ancient board game, much more complex than chess. “The search space in Go is vast — more than a googol times larger than chess (a number greater than there are atoms in the universe!). As a result, traditional “brute force” AI methods — which construct a search tree over all possible sequences of moves — don’t have a chance in Go.” (Google Blog)

The Google thinking machine claimed victory in the best-of-five series, winning four games and losing only one. “It marked the first time a machine had beaten the very best at this ancient and enormously complex game — a feat that, until recently, experts didn’t expect would happen for another ten years.” (Wired magazine’s Cade Metz).

Why is this such a big deal?

Because it proves that the current trajectory of AI and machine learning can surpass the best human minds in analysing complex relational problems and to come up with novel, creative, even intuitive and beautifully conceived solutions.

This is not simply brute force AI, running through possible moves down a decision tree (though there is that too) but a neural network that has learned the game, felt the game, and by imaging outcomes through a “policy network” that selects the next move and a “value network” that predicts the winner, plays the game. By playing the game over and over and then choosing one of the more than

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

variables demonstrates that AlphaGo has a facility with the game at a level exceeding that of any human.

This means that AI deep learning has eclipsed human pattern recognition capabilities. Some AI experts reveal that they are even at a loss as to the intricate labyrinth that the neural net has formed to come up with a particular answer. The models that the learning machine has created is approaching the endless factors of contingencies that is the world itself.

Combined with access to big data — AI — is now ready to accelerate the human beyond the human — our only choice for our own evolvement is merging with such crystalline capabilities.

What this further implies is that there will be exponential scientific advancements, and advancements in knowledge — knowledge that our old selves will hardly understand.

So while our democratic system further devolves into juvenile debating clubs and celebrity selfie instagram posts, knowledge is growing exponentially — a requirement for us as we become effective stewards of our own evolution and life on the planet.

“Today a new planetary scale of computation demands, nevertheless, a new planetary scale of politics. As the current debate on the Anthropocene points to, no political agency is possible without the recognition of a new cognitive perspective on the whole planet.”

— Matteo Pasquinelli, Visiting Professor in Media Theory at the University of Arts and Design, Karlsruhe.

Can contemplation be programmed? What would that mean? If we can say “now,” and know what we mean when we say “now,” we are speaking about a reality that is not in time.

The smell of rain can be packaged and sold, it can even be quantified — but only the curious you can sense and remember, experience and revel in it. Only a living entity can feel it, give it a meaning.

This feeling, this sensing is the support from which reason exudes like an association or a pattern — a network of bio-memories that is assembled, concentrated and then diffused by the inalterability of time.

The now is; time is the possibility for becoming. Dying in all its forms and stages is our opportunity to pass from time into the now that does not pass away, from the mere possibility of becoming to being real.

Our exponential time exudes the premonition of the singularity — the mystico-tech term of the projected arrival point of evolution — think of that other term that is used to describe the seeing of patterns everywhere — lovely apohenia — experienced not as the precursor of schizophrenia but as the eventuality of Google’s and our own Alphabet destination.

Pensées, Pascal, Manuscrit autographe, entre 1656 et 1662, BnF, Manuscrits — Exposition Blaise Pascal à la Bibliothèque nationale de France

“There are no boundaries in things. Laws try to impose some, and the mind cannot bear it.”- Pascal, Mathematician and philosopher (b.1623-d.1662)

A not yet future holding our momentous dreams is gestating outside the edge of our peripheral vision and we are witnessing a breach in the history of the human. The agony we hear all around us, that we have heard for many generations, is the struggle cries of this birth. Whether it is yet another false hope, a dystrophic collapse of justice and democracy or the actualized radiance of dawn is yet an uncertainty. The unspoken hopes, the hopes only gleamed, the liminal awareness of first light while still asleep, still in a falling nightmare.

We have the tools to envision and create not only a livable future but one that is respectful and that furthers the diversity of life — by becoming answerable to the boundless creative and compassionate caring of an awakened humanity — woven as an intersecting alive patterning of our collective will, empathy and co-evolution with our own world — and our own unknowable machines.

There is judicious ambiguity, or is it a stereoscopic vision? to the story of Pandora’s box of horror — its last content is expectation, is hope. Is hope our final leap into our own monstrosity?

illustration of Bacon’s New Atlantis

In Francis Bacon’s utopian novel, The New Atlantis, children are tied to birds, and those who have no stomach or no nerves for flight are rejected, cast out from the ideal state. We are the children of flight, we are to transcend the confines of gravity and attain both the physical and metaphysical freedom of beings of boundless space.