A Response to Adam Berg’s Computing the Engima of Love


I read this essay and I really like Adam Berg, I think he’s a smart and talented guy. So I read his piece on glass bead and crafted as sort of meditation interpretation.

What happens when we look at love from a computational perspective? We can look at love from a biological perspective, an evolutionary perspective, a cultural perspective, but now we have computation (a new law of nature), and what does computation tell us about love? What does it mean to look at love through the lens of computation? “When I experience sense perception as love, from a computational perspective, I am engaged in a symbolic encoding.”

This is love beyond language, but as a symbol perhaps used in another formula.  The computational aspect is to translate this symbolic coding.  Compiler theory is transcendental philosophy. Where certain perceptions are translated via foundational categories such as the identity statement, the conditional, into another symbolic language.

The paper is called “Computing the enigma of love”. Love here exists in the sentence formula “computing the enigma of love”, and Berg unpacks the computation of love by examining the three concepts of computation, enigma and love, as well as the entire equation ‘computing the enigma of love’, It reminds me of other great fours in philosophy like Heidegger’s  fourfold (the unity of earth, sky, divinities and mortals that makes a world).

Computation becomes automata theory of love, enigma becomes a meditation on free will, love becomes a meditation on the sublime, and the equation becomes a meditation on the black box / the unknowable.

What type of computer computes love? Automata theory defines different types of computational systems and the spacial, temporal, and veridical (probabilistic) time limits of what they can compute.  Berg describes two systems: the B-computer and the P-computer.

A B-computer is love as a product of the brain, a P-computer is love as a product of pleasure and pain. One is about inputs and outputs with the processor as a black box (a.body without organs), the other is about reducing sensation to different parts. -the organs. Which is which – I forget.

The Engima, this is the engima machine that the British used to decipher codes in WW2. Work on this machine was spear headed by Alan Turing.  So the enigma of love -love is some sort of code – maybe SHA256 – that we need to decrypt. This is different than love as a automata that processes signals in a particular way. What is the horizon of decryption?


It will take me a long time to decrypt a message encrypted in SHA256,

Love as a product of time helps it escape the linear predictability of P-Machines and B-Machines. By unfolding in time love becomes a product of free will. We could also call this unpredictability or non-linear results.  Freedom is that which is unable to be predicted. I suppose as our machines become more accurate at prediction perhaps we will lose freedom, but that is neither here nor there. It is this unpredictability via the unfolding of love over time, the decryption of the algorithm that takes time, that gives us this quality of love.

How does computation address love, which is sublime? Well this is just one point of view. From the Kantian perspective this means something that cannot be measured, from the Burkean perspective it is something that produces the strongest emotion possible (probably painful). So how does a computer compute these two things? The B-Computer computes Kant and the P-Computer computes Burke.

The inputs are the messages which must be decrypted over time,

We could have a different equation, with love not being equated with the sublime. This is just an assumption of this essay, so lets roll with it.Finally we have the boxism – that is the unknowable -the entire formula: computing the enigma of love. We can understand the components but not how they come together. But are there really things that we cannot know, maybe there are things we cannot know empirically but we can know them interpretively. We can have speculations on what is happening inside the box. Who cares what is outside the box! What a relief.

Computing the enigma of love does not answer anything for us, as good philosophy never does. Instead we start to think about how love exists from a computational aspect. This is not the only formula or program that can be computed regarding love and this is the special power of computation. That it can run many programs, and even yet run many simulations for the same program. That it exists in a realm of probability and world generation.

Another way talk we can talk about computing the enigma of love is the manifold of worlds that this sentence/formula creates.

New Newsletter AND Musing about JS Frameworks

code, consciousness

Hey Blogosphere,

I am not sure why I am writing this blog post as an epistle but perhaps it has something to do with me launching a new newsletter. Newsletters are often written as epistles. Not sure why, perhaps because they are letters. In any case, I was inspired by Nitzan – he has started many successful newsletters. This is his latest – the future of agency.

Why a newsletter, I do blog (sporadically)? I have had newsletters in the past, and my companies have had newsletters? I think it is a good conversation starter, and a way to enter existing conversations.

Yesterday Nizan prompted us to think about our practices. And here is what I wrote. It is going to be the subject of the newsletter.

Globally, I am interested in understanding how the technology of computation affects our notions of the psyche, i.e., our inner life, and the mechanics of the psyche itself.

Locally, I am interested in how this manifests itself as both personal and collective actions in the world, and ways (ie projects/interventions) to highlight this manifestation.

Things I am not currently investigating, but appear relevant:  neuroscience, biology, behavioral psychology.

Things this may fall under: phenomenology, depth psychology, design, computer science, cognitive science, systems thinking.

The link is here: https://tinyletter.com/systempoetics

I am trying a new service that I have read newsletters on in the past – tinyletter.

Immediately when I saw the #! I thought – they are using angular. I have not used angular in years, so this intuition may be totally off. Anyway they are not – they seem to be using a new to me framework called velocity. Velocity does seem rad, it is suited towards motion graphics (and the ever present rethinking of the dom).  And DOM/DOMLESS could be one perhaps the first topic of my new newsletter.

Prediction Vs Analysis with models.


I was listening to a podcast today and the host was talking about prediction vs analysis. I think I mentioned this a few days ago when I was talking about the market as an engine and not a camera. The market is something that analyzes the world it does not recreate the world.

So prediction vs analysis… When we create a model what are we trying to do? Are we trying to understand a phenomena? And to what end? Are we trying to understand something in order to predict something?

If we look at analysis, what is that really? In part, that is measurement. We are trying to measure a phenomena. Why? To coordinate perhaps, to plan something.

Only in the last century have we looked at the predictive value of science. That science is confirming theories that we can use to build things like a space ship that did not exist before.

This concept of prediction has interested me for a while, since my time on wall street. What I did was calculate risk, and risk is the probability that something will or will not happen (and if it does/not happen – how big of an impact will it have on other things).

A good analogy is perhaps from medicine. Treating infectious diseases is analytic work, you are sick, lets you analysis to discover what you have, Preventive medicine is more predictive: e.g., lets take these medications/diet etc because our models say you are at risk for some disease.

Clair (from a slack group I participate in) turned me on to this article about various professionals (writers, scientists, economists) who try and predict the future. One futurist said:

From the article (via Anne Lise Kjaer)

Archaeologists find artifacts from the past and try to connect the dots and tell a story about how the past might have been. We do the same thing as futurists; we use artifacts from the present and try to connect the dots into interesting narratives in the future.

This is much different than finding laws in nature or patterns in history. To extrapolate an imaginary future based on facts of today is somewhat wild.

Last year I think I participated in a talk about predictive tech. And this was somewhat informed by my prayer blockchain work. And this is further informed by my thinking about conscious computation. For example, what is it about computation that makes us future thinking/oriented? Is consciousness always building mental models to predict the future, or are these models to understand processes (or what are all the types of models that a mind creates)

Anyway I’ll repeat it here, in large part so I remember and can go back to it in the future:

Augury in the 21 century 
Since the caves of Lascaux, humans have attempted to predict and influence the future. (edit: That is if we think the cave paintings are Magic and not commemorative.) Today we have scenario planning and future studies that are supported by the methodology of simulation and empowered by computation.  In the past, there was a symbolic relationships between the world and the instruments of prediction e.g, bones in a certain formation meant rain was coming. Today prediction is a two step process, data collection, world building, and interpretation/selection. The bones and their environment (ie milieu) report data points that are reduced to quantitative values. These values are used to along with the perturbations of variables to construct a variety of worlds. We then pick the most likely of worlds as our prediction. [THIS last sentence would want to rework – it is not phenomenological – but I cant think of the world I want to use, I also feel like I might want to talk about simondon and his notion of the relationship between magic, aesthetics, science and ethics]What is the relationship between the simulations of today and the folk practices of divination, and what can we learn from an archaeology of prediction?



Yesterday I wrote about self reproduction and today I figured I’d write about self representation. I had this post in the queue for a week.

My questions about self-representation started last week. Well, really they started long before that, but they were really put into relief last week when I was at an ai met talk.  Someone was going around saying, oh are you from google, oh are you from mit, oh are you from Microsoft. I put on my headphones and started to read a book, in french, upside down, so no one would talk to me. How would I answer?

Maybe start with jotting down the way you represent yourself – Nitzan said.

That was good advice, and I do that below. But part of my problem was how do I legitimate myself. Nitzan built an amazing AI newsletter, that many of these professionals subscribed used.That is how he achieved legitimacy.  It is not a bad trick. I was thinking about doing a more targeted newsletter related to consciousness and computation.  This crystalized for me the other day, and now I have forgotten thec crystal.

I could say to hell with legitimacy and do some Jedi mind tricks.  I also suppose that I could come up with some way to legitimate myself among a bunch of AI researchers. But, really, this does not sound like a good reason to create oneself.

So who am I? These days I have been calling myself a programmer, because that is what I enjoy to do. However, that is not what I spend a lot of time doing, it is more an orientation to the world. It also does not explain what I am doing at various events I go to. Being a programmer is like being a cog. However, I chafe at the idea of being a hyphenate. I just want to be one thing.

Nitzan described me as a systems poet the other day. I sort of like that. It is so wacky it confers legitimacy. I sort of find it accurate. I am interested in the borderlands of computation, and systems in general. Poetry is the language of the border. When we dont have the exact words to describe something. It is the language that carves out new territories and pushes the boundaries out further.

Reproducing Oneself


Today is Wednesday and thus the day of my Women’s Marx reading group at MEP / Peoples Forum. We are basically a group of 6-10 women that are reading Marx’s Capital Volume I cover to cover. It has been super insightful and has served to jailbreak the text for me. I have learned things like: Marx’s methodology regarding creating abstractions and then deriving concrete examples of the abstractions, or his use of theword ‘appears’ as a clue to the fact that Marx is now going to unpack a concept.

This week is about Rate of Surplus Value, The Working Day, and Rate and Mass of Surplus Value. I have many a passage underlined, but my main takeaway is that humans reproduce themselves through their work. What does it mean to reproduce oneself?  If a company has less money and workers have to work shorter days, surplus value is often not sacrificed, rather it is the meaning of what it takes to reproduce oneself.

Last week, our reading group leader, told a story about a bus driver. She said that she knew people who complained about a bus driver getting a pension because the job was not difficult (anyone could do it). But she said, it destroys your body, it also steals your attention, the money you need to reproduce yourself  (keep yourself healthy in body and mind) is what is represented in this pension and that is not even enough.

When we think in this way, how are we slowly neglecting the job or reproducing ourselves. How are we changing what it means to reproduce ourselves. Isn’t life hacking a way to reproduce ourselves less / hack self-reproduction?

The labor-process is the one thing that Marx analyzes as a process.   Raw material is taken as constant capital – a thing.  But raw material is something that also has to reproduce itself, it is also the result of a process.  It is the MISPRICING and exclusion of these hidden variables that lead to exploitation:  what is the true state of a human, and how to reproduce a human and likewise the process that leads to the creation of raw material, and how to reproduce it.

In the Marx Capital Vol 3 reading group (because I cannot do anything partially), we go around the room reading the book and then breaking if there is a concept someone does not understand or that someone wants to discuss.

During the last class, I had a fever daydream that this is perhaps similar to sitting around on a Saturday and reading the Torah or the Talmud. That people perhaps read the work of Freud, or Jung in a similar way. Heck, when I was in college this is how we read Plato.  I told a friend of mine this, and he said, yes this is what people did before TV. He also said this is what people do in cults.

In a related fever day dream, I considered turning reading group meditation into a narrative, a sort of sister narrative to Italo Svevo’s Conscious of Zeno, in which the character Zeno writes an episodic autobiography on the prompting of his psychiatrist.  What about an episodic autobiography of a life in reading groups. This may be super boring or SUPER INTERESTING (especially if some characters are in bed … naked) … like perhaps a Marx in Bed reading group.

Artist Writing


Over the past year or so I have been reading more writings by artists. This includes correspondences, journals, and art reviews of other artists/artworks.

For example: Philip Guston, Adrian Piper, Van Gogh, Carroll Dunham. Why have I been doing this? Sometimes I read journals, and this is the pleasure of biography. This is the sense of understanding the trials and tribulations of an artists life and how an artists deals with personal struggling. However, more than that, I am interested in how artists are reflecting on their personal art practice and other art works (what inspires them). I have a voracious appetite for this, Why?

I have no idea.

That is why I am writing this blog post.

I made a number of false starts in my analysis. I started writing about the changing nature of art, the artist, the interdisciplinary/multidisciplinary nature of art today, art and commerce, art and propaganda (advertisement), aesthetics, craft…. naw.

Then I started thinking about creation in general:

Why create anything? What do people find interesting in other people’s creations? What motivates people to create in the first place?

But I am not interested in all creative function. A business person can be creative, and this is different than the creative activity of a painter. I am more interested these days in the creative activity of the painter. How to keep working in a medium that seems almost exhausted? What is the impulse? Because there is something that draws me to this kind of work as well, but I do not know what it is.

To create means to create something new. This is not some sort of capitalist fetsh. How to create something when it seems that everything has already been created?  How to create something with the burden of history and information?

To that end, if anyone has any good recommendations on artists writing about their work and art that they like… please let me know.


Theater of the Oppressed


I have been thinking a lot about theater and performance in advance of the Art of Python in April (that I am co-planning this year).

In an earlier post I mentioned that the Art of Python was Brechtian. Over the weekend I unpacked this a bit, when .I read Theater of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal.

Often, in conversation with friends, there is a discussion about how people end up in certain situations. Is the the external circumstances (Marxist), or individual character  (sort of) (Hegel)?  I have been unwittingly in the Hegel camp. I really did not have the words to articulate this in this way until I read Theater of the Oppressed.

I do believe there are certain external circumstances which are so dire that perhaps it is impossible to exercise any agency or freedom. However, that most people reading this blog probably do not live under those circumstances.  And I also have believed in ability of the individual through various means, to transform themselves, and perhaps transform their situation, or perception of those situations…. and perceptions create reality.

Brechtian theater expresses narrative as a series of forces that constrain or force certain actions. Romantic theater expresses narrative as the individuals acting within certain constraints. What Boal seems to suggest is a narrative that, while existing within a constrained structure, creates dynamism through individuals acting with one another – infrastructure.

There is the notion that the format of the theater has become stale and ridged. That it supports certain forms of narrative (bourgeois perhaps), and that this itself must be addressed in order to make theater vital (alive) again.

It is easy to think of these concepts in reference to something like the Art of Python.The art of python are performances that are structured by the social constraints of working in technology. How does working in technology force people to act in particular ways. From the performances last year, I do not think we had examples of a well made play, or an epic play with a hero and an Aristotelian story structure.

The emphasis was on expressing the drama inherent in this social constraints – the social constraints of technology.  This year, we are going to incorporate some of the theater of the oppressed, and maybe rethink the structure of the performance itself. Already art of python was doing this by not being traditional theater. But this year we have a component where we involve members of the audience in contributing and creating their own works.  This is a movement to replace the original aristocratic tendency of Aristotelian theater and return theater, art and performance to expression and reflection  – to create a crises in technology work.

Strategy, Logistics, Tactics: the Strangle Method


I have been doing a bunch of workshops for my day job that involve practical hands on experience in various dev ops systems and modern software tools. Some of these may seem remedial to more experienced developers but a big part of the endeavor is to baseline an organization.

One thing I did not expect was the emphasis on strategy or methodology. About 30% of my time if not more is spent on organization and metrics, and how these tools tie in these strategic (or perhaps tactical components).

I could consider something like CI/CD like logistics – how something is delivered to someone else (mostly an end user, but also an internal customer). And remember that Napoleon was able to be so successful because of his superior logistics. But these logistics tie back into an essential strategy. Strategy is the over all way that we achieve some sort of goal. Tactics is small patterns that together execute the strategy, and the logistics is the pipeline that enables the creation of thee small patterns (ie tactics).

I was reviewing an article for an upcoming workshop about how to remove legacy code from a system. Our goal is an easy to maintain system to minimize MTTR (mean time to repair), the strategy is to remove technical debit, how do we do this?

The tactic is the strangle method.
1) Create new code that is a proxy or pass through to the old code.

In this case you can create a new interface without rewriting business logic, and connect new services to the new interface.

2) Begin removing the proxies with real new code that works.

I would suggest doing this as you get feature requests that touch these parts of the code. A second option is just to create each function replacement as an item in your backlog. However, this has the side effect of being overwhelming.

3) Slowly remove the old code base.

This is hard, since there are always unexpected instances when some service, or customer, is hitting a piece of code that does not pass through the new interface. However, if you keep this part distinct from step 2, replacing the proxy in the interface, then you can even instrument the legacy code base to see if and when it is hit, and minimize errors that might arise.

This is one of the many instances where my job is less about technology and more about strategy or tactics. It has become increasingly easy to write software and much of software development is really systems integration these days. The issue is NOT how to write this code, but what strategy to use to build a robust system, resilient system, or as I like to say via NNT, antifragile system.

Patterns and Models


The other day, after going to an art / mi panel I was inspired to finish the book “An Engine, not a Camera: How Financial Models Shape the Markets, by Donald MacKenzie.  I had read deeply into the philosophical nature of models in the past particularly the work of Eric Winsberg, but I sort of left it without any breakthrough in my own thought.  Im sure I have blogged about it here, the different types of models that exist, what they measure, the guardrails that allow them to create ‘knowledge’, but it still left me with questions around what models did, and what computers/computation did for models.

An engine not a camera refers to the notion of models, like black-sholes (the options formula), are engines that analyze reality rather than images that represent reality. So when we say E=MC2, that is not a image of energy but it is a way to analyze reality in terms of energy and mass and the speed of light. You might say, well, this is just like a point of view, or a framing, but that is not the case. It is more like a reduction, like desaturating a color photograph and making it black and white.

Models are a reduction. they reduce the world to a number of variables. Models create a representation of the world as expressed by these limited variables and the their interactions as specified in the model.

But while reading this book, I came to the thought that what made a model powerful or adaptable was its ability to generate patterns.  Black-Sholes became used in the trading pits of Chicago, once various trading patterns could be extrapolated from it, such as the spread.  In fact there is a wide variety of ways I can generate trading patterns from options.

What is this relationship between patterns and models?

For instance, it is this ability to form patterns that allows us to think about options trading as replicating a portfolio, in a way similar to  CAPM. It is the patterns of model use that allow us to form equivalencies between different models.

I started thinking about patterns long ago when I was a summer intern at the Federal Reserve of Chicago and I was given a book to read: Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software. This outlined a number of ways to create object oriented software, there were repeated patterns that people used. I still use this book and the patterns from it today.

We cannot really call oriented software design a model, but we can probably call a computer program a model. A machine learning algorithm is a model, but a model plus and maybe that means it is not a model (I’ll discuss that in a future blog post).

A computer program is a model, in the same way that a mathematical formula is a model, and all computer programs are just expanded lambda calculus – so these two concepts are closely related.

Back to patterns, perhaps what makes a model good (or correct or better), is not its error, its fitness, or some other thing, but its ability to generate patterns of usage. These patterns can then connect the model to other models, or be used in a wider variety in instances and exhibit more flexibility (which perhaps is a good standard for a model).

A model is an engine for analyzing. What does analysis do? What is the difference between analysis and representation? If in the past our artists were artists of representations, what would it be to be an artist of analysis?

From the noun project via wikidata: https://thenounproject.com/search/?q=castle&i=232996

Object Ethics and ML Continued

poetry, the-tower

Last year at Recurse I trained a model on mala beads and rosary beads. I am sure the post is somewhere here. So there are a lot of problems with this, and with ML in general. In that these are ritual objects imbued with sacred meaning and I am stripping that away (their use value from their information value – this is a new concept introduced here folks – I just thought of it) and using the information. I am using it as pixels and a tag.

There are a ton of ethical questions. What is the proper way to interact with these objects. Do objects have ethics? What does this mean? Objects can have ethics related to their interaction with humans who definitely do have ethics. What makes a human subject to an ethical system – humans act -they are performative.  Ethics is the study of oughts and acts. How we ought to act. That perhaps means that anything that can act is subject to an ethical system. So, obviously, technology, which is performative – like code. But also legal systems – like I now pronounce you man and wife – that is performative -I am referring to the line of though that comes from Searle and Speech Acts.  Ritual objects do things for certain people.  If I interact with a ritual object, what are my ethics?

How do you create an ethical machine learning system that works with ritual objects?

Moving on, I am working on my poetry project – the Tower, and yesterday I thought I should compile a list of towers and meditate on them: the tower of babel, Bollingen Tower, the leaning tower of piza, the twin towers, the freedom tower, you get the idea, the inverted tower in Annihilation. What is an underground tower? A tunnel?

I then thought, perhaps in anticipation of the ML event I was later to attend, that I should create some sort of machine learning algorithm to determine towers or to determine feature sets of towers (e.g., what are the salient features of towers). Maybe I could new towers, or perhaps co-create new towers along with my poem.  I just need some free GPUs to train my model.  Imagine creating new poems or chapbooks based on different conceptions of towers, or users could upload their own tower and perhaps alternate the feature set. This is an example from wiki data when I put in tower.

There was a fantastic tool created by the Met that situated an artwork within its various relations and included a network graph simulation that allowed you navigate the various connections.  I want to use this to understand how all the towers I am looking at contribute to my poetic experience of what the tower means.

Side note:

As I mentioned in other blog posts, fantasy (the unconscious) does things, language does things, computers do things. These all act, or in some cause action. This is a distinction. There is a difference between an impetus for action and an action itself (or is there? maybe not).