MIT 2500 final exam review

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Media, Information and Technoculture
Course Code
Media, Information and Technoculture 2500A/B
Warren Steele

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Singularity  Kurzweil - If we continue to develop technology we will achieve our destiny (this is a lie) - A bright, though somewhat psychotic inventor whose writings obsess with laying down a timeline for the eventual dawn of a mathematically predictable point of time in which human intelligence will be rendered obsolete by the capabilities of super advanced machines - Conveniently erases our fear of death; once we physically merge with technology we will become immortal - Singularity is an idea that tells us capitalism is awesome, tells us all needs will be met and no one will ever die if we stick to our guns and continue what we are doing - Image of the future, not the future - Singularity presents us with a picture of the future which is perfect and inevitable (Steele says it is not true because nothing is inevitable, there is no destiny) - Promise of singularity is a world without death - Capitalism is pushing the singularity, it is produced by the spectacle(singularity is the essence of the spectacle) - It is a dream and frequently presented as non-political - It is political however, politics demands non-interference with corporate operations - Singularity is the moment when human experience as we know it comes to an end - It is a concept mired more in mysticism and religious thought rather than scientific process. - the singularity is the ultimate goal of politics: the final outcome world governments strive for. It is a point of progress that eliminates the need for progress itself. Hunger and poverty could eventually become concepts alien to humanity, as we eliminate the inherit need to consume food for biological reasons. - “Ultimately, the entire universe will become saturated with our intelligence. This is the destiny of the universe.” (Kurzweil) - Teleology: o Teleology is a deeply embedded assumption about the nature of time; o Where time is equated with change, change is equated with progress, progress is synonymous with improvement, and improvement is not just our destiny, but destiny is the essence of human history; o Teleology presents a linear view of time and defines history as a set of events that can only be accounted for as stages in the movement towards a pre-ordained end; o Even the present moment is understood to be inevitable, where what is happening right now is thought to be the only possible outcome of history. Since the present is as it is precisely because it could be no other way. #spectacle o Teleology should not be taken as fact, it is just the way we present history o History seen as paved road that we are all forced to follow, instead of a rugged haphazard path. History is a play who’s ending is already written Kurzweil: - Is not the only person to believe in the future of the ideal self (invulnerable to death) - His theory is only logical in the logic of technique – all about efficiency and rationality - New self has no limitations - Kurzweil believes we have exhausted our bodies capabilities - Kurzweil is a transhumanist: o Transhumanism (H+) is about rethinking or redesigning the human condition so that people are no longer limited by their biology. o Transhumanism advocates the almost unrestricted use of science and technology to improve humanity so that death, disease, suffering can be overcome. o For some, transhumanism is about finding ways to become post-biological (i.e. disembodied or mechanic). - We don’t have to worry about the world right now because all of these problems will solve themselves in the future - Real people are in pain now, but the future of the singularity will relieve us from this - Invisibility of the labour behind technology is what allows the digital age to exist in the way it does - Capitalism exploits people in ways; we are benefitting from the suffering of others - Steele believes people that third world countries that do not have access to technologies now will not benefit from Kurtzweil’s theory of the singularity (they are the ones laboring and making technologies for us) - Kurzweil says that nothing will be lost, only gained - We are not the ones who pay the price - We need to be aware of how blind Kurtzweil is 2001 and Singularity: - Playboy mag Stanley uses the language of inevitability - The concept of singularity is not exclusively defined by linearity. That is how Kurzweil supports his argument that the singularity is inevitable--it's a product of our linear evolution, i.e., we've only accelerated in development over time, and with the exponential increase of acceleration in our modern age, we will undoubtedly reach a period of development well beyond what we currently comprehend our potential to be. This is why it's called a singularity, an event: we simply cannot know once this event happens, what life will be like. The world as we know it will be over. For Kurzweil, this means (though, again, he states we cannot know what the singularity will bring) we will merge with machines and eliminate our reliance on biological systems. For Virilio, on the other hand, this means the demise of humanity, the biological and ethical implications of which are far more worrying to him. Now, to understand how 2001 and the singularity relate, you should pay most attention to the narrative of evolution that Kubrick depicts in the film, and particularly where you can see the 5th and, arguably, the 6th stage of Kurzweil's evolutionary model being depicted. If you keep in mind that both Kubrick and Kurzweil are interested in the transcendence of the human condition (vulnerability to death and disease) you should see the connections. Kubrick's interview with Playboy is really useful, so make sure to review it. Logistics  Virilio - Technological world is so banal to us we do not realize its presence (ie, factory worker becomes so used to his job, so repetitive, he doesn’t even notice it) - Logistics is the total mobilization, perpetual movement - World designed explicitly to facilitate movement - Logistics refers to efficient management in the flow of technology from one place to another in precisely scheduled times - Each supply chain is connected to another through these networks (ie, linking oil fields to gas stations) - Every supply chain relies on other supply chains to remain functional; nothing is separate - Logistics is the expression of Gestell as Bestand in motion - We believe that there is no other way, because any other way will lead to disaster, but really the complete opposite is true - The system is to mobilize what we see as standing reserves - The faster we mobilize, the more efficient these networks become, but the chance for disaster increases (the faster we go, the worse the accidents get) - Marinetti sees the ocean as a battery of stored energy being wasted because it was not being utilized for its energy (Bestand) he sees nature as something that can be functional and productive - “The Accident”  Virilio, accident is an analysis: what crops us (accidents) is a techno- analysis of what is beneath (substance) any knowledge. The accident is the meaning of technology. - Virillio- we see hills and cliffs, high seas etc as somrthing that put the brakes on the acceleration of technical progress - The accident reveals the substance (Aristotle) invention of the substance is the invention of the accident - VIRILLIO BELIEVES THAT WE DO NOT CONTROL WHAT WE PRODUCE - “The Futurist morality will defend man from the decay caused by slowness, by memory, by analysis, by repose and habit. Human energy centupled by speed will master Time and Space” (Marinetti, 58) - What Virilio asks us to do is to take the accident into account when we think about technology. Technology, as Ellul argues, implies monism: we need to consider both the good and the bad sides of technology. For Virilio, it is the accident that reveals the negative side of technology and progress. - The greatest danger Virilio sees is the increasing occurrences of mass produces accidents (car wreck, ship wrecks, train derailment, plane crashes and mutilated bodies in in-human
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