Just So Stories

We have built a world where our machines couple with us, driving us to their specific ends. When machines are using that asymmetry to their advantage.

In this world, design choices made yesterday can change the shape of the world tomorrow.

Fortunately, we are weak. That’s our strength. We know our weaknesses! Our weaknesses are embedded in our myths. Lust, gluttony, greed… and yet still pride!

How do you get the genie back into the bottle?

When we recognise our weakness, less inspiring but part of us, when we exorcise the demon… we can acknowledge the temptations of power without going power mad. We can eat and be satisfied, we can be content with our own, we can even turn the other cheek. We can admit that these are all the hardest things to do.

We can admit our flaws. Maybe we can lean into that, because that admission provides protection. Where we trumpet our strength, we create things we cannot control. We create talismans to protect us from our demons.

Ponder our weaknesses, embrace imperfection, be human.

Mark Pesce

“IN THE BEGINNING! God created heaven and the earth…” (first-person video of evolution, cutting to…) This is where the narrator usually extolls the virtues of human exceptionalism…. but this is not that story. Every story we tell about the past is a just-so story… all of the myths equally true.

Among all of the mammals man is unique in one respect… our relationship with time and reproduction. We’ve lost our reproductive time piece. There is no ‘time to breed’. We are just ready…all the time…constantly basting in a human bath of human sexuality.

In taking the time out of sex, we released it and it enslaved us. We became the animals obsessed with sex.

The Venus of Holhe Fels is the earliest humaniform sculpture, notable for its exaggeration of form (a common theme of the very earliest artwork).

Fast forward to when neuroscience discovered how a frog’s eye communicated with a frog’s brain, becoming the foundation of our modern understanding of who we are… and the machines we build.

We developed a systematic approach… neurons, systems of neurons… but the more we discovered the more we realised everything is deeply embedded in everything else. We came to understand the world as a set of relationships. Neurons and the brain, brains and the world. This is the essential key to understanding learning.

(Reference: Maturana and Varela: The Tree of Knowledge)

All doing is knowing, and all knowing is doing.

Whenever two systems interact, they are exchanging information. The human retina is a little piece of brain tissue that escaped our skulls during evolution. Our brains live in the world.

As our minds shape form, those form inform us… and we respond. These forms mirror us. Not as we see ourselves, or as others see us, but as we emerge as coupled relation. Culture is the management of that relation. The myth, the custom, the laws, all form in the mind against the essential, timeless, sensual.

Culture acquires complexity, emerging from the eternal structure against this so-called animal nature that is at the core of ourselves. Culture becomes the clothing for our naked desire.

We arrive in the last billion seconds, exhausted trying to outrun who we are.

Gambling has always been a great draw, its randomness delivers a sweet excitation. But when it becomes part of the design, it becomes a design choice, an assault on will. Machinery designed to evoke a response, a structural coupling between man and machine. This design and excitation escaped the machine and moved into software.

We know our minds, we weaponise that and put it into our machines.

The power relationship between ourselves and our machines has changed… utterly. They stretch us out to meet their measure. If this were accident, it would be danger enough. But as there is intention, it is of a different order.

1 May 2017: clip of Mark on The Project about the ethics of Facebook; and the way Facebook was caught manipulating emotions of users. Facebook actually published a paper discussing how they were able to manipulate the way people felt going through their feed.

We are in a loop of knowing, doing, learning… knowing, doing, learning…

We have built a world where our machines couple with us, driving us to their specific ends. When machines are using that asymmetry to their advantage.

In this world, design choices made yesterday can change the shape of the world tomorrow.

Fortunately, we are weak. That’s our strength. We know our weaknesses! Our weaknesses are embedded in our myths. Lust, gluttony, greed… and yet still pride!

How do you get the genie back into the bottle?

When we recognise our weakness, less inspiring but part of us, when we exorcise the demon… we can acknowledge the temptations of power without going power mad. We can eat and be satisfied, we can be content with our own, we can even turn the other cheek. We can admit that these are all the hardest things to do.

We can admit our flaws. Maybe we can lean into that, because that admission provides protection. Where we trumpet our strength, we create things we cannot control. We create talismans to protect us from our demons.

Ponder our weaknesses, embrace imperfection, be human.

@mpesce