observations on “post #74”

For many  occupants,                      experiencing contrast   between digital and analog space can heighten the vividheuristicsense of first person now-ness that can become dulled with immersion in one or the other.

An occupant’s perception ofeitheras unexpectedly stale can damage, possibly destroy, the transmuted fourth wall of the

space encouraging, but not completing, a sense of ruin-ness.

Spaces become ruined  by decay, (dead links, crumbling walls), the encroachment of the out-of-place (trees growing through roofs, obvious spam in the Comments)and progressive temporal                                                        decontextualization.  This is an


a-sequentialality rather than an a-temporality.  The de-purposing of such spaces depends, as everything depends, on a/the defining point of view.  A completely de-purposed spaceistheonly completely ruined space.

Time and space do not easily cohabit.  The


mere passage of un-updated time opens discoherent voids between mediated space and the occupant.                    Is it loss or

inability, amnesia or aphasia, ghost or monster                       ?

This can reproduce the politics of trauma,whichisall politics, in     the      encounter   with mediated space,whichisallspac e.

Labor Day

More than any other labor dispute of the past three decades, Reagan’s confrontation with the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, or Patco, undermined the bargaining power of American workers and their labor unions. It also polarized our politics in ways that prevent us from addressing the root of our economic troubles: the continuing stagnation of incomes despite rising corporate profits and worker productivity. NY Times 8-2-11

[The original post had a You Tube video of Bob Dylan’s “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” here, but the account was terminated because of copyright violations. ]

Help Bring The Strike To Your Town

Print and cut out our campaign cards to let your local fast food employees know about the national strike.

As you go through the drive-through or order something at the counter, ask if the employee has heard about the national fast food strikes and if they think they get paid enough. If they answer “no,” hand them the card and ask them to get involved at www.LowPayIsNotOK.org.

Low Pay is Not OK PDF

Drone Strikes in the Uncanny Valley – Part 2

In Part 1,  I wrote:

The visceral revulsion of many seems to indicate a sense that these drones have, or will assume a life of their own, that despite their clearly mechanical appearance, they inhabit the uncanny valley.

But how can this be?  A robot’s too/not enough human likeness is the core of the effect.  There are in fact quite a number of drones, with various appearances.  But  I can’t recall one with any visual appreciable human likeness at all.

Mori’s graph show the industrial robot as the least uncanny.  But the industrial robot’s environment is highly constrained and controlled.  Even the huge mining or tunneling machines exist in specific environments when doing their work.

The drone roams the greater world, our world, seemingly unconstrained or controlled.  Imagine  observing from the ground a drone hovering for days.  Then suddenly it launches a missile that strikes close by.  Even if one is uninjured it must be a breathtakingly frightening experience.

From that vantage point, the drone appears to have intelligence, agency and to be capable of highly consequential action.  I think,, for many of us, this empathetic understanding is at least as strong as a more rational and factual one.

Combined with drones not looking human, this leads us to metaphorically regard them as a different species.

Eliezer Yudkowsky of the Machine Intelligence Research Institute says one of the “families of unreliable metaphors for imagining the capability of smarter-than-human Artificial Intelligence” is

 Species metaphors: Inspired by differences of brain architecture between species. AIs  have magic.

Drones then become a magic species, capable of rainng death down on us.

Their  different brain architectures leave them though emotionless.  Human Rights Watch released its report Losing Humanity a few months ago arguing against the development of “fully autonomous weapons”.

Even if the development of fully autonomous weapons with human-like cognition became feasible, they would lack certain human qualities, such as emotion, compassion, and the ability to understand humans. As a result, the widespread adoption of such weapons would still raise troubling legal concerns and pose other threats to civilians. (p. 6)

The report received limited coverage.  Among the most substantive was the Spencer Ackerman’s article Pentagon: A Human Will Always Decide When a Robot Kills You The wry, ironic tone of the title was typical of the few articles that did appear.

The Pentagon wants to make perfectly clear that every time one of its flying robots releases its lethal payload, it’s the result of a decision made by an accountable human being in a lawful chain of command. Human rights groups and nervous citizens fear that technological advances in autonomy will slowly lead to the day when robots make that critical decision for themselves. But according to a new policy directive issued by a top Pentagon official, there shall be no SkyNet, thank you very much.

.Looking up from the forest floor of the Uncanny Valley, through the canopy, I’m not so sure.

Drone Strikes in the Uncanny Valley – Part 1

The debate about drone warfare is complex and beyond my capabilities or intentions here.  For a far-ranging discussion I recommend the The Quarterly DAG-3QD Peace and Justice Symposium: Drones.

The symposium participants discuss one of the core issues of the debate,  “the threshold problem.”  In the final essay of the Symposium, Reply to Critics: No Easy Answers,  Bradley Jay Strawser writes

Of course, the very notion that a threat can be justifiably blocked by killing, while sound in principle and sometimes in practice, is ripe for abuse and misuse. So the pressing moral issue for the drone campaign is how the notion of “imminent threat” is being evaluated, measured, and properly understood.

…I find it insightful of Levine to point out how the distinction between intelligence and military action in the US has all but collapsed. I agree with him that this is a serious problem. The CIA should be in the business of intelligence, not direct lethal action.[15] One wonders then, whether drones are merely a symptom of this state of affairs or a partial cause of it?

Additionally, CK MacLeod, in Further on  Pathos v the Drones Conventionalizing the Unconventionalizable  expands the focus and summarizes a discomfort with drone warfare I share.

We can explain this ancient-present predicament as follows: Those great confrontations, with their all but unimaginably great death and destruction, produced the “conventions” of war within and against which 4th Generation warriors define themselves. By design and necessity, “un-conventional” warfare cannot be handled entirely by “conventional” warmaking, “conventional” thinking about warfare, or the legal and political “conventions” that have not caught up with it and that it means to defy. We feel as though we are in a void between the former, obsolete conventions and that which has not been conventionalized and perhaps cannot be conventionalized,

Our relation to any void is not knowing.  Here, even the horrors humanity has managed to invent in the past pause, not knowing.  Is this in fact an incremental technological innovation in war, or, as it seems to feel to many, a change in direction, in type.

The visceral revulsion of many seems to indicate a sense that these drones have, or will assume a life of their own, that despite their clearly mechanical appearance, they inhabit the uncanny valley.

Certainly science fiction has from its beginning responded to, formed and fed fantasies of our creations living for themselves and threatening us. Many of the monsters of myth, from Gilgamesh on, seem on the surface as some sort of unnatural union when they really are human creations becoming alive.