• csalisbury
    2k

    Yeah, I feel you.


    I've also felt more and more lately a vague sense that everything is converging on something, and that any attempt to influence what happens will be somehow anticipated by that process, and will simply accelerate the convergence, whatever that means. It feels kind of like a phase change has already been triggered, and the macro-whatever of everything will override what any small collection of molecules can do. My paranoid doomsday self is focused on the convergence of AI (especially as a means of efficient allocation) --- global warming events ---- refugee influxes. A world-historical crisis with no forthcoming human solution coincides with a extreme sophistication of AI, and the overwhelming exigency forces us to remove the ethical brakes, and cede control. I can imagine AIs resettling refugees in camps, AI-training as the new means of wage labor (both of these are already happening embryonically btw) , cultivation of echo-chambers and reality-bubbles as enforced fragmentation. It's out there, but if we can't handle another recession, or if there's a camel-straw ecological crisis, it really doesn't seem too farfetched.
  • csalisbury
    2k
    It's interesting that in that data-as-oil-almost article, right and left coincide. It's clearly written from a left-standpoint (a smart left standpoint, the tango with Hayek is good) but the means of overriding the Hayekian dependency on price is explicitly described as being acheived through a flood of data we'd need to be mostly ignorant of. This seems like invisible hand meets central planning and the handwaving about details, while legit, is also a clue that this is a fantasy of relinquishing control that satisfies both the right rejection of being held responsible for others and the leftist need for a caring, nourishing bosom.
  • Janus
    8.6k
    I see a convergence of existential threats in play right now. Resource depletion, entrenched human behavior, the greenhouse effect, economic complexification and fragility, inexorable corporate concentration of wealth and power.

    Given the reality of resource depletion, ever more rapidly increasing debt and systemically entrenched human behavior, I don't see development of AI or space exploration, not to mention electric vehicles and large scale development of "renewable" to be realistic options.
  • csalisbury
    2k
    Given the reality of resource depletion, ever more rapidly increasing debt and systemically entrenched human behavior, I don't see development of AI or space exploration, not to mention electric vehicles and large scale development of "renewable" to be realistic options.Janus

    You've clustered those last four together as a set of [means of 'salvation' or 'rescue'] and I'd agree that none of them will, really, save us. I don't see the AI thing as a salvific force. In my doomsday scenario, I see it more like when a third world country fails and needs the IMF to bail them out, and forever after they're part of the system.

    AI is progressing rapidly and its scary. I agree with you on everything but AI's capacity to get real good.
  • Janus
    8.6k
    OK, I'm skeptical that AI can be developed to a really significant powerfully game-changing level, given economic and resource constraints. For example, if most jobs now done by humans were to be done by robots and computers, then everyone would be out of work. Where will the money come from to provide the capital so that people can consume the products that drive the whole system, economically speaking. And then, where will the mineral resources, not to mention the energy to extract them, necessary to develop these AI technologies, come from?
  • csalisbury
    2k
    AI would have bulit into it a thing about allocating labor to sustain itself. Money is already a technology for distributing labor. Drop the ontological value stuff about money and its just how to distribute labor. Flawed, bc the rich get richer, but still.But - look at me- I *did* anticipate that and the answer is humans doing AI training tasks (already, in real life, a thing people do with refugees).
  • csalisbury
    2k
    I gotta get some of these links to show you what I mean. It's already happening.
  • StreetlightX
    4.4k
    A world-historical crisis with no forthcoming human solution coincides with a extreme sophistication of AI, and the overwhelming exigency forces us to remove the ethical brakes, and cede control. I can imagine AIs resettling refugees in camps, AI-training as the new means of wage labor (both of these are already happening embryonically btw) , cultivation of echo-chambers and reality-bubbles as enforced fragmentation.csalisbury

    To shift a little to diagnosis again, one thing that depresses me is that this 'removal of ethical breaks' comes right at the time when ethics has become our predominant if not only mode of engagement with the civitas. We're all really bloody ethical now, super sensitive to the desires, wants, needs of the other (the corollary to this, one might say the mechanism for this, is shame, or weaponized shame: we shame those who are (deemed?) unethical on a literal global scale. Think of red hat kid. This wielding of shame is in turn premised on, precisely, responsibility taken to the nth degree: feel shame because you are responsible for the thing).

    The problem isn't this in itself (it's done alot of good, even though its been messy), but that it's become the limiting horizon of any transformative action. We only know how to speak the language of ethics while being almost completely politically incompetent (or else we orient our politics towards ethics, we engage political mechanisms to achieve outcomes in the field of ethics). The problem is that all of this can be accommodated by the prevailing order: everyone's really fucking nice and lovely to each other, in the meantime, the Amazon burns and the polar ice caps melt. And the only language we have to deal with the former are the tools of shame ('look at Bolsonaro, burning the Amazon!' Shammeeee). It's so inadequate. These people are fucking shame-less, because they don't operate on the field of ethics, they operate on the field of politics, and everyone else is completely underprepped for it.

    The other symptom that follows from this - the predominance of moralization - is a reaction against it in light of its total ineffectiveness in certain parts of society. 'Our' counter-cultural movement is the alt-right. If previous decades had punks and hippies and hipsters, 'we' have the alt-right. That's our current contribution to the pantheon of counter-culture. And the whole nexus of shame-responsibility-ethics is precisely what they do not respond to, what they are in precise reaction against. But they too have no political vocabulary, their mechanisms of civil engagement are myth, violence, and (a certain form of) joy, among other things.

    As far as the idea of convergence upon some radical upheaval - in some ways I'm even more cynical: I think that uneasy knot of tension, like we're suspended between what's happened and what's to come is the point, like Kafka's trial (unending or normalized Krisis, according to the old etymology: the moment at which, in the evolution of an illness, a doctor must make a judgement as to the life or death of the patient). That suspension between life and death, not knowing if one can continue, that's also the interregnum that Gramsci spoke of: “The crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” The feeling of convergence might do even more to sustain this than ease it (one more step, we'll get there!). But what if not?
  • StreetlightX
    4.4k
    This seems like invisible hand meets central planning and the handwaving about details, while legit, is also a clue that this is a fantasy of relinquishing control that satisfies both the right rejection of being held responsible for others and the leftist need for a caring, nourishing bosom.csalisbury

    What I like about it is it's clear-eyedness about not 'going back to how things were before'. With 'big data' you can't just institute laws or protections to get us back to our old 'private' lives. There's no putting that genie back into the bottle. Your data's out there, and if not Facebook, then someone else will mine you for all you're worth. So it's a question of how to negotiate it and engage it, rather than bemoan it. For just the reasons you point out, it's not going to satisfy everyone. It still compromises too much with capitalism, as radical as it is (imagine what it would take to institute something like it). If the article advocates for more governability, the other, even more left take would be a politics of ungovernability. For a take like this see:

    https://societyandspace.org/2018/02/27/on-giving-up-on-this-world/

    “Communism has a rather orthodox definition including the abolition of private property, the cessation of class relations of domination, and the withering away of the state. Left-accelerationism [i.e. data democratization -SX] is a total non-starter on this issue for me because it remains a technocratic state socialist project rather than communist one. [One should] propose blocking, sabotage, and ungovernability as a shared exodus from an Empire that operates according to communication (the precise cybernetic system that left-accelerationists advocate). The speed of such revolt may actually be experienced as a slowing down, as the complicity between cybernetics and capitalism is that both speed things up because they perceive most problems to be an issue of efficiency.“

    This would be a third option. Not ethics, not politics, just escape, inoperativity:

    “We do not want to be better than our enemies. They are good, and that is why we hate them. They go to church, pay their taxes, and play well with others. They care about the environment, they oppose intolerance. The problem with do-gooders is that they try to be better than their enemies. So busy being ‘for good things and against bad things’ that they lack vision. Strategy is utterly lost on them.... Ethics is an impediment to us. ... The earth does not smile any more on those who refuse to shop at Wal-Mart, call themselves anti-capitalist, or eat organic. " (https://incivility.org/2017/07/22/a-short-introduction-to-the-politics-of-cruelty/)

    I'm attracted to this in theory, but I have alot more hope for an expanded democratization. I not sure I have the constitution for it. Perhaps a bit counter-revolutionary in that regard.
  • Number2018
    292
    “Communism has a rather orthodox definition including the abolition of private property, the cessation of class relations of domination, and the withering away of the state. Left-accelerationism [i.e. data democratization -SX] is a total non-starter on this issue for me because it remains a technocratic state socialist project rather than communist one. [One should] propose blocking, sabotage, and ungovernability as a shared exodus from an Empire that operates according to communication (the precise cybernetic system that left-accelerationists advocate). The speed of such revolt may actually be experienced as a slowing down, as the complicity between cybernetics and capitalism is that both speed things up because they perceive most problems to be an issue of efficiency.“

    This would be a third option. Not ethics, not politics, just escape, inoperativity
    StreetlightX
    It is still not clear how Culp’s idea of escape (definitely Deleuzian) is related to his vision of communism. “Darkness advances the secret as an alternative to the liberal obsession with transparency…The conspiracy is against the consistency
    of everything being in its proper place, and the secret is the fact that nothing is as it seems. It circulates as an open secret that retains its secrecy only by operating against connectivism through the principle of selective engagement…We all must live double lives”. (Andrew Culp, Dark Deleuze). Doubtfully, that such interpretation of Deleuze and Guattari’s insight of taking flight can ground Culp’s assumption that “Deleuze’s metaphysics suggests that there are non-legislative processes that could passively produce the conditions of communism.” To escape, or to take flight, does not necessarily mean to get read of any political or ethical responsibility in favour of the violent anarchistic deconstruction. The most immediate effect of the escape is the work of self by self,
    self-subjectivation, created by folding. Can this work be considered as an action under our control?

    We're all really bloody ethical now, super sensitive to the desires, wants, needs of the other (the corollary to this, one might say the mechanism for this, is shame, or weaponized shame: we shame those who are (deemed?) unethical on a literal global scale.StreetlightX

    The ubiquitous discourse of shame, taken up by the establishment, has become a part of totalizing strategies of closing the field of politics. As a consequence, independence of thought, autonomy, and the possibility of political opposition are being deprived of their basic spontaneity.
  • Janus
    8.6k
    AI would have bulit into it a thing about allocating labor to sustain itself. Money is already a technology for distributing labor. Drop the ontological value stuff about money and its just how to distribute labor.csalisbury

    I agree that money is a technology for distributing labor. But labour itself relies on energy, i.e. on real energy resources, whether oil. coal. minerals, food, sunlight or whatever. So, there is a real energy economy underlying and underpinning the money economy, and I think that fact is mostly forgotten or glossed over by economists.

    So, leaving aside money altogether, real growth of any economy is reliant on the energy invested being less than the energy returned. The greater the energy return in proportion to the energy invested the more growth is possible. As far as I can tell, fossil fuels are still, and were previously much more so, far and away the cheapest source of energy; both in terms of the energy invested to extract, transport and utilize them, and the economic cost for the same, with the economic cost really being a function of the energy cost.

    Any apparent growth of the last decade is arguably being driven by massive increases of credit/debt. Since GDP is measured in terms of total money flows within an economy, lending can create an illusion of genuine growth, but a day of reckoning must come sooner or later. This is as far as I have understood the situation, and I am of course open to correction on this view. In fact I would love for it to be mistaken.

    My apologies if this seems to be going off-topic.

    Regarding the idea that ethics is ineffective; I tend to think it is the ineffectuality of politics that is the main problem. You might find this series of podcasts interesting:

    https://civilizationemerging.com/future-thinkers-podcast-solving-the-generator-functions-of-existential-risks/
  • csalisbury
    2k
    Very much in agreement about the role of shame and basically your entire analysis of how that plays out.

    Bo Burnham, of all people, made a good point (somewhere) about how, in converting all aspects of life into different apps you see on the same phone, flipping from one app to another as we like - we've created this flattening effect where everything is seen as part of the same basic thing, on the same level.

    So social life, entertainment, politics, news, religion are all experienced in the same way. I think that contributes to the bizarre situation you describe where we respond to the amazon burning the same way we would respond to a member of our social circle being revealed as an abuser the same way we respond to a celebrity doing something scandalous.

    Three thoughts on that :
    1. totally debilitating and neutering politically. Like you said, the people in power just don't give a shit, they're playing a different game.
    2. The irony and destruction and ( a certain kind of) joy that the alt-right exhibits is exactly right in one way. Its culture-jamming not unlike some of the Culp stuff (havent read through the article yet tho i should admit). The problem is the wrong people - or people infected by the wrong values - are the ones who are currently making the most use of it (tho Chapo etc. exist) which makes you wonder if the problem is
    3. The Vampire's Castle. As in when you say 'we' and 'us' who is that? I feel like it has to be the group of people who feels this internet shaming thing in their bones and its really hard to know how representative that culture is of the nation as a whole. Whoever they/we are, its a group that believes in the power of shame, and, at a certain point, all that matters is that the shame hits its target, so we lob a desultory shame-rock at those outside our reach, and laser-shame those who are enough like us to feel the effects.


    As to the convergence/interregnum man I'm not sure. I wouldn't describe your approach as cynical, because theory etiquette says there's no fullness, there's no it-ness, everything is in-between, forever. Or, if you like, it's cynical when facing the outside, believing when facing the in-group. It may be the case we're sleepwalking, or Zizek's cartoon character who hasn't looked down, but even if there's a hypnagogic delay between trauma and recognition, still 'bang, crash' at some point (Hegel)

    (I'd say, cynically, that Gramsci was in jail a long time, which probably felt like an intterregnum, and the celebration of deferral by sequestered thinkers seems a lot like the way someone spirited away from the trenches would think about confrontation with reality - it never really happens, in fact can never happen (melancholy, safe) tho there are traces of *something*that remain with us, a haunting mystery.
  • thewonder
    412

    It's so inadequate. These people are fucking shame-less, because they don't operate on the field of ethics, they operate on the field of politics, and everyone else is completely underprepped for it.StreetlightX
    I feel like denigration is indicative of that a person can not cope with an incapacity to enact an ethic. We seem to lack any form of Ethical agency. I think that is just resultant of the political situation and does not necessarily indicate that there is an Ethical aporia, however. I'm somewhat critical of, but kind of like Endnotes's concept of mediation. On some level, I think that it invokes that there will be professional revolutionaries who will "mediate" the ostensibly still spontaneous revolution, but I kind of like this idea that people will learn to act as mediators. By participating in a radical political project, people will learn to engage in politics in a manner that transcends what they are currently capable of. Doing so wouldn't involve an abandonment of Ethics in my opinion.

    The total abandoment of Ethics would seem to put someone in all kinds of perilous situations. What is permissible in the name of revolution when no ethic can be invoked? Can human rights be responsibly abandoned? Why should someone be engaged with radical politics at all if there isn't something which is inherently wrong with either a lack of liberty or equality? Does revolution, then, become merely an act in itself? What appeals are acts to be made to if they are enacted for their own sake?

    I've always liked the slogan, "It is forbidden to forbid", but kind of think that if you can't in some sort of general way say that there are things that you should do and things that you shouldn't do that communities will fall apart. I like it, but I recognize it is as a slogan. A slogan is a rallying cry. It doesn't have to be believed in too directly. An Anarchist can't just murder your best friend and then say, "It is forbidden to forbid." That events will occur that bother you means that you will have to delimit what you consider to be acceptable in given situations even form an anti-authoritarian political perspective.

    No one likes Ethics because it too often calls morality to mind. I think that it is the case that events give rise to Ethics, however. It's just a process that everyone is already engaged in. The field is admittedly a bit droll, but I don't think it is something that dissidents can do without.
  • csalisbury
    2k


    I guess the question is whether AI control outstrips the energy it requires to sustain that control. I don't think so. Of course I don't know. But I think any AI worth its salt would recognize this problem and mercilessly cut out impediments to its self-sustaining. If we go way out, an AI probably wouldn't be ethically above killing off enough people to direct energy its way. I mean, the energy is there. Capitalism ruthlessly protects itself. This village gets fucked, because we need a dam, so be it. An AI would do the same, but moreso.
  • Janus
    8.6k
    It's a grim vision! May it never come to pass!
  • StreetlightX
    4.4k
    Bo Burnham, of all people, made a good point (somewhere) about how, in converting all aspects of life into different apps you see on the same phone, flipping from one app to another as we like - we've created this flattening effect where everything is seen as part of the same basic thing, on the same level.csalisbury

    That's a really neat way to put it. My only concern would be if such flattening effects were treated as cause rather than effect: I'd wager that such flattening is the result of exactly what happens when the political field is ceded - absent any substantial mechanisms for civic or democratic engagement, all we have left is the flattened field of circulating media and its attendant affects. By now this is old hat ('clicktivism'), but the key is to see it as symptom, not disease (otherwise, you get entangled in the liberal game of meta-shame: 'look at you, all you can do is try and 'like' your way to revolution, tsk tsk, back in my day...'. It's hellish, pure hell, and its why so many boomerish critiques of social media come off as, well, viscerally digusting to me).

    The Vampire's Castle. As in when you say 'we' and 'us' who is that? I feel like it has to be the group of people who feels this internet shaming thing in their bones and its really hard to know how representative that culture is of the nation as a whole. Whoever they/we are, its a group that believes in the power of shame, and, at a certain point, all that matters is that the shame hits its target, so we lob a desultory shame-rock at those outside our reach, and laser-shame those who are enough like us to feel the effects.csalisbury

    I like to think I'm using these terms performatively. I speak of 'us' and 'we' as both an invitation and a claim to community; an invitation to to find common cause, and a claim to belong to those causes already operative 'out there'. Without making too much hay out of it, one of the points is to risk rebuff and renegotiation ('who are you to speak of us?'). The obverse is acknowledgement, a 'yes, we share in this'. The danger is when those terms congeal into solidified 'identities', nouns: 'we' are such and such, and 'they' are otherwise. Alot of this is ratiocination for a rhetorical quirk I picked up a long time ago, but only recently found a way to articulate why I find it attractive.

    At the very least the first-person plural tries to mitigate, to whatever degree, the 'game of liberal meta-shame' I spoke of above.
  • csalisbury
    2k
    Yeah it's hard to untangle cause and effect and I'm not keen on the easy boomer analyses either. I think the phone is a handy expression of something (where it is a both a symptom of that something, and a partial cause, or at least feeds back into it, helping sustain it)

    The we and us break down makes sense.
  • StreetlightX
    4.4k
    Zombie'ing this somewhat, but I keep coming back to this quote which I think says much better than I did, what I was trying to say. It's from Prathen Markell, where following Arendt, he speaks of what she calls the 'impropriety' of all actions, the fact that actions (even and especially 'my' actions) do not, and cannot belong to me as such:

    [The impropriety of action] refers not to a contingent moral failing but to a constitutive feature of human action: the very conditions that make us potent agents—our materiality, which ties us to the causal order of the world, and our plurality, which makes it possible for our acts to be meaningful—also make us potent beyond our own control, exposing us to consequences and implications that we cannot predict and which are not up to us. Our acts, you might say, are always improper in the sense that they are never our property—neither as choosers, nor as the bearers of identities.

    Action projects human beings into a world of causality, initiating sequences of events that, once begun, proceed without necessarily respecting the agent’s intentions. This fact of the causality of human action most obviously threatens our capacity to control the consequences of our actions, but in a sense it also limits our ability to control the very content of our actions, insofar as it prevents us from locating a natural and uncontroversial boundary between our actions and the events that follow from them.

    ...The fact that our action inserts us into chains of causality not wholly under our control can, of course, manifest itself in numerous ways, and is perhaps most strikingly visible in cases of natural disaster in which nonhuman forces undermine our plans (and often destroy us altogether) in unpredictable, sometimes even utterly meaningless ways. ... [Yet] even more important ... is the fact that human beings act into a world inhabited by a plurality of other acting persons: the fact of human freedom, which is the condition of the possibility of effective agency, also limits our practical capacities because it is not exclusively ours but is mirrored in others. Here, again, the point is not only that human plurality limits our control over the consequences of our action, but also that the meaning of our deeds is not wholly at our disposal, for the very terms through which we make assessments of significance are not exclusively our own, but intersubjective." (Bound By Recognition)

    This last bit corresponds to what I said about how, if we were responsible only for what we can control, this would amount to nothing other than a solipsism.
  • TheMadFool
    4.2k
    the smallest act in the most limited circumstances bears the seed of the same boundlessness, because one deed, and sometimes one word, suffices to change every constellation” (Arendt, The Human Condition).StreetlightX

    That's beautifully composed.

    Buddha was the wisest of all.

    Everything made sense until I saw the following:
    that we are responsible ONLY for what is NOT in our control.StreetlightX

    I think we're responsible for both what we control and what we do not.

    Also what I'd like to bring into the discussion is legal or moral responsibility for lack of better words. We're legally or morally responsible only for those things that we do control. Introducing another free-agent, the other, into the sequence would immediately absolve you of responsibility. Why? Well, if the other isn't responsible as your argument implies, how is it that, given the responsibility apparatus is relational, requiring at least two agencies, anyone is responsible for anything at all?

    I mean...

    Either the other is responsible or not responsible for his own actions. Your argument claims it's not him/her but you that's responsible. How then are you responsible? What makes you special that you must now be accountable for everyone?

    Of course, using your logic, we could trace back the chain of responsibility to one person - the source, if you will - and hold him accountable for all that followed. We don't do that because that implies we're not free agents responsible for our actions and so actually NEVER responsible for anything at all.
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