Monday, June 13, 2016

Five Digital Epistemological Objects for 2064

Five Digital Epistemological Objects for 2064
A Digital Narrative Ark of the Knower

jon crowcroft, Cambridge, 8.5.2014

dreams, visions and prophecies in bits

It is too hard for humans to fully comprehend humans, but it may be possible
to construct a digital model, a computer simulation or even emulation,
that is accurate, not just descriptive, but also predictive. Such a
model would embody modes of thinking that are not entirely rational,
which is what current "AIs" attempt, but would extend to domains
which, I believe, are entirely human, such as dreaming and visionary
or prophetic processes - these are not magic, or pseudo-science ideas,
but ways in which human thought processes leapfrog piecewise or
incremental steps, perhaps building on such mundane stages, but only
revealing themselves thus-wise, as revelations. Not blue gene beating
humans at chess, but more surprising.

computational ethics

We struggle with ethical dilemmas. Why? there are ambiguities or
paradoxes. These are quite easy to express in the right formal
systems, so we should be able to create, perhaps with help from
machines, ethical props, crutches, to help guide us to what is right.
Asimov laws of robotics (4 in the end) were naive, but a start - we
should play with more such. The history of robots (golems, rossum's
universal, mary shelley's etc) is littered with great examples.

diseases who think

it is a high pomp of pretentiousness that only humans think. we know
(e.g. from Dunbar's (and Alison Richards') studies of apes)
that the theory of mind is present to some degree in other creatures,
and sometime, less so in some people.
But the most alien of creatures, such as hive animals, and,
in extremis, bacteria are capable of collective reasoning. Can we
train them to help us? Can we
infect people with thoughts, literally, rather than merely

Bring meaning to Pat Cadigan's notion  of being incurably informed
(see Synners).

haunts - memories stronger than reality

smells, and superstitions, influence us and resonate more than careful
abstract recollections. Perhaps there's an embodiment of knowledge in
these modalities that we could build better, artificially, than
already exist. Can we code ghosts?

learning to un-banish ghosts might be the ultimate rationalisation.

embodiment of knowing in the knower, is in some cases physiological
(scent, muscle memory, belief) - capturing this missing element (where our
typical current digital media representations address typically only 2
or 3 (sight, hearing, perhaps touch) of the more boring senses, seems
like a worthy goal in terms of understanding our understanding more

frailty -

we need digital analogues for flakiness  - just as digital
transmission of moving pictures can "degrade gracefully", perhaps
knowledge can be coded in ways that can still be usefull when partly
rotten - as with the human suffering from dementia, still able to carry
out some cognitive tasks, perhaps artificial thinking can be made
resilient. [today's programs, if even slightly corrupt, simply work
then fail - this is a poor show].

In a deeper sense, reflection on the inherent inaccuracy of representation
is needed, etc

indeed, the optical metaphor can be (over-)extended, using the notion
of different lenses, not just for different viewpoints (different
epistemic architectures) but also for level-of-detail - zooming in to
some (reductionist) model, or retreating to some level of abstraction.
Technology (that is processable - i.e. usually digital) can help with
this - indeed, statistics, visualisation, modeling in general, or
towers of models, are all about this.

losing detail is not necessarily loss of knowledge - indeed, the
ability to ignore detail (see the wood for the trees, or the aforesaid
abstraction process) is one of the more useful human (cognitive?)

--------> Notes and Websites

The mantra data -> information -> knowledge -> wisdom
(c.f. tofler and brunner's future shock/shockwave rider)
is glib, but useful. each stage in this notional process adds
some sort of structure and processing, whose algorithms and
representational choices are themselves just more data (as per the
Eckert/Von Neumann Stored Programme Computer Architecture - sometimes
incorrectly ascribed to Alan Turing:)

Provocations from the meeting of 7.5.14 at CRASSH:

Q.what diff does move from analog to digital make w.r.t knowledge?
[not restricted to humanities part of digital (humanities)

-ve A
n.a. no change
n.b. networking/
n.c. distributed knowledge

n.d. just scale/efficiency...
[me, but emergence - see below and

two types of DH
1. boring: use of computational tools to do studies like word count in jane austin
2. more interesting - humanities study of social/digital/new media

what about both? e.g. study of sampling/mash up?

+ve A - changes knowledge & also modes&modalities of knowing...

so not H applied to D, but D  to H
so how do humans change when they go digital...

e.g. measure of time - exact? v. inexact
so exactitude is itself a new suitable topic....

every decoding is an encoding...maurice zapp, in lodge's small world:)

e.g.  science - robot scientists discovery/sharing:)
eScience program (e.g., seti@home etc)

better e.g. Maths:
proof assistants
Coq & Isabel
e.g. 4 color map & Fermat's last theorem)

Lessig: code as law

2. quantitative: cost copy -> zero (recall)
[all email since 1976]

Piketty's Capital in 21st Century - 20 countries for 150 years...
Scale sometimes is a qualitative change - emergence

3. qualitative: artefacts...

Bad - ideas (e.g. big data) broken (lose nuance)
good - new forms (susan collins @ slade - many turner prizes...


+ culture
+ society

Piketty: capital in 21st century - twaddle v. girlfriends...

narrative v. sci method -
just different points in process in science v. humanity work...?

versus! creative step in science is still not understood:)

The mistakes are ... interesting..-slade art...
the two brians (may&cox:)

read also: more than human (theodore sturgeon) and
shockwave rider (john brunner)

see also post modern object truth & no value judgements ?:-)
liberal  arts students in 70s who went into west coast startups
may have become unethical coz of this:)

diy:and failure machines:

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misery me, there is a floccipaucinihilipilification (*) of chronsynclastic infundibuli in these parts and I must therefore refer you to frank zappa instead, and go home