Vol. 8 (2019) – AI and Computation

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Winfried Eckel

Fragmentation of Text, Fragmentation of Time: Evental Aesthetics in Friedrich Schlegel and Roland Barthes (pp. 7-38)

Friedrich Schlegel and Roland Barthes’s shared preference for the fragment as a form of writing is closely related to their diverging interests in the category of the whole. While Schlegel uses fragmentary forms to evoke the idea of a comprehensive wholeness, which contrasts the contemporary experience of differentiating discourses of knowledge and a growing gap between the culture of experts and the world we live in, Barthes regards such an all-integrating wholeness only as monstrous. Writing under different historical conditions, the French poststructuralist is interested in using the form of the fragment to break up the idea of supposedly homogeneous wholes, such as the bourgeois subject, history, or the work of art. In this context, it has not yet been recognized enough how much both authors understand their writing as a vivid communication and dynamic interaction with the reader: by means of the fragment, both aim at creating evental reading effects that interrupt the continuum of time and involve the recipient in a surprising way. The result of the sudden perception of unexpected connections, according to Schlegel, is “Witz”; of the sudden perception of breaks, colliding codes or the new, according to Barthes, it is “jouissance.” The present essay links Schlegel and Barthes’s theories of the fragment with their aesthetics of eventality, and shows how the fragmentation of the text is connected with a fragmentation of time.

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Prudence Gibson and Shelley James

Collision. Lantana at Gloaming: Invasive Plants in the Anthropocene (pp. 39-54)

This paper explores a collaborative humanities and science response to the invasive weed lantana. It explores how the weed has been represented in the arts, via a film and an artwork. The lantana is a much-maligned weed. However, the two authors reflect on the lantana through the arts as well as through government papers and reports to establish its place in the Anthropocene’s loss of biodiversity and species extinction. What kind of lantana story emerges from art, science and government documents? The authors investigate whether this process presents new narratorial possibilities for writing the non-human during the sixth extinction.

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AI and Computation 


Peter Polack

AI Discourse in Policing Criticisms of Algorithms (pp. 57-92)

This article addresses the function of the term Artificial Intelligence (AI) in policymaking discourse and how it serves to establish normative conventions for apprehending the consequences of algorithmic technologies. These normative conventions, reflected in the discourses of algorithmic bias and transparency, privilege certain means of evaluating the significance of algorithms for human experience over others. In this way, the use of the term AI involves what Jacques Rancière identifies as a capacity to “indistinguish phenomena,” or to attribute a common cause to diverse events, circumstances, and social concerns. By doing so, AI policy discourse associates disparate social phenomena with the notion of AI, while also selectively associating the term with particular approaches to criticism and intervention. Such selective AI discourse effectively operates to police which criticisms of algorithmic technologies are viewed as legitimate for legal interventions or technical reforms. Against this tendency, this article proposes an approach to disputing the partiality of AI policy discourse by devising alternative designs and uses for algorithmic technologies. In particular, following Arturo Escobar’s notion of autonomous design, this approach uses the identification of interests and concerns derived from personal or communal experiences as a point of departure for questioning whether the standing meaning of AI adequately addresses these concerns. Rather than denouncing the generous meaning of the term AI, we examine how AI policy discourse deploys certain approaches to algorithm criticism and reveal how it might account for or delegitimize other approaches to criticism derived from particular community interests.

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Alice C. Helliwell

Can AI Mind Be Extended? (pp. 93-120)

Andy Clark and David Chalmers’s theory of extended mind can be reevaluated in today’s world to include computational and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. This paper argues that AI can be an extension of human mind, and that if we agree that AI can have mind, it too can be extended. It goes on to explore the example of Ganbreeder, an image-making AI which utilizes human input to direct behavior. Ganbreeder represents one way in which AI extended mind could be achieved. The argument of this paper is that AI can utilize human input as a social extension of mind, allowing AI to access the external world that it would not otherwise be able to access.

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Ted Kafala

Collision. Ryoji Ikeda Meets Whitehead at CERN: Interdisciplinary Experimentation and Evental Aesthetics (pp. 121-138)

Intermedia artist Ryoji Ikeda’s 2014–15 residency at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) facility raises important issues for evental aesthetics, process thought, and the speculative traversing of the boundaries between art and microphysics. Ikeda has been interested in the sonification and visualization of data and mathematics for two decades, and his observation of the CERN LHC and the ATLAS detector, and his engagement with detector data inspired the creation of his large-scale micro | macro (The Planck Universe) video and sound installation in 2015. This Collision briefly explains some of Ikeda’s motivations behind The Planck Universe while engaging with some of A. N. Whitehead’s ideas about events as well as event-particles in the context of process thought. Does Ikeda use microparticle physics outcomes as part of his artistic and creative palette, or, conversely, does he engage with microphysics processes in his intermedial work only on the level of abstraction and through analogy and inspiration? Ikeda does both. Sound “grains,” pulses, wavelets, sound quanta, the data visualization of particle clouds, and other evidence of dynamic microparticle interaction from detection data are part of Ikeda’s intermedial palette in The Planck Universe. The detection data validate that event-particles do have microphysical form and a vital materiality.

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Emma Stamm

Book Collision. Computation, Infinity, and the Production of Subjects Beyond Representation (pp. 139-149)