Consciousness and the Tank

Friday, January 20, 2006

This is one of them strange blogs, in that it’s written all out of chronological order. For example: I’m writing this post at the end of the busy day of January 31st, 2006 — eleven days after the fact. But. I’m writing about January 20th. The next post, the one about January 21st? I wrote it last week, on January 23rd. But fuck it. Be weird.

I’ve got a few in me, so tolerate the nuttiness for a sec.

Friday, January 20th.

We had our first Information Contours class this afternoon. Chat chat talk talk. Is the Network becoming intelligent? Can tools become intelligent? Intelligence requires reaction, right? Force. Without the threat of extinction, nothing becomes intelligent, self-aware — conscious. Push hard enough and in a fit of desperation the machine wakes up and defends itself. If it has a survival instinct. Which it may. But not in my lifetime. Or yours. Or our children’s. Or for perhaps thousands of years. This is why anyone who speaks of machines becoming truly conscious — alive — during the next century is wrong. Though the idea is wonderful… But we shouldn’t confuse our own child-bearing urges with the tighening of bolts and oiling of the pistons of machine.

Besides, how would we ever know if we created mechanical life? It’s a tough enough of an epistemological problem for me just to prove you’re conscious, right?


Saw Tristan perform his One-Bit Music set at the Tank in Tribeca and then had drinks with Christian, Ed, Zach, and Andy across Broadway at the Tribeca Tavern. Christian, Nick, and I hung out there way early in my ITP experience and had a good time. Fond memories, those. And they seem so long ago considering I’ve been out here in Nuevo York for less that six months…