Affixion or Affliction: The Myth of Hyperconnectivity

It is often said that having many connections is the secret to a successful life.

The present space is materialised by one hundred chairs and a quarter of tables. You are sitting at one of the tables. Some music is playing in the background, rather superfluous if not disturbing. This is a deserted part of a hotel. A closer inspection reveals that breakfast is probably served in this large mezzanine, but it is now the end of the afternoon and the space is a no man’s land.

You are sitting alone in front of a laptop. You are thinking, meditating about connections, connections between humans, among objects, humans, non-humans. Everything can more or less connect with everything else at a given moment of its biography, but connections are often superfluous like the music in the background or the cosmic radiations that pass through our body. It is not enough to be connected, to experience a vast number of epidermal inconstant connections. It is only effective socially to be hyperconnected if one is satisfied with a superficial state of constant inconstancy. If a human being relates meaningfulness with constant solicitation, then incessant connections, if they are not unpleasant, will colonize the subjective space of a calendar and confer an appearance of plenty. Such agitation will eventually produce platitude rather than plenitude.

I am interested in affixion rather than mere connection. A connection is more or less superficial, epidermal, volatile, while an affixion is more faithful. We are connected to everything more or less momentarily, but we are only affixed in duration to certain realities, beings or beliefs. We are connected to many, but only affixed to a few. A hyperconnected person can be poorly affixed even to herself.

A successful life cannot only be about commerce, coupling, mobilisation and reaction to stimuli. If we are too connected, we cannot create an Umwelt. An entity that would be too connected would not form a limit between its interior and its exterior. It would not individuate. We need strange attractors to affix our oscillations.

We need disconnections as much as connections. Systematic avoidance of affixion via metamorphic connectivity may lead to affliction in the long term.

Amazon Wants to Use Predictive Analytics to Offer so-called “Anticipatory Shipping”

“Amazon might use predictive data analysis to ship products to consumers before they even order them, according to new patent.”

Please read the news article below. Note that this is part of a series of informational links I give connected to the matter of anticipation. This of course does not mean I agree with the journalists or with the company’s claims. I do not have the time to give a critical reading of all the data. This Amazon announcement is clearly symptomatic. More soon on this matter.

Species of crow solve complex problems involving anticipation

“The study demonstrates that this species of crow possess highly flexible abilities that allow them to solve complex problems involving anticipation of the properties of objects they have never seen.”

Link to the article here




On the environmental politics of anticipation, by C. Groves (2016)


“Anticipation may be seen as structured by images and representations, an approach that has informed recent work in science and technology studies on the sociology of expectations. But anticipation, as a capacity or characteristic, is not solely manifested in the form of representations, even where such representations of the ‘not yet’ are performative in nature. It also comprises material capacities, technological, biophysical and affective in nature. The politics of anticipation is shaped by how these symbolic and material capacities, and the forms of agency they make possible, are distributed. As anticipation is an environmentally distributed capacity, it is suggested that the politics of anticipation is also an environmental politics. A conceptual framework for analysing anticipation as comprised of environmental capabilities is introduced, and fleshed out using a case study of energy infrastructure planning from the UK. Key elements of this framework include the concepts of anticipatory assemblages and future horizons or ‘styles’ of anticipation. Working through the case study as an empirical example of a conflict concerning the politics of anticipation and of ‘environments’, it is demonstrated how the relationships between styles of anticipation are materially constitutive of such conflicts.”

environmental politics anticipation

Die Aufklärung in the Age of Philosophical Engineering, by B. Stiegler

“The public access to the web is twenty years old. Through it, digital society has developed throughout the entire world. But has this society become mündig, that is, mature, in the sense that Immanuel Kant used this term to define the age of Enlightenment as an exit from minority, from Unmündigkeit ? Certainly not: contemporary society seems on the contrary to have become profoundly regressive. Mental disorders as well as environmental, economic, political and military problems constantly proliferate and increase, while the spread of traceability seems to be used primarily to increase the heteronomy of individuals through behaviour-profiling rather than their autonomy.

If digitalisation clearly holds promise in many ways, and if (and I am convinced of this) socialising digitalisation in a reasoned and resolute way is the first condition for the world to escape from the impasse in which the obsolete consumerist industrial model finds itself, then, this socialisation requires the creation and negotiation of a new legal framework which itself presupposes the formation of new ‘Enlightenments’.

I am thus delighted that Neelie Kroes has called for a new Enlightenment philosophy for the digital age, just as Tim Berners-Lee and Harry Halpin have argued, in dialogue with the position of Vint Cerf, who developed the TCP-IP protocol, that internet access must become a universal right. But here, what exactly does access mean? Or again: what type of access should we claim will bring light or enlightenment, rather than darkness or shadow? Under what conditions will such access be beneficial for individuals and the societies in which they live?”

Read the rest here


What Would a World Without You Look Like?

Let’s consider an ant.

The ant is a starting point. A living point. Yet moved first and foremost by our mind as an object of thought.

An ant can be described as a point.

Immediately is supposes other ants.

The ant is an element in a set. It is a multiplicity, a singular plural.

We consider the ant as a generic, a universal. We do not expect the ant to be different from other ants.

This is because we are not specialists: we are not myrmecologists.

An ant for us is a point in a dynamic system. The point is moving in relation to other points on a surface or a sphere.

We see the ant in space, and it is partly a geometrical space. It is both abstract and concrete.

An ant is a symbol for an intelligent emergent system, in which the parts are close to non-existent, but the sum of parts is capable of structural constructions and organized behaviour.

The ant is the member of a group, yet it is seen and considered in isolation. The group is potential, virtual when we consider the ant as ant.

The ant is floating in an abstract place yet to be determined by a narrative and a logos. The ant has, for the moment, no agency.

It may represent the idea of a minimal living point. Or the minimal unit in a biosemiotic text.

The ant has almost no psychological density, yet it is not a pure dot in a set of data. It is more like the point of an exclamation mark. If you take out the point it is no longer an exclamation point, it is an observation without observer.

As an ant that is considered and spoken about, it becomes special, but this is because the other ants have not appeared yet in a non-virtual fashion. The other ants are a probable, possible, background.

For the moment, the ant is a bridge between an abstract point and the realm of life. As such, it is a missing link. The ant is an and. It is a double reality, or triple, since as a geometrical point it also contains the mathematical idea of infinite.

The ant is perhaps both a sign and the negation of an alphabet, because it signifies sameness. But it also suggests difference, the possibility of a difference.

The ant is neither anonymous, neither individuated.

Between the mental representation of an ant and a natural ant, there is a difference in movement and anticipation. But we are searching for another kind of difference, the difference that transforms a monotonous system into a crealectical system. Can we say that a monotonous system is a system of sameness, and a crealectical system a system of differences?

A crealectical system is more than a dialectical system, and more than an analytical system. How?

What would be an analytical system of ants? A system in which sameness is also difference, but a functional difference. Such is the system of science; it studies the ants as a species. Inside this species functional distinctions are operated. A soldier ant is distinguished from a worker ant, and other more sophisticated distinctions that constitute the science of myrmecology.

A dialectical system of ants is a system in which, at a given moment, an ant is not an ant: a dead ant, a larva, or the queen ant are both ants and not ants, for different reasons. The dialectical system is the same as the analytical one, but we look at it from the perspective of becoming, change, growth, and limit states within a given species.

What is then the difference between a crealectical description and a dialectical description? Crealectics looks at the ant in relation to the Creal, that is in relation to possibilities, virtualities, everything that is not the ant and yet that is not another real thing.

Crealectics does not look at the ant in relation to the coleopteran, this is the domain of analytics.

Crealectics does not look at the various aspects and moments of being an ant, including the moments were the ant appears to be like the negation of itself, as a larva or a queen. This is the domain of dialectics.

Crealectics looks for example at the ant in relation to a world in which the ant is but a possibility. The first exercise of a crealectics of the ant is to look at a reality in which ants do exist, and to ask: what would be a world without ants?

The first question of the crealectics of humanity asks: what would be a world without humans, a world in which humans are a virtuality, a potential? We are thinking about them both as what they are not and as a possibility, but not as a hard reality. Such kind of questioning generates hypotheses, narratives, realizations about the place of such and such reality in our network of realities.

What would a world without money look like? To think about it is to engage in the first steps of a crealectics of money.

What would a world without numbers be like? To begin to imagine it and attempt to answer is the beginning of the crealectics of numbers.

Crealectics starts with a form of thought experiment. It is a philosophical practice that considers entities in relationship with the totality of all there is. It encourages us to think holistically. It also encourages us to feel the deeper dimensions of a reality by imagining its absence.

Now a first question towards the crealectics of yourself: what would a world without you be like?


Papers from the 2005 AAAI Fall Symposium

Cristiano Castelfranchi, Christian Balkenius, Martin Butz, and Andrew Ortony, Program Cochairs

Technical Report FS-05-05. Published by The AAAI Press, Menlo Park, California

This technical report is also available in book and CD format.

Please Note: Abstracts are linked to individual titles, and will appear in a separate browser window. Full-text versions of the papers are linked to the abstract text. Access to full text may be restricted to AAAI members. PDF file sizes may be large!


Preface / vii
Cristiano Castelfranchi, Christian Balkenius, Martin V. Butz, Andrew Ortony, Deb Roy, and Luca Tummolini

Anticipation and Representation / 1
Mark H. Bickhard

The Multiple Roles of Anticipation in Developmental Robotics / 8
Douglas S. Blank, Joshua M. Lewis, and James B. Marshall

From the Theory of Mind to the Construction of Social Reality / 15
Guido Boella and Leendert van der Torre

Automatic Synthesis of Multiple Internal Models through Active Exploration / 22
Josh Bongard and Hod Lipson

Mind as an Anticipatory Device: For a Theory of Expectations / 32
Cristiano Castelfranchi

Inference-driven Mechanisms of Attentional Orienting / 43
Paolo Cherubini, Michele Burigo, and Emanuela Bricolo

Towards an Anticipatory Agent to Help Pilots / 51
Frédéric Dehais, Alexandre Goudou, Charles Lesire, and Catherine Tessier

Anticipatory and Improvisational Robot via Recollection and Exploitation of Episodic Memories / 57
Yoichiro Endo

A COSPAL Subsystem: Solving a Shape-Sorter Puzzle / 65
Michael Felsberg, Per-Erik Forssén, Anders Moe, and Gösta Granlund

Discovering a Language for Human Activity / 70
Gutemberg Guerra-Filho, Cornelia Fermuller, and Yiannis Aloimonos

The Role of Internal Models and Prediction in Catching Balls / 78
Mary Hayhoe, Neil Mennie, Brian Sullivan, and Keith Gorgos

Towards an Adaptive Hierarchical Anticipatory Behavioral Control System / 83
Oliver Herbort, Martin V. Butz, and Joachim Hoffmann

Fear: Appraisal of Danger as Anticipation of Harm / 91
Carlos Herrera and Dave C. Moffat

A Habit System for an Interactive Robot / 99
Kai-yuh Hsiao and Deb Roy

Situated Action Generator Post-hoc Reconstruction of Plans / 107
Serin Lee, Takashi Kubota, and Ichiro Nakatani

Modeling Expectations in Cognitive Agents / 114
Emiliano Lorini and Rino Falcone

Understanding Activity: Learning the Language of Action / 121
Randal Nelson and Yiannis Aloimonos

Reinforcement Learning of Hierarchical Skills on the Sony Aibo Robot / 135
Vishal Soni and Satinder Singh

Routine Based Models of Anticipation in Natural Behaviors / 141
Weilie Yi and Dana H. Ballard

Your Destiny is Your Oeuvre


Oeuvre is a word that has become so rare that many do not even know how to write it. At its etymological origin is the Latin opera, which is the plural of work as artefact. This plural is important. An oeuvre is a long elaboration of works manifesting a style, a thought, a coherence, a patient quest, a self-discipline, a destiny—the whole exceeds the sum of parts.

Take the example of literature. Today we can observe two seemingly contradictory phenomena: the proliferation of so-called “writers” and the vanishing of the concept of oeuvre. The oeuvre is the spiritual body of an author, beyond his or her corpus. It may sound mystical. But let’s consider our physical body: we have various organs, yet there is a complex and singular link that articulates them together and composes our being, a mixture of life and spirit. Your body is responsible for its unity. You are responsible for your destiny.

Exceptionally, an oeuvre even produces a universal and transcendent adjective that will one day end up being recognised by your automatic word processor: Kafkaesque, Cartesian, Orwellian. It’s not just the expression of a self (the adjective that goes with the expression of the self is … selfish). The adjective derived from the surname of a grand oeuvre designates an epochal atmosphere, a link between the imaginary and the real, a way of making worlds. These authors anticipated an era. They expressed a universal. How? Not only by sitting at a table and wondering how, precisely, to express the universal—but just as well by digging into their own destiny without wondering if it will sell.

Editorial marketing is the enemy of an oeuvre in progress. I knew a young writer back in Paris who had the misfortune to make a bestseller with his first book, when he was in his twenties. Publishers and readers then wanted him to write something in the same “touching” manner: he accepted cowardly and became a brand of yogurt, one that must be “touching and cute” even on TV sets. Ten years later, last time I saw him, he was depressed and alcoholic, and I just checked on Amazon: he is now an autobiographical author who publishes his diary: he is, for some yogurt eaters “touching”. He is cornered against his own mercantile mediocrity, condemned at best to deconstruct his “touching” mannerism by seeking an authenticity that he might reach only by completely embracing his own falseness (or committing suicide, or dying alone and bitter). “It’s with beautiful feelings that we write bad literature,” said André Gide, another guy with an oeuvre.

Offering yourself as an oeuvre to the world means ignoring the audience’s expectations, ignoring the number of likes on Amazon or Twitter, and ignoring quotations in the media. It means to work and work and work but honestly and with a cosmic ambition, not like a zombie. It means not even being sure of being published or appreciated when it’ll be done, especially in a world where so many publishers, curators or producers, are clueless and morally if not financially bankrupt. If you are determined to die one day feeling proud of yourself, you have chosen a magic stone and a way to carve it. Don’t expect the others to see it’s a magic stone before a while. Follow that feeling in you which is stronger than you, follow that idea which is deeply interesting for you (not for your mother or for your girlfriend). You will meet many obstacles, epistemological, aesthetic, philosophical, mystical, dialectical, crealectical, emotional, but you will grow and “become who you are”, as Nietzsche put it. The persistent author of an oeuvre ends up reaching a state of grace, beyond the ego, by facing her destiny. Not fatality, but your own personal creal destination.

You become your oeuvre. Nietzsche thus spoke of becoming a masterpiece of a person. Not by intentionally training your body to look like a Greek statue, not by doing self-conscious diets, or collecting self-help books. It is by giving yourself to your oeuvre, composing it while orchestrating it that you will become a masterpiece: a person with a destiny. And for those who do not have the strength in them to be archetypes, initiators, there is always the obedience to a cause, to a collective, to a group with an epic esprit de corps. In a way or another, you shall disappear into something grander than your ego in order to be, in order to be real, in order to be creal. 

An oeuvre does not have to be artistic in the common sense of the term. Einstein, for example, produced an oeuvre because he too was motivated by a principle of unification. An oeuvre narrates the unity of the world through the construction of a coherent structure, whether through mathematical formulas or an architecture, materials, patterns or acts. Yes, acts: no need to produce objects or sentences or equations or anything that deserves a medal in competitions of intellectual prestige to produce an oeuvre. Just become your destiny by hunting it down, invoking it, and once you have met your destiny, don’t let go of it: your destiny is riding Pegasus, a wild horse with wings, if you hold tight you will find your constellation. Destiny is not inevitability, it is the highest version of yourself, it is the biography that expresses the singularity of your possibilities, it is the point of coherence of your relationship with the Creal.

Did you not notice how difficult it is to rely on others? Or are you the person that cannot be relied upon? Most of the people around you are so scattered, confused, troubled with desires, judgements and anxieties, that they become not only obstacles for themselves but also for those who are concerned with coherence and integrity. Do you feel people slip between your fingers like muddy water? Or are you the muddy water? Start counting on you more consistently and on a few carefully selected others, and do so with intensity and skill. Be the hero of your own destiny.

To have a destiny today, a destination (or what Derrida after Heidegger called a “destinality”, but that might be just verbal snobbism, so I might stick with destiny)—to have a destiny is to think of the self as a co-created masterpiece of Creal, of cosmic co-creation. This is all the more difficult because so many of us are sleepwalkers or simply the (missing?) mechanical pieces in (dis)pleasure machines.

The deep oeuvre is always more or less solitary, and that is why it is rare: it grows like a flower in the middle of the desert. But the desert won’t stay a desert for too long if you don’t give up. Look: another flower!

The Prophecy of Machine Supremacy

“What sort of creature man’s next successor in the supremacy of the earth is likely to be. We have often heard this debated; but it appears to us that we are ourselves creating our own successors; we are daily adding to the beauty and delicacy of their physical organisation; we are daily giving them greater power and supplying by all sorts of ingenious contrivances that self-regulating, self-acting power which will be to them what intellect has been to the human race. In the course of ages we shall find ourselves the inferior race. […] The machines are gaining ground upon us; day by day we are becoming more subservient to them; more men are daily bound down as slaves to tend them, more men are daily devoting the energies of their whole lives to the development of mechanical life. The upshot is simply a question of time, but that the time will come when the machines will hold the real supremacy over the world and its inhabitants is what no person of a truly philosophic mind can for a moment question.”

Samuel Butler, “Darwin among the Machines”, published in The Press (1863).

International Conference on Anticipation, Humans and AI

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How should anticipation and anticipatory systems be conceived in order for human decisions to be respectful of pluralism in ecosystems and noosystems? What is the difference between prediction and anticipation in technosocial systems? Is there a common anticipatory feature in biological structures, cultural structures, and technological ones?

Ancient divinatory practices have been replaced by AI-enhanced predictive planning and anthrobotic decision-making. Inferential prediction might prove effective for some technological systems, but in open ecosystems and complex noosystems, we could benefit from a general anticipatory paradigm that would integrate a form of care about the future — forms of life, forms of desire, and forms of hope.

Anticipation Studies is a growing field of research still in need of unification. Anticipation is a rich concept pointing to a cluster of cognitive/emotional/cultural phenomena, in a wide range of contexts and situations. It is a promising paradigm in order to foster cross-disciplinarity and a cross-fertilization of ideas among researchers. In particular, anticipation Studies could shed a new light in current debates about the ethics and sustainability of anthrobotic systems. This conference will kickstart a research cluster studying and connecting the various aspects of anticipation and deepening our knowledge about the relationship between ecosystems, noosystems and technosystems.

Can there be a holistic science of anticipation? Will anticipation be the paradigm that will reinvent cybernetics from a more holistic perspective? We want to consider and understand anticipation at the core of living beings, individual or collective. This international single-track symposium is a step towards the exploration of the missing link that might connect disparate anticipatory behaviors and systems.

Call for papers here