Genres of Resonance


Resonance might usefully be split into different genres of resonance: those that reinforce, those that are cross-modal, those that are modality-free, and those that cross gross semiotic boundaries: i.e. across from text to embodiment, and back.

Or to look at it another way, we might distinguish between resonances that close down possibilities and horizons, versus resonances that open up, and open out, what is possible, as well as the range of the possible. (Cross posted from 14/5/17, here ...). What is important is the relationship between context on the one hand, and the balance and 'fit' between structure and agency on the other hand.

1. Structure and Agency
Resonance is a matter of convergence between different waves, patterns, energy, thoughts, practices, etc. Whis this is captured in texts, it builds knowledge, or "the capacity for (more) effective action". This convergence results in a mutual strengthening of the different components/events, and/or actors. This in turn is based on the extent to which the components (e.g. sounds from different instruments, or parts of an instrument) share 'structures' - whether these are sound or light waves, or patterns, thoughts, or practices. The more convergence, the more coherence, and the simpler (and metaphorically, the more simplistic) the resonance - or, alternatively, in dissonance, it results in tensions, paradoxes and ambiguity.

The resulting resonant structure, closes down, or opens up, the space for agency (the capacity for independent action), i.e. either for compliance, or for initiative, innovation, exploration, and creativity. Or to put it another way, structure and agency define the affordances for engaging with the social world.

[Aside: ... There is also a distorted kind of political meta-'resonance', loyalty ... see the FBI Director, Comey's, distinction between loyalty and honesty. In January 2017 Trump asked him for loyalty, and Comey said he could offer the President only honesty [loyalty, in the FBI, should be solely to the Constitution]. Comey was duly fired before the end of May 2017. But perhaps what Trump understood by loyalty was even further from Comey's set of values, i.e. for Trump 'loyalty' actually meant collusion: the type of joint enterprise where authority determines truth/iness, and where, conversely, truth has no authority. Loyalty more commonly means a broader set of values than collusion, or personal/tribalist 'loyalty', like the Mafia, and other secretive corporate practices. McLuhan presciently said that the global village we were already headed for, many decades ago, would be tribal and fractured. Perhaps we need to keep in mind that 'tribal' easily elides into 'tribalist', which could be the new virus/meme to watch out for - far wider than just in 'Africa'].


2. Algorithmic Identity (WIP ... )

Changes to Marx's modes of production are always disruptive. They change the dynamics of structure and agency, and they change the 'fit' between different types of actors/agents and socio-economic context. For instance, after many millennia of the rule of the alpha male, it has been supplanted, to some extent, by the rule of the geeks, accompanied by anger and resentment from the (dying??) spasms of alpha male culture (see the South African campaign against violence on women: #MenAreTrash).

Or, to put it another way - as Thomas Khun rephrased it (about 120 years after Marx) - it's all about changing the paradigms for the production of intellectual capital. Power is in the gift of those who control the production of capital - financial and/or intellectual (preferably, both), and the modes of production of capital have been substantially disrupted and reconfigured by the internet: e.g. in Knorr-Cetina's micro-global structures [add link ...] of the 24/7/globalisation of financial markets as well as transnational terrorism, and in McLuhan's fractured, tribal/-ist global village [add link ...] of connectivity, which has morphed into social media, from the freemium business model to the globalised commoditization of social capital (including political capital too, now). (By 2017 Facebook was said to have reached 2 billion users).

When we wake up - somewhere in the spectrum of global 24/7 'time' (there are no absolute days/nights any more), and reach for our interfaces to the www, we plug ourselves straight into this; the addiction and dependency is already complete. Consequently, the real nightmare is not old fashioned nuclear weapons (they are probably too big to be used) but rather the next generation of weapons, the EMP (electromagnetic pulse) weapons (nuclear and non-nuclear). The high altitude (H)EMP's simply fry all the electronic systems on the ground, over a very wide range, from an immense height. A interesting, new kind of no-grid dystopia. (Off-grid is just too easy, too pretentious, it just takes a tap on the on a button to reconnect, and we are all already complicit in the 'net anyway.)

In the absence of any of these modes of old fashioned nuclear war, or the newer e-weapons, however, we need to get on with understanding how our internetted social reproduction occurs: i.e. increasingly within the global algorithms of 'social' media, or electronic bureaucracy (or perhaps 'e-rocracy', that's got a nice buzz to it, no?).

2.1 e-rocracy
This is a new morph, or a hybrid, of bureaucracy into rule by algorithm, which has ambitions to displace consent, and insert itself into the ambitions of the previously discredited social engineering projects of the 1960's and 70's (see the political adage that it is preferable to rule by consent rather than by brute force, although force 'can never be ruled out').

e-rocracy goes much further than consent, and is a fusion of what used to be called 'intelligence profiling' and the freemium business model.

WIP ...

2.1.1 The fusion of AI and bureaucracy.
This question that e-rocracy raises is about the limits of AI (and whether Trump is just a beta version AI bot, created by silicon valley). The missing link in 'AI' is subjectivity, inter-subjectivity (and self-awareness), which it shares with old fashioned computerised bureaucracy.

(Cross posted, and edited, from ..... )
The simplest way to think about it is to consider the one, crucial, aspect of abstraction that is, by definition, not possible to programme into AI: i.e. the token swapping that occurs when you say “ I think x, what do you think?” and I reply: ‘I think x.1, does that make sense to you?”. Conversation is premised on passing around, and exchanging, the 'empty' signs, “I” and “you” which in a sense are 'meaning-less’ (because they are so unstable, their meaning reverses all the time, as each exchange takes place). Conversations use these paradoxically empty-signs to create the shared meaning that both of us have a personal stake in, which we can only create through the process of mutual exchange of these empty signs: the tokens and the mechanisms of constructing our inter-subjective commitment to a common, semiotic, meaning.

This meaning is, paradoxically, not primarily abstract, in the sense of being ‘context- and subject- free'. It is meaningful precisely because it is grounded in a shared context and shared (and jointly created) inter-subjectivity and history/ies.



That tiny point in time in which minds touch each other is denied to machines.



The question “what do you think?” cannot be asked of a computer, because the computer has no “I” to exchange. And simulating a ‘voice’ for a computer that would say “I” is a non-sequitur, which is perhaps why the David Walliams comedy sketch about bureaucracy always had the computer saying “computer says no”, rather than “I say no”. Which points to the crux of the problem, and of the absurd humour in Walliams's sketch, which is that if the computer ever did say “I said no” you really, really, couldn’t ask “And who the .... do you think you are?”



Of course this is nothing new. This is precisely the point of bureaucracy - whether computerised or not. Namely, to create a totally abstract set of rules and procedures, abstracted to such an extent that you cant ask ‘why’, because bureaucracy is precisely context- and subject- stripped; it has no “I”. It is constructed in such a way as to be immune from questioning, an embodiment of a kind of 'common sense' which has no individual subject. That is precisely the value and the frustration of bureaucracy: the 'subject' of bureaucracy, if it has one at all, is supposed to be the public / good - which includes you, and it makes no sense to question yourself, does it? That would merely be an infinite recursion.



The 'threat' is not the machines, or AI, but rather the people promoting AI (and 'big' data / 'big' alpha males) as the solution to human evolution, but leading to a "robot society which might keep us humans as pets [in which] the subjective recognition, done by diverse resonating individuals, is replaced by algorithms whose supervision is thought to be optimized by rationality (or by a dictator) to find the one true solution" (Matthias, by email).



This is just warmed over 'social engineering' [with algorithm-sauce added] from the 1970's, but it smells of 1984, and pseudo-religious teleology.



We are all trapped, and complicit, in the bureaucracies of the 'social contracts' that we (willingly?) vote for, again and again, and delegate blindly to our democratically elected 'leaders' until they call the next election. That's what we have to resolve.


WIP ...
Just as we don’t know how these systems calculate our identity and rank it for various purposes, we often don’t know why either. This means they can be used behind our back to mark us as persons of interest to police and border agents, or to single us out as an insurance risk or for other categorical forms of discrimination without any human agents having direct knowledge. They can render certain concatenations of data to be normal and others to be deviant and socially disqualifying. These machine-learned prejudices may not even have human names, which makes it harder for people to unite and fight against them. The labels cannot be reclaimed as principles of solidarity.

You might find yourself on a terrorist watch list or in quarantine for a flu you don’t have, merely because of data associations.

As more information about ourselves is captured within Big Data systems by phones, social media platforms, fitness trackers, facial recognition software, and other forms of surveillance, algorithms assign identity markers to us, place us in categories based on correlations to patterns drawn from massive data sets, regardless of whether these correspond to how we think of ourselves. We become, to an extent, what other people do, as their data contributes to how ours is interpreted. The system will infer our identity, according to categories it defines or invents, and use these to shape our environments and further guide our behavior, sharpen the way we have been classified, and make the data about us denser, deeper. As these positivist systems saturate social existence, they nullify the idea that there is something about identity that can’t be captured as data.
Because what gets calculated by algorithmic systems to be race, gender, age, or political affiliation is a selection of data markers that may have no connection to the social indicators used to determine those categories — it may neglect even how individuals self-identify

If all the content on Facebook is tailored to suit the company’s construction of who we are, then consuming it is like consuming a coherent version of ourselves. It also reinforces the idea that the best place to glimpse your stable social identity is on Facebook. Engagement with social media then signals our assent to this algorithmic figuring of the self, an identity we step into when we access platforms that feels as if it has always already been inside us somehow.


The way our self-expression gets ranked in likes and shares in social media would seem to subordinate identity to competition over metricized attention, dividing peers into winners and losers. And the creation of identity in the form of a data archive would seem to fashion not a grounded self but an always incomplete and inadequate double — a “self partially forced from the body.” ( From R.D. Laing's Divided Self )


The neoliberal demand that we convert our lives into capital and grow it systematically seizes on the ideal of self-expression and strips it of its dignity and allure.

Sick of Myself: Algorithmic identity is a means of control and consolation Rob Horning May 17, 2017






... depending on: context, intent, aims, affordances ... WIP





It might be best to explore this in terms of specific examples, of real contexts ...







1.1 Montessori pre-schools
The ... WIP ...