ana peraica on 26 Sep 2000 03:54:44 -0000

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Re: <nettime> The Age of Spiritual Machines (Part 2)

/second part/


The Lyotardıs text "Can thought go without a body?" (1) is maybe the one
most romantic as only technophobia combined with the apocalyptic scenario
can be, but at the same time as it is the consequence; self-pitting and
egoistic philosophical writings on the topic.

As I noted in the text "Machine-philosopher" (2); thinking the machine -
philosopher depends both on the way a philosophy or a thought is defined,
and the way thinking is related to the technology, in a broader sense, not
only included into it. So, it depends on defining and relating both logos
and techne, in more active relation than single sided, of philosophy of
technology, but even as a technology of a thought.

Artificial intelligence thesis is more related to the old discussion known
as mind and body, whereas avoiding naming independent agent - techne that is
the last difference of the kind in the contrary to the other species.
Technology appeared connected in the early stage more to the body,
prosthetic, and only recently to the mind. Therefore the whole discussion
has to include a third party, a certain "it" that amplifies the mind and
body relation, and in some situations make it even more disproportional.

Defining thinking ­ machine depends on defining both of them, and defining a
difference of a material carrier of the thought. One of the most interesting
issuing of what can be named machine-theorist, thinking, or a "representing
machine" (term by Monique Linard) was Lyotardıs seminar given in 1987, on
the University of Siegen. Interesting it was especially as it revitalized
one of the most delicate, but at the same time violently kicked out old
philosophical option of the mind-body discussion, namely; epiphenomenalism.

That solution, claiming thoughts are side effects of purely material, or
physical causal chain, was historically abandoned with the fashion of
reductionism, minimalist tendencies of philosophy, that reduced all side
effects of anything that appears not connected in the strict causal chain,
as could be only esthetical effects, useless revolting, or similar.

And that minimalism found itıs pictorial representation with very early
metaphor of physicist William of Occamıs shaving of a Platoıs bear. It was
dismissed with the topic of the useless discussion on the marginal effect, a
marginal reminder, as a bear is as well itself (except as a trademark of

The postmodern raise of the model of epiphenomenal, side-effected, marginal,
"outsidish", or a side-consequence, is precisely what is given by the
Lyotardıs definition of a thinking, that appears as a pure irrelevant
effect, in a way sad contraction the brain, giving no solution, as doesnıt
tend towards it, as is stated at the own start of the text, addressing to
the colleagues, as to a useless and for a reader a sad race. It cannot be
more critical than it is, but at the same time it cannot be more useful than
to recognize uselessness (as the only useful can be so).

Although, uselessness is a final reach of all usefulness, as well, it is
redemption from precisely the chain of reduction, onto some free one. It is
a causa finalis, the most ideal cause of the causality. And as the end date
is here taken the ultimate disappearance of the life, and the death of Sun,
that will happen for 4,5 billion of years.

But at the same time, the side effects as a thought, of effectivelessness,
is related, with the one of the most basic experiences, and a the corner
stone of the philosophy of language; the sensation of a pain, or in itıs
long-term and more outside description; the suffering. Its disappearance
always is a salvation and dissolution.

Even more, thinking is defined as suffering itself, a mindıs translation of
the long-term and obvious physical pain, to whose causal relation is rarely
known to the being in pain, and although appears so strong is side-effect

But, there is a certain interaction on the level of the precisely suffer and
a pain, that unifies more mind and body, as according to the pain research,
precisely thesis of Melzack and Wall (1982), pain is not treated as a single
sided specific sensation submersed by a straight-through transmission
system, and whose intensity is proportional to the extent of the damage of
tissue. On the contrary, recent evidence shows a pain is influenced as well
by the attention, anxiety, suggestion, prior experience, and other
parameters. And that effect is known even in pragmatic way, as the placebo

But, Lyotardıs thesis would rather support a hard ephiphenomenalism, than
this interactive relation, claiming both how matter asks no question, but at
the same time all questions are related precisely to the matter, as it is
producing a pain that otherwise cannot be produced. Mental events appear to
be disconnected, as not related to the question ­ answer chain, as parallel
to the physical events chain of cause and consequence, like a physical pain
is explainable in a physical chain, but a pain appears as a pure sensation
to the being in a pain, not connected in any chain of pain.

That is humans condition, of being imprisoned into a body of pain, not only
health related one, but also more generally, simply pain of the matter. And
thinking is an awareness of it, recalling the condition, therefore
masochism... a self ­ torture.

The question author puts is; whereas thinking machines would think after us,
but the contra-question one can raise is; why we would like others to
suffer? And of course, is that suffering of thought measurable with the
real (not theoretical) suffering of those not included in the argument? Or
it takes the form of compassion with them?

Thinking is a chronic pain of the civilization, the one that cannot be
resolved, as can be read from the Lyotardıs essay. Some people would say, as
well, life in general is. But, concerning three substances, mind ­ body and
their "child" techne, or "it", it is a question of emancipating technology
from its creators that appears to be a natural, not a civilization point.

And he notes; "Technology wasnıt invented by us, humans. Rather the other
way around", noting how every material system is technological if it filters
information useful to its survival. Despite the information definition of
technology is quite recent one, it is technology precisely in that sense
defining intelligence, and raising a question of intentionally, of
self-preservation. The one is raised with Dennettıs (3) referring to the
Dawkinsı "selfish gene" (4) concept, its need to support itself with the
techne. In those means all intention of a selfish gene could be is in a
replacement with the techne wherever possible, as it is better for
conservation of information than a spoilable flesh (so enough on the
natality of the West).

The same impulse, of preserving own genes, own knowledge, of storing self,
of conscious ego is still obvious even in our hopes in the technology of
storing not only our memory, but trying to produce itıs own memories on us,
a sense of remembering, despite sometimes not-ethical demanding.

"So that the suffering of thinking is a suffering of time, of what happens.
To sum up ­ will your thinking, your representing machines suffer? What will
be their futures if they are just memory?" he asked. "So the unthought would
have to make your machines uncomfortable, the uninscribed that remains to
the inscribed would have to make their memory suffer." "Otherwise why would
they even start to think? We need machines that suffer from the burden of
their memory. (But suffering doesnıt have a good reputation in the
technological megalopolis. Especially the suffering of thinking.)"

It would be the effect of the "phantom limb", to whose replacement
technology is conceived for, but with a faith it would, again produce a
memory of what is missing, and once the prosthesis remember us. That it
would feel and suffer. And paradoxically of the prosthesis appears there;
who is prosthesis to whom, if we acknowledge intelligent agent already
exists as a separate instance.

Precisely that is the topic of the speech a philosopher gave, "Can thought
go without a body" can, taking the definition of thought as suffering, be
reformulated in; "Is the pain possible without the body". Or, can thoughts,
as such, be separated from a spoilable carrier, and transferred onto
prosthesis, to think us?

This atheistic positioning of a question, that allows no intelligence
outside of the body conditioned pain, or it only can leave outside it a
place for a static knowledge, that knows all answers, so doesnıt asks the
questions, doesnıt think (as God wouldnıt by the definition, as well), has
another channel for the more earth and egoistic faith.

The scenario would be; when a star would fall, and "we" with it, as usually
in those moments, a wish would stay; for someone who would remember us,
approving egoistic drives of a kind, whose civilization finally is only a
way of trying to make a good fridge for self.

And that would be a machine that feels the thought, not only broadcasts it,
that feels a pain. We want, a robot on the Cross, seems according to
Lyotard, to suffer for us, to be like us, but at the same time capable of
the survival beyond the flesh, again only for us. And the question, again,
turns to be meta-physical.

The old joke is indicative, in the matter of faith and "it", avatar used in
metaphysics of the real power, being it a child, a robot, a computers

One day in Italy an old man was seating on the bench crying, and a Jesus
arrived, and asked;

- What happened to you, old man?
- I lost my son...
- How did he look like?
- He had a nail in the hand, a nail in the foot...
- Father!
- Pinocchio!


But, a small note about death and metaphysical power systems. The difference
between left and fascistic totalitarian system is only that leaders of the
first ones die with a natural long-term and painful deaths, so manage to
stay for a long time on the throne, while right ones usually commit
suicides, preferring metaphysical foundation, so a huge height to jump down
to the Earth. The same happens with the theory of it. Marxism dies very hard
and painfully, dies exhausted, as workers do.

Historically, the AI or AL discussion take the form of a longest discussion
(taken in the different time protocol, or speed of time of the ancient and
new age history), similar to the one questioning whereas black people are
humans, that spread unsolved from the Mediterranean (in the character of
Moro, black evil ghost), to the rest of the world, altogether with agents
involved. And the discussion is ­ practical, and practices related.

Moros still exist on the superstitious Mediterranean, while black people are
humans by law, but they donıt inhabit Mediterranean East Europe, and until
then ­ demons can be still - black. As well, question of inhabiting is
legally solved, but they donıt want to arrive there.

Unfortunately, as I may add, thinkers in less "advanced" systems are
following their colleges thinking still it is only theoretical problem.
They follow the trend, blindly, like zombies, in which from their focuses
important things vanish (like the discussion of ethics of cloning in the
countries that are far from technologies required for it, but have problems
of the hunger that are related to a huge natality), and not too far from the
gossiping syndrome of "cleaning problems of the other house, but not the own
one", or many others). That is, indeed, a sad of the thinking race.

On the other hand, theoretical techno - imperialism is another format of the
discussion that focuses like Coca Cola commercial. Indeed, what is the
difference of drinking Cola in unpolluted country, with lots of fruits, and
issuing AI or AL in countries where electrification is not solved as the


Now, despite the problem if Pinocchio died, if Christ died, if computer is
(if alive) as well a suffering - death being, there are some relations of
the AI/ AL discussion, and the problem of practical metaphysics of the last
centuries to be mentioned.

For the Catholic time those main practical metaphysical questions are ­ Was
Christ a human? Are parrots to be baptized? Are apes backward humans? Are
Doppelgangers two humans or one to be baptized? Are black people demons? Is
Pinocchio to be baptized?

And for the democracy and capitalism time: Do Doppelgangers vote and pay
once or twice? Are cyborgs to be charged once or twice? Does Pinocchio pay
taxes? Can we sell IBM products to monkeys, if the only difference is ­ they
donıt speak? But, they like to play games, donıt they? Are laptops more
nomads if Slovakian Gypsies that cannot migrate now, while laptops can?

And the same problem, again, historically happened many times, as for
example with the Catholic Church baptizing of the parrots, but not monkeys,
as soon as they were introduced to the Europe, as the definition of the
human being was "those that speak" (and therefore mute people not humans)
(5). With this, I think, the whole political problem of computers is
transparent ­ parrots are the same level as the computer technology was long
time before, and monkeys or "backward humans", untechnologized, Third
World, barbarians.

To baptize today only means ­ to be legal to pay taxes, both are only
related to a sin that is put as the law from the metaphysics of the real


Therefore, AI is solved. It can be completely banalized, at the end, to make
it more obvious ­ does it matter my computer is smart, or my thermostat
indeed clever, if I know it can cross the border much easier than me? Many
other arguments can be put in defense of this attitude; except laptops
travel more easily, they donıt need visas, they have their ID number, if
they disappear there are international laws for finding them (and how about
many people daily disappearing in those border-politics?).

Otherwise, either they or me are not smart, and not alive, and only objects,
one of which privileged in the borders politics, in terms of the exchange
of goods, the other one of which not worth for exchange, but still an object
of the commercial campaigns.

Whether it is or is not ­ the smartness, spirituality, cleverness, are not
the real criteria for human kind at all, for this areas they never where.
Only today, it is something else ­ a trademark that is covering again,
something else ­ power, divine power. IBM, Macintosh has it, but Chinese,
Slovakian, Moroccan or others do not have it in the global world

And the bat is solved; Kurtzweil can, of course, annoy in the future. By the
year 2020 Third world theorists would not border him. They would more think
how to survive, if that might be called thinking (or inıt it just an animal
impulse?) with the global political and economical constellation that would
consolidate Kurtzweil enjoying.

And from that sense, leveling of the "working force" is possible even with
the "yes" answer to the AI.

Less than being about Thinking animal, finally the discussion is about
Senseless animals, a pure effect of the technologisation of thought, on the
counter-effect of the computer on philosophy itself, the problem mentioned
as the most important in defining machine-philosopher. It depends is it
according to a Third world philosopher or the West one, that is the
consequence taking all parameters involved with the technology and power
together with the human and power related questions.

And on this aspect I would like to note colleges the decision for or
against both AI and AL has consequences (and the argument for philosophers
can not be "but it is just a harmless theory"), and those are ­ how do you
really define humans?

So, instead of assuming the position, first it needs to be drawn back to the
main question ­ if "thinking animal" is a disproportional definition (in
which it repeats the form of the argument in antique that slaves are not

Does those writings give an advance to organization of the new order 1)
thinking animals 2) thinking machine 3) more animals? Or; 1) very alive
humans 2) artificial life 3) naturally half-alive?

Or, to put it simpler, are philosophers included in this new world economy
that tries to put down taxes on import of goods from manufacturers in the
Third world, on the basis of metaphor of intelligent and alive, but at the
same time keep cheap labour force in those countries?


1. Jean - Francois Lyotard; Can thought go without a body? Discourse II:1
(1987), L'inhumain: Causeries sur le temps (Galilee, 1988) , The Inhuman
(Polity Press, 1991)
2. Ana Peraica; Machine - Philosopher,
3. Dennett, Daniel: Evolution, Error and Intentionality (in; Y. Wilks and D.
Patrige, eds. Sourcebook on the Foundation of Artificial Intelligence, New
Mexico University Press, 1988)
4. Dawkins Selfish Gene (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1976)
5. Hillel Schwartz; The Culture of the Copy (Zone Books, 1996)

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