More notes... / Week 9 / 1-12-2020

More interesting quotes from Erich Hörl...
Although Heidegger ultimately did not have the conceptual tools necessary to develop a new and fundamentally philosophical redescription of the technical world, it is apparent today that his plea for openness with respect to the sense of the technical world, which remained hidden at the time, was extremely prescient. Although general cyberneticization has revolutionized our relations to things, to living entities, to non-human entities in general, to the earth, and lastly also to ourselves and others.


Ever since the arrival of cybernetics we have entered into the new territory of the technological condition, which is where the process of experiencing the world and constructing sense now takes place. The nature of this new territory gradually becomes clearer precisely through its groundlessness: as a regime of sense that exposes the originary technicity of sense, that constantly merges human and non-human actors, that operates before the difference between subject and object, that is endlessly prosthetic and supplementary, that is immanent rather than transcendental, and that is to an unheard-of degree distributed and indeed ecotechnological. This regime of sense requires a radically new description of its characteristic formative processes, which has yet to be performed.

Hörl announces the end a dogmatic and persistent conventional sense of 'sense' and its replacement by a constantly changing environment merging actors that are both human and non-human. Under this technological condition, human experience becomes a convergence between Man and non-human agencies and takes the role of a new human reality. In this new ecology, these agencies have become the environment in which one expands himself, dramatically exposing the 'originary technicity of sense' that Hörl describes. These are expressed in popular culture with the expressions 'Generation Y' and 'Generation Z', which describes millennials as the ones who grew up 'in' the internet, rather than 'with'.

In 1958—at the same time as Heidegger, but more fundamentally concerned with the evolution of technical objects and the development of cybernetics—French philosopher and mechanologist Gilbert Simondon characterized the traditional sense culture of meaning precisely according to its ancient object politics. In the introduction to his foundational work Du mode d’existence des objets techniques (On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects), Simondon argues that the present culture, which is increasingly contrasted with a culture based on control and regulation, is “unbalanced because, while it grants recognition to certain objects, for example to things aesthetic, and gives them their due place [droit de cité] in the world of meanings [monde des significations], it banishes other objects, particularly things technical, into the unstructured world of things that have no meaning but do have a use, a utilitarian function.”21 For precisely this reason it still turns out to be “ancient culture incorporating as dynamic systems artisanal and agricultural techniques of earlier centuries,” whose code “is based on the experience of man working with tools.”22

Home robotics such as Alexa and Siri are the most relevant examples of this reality. This increasing hyperconnectivity is embedded in diverse objects which have become the new environmental agency. They operate automatically and communicate in a way which puts them in the position of 'objects' rather than 'machines', fulfilling the conditions of a new general ecology. So, where does Morty the chatbot stand in this philosophical realm ? Our group partook in the agency-distribution to an automated chatbot which has turned to become a semi-independent actor, trained on a specific set of data, in this case, philosophical texts. In the process of filtering readable data into an already-hardwired system being Python, we saw correlating concepts emerging between the training of our chatbot and the theory of language acquisition held by certain thinkers like Chomsky. These concepts include the recognition of a theoretical language acquisition device with which all human beings are born. Like a structure present in the brain of infants, it encodes the major skills of language learning and allows them to swiftly learn it — which, according to Chomsky is nothing more than vocabulary — as they mature. Chomsky's theory disregards Locke's model of language acquisition that is based on the role of 'imitation alone'. In terms of artificial intelligence it appears clear to our group that A.I. as we see it today hasn't developed into a fully autonomous objects but rather works with existing barebones that are imbedded into it as an innate facility. This creates a strong parallel between the LAD in humans and machines, which we tried to explore and expand as much as we could in creating Morty.