Josh Adler


The Internet as “Magic Mirror”

Excerpt from “The Open Mind: A Phenomenology”:

The Internet, might be considered a magic mirror that can virtually aggregate quantified information systems of data non-locally. While able to mirror awareness to generate local access for conscious re-integration of information, it’s important to note that the Internet, as a system, lacks the magnitudes of synthesis, as well as the multidimensional openness of conscious systems, which can process qualia-rich aesthetic information into emotional imprints, acts of will, creativity, or self-awareness. Google’s latest AGI may dream in electric sheep, but for it to harness the force of consciousness enough to motivate standing in an uncomfortable line over-night for opening day tickets to the latest “Star Wars” film, or give its friend an intimate gift, would require transcendent interpretive functionality, mechanically operating in the quantum realms of resonant transactions of sensation, that conscious systems successfully absorb and preserve during “closed” or “semi-closed” states like sleep or death.

Such desires and passions — excitement to see a new film, gratitude towards a friend, the wonder from a dream, awe from discovering something new — readily found in any character of Shakespeare or Chekov, are all aspects of an emotionally open mind’s invitation to consider and act in relation with her own fate. Tragedy, comedy, or other narrative forms are not merely artifacts of culture, as Umberto Eco points out in his seminal book, The Open Work; but living, creative nodes shaping all of biological awareness’ total field of perception, which can be sensed, integrated, and expressed with the comparatively robust biphasic, cognitive instrumentation of attention and resolution of awareness.

“The play’s the thing wherein we’ll catch the conscience of the king,” is an aesthetic bundle for instance that regenerates meaning through its non-local, indeterminate openness to co-relative (i.e., indirect) cognitive architectures in interrelated quantum fields, and upon activation imprints within current waveforms of ZPF. In other words, when that line of text is received in some “meaningful” form by a reader or audience member, when it “plays,” like a meme, the transmission of information causes a qualia-producing collapse, which potentially opens, or “unlocks,” bundles of stored, or latent, co-relative cultural, psychological, physical, and biological information packets during integration. The chain reaction of integration may be indirectly networked, like “weak” forces or “weak” social contacts, as well as primarily subconscious, while diffusion plays out in the harmonics of various cognitive fields.

With so many dimensions synthesizing during qualia, as well as imprinting upon non-local wave fields, Transhumanist speculations about sentient AGI becomes somewhat of a “batteries not included” ex machina wrapped in Frankenstein’s monster, until algorithmic interplay can orchestrate coherency within the magnitudes greater ‘ocean’ of harmonically-based, finely tuned, non-algorithmic, “real-time,” dynamic possibilities — making their exits and their entrances amid life’s symphony of perception. Humans can ‘float like a butterfly’ or ‘sting like a bee’ one moment, and ‘sing like a lark,’ or ‘cry like a donkey’ the next because they’ve developed resonant perceptiveness to “the Outernet” of consciousness (a network with oodles more bandwidth than the server bound variety), rather than formulating perception based on mirroring perception.

On the other hand, the Internet’s processing architectures, and quantified networking abilities may mirror the mirroring of biotic experience, but will not soon reflect on its experiences as a mirroring process; nor soon feel empathy or guilt over an illegally poached lion, rhino, or elephant. That’s because it’s algorithms, however self-correcting, inevitably must bend back through the lense of conscious interpretation in order to be integrated into that Outernet of biological perception. The Internet does however provide a huge amount of psychic feedback in analytical and social realms of collective cognitive trends, and will continue to develop into “holodeck-esque” representations of autonomy; but these projections are merely a new form of theatre for consciousness, rather than zygotes of new species.

When Hamlet tells Horatio “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,” he evokes a lullaby of the conscious imagination’s openness to pure possibility. Even Hamlet, that prince of tongues, can only crack open a peanut shell of Shakespeare’s sense of life’s mysterious core — it’s tremendum. Iconic as they are they merely suggest the way, make a Platonic dare, contemplate poetically, or glimpse of free will. Yet no machine will soon catch sight of such skills no matter it’s power for computation.

So for now, let Watson or Kurtzweil dream up their best critiques. Digital is still a self-contained reflective medium, which will for now reflect what we bring to it — like the manufactured shape of a knife, or the compositional structure of a popular music genre — evolving in alienation from complex conscious states like “inspiration” or “stuffy” where contemplative awareness comes into play. Our technology is alone with us, no matter how many new angles of our faces it can show.

If you want “Hamlet,” your money is still safer betting on the 100 monkeys than Siri. As for robots taking away jobs… that’s a horse of a different color.

More by Josh Adler

Topics of interest

More Related Stories