Anthrobotics and the Physiology of Proliferation

I have proposed to call anthrobotics the perspective according to which human-machine assemblages are collective bodies that have historically been prior to their parts (see the paper ‘We, Anthrobot’, de Miranda et al, 2016). We are a symbiotic species made of flesh and renewable algorithmic protocols, language being the privileged tool of this dialectic between the anthropic factor and the robotic factor, each pole enabling the other. The anthrobotic ontology — which might bare other names, like cyborg (Haraway, 1984), megamachine (Mumford, 1967), or desiring-machine (Deleuze & Guattari, 1972) — has become aware of itself via the development and realisations of digital languages.

I wish to expand this thesis theoretically. One potential issue with the anthrobotic view as it was presented is that it might be understood as an anthropocentric position, stating that there is a qualitative difference between humans and other living beings and, incidentally, that machines are always and only human made. In fact, I’d like to propose a non-anthropocentric more general theory: anthrobotics as the human aspect of a wider biological and even cosmological tendency. Perhaps I should call this hypothesis the crealectics of proliferation and explosion.

Anthrobotics is the human-machine interaction aspect of a universal worldforming dynamic process. It is a moment of a larger epistemic and ontological sphere dealing with the production of lifeworlds (cosmos, Umwelt) — this calls for a cosmology. This cosmology relies on a non-dualist process philosophy which calls Creal its prima materia (de Miranda, 2008; Aristotle, Physics), defined as a flow of infinite probability and incessant production of alterity. As pure multiplicity, the Creal is never totally One, but it might be strangely attracted by its opposite shadow: the idea of unity. Since this is a non-dualist dynamic ontology —ideas are real, not more real than reality as in Plato but not less real than reality as in nominalism —, the concept of One is a cosmological given rather than a non-existing abstraction. It might work as a physical force.

The Creal is an absolute axiom which can be defined as the ever-going dissemination of difference, of infinite potentiality (Aristotle, Physics; Bergson, 1907; Whitehead, 1929). Conversely, proliferation is the ever-going reproduction or multiplication of a similar bioelectronical form. Biology has shown that a thriving organism is one that proliferates (Darwin). Proliferation is driven towards the production of the one and same. Crealization is driven towards the production of the multiple and the different.

The dialectic of proliferation and crealization, or rather their crealectic, is the metaquestion of several sciences: biology (how do bodies and organisms (re)produce their form?), physics (why are there cosmological mathematical laws?), politics (how do institutions endure?), psychology (how does the self and its self-consciousness emerge?). Recently the interesting biosemiotics perspective, Peirce-related, has proposed to explain this process in terms of production of signs, sign-relations, and interpretations (Peirce, 1892; Sebeok, 1989; Deely, 2001; Hoffmeyer, 2009; Deacon, 2011; Wheeler, 2016). Brier (2013) calls cybersemiotics his promising reconciliation of biosemiotics and cybernetics. It is not clear yet for me how signs are supposed to make structures, in other words how raw data becomes a discourse, and how this discourse functions as an ecosystem.

One way of looking at proliferation and disparation (Deleuze, 1968) is by equating the two terms with the concepts of syntropy (negentropy) and entropy (Schrödinger, 1944; Brillouin, 1953; Albert Szent-Györgyi, 1974). But proliferation is more than syntropy. It is not only the fact that a zone of the creal achieves an integrity-equilibrium but also about the capacity of this entity to expand by persistence of its structure over time, by territorialisation, and/or by reproduction.

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