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30 09 2015

Humans: What’s the Point?

19 08 2015

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Consciousness? Creativity? Intuition? Algorithms can do all that; we will quickly forget how badly.

‘Unstructured situations’? Sounds like grunt work.

As pets to a superior artificial intelligence?

Or perhaps as the one remaining source of moral outrage.

Unconscious Bias in Algorithms

23 07 2015

Ours is the Artificial Intelligence

20 07 2015

AI is not where a machine emulates human intelligence, but where humans emulate a machine. Our intelligence becomes artificial.

AI on a computer

Tools make the hand that uses them.

Vital Reading for all Artificial Intelligences

1 07 2015

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The Great Replacement

30 06 2015

The object in your hand is cheap plastic. You gaze down at it, restless.

To better know what threatens us, we should consider whether Weber was right: around us is a tightening ‘iron cage of administration”, a systematic disenchantment and loss of meaning, a triumph, indeed, of rationalisation.

Historically, rationalisation came in three waves. First was the legalisation of private property, second the codification of individual rights and third, the bureaucratic provision of welfare. To this, we can now add a fourth – the fastest and most powerful moment of rationalisation ever, the hole in the world where the meaning leaks out – the Great Replacement.

Unaware and staggering blind, we push the project of quantification deep into our daily lives. Most of us are unable to recognise this for what it really is: a social process written deep in the DNA of our societies. So we try to solve problems with algorithms, to replace human interaction with hollow virtuality and mimic those organisations that feature a monetorised self.

If human capriciousness is to be controlled by an automated bureaucracy, then what, precisely, is the point of humanity? Creativity? Empathy? Mutual recognition? Those seemingly human functions will themselves be replaced – though poorly – by what is merely a vulgar simulacrum. The object in your hand is a plastic imitation, a mere shadow of the real. We cannot defend the human if all we see is inefficiency.

Weber’s structural process of rationalisation now rides a surging digitation, a ‘general-purpose technology revolution’ that calculates and ‘throws a blanket of equivalence’ over all difference. Everything has its price, the human is reduced to the instrumental and the religion of capitalism continues to wring meaning from the world.

It is a ‘crime of obedience’ to further the Great Replacement.

Part of you is not your own and needs taking back. The object in your hand is the key, for to inspect it is to enter a world of thin appearance. Here, in the systematic destruction of work and community, the existential struggle that surrounds you is for a hollow and quantified attention. It is plastic and false, yet within it can be read the age-old project of social control.

Today, no one speaks for us, so we study what threatens us, practice democratic organisation and approach the mass refusal in tiny steps.

Good hubris

16 06 2015

Nick Bouras and George Ikkos are surely correct in their assertion that hubris has no positive connotations, but we should consider why it is necessary, perhaps even controversial, to make such a claim. Daedalus’s work shows that hubris is a psychological/organisational disorder that is absent in good leadership even though some of its elements – such as vision and risk taking – also appear in the clinical indicators for the full blown pathology, here as delusion and recklessness. Just as ‘normal’ personalities have elements of psychopathology in moderation, management studies continually identifies the elements of hubris that are required of the effective and charismatic leader. It is now a short step to congratulating corporate executives on their ‘evident’ absence of hubris, despite their rather roguish use of some of its elements.

We get close to applauding hubris when we forget that it is a cause of tremendous individual suffering and organisational ineffectiveness. We get closer still when we marvel at the Wolf of Wall Street and the panache of the Enron executives and we still face the almost complete dominance of our organisational domains by primitive hierarchies and hubristic practices. That, surely, is why we need Daedalus: to prevent hubris and do leadership better. For all our talk of new forms of management, it remains, for the most part, a dog eat dog world. What’s strange is that we still see the biggest dogs as having a certain rugged charm.

What we think now has been partly delivered to our heads by history. Bouras, Ikkos and Button take us back to the time the concept was coined. For the ancient Athenians, we could only be fully human when able to participate in collective decision-making (zoon politicon) and hubris was a critical concept used by autonomous citizens to identify a real and present danger. Specifically, the constant threat was that the hubristic leader would close down deliberative space, stunt the development of citizens and constitute a force against democracy. History thus reveals that hubris is not just a little too much of what is necessary in a leader. It is a damning accusation, by democrats, that governing elites need to be watched with the greatest care. This was Machiavelli and Rousseau’s critique of corruption by power: we need good leaders that further democracy and vigilant citizens to control them.

It cannot be that Daedalus exists to distinguish good hubris from bad. Hubris is a ‘disorder of position,’ one in which certain psychological tendencies somehow ‘fit’ the hierarchic structure in such a way as to cause significant damage. Hubris is anti-democratic and no leader should be that.

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