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Re: <nettime> Perceptual Deception
Andreas Broeckmann on Thu, 7 Jul 2016 22:39:25 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Perceptual Deception

On this question of deception of robotic vision systems, it is worth re-reading Paul Virilio who may have been the first to engage with the epistemological, strategic, and aesthetic aspects of such technical vision systems that Manaugh speculates on in reaction to the Tesla accident. Importantly, Virilio reminds us that the deception techniques needn't be any more "visual" than are the decision-making systems that are the aim of such counter-practices.

Here's a section of a (forthcoming) text on operational images (Farocki's term) that I have been working on:

In a text first published in 1988, The Vision Machine, Virilio discusses the mental impact of current and potential future developments in the sightless vision of “visionics.” Virilio himsefl is particularly concerned with the epistemological status of mental images in comparison with virtual images, those “synthetic images created by the machine for the machine,” which are enigmatic and exclude the human observer. Virilio points to the transgression of synthetically produced images into the field of the factual, and to the way in which the virtual begins to have real effects: “To my mind, this is one of the most crucial aspects of the development of the new technologies of digital imagery and of the synthetic vision offered by electron optics: the relative fusion/confusion of the factual (or operational, if you prefer) and the virtual; the ascendancy of the ‘reality effect’ over a reality principle already largely contested elsewhere, particularly in physics.”

Forecasting future events becomes a crucial task of the new vision systems, as well as increasing attempts at deception and the overriding of reality by virtuality, not least in the military and propaganda scenarios of the Cold War, where nuclear deterrence was based on the visibility and invisibility of one’s own nuclear military potential. This also concerns decoy technologies, which Virilio describes in detail because they exemplify the operative replacement of real phenomena by deceptive images which, for instance, divert a missile from its real target onto a virtual decoy target. An important reason such deceptions are possible is the mediality of perception which hinges on the specific perceptive parameters of a particular system, and the necessity of what Farocki called the disavowal, i.e., the reduction of what enters the field of vision to aspects that can be recognized and processed for operative decision making.

Virilio emphasized the fact that technical visuality is fundamentally different from the way humans see: "Don’t forget, though, that “image” is just an empty word here since the machine’s interpretation has nothing to do with normal vision (to put it mildly!). For the computer, the optically active electron image is merely a series of coded impulses whose configuration we cannot begin to imagine since, in this 'automation of perception,' image feedback is no longer assured. That being, of course, the whole idea."

From a human perspective, this is a blind gaze, a gaze that does not take in the complexity of a visual field and its aesthetic multidimensionality but only looks for precoded cues. “Blindness is thus very much at the heart of the coming ‘vision machine’. The production of sightless vision is itself merely the reproduction of an intense blindness that will become the latest and last form of industrialization: the industrialization of the non-gaze.” However, this blind, technical gaze and its statistical way of analyzing and interpreting images is not simply different from a human way of seeing; Virilio saw the danger of it increasingly becoming the basis for human visual perception and understanding: “The usual criticism of statistical thought, as generating rational illusions, thus necessarily comes down to what we might here call the visual thought of the computer, digital optics now being scarcely more than a statistical optics capable of generating a series of visual illusions, ‘rational illusions’, which affect our understanding as well as reasoning.”

All quotations from Paul Virilio, The Vision Machine (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 62; first published as La machine de vision (Paris: Galilée, 1988).

Am 07.07.16 um 08:31 schrieb nettime's avid reader:

Robot War and the Future of Perceptual Deception
Geoff Manaugh, July 5, 2016



In any case, I suppose the question is: if, today, a truck can blend-in
with the Florida sky, and thus fatally disable a self-driving machine,
what might we learn from this event in terms of how to deliberately
confuse robotic military systems of the future?

We had so-called “dazzle ships”[2] in World War I, for example, and the
design of perceptually baffling military camouflage continues to undergo
innovation today; but what is anti-robot architectural design, or
anti-robot urban planning, and how could it be strategically deployed as
a defensive tactic in war?

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