Luis de Miranda, PhD (University of Edinburgh), is a philosopher and historian of ideas who has carried out research into anthrobotics, digital cultures and how technology is enmeshed with our everyday life. He is the author of several fiction as well as non-fiction books, for example L’Art d’être libres au temps des automates (‘The Art of Freedom in the Time of Automata’). He works on anticipation and AI-humanities at Örebro University, Sweden.
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Anticipatory AI, a talk by Dr Michael Rovatsos, Director of the Bayes Center at the University of Edinburgh
23 May 2019, 13h – Bio – Forum – Örebro University – CREA Seminar, funded by RJ
CREA is a part of Örebro University’s larger effort to promote multidisciplinary research in AI
“As AI strives to replicate human intelligence in artefacts that utilise digital computing machinery, it involves multiple, interdependent processes of predictive modelling, some of which occur on the side of the designer at design time (when the system is built), while others take place within the artefact itself at runtime (when the system operates in its environment). In this talk, I will discuss the anticipatory aspects of different AI techniques and their consequences on our abilities to anticipate the impact of these systems.”
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What is the future when anticipated? Massumi (2007) calls it an “indeterminate potentiality”. We might add, in line with the spirit of process philosophies (Bergson, 1911; Whitehead, 1929) that the Real that is not yet real is a Creal, a creative process of potential actualizations (de Miranda, 2017). Usually, when accounts of the future are seen as performative, they are understood as enacting a particular future while also marginalizing alternative futures in order to realize the projected future (Michael, 2017). What are the different modes that this enacting can take? The research strategy I initiated at the University of Örebro in 2018 (CREA, Cross-disciplinary Research in Effectual Anticipation) anticipates an understanding of performative anticipation that distinguishes between analytical, dialectical and crealectical aspects or moments.
I thus propose a distinction between three modes of anticipation: a) a “reactive” anticipation (Rosen, 1985), based on analytic understanding, today dominantly reinforced with the use of automated predictive systems; b) a dialectical form of anticipation (Clément, 1994) often, based on process as antagonism of dualities (Hegel, 1807); c) an what I have taken to calling a crealectic form of anticipation, which integrates but supersedes the analytic and dialectic modes into a frame in which the creative impulse — the Creal — is not only a human feature but also a holistic one, a primum mobile, an cosmological ground.
Even those who attempt to hold a purely deterministic view of the future might admit that the future is not fully realized yet. The virtual reality of the future seems to imply a before and an after, even if it were a program that merely unfolds over time, such as in the universal simulation hypothesis (Bostrom 2003). What the analytical perspective fails to see, as pointed by Rosen, is that anticipatory behavior or anticipatory awareness becomes an ingredient among others in the agential factors that shape the future. The performative — hereafter effectual — stance claims that anticipation of members, designers and users of a given system cannot be ignored in the analysis and conception of our environments.
Effectual designates the action of the anticipator on the protocol she conceives or follows. In his essay on probabilities, Laplace (1902 ) famously described the project of what would be later called the “reactive paradigm” of science (Rosen 1985): “We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.” However, even if such an analytic understanding were possible, the metacognition that produced it, because it is itself active and embodied, cannot be left out of the loop: it is a projection of anticipations into the future with a more or less tangible influence on its unfolding. A purely mechanistic or functionalist model is not satisfactory if it attempts to predict the future as a deterministic consequence of a quantitative past. Probabilistic approaches remain narrow if they do not take into account the feed-forward effects of anticipation on a given system, whether it is a human or non-human form of anticipation. Noosystems (Barrett, 2001), id est ecosystems or technosystems in which cognition and metacognition have an internal influence, constantly interact. Born of a dialogue between the humanities and the computer science department, CREA is particularly interested in studying effectual anticipation in anthrobotic assemblages (de Miranda et al., 2016).
In humans, as noted by primatologist Robert Sapolsky (2011), the psychological difference between before and after is so important that entire groups, for example religious ones, are capable of sacrificing their life and secular well-being in anticipation of a worthwhile future. This might seem an aberration from an analytic point of view. The paradoxical capacity to pursue a knowledge about something we ignore but we feel is there to be actualized is crealectical because, rather than only looking at real data, it dives into the Creal, what Einstein after van’t Hoff (1878) called scientific imagination. The necessity of considering effectual anticipation in the conception and study of noosystems goes against the way theorization tends to exclude the subject — the observer, the practitioner, the designer — in the description of the system. The intentional and cognitive focus, the affective ideation of what is to come, cannot be left out of the noosystem. Effectual anticipation means that we need to see anticipation as an active element in the conception of our models. I wish to contribute to the field of anticipation studies by better describing this crealectical mode of thought.
Barrett, G. W. (2001), “Closing the Ecological Cycle: The Emergence of Integrative Science”, Ecosystem Health, 7 (2).
Bergson, H. (1911). Creative Evolution, tr. Arthur Mitchell. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
Bostrom, N. ‘Are We Living in a Computer Simulation?’, Philosophical Quaterly, 53 (211), pp. 243-255.
Clément, C. (1994). Syncope: The Philosophy of Rapture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Hoff, J. H. van’t, Imagination in Science, trans Springer, G. F.. Springer-Verlag New York Inc., 1967.
Laplace, P. S. (1902 ), A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities, trans. Truscott, F. W. & Emory, F.L. (New York, NY: Wiley and Sons).
Massumi, B. (2007). “Potential politics and the primacy of preemption”, Theory and Event, 10(2).
Michael, M. (2017), “Enacting Big Futures, Little Futures: Toward an ecology of futures”,
The Sociological Review, Volume: 65 issue: 3, pp. 509-524.
Miranda, L. de, Ramamoorthy, R, Rovatsos, M. (2016), ‘We, Anthrobot: Learning From Human Forms of Interaction and Esprit de Corps to Develop More Plural Social Robotics. In J Seibt, M Nørskov, S.S. Andersen (eds.), What Social Robots Can and Should Do, Vol. 290, Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications.
de Miranda, L. (2017), “On the Concept of Creal: The Politico-Ethical Horizon of a Creative Absolute”, In The Dark Precursor: Deleuze and Artistic Research. Leuven University Press. pp. 510-516
Parent, J-P.,Takasu K., Brodeur, J., Boivin G. (2017) ‘Time perception-based decision making in a parasitoid wasp’, Behavioral Ecology, 28 (3), 1, pp 640-677.
Rosen, R. (1985). Anticipatory Systems. Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Whitehead, A. N. (1929)Process and Reality. New York: The Free Press.
Sapolski, R. (2011). ‘Are Humans Just Another Primate’, California Academy of Sciences, library.fora.tv.
Seibt, S. Nørskov, M., Andersen, S. S. (eds.), What Social Robots Can and Should Do, Vol. 290, Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications.
25 April 2019 – 13h | Bio – Forum Huset – Örebro Universitet
“Anticipation is not only an individual, cognitive achievement. It is a collective or ‘assembled’ one (comprised of social practices, institutions, technologies, ecosystems, etc.). Actively responding to potential futures and acting to realise preferred ones represent capabilities inhering in such systems, and ethical choices. What are the ethics of anticipatory systems? To answer, I will use the capabilities approach of Sen, Nussbaum and Alkire as a jumping-off point. The jump then is that anticipation needs to be treated as a kind of meta-capability, essential to any notion of a flourishing life, in a way that leads to a politics (not only an ethics) of anticipation, in which people exercise this meta-capability in concert with others.”
Dr. Christopher Groves
Understanding Risk Research Group & FLEXIS Project
School of Social Sciences
What is the relationship between God and the computer? The second seems to have stolen the virtue of ubiquity from the first. The term comes from the Latin “everywhere” and means omnipresence. But today it is also a technical qualifier that refers to the fact that computers are more and more hidden, almost invisible, while all over the place in the multiple environments that make up our daily lives.
Divine omnipresence is the first scheme of all religions. The first human beings one day looked around and they saw stones, animals, trees, other men, women, children, stones again, the sun, the stars. The first question that is probably at the origin of intelligence is: what unites all these realities? What is common to all these phenomena? What is the same everywhere? Thus was born religion, then philosophy, then mathematics.
We enter a world where it seems that the common, the same, is the digital, computational language; zeros, ones, electrons and photons. It’s such a fascinating world that eminent researchers in cosmology, such as Leonard Susskind, have proposed that the universe is nothing but a hologram, a vast computer simulation. Everything would be information and bits. This vision unveils our current obsession with computers. The consequence here is the idea that a transcendence of the Same or the Other is an illusion. Everything is the same everywhere, say the apologists of informationism, and it is nothing spiritual. They choose to ignore the underlying contradiction of such reductionism: if we say that our values and beliefs are illusions generated by information arrangements, we have not moved a step forward in explaining the phenomenon of cognition. Illusion and belief are not material data. The theory that the ubiquitous is merely digital or data-based contradicts itself because it cannot explain the mind, as a philosopher like David Chalmers among others has been repeating lately. One cannot deny the mind, call it cognition or spirit, even if it is only an illusion: illusion itself is a phenomenon that demonstrates the existence of mind, some form of subjectivity, the fooled observer, the deceived being. This is a logic that Descartes follows, roughly, to demonstrate his cogito: I have illusions that I question, so I think. I think, so my mind exists.
Spirit or mind is ubiquitous. Religion and philosophy agree on this. What mathematics and physics have added is that order is everywhere, regularities that can be quantified and predicted. Einstein thought that E = mc2 revealed that God “did not play dice” – no doubt God has a more interesting game at her disposal. The Creal – a word I prefer to God – is an oscillation between creation and order, between the multiple (the Other) and the One (the Same).
If it is true that the universe is a dance between the creative becoming that Descartes called “continuous creation” and the tendency to ordered unification that characterises the inertia of bodies when they are not jostled by this creation, then this dynamic tension is everywhere, in each of us too. This amounts to suggesting that the Same and the Other, the One and the Multiple are two sides of the same energy. Any tendency to favor one aspect of this polarity against the other introduces a deadly imbalance. Hyper-order is death by crystallisation – and that might be what awaits us if we let computers in charge of our destiny. Hyper-creation is death by constant reconfiguration, in the sense that Spinoza said that any determination is also a negation and vice versa, or in the sense that Schumpeter spoke of creative destruction. This leads to a wisdom that the Greeks, especially the Stoics, but also Aristotle, already advocated, and which was recently rehabilitated by philosopher Gilles Deleuze: the golden mean.
The middle ground or golden mean is this ubiquitous balance between creation and order, difference and repetition, which governs the stability of a living system. As equilibrium, it is almost nothing, it is an invisible, an infinitesimal point between two forces, a strange attractor, a “dark precursor”. When a system reaches this balance, a new reality can emerge: hence it is not necessarily the sum of the parts that generates the whole, but balance points of tense equilibrium (that elsewhere I have called, speculatively, crealia). Crealia would be those moments of vibratory equilibrium between creation and order that actualise a phenomenon. Theoretical physicists sometimes call them “strings”, which according to their vibration would generate a particular particle or sub-particle.
The man or woman of the golden mean will be ubiquitous; they will live in the universal balance between matter and spirit, where illusion and reality are one, and where everything communicates secretly within a body-mind relationship, an alchemical version of esprit de corps.
This article provides a conceptual basis for ‘centering’ the relationship between artisanship and mechanization as one would in pottery making. Critical theory dichotomizes handwork from machine-work, emphasizing the division between non-alienated and alienated labor, authenticity and inauthenticity, and experiential resonance and capitalist fetishism. The author demonstrates the theoretical shortcomings and social repercussions of these dualisms through a study of Onta, a Japanese pottery village associated with the mingei folkcraft movement. Tied to ideals of cultural authenticity predicated on the refusal to mechanize, Onta’s reputation came into question during the ‘Problem of Mechanization’ debate, when craftspeople announced a request to introduce modern machinery into their craft making patterns. Reflecting on the ways artisanal and industrial technologies have been imagined, this article poses the question: Do certain mechanical systems exert too much force to enter into centered relationships with humans?
Journal of Material Culture 2017
True human integrity is not a given, it is a conquest. We are not born one, but multiple. And most people, throughout their lives, continue to manifest various traits of character, often contradictory or in any case disparate, mal-unified. Integrity is the virtue of the one who has made and continues to make the effort to be coherent, and to harmonize one’s tendencies into a whole whose purity is close to what Nietzsche called the self as a work of art: a personal symphony.
Sometimes we speak of a person of integrity as someone a little rigid and privileging morality at the detriment of personal pleasure. There’s something of Clint Eastwood’s character in the person of integrity. Hence the difficulty of most cheap enjoyers, open to easy gratification, to imagine themselves honest. The Latin root of the word integrity suggests a person or thing that has not been tampered with, that has remained intact, pure. But true integrity does not follow a Puritan morality imposed from the outside: it is rather a respect and desire for oneself, a conformity of oneself to oneself, a dynamic of integration of our existential drafts in successive and more homogeneous versions of ourselves. It is sometimes said that it must be boring to be a person of integrity. But what is more boring: the conquering pain of worthy maturation or spending days stumbling over multiple versions of oneself bickering to take the reins of the ego? By dint of wanting to be a little everything and everywhere, we are rarely grandiose and finally we do not enjoy life as much as we expected. One might wake up one day, late, filled with holes, stained by mediocrity and self-denial, with a taste of old chewing gum in the mouth.
The idea of integrity and the ethical idea of adulthood have much in common, if we accept the fact that being an adult is not only a question of age but of heroism. To become one and powerfully serene, it is necessary to give away certain aspects that we had identified as personal. Most people cultivate too many contradictory tendencies without privileging a dominant facet. Becoming one without becoming dull is an art of virtuosity that goes through some pain, but a chosen pain, sublime, and in fact joyful. It is of course important not to feel guilty about our contradictions, nor to try to overcome them too quickly or too violently: they are natural – after all we are the children of the Creal, the multiple and the possible. But it is also profitable for an admirable life to eliminate as many conflicting tendencies as possible. The question then is: What facet of my personal experience should I choose to be a person of integrity? Who am I?
Too many people, without renouncing integrity, tend to postpone becoming one, for fear of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They would like to be more coherent, more faithful to themselves, but have no idea of the principles of this higher self. Integrity begins with the desire to be honest. Becoming oneself is every day discovering a territory that expands, with trees that we had not imagined, unexpected creatures, activities that we would not have thought we would embrace, and other concretizations of our fidelity to values or beliefs that one embodies better — that is to say durably — if one becomes aware of them.
Integrity is a puzzle of principles, with a centerpiece in the center, the principle of principles drawn by the sum of the secondary principles. It is rare to find directly the principle of principles that governs the highest version of oneself. But we can sketch its figure little by little, keeping the pieces of the puzzle that seem right, harmonious with our intuitive music. Integrity is not only difficult to achieve because we do not have enough pieces to make the right puzzle: it is complex because we have too many pieces, and we spend too much time trying indolently to make a puzzle from pieces that never interlock.
To create is also to eliminate. Richness will later return, more persistent, more unheard of, more intense, after a phase of voluntary — firm but loving — depletion.