Reading time 28 / 33 Minutes
“The task of art today is to bring chaos into order”. Theodor W. Adorno. 1
These words are calling on me here in Frankfurt. I take them to heart. But I also think they sound “smart”. There is an intellectual value to this quote. Now I can be fascinated by my own sensitivity, and post this online.
As you read these final words, please disagree if you will, find new meanings and new lines in between. Question every word and intention, let them affect you to provoke action. Dance and sing them in a chaotic, anarchic ritual in your head or in your room. Then move on to the Poetic Interface Pad here and let some of your words out. It would be most welcome.
WHERE ‘S UR HEAD @?
Many pieces of ourselves are now scattered in the clouds. I attempted here to collect some of them, and to write about a few uncomfortable issues. Paulo Freire, pedagogue and author, speaks of “submersion of consciousness or emergence of consciousness and critical intervention in reality”. I am attempting to use the second option. 2
After some serious sleep deprivation and deep search on the inter_net as well as in my own_net, I had an epiphany…Why am I / why are we calling the Bots* an abstraction in the 3rd pronoun? …? They are us! Smashed together in a sort of “Server-collective” – but yet … us.
This ontological revelation may seem obvious now, but it took a while to fight thru the meanings, the fake meanings, and the ongoing classifying of things.
The Bots*, my umbrella word here for Algorithms and AI, are being incessantly portrayed as something outside of us as well as the idea of nature as something that is outside of us.
Data is the new oil is written on the many walls. Yes indeed. And as fracking technology means injecting (literally) poison into the core of the planet to extract oil, we are injecting poison into the world of Internet to extract…what, again?
So, as confusing as it may sound – in the context I am presenting here
WE ARE THE BOTS* and I hope this does not become a hit song. Catchy though.
IDEALIZING THE BOTS*
That is the first conclusion of this research:
There is an ongoing idealization of AI, even to the point of saying that they are the new colonizers. Nice metaphor, but “the colonizers” are the Big Tech companies, nonetheless the monopolists behind – 1% of the population of this world. The colonizers are actually the same as they have ever been, only more seductive and devious.
To say Bots* are colonizing us is to say that our very own fantasy of a superpower is colonizing us. This is a diversion – AI comes from military technologies research. We are not being colonized by Bots* but we are certainly taking the bait to idealize them.
Some see salvation coming on the horizon and some only dystopian scenarios. And some of us are (non-binarily) trying to recognize “it”, to realize what really matters.
My reaction to this conclusion – I should concentrate on creating awareness towards real issues, and here we are, in this attempt of mine. Real as a term, which is not meant to be used here as the opposite of virtual, but in the sense of fundamentally relevant to the majority of us all.
Indigenous leader and historian Ailton Krenak say that there is no real point in saving water on your own. The money used in campaigns to ask the normal consumer to save water is rather a distraction. For example – to justify that C.ka-Cola water consumption is not being regulated or questioned. “The point is to create a psychological environment to cover the real reason for the depletion of pure water sources.” 3 The C.ka-Cola corporation is the largest beverage producer in the world, and by its own account, the company uses huge amounts of water only for bottling: about 300 billion liters per year.
There is a paradigm shift happening in our artistic field as well. Our resources are being weakened… And this already fragile market of ours, if we want call it that, is suffering.
But… Art should not suffer…
“Will art have the right to a second, interminable existence like the secret services that, as we know, haven’t had any secrets or exchange for some time but who still continue to flourish in the utter superstition of their usefulness, perpetuating their own myth?” 4This quote is from the essay “The Conspiracy of Art” by the philosopher and cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard written in 1996. This world-renowned theorist provoked the artistic community (here especially related to the market of visual fine arts) to its limits with this polemic statement:
“Contemporary Art no longer has a reason to exist.” 5
He was then treated as a traitor to the implicit silent contract among colleagues. For exposing his opinion and thesis: Art was gradually exhausting its own supplies as a rocket exhausts its fuel to stay in orbit. What was left seemed to be the recycling of what has already been recycled. In an interview about the issue he said afterwards: “You cannot foresee what will happen in there at all, but we should be able to have an awareness that things have reached a certain end, an end that does not mean everything is finished.” 6
Twenty-four years later Baudrillard’s words resonate well with me. Do I bring what once was to the virtual room? The revival of the revival…
His words are so up-to-date: “Art had a destiny. Today, art has fallen into value, and unfortunately at a time when values have suffered. Values: aesthetic value, commercial value…values can be negotiated bought and sold, exchanged.”7
Is Art itself creating the conspiracy or is it being conspired against?
Perhaps way too superficial for the words we just have read, but we are in the midst of an unprecedented crisis (or?)
I am afraid artists are being pushed to be only entertainers. To survive. I don’t intend to diminish entertainers, but if so, what can possibly differentiate us from the Y*uTube influencers? They play by the rules of the Big Techs. They have huge numbers of inst.gr.m followers, amazing social media skills (whatever that means), and the most popular gimmicks without any self-doubt.
So what makes us different? The ones who still want to transmit art?
Bots* Guide for Dummies: “AI is great because it solves very complex problems! Algorithms make our daily life efficient, comfortable and fast. Healthcare, Education, Social Media, Gaming, Transport! Everything will be better… AI will erase pain!”
Here is a much better Algorithms / AI guide for you if you’re interested. Interactive and comprehensive. Not yet outdated.
Peoples Guide to AI - PDF here Authors: Mimi Onuoha and Mother Cyborg (Diana Nucera) - August 2018 - https://alliedmedia.org/speaker-projects/a-peoples-press Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
Künstliche Intelligenz (in German) - Video here Authors: Arvid Leyh und Prof. Dr. Stefan Rotter- March 2019 https://www.dasgehirn.info/denken/kuenstliche-intelligenz/kuenstliche-intelligenz Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International
Pain shouldn’t be eliminated. It should be assimilated by Bots*. Without sorrow, there’s no possible ethic or dance that can resist and/or insist. Should we not continue to have the courage to be vulnerable with our cyborg extensions? And see this as a positive quality?
If we understand ourselves as being the image of machines, how are we going to develop the right to subjectivity and all the senses that enrich our human experience?
What are the priorities of Live Art and its mediation in this regard?
Not machines but Phoenixes we are… rekindled from time to time. How can beauty arise from the potentiality of the new?
So many curious minds are thinking about it, from different perspectives.
Interviewees, collaborations beyond the exchange of money are possible and extremely rewarding, as they were here. Link to interviews
We are the Bots*, colonizing ourselves – just my opinion here. The split here is: Although the Bots* are, in their core, the sum of our data, they are not the sum of “all our data”. It seems to me they obtain data during the times that we think we are not being observed, when we are most vulnerable and alone. They (We) don’t yet know our potential to be unpredictable when facing real struggles. When our bodies are truly connected.
Not to my surprise, I have discovered that G..gle is the new potential God. (Link to poetic Interface)
G..gle is engulfing everything, 24/7, forever, legally(?) All our beautiful ideas, verbal descriptions for vision-impaired people, experimentations with motion capture, our lyrics…- 8
The Choreographer Wayne McGregor experiments with G…gle, for example. They developed an app where you can dance to the eyes of the computer. Nice! But your motion becomes their product. Amazing “colonizing” aesthetics, but ethically speaking, very dubious.9
G..gle is amazing and omnipresent but employs only around 100 thousand people worldwide. efn_note] https://www.statista.com/statistics/273744/number-of-full-time-google-employees/ [/efn_note] Up to 800 million jobs around the world could be potentially lost to automation by 2030, according to a recent study from the McKinsey Global Institute. 10
And honestly, I don’t think jobs such as ours are even being counted here at all. Technology will continue to replace many functions that humans perform today.
So, remind me again – What is the purpose of all this “Digital Transformation“? Beyond the Pandemic crisis?
AI is being further developed by F.ceb.ok and G..gle, and the latter is also involved in drone delivery technology – autonomous target engagement. At this point the employees also had something to say, with a public letter against the company’s involvement in “the business of war”, and also when G..gle recently fired renowned researcher Timnit Gebru, woman, black and a fighter for transparency and ethics around AI. 11
“Don’t be evil” used to be G.ogle ‘s slogan.
“(…)There is relative Evil, which is Evil as it is generally understood. This Evil only exists in balance with Good, in equilibrium and permanent opposition with Good. But now there is also an absolute Evil (…) This absolute Evil comes from an excess of Good, an unchecked proliferation of Good, of technological development, of infinite progress, of totalitarian morality, of a radical will to do without opposition. This Good turns into its opposite, absolute Evil. “ 12
“Oppression—overwhelming control—is necrophilic; it is nourished by love of death, not life (…) the act of conquest, which reduces persons to the status of things, is necrophilia.” 13
We love the Internet and Inst..gr.m and G..gle and Fac..ok and Wh.ts up and we defend it passionately. Do we want to be the oppressor? There is however a strong Stockholm Syndrome bit performed by many of us. There is a visible social oppression here at stake. How /why do we sense it? Because it against life. When nature is crying and burning, WE (Bots* included) are also burning and crying!
Here are the words of James Boggs, political activist in American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook in 1963:
“Automation replaces men. This of course is nothing new. What is new is that now, unlike most earlier periods, the displaced men have nowhere to go. The farmers displaced by mechanization of the farms in the 20’s could go to the cities and man the assembly lines. As for the work animals like the mule, they could just stop growing them. But automation displaces people, and you don’t just stop growing people even when they have been made expendable by the system.” 14
ON_THE_LINE & OFF_THE_LINE
Consider this research to be my pages from a worker’s notebook.
I am concerned about how we are going to expand the use of Internet, as extensions of ourselves. Are we evolving or erasing…?
We, in great majority fairly enjoy the internet. This research is only possible thru the internet and the possibilities that so far “still” allow us to search without leaving too many traces, for example (Tip!) the search machine D.ckD.ckGo.
How not to like these fun tools made to indulge us, but to borrow Karin Harasser’s thought, 15 I myself started to sense a constant state of stress with all the mind-bending games, affects and effects and F.o.m.o. So, I stopped interacting with social media for a while, not to give any example of conduct but because survival instinct spoke louder – my Autonomic Nervous System took over.
As to our position as Art educators, our relevance seems to be diminished in online intermediation. Online we lose our geographical local advantages. So, it does get harder to “compete” with the rest of the world in order to offer a single class.
Online or offline, we need to be concerned with what we transmit, and how. Here the journalist and author Peter Weissenburger also talks about it – Link to interview (in German) Checking what is worth transmitting is a perpetual effort.
Perpetual is also the word used by G..gle Chr.me browser in their terms of service – in fact they use all of the adjectives once used to describe love’s commitment and dedication. Perpetual, irrevocable + worldwide, royalty free license (…) to ANY content submitted thru their services. 16
The use of current online media infrastructure is actually emptying our social life – we are being stimulated for the wrong reasons. Filmed from outside, we would certainly look worse than the dystopian series we have watched and loved. No special light, the plain reality of how we bend our subservient spines over the notebook. Modern slavery wants to be invisible, odorless and elusive, but it is not.
Follow Mói Song - Here at the top right
ROUGH RECAPITULATION (Devil’s Advocate Style)
– we (tend to) idealize Bots* as something outside of us, better than us,
– we (tend to) allow ourselves to be exploited by monopolists covering up the relevant issues of our society as a whole,
– we (tend to) wish-to-have the same skills as Y.utube influencers exhausting many of our artistic and educational resources,
– we are calling Art many of the digital experiments developed to “augment” our bodies, increase commoditization and social inequality,
– we are being oppressed by behavior manipulating online procedures and our own Super Bots* fantasies,
– we (tend to) allow online media to take a hold on us, to naively believe they are for free,
– we are on the verge of losing not only our jobs, but our calling and many of our fundamental rights,
nevertheless (we) are still not willing to make a change… (?)
SIMULATION EXCORPOREA REALITY CHECK
Why are many of us unwilling to know about the tools we are using? About the behavior of Bots*?
Media (social, games) being portrayed as the drug of the future surprises not. 17 Escaping reality is the drug, there are just different ways to induce it. I am not opposed to free choice when it comes to finding some comfort in this atrocious world from time to time, but your drug shouldn’t affect your neighbor. Aren’t we all trying to escape reality in one way or the other? The pleasure of illusion? Art? As it turns out, our reality is often unbearable, and it is worth escaping from it. But it is also worthwhile to come back to it.
If we carry on like this, not acknowledging the consequences of our technological interactions, “There will be no part of human life, no layer of experience, that is not extractable for economic value. This process of capitalization (…) is deeply incompatible with human freedom and autonomy.” 18
And knowledge is irrelevant when we are deprived of autonomy… when we are merely products.
If everything is appropriated by bio capitalism, including transgression, where do we dance now?
WE “VALUE” YOUR PRIVACY
Personal privacy? “I’ve got nothing to hide” – the favorite non-argument of 9 out of 10.
“Whether you have something to hide or not is totally irrelevant. Privacy is not about hiding – it is about autonomy, power and control; it is about your ability to decide how you present yourself to the world. Given how much data about you is constantly being collected, mostly in ways that you can’t see, this erosion of your privacy can’t help but have an impact in the long run – on your job or on future jobs; on your networks; on how much you end up paying for specific products; and on a range of other things.”
Source: Me and My Shadow READ MORE ON https://myshadow.org/ by Tactical Technology Collective Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
And then again, Tobias Gantner, CEO at HealthCare Futurists pleads: “We need to say goodbye to our concepts of data security“. His belief is that privacy is just a cultural construct. “If your health depended on it, wouldn’t you share your data willingly?” So in that sense, privacy will only exist for the Big Data companies, but not for the individual. 19
The best medicine, predictive policing, predicting education is a way that many hope to go in order to justify data accumulation and to create profit, but shouldn’t we all have a say in it? Or at least receive unconditional income, since we are often “working” for Big Tech anyway, without any wages and may lose our jobs in the meantime?
Web designer Laura Kalbag says: “If you don’t worry about corporations (and by extension, governments) having access to your data, you are privileged. And quite possibly just foolish. What if you lived in a country where your sexual preference is illegal? 20
To build something, anything, is so complex – to destroy it: just a click!!! And we are living in a world of clicks. Putting down ancient trees for the sake of ever praised progress by clicking.
As the philosopher Franco Berardi said in an interview: (…)The technical modalities to break out of this hell will have to be created. (…) We must continue to revive the erotic body of cognitive work in order to free the potential that technology has to offer.” 21
“Dance, dance otherwise we are lost” – the words of Pina (Bausch) could not be more necessary and urgent.
Dance as the first primitive artform of celebration, seduction, catharsis will be the hardest of all for the Bots* to conquer. Beyond the gymnastics of joints…
Will they need to dance?
Dance is beyond relevance and systemically way downplayed as a source of wisdom and social/personal growth. Most of all – common Joy! In kindergarten or in the club, on stage or in any room.
Art is beyond these words…Art itself is beyond significance…but we artists are being pushed aside “from not system-relevant” towards “familiar irrelevance”, as life can go on without us – “live artists”. There are so many sources of cultural interaction these days. From the old good book to ZDF digital room.
Is Live Performance Art/mediation even being missed? By whom?
The garbage collectors are indeed system relevant and they are Culture as well. Artists, on stage or not, do not have a monopoly on Culture!
For how long can we say that they, the public, don’t know what they are missing? Are they going to come back? They might, if we offer something distinguishable.
The dancing and singing bodies are NOT to be optimized or sold!
“Smartwatches”, “smart drugs,” smart cities”, “smartphones”, and the list go on. “How numerous are the things that I do not need”. Who said this? Socrates! And suddenly I wish to be dumb…
Despite the gigantic effort of Big Techs to make us believe the contrary, the best defense of our body (as in the sense of respecting and treasuring it) is: ” you can’t eat (yet) anything on your computer screen.” Quote from musician and creative technologist Matt Black. Probably inspired by “You can’t eat money“. Unsophisticated words perhaps, but right to the point. 22
Many transhumanists defend the idea that we as humans should emancipate ourselves from the tangible body, breaking free the biological boundaries. From online chimaera/hybrids to clones. But some transhumanists are fairly close to the notion of controlling race, as seen in eugenics, as they plea for technological augmentations without proper research on the ethical consequences.
Who is going to have access to the “smart” technology, especially on a planet where the resources for many of these technologies are becoming scarcer? For the sake of “smart” technology, one needs a whole lot of dumb companies extracting lithium from the earth’s core.
FINAL HOMEOSTASIS OF MINE
There is always a fine line between analyzing an existing situation or trying to predict one that is still to come. Ultimately, theories are eloquent guesswork.
And here we are theorizing again about what has changed or what might change, but not offering a new delusional unbeatable thesis, with clear propositions. I am on a search for one or many, with a dash of cyber-utopianism. Relativism? No, I’m just looking for non-binary options that leave me room to experiment with every fiber of my aging body.
From Postmodernism to Posthuman theory, from Transhumanism to Posthumanism the notion of “loss of agency” by the human being became not only the cause but the reason, the meta-narrative to stop resisting “machine control”.
Submission to machine logic as the potential continuity of our own path on this planet and beyond is one thing, but submitting to monopolies as old as the Prussians and Victorians and their colonizing methods is another thing. Long Live Death in Life? Half alive zombies with a brand new Play St.tion and Wind.ws VR Oculus are my worst nightmare. Technological subservience towards…G.A.F.A.sss? My opinion here is very organic and loud. I answer NO. Acknowledging that we are ourselves systems integrated with other systems might be sold as something new by “post-post” theories but native primitive indigenous societies still know it, despite all steps to colonize their beliefs and all the attempts to erase their culture. I don’t think human-kind is in the middle of any universe, either vertical, horizontal, diagonal or/and spiral_ing ones. But I do not suppose it should be erased either, as some post-human theorists (tend) to wish.
Is my “NO” motivated only by survival instinct? Perhaps. My cynicism is too corrosive, I can’t allow it to take over.
Internal self-regulation to praise my human agency.
“People were made to shine, not to die of hunger” Caetano Veloso 23
The human body in all its wonders is “what” in the AI field is referred to as the “Complete Agent” – a complete agent bot would mean in this case a bot that senses its environment with all senses, has reflexes and acts upon what is sensed as well as what is asked of it. So far, we deal with Bots* that cannot sense or feel, although they can make calculations beyond our capabilities.
Neoliberalist society wants us to unhinge, to envy the Bots* as something outside of ourselves. Better than ourselves. But we are already the complete agents in all our diversity, namely all bodies with a single atom.
ATOM _FROM THE MACRO TO THE MICRO
My eighth and final conclusion:
My plea perhaps, besides all the practical tips and reflections displayed here:
Shall we go back to small? Resize/rethink our network, since globalization is actually tearing us apart?
You might slow your motion when the world is spinning in time-lapse. Go analog! Go real! Even build a hazmat suit made of colorful plastic straws, but don’t allow your body to became the chair you are sitting in…
No “Retrotopia” in mind here (…there was more future in the past).[/efn_note] Reference to Zygmunt Bauman – “Retrotopia” – 2017 (wishing to go back to the past since future seems too dark…) [/efn_note]
Just reality – critical intervention in reality.
There are other possibilities…thru the fibred optic cables and thru all our bodies and identities.
Anyhow, we could also create that last refuge…
Dancing and singing,
as real as bleeding
Art that does not speak relentlessly of freedom falls into the binary choices of today’s main online platforms. Who does not claim for freedom will be the involuntary slave of the virtual shopping center.
Art that makes us sense freedom in our very core is the one to be defended. The other “styles” have enough representation. My pro bono work here. I represent the pirates on and offline who want to surf non-stop in democratic data clouds or condensed vapor ones.
After all, what differentiates us from online influencers, besides the number of followers?
When it comes to the public virtual rooms, online posting is actually only uploading content. Distribution of content is carried out by Bots*, in the interests of their creators. Our dearest words – share, like, love – are being damaged, recalibrated for specific purposes and often enough giving us the illusion of being socially active.
Mainstream platforms “lives” for free? No. Everyone who will get to see it pays with their privacy and data, if we are not thorough about the tools we use.
Got nothing to hide? Online privacy is not about hiding anything, it is about collective autonomy, and it is about maintaining rights before there are none left.
Are we willing to commodify everything? Our dances, our songs, our plays beyond any right to subjectivity and poetry?
Self-purpose and self-promotion should not permeate our fundamental decisions. Especially not as educators, when citizenship is being flattened to buying, obeying and clicking buttons.
Possibilities? Change the settings, look for alternative online platforms, support open-source software, learn to code, gain some algorithmic literacy, go back to the analog or real world, and fight for self-determination where there can be some.
Choices don’t have to be binary oriented, they are multidimensional and always in motion.
Footnotes - no specific academic system: ⊕ Author's name and surname (if available) ⊕ Oeuvre / Link ⊕ Day and/or Month/Year ⊕ No hyperlinks here. ⊕ *BOTS - the umbrella term for this research = Algorithms and AI
- Theodor W. Adorno – “Minima Moralia: Reflections on a Damaged Life” – 1951
- Paulo Freire – “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”- 1968
- Fernanda Santana – “Vida sustentável é vaidade pessoal” – https://www.correio24horas.com.br/noticia/nid/vida-sustentavel-e-vaidade-pessoal-diz-ailton-krenak/ – 26.01.20 – unauthorized translation
- Jean Baudrillard – “The Conspiracy of Art – Manifestos, Interviews, Essays” – edited by Syvére Lotringer – 2005.
- Notice that here the” .. “are to be replaced by” oo”- https://experiments.withg..gle.com/living-archive-wayne-mcgregor and https://artsexperiments.withg..gle.com/living-archive
- https://futurism.com/mckinsey-finds-automation-eradicate-third-americas-workforce-2030 and https://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/overview – November 2017
- https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/08/timnit-gebru-departure-perfect-storm-for-alphabet-ceo-sundar-pichai.html on 18.12.2020
- Jean Baudrillard – “The Roots of Evil” – one of his last interviews published in “The Agony of Power” – 2007
- Paulo Freire -“Pedagogy of the Oppressed” – 1968
- James Boggs – “American Revolution: Pages from a Negro Worker’s Notebook” – 1963
- Karin Harrasser – Kulturstiftung des Bundes Magazin – März 2019
- Nick Couldry and Ulises A. Mejias – “The Costs of Connection- How Data Is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating It for Capitalism – 2020
- Drogenaffinitätsstudie 2019″ der Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung (BZgA).
- Nick Couldry and Ulises A. Mejias “The Costs of Connection- How Data Is Colonizing Human Life and Appropriating It for Capitalism – 2020
- “What do futurists imagine for the post-coronavirus-pandemic world?” – Deutsche Welle – www.dw.com – 02.04.2020
- Anna Stiede – Interview with Franco Berardi „Unser Hirn leidet “ – Freitag .de – May 2018.
- “What do futurists imagine for the post-coronavirus-pandemic world?” – Deutsche Welle – www.dw.com – 02.04.2020
- Caetano Veloso – Song: Gente -1977