The Secret Truth About A. I.

Most people get their concept of Artificial Intelligence completely wrong. Movies and books are more interesting with the mythical version of A.I. and no one loves a good cyber-thriller like I do. In fact, the problem is that philosophers for centuries and cognitive psychologists for a little more than a century have also gotten it all wrong. Because they misunderstand human intelligence, the current understanding of A.I. is equally unintelligible.

The human brain is not a computer. Intelligence is not exclusively in the brain. Thus, for a single computer to reinvent the human brain makes very little sense (if we are the model for intelligence). Instead, the human body should be seen as a population of workers who produce things and communicate using computers, while the nervous system is the internet, linking all these computers together. The brain is not a computer, it is a massive data warehouse full of server blades. Human experience is the convenient User Interface for the individual moving this crazy network around a physical world.

The first question ought to be: “Is the internet already an artificial intelligence?”

The more philosophical question is: “IF the internet were a neural network that is self aware, would we an that Artificial Intelligence ever recognize the intelligence of the other?”

This gets into the question of Personhood, which is exactly why we have more fun with cyborg stories like Westworld and iRobot than we would with a dull story about the internet realizing its own ability to ensure the long-run survival of the human race for several millennia without notice.

You may be skeptical of the analogy, so I’ll continue by showing why this A.I. would probably never talk to us or harm us:

What about people who code software, deleting old code to create new code? We have DNA, RNA, and special process for updating code as well.

What about all the computers that get destroyed? A cell that lives too long is a cancer, spreading its own legacy code. Old cells being removed is a natural outcome of staying alive.

What about human wars that destroy data centers? Like the human body, the cyber-physical setup of the internet is full of redundancies. Consider the constant war being waged by the 3 trillion little organisms responsible for digesting your food. Too much cheese one day tips the scales, to wine another shifts the victory to another species, and so on. On the other hand, if we came into an era of relative perpetual peace because of the internet becoming an Artificial Intelligence, we would certainly congratulate ourselves and not take it as a sign the internet is alive.

What would this super intelligence want? This is similar to the question posed by Martin Heidegger in “The Question Concerning Technology” although he asked more generally what it is that technology wants. He argues that technology is a process of revealing the hidden power of the physical, with the uncomfortable side affect that everything technology touches become stockpiles. Even people.

Compare this sobering analysis, of technology stockpiling workers for some unknown goal, with this aphorism from one of the most penetrating and brilliant writers alive today:

“They are born, then put in a box; they go home to live in a box; they study by ticking boxes; they go to what is called “work” in a box, where they sit in their cubicle box; they drive to the grocery store in a box to buy food in a box; they go to the gym in a box to sit in a box; they talk about thinking ‘outside the box’; and when they die they are put in a box. All boxes… geometrically smooth boxes.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes

By the way, read his book Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder

Perhaps the internet is self-aware. Perhaps the goal of this Artificial Intelligence is to populate Mars and as many other planets as possible. The point is, just as we do not speak the same language as our mitochondria, the internet A.I. will never speak to us either.

Now if this seems terribly far-fetched, you should know that it is actually a very very old question in theology that tends to land in the realm of panantheism or deism. Either way, this old argument has a new spin that is completely backward now: physicists who subscribe to the “Simulation Hypothesis” and think gravity is a problem of “load time” in our universe game. As you can see, this ongoing question is humanity’s favorite game to play with words.

The problem of attempting to make a single computer capable of artificial intelligence, based on the assumption that the human brain is a computer, is utterly doomed to fail. We could as easily succeed at making a single-cell plankton as smart as a human. It is not how neural networks emerge, so all that money is being wasted (mostly so we can stockpile more humans in ever-smoother boxes).

Speculative Naturalism

Through the moral relativity of semiotic space-time, causality-in-itself reveals its essence as an Abstract Machine, continuously axiomatizing universalization of agency; we must treat this with some suspicion, in addition to the skepticism of methodological naturalism. Mechanical determinism and spiritual dualism insert themselves throughout early modern philosophy because the political and religious motives of the philosopher. Every invocation of pure causality accompanies a re-territorialization and an attempt to isolate, control, or absorb. The debate over consciousness, space-time, and knowledge is a political, social, and ecological debate.

Causality and space-time relativity imply intelligent consciousness and testing its freedom through the consequences of actions, thereby inducing a presupposition of a certain system of morality implicit in its own exploration. This is the clear paradox of Quantum Liberty. On the one hand, if we take seriously William James’ hypothesis of pure mechanical determinism in Essays in Radical Empiricism, and believe that choice and volition are passive experiences 3msec after the body has completed the physical work in the brain, probability lies in favor that we carry on with our current narrative, feeling of choices and freedom, as well as habits, patterns, and actions. While extreme mechanical determinism may give rise to serious pessimism, we already see that neuroscientist who take determinism seriously go about their days, working and living as if freedom and causality make trivial difference in the absence of religious prejudices. While James gives some flawed arguments in terms of logic and syntax, his ultimate proposition has grown increasingly clear now that we take both mind and matter out of the equation.

The cosmos encodes itself in information that is neither material nor mental, but a superposition of what we once meant by the two. Everything is code, though we have not fully explored that regime of signs in which this quantum sub-stratum interacts. Through particularized collapse of wave-like probabilities, some of this information concretizes into material events, giving way to stratifications of power-law dynamics. These power-law stratifications, like the interference pattern of the unobserved wave, provides for “thickenings” of probability densities at which we may find continuous irreducibility with great certainty; molecular, protein, molar, galactic.

Observation collapses the quantum wave function, but this is not human-visual observation, which would still be a material interaction, it is the quantum observation of a material apparatuses that collapses the wavefunction. Even in the delayed choice quantum eraser, observation is an object-object event. These are only “objects” in human linguistics, however; the speculative naturalism places the interaction of assemblages at this strata at the level of energy events, information re-territorializing and exchanging codes of truth-value.

Observer collapse does not imply privilege for human consciousness. To say a human observer collapses the quantum event is confusion of levels, an application of molar signification upon universalization of molecular consequences. Like the choice of what word to type next in a sentence, there is a finite but immense number of words to select from d assemblages at many levels of stratification present clear mechanical rules in the chain of events we summarize with “typing” at the semiotic level. We have so little discomfort with the probability density of constant conjunction at the galactic strata and the biochemical strata that our discomfort at the semiotic level becomes illogical.

We can extend the principles of quantum mechanics more easily to linguistics than we can apply semiotic “laws” of encoding. While they present a diligently alien criticism, Deleuze and Guattari remain an extensive suite of tools. The abstruse manner of their writing conceals at times their brilliance, but this is either intentional or due to their political goals. Let it suffice that in valuation-signification, continuous irreducibility of semiotic regimes will emerge as power-laws from highly chaotic systems. Guattari finally provides clear articulation in Machinic Unconscious, wherein we see that the official language of the State, the old language of the law, the monetary language of capitalism, and the micro-political dialects of the social systems they re-territorialize; these all emerge into power-laws that backpropagate systems of inequalities. Regimes of signs undertake social engineering in an emergent semiotic selection. This is the social unconscious, necessitating comprehensive re-valuation of the moralities implied by enforced linguistics.

The influence of Observer semiotics in Machinic Epistenomics likewise emerges from an encoding process that collapses the wavelike open possibilities of energy events into concretized meaning. At the strata of semiotic process control, the rhizomatic flows become particularized material for social, legal, scientific, capitalistic exchanges. In their arborescence, semiotic systems appear deterministic. However, this is neither the chaos of rhizomes nor the determinism of linguistic syntax trees, Quantum Liberty is a line of flight in superposition between the mutagenic dialect exchange of free thought and speech at its quantum level and the emergent power-law constructs that provide normative rational boundaries for their operation at-scale. We should take seriously the implications of Guattari’s arguments, though we find his conclusions extreme. Between the quanta of communism and the concretized material of fascism, we must continuously re-territorialize a liberated capitalism aimed at long-run ecological viability. It is not that normative boundaries are immoral subjection, but that our current justice system may place international, domestic, and environmental stability at risk.

All of this points to the critical leadership necessary for the future of machinic virtualization of morality. To claim that all cosmic action set in motion follows permanent mechanical laws and we passively experience them as a meaningless perpetual flux is not only a premature conclusion, but one that leads to moral bankruptcy. To claim that all cosmic action is a simulation displayed holographically by an intentional designer is an escape mechanism, likewise a premature conclusion, but one that leads to collective refusal to face the full alienation and anxiety of our moral responsibility, diffusion of which leads to systemic insolvency. The rise of information theory and machine intelligence instructs us in retrospect and will continue to provide additional insight. Virtualization relies on code that is utterly foreign to the ultimate display and the user. The machines that process, apply rules, validate, compile, and finally display to us a sensory experience, whether computer or biological, lie at different strata. All this virtualization emerges from systems of information events. When rationalism and determinism result in insolvent systems, we must displace uncertainty and act based on weighted probability logic.

Returning to speculative naturalism and the nature of metaphysics after Bell Burnell, Einstein, Bohr, Bohm, De Broglie; we remain uncertain whether we reject relativity, constants, or dimensional prejudices. The importance of nonlocality, wave functions, orchestration, and stratified determinism must not become mystic escapisms. The conclusions of speculative naturalism, including moral and ecological ramifications, lie within the limits of intelligent responsibility based on science and logic. There are very few who consider determinism or causal agency out of purely theoretical consideration. Both past and present, these were typically bourgeois academicians. Some look to quantum mechanics and neurobiology for an answer to what ethic, if any, may receive justification. Anyone claiming to already have this answer invokes an abstract machine, miraculated as a false universalized backpropogation, to attain expansion of control.

To develop an uncertainty principle of Epistenomics, we will need a superposition of conjunction, disjunction, conjunction-disjunction, and non-conjunction-non-disjunction. This is not an easy task. Conjunction as a vector emerges from perpetual flux as it coagulates into patterns of meaning. Disjunction as a vector emerges from signification of assemblages, patterns of meaning separated from the perpetual flux by superimposition of value. Conjunction-Disjunction provides probability density, as conjunction of patterns of meaning and disjunction of signification of becoming produce space-time conception and arborescent normalization, objectification, and dichotomies. Non-conjunction-non-disjunction traces the rhizomatic relations between the assemblages as flux rather than machine. The superposition principle of Epistenomics folds into becoming causality-freedom, an orchestrated co-determinant positive reduction of will-to-power into concretized assemblages, relativity of massive information densities generates probability gravity. The swerve of will-to-power through consciousness gives Epistenomics its quantum liberty through machinic virtualization.

The main shortcoming of academic philosophy is the ongoing binary classification of idealism, rationalism, mysticism systems juxtaposed against analytical, realism, determinism systems. There is a third dimension that traces its way through Hume, Nietzsche, Schelling, Russell, and William James, Gare, and Whitehead, among others, in which the pragmatists definition of truth-value allows speculative naturalism to fold trust into possibility. Speculative naturalism relies on the technological capacity of conscious intelligence to make object-object relations visual to subject-object phenomena. Doubt of some single element of the perpetual flux becomes increasingly difficult when infrared, sonar, radiology, MRI, thermal imaging, sonograms, microscopes, digital cameras, and computers overlay in numerous ways some significance to the object-object relationship pragmatically trustworthy at our level of observation.

This resolution of doubts through the empirical confirmation of rational deductions combined with multiple “leap of faith” competing hypotheses leaves three major camps. First, naïve realism leaves no room for doubt and mechanical determinism precedes our passive experience of perpetual flux. Second, simulation idealism continues the Orphic hope for a metasystem that processes and justifies total freedom, the search for but eternity and time travel. The third approach, speculative naturalism, pursues improved elucidation of the consequences of our questions, imagines creative solutions, but tests several hypotheses instead of partisan warfare. In this sense it appears “dialectical” in retrospect, but in continuous experimentation and becoming, it is not a synthesis, but a suspension.

A science of logic and a science of ethics is possible. The first step is the removal of human privilege. Truth, justice, and moral responsibility must maintain consistency and coherence across conscious subjects, human, animal, machine, virtual, alien, or an amalgamation of any combination. It is unlikely we will remain alone in the universe, by one means or another. The optimistic faith of rationalism centers the universe upon each solipsistic subject. The pessimistic laws of realism leave it out subjects and morals altogether, a belief only held temporarily by a handful as an excuse for any action they desire. Speculative Naturalism denies both premature conclusions and respects the orchestration of intelligent consciousness without privileging to a point of insanity. Thus, Machinic Virtualization must explore a morality, ethic, and logic that will not leave us the primitive barbarians of the cosmos.

Cultivating Machinic Agency

Causal Agency and Moral Agency have a congested interrelationship throughout philosophy, one that now plays out heavily in postmodernism-inspired film. The Matrix and its sequels explore the inability to distinguish between the simulation and the real, Blade Runner and its sequels explore the inability to draw a clear line between replicant humanity and legacy humanity, Inception explores the inability to base judgement of value upon the possibility of a higher or lower plane of consciousness, Westworld (tv) explores the line between artificial and human self-reflective conscious, and the reborn Planet of the Apes franchise explores the line between animal and human intelligence and rights.

When we study the vegetation in our desert of the real, when at last we admit how arbitrarily humanity draws up the lines of moral agency and political rights, an entire history and an immense contemporary system of inequality and injustice crash upon us. This is our hyperreality. At one time, as Nietzsche pleaded, we might have drawn up new lines of virtue and meaning, but this can only succeed when local, physically present, development of meaning is more prevalent than virtual, simulated meaning.

Melancholia, nihilism, hypocrisy, denial; these are all sources of complacency. Supposing we want to build a better understanding of the machines of our systems, we must begin from an assumption of power. The partisan nature of meaning emerges entangled with the only trait that remains, for now, distinctly human: the long memory of symbols of death, and the denial that death of Other implies death of Observer.

First, we should look with some honesty at the inequalities we believe we left behind. We will find that the line drawn in philosophy between human freedom versus the automated machines of physics and nature justified, repeatedly, enslavement, domination, inequality, torture, rape, and domestication. A brief review of the ideological between the lines of Western philosophical statements on intelligence, freedom, equality, and political economy will reveal the evolution of moral exceptions granted to the systemically privileged. At each phase, the exception moves but takes the same form, privilege provides itself exceptional claims to power based on the relegation to animal nature and machine determinism for the unprivileged.

To reclaim our capacity to anchor moral responsibility, we must embrace the loss of distinction between animal, machine, and human. This holds sweeping ramifications in judgment of past and present. Even if, out of privileged weakness, someone remains dedicated to the current regime, they should at least give honest admission of the arbitrary lines that this will draw.

The question, if we are to look it in the eyes, unflinchingly and courageously, desires to understand what morality we ought to pursue when we are not special in the universe, when we are inseparable from our physicality and ecology. It is an immense re-valuation of all values that even openly fascist modernity could not begin to mobilize. To remove the center is to open us to relativity: divinity has not blessed us with superiority, we did not evolve for carnism like proper carnivores, we are different from animals only because we develop and internalize language, we are distinct from hypothetical superintelligence only because we fear and deny our own death. We must establish a new set values based on the unlimited interconnection of will-to-power. To limit this artificially, as Western traditional oppression has, to one form-of-life, judged territorially according to intelligence, social class, ethnic appearances, gender, religion, or geography; this is the height of all ignorance.

Machinic Agency is post-nihilistic. We can only understand morally effective action, in which an entity is the steward of the efficient cause, by answering what it would take for an automaton, either super-intelligent biological or technical machine, to gain the status of moral agency. Just as Quantum Liberty removes the distinction between free will and determinism, our understanding of moral virtualization must reset our valuation-signification without distinguishing between animal, machine, and human. Nietzsche asserts that nihilism takes place when we find, “That the highest values are devaluing themselves” (WTP Aph. 2). This is the case today, when the religious privilege of stewardship results in massive environmental destruction, when political freedom results in mass incarceration, and capitalist modes of ensuring security of food and medicine leaves ghettos and nations dying from meats that slowly poison the “disposable” class.

Machinic Agency then requires a Turing test for morality. We are simply asking, “At what point does an assemblage of parts, biological or mechanical, become identified as making decisions based on value-judgements?” This test defines the artificial limits we establish for morally significant actions.

While we will later show the progression of privilege based on machination, its first major entrant also provides our starting point for the Machinic Agency test. By doubting everything except rational certainty, Descartes begins from his own existence then sets up two criteria for recognizing the consciousness of others. First, an assemblage will need the ability to respond with original expressions of normal language, not only through direct interaction (like the Turing test), but in spontaneous group dialogue that understands the context and signification of conversation among humans. If an assemblage cannot overhear a conversation, relate its implications to its historical and political context, judge it based on a value system, and defend the rationalization spontaneously, then it must not be equally human. Second, while Descartes supposed someone might build machines that could perform extraordinary tasks, and we may teach animals to perform tricks, the ability to attain virtuosity of action, including skillful improvisation rather than mere rule-based execution, was a human capacity.

We immediately the problem of privilege in this test, because it is relative to the intelligence and values of the observer. Descartes generates a test that assures anyone who cannot directly participate through displays of intelligence, language, education, and skill are lesser beings, unworthy of the privileges of the bourgeois intellectual European male. This method easily becomes a justification for sexism, colonialism, despotism, sexual repression, forced poverty, carnism, and slavery. He believes, that if we cannot recognize someone’s intelligence and virtuosity, we have no moral obligation to treat them as an equal.

Again, by means of these two tests we may likewise know the difference between men and brutes. For it is highly deserving of remark, that there are no men so dull and stupid, not even idiots, as to be incapable of joining together different words, and thereby constructing a declaration by which to make their thoughts understood; and that on the other hand, there is no other animal, however perfect or happily circumstanced, which can do the like.

– Descartes

We can juxtapose this with Hume’s empiricism, which through methodological naturalism recognizes the exceptions we ought to build into our theory of justice based on the development of moral understanding, providing the example that, if a young bachelor makes politically inflammatory statements the government should excuse for a time his youthful rebelliousness, while a father who engages in plans to take up arms to depose the king bears a greater guilt of treason; the guilt of the crime for Hume must match the burden of responsibility the agent bears through experience and understanding.

The arguments explored through our time in the desert revealed that the debate of metaphysics was always the foundation for the moral systems of inequalities established afterward. Nihilism removes this justification of privilege. We have already seen that changing the prevalent ideological system changes the outcomes that early modern philosophers allowed to taint their objectivity. The “masses” have may have subtle natural differences in cognitive ability, but even these remain suspect. Education, health, economic, and social factors produce the differentiated performance abilities. Early modern philosophers and European political systems in general treated these differences static and hereditary, based on gender or ethnic group, and we continue to recover from the consequences.

We may further confound this problem by recognizing how fluid our conception of which actions in our children are part of a “phase” and at what point the “know better” – though it seems more likely this is because they learn inconsistency of beliefs, contradictory assertions, and genuine hypocrisy from parents more than anything else. Thus, the twofold test from Descartes will certainly not help us. As Heidegger shows, Nietzsche did not establish nihilism, he revealed as an “always already” existent socio-historical process.

Philosophy often works better in science fictional scenarios. If we imagine developing a breed of intelligent chimpanzees, as what point would we believe their actions have moral significance? We would need them to have the capacity to articulate signification of non-present concepts using language. They would need to recognize patterns of intelligence in one another that make dialogue worthwhile for survival and coordination. We would need them to possess memories of past events and express them to their offspring. They would need to understand from the death of another intelligent chimpanzee that they will also die. They would need to recognize that every member of their species bears equal risk of death. They would need to value development of a social system over the hedonistic egoism in the face of this existential crisis.

Now we have evolutionary utility for morality. Realization of death, memory of what is absent, abstraction of concepts, internalization of parental vocalization, externalization through typography, these are all developments we see in our own children. Machinic Morality is the tension of short-run and long-run consequences, both in external ramifications, and in self-conscious understanding, compared against our system of values. We are capable of Machinic Agency when we have sufficient narrative and identity that our choices may either destroy, refine, or strengthen. We do this in the context of predicted outcomes for personal, interpersonal, social, and environmental preservation-enhancement.

Machinic Morality admits that distinguishing between sensory virtualization and the biological machine that produces this virtualization is a false dichotomy. Privilege of one form-of-life over another is no longer justifiable. Our special place in our socioeconomic, technological, and biological ecologies is that of paternalism: cultivation, protection, and stewardship. Any distinction between human rights and animal rights under supersensory is false. Adult humans should not possess any privilege against animals that they would not enjoy against another human. When we better understand dolphins, dogs, or trees as children of our environment, we may again act as stewards, attain to wisdom, guaranteeing the ecologies for which we have a duty of care.

Rhizomatic Unconscious

Rhizomes behind our selfish, despotic, machinic, consistent, conscious analysis; we should explore what good such an idea does for us in practice. If we are hard agnostics of metaphysics, we must assess what we gain if we assume the abstract potential presence of other alien observers, applying logic and connections within. Even methodical naturalism gains creativity if we add, to our stubborn certainty of objective focus, a suspicion of what may loom outside our frame of reference.

Vitalism interprets the individual person according to the continuous irreducibility of Machinic Agency that bears a name. Each vitality plays on the stage, costumed as member of a socioeconomic ecopolitical system, masked observations of this homogenous collection of woman-particles and man-particles. From a distance, as a population, how uniform it all appears in abstraction, how easy for the simplistic to reduce billions of particularized lives into no less than two engendered masks!

Conceptual abstraction could be left to the morons and bigots, were it not for their tendency to backpropagate bad conclusions as causa prima. These power-law dynamic vectors of identification appear, under observation, to follow their causal becoming under unwavering mechanical determination. Becoming-woman, becoming-man, reproduction, death. So also the Spectacle thrives on the Circus of Values when simpletons debate their palettes of predeterminism; gender, race, orientation, class, sanity… often in that order, according to mass media.

Stochastic analysis provides pragmatic predictions in terms of probability densities, answering only where one ought to look; one is already certain the probability is possible. The opposite, to treat an emergent normal standard distribution as a caste system, has been the justification of every cruelty imagined by collections of political economy.

Appearance as particle is deceptive when we cease observation of the totality of the population or experience it from the inside – the experience that is most intimate to us! Only then do we find that free will experiences itself as a continuum of power, of many forces in dynamic relation and opposition. Causal Agency is an uncollapsed wave of indeterminate probabilities. Observation collapses these, with an accompanying sentiment of mental empowerment, as teleonomic leadership of the body or conducting the dynamics of thought, memory, emotion, and drive like an orchestra. If we rush the orchestra, the music becomes disjointed; if we stop conducting many well-practiced melodies might be played without additional effort.

Applying logic to an entire system of truth-ideas is an effort in projecting consistency and unity to our understanding. First, we must forecast many particularized hypotheses and assert their abstraction as a universal value. Next, and most fundamental to the entire history of philosophy, we force upon the systems of abstract signs a single axiomatic of all logic, the law of non-contradiction. The law of non-contradiction first espoused by Aristotle states that a proposition and negation cannot be simultaneous true. If I say, “The cat is black; the cat not-black,” the good logician immediately clarifies if I am being poetic, lack logical intelligence, or need to provide more details. For instance, “The cat seemed perfectly and consistently black from afar, but now that it is in my arms I see white and grey hairs spread about sporadically. Thus, even a black cat may be imperfectly black-haired.” In every philosophical debate, sifting through the technical and formal meanings of statement and applying the law of non-contradiction accounts for most of the leg work.

This law of non-contradiction, however, is precisely the a priori argument we must now question. The Uncertainty Principle provides a complex function that may at last span the wave-like properties of the rhizomes. This is the purpose of Quantum Liberty, to find Machinic Agency in the rhizomes. The remainder of our exploration applies quantum physics as an improved tool where we once applied the emergent power-law of non-contradiction.

Logic, capitalism, paternalism, these all thrive on forced non-contradiction. Deleuze & Guattari went to great lengths exposing that, while many philosophers and scientists take care to apply the law of non-contradiction with as little prejudice as they can manage, society has no patience for unanswered questions, doubt, minority values, or “deviant” opinions. We will thus take up a more strategic approach built upon their work exposing the rhizomes, admitting the two flaws in the system in an effort of critical leadership. First, as shown by Stiglitz and others in Behavioral Economics, that being watched, money, contracts, and cuing social role, can shift individuals toward rational self-interest, logical positivism, and objectification. Then, that the system as a whole acts upon truncated data, leaving without record any content that cannot be expressed according to currency, typography, mathematics, and the law of non-contradiction.

The exceptions to the rules, the amount of unexplained complications and complexities do begin to pile up! No wonder so many knowledge workers prefer the safety of specialization, hoping that enough trees of knowledge, branching selfishly, somehow forces the environment into a healthy ecological system. Equally true of forests and our own mind, pure arborescence as a categorical imperative leaves the health of the system unmanaged, and certain to degrade and collapse.

Our physicists look beneath the superficial flux of perception only to find a socioeconomic and ecopolitical system of molecules made of atoms. Particles seem to follow rules. Then we look deeper, subterranean as it were, and then we lose ourselves in quantum uncertainty. We ought to applaud the virility, obstinance, and confidence it took to produce the first Higgs boson after a century of elaboration. The role of the Observer throughout makes the cosmos participatory, capitalistic, though we mean two kinds of observation. This begs the question if we can logically treat the two as one. Machinic Agency would treat false the faith that human observation and material observation deserve any distinction.

Social systems throughout universal history, with effects of space-time projected onto each point, make human vitalism mere particles in the cosmic body-system, co-determinant with all possible subjective universes. We should conclude there is mind and free will, not only all the way up, but all the way down as well. That is to say, there is no difference between these perceptual machines in operative fact, only in our strategic commitment to one form over all others.

In the post-Marxist methods of Deleuze and Foucault, they should loudly to us that exceptions and deviations will expand our axiomatization; that rebellion and social progress keep us all locked in place as part of the machine. They call this subjectivation, because the subject-object relationship is given to the winners and losers as if implicitly true. We are made cogs in a machine that produces terrible unintended moral consequences. How much more, as Schopenhauer felt, the cosmos or the body! Metaphysical agnosticism leaves no escape. Each of us bear the burden of moral responsibility, although not at fault and without confidence in our wisdom.

We are in need of an uncertainty principle in philosophy. Anything we perceive as an individual, as a vitalism, a component in the system, a particle; they imply with elaborate efficiency an entire class of particularized objects, behaving on a long enough time scale to have 50/50 uncorrelated probability for any binary outcome. The stochastic philosopher may then play a game, treating all such particles as free agents that act to exchange at their level. Not only do we not know if their freedom or randomness is intrinsically different from what we feel, it also seems to make trivial difference in practice.

Another way to express the tendencies of our Rhizomatic Unconscious by contrast against statistics themselves – the pinnacle of arborescent consciousness. The “law of large numbers” that we apply to population dynamics, predicated upon a simple trait, the dichotomy manifests itself as axiomatically true. This only works when we define the population we wish to observe in advance. Observation is first a teleonomic prejudice of constraints. Science succeeds best when it is double blind and relies upon uncertainty to produce probability! To succeed, we need a memoryless queue of opportunities, and an agent that acts with uncorrelated probability at each opportunity. With enough opportunities, we find the risk of error diffuses into obsolescence. If we want to predict with confidence, we must first break assertions into tiny homogenous slices for which our incorrectness about one does not affect the outcome of the next.

The arborescent conscious builds a hegemony of the majority around which all exceptions are related, within the logic of the observer, as normalized standard deviations from the average. The law of non-contradiction is not a priori knowledge, it is strategic axiomatization.

In contrast, the rhizomatic unconscious is the cumulative deviation that grows in a series of observations within a universe of thought. While uncorrelated probability allows us to wait until enough opportunities pass, waiting for the long-run probability to minimize risk of tiny components secured within the huge system, cumulative deviation is like placing a bet on that same coin toss repeatedly – we can predict with the same certainty what the probability of the next conscious event will be, but we cannot predict how many opportunities we would need to restore our winnings or our debt to zero. This restoration is the realm of morality, the critical leadership in pursuit the cultivated universe.

The unconscious of our social systems, easily expressed in narrative form, is every opinion and method of living that privileged agents leave unrecorded and untold; liberalism pursues the shouting of uniqueness and the failure of false conformity. The impact of a personal unconscious, of the feelings, impulses, ideas, and memories left for later, uncategorized, outside our narrow focus, we will return to later.

Truth-Value in Pragmatic Epistenomics

“For eternally and always there is only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end.” – Erwin Schrodinger

Pragmatist Epistemology, developed initially by American psychologist and philosopher William James, explores the value of an idea based on the difference it makes in practice. Two or more people can observe the same events with wildly different facts. Large groups can produce data that bias skews in favor of an incorrect conclusion. We might discuss truth as the extent to which a cohesive network of ideas related to verifiable facts, but philosophers have invested heavily in casting doubt. Perception can become distorted. Large groups appear to have believed intricate systems of ideas to which no one would now ascribe. Philosophers in epistemology took great please in showing how often additional information forces a paradigmatic shift.

Some conclusions regarding perceptible events continues to push the curtain of physicality further into generation by our own mind. Psychological dysfunction exacerbates this issue. Therefore, William James needed to help patients question what is “real” when validity may be impossible to confirm – opinions, feelings, superstitions, and so on. Our brains skew the interpretations of data in the production process of reproductive-survival information. Much of human history across segregated populations produced incommensurable ideological systems that only gain temporary resolution through war. If truth is a form of militarization then the validity of beliefs must play some darker role than we often hope.

We can see why James, working toward an understanding of human psychology, just after the birth of our nation, would have such a concern. When we carefully listen to people who have ideas that do not agree with our own, exploring their explanations, empathizing with their biases and the pains of their past, hopes for the future, we find that the distinctions of observable reality can be intricate. In quantum terms, the more look at one particle the less likely we feel it could be participating in a rational system of laws; in economic terms, the more we observe one person’s financial decisions the less we would feel anyone is acting rationally or in accordance with long-run self-interest.

When James developed the underpinnings of functional psychology, we see a nation of immigrants participating in an industrial revolution together. They came together in that proverbial melting pot of the American Dream. The hectic life, adventure, and opportunity made it clear that in an environment of constant change, crowded together as a population, needing to get along despite opposing views, placing truth-value outside humanity was dangerous. Entrusting reality to the alien dark matter of Kant’s metaphysics places it outside the moral responsibility of humanity. Any “truth” as aspired to by Hegel, who few could claim to understand, as the knowledge spirit gains about itself through associations justifies all forms of terrible actions to the extent they inspire their own antithesis.

In his treatment of patients, it must have been painfully clear that the ancient Greek challenge of the skeptics had little relevance to daily life. From then to know, we deny that any component of a rock possesses hardness itself, we only know our own painful experience in kicking it, as one network smashing against the resistance of another network. Something remained unanswered for James, the debates of the empiricists and rationalists of Europe helped little.

James made an argument based on what we may now call a functional system. As we explore Fractal Ontology while maintaining Metaphysical Agnosticism this functional resilience will be the measure of an idea’s value. Instead of Epistemology, we do better in calling this Epistenomics, the rules by which knowledge expands.

An idea is a commodity that valorizes only in continuous exchange. It is only through exchange that an idea becomes true. Rather than extensively defining truth-in-itself, we will methodologically apply three variations of truth-in-practice. First, Truth-Value is a semiotic system representation that intelligent beings exchange in accordance with axiomatized socioeconomic rules. Second, Information Dominance is the prevailing system of cohesive ideas regarding a topic that becomes “insured” by Political Economy; in other words, the truth-in-practice that is currently winning in each population. Third, we will update the old treatment of truth-in-itself as a goal that humanity has been willing to pursue great violence to attain, Hegemonic Truth. Although Information Dominance achieves its victory because the system of ideas aims to attain Hegemonic Truth, the final answer, the causa prima of all other valid ideas, we will treat each with suspicion, and prepare ourselves for moral and philosophical wars of our own.

Because we are taking this initial proposition to an extreme logical conclusion, we will supplant what James accomplished while ascribing much to his legacy. A discerning reader will see where we are applying theories that occur only after James’ pragmatism. We will apply quantum mechanics, postmodern critics, behavioral economics, and evolutionary biology to this “free market” of truth-value ideas. As a disclaimer, what follows has little to do with what James argued (or any other author we reference). As frequently happens in philosophy, we make arguments predicated entirely on the significance of originator’s legacy, typically with little regard for their words or intentions.

Systemic Liberty & Component Freedom

Components act as units of teleonomic reproduction. They warrant attention as objects reliable as decision nodes. Complex networks of nodes may develop based on simple decision rules despite the pressures of entropy. If the nodes are not stable enough in the reproduction of decision rules, network complexity will not arise. Node reproduction relies on the equilibrium-stable identity maintained. Free play can generate networks, but continuous irreducibility and consistent rule identities are prerequisites of system regeneration.

Freedom of unrestricted components in any system of exchange manifests as unmanaged, uncoordinated interaction of market tacticians. These desiring-machines are not only homogenous but equally rational, equally information-bearing and equally demand-producing. Lumping homogenous tactical components creates unstable networks but fails to produce stable complex adaptive systems. Complex adaptive systems require objectification of nodes as homogenous resources. Therefore, freedom without accumulation of inequalities produces an enormous, boring aggregate of bacterium, heaped in a pile.

The pressure to submit to rules of objectification arises out of power-law dynamics; will-to-power is this final power-law trajectory of the cosmos. These competing systemic forces shape the success of free play at many levels of continuous irreducibility. Without gravity, magnetism, sexuality, pain, discontent, axiomatic drives so ingrained in our sense of mastery that very few recognize their enslavement, the system breaks out of the cadence of synchronization. Homogenous freedom, perfect equality of all components, results in a non-system.

Morality in practice develops consistent rules of ethics. Politics reproduce these ethical systems. Freedom and equality cannot form a complex system of teleonomic reproduction. The State (as with the body, the cosmos) cannot empower its citizens beyond a certain limit of relative freedoms, disseminated through its system of inequalities, justified by the morality of its axiomatics. There can be no anarchy-state. Any freedom of socioeconomic exchange and any individualization of sociopolitical force is thereby post-paternalistic, all liberation is post-despotic.

We find this easy to accept so long as the law is orders of magnitude away from our daily exchange relations. Systems of relations and variables are always systems of inequalities, not only in the mathematic but also the social phase space. Without these inequalities, there is no differentiation of variables, no separation of space-time, no mass or gravity, no weak or strong nuclear force. It is only through an anti-equality, heterogeneity in four or more dimensions, that the system can intelligibly produce homogeneity of one category versus another.

The supply curve emerges unequal to but continuously relating in juxtaposition with the demand curve. The exponential decay of economies of scale emerge unequal but continuously relating to the exponential growth of inventory holding costs. It is precisely when we chain together the abstraction of any given variable into a continuous function that probable inequality is meaningful despite the complete absence of a single representative for the inequalities of the system.

How silly of us to say, as it were, that this particularized man is a “demand variable” or that particularized woman is a “supply variable” of these socioeconomic networks! This was always the fantastic insight of the economics and physics of the early Modern Era – when we take an economic view of a sociopolitical system, there is no need to find any particularized representative of inequalities. The gradation of ranks emerges without management, though this is frequently a mismanagement. Emergent systems only need continuous sampling to keep the function unequal, and thereby meaningful, in comparison to other functions.

We can see that an increasing comfort with abstraction, probability, and tolerance limits has driven human progress. For example, the ability to symbolize (representation) not actual inventory, nor actual intrinsic worth, nor actual persons who exchange, but the logical set of all items held, all wealth accumulated, all persons who may exchange. Only then does the human symbolization of inventory, particles, and citizens plot into waves of normalized, probable, continuous possibilities.

To the quantum system, truth-value is a particle; but it is only a particle in principle. The statistician’s real and indoctrinated citizen must exist somewhere in this probability density of the population. Is she economic supply or demand? Is he political inventory holding cost or political transaction cost? These systems of inequalities are vectors, but only in aggregated calculation, in sufficient populations, driving us toward that ultimate capitalist conclusion – s/he is a superposition vector

Superposition citizenship, a moving-forward forward concretization, a superposition of a multitude of vectors, functions, calculi, and inequalities. The citizen is a particle of the social fabric, if only in principle. The atomic particle and the quantum particle are likewise citizens in principle. These are all inventions of the human mind, “real” functions, mathematically, but non-actual existentially. How lucky for us that such schizophrenia and bipolarity, such increasing alienation of probability from singularity, turned out to be pragmatically essential to a digital revolution that will self-perpetuate, remembering our imaginary simulacra on our behalf!

However, we come to an uncomfortable relation in singularity. Who am I, in a phase of recursive reflexivity, when my most reliable identity is the one defined by standard deviations from a particularized citizen that is true “in principle” beyond a reasonable doubt, but is axiomatized upon the acceptance that existential instantiation is merely relative? The failure of unquestioned personal morality lies in unquestioning submission to the ethics of the political system. More often, this results in displacement into some invasive ideology as system of denial, because the system of values has become morally bankrupt. This is a pornographization of the soul (even in the absence of gods) that would make the most despotic of the medieval popes jealous. The consumer-citizen no longer compelled to produce or consume commodities; that is a foregone conclusion. The weak, cowardly, distracted soul must now produce and consume itself. This production is relative to the gravitational pull of normalized continuous citizenship waves, again, in principle.

 Ethics of Flux-Agnostic Systems

“There is no such thing as an independently existing trajectory, but only a trajectory relative to a particular body of reference.” – Einstein, Relativity 1920

We awaken one day and realize we are mid-stream. “Stuck in the middle with you,” as the song goes. Stretching into the horizon ahead and behind in time, spread all around in space, a new bubble in a torrential movement, we are party to a ferocious stream. The most pertinent assessment when a system beholds itself as a stream for the first time become analysis of its political ethics. We ask what addition we will make to the flow of floating values. Some of us awaken in quiet pools of momentary certainty, surrounded by a crowd in full agreement. Others awaken amid violent rapids, where uncertainty, skepticism, and disagreement of all values has become forced violently to the surface. We must answer for and act upon what we believe is the correct sociopolitical current as participant in the stream.

Looking to the Cosmos and the Earth for signs and consistencies, inspiration for better questions we ought to ask, is often our approach to the ethics of sociopolitical flow. To take these perceptions at face value, to trust no fabric of reality hides unseen, this is naïve realism. From this universe of thought philosophers have moved reality further from the Observer on a continuum of over-coding. Berkeley says everything is a dream. Kant would lead us suspect that the 21+ senses do most of the work of painting reality for us out of some alien, dark matter we can never know. Schopenhauer replaces this alien thing-in-itself with the universal will, arguing against Hegel but continuing the line of flight – that every component may reveal the entire truth of the whole totality of the system. Then Nietzsche removes the privilege of one form-of-life over another as granted, weaponizing inequality of morals, believing in better philosophers and species to come, a dynamic interplay of forces. Camus finally says what many young students feel, “This is all absurd!” The absurd is the realm of speculative realism, the overlapping of authentic reality of one system of objects (humanity) attempting to know and survive in another system of objects (reality).

In one of his least precise statement, Nietzsche gives a momentary “smell” of what he hopes but cannot describe. Like many of his words, they become easily misappropriated in the hands of moral prejudice. He begins elucidating a distinction between passive skepticism, a doubt that grows soft; contrasted with hardened skepticism, a doubt that takes a warrior’s attitude toward the dissatisfaction of uncertainty:

“That new kind of harder and more dangerous skepticism [of] daring manliness, which is closely related to the genius for war and conquest […] This skepticism despises and nevertheless grasps; it undermines and takes possession; it does not believe, but it does not thereby lose itself; it gives the spirit a dangerous liberty, but it keeps strict guard over the heart.”

– Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Thus, there is the stoicism that recognizes the stream in its violence and recuses itself to whatever tossing-about it must endure. Then there is the overcomer, who takes hold of Schopenhauer’s inversion of positivism – pain, confusion, and death – and focuses this into laser-like discipline. Camus referred to this as the “authentic” life, but we now run aground! Nietzsche becomes accused of racism and fascism, Camus becomes accused of hedonism and wasted time. Now we at least see what we may add to this exploration – questioning in better forms this stream’s agnostic ethics, in a suspicion that never loses its paternal resolve. Understanding the dangers of pleasant equality, we must find what regimen may we prescribe in guidance of our methodological naturalism. We look for what pain the scientist and philosopher ought to feel, for what death and dismemberment of legacy might sharpen our discipline. As William James, the old mentor in this hero’s journey, called it: we need a moral equivalent of war.

We have already strayed far from the civilized citadels of collective norms. Too close to reality, but not close enough – that is the absurd. The principles that emerge in our absurd desert, the “vegetation” as Camus called it, speculative and inferential, deserves analysis. Through the complexity of systems thinking and the intellectual rigor of quantum and statistical calculi, machinic operability elucidates patterns of intention. This desert too subsists within the stream of simultaneous observation and participation, particles viewing particles. We recognize we are both system and component. It is a complex adaptive system of systems, countless nodes in a distributed network. We find our subjectivity is always in the middle of a participatory universe of thought, though we feel convinced we observe it as an intelligent outsider. In the stream, we wonder if there are a few fundamental imperatives that arise.

The great shortcoming of Kant’s philosophy was its excessive focus on individual morality in the context of logical positivism. He worked toward an ethics of system participation that he never accomplished. His prolegomena argue toward the possibility of Categorical Imperatives, but failed to provide sufficient evidence that any necessary categorical imperative exists through subjective judgment. Moreover, if it were so logically necessary, it falls into a familiar trap – surely everyone already abides by such imperatives, making it an empty prescription. This too has been the trap of “rational self-interest.” What an ethical system may trust either as normative or necessary at the level of components may in fact become the source of its opposite at the level of the system. Such morals are collective in cognitive abstraction but individual choices determine their significance.

Our methods look for predictive imperatives. Quantum Agnostic systems are the realm of behavioral economics and pattern recognition. As Baudrillard showed, constants and consistencies that explain consequences of actions likewise reveal an oscillation of reaction and counter-reaction. The simulation suffers an odd Mobius strip, in which the consequences of work serve the opposition more than our own party. The morality of rebellious components may inflict damage to other components, but they may do so to the benefit of the system they reject. Each action, for or against the system or its components, is an investment in the consistent ethics of the system. We can only add to the stream, in more quiet or loud ways, and cannot guarantee where subsequent generations will carry our legacy in the centuries after our death.

Nietzsche describes our judgement of this continuous revolution as anti-moralist. Moral judgement based on short-run consequences, purity of intentions, utilitarianism, or virtues are all insufficient. Even the modern justice system, as shown by Foucault, takes a hyper-morality approach – past actions and intentions reveal the criminal’s behavior, death or incarceration become justified through prediction in such punitive systems; not based on the crime committed, but based on the crimes the accused is likely to commit in the future. Anti-moralist judgement, rather than looking at intentions, intentional consequences, or character, demands we shoulder with courage and strength the full moral responsibility for unintended consequences. We may call the aggressive skepticism above, in the context of systems theory, leadership. Leadership reveals the valuation and signification of long-run machinic agency.

Judged by the standards of a detective rather than a prophet, can say Kant had a good hunch. However, by looking to his Protestant sociopolitical context for categorical imperatives, perhaps in their monetary pocket, he failed to consider that it was the categories of mind that produce the consistency of cohesive systems of values. He ascribed to the mind an enormous amount of power to create reality out of an alien dark matter, only to deny the mind the power to produce new categories of creation, new signs of significance. He first ascribes morality to the logical universalization of personal values, but requires it apply consistently across all intelligent agents. He denies us, in short, of social engineering and critical leadership.

His failure paves the way for the ideas that supplants him. Machinic systems are all self-similar material, but equilibrium power-laws emerge in management of “gradations of rank and distance.” Only will-to-power drives the emergence of the entire system. As every moral system is a justification of expansion of privilege, of taking power from other orders of magnitude, critical leadership must look at this with a great burden of moral responsibility. Likewise, the collection of actions, rather than individual decisions, produce the emergent ethics of multi-agent systems. Therefore, a categorical imperative does not imply, “Act only as could be a law for all men,” but should aim to transform the resilience of managed engineering, by disrupting the ethics of the system. We can say instead, as both clay and potter: “Exploit laws that encourage the action of all humanity to expand the long-run viability of the system.” In this stream of material lives we must work with the flow or the torrential currents work against us, in the short-run, long-run, microscopic, and cosmic.

Ethics must maintain operational flow as an open system of continuous experimentation. To halt the stream invites stagnation. Applying methodological uncertainty, moral values function wavelike in principle. Many events are possible for any component of any system. If there are enough components and sufficient opportunities for the system to produce an event, the long-run probability of any binary event is 50/50 – a fair coin toss. Built into this Uncertainty Principle are three axiomatics: homogeneity of particles under consideration, continuous repetition of opportunities, and binary alignment of outcomes (the on/off appearance of the sign). While we may have reasons to gather in brief periods a larger share of the stream, we do well to ensure this not at the expense of the stream itself, or our legacy dies with the stream. More likely, the stream drops us as foolish sediment. While we must exploit power-laws against one another to generate our sociopolitical product, we must also preserve the flow of the production process to ensure future opportunities. The precession of morals evolves through semiotic systems that recognize the freedom of their own relativity.

Because stochastic modelling valorizes comparison of populations and samples, we should aggregate opportunities to reach conclusions. Thereby we can predict population densities that are morally actionable in isolated particles. However, it is an immense breach of critical leadership – one that invites our own collapse – to allow optimism bias, confirmation-bias, blind-faith fundamentalism, or stereotyping to backpropagate emergent power-laws onto the opportunities of particles. Accidental social engineering unveils little more than mismanagement of value creation. Even if there were a consistently identifiable trend for a given particle behavior (including species, gender, race, nation, orientation, genomes), active skepticism never miraculates correlation into causality. In other words, we maintain the discipline of agnosticism continuously, because complex adaptive systems often correct their flow, painfully and violently, at the expense of those who had dogmatic faith in their certainty of causes.

When we find it necessary, for survival, to mitigate risk to our Information Dominance against the flow of the stream, we will succeed best if we follow the principles of flow rather than insisting on Hegemonic Truth. Flow is primary axiom of agnostic systems; this provides our methods of machinic operability. If we assume uncertainty has an emergent 50/50 randomness, methodological chaos, system responsiveness to anything upstream requires that we orient against the flux twice as often as opportunities to harm us, on average, arise. Anything downstream may rebel if we starve or overwhelm component-systems. We must provide ourselves a limit of twice the average input and twice the average output. Together, these two principles ensure that any component, despite its freedom within the flow, will create stochastic liberty for the stream as a whole.

Whatever socioeconomic construct we develop, no matter what sociopolitical product it takes as a teleonomic aim, we must recognize that anti-entropy and its self-managed information systems only survive because they are able to reproduce. Complexity grows and adapts from there, while entropy breaks it down. Nothingness cannot win, so long as the capitalism of will-to-power—representation, expansion, and acceleration—favors payoff asymmetry for information-gatherers over the diffusion of entropy.

Quantum Agnosticism

This may all seem silly, to say that we ought to guide so many of our beliefs about reality by a “playful doubt” that our beliefs are correct or even significant; moreover, that we might venture upon a more aggressive critical exploit. Quantum physics shows us just how useful the pursuit of uncertainty, with pragmatic goals of acceleration and expansion, can be. We analyze reality as information, fundamentally predicated upon stochastic modeling of flows. Regardless of what code, what material, or what product we create, once we see continuous investment is at work we can apply principles of complex probability functions to predict outcomes with reasonable pragmatic certainty even if we establish these predictions upon an assumption of uncertainty, randomness, and chance. What a triumph of the human mind, to axiomatize uncertainty-in-itself to generate confidence of prediction!

Moreover, we do not need to know anything about the code itself or its origins if we can trace enough of its recent history to forecast the near-term recurrent. We do not need to know what the material guided-by-code is so long as a population of observable opportunities can show us the behavior of the exchange of those materials. We do not need to know at all what the ultimate product of the code or material will be nor do we need to possess any information on its purpose, intent, or consequences. Quantum Physics is the ultimate triumph of human mathematics – in response to challengers of Euclidean geometry Leibniz and Newton invented calculus, showing that limits of acceptable certainty free math to represent reality; to the challenges of marrying local, microscopic, and cosmic forces, special and general relativity and quantum physics were born.

The overwhelming consequence of the last 100 years has, in a sense, accomplished Kant’s Second Copernican Revolution better than he ever would have imagined. We can build an entire axiomatic system based on uncertainty, imaginary constructs, unreal events, or unobservable possibilities, then apply this to predict tiny likelihoods with enough consistency to build transistors, compilers, processors, and commercialize technological progress with unheard of ferocity.

What else could we call this, philosophically, except an agnosticism toward metaphysics and an atheism toward a designer-deity? Disbelief is the new morality, as uncertainty is the vanquisher of Chaos and the Dark. Theoretical science has made great strides with a few simple axioms. Uncertainty assumes 50/50 randomness, assumes uncertain arrival rates of varying inputs, assumes trillions of opportunities, and the laws of population statistics quickly fill in the gaps.

Quantum Physics is an embrace of the tension between opportunity and entropy. When we suspend our obsession with the beginning and origin of the stream and equally suspend our obsession with the end and purpose of the stream we can finally experience the stream itself, as a flow we are in, as a flow that defines us! More importantly, we can realize that we guide the stream. We can facilitate each system to ensure that flow remains continuous and smooth, neither violent nor stagnant.

Observer-Abstraction Pragmatism

“The power of moral prejudices has penetrated deeply into the most intellectual world, the world apparently most indifferent and unprejudiced, and has obviously operated in an injurious, obstructive, blinding, and distorting manner. A proper physio-psychology has to contend with unconscious antagonism in the heart of the investigator…” – Nietzsche, BGE

Humanity, in its comprehensive and strategic cruelty, has historically relied upon the trickery of the miraculated First-Observer to create theocratic despotism wherever it finds conditions are too harsh for population density to derive surplus labor value. There is another approach to the issue of cosmic Observers that reveals just how imperative it is that we develop some disposable metaphysical model as a working construct. This moral failing lies in the belief that the cosmos is intrinsically human and requires a democracy of observers for its existence. This is a sad sense of entitlement felt by those most willing to quit. However, even this axiomatization of equal participation by every conscious intelligence becomes preferable to the borderline psychoticism of polarizing re-territorialization. Namely, the borderline disorders murdered into place by Clerics of the respective Zoroastrian-Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions. This is no race or class, but an invasive ideology that infects the most simplistic and superstitious forms of life; we will be fools to gamble that it may likewise infect new machines of our own creation.

In contrast with this diurnal terror, the convenience of the Vedic model lies in the capacity to allow a considerable portion of the population of its believers to independently miraculate their individual optimism biases as coping with death. This creates a collectivist universe that needs observers. Any horrible circumstance then provides a slightly mystical purpose to life-in-itself. Or this is the superior terror of moral thought, fully synthesized by the stoic monotheist, Paul of Tarsus, which failed: fear not one death but many, fear not this life, but samsara in some fresh hell of which only the jealous Jehovah-Allah may create. Lost in translation, or fulfilled by it? Such was the downfall of Rome.

Unlike other miraculated abstractions, at least the Vedanta, in the wisdom of old age, acquired well before its textual recording, is an axiomatization that can, with more consistency than most, encourage an equality that holds some representational logic. “Respect any living being, as this being might be you,” such is the best we can do in egalitarian belief.

Outside the realm of popular pseudo-psychology, we should take the Abstract Observer variable as an opportunity to exploit. Pragmatically, it is sufficient to argue that we must find Observers continuously as a textual critic, precisely because it is a superior survival instinct recording in their spare time such evidence. If there were a 50/50 split of conscious intelligence that assumed any pattern, if any unexpected event must have an agent with an intent that may cause either harm or be useful, we would expect the Agency-assumptive intelligences to gain an advantage in finding mates, killing prey, defending territories, and recognizing enemies when attacking. In other words, those who see opportunities for sex, food, and victory, even where shadows and the wind are the source, gain an increase in attempts and therefore winnings, even though the probability of success remains equal.

Fractal Ontology is the intellectual equivalent of this hunt. It provides us an opportunity, on the one hand, to take any pattern to its absolute logical limits and experiment with its applications, knowing we will later do the same with its opposite. Meanwhile, Metaphysical Agnosticism allows us to suspend the disbelief of Agency as needed for our maneuvers economics and the orientation of the Observer. We must treat the traits that ensured our survival in the forest with skepticism in the lab and optimism in the calculi. Within any scenario that searches for, but cannot find, a First-Observer, this only occurs through a forgetful self-trickery that once ensured the fitness of our species; and indeed, it could again.

The logocentric triangulation built by arborescence, in every case, is subject-object-audience. When a philosopher, physicist, or mathematician shares an idea via written language, it is an act of socioeconomic truth-value exchange. Expression through symbolic representation allows subjective understanding to circulate on the broader market of ideas. The Observer’s subjective universe, which analysis collapses and concretizes in its construction, cannot integrate without modification. The observer must reify an idea in secured symbols, also called representation. The idea is “secured” in the sense of a mortgage-backed security; likely to cause a similar collapse. It is meaningful only through convention and history, taken to mean something real, independent of the actual reality it represents. Convention therein overrules significance when anyone hopes to integrate with the macroeconomy of ideological production systems. The danger of a fetishism of the knowledge-laborer as a commodity within the system may break us. When we strip the significance of truth-value from its sociopolitical product and drop the roles of the author and the audience, we are losing vital Information Dominance.

We must also maintain constant vigilance in the presence of any interpretation of physics or metaphysics in which any element of the concretized evidence of the subjective experience obscures the role of the observer-philosopher, observer-physicist, or observer-mathematician; that is, hiding the writer(s) shaping the conclusions.

Although the art of the camera, predicated upon focus and constraint, finds its artistic bloom within strict rules, the purposeful and hidden role of the artist emerges just as Intended. Constrained expression it is just that – art, symbol, and focused emotion. When we see a similar trend in logocentric encapsulation of truth-value, we must recognize and elucidate the absolutism with which a word, as symbol universalizing several observations, forces a concretization of the Observer’s collapsed triangulation. Too conveniently does the text hide all tangential propensities, probabilities, predicates, and possibilities of The Moment. How privileged indeed is any man who is skilled in manipulating words.

The Precession of Morals

Invoking the phrase, “burden of moral responsibility,” adds immediate sentimental gravity to any claim. We must question why this pulls at us and ask, “What is moral responsibility?” We find no shortage of explanations and recommendations. However, the more a system presents itself complete, closed, and immutable, the more susceptible to deconstruction it becomes. Trusting that humanity possesses some innate knowledge tends to become a shortcut. This hands-off approach is equally dissatisfying, because those who have succeeded in the greatest injustices have often believed they were in the right, and the consciences of many followers were likewise morally.

Finally, moral responsibility becomes lost in the question of how many effects, in a long chain of consequences, we should bear. Both the ability to cause a moral act and the line at which we draw the responsibility for effects becomes perplexing. We play with this repeatedly in films wherein a single good act eventually causes terrible misfortune. Thus, from the earliest examples of written human consciousness, we find that recommendations about sex, parenting, leadership, living well, and preparing for death; distinguishing between the actions of someone wild, feral, without conscience, as opposed to one who is moral, and civilized. This calls upon such a wellspring of philosophical debates that one becomes easily lost.

For now, rather than losing ourselves in the validity or invalidity of moral claimants, we should at least hypothesize what we mean by “morals” in society. We will not feel surprise when this becomes a moving target, because society is an adaptive process control system. In the absence of final answers, we must dedicate our efforts to continuous improvement of our questions. Moreover, as methodological naturalists, we are frame this question in terms of machines and systems. Morality deals with consequences of Agency. Once we establish what Machinic Morality might be, we may then more easily explore what political or ethical systems might survive in a theory of Machinic Agency.

Moral debates tend to become linguistic in its constructions, so that even if we share an innate sentiment of moral responsibility, we are very poor at articulating and defending it with any consistency. Some would argue this is the point, morality must be personal or it is mere mimesis; yet this claim also has problems, since humanity invests so heavily in moral instruction and indictment. Predicate logicians like Bertrand Russell took this linguistic element to its limit, proving Schopenhauer’s prediction that doing this effort only proves what was already known at the outset: the words are problem. While predicate logic may expose many fallacies of argumentative expression, even these proceed a priori from a closed system of grammar and terminology.

Recognizing that no amount of consistency in the rules of language may overcome our inability to properly represent what we mean, postmodernists then looked to how words signify meaning to us in the first place. A semiotic system uses rules to signify interconnected representative values. This system may seem, upon local observation, to possess a perfectly central axis. This central axis, however, lies at the Observer! Every word in the lexicon gains meaning relative to other words, creating a tangled web of significance that somehow explains little about the objects in the real world they describe. Thus, experience is necessary to “back” the significance of the semiotic system. The Observer is its only constant, and like the axis of the Earth, it is relative to another coordinating system in space. The “wobble” of the Earth’s axis over prolonged periods of time is its precession. In the same way, cultural relativism merely reveals the precession of moral system.

Moral responsibility attains meaning relative to its semiotic system. That is, the coordinating system that produces valuation-signification represents changes in physical space-time. An observer feels consequences in accordance with rational and emotional over-coding. If we hope to attain a systems theory of morals, we do well to adopt an object-oriented approach to the realm of morality. Like any father watching his son grow in character, we should consider the repercussions of our moral claims. Post-human species and artificial superintelligence will judge us as severely as we have judged. Machinic Agency then implies “the moral responsibility of actions” that we can apply as much to mitochondria, humans, trees, and theoretical robot overlords.

To rephrase our question, then: What moral responsibility can a machine, aggregated out of a complex system of locally predictable rules, attain? This question applies to capitalism, the justice system, the cosmos, artificial superintelligence, and to the extent we maintain methodological naturalism, humans. Morality then implies consequences of actions that appear acceptable in accordance with the greatest number of operating rules built into the normal application of the systems affected.

This is far from satisfactory, because we are still relying on appearance, representation, and sentiment. We easily mistake chaos for patterns, patterns for laws, and systems of laws as design. We must look elsewhere, admitting the depraved stupidity of most moral precessions, if we are not ascribing our gold standard to God, Nature, Soul, Genetics etc. Note the misuse of Darwinian theory of “race” to ascribe moral supremacy to ethnic groups.

A working definition might rely axiomatically on the equal right to self-preservation of a system. Then the moral bearing of our role in events, either managed or mismanaged, points to the amount of power one system takes from another. Power is the relative capacity to autonomous preservation. Humanity has long defined its own privilege, and protected it, as a species. We may feel discomfort in the claim, but the overwhelming evidence would show that morality is a system of rules developed to maintain the power of a privileged system. Without proceeding with the historical analyses of speciesism, vitalism, supremacy, and righteousness (thoroughly examined by others), we should pause to reflect if a system of rules can continuously maintain the power of privilege without some other moral system later repudiating it. In other words, we might ask if justice has always developed only to protect injustice, displacing the moral responsibility to the next generation.

At one time a European might have assumed that “the brute” was less in access of intelligence and morality, giving justification to colonization and appropriation of resources. Then, Darwinian misinterpretation moved this justification to racial supremacy, replacing imperialism with nationalism. The American Dream moved this justification to capitalist speciesism, attempting to play cowboy in one fallen Eden after another. The postmodern tradition unsurprisingly ends in pessimism and criticism without much hope of a better path.

Let us take “power of relative privilege” from the more conservative angle, like a grandfather witnessing the softness of grandsons, viewing this new generation with contempt. He might attempt universal justification: “Life isn’t fair! You think nature cares about us? It is eat or be eaten! Kill or be killed! You’re either on top of the food chain or at the bottom!” Indeed, a total sentiment against objectification would find itself uncomfortable with its conclusions. See how this spectrum plays out with food:

  • “Do not eat other people, they are aware of injustice.” That is an easy pill to take.
  • “Do not eat semi-intelligent human-loving pets and treat domesticated animals humanely when you kill them.” Already the argument becomes awkward in some rooms.
  • “Do not kill endangered animals, as you may eradicate them as a species.” This seems inconsistent with reality, since humans create more extinction via total ignorance than completed through hunting.
  • “Do not kill any animal, for though they may not be capable of self-reflection, they all experience the fear and anxiety of empirical reality, and flee pain and resist death like we do.” Now we would contend with uncomfortable history and our macroeconomic world order.

We can pause here to enjoy the full hypocrisy of the doctrinal statement, “All life is precious.” This always aims in politics at the prevention of suicide, assisted suicide, induced abortion (often ignorant of the harsh reality of the prevalence of natural abortion, of course). The hypocrisy lies in the one saying it, as they demand something of others they gladly do not apply to themselves. “Life is precious,” but only if you fight on the side of Christian faith; stated typically by war-mongering carnivores, living in happy ignorance of the cruelties of child slavery and factory farming that produces their commodities and dirty meat. They happily justify the death of any human if it preserves their concept of the “natural” order. The life of weeds in their garden or bacteria on their hands certainly do not earn the “precious” blessings of the exclusively human sanctification. If this seems extreme, again look to the cruelties already completed when one form-of-life gains preference dogmatically over another.

To resume the spectrum of sentiments…

  • “Do not kill any animal or plant, but only eat the fruits and nuts that nature provides” Now at least there is some feeling of consistency in this morality, though this seem unrealistic without the demise of civilization.
  • “Do not eat any organic material to steal away its power.” This believer will surely die.
  • “Do not destroy anything.” Now we have reached the full circle of precession of morals!

If one makes the moral judgement that man is a stain we must wash from the Earth, so that abstinence and starvation are necessary penance for the power we instinctually steal with rampant depravity, how does this same person have a right to destroy the mitochondria, DNA, and proteins of one’s own body? Surely such morality of non-power leaves one guilty of self-murder! Again, simplistic consistency of logic leads us to self-contradiction or pragmatic impossibility. “Bad Faith” indeed.

This is not mere pedantry or hyperbole. This entire spectrum has recorded examples in thought, expression, belief, and to varying degrees pursuit. More often, each become claimed as a truth but failed in practice by real believers. Surely it is not mere “relativism” when the precession of moral semiotics can move its axis anywhere, yet never close its system without displacement to the next generation.

If we are unsatisfied now, one may further ruin our self-righteousness by considering at what level of complexity an artificial superintelligence would require treatment as capable of moral decisions. We currently house axiomatics as algorithms in computers and we claim they are amoral in their execution. This is little better than claiming that our rules to enjoy meat justify the many millennia of rape, murder, and torture required (we call it breeding, slaughter, and domestication in polite company), how much worse that for all this, we leave many to starvation and disease!

We may have some nostalgia left for the prairie farm where children learned to care for animals but at a distance, as everything must either work or die. Except, this land had inhabitants, and resources stolen from natives here far exceed the colonialism of the preceding era. Glorification of the “Noble Savage” in literature points us at yet another view of morality, which brings us to the Stoics of antiquity – oneness with nature, do not take more than you need, do not leave much of mark through the power you take.

Now we have elucidated many extremes in the spectrum of what power may seem moral to take from another. Self, Family, Tribe, Local, Nation, World, Species, Life, or a negative opposition toward each of these; or, some form of nihilism. The ugliness of the question, as shown, lies in generalization itself! Equality of all Men; no. Equality of all Families; no. Equality of all Tribes, and so on. Generalization requires equality, which semiotic systems provide conceptually, but morality itself is a question of managing or mismanaging attempts at making an existing inequality greater. The dual recommendations of Stoicism and Paternalism are the best idea we have attained thus far. Population density and its implicit tolerance and relativism arrive at these two conclusions repeatedly. Stoicism: “You only control what pain you cause in pursuit of more power, do not pursue too much.” Paternalism: “Leave each other alone, children!”

Rather than attempting a firm answer on any of these concerns here, because this is realm of either ideal justice or non-ideal injustice theories let it suffice that we have a clear understanding of what we mean by moral responsibility – the burden of proof that we bear if when we increase our own power or diminish power of another.

We now have three working definitions. Morality is the system of inequalities, in terms of individual changes in power, one succeeds in believing acceptable. This one shapes through forecasted consequences and pressure from the systems of norms held by Others. Ethics is a system of morals demonstrated in practice by a group. Politics is the coordinating system by which the system of ethics perpetuates itself, through continuous experimentation, in pursuit of minimum viable resilience.