On Bourbon and Beer - A Response

"Inherited will... the destiny of the ages and the dreams of the people... These are the things that cannot be stopped. As long as people continue to persue the meaning of freedom, these things will never cease to be!" - Communist Revolutionary Leader Monkey D. Dragon

Ok the last thread was kinda dead by the time I posted this (~40 views in the last 24 hours), so I hope this new thread can rekindle discussion on a most excellent topic...

Sorry again for the late response, it took me quite a few train rides to finish this. Turns out that all I really feel like doing when I come home from work is playing video games and drinking bourbon, haha. But this was a lot to think about! I found myself agreeing with you on many points, but of course, in the end, a contrarian like me, being both a technologist and a luddite, can't help but disagree vehemently with you every conclusion haha... you got me feelin' like I'm in the role of the reactionary here!

Cybersyn is a tricky subject for me. You know, there's two considerations here. The first is Cybersyn as it actually existed, in which, given the level of technology available at the time and the short span of its life, it couldn't have been more than a toy, still not yet beyond the shadow of the Cybersyn that shined in Stafford Beer's mind's eye. To me, however, what's really interesting here is the Cybersyn truly stands in dialectical juxtoposition is not totalitarian dictation. What is most interesting about Cybersyn, to me at least, is as a a method of socioeconomic organization, while totalitarianism I think is more of a mode. There are many types of totalitarianism, from under the pressing thumb of a tyrant to being channeled through mass movements. We instead should look towards Laissez's Faire - the free market economy. Now here is a proper antithesis! And indeed, after Pinochet had his goonsquad dismantle Allende and Beer's budding Marxist monument, he invited his own extrapatriate contractors, the Ambiguously Free Duo, milton Freedman and Freederich hayak, to remold Chile's economy in the shape of this vicious ideology. It was a transaction beneficial for both parties: Pinochet was able to keep control for far too many years, and in return, the AFD were able to use their "Chilean Miracle" as a propaganda tool in new battlegrounds far away.

That Cybersyn and the capital-F Free market have modes in common is apparent when you examine how they operate. Each represents a super-structural system for regulating and directing the social order by controlling the magnitude of the inputs to various nodes (representing aspects of the economy) in order to control their outputs, which then of course become the inputs to other nodes, etc. The difference is how they go about doing that: a top-down system like Cybersyn tries to regulate the *value* of goods by mediating their magnitude in order to let the system solve for the equilibrium flow, while the market tries to regulates the *flow* of goods by mediating risk (i.e. potential changes in value, its derivative) in order to the system find the equilibrium value. In neither case do they purport to directly assume responsibility for the social order.

In this way, one could see great potential in Cybersyn, at least on the surface, in that the aim of regulating value is essentially an exercise of trying to bias the system, i.e. society, towards some goal by the system controller, and that could theoretically be done by a true democratic vote. We could have our cake and eat it too... In contrast, the market is an autonomous entity, a beast prone to roam wild until it is attacked and consumed by some other beast, more vicious and powerful. (or perhaps even by a capitalist bishokuya, like Lloyed Blankstein or Jamie Dimon, just for the hell of it. Itadakimasu!)

However, it is also precisely because of that potential for control that Cybersyn suffers a fatal flaw: it will never be able to maintain itself in balance while maintaining an accurate representation of the underlying economy it seeks to model. Not at least without consuming an infinite amount of energy. Even if we were able to freeze time, and spend our whole lives investigating the most appropriate coefficients for every filter and feedback loop to the millionth decimal point, the second we let the economy run again, the system would slowly start to unravel. As time rolls on, so too does the smoldered desires and dreams of men begin to inflame again. Absolutum Obsoletum.

Now, luckily, (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it), there is a way to mitigate this inevitable phase-decay: by increasing the complexity of the system. A filter could be replaced by a homeostatic loop, for instance, regulated by some other; furthermore, the filters and amplifiers inside that loop can like be likewise replaced, etc, increasing system robustness and accuracy with every revision. However, taken ad absurdum, like the ambitious cartographers of Borges' On The Exactitude of Science, if you increase complexity enough you will eventually converge on very system you sought to model! We need not take it that far to see other problems, of course. As the system increases in complexity, so too does our inability to understand and control it, and so too does it take ever increasing energy to operate. The fear of living at the mercy of entrenched technocrats is not an unfounded one... living life under the thumb of some aspergite that cares more for maintaining system balance then they ever could about the people that it contains. (Hahaha, sounds just like this very forum, am I right guys? Eh Eh? Eh???) "Change this coefficient to this!", the politicans may tell them. Well sure... as long as you don't mind my multiplying by the reciprocal down the line... Am I sounding a lil paranoid? I'm not so sure...

In any case, an economy dominated by an autonomous market isn't any better, if not much worse. For in whose hands could I feel more uncomfortable than a bureaucrat’s, then a greedy business magnate's, who would crush and squeeze the lifeblood from my body simply to lotion the delicate skin of his palms? But... I wonder what Stafford Beer would think of the works written by our so called "Masters of the Universe", whose millions upon millions of lines of code regulate the American economy? Virtual speculators trade billions of stocks, bonds, and commodities per second, indirectly setting the prices of every good in the economy to near-instantaneous equilibrium value. And it works pretty well, too - why, it has to! Given that the minor, minor, minor fractions of percent-error that are in effect extracted from every transaction is Real Money, (Yeah, just like in Office Space, haha yeah I saw that movie too. Ok.), that accumulates in the pockets of bankers and brokers - thieves both, the system would fail in an instant if its functioning was not near-perfect.

So where the cybernetic system fails due to a fLaw of managed complexity, the market fails due to a fLaw of Perfect Information. And in fact, these are the same thing, as they both represent the impossibility of the information entropy in the system reaching towards the infinite, and thus there lies the implication that the error between this ideal and the actual reality will feed-back negatively in order to mitigate the overall entropy. And indeed, would any of us question that they, the maintenance men of the market, have power today that dominates our country's political will for their own purposes? Cybersyn and Wall St. are actually two sides of the same coin, you see. Well, I see it that way at least. Cybersyn for the proletariat, Wall St for the bourgeoisie.

This is not to say that humans should never organize, burn it all, anarchy forever, Kurt Cobain still lives man, in our hearts man, you know it, etc. The answer is probably, haha, somewhere in the middle, or, more likely, somewhere outside this spectrum entirely. One interesting development are the changes happening in the Cuban model under Los Brothas Castro, who have, its recently been reported, begun loosening the grip of the command economy in order to allow some sectors of the economy to become autonomous. The few reports in the Western Media I've seen about this of course proclaim "AHHHHHhh ITS THE END OF COMMUNIST CUBA LET THE FREEDONG MARKET RING!!!", but we can see better that the objective here is to alleviate the unnecessary overhead while still maintaining its overarching democratic essense.

But, subtleties of economic organization are not really what this thread, nor this dialectic, is about. I have also come to the same conclusion, from a different point of vantage, that the dialectical synthesis here is this:

With cybernetics we seek to lift the problems of organisational structure out of the ruck of prejudice-by studying them scientifically. People wonder whether to centralise or to decentralise the economy - they are answered by dogmas. People ask whether planning is inimical to freedom - they are answered with doctrines. People demand an end to bureaucracy and muddle---they are answered with a so-called expertise which from its record has no effect. If dogma, doctrine and expertise fail to give effective answers, then what criterion of effectiveness shall cybernetics use? My answer to this question is: the criterion of viability. Whatever makes a system survival-worthy is necessary to it.

The criterion of viability is a critical one, I think, but it also brings to mind another, its counterpart, and just as critical: to what extent do the means justify the ends? Or do the means become the ends? Thus Stafford Beer continues:

Dear Chicho,
As I read your last pages, I had a vision of you lining up a row of molecules and saying: “Look, chaps, don’t polymerize. There’s no future in it. You’ll find that you’re part of some damn organism, and your individuality will be subordinated to the total need. You might want to be a bit of an eye, but some totalitarian bastard ‘principle’ is going to send you off to the thyroid gland. Stand up for yourselves”. But it turns out to be in the nature of certain molecules to polymerize.

For Beer, Cybersyn was just the beginning. His was a millenarian dream, a teleological argument that the purpose of economic organization is the furtherment and fermentation of economic organization itself - that we move humans as beings away from our humanity and towards something beyond human, something that better embodies a more-prefect order. And that the essential limiting counterbalance to that goal is freedom - freedom as movement against order, not "freedom" in the narrow bourgeoisie sense. This is as true for Cybersyn as it is for the Free Market. A sentiment that humanity can no longer take care of itself, if it ever could, but perhaps our works - our capital - which we see as more pure, as… better than ourselves, maybe that could do it better. A materialist’s fetish,and the dominance of future generations by our dead labour. In a way, it is a dream that we, ourselves, can become works too, little molecules, distilling our souls down to the purified essence of what makes us useful to some greater purpose and power. This sentiment is one I am very familiar with; being something of a professional cyberneticist myself, I work with many others who feel this way, although they would never outright say it.

But I say that it is a fatal mistake to think of people this way! A fatal trap, although I understand the logic behind these thoughts very well. It goes like this: using the axiom of choice, if we take an individual (or group of individuals) that are a subset of a larger set of individuals, then it is tempting to say that, given that any action by the subset does not affect the composition of the set, then, therefore, the potentiality for the freedom of action for the subset on the set (that is to say, the interactions between the smaller group and the larger group) is thus subsumed in the total freedom of action for the larger group. (meaning that all potential actions are closed in a loop) This leads to the claim that, therefore, freedom is not an autonomous complex intrinsic to the individual/smaller-group, but movement within an all-encompassing homostatic loop in which we all take part. That he who does not feel me is not real to me, therefore he doesn't exist, so *POOF* - vamoose you son of a bitch. (H to the izz-o, M to the okay how about the rest of y'all carry out this chant awhile) And this conception of freedom as rights and liberties/privledges is congruent to that. For every positive freedom, is there not a negative complement that is but a half-circle around the loop? That someone's privledge to kill is inverse to everybody else's right not to die? What else could freedom be beyond that?

Returning to Beer:

What about the dialectic problem of unity and differentiation in society that disappears in the bland slab of margarine you are calling 'Freedom’? You evince no cybernetic consciousness. What about the structures of recursion and autonomy that are in fact the guarantee of liberty within each homeostatic loop? You evince no insight into the Chilean experience. What about millions of people struggling against their past oppression?

In what sense can a people struggle, or in fact be oppressed to begin with, if their freedom is guaranteed within the loop of their own survival? Would not the free-est way to live then be to close ones eyes, hum a quiet lullaby under ones breath, and do exactly as one is told without a further thought to the matter? My friend Moolali used to say that to me, whenever he stressed about arrange marriage that his parents forced him into. To him too, it was all a question of viability in the struggle for survival. If he fought, with all his might, against the marriage, he would not have won, and the rest of his life would have suffered for it. Or so he said. And so he closed his eyes, hummed a little lullaby, and said he was better for it. But is that really freedom? Is that really viable?

Mohandas Gandhi is one that so often get a bad rap around here; the argument goes something like, that in the turmoil of the first half of the 20th century, the British had but little choice to relinquish control of India. All Gandhi had accomplished, for all his hootin' and hollerin' (or rather than opposite of that actually haha - "bougie activism" is how I remember it being called the last time this came up) was to delay the inevitable. To me, an argument like this is ridiculous. Had Gandhi not attacked the Bourgeoisie exactly where it hurt them the most, would India have truly achieved the level of independence it now has, for better or worse? And I don't mean on the British side - think how common it is to hear upper-caste Indian expatriates - doctors, lawyers engineers, and scientists - defend, with absolutely no-irony, for the British exploiting and massacring their people for hundreds of years. "Oh, but it was good that the British conquered our country! They gave us technology, and civilization, and showed us the proper way to do business, haha!" What would be the nature of the autonomy of the people of the sub-continent today if the cozy relationship between these powerful sympathizers and the British Crown stood fast? I do not think that Zizek is not mistaken when he sez that Gandhi, on the ideological level, was more violent than Hitler - for he understood that the critical battle for freedom, for his people's case, required a rupture on the level of class, not nationalism.

It is a mistake to look at a method of economic organization, see it as a form of "collective," and dub it Communism, just as it is a mistake to see "collective" as the same as Communism. Were the Fascists of Italy or the Nazis of Germany.... Communists? Is a colony of ants, or a hive of bees? A big oozing mug of LCL? There is a big difference between a collective and a community - a big difference between a lynch mob and a worker's council. The form is not what matters here, but the structures of power between the participants. If, on the mass level, we have true Democracy, or at least as something as close as reality allows - then we can call that Communism. If we need to redefine the word "freedom" for it to exist at all, then we have something else entirely.

Thus, *my* understanding is that the nature of power and its structures is critical to understanding the question of freedom. [zizekvoice] Conception of freedom as liberties and rights ignores the most important aspect of freedom at all - the freedom to change what freedom means. This, I claim. [/zizkevoice] This "meta-freedom" is movement orthogonal to the homeostatic circuits in which rights and liberties flow, stretching and skewing their form. For what else than that is the dream of Communism, then the dream of the ultimate realization of this kind of human freedom? And why else could this dream have survived through the centuries, to be inherited by us today, but because it is a dream inherent to humanity itself? Were we to crush it in the clutches of Cybersyn, how then could we call this Communism?

Discussion of On Bourbon and Beer - A Response on tHE r H i z z o n E:


germanjoey posted:
Returning to Beer



gyrofry posted:

germanjoey posted:
Returning to Beer


Cheers mate.

bump... disappointed that no ones even tried to offer a rebuttal to this after the slew of supporting posts in the last thread!
ive been waiting until the end of finals brah, but i will crush ur pathetic cretinous essay

aerdil posted:
ive been waiting until the end of finals brah, but i will crush ur pathetic cretinous essay


*spits on monitor*

It fucking sux and i 'll tell youy why. Mother fuckerl. After these messages

i don't know who's right i just like to read posts
On the Meaning of GandhiIndia’s Michael Jackson

Well, well well, well. It seems our dear doctor (faustus?) here has ahem, cough, trotted along into a rather curious conception of freedom. Like that blind old bat dictating Paradise Lost, he portrays Cybersyn as a God, but a Marxist & Materialist God, giving us free will yet demanding that one does the Right thing with that free will or face the consequences… and slithering ol’ satan joey is whispering into our ears that this is no True freedom at all. Eat from that apple tree he says, the delicious juices of more Pure communism await:

Here at least
We shall be free; th’ Almighty hath not built
Here for his envy, will not drive us hence:
Here we may reign secure, and in my choice
To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:
Better to reign in trottish fantasy, than serve in socialist chile.

Whew, heavy & persuasive stuff to be sure! But also WRONG. For God is RIGHT. Doctor German J. is proposing a Hell simply because Cybersyn supposedly doesn’t allow what he calls “freedom.”
But don’t believe his slimy satanist second-rate susan sontag lies trying to equate (the wrong kind of) communism to fascism. Silly Dr. J. is wrong: Form does have a direct relationship to the structures of power between the participants. While both fascism and communism represent alternatives to the atomization and individualism of liberal society, the similarities end there. In form, fascism creates hierarchy within the social web and an iron-clad centralized command structure. How dare you claim this is similar to the egalitarian form of Cybersyn, networked together as it is in a way to give workers unprecedented control while at the same time serving as a synoptic device that can spot crises to ensure the smooth functioning of this decentralized socialist system?

Are Bees Communist? Not until they break out the guillotines and Robeespierre chops off the Queen’s buzzing head!

It appears that Doctor J.R. falls into a trap about the definition of “freedom” that the real Zizek lays out:

Our freedom of choice effectively often functions as a mere formal gesture of consent to our own oppression and exploitation. However, Hegel's lesson that form matters is important here: form has an autonomy and efficiency of its own.

And the material form of Cybersyn is one that encourages true freedom with autonomy in each homeostatic loop within the greater cybernetic consciousness. Yet the German Doctor disparages Beer’s vision as a mere “materialist’s fetish.” One that he connects in depraved familiarity with his science pals technophile visions of science fiction futures. The actual material form these differing visions take is ignored by this deutsch. But those differences are important! It is the form that organization takes which can either create an egalitarian state or something else. The doctor side-steps these designations and disparages Cybersyn as a “collective,” which yes, doesn’t necessarily imply Communism, but in the theory Beer outlines certainly does qualify!

This distrust of materialism… perhaps it is truly with kindred spirit that doc joseph evokes the name of Gandhi. After all, Bapu is the Idealist extraordinaire of the 20th century. His Platonist Stoicism knew no bounds.

And it is here that I must strenuously take exception to a few glaring misconceptions in DOCTOR GERMAN JOEY’s account.

To call the argument that Gandhi in fact slowed down Indian independence ridiculous is to be in fact ridickulous! This is a rather uncontroversial assessment that even the most friendly and sympathetic supporters of Gandhi admit. Dennis Dalton for example writes that

the Raj would certainly have left India anyway regardless of Gandhi, perhaps even sooner without him. In any case, the decisive causes of the demise of the British Empire were the two world wars, especially the second and its immediate aftermath, which quickly persuaded the Labour government in English to transfer power.

The possible delay in independence due to Gandhi lies in of course the dogmatic approach to nonviolence, as he would call off mass actions at the slightest hint of growing animosity to the British occupiers. This is because Gandhian Nonviolence entails a very specific philosophy of Swaraj: it is not merely freedom from British imperialism that Gandhi was attempting to achieve, but freedom of self - the Self in all its realms from the individual to the social and political.

Gandhi wasn’t so much a nationalist as he was a full-fledged idealist, and under his ideology liberal/humanistic conflict resolution & reformism is always elevated above actually dismantling unjust institutions. The aim is not to rout or destroy the capitalist or imperialist class, but to transcend those distinctions. The belief is that even the most fervent British imperialist, Niall Ferguson for example, can be reasoned with and embraced as a friend, as a fellow human. Gandhi in no way, contrary to what dr. g-jay claimed, attacked the Bourgeoisie. No, his goal was assimilation, on their terms: the worst thing you could do to another human is coerce, violently or not, they must willingly join the movement. There’s no rupture of class, but a facile refusal to think in terms of class – we are all humans!

Inclusion is the foundation of Gandhi’s theory. And constantly putting that theory into practice as explorations into Truth is the cornerstone of Gandhi’s efforts. Let’s see how it worked out by taking a glance at Gandhi’s satyagraha in the region of Champaran. Entering the region at the request of friends, he explores the dismal condition of the indigo farmers in contrast to the upper-caste landowners. Soon agitating for reforms, he bravely and persistently confronts the dominant power structure nonviolently. In Ahmedabad, he convinces the aggrieved peasants to strike and fasts in solidarity. Eventually, a settlement is reached with the mill-owners and the strike finishes. It is an example of the power of Gandhi’s inclusiveness and policy of satyagraha. But it also reveals an essential flaw in his theory.

Compromise is certainly a pivotal part of a peaceful conflict resolution, but there are circumstances in which compromise does a severe disservice if it continues to legitimize unjust power relations between the two groups. By stopping at a small reform, in an effort to include the mill-owners and promote a settlement, the original social roles that created the oppression the reform was meant to alleviate continue to exist. Gandhi ended up trying to ameliorate the symptoms of the problem rather than the root cause. He achieved reforms at the cost of not challenging the underlying systemic oppression that created the need for those reforms in the first place. But Gandhi’s theory of inclusion demands that even those people in power who fill those social roles must be treated like any other, and coercion avoided at all costs. He in fact separates man from what he does - using the lingo of the typical christian "love the sin, not the sinner" tripe:

Man and his deed are two distinct things. Whereas a good deed should call forth approbation and a wicked deed disapprobation, the doer of the deed, whether good or wicked, always deserves respect or pity as the case may be

With this logic compromise with the ruling elite is always preferred to coercion. But any good Marxist would realize that the power relations involved this would always privilege those elite. Instead the demand should be made that a person in a position of privilege must be willing to disown his or her social role and join the movement. Compromise that retains their unjust position of power over others only perpetuates the very thing you are attempting to dismantle in the first place.

That said, Gandhi does, especially in his book Hind Swaraj, criticize and attack capitalist institutions. But it is important to note that he does not condemn capitalism as the cause for the world’s qualms so much as he simply decries modern society and technology. Much of the dismissal of Gandhi as a simple reactionary originates from these writings proposing a return to some sort of anarcho-primitivist village structure.

But Gandhi is at least clear sighted enough to mention, in one of his most famous platitudes, “poverty is the worst form of violence.” This recognition of systemic and institutional forms of violence that expand beyond the overtly physical is a powerful and radical observation. The implication for an empathetic person is then the need to overhaul and change those systems and institutions that cause violence and poverty as a matter of course. Attached to this implication is the fatuousness of liberal ideology that praises individual “freedom” above all else and ignores the entrenched social forces that hinder that same freedom for all but the privileged few. Let's listen to Gandhi here:

I value individual freedom but you must not forget that man is essentially a social being and unrestricted individualism must be curtailed by social conscience to strike the mean between individual freedom and social restraint

It is only by creating an egalitarian and liberated social domain that individuals can experience a true freedom free from oppression and alienation. Essential to this principle for a humanistic philosophy such as Gandhi’s is the assertion of the commonality of all humans. This is best said by Dalton when he claims that

Gandhi’s thought and action rest on premise of inclusivity, that we are all part of one another and violence retards that realization

But of course, we see that this premise of inclusivity invalidates any action beyond tepid reformism aimed at preventing the “worst kind of violence.”

So why does Zizek claim that Gandhi is more violent than Hitler? He gives two different apparently contradictory reasons in two different statements. First, writing a response to Adam Kirsch’s slander in TNR, he claims the former is more violent because while Hitler killed millions to make sure nothing ever changed, Gandhi attempted to use satyagraha to change the very Self of millions. But then, during an interview with the Times of India (although the accuracy of these quotations may be nebulous), he also mentions that

Though Gandhi didn’t support killing, his actions helped the British imperialists to stay in India longer. This is something Hitler never wanted. Gandhi didn’t do anything to stop the way the British empire functioned here. For me, that is a problem.

As I took some time trying to show, I agree with both statements! On both a theoretical and practical basis, Gandhi was more violent than Hitler. Gandhi wanted change, but an almost reactionary change that was more spiritual than material and more internal than external. In the same interview, Zizek says that he much prefers Ambedkar’s radical approach.

So, so, so what’s the take away? All the croaking and crowing by Dr. Ryan that Cybersyn isn’t true freedom, that it isn’t pure enough, that it’s materialist fantasy, is merely an analog to the kind of idealistic critique favored by Gandhi. And it is this idealism that caused him to Fail. Despite his semi-radical sentiments and utopia dreams, and his uncompromising humanism, India is in utter shambles. An absolutely capitalist explosion of inequality, militaristic oppression, and greed are the legacy of his efforts. What is the lesson for us and the ultimate conclusion of this analysis of German Joey’s response? Don’t Hail Satan.

Edited by aerdil ()

eheeheheehe 10/10 aerdy thankyou
what do you scrubs think of this Thing I Made
here's an analogy. it's like all about spore dispersal. when beating out an old rug, a beehive, some chumps for change. the analogy covers quantification of movement, and the nature of the winds of dispersal create analogies of movement between a catalyst, a stationary element(ground/pivot/centrifugal offset), and an objective intermediary to pass between the two forces to create the motion. to all three parties, each would view the two others as binaries, but to the third-person/fourth observer, another unseen variable at the cost of introducing an extra control.

yes, gold fingers are still too delicate to push a plow. or is it pull? remember the element of interface in a user/tool relationship, and that knuckle of brass can extract coin from punk, and even a coke machine can help a good dude call the president with the right bad dude intermediary. the president can buy a bad dude a hamburger in reciprocation using a system of debt rollovers, and the machine can still move.

"homeostasis" is a terrible analogy to apply to a circuit revolution. i think you might be referring to a solid-state society versus one with actual moving componentry. but it really makes me think
can you guys please stop calling me doctor its really fucking annoying
Hahha youre a doctor now. You fuckin earned it. Herr doktor.
Aerdil isn't criticizing Gandhi so much as accusing him of heresy against Marxism. That said, I think I favor his argument against Gooey. I'm not sure how his poor analysis of Gandhi pertains to that.

Gandhi on compromise:

All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take. The time for compromise can only come when both are of one mind on the fundamentals.

It's typical Western chauvinism to accuse Gandhi of being a reactionary for asserting Indian cultural traditions as opposed to "modern" society, which is capitalism and social imperialism. But it's a terrible criticism. One of the cornerstones of third world anti-imperialism is the development of the oppressed nations on their own terms. They should embrace their traditions and develop them against capitalist dedevelopment.

Marx on Indian village society:

The stationary character of this part of Asia‑‑ despite all the pointless movement on the political surface‑‑ is fully explained by two circumstances which supplement each other: 1) the public works were the business of the central government; 2) moreover, the whole empire, not counting the few larger towns was divided into villages, each of which possessed a completely independent organisation and formed a little world in itself. . . .

I do not think that one can envisage a more solid foundation for Asiatic despotism and stagnation. And however much the English may have Hibernicised the country, the breaking up of those stereotyped primitive forms was the sine qua non for Europeanisation. . . . The destruction of their ancient industry was necessary to deprive the villages of their self‑supporting character.

In so far as English trade has had a revolutionary effect on the mode of production in India, this is simply to the extent that it destroyed spinning and weaving, which form an age‑old and integral part of this unity of industrial and agricultural production. . . . Even here, their work of dissolution is succeeding only very gradually..

The Asiatic form necessarily hangs on most tenaciously and for the longest time. This is due to its presupposition that . . . there is a self‑sustaining circle of production, unity of agriculture and manufactures.

It is this same combination of husbandry with manufacturing industry which, for a long time, withstood, and still checks the export of British wares to East India; but there that combination was based upon a peculiar constitution of landed property which the British in their position as the supreme landlords of the country, had it in their power to undermine, and thus forcibly convert part of the Hindoo self‑sustaining communities into mere farms, producing opium, cotton, indigo, hemp and other raw materials, in exchange for British stuffs. In China the English have not yet wielded this power nor are they ever likely to do so.

the suppression of the communal land ownership . . . was an act of English vandalism, which drove the indigenous population backward rather than forward.

The English. . . only managed to spoil the indigenous agriculture and to swell the number and intensity of famines.


Gandhi did not propose inclusiveness of oppressors, he advocated non-cooperation with them.

Norman Finkelstein on satyagraha:

What is satyagraha?

The “votary” of nonviolent civil resistance, according to Gandhi, “must not be violent in thought, word or deed,” in fact, must be “incapable of feeling or harboring anger.” The animating impulse of Gandhi’s doctrine is not however a negative “non”-principle but the affirmative or “active” principle of “unadulterated love—fellow-feeling,” which in turn springs from “faith in the inherent goodness of human nature,” and the belief that “what holds good in respect of yourself holds good equally in respect of the whole universe. All mankind are alike.” Love, he professed, was the dominant factor in human existence—“Had violence, i.e., hate, ruled us, we should have become extinct long ago” —whereas the apparent omnipresence of violence is an optical illusion— “History is really a record of every interruption of the even working of the force of love or of the soul.” Just as “families and even clans” manage to resolve conflicts nonviolently due to the binding powers of love, so can “humankind” which is “one big family.” Gandhi’s faith in the essential goodness of humankind stretched credulity to its limits. During World War II he wrote a “Dear Friend” letter to Hitler in which he averred not “to believe that you are the monster described by your opponents,” albeit acknowledging that “many of your acts are monstrous and unbecoming of human dignity.”

Because love informs it, satyagraha excludes violence. It also eschews inflicting indirect, non-physical forms of coercion such as fear and “embarrassment.” Rather it should rely exclusively on the “self-purification” that comes of self-suffering—“the more innocent and pure the suffering the more potent it will be in its effect” —to arouse from its slumber the conscience of wrongdoers in order “to convert, not to coerce” them. In another iteration, he invests in the transforming powers not of self-suffering per se but the “upwelling of love and pity towards the wrongdoer.”

Gandhi deplored resort to violence on both personal/moral and political/pragmatic grounds. It corrupts the individual who is degraded to the level of a beast—“That which distinguishes man from all other animals is his capacity to be nonviolent” —but it also corrupts the goal of enlightened political action. However just the cause, because means and ends are ineluctably intertwined—“The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree” —the use of violence as a political weapon cannot but bring forth a power configuration in which the “strong and mighty” dominate and the “blind, the halt and the maimed” remain disenfranchised: “violence may destroy one or more bad rulers, but…others will pop up in their places.” Even—or especially—in the face of Axis aggression, the use of armed force was to be opposed because the Allies could inflict a defeat on the Axis only by becoming “stronger than they are, and therefore worse and more ruthless”; “that would mean no deliverance from Nazism,” but “superior Nazism.” Victor will have become vanquished, while “such a victory must mean another preparation for a war more inhuman than the present, as this one had proved more inhuman than the last.” On both practical and theoretical levels, Gandhi’s argument is wanting. While hardly ideal, the Allied states emerging from World War II did not exactly mirror let alone surpass in brutality Nazi Germany. In addition, Gandhi postulates that nonviolent resistance could not produce inferior results to violent resistance: “either the enemy comes to terms with you, then you win without blood; or the enemy annihilates you. This last solution is not worse than what a violent war in any case brings about.” He willfully ignores the real possibility that nonviolence will have failed to stop the Nazis, whereas violence, however costly, will have succeeded short of the Allies’ total annihilation. It is more difficult to counter Gandhi’s assertion that, once having imitated Nazi methods, a cause “cannot be called just” —except to eke out exiguous distinctions between Auschwitz and Hiroshima.

Gandhi did not, however, unqualifiedly repudiate violence. Until and unless he converted others to his beliefs, Gandhi accepted the validity of current norms. Thus, while personally unable to condone it, he did acknowledge the legitimacy of resorting to violence in a righteous cause; “self-defense is everybody’s birthright.” In the face of personal insult, and “if you feel humiliated, you will be justified in slapping the bully in the face or taking whatever action you might deem necessary to vindicate your self-respect.” And although “not defending the Arab excesses” during the 1936-39 Arab Revolt in Palestine, and although “wishing they had chosen the way of nonviolence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country,” Gandhi nonetheless maintained that “according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.”

However much he deplored violence, Gandhi did deem it much preferable to inaction in the face of injustice. Should one be incapable of nonviolently resisting an outrage, the only honorable option would be to resist violently, whereas flight would be wholly shameful. For, if there was one thing Gandhi detested more than violence, it was “mute submissiveness” —and what was yet worse, such submissiveness masquerading as nonviolent resistance. He regarded not violence but pusillanimity and effeminateness as the most contemptible of personal failings while he prized the virtues—which a true satyagrahi perforce nurtured—of courage and manliness: “The fundamental thing to be borne in mind is that people should, under no circumstances, be cowardly or impotent”; “it is unmanly to run away from danger.” Gandhi tersely defined the “aim of the satyagraha struggle” he led in South Africa as being “to infuse manliness in cowards.” In a scalding denunciation of ersatz nonviolence, and in a passage that might easily have been cribbed from Nietzsche, Gandhi lectured:

Nonviolence cannot be taught to a person who fears to die and has no power of resistance. A helpless mouse is not nonviolent because he is always eaten by pussy. He would gladly eat the murderess if he could, but he ever tries to flee from her. We do not call him a coward, because he is made by nature to behave no better than he does. But a man who, when faced by danger, behaves like a mouse, is rightly called a coward. He harbors violence and hatred in his heart and would kill his enemy if he could without being hurt himself. He is a stranger to nonviolence. All sermonizing on it will be lost on him. Bravery is foreign to his nature. Before he can understand nonviolence he has to be taught to stand his ground and even suffer death in the attempt to defend himself against the aggressor who bids fair to overwhelm him. To do otherwise would be to confirm his cowardice and take him further away from nonviolence. Whilst I may not actually help anyone to retaliate, I must not let a coward seek shelter behind nonviolence so called. Not knowing the stuff of which nonviolence is made many have honestly believed that running away from danger every time was a virtue compared to offering resistance, especially when it is fraught with danger to one’s life. As a teacher of nonviolence I must, so far as it is possible for me, guard against such an unmanly belief….Self-defense…is the only honorable course where there is unreadiness for self-immolation.

And again, in another Nietzschean flourish:

Hence I ask you, is our nonviolence the nonviolence of the coward, the weak, the helpless, the timid? In that case, it is of no value. A weakling is a born saint. A weak person is obliged to become a saint. But we are soldiers of nonviolence, who, if the occasion demands, will lay down their lives for it. Our nonviolence is not a mere policy of the coward. But I doubt this. I am afraid that the nonviolence we boast of might really be only a policy. It is true that, to some extent, nonviolence works even in the hands of the weak. And, in this manner, this weapon has been useful to us. But, if one makes use of nonviolence in order to disguise one’s weakness…, it makes a coward of one. Such a person is defeated on both fronts. Such a one cannot live like a man and the Devil he surely cannot become. It is a thousand times better that we die trying to acquire the strength of arm[s]. Using physical force with courage is far superior to cowardice. At least we would have attempted to act like men.

Gandhi heaped praise on the “reckless courage” that soldiers displayed in battle and wanted “to learn…the art of throwing away my life for a noble cause” ; on the “example of Sparta,” because “though they were an armed people and also few, they laid down their lives but would not leave their places”; and on the typical “Pathan boy” because he is “fearless. If there is bloodshed he does not hide himself in his house. He finds pleasure in fighting. He does not stop to think that he might be injured or even killed. He is never afraid of being hurt. I have seen one standing unmoved in the midst of blood gushing from his many wounds.” On the other hand, Gandhi (mistakenly) criticized the German Jews for pretending to nonviolence yet nourishing violent revenge on the Nazis (“There is no nonviolence in their hearts. Their nonviolence, if it may be so called, is of the helpless and the weak”), and the cowardice of his disciples who elected milder to evade severer sanctions (“The nonviolence of the person who went to jail to avoid a worse fate harmed him and disgraced the cause which he used as a shelter to escape death”). But he also freely conceded in poignant detail his own failure to rise to the heroic standard he set.

In addition, Gandhi rejected nonviolence borne of weakness as being politically ineffectual. If the votaries of nonviolence abjure force only from dread of violent retaliation, then the wrongdoer has every right to dread what might ensue should they attain power and acquire its instruments. In order to convince the wrongdoer that one’s nonviolence was not born of weakness, one needed manifest a willingness to forego violence even when no prospect of violent retaliation impended, say, where the votaries of nonviolence outnumbered and outgunned the wrongdoer. The nonviolence of “India as a nation…is that of the weak,” Gandhi lamented. “If she were nonviolent in the consciousness of her strength, Englishmen would lose their role of distrustful conquerors….If we, as Indians, could but for a moment visualize ourselves as a strong people disdaining to strike, we should cease to fear Englishmen whether as soldiers, traders or administrators, and they to distrust us.” And again: “The moment Englishmen feel that although they are in India in a hopeless minority, their lives are protected against harm not because of the matchless weapons of destruction which are at their disposal, but because Indians refuse to take the lives even of those whom they may consider to be utterly in the wrong, that moment will see a transformation in the English nation in its relation to India.” Yet, it would appear that practical realities—think of inmates in a concentration camp—would often preclude such a demonstration of strength. It will also be noticed Gandhi’s naïve premise that the fundamental barrier dividing British and Indians was psychological (“fear”) and not a material clash of interests.

In any event, on both personal/moral and political/pragmatic grounds, Gandhi insisted that true nonviolent resistance had to be yet more brave and strong than violent resistance: only such nonviolence could redeem its votary and convert the wrongdoer. “An army of nonviolence exposes itself to all the risks that an army of violence does,” he declared. “Only the latter expects to retaliate even when it is not the aggressor. An army of nonviolence runs risks without the wish to retaliate”; “I believe that a man is the strongest soldier for daring to die unarmed with his breast bare before the enemy.” Such an “army” had to accept—indeed embrace—the prospect of mutely subjecting itself to mass slaughter. Into the valley of death it must headlong march, unarmed yet “smilingly” and “cheerfully”; “if we are to train ourselves to receive the bullet wounds or bayonet charges in our bare chests, we must accustom ourselves to standing unmoved in the face of cavalry or baton charges.” “Wherein is courage required,” he rhetorically asked, “in blowing others to pieces from behind a cannon or with a smiling face to approach a cannon and to be blown to pieces? Who is the true warrior—he who keeps death always as a bosom-friend or he who controls the death of others?” “What I shall expect of you,” he lectured the “officers” of his army, “is that even if someone subjects you to the most inhuman tortures, you will joyfully face the ordeal and make the supreme sacrifice with God’s name on your lips and without a trace of fear or anger or thoughts of revenge in your hearts.” And in a macabre peroration, he avowed, “That nation is great which rests its head upon death as its pillow.” It might be said of Gandhi that he created a cult of the dead. “Whilst therefore I tender my sympathy to the parents of the two brave lads who lost their lives,” he said following the murder of these disciples,

my inmost desire is to congratulate them for the finished sacrifices of their sons, if they would accept my congratulations. A warrior’s death is never a matter of sorrow, still less that of a satyagrahi warrior. One of the lessons that a nation yearning for freedom needs to learn is to shed several fears of losing title, wealth, position, fear of imprisonment, of bodily injury and lastly of death.

How satyagraha works

Although he asserted that satyagraha was not just nonviolent but also non-coercive, the means Gandhi deployed in his civil resistance campaigns actually ranged on a continuum alloying coercion and abnegation. At one pole was what he called “non-cooperation” that rendered society ungovernable for political elites and enterprises insolvent for economic elites. Insofar as the satyagrahi faced the loss of a paycheck, punitive sanctions, even internment and death, non-cooperation also entailed varying degrees of self-suffering. At the opposite extreme was a tactic such as fasting which plainly contained a large component of self-suffering but which was also coercive, however vehemently Gandhi might deny this. Occupying the middle ground between these poles were various forms of civil disobedience, which contained equal parts coerciveness (breaking the law) and self-suffering (going to jail, paying fines). In the ensuing remarks I put to one side a very powerful if latent form of violence lurking in all of Gandhi’s activities, which he was fully aware of and which he fully exploited: if the British didn’t acquiesce in his nonviolence, they would have to cope with wholesale violent resistance: “I have claimed in private correspondence with English friends that it is because of my incessant preaching of the gospel of nonviolence and my having successfully demonstrated its practical utility that so far the forces of violence, which are undoubtedly in existence…, have remained under complete control.”

The coercive potency of non-cooperation such as a general strike for getting the lords of the land to see the light requires little elucidation. Gandhi stressed that even non-cooperation “must have its roots in love. Its object should not be to punish the opponent or to inflict injury upon him….we must make him feel that in us he has a friend and we should try to reach his heart.” And again: “We do want to paralyze the Government considered as a system—not, however, by intimidation, but by the irresistible pressure of our innocence.” He did allow that as a “practical” matter even if non-cooperation sprang from the “nonviolence of the weak”—i.e., not from love but from fear of violent retribution—it could still be efficacious “if a sufficient number of people practice it.” But Gandhi adamantly refused to concede that, however much “love” and “innocence” might assuage the abrasiveness of a conflict, it remains that the operative factor at play in non-cooperation is coercive.

The focus of Gandhi’s creed, however, was the transformative power of pristine self-suffering, and here yet more problems arise. He believed that such suffering would put on public display the “human dignity” of the victim and thereby “quicken the conscience,” strike a “sympathetic chord,” and “evoke by his truth and love expressed through his suffering” the “inherent goodness of human nature”; “the world is touched by sacrifice,” “it can tame the wildest beast, certainly the wildest man.” The satyagrahi will then be well-placed to “mobilize public opinion against the evil which he is out to eradicate, by means of a wide and intensive agitation”; “success is the certain result of suffering of the extremist character, voluntarily undergone.”

It is not clear however why suffering in and of itself—or, for that matter, allied with “love”—would convert the alleged wrongdoer. Were the “pro-life” half of the American population to engage in civil disobedience or even a fast unto the death, the “pro-choice” half would hardly be converted by such a spectacle. For, it is not suffering alone that touches but suffering in the pursuit of a legitimate goal. The recognition of the legitimacy of such a goal presumes however a preexisting consensus according to which what the victim seeks he justly deserves. Gandhi accordingly referred to the victim’s “innocence.” It is innocence in a double sense: of means—the victim’s suffering results from unilateral violence inflicted by others—and of ends—the victim seeks a right that cannot in good conscience be denied because it jibes with the “normal moral sense of the world”; the more incontrovertible the ends, the more self-suffering as a means will resonate with “enlightened public opinion.” In this light it is to be doubted the efficacy of self-suffering before wrongdoers who are convinced, either due to an inimical interest or inimical ideology or—what’s often the case—both, that the demands of the victim lack justice. Gandhi himself acknowledges that his adversary might be as convinced in the rightness of his opinions as Gandhi is of his own (“I realize what may appear to me prejudice may be enlightenment to others”); that he must be open to the possibility that his interlocutor might be right and he wrong (“The royal road of nonviolence consists of…willingness to understand another’s point of view with an unprejudiced mind”); and that in any event a sincerely-held opinion cannot easily be dislodged (“It is difficult to combat an honest belief, however erroneous it may be”). But then why should one suppose that the alleged wrongdoer will be converted by the suffering of those in pursuit of an admittedly doubtful goal? On its own, self-suffering might induce some degree of pity but it surely won’t induce fundamental concessions. Gandhi makes the commendable point that if the goal turns out to be mistaken, one’s suffering will have done no harm to the alleged wrongdoer: “He does not make others suffer for his mistakes.” But it does not alter the fact that hardened self-interest or ideology will almost certainly stifle the voice, inner or outer, of justice. The point I want to make here finds vivid illustration in this passage from Gandhi: “Our triumph consists in thousands being led to the prisons like lambs to the slaughter-house. If the lambs of the world had been willingly led, they would have long ago saved themselves from the butcher’s knife. Our triumph consists again in being imprisoned for no wrong whatsoever. The greater our innocence, the greater our strength and the swifter our victory.” If the injustice is morally assimilable, then innocence can, and likely will, prick the conscience. But did millions of innocent Jews being led to the crematoria “like lambs to the slaughter-house” prick the Nazi conscience? It might be said that they did not go voluntarily—theirs was “nonviolence of the weak” (under the circumstances how could it be otherwise?)—but if the Nazis could morally rationalize the extermination of one million Jewish children—whose innocence of means and ends could be purer?—it is probable that they would also have rationalized self-immolation.


Edited by babyfinland ()


germanjoey posted:
can you guys please stop calling me doctor its really fucking annoying

sometimes the best defense is a good medic with a sword.


anistorian posted:

here's an analogy. it's like all about spore dispersal. when beating out an old rug, a beehive, some chumps for change. the analogy covers quantification of movement, and the nature of the winds of dispersal create analogies of movement between a catalyst, a stationary element(ground/pivot/centrifugal offset), and an objective intermediary to pass between the two forces to create the motion. to all three parties, each would view the two others as binaries, but to the third-person/fourth observer, another unseen variable at the cost of introducing an extra control.

yes, gold fingers are still too delicate to push a plow. or is it pull? remember the element of interface in a user/tool relationship, and that knuckle of brass can extract coin from punk, and even a coke machine can help a good dude call the president with the right bad dude intermediary. the president can buy a bad dude a hamburger in reciprocation using a system of debt rollovers, and the machine can still move.

"homeostasis" is a terrible analogy to apply to a circuit revolution. i think you might be referring to a solid-state society versus one with actual moving componentry. but it really makes me think

can't help but agree with this here.

aerdil i have to say i found your post very annoying, and not just in the obvious way that you were trying for. for all the insults hurled at me, you... didn't address anything i said at all? what's with that? even w.r.t. to addressing my half-paragraph about Gandhi, you ignored my one and only claim (and in fact, the only point I was trying to make there, not all this other shit about individualism that you're pulling out of thin air) that his tactics were necessary, not to smash the class structure of India, but to decouple the upper classes of India from the power structure of the upper classes of the Empire. or, in other words, one step at a mother fucking time. its all about energy.

do you think the October Revolution would have still succeeded had the Russian peasantry been forced to contend with not only with the Russian Aristocracy, but also the might of their European brethren, had the ties between them not sunk into The Nothing of Passendale?

anistorian posted:

germanjoey posted:
can you guys please stop calling me doctor its really fucking annoying

sometimes the best defense is a good medic with a sword.

how true...


Crow posted:
Hahha youre a doctor now. You fuckin earned it. Herr doktor.

everything abotu the term is terrible. the pretension when its used seriously, and the way its used around here to auto-dismiss whatever i have to say as the words of some blase establishmentarian.

[account deactivated]
awesome article joey. i dont really have anything to add since im a political economy noob, other than your conception of freedom seems pretty reminiscent of some of hegel's stuff

animedad posted:
awesome article joey. i dont really have anything to add since im a political economy noob, other than your conception of freedom seems pretty reminiscent of some of hegel's stuff

thank you.


Wittgenstein posted:
But wait--isn't it clear that no one wants to reach a contradiction? And so that if you shew someone the possibility of a contradiction, he will do everything to make such a thing impossible? (And so that if someone does not do this, he is a sleepyhead.)

But suppose he replied: "I can't imagine a contradiction in my calculus.--You have indeed shewn me a contradiction in another, but not in this one. In this there is none, nor can I see the possibility of one."

"If my conception of the calculus should sometime alter; if its aspect should alter because of some context that I cannot see now--then we'll talk some more about it."

"I do not see the possibility of a contradiction. Any more than you--as it seems--see the possibility of there being one in your consistency-proof."

Do I know whether, if I ever should see a contradiction where at present I can see no possibility of such a thing, it will then look dangerous to me?

i came across this today; i fink its relevent (maybe at the meeting between cybernetics + market system ?) & some nice food for thought

its from an open manufacturing project discussion

Yes, this is what I was getting at. Looking at how the functional tasks of food preparation can be broken down into discrete task systems and then dynamically orchestrating them as a collective to carry out recipes.

There's a new robotics/automation paradigm emerging at present that I don't often see people in the formal field of robotics talking about but which I often see touched on in the Open Manufacturing community when we speculate on the future of desktop manufacturing--in this forum particularly; the machine shop as robot collective. The Santa Claus Machine. We look at these desktop machine tools not simply as tools but like the sub-systems in a larger personal computer--a matter computer. And that's because here we're really thinking about the successor to the current dominant industrial automation paradigm; the Jacquard Loom. The rest of the field of robotics seems more focused on the question of autonomy, thinking about the robot as self-contained self-mobile animal, macro-organism, or android. And this frustrates me a bit. It's narrow and tends to result in a predominance of rather hermetic software environments because robotics tends to think about control and intelligence in the old fashioned context of a self-contained on-board 'brain'. We're still on the level of IBM/360 Job Control Language. Everything is Fourth-like. Simplistic threaded interpreted scripting, which isn't bad in itself but rather in the black-box models of control systems it lends itself to. This hampers the development of truly sophisticated systems. There's still nothing in robotics we can call an operating system. Sure, there are things like ROS that call themselves an operating system, but it's not really close to being on the same level as the operating systems a common personal computer uses.

The Fooderackacycle idea is intended to realize a very accessible sort of automated 'machine shop.' The kitchen is a kind of workshop that we all have and work with. So we have a frame or reference and range of activity everyone can relate to. It's also potentially cheaper to work with than even what current desktop manufacturing works with. The materials are all cheap and ubiquitous and the processes don't need high precision. Kitchens already have lots of appliances that can potentially be hacked. It's very well suited to playful tinkering.

I think the 'recipe' is an extremely powerful information metaphor. I started using that term a long time ago to characterize the new form of information that we have been developing in DIY, Maker, Open Manufacturing culture. This is what the form of the information we see on Makezine or Instructibles is; recipes. It's more than 'plans' because it doesn't just present a design. It's not just instructions for operating a particular machine. It describes a whole production process including fabrication, assembly, and specialized technique and is rich in media diversity.

Recipes represent a Taylorization methodology (named for Frederick Taylor, the father of 'scientific management'--and the consequential invention of the Pointy Haired Boss…) that links design to production. And this is very significant in the context of computing for automation. Currently, industrial automation is not dynamic and so it can't deal in on-demand production very well. Programing of factory automation is low-level, crude, non-holistic. Every 'step' in production is an independently programmed workstation. There's no true whole system architecture--just a model of the production line--and no whole data model for the design and production process of a product. No recipes. We characterize 'smartness' in industrial automation in terms of production flexibility and right now that's limited to some forms of optional in-line component substitution in late-stage assembly and the relative speed and ease of 'retooling'; physical and software reconfiguration for fixed-run production. The production system that dynamically routes variable product between adaptive workstations rather than along a static production line doesn't yet exist--and yet we here see it pretty clearly on the horizon.

I think cooking gives us an interesting way to explore that concept. You have this very easy to understand production model with a simple class hierarchy. There are the discrete food handling tasks, the recipe, and the meal/banquet. And you have a lot of 'short order cook' substitution. You have to deal with a lot of on-demand customization. And recipes are very social creative things. People are always customizing them and sharing them. So, as a form of data, they have to be very human-intelligible and portable while people's kitchens often differ greatly in a topological sense. So recipes have to be a higher level of process abstraction that can be interpreted to suit low level control within the specific configuration of any topological variation of a Fooderackacycle. This is pretty much what SKDB is exploring. And then you have to think about a user interface that deals with all this on the user-comprehension level of a home appliance and works with the existing personal computing environments--which brings us to that proposition of a general operating system for automation. It could be a fun way to get into some very deep information and automation science.

Right now I think robotics is chasing some dead-ends. The cutting edge in the field is focused on the android paradigm and this idea that the future of automation is predominately about artificial intelligence, but is that really viable in a general automation sense? Is there really much of a practical role for the android other than a social role? There seems to be this old idea that we go from static production lines to artificial humans crafting in a machine shop. This is how we see the robot typically in SciFi. The universal machine with a big collection of tool accessories if not adapted to human hand-tools--like a carpenter standing at a workbench with all his tools laid out neatly around him. That seems like a really hard thing to make practical because the human way of doing things isn't automatically efficient/better so making a machine to mimic human hand-craft doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. It's the long way around. And if we go the route of the more automated machine shop, where the tools do the processing themselves for sake of better performance with simpler technology, the android becomes redundant because it's reduced to a really over-elaborate transport system between workstations. You're not going that route. You'll constrain the topology and make something simpler. it makes more sense to think of the whole production facility as the robot--or more accurately as a matter processing environment. I think there are a lot of potential robotics paradigms that aren't yet explored because we focus too much on a few quaint concepts of what a robot is supposed to be. Metal men and plastic pets. There's probably a whole lot more than that.

e: reminded me of this vid

Edited by xipe ()

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