francis bacon: “a crucifixion is a self-portrait”

State of Exception

How does one integrate into the symbolic order?  This is a question we need to ask of our artificial creations, such as DAOs, robots and the like. In the Ted Chiang’s novella. The Lifecycle of Software Objects,  the solution is to turn them into corporations.  This is strikes me a a jab at the ability of corporations to mimic humans. This also strikes me as a comment on the place of things within in the capitalist system.   Does it even make sense to talk about corporations in other societies?

But this is in an interesting question, who is included and who is excluded and what is the basis for inclusion and exclusion and what does it mean to be excluded.   I am thinking here of Agamben, and the notion of bare life, and the state of exception, the place outside the body politic where the individual is reduced to bare life divorced from political life.   To note, the state of exception is the suspension of law and bare life is the existence of the human outside the law of society – such as in a concentration camp.

How does this apply to software agents or AI agents, if we can continue the thought experiment. What is bare life in this case and what would integration into a symbolic order mean? Bare Life, to me, would be the raw algorithm – the processing power of the AI. Without a recognition in the social order, this is all it is. Once recognized, given the status of a corporation, or a bank account, or a social security number, or something else, then the AI can accrue and distribute value. Perhaps it is the inclusion in the symbolic/social order that gives the AI intentionality or direction.

Without this the AI, no matter how sophisticated, is just the tool of the inventor, owner, or operator.

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