computational constitution

30 Oct 2021 02:15 - 17 Jun 2023 08:29
Open in Logseq
    • Meta

      • Trying to flesh out a vague idea; and I can't tell yet whether it's worth anything.
      • If I had to summarize: common language and philosophy have been hung up since forever on the distinction between the material and the mental (or the body and the mind, or force and reason...). Computation may not resolve this dichotomy (that is the conceit of AI) but it most certainly gives us new tools for thinking about it.
    • Constitution

      • Using Constitution in Bruno Latour-ish sense – a very broad social agreement on how the world is to be carved up.
      • The ethnologist of our world must take up her position at the common locus where roles, actions and abilities are distributed — those that make it possible to define one entity as animal or material and another as a free agent, one as endowed with consciousness, another as mechanical, and still another as unconscious and incompetent. Our ethnologist must even compare the always different ways of defining — or not defining — matter, law, consciousness and animals' souls, without using modern metaphysics as a vantage point. Just as the constitution of jurists defines the rights and duties of citizens and the State, the working of justice and the transfer of power, so this Constitution - which I shall spell with a capital C to distinguish it from the political ones — defines humans and nonhumans, their properties and their relations, their abilities and their groupings. – We Have Never Been Modern, p15. emphasis added
      • All things which are, and have being, are found under a triple diversity general. For either they are deemed Supernatural, Natural, or, of a third being. Things Supernatural are immaterial, simple, indivisible, incorruptible, and unchangeable. Things Natural are material, compounded, divisible, corruptible, and changeable. Things Supernatural are of the mind only comprehended: Things Natural are able to be perceived of the sense exterior. In things Natural, probability and conjecture hath place: But in things Supernatural, chief demonstration and most sure Science is to be had. By which properties and comparisons of these two, more easily may be described, the state, condition, nature and property of those things which we before termed of a third being: which, by a peculiar name also, are called Things Mathematical. For these, being (in a manner) middle between things supernatural and natural, are not so absolute and excellent as things supernatural: Nor yet so base and gross as things natural: But [they] are things immaterial: and nevertheless by material things able somewhat to be signified. – John Dee's introduction to Euclid
    • Computational constitution

      • Computation in all of its forms is a product of a certain type of society and inherits its constitution. It divides the world up in a certain way – on one side, representations (bits, data, symbols) and on the other, processes that manipulate representations (programs, rules, functions, machines).
      • Starkest form in the original models of computation (Turing machine, von Neumann architecture)
      • Of course computer scientists cross this architectural border all the time. A compiler for instance is a procedure that takes other procedures as its input and output.
        • Lisp as the language which makes doing this the easiest and most natural (through macros)
      • object-oriented programming is another variation on this theme; a refactoring of the basic architecture. Representations and programs are intermingled, and rather than a monolithic program operating freely over a large-scale representation, you have smaller programs operating over their own small subdomain; exchanging messages with each other when they need to interact.
    • AI and materialism

      • Oh my god could a lot be written here.
      • Searle's challenge to AI was something like, the mind couldn't be a symbol system because it required the "causal powers" of a nervous system. This was dumb, because computational systems, when embodied, can also have causal powers, but he was also on to something.
    • Bruno Latour

      • Particularly his essay on Callicles, and We Have Never Been Modern
    • Blake's constitution

      • Energy is the only life, and is from the Body; and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
        • – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell
    • Real Language is Viral

      • That is, real human language is not well-described by the computational constitution. Words have their own agency; particularly obvious in the case of oral cultures (see Orality and Literacy) and internet memes.
    • The machinery of interpretation

      • Tell the story of the flash of revelation when I understood how microcode worked...