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FleshFactor: unkludging mechanistic monkeys

A E C  F O R U M - "F L E S H F A C T O R"

Hello everybody.

I enjoyed the last explosion of responses to Daniel Dennett's interview.
It's as if the daddy figure in our midst said a no-no and we can now
gleefully jump down his throat for a bad choice of metaphors.

Although I find his remarks about the pomposity of "high art" quite
welcome, I too must admit that I find his machine metaphor "weirdly
uninformed." But struggling to behave as a subjective, moral being (hence
non-machine) I must try to understand his generational and disciplinary
outlook. He must be an oldster, or a member of "upper class play farms" as
Hockenhull so coyly put it. Perhaps we shouldn't be so harsh and allow that
he's simply a behaviourist who is comfortable with AI vocabulary fashions.
The machine metaphor is still sexy in some circles, although their academic
isolation from common word usage is a marvel. If I'm not mistaken, such an
attitude was last shared by a somewhat wider public in Europe and North
America prior to WWII. At that time many people found much to celebrate in
machines, evidenced by the rather Utopian 1939 World's Fair in New York.
After the bloody, machine-enhanced War, much of that early technological
enthusiasm was deeply tempered. Books such as Carson's "Silent Spring"
sounded the first popular warnings about the dangers of pesticides, and
city planners began to realize what horrors they were committing by
stuffing people into machine-like "projects" (without their own organic,
unpredictable design input).

Quite a few generations have come along which have expressed a lack of
faith in machines, industrialization, and pretensions of control and
objectivity. Consider the Frankfurt School, Foucault, and my younger sister
who ditched highschool to go live at that large commune called The Farm in
Tennessee. Consider Midnight Oil's blisteringly beautiful song "Beds Are
Burning" about the treatment of the Aborigines in Australia. To innoculate
against such Earthy attitudes, marketing agents for cars now present their
vehicles in "natural" settings and say innocuous things like "built for
living." The gleaming machine is being cloaked in flesh.

I once had an entertaining argument with Marvin Minsky at MIT over his
definition of creativity, which he planted squarely in the realm of
objective brain circuitry. I tried to argue that creativity was shared with
the world at large, its VALUE being measured by an infinite community of
interests. That is you can't objectify it or reduce it to mechanism since
the world in which creativity plays itself out, that which determines its
spice, thrust, and significance -is bigger and more complex than any
library. Unfortunately my earnest proclamation that "This incomplete
thought between us, Marvin, is creativity," had absolutely no substance to
him. Generational difference. I glue the objective and the subjective into
one tangled continuum. Minsky and Dennett see it as OUT THERE, just past
the pizza and the coke on their desks.

And now, a couple generations past "Silent Spring" and the "new left", we
encounter the looping, feedback-drenched, biotech, user-friendly,
hypertext-tickled multi-reality of yet another generation. It may all be
too unstable to grok or unkludge for machines like Mr. D.

But it's nice that he likes nightingales.

-Ebon Fisher, media breeder
 The AlulA Dimension
 Brooklyn, North America

*************** Orbit Probes via Mutual Bounce ***************

                         Ebon Fisher
                     The AlulA Dimension
                       US 718-782-2180


         WEBSITE: http://www.interport.net/~outpost/ebon.html

        WIGGLISM: http://artnetweb.com/port/wigglism

    BIONIC CODEX: http://www.echonyc.com/~sandbox/codes

        ORGANISM: http://www.artnetweb.com/organism

ALULA in VRML 3D: http://www.vrmill.com/alula/alula.wrl


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