Sunday, August 4, 2019
Cybernetics and the Security-State :: Wiener Government Mechanics Papers
Cybernetics and the Security-State The mastery of nature, so the imperialists teach, is the purpose of technology. But who would trust a cane wielder who proclaimed the mastery of children by adults to be the purpose of education? Is not education above all the indispensable ordering of the relationship between generations and therefore mastery, if we are to use this term, of the relationship and not of children? And likewise technology is not the mastery of nature and man. Men as a species completed their development thousands of years ago; but mankind as a species is just beginning his. In technology a physis is being organized through which mankind's contact with the cosmos takes a new and different form from that which it had in nations and families. . . . The paroxysm of genuine cosmic experience is not tied to that tiny fragment of nature that we are accustomed to call 'Nature'. In the nights of annihilation of the last war the frame of mankind was shaken by a feeling that resembled the bliss of the epil eptic. And the revolts that followed it were the first attempt of mankind to bring the new body under its control. -- Walter Benjamin, One Way Street, 1925-26 Garry Kasparov lost to Deep Blue on May 11, 1997. The event itself had almost no affect on the daily life of the general populace in and of itself, and in fact had been considered inevitable for some time. Even so, commentators read awful portent into the fact that the chess grandmaster, dubbed "Humanity's Champ," was beaten by the IBM computer. USA Today was not alone in asking, "Are computers backing humans into a corner?" With rare exception, after the initial hype died down the media reassured us that we were in no immediate danger of computers turning against us and taking over the planet, at least not actively. Chess, we were assured, is susceptible to the type of "simple" brute force calculations a computer can do. Understanding natural language, recognizing speech and handwriting, and analyzing images require work of a different sort, a "common sense" that has so far eluded most artificial intelligence researchers. Unlike human babies (an admittedly loaded example) , computers have trouble interacting with and learning about the "real world" except within strictly defined parameters.