Mathematics vs Computation

I have been thinking about the difference between a mathematical model and a computational model.   There is something different about the 4 colorability proof (you only need 4 colors to color a map), and like Godel’s incompleteness proof. For the colorability proof you actually have to simulate the problem and find all the results. There is no schema that will give you the answer  – what is this!

I am not sure, but one of the things I was thinking about today is time. For a mathematical model time is not directional, but for a computation it is.   How do you run a neural network backwards in time?

The end of the scientific method

I originally titled this post Robots and Aliens but I ended up discussing something completely different. That happens a lot.

I have been teaching a class this past semester on Computers and Robots in Film. We have fantastic discussions about consciousness, time, and reality. This past week we watched The Matrix, and one of the students brought up the concept of the simulation hypothesis.  This is the notion that from probabilistic standpoint we are living in a simulation created by a race of hyper intelligent aliens.

Another student mentioned that the simulation hypothesis postdates The Matrix by a few years so the philosophical inspiration is probably Descartes (and Plato, but I am not going to talk about him). Descartes problem is, how can we trust our perceptions. How do we know we are living in a world, and not in a computer simulation created by aliens (or in Descartes case, the Devil).  Descartes proposes that the most basic thing we can trust is that we thinks. When you are having a doubt that world is a fiction – you are afterall thinking –   I think therefore I am.  Whether or not this is a a correct assumption we could further discuss, but what I think is interesting is the notion of proof. How do I know that the world is real.

There is a distinction between these two approaches that mirrors a shift from scientific method to data science, and I do think that historians looking back will not place computer simulations in the same category as physical experiments and hypothesis testing.

With Descartes the question is what is true, or what is real? It is a binary question, either something is true or it is not, either something is real or it is not, the cat is alive or the cat is dead (that was a trick :).

With the simulation hypothesis, we model all of human existence and select the answer with the greatest possibility.  The simulation hypothesis, is itself, the product of simulation thinking. If we run a simulation on the question of whether or not we live in a simulation, it is most likely that we live in a simulation.

The simulation hypothesis does not resort to experimental data, but to probabilisitic data. With the scientific method there is an appeal to epistemology –  what do we know, how do we know something.  The answer from science, is through experimental data and the creation of falsifiable theories.  With the simulation hypothesis there is no notion of epistemology.  We are not asking how do we know we are in a simulation, we are making a judgement that we are probably in a simulation. The question is metaphysical. – what is reality, and its proof is numerical.

I also have an intuition that this is probably related to mereology, the relation of parts to a whole that is used mostly in set theory, how that is I have not quite worked out.

Drawing, Writing, and Modelling

I am reading The Alphabet Versus the Goddess by Leonard Schlain. It many ways it reminds me of the work of  Flusser, one of my current obsessions. It is about how reading and writing we wires the mind in a certain way and influences our social dynamics, and most significantly our consciousness.   Essentially, writing and reading creates the conditions in consciousness, and favors certain activities in society, that subjugate women. Whether correct or not, I definitely believe that our systems of expression have profound impacts upon our methods of actions.

We are in a new language scheme. I first thought of this as programming, but that is too limited.  The new world we are in is that we are no longer about writing sentences but building frameworks, and mainly building performative frameworks – frameworks that do something.  If I write a sentence, or a legal code, it is up to someone else to execute it. If I write a computer program it executes itself.  If I paint a picture, it is upto another person to interpret it.

In the future, as neural networks write write computer programs, it is up to me to set the parameters for the system, the error tolerance, and other tolerances.   This is a different mode of communication. What are the social structures, the belief structures, and even the epistemological structures that this way of communicating will create. I do have some thoughts on this? I think the proliferation of genders is one way that this way of thinking is expressing itself.

When I think about gender transformation I think about interface.  To change into a gender other than one assigned by birth either through surgery, hormones, or dress and action is to remap interfaces. This is different from a tattoo for example, which is adorning or decorating the interface.  To see everything as pliable, including gender, is an outgrowth of the age of modelling,  where in order to act a certain way (as a particular gender) we need to get our inputs and outputs correct.

Mycelium Network Society

I saw this in one of the daily eflux emails.  I am in general obsessed with mycelium – that is the root system of mushrooms – but really much more. It is the nerve centre of nature itself.

The title of this show is “Post-Nature—A Museum as an Ecosystem ” and it is from the 2018 Taipei Biennial.

This is interesting – museum as ecosystem- because from the avant garde the museum is well – a museum – it is a closed institution and all that is left is to reference within that closed institution.

What does it mean for a museum to be an ecosystem? What is an ecosystem anyway? What is a system vs an ecosystem?

Lets say a system is an internconnected network. It is a PRO-JECT and not a SUB-JECT/OBJ-JECT – to use Flusser’s language.  A system is an assemblage, bricolage. It has a context.

So what is an ecosystem? If a system is all about context, then we must predicate the type of system it is. In this case as eco. Eco comes from the greek Oikos – house. And is related to the terms, economics, ecology. Economics are the Laws of the House, Ecology is the logic of the house. System also comes from ancient greek – the universe/the whole made out of parts.  Ecosystem is the universe of the house – it is the habitable universe.

This changes the domain of the museum (seat of the muses) to the domain of the house, of the hearth. The logic of the oikos is not the logic of the muse.  The universe of the house is not the system of the muse.  What happens when we make this transformation – when we aestheticize the house, the oikos.

Mandalas and Mazes 2

Back to thoughts about Mandalas and Mazes.

I cannot imagine drawing daily mandalas about my mental states. But I can imagine drawing daily mazes. Mazes have been used as tools for meditation and contemplation for ages.

What am I meditating on today? What does the path feel like? How can I find my way. The mandala is the map of the unconscious and the maze is the journey through it.  Mazes like Mandalas are often drawn as circles.  The Maze is interactive, the Mandala is a projection or representation – it is not interactive.  The Mandala is a snapshot, perhaps a snapshot of a journey through a maze.  As we go through the maze what we see changes, and the representation of the mandala changes.

In thinking about the mandala and the maze, I also think of that other device for contemplation – the memory palace.  There was originally an ethical dimension to the memory palace, what you select to place in your palace or where you place it has metaphysical consequence. You are what you remember.

Virtual Altars

I have been thinking a lot about ritual objects, and then yesterday a friend out of the blue wanted to work on a virtual altar project.

I personally have a poor relation with objects. I attribute this to my experience in manufacturing — all objects have become disenchanted. I cannot seem to re-enchant them.

What does it mean to have a physical or a virtual alter? It is an imaginal embodiment of your desire. How is this different from say a new years resolution or a list of goals? Well I think it is the triggering of visual thinking versus written thinking  – so this is a different type of logic.  Writing follows the rules of prepositional logic, wishes and desires dont. Perhaps it is more correct to express desires as images rather than in words.

But then what about drawing images versus making alters with physical items? Again there is something about the embodiment of a thing, even if it is a virtual embodiment. I think it helps, psychologically, to imagine how this item fits within the world in a way that maybe a drawing does not.

But the caves of lascaux were probably early alters. They are no less powerful for their drawing rather than physical offerings, so perhaps it does not matter.

Joyce and Words

I am reading an excellent biography of Joyce by one of his friends and contemporaries. The author talks a lot about Joyce and his relationship to language.   He mentions Joyce has a relationship to language that most people don’t have. For him there is a plasticity and a physicality to words themselves.  He knows his own novels and stories backwards and forwards.

I do not have this relationship to language. Some words, give me pleasure, but words in general do not. I do not delight in puns, or word play.  I love poetry, but I love the images and the metaphors, the rhythm and yes the language. But this seems to be beyond the materiality of language and more about ability of language to evoke or create meaning.

Hopefully this makes send.  The distinction between the materiality or medium and what is expressed. I am not sure if this is an important distinction, but to me there should be something of material fetish for the artist involved in creating in a medium. What this says for mixed media artists or conceptual artists I have no idea.

I have been thinking of what medium I have a special relationship with and I would have to say it is computer code. The materiality of code is something that I have a fetishtic relationship with.  I love the materiality of code itself, how different languages express concepts and processes.  The product of code is something that I struggle with  since there is no necessary relationship between code and the expression of a code.

When Joyce creates a sentence, there are perhaps many ways to interpret it but there is one way to render it – as a sentence. With computer code, there are many ways to interpret and render the code, or perhaps there is one way to interpret it and may ways to render it.  Is the role of the reader or audience inverted? Are there two audiences?

There are two levels of appreciation: the code and the expression of the code. Is this similar to the appreciation of text as word and as a meaning or of anything with multiple levels of interpretation?  I am not sure.