Quotable (#135)

Craig Hickman on deepening neuro-technological darkness:

The convergence of knowledge and technology for the benefit or enslavement of society (CKTS) is the core aspect of 21st century science initiatives across the global system, which is based on five principles: (1) the interdependence of all components of nature and society (the so called network society, etc.), (2) enhancement of creativity and innovation through evolutionary processes of convergence that combine existing principles, and divergence that generates new ones (control of creativity and innovation by corporate power), (3) decision analysis for research and development based on system-logic deduction (data-analysis, machine learning, AI, etc.), (4) higher-level cross-domain languages to generate new solutions and support transfer of new knowledge (new forms of non-representational systems and mappings, topological, etc.). As civilization and societal challenges become more and more dependent on external and internalized artificial mechanisms and technological systems we are faced with the convergence of “NBIC” technological reorganization of corporate and socio-cultural fields of business, inquiry, and research into: nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive and neruosciences. But it is the neuroscientific breakthroughs and initiatives that will underpin the forms of global governance: political and economic systems of rules, negotiations, and navigation systems of impersonal and indifferent regulatory and reason-based imperialism of the future capitalist regimes as they begin to marshal every aspect of life into a data-centric vision of command and control.

The subsequent list of ‘neuro-‘ prefixed social management disciplines, accompanied by short introductions, is a treasure.

ADDED: Highly relevant.

Quotable (#133)


The problem is that we evolved to be targeted, shallow information consumers in unified, deep information environments. As targeted, shallow information consumers we require two things: 1) certain kinds of information hygiene, and 2) certain kinds of background invariance. (1) is already in a state of free-fall, I think, and (2) is on the technological cusp. I don’t see any plausible way of reversing the degradation of either ecological condition, so I see the prospects for traditional philosophical discourses only diminishing.


… and suddenly, the age of the networked brain has arrived:

Miguel Nicolelis, the Duke University scientist behind the work, has previously pioneered the development of brain-machine interfaces that could allow amputees and paralysed people to directly control prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons. His latest advance may have clinical benefits in brain rehabilitation, he predicts, but could also pave the way for “organic computers” – collectives of animal brains linked together to solve problems. […] “Essentially we created a super-brain,” he said. “A collective brain created from three monkey brains. Nobody has ever done that before.” […] He dismissed comparisons with science fiction plots, however, saying: “We’re conditioned by movies and Hollywood to think that everything related to science is dangerous and scary. These scary scenarios never crossed my mind and I’m the one doing the experiments.”

Neural interface technology has been hurtling forwards recently. The step from lunatic science fiction speculation to established technoscientific procedure is increasingly taken in advance of any engaged discussion, without an interval for serious social reflection. That’s acceleration as it concretely happens. It’s not a new topic for prolonged thought, it’s the fact that the time for prolonged thought — and its associated space for collective ethico-political consideration — is no longer ever going to be available.

Quotable (#51)

Bakker summarizes his arguments (they’re good):

The first is a straightforward pessimistic induction. Historically, science tends to replace intentional explanations of natural phenomena with functional explanations. Since humans are a natural phenomena we can presume, all things being equal, that science will continue in the same vein, that intentional phenomena are simply the last of the ancient delusions soon to be debunked. Of course, it seems pretty clear that all things are not equal, that humans, that consciousness in particular, is decidedly not one more natural phenomena among others.

The second involves what might be called ‘Cognitive Closure FAPP.’ This argument turns on the established fact that humans are out and out stupid, that the only thing that makes us seem smart is that our nearest competitors are still sniffing each other’s asses to say hello. In the humanities in particular, we seem to forget that science is an accomplishment, and a slow and painful one at that. The corollary of this, of course, is that humans are chronic bullshitters. I’m still astounded at how after decades of rhetoric regarding critical thinking, despite millennia of suffering our own stupidity, despite pretty much everything you see on the evening news, our culture has managed to suppress the bare fact of our cognitive shortcomings, let alone consider it any sustained fashion.

Intelligence is not something humans have, but something they very occasionally catch a hazy glimpse of.