Brian Holmes on Tue, 13 May 2014 17:00:54 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> tensions within the bay area elites

On 05/13/2014 12:31 AM, michael gurstein wrote:

Now that Google's halo is a wee bit dented some deeper reflection on what
Google might, through its search algorithms, be doing to our underlying
frameworks of knowledge--either inadvertently by structuring them in pursuit
of its commercial goals or purposefully by, for example, following the
direction of its friends in the US State Department--might be in order; and
perhaps even more usefully some thought on what might be done about this.

Ahem, I believe some denizens of this list have organized entire conferences about this? Does anyone remember Deep Search?

Anyway, the point is always well taken: knowledge is power, epistemology is fundamental to both technical development and cultural elaboration in a complex society. Foucault left us that understanding, at the very least. But what Florian's post suggests, when you look at Google's acquisitions and obsessions all together in one basket, is even beyond computational epistemology. The Singularity is an ontological proposal. It maintains that the steady increase in computer-processing capacity will ultimately (and even soon) result in the emergence of a new form of Being. Like a good multidivisional corporation with an overgrown research arm, Google is preparing to realize and, I guess, profit from this ontological transformation.

Why the military robots? Why not remember Manuel De Landa's little book, War In the Age of Intelligent Machines, which caused such a stir in its day? De Landa predicted that computers would gain autonomous intelligence and operational capacity through the kind of competition for processing speed and power that has historically occurred under both cold and hot war conditions. Of course, when we look at Google's present capacities for recording, analyzing and synthesizing global language usage, it seems that they may find another road to the Singularity. But like a good multidivisional corporation with billions of research dollars to burn, they are adding a little military insurance to their oh-so-civil program of ontological domination.

Geez, why couldn't the Stanford folks have just stuck with Pong?

best, BH

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