“Never trust anything that can think for itself, if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
So the people at MIT have gone and done something ‘that can’t be done’ -as we humans normally do- with these little robots that can assemble themselves.
These things are pretty incredible, well maybe not so easily observed in their demonstration, but the potential they posses is… intimidating to say the least. I mean, being able to change shape according to the situation?
But on the other hand could it help bring us one step closer to realising the Nanosuit from Crysis?
Although it probably already exists, in some secret lab, somewhere, maybe beneath my house. There’s probably a guy in the suit watching me type this right noaawefjapgj
This weeks unlecture was pretty interesting, Adrian had some strong opinions he voiced out in the and it was a good session all in all, however he raised a point that I mulled on for a bit longer than I anticipated. The idea that I have no real control over how I choose to do things, for instance as I am communicating this message I have to submit to the laws that govern the English language which are predetermined for me and that going against the grain is futile. This made some good sense, sure it could be argued that language shapes our world and we understand it better that way. However language didn’t just fall from the sky, it was developed in variation over time and space and is constantly evolving. So I am submitting to something that had no real beginning, isn’t staying the way it is, and has no predictable contingency?
Sounds about right.
In reference to my previous post, we use a working understanding or knowledge as standard, until/unless it no longer is able to serve its purpose, at which point a new knowledge needs to be learnt and adapted. We’re predisposed to using the English language as standard because of the conditions of which it exists today, and because it serves its purpose albeit not well enough that there won’t be misunderstandings. Its a knowledge that works for now, and certainly is being adapted on to appease various new situations that arise and need addressing. Going against the grain may be necessary when the grain is no longer flowing in a favorable way. Is there a better way of going about things? Maybe- maybe not- we’ll just have to try and see.
Also there was a slight chicken and egg debate on techniques and technologies.
Techniques are required to make technology,
but techniques are also a response to technology.
You might be good at chopping trees down, but you need an axe to do it. So which came first? Well in order to use the axe you need to know how to make an axe in the first place, so how does the axe come to be in your posession? There would have to be some working knowledge in mining and smithing and carving wood so a lot of technology there, but in order to utilize all that tech people need to have the skills to acquire all the required materials, so some learned experience and knowhow is going to be pretty invaluable here. But it doesn’t stop..or start.. there, they would’ve needed to know a fair bit of information before knowing what mining even is or how to go about it, that is knowledge that would’ve been passed down and learned, which means they would’ve had to learn a fair bit about the world around them before being able to acquire the skills needed to maneuver it. Before understanding these ideas, they would’ve first had to learn basic skills like how to use their bodies for specific functions like walking or climbing and extensively how to articulate thoughts and communicate. You’d think this would be the end of it and that having and learning the skills to use our bodies is where shit starts and technology is born from this, but I think it extends beyond this to our bodies themselves as technologies that we need to learn and adapt to accordingly from the moment we’re born into them(aA required response haha). I would say that the difference with our bodies and technologies as we know them is that we didn’t make the bodies -but in a way I suppose we do.
“Paul Baran’s network was based on a technology called packet-switching that allows messages to break themselves apart into small fragments. Each fragment,or packet, is able to find its own way to its destination. Once there, the packets reassemble to create the original message.” Galloway. I love this, reminded me of teleporting. Imagine if you could break messages apart into small fragments and have the destination be someone elses brain. Teleporting thoughts hahaha.
Interestingly enough though – they used the internet for this little project, but I do see someone in the comments section making an interesting point about this setup just sending a signal that makes the receivers muscles twitch. Still though – using the internet to fiddle with yer muscles. WHAT DOES IT MEEEAN!
First off I feel like I should point out that this post originally began its life as 4-5 other drafts I had floating around my dashboard, and when I was going through them I realised that they seemed pretty well interconnected, so that explains the length, I did my best to keep it interesting.
Does a network have a center? Normally we’d believe that it would/should (it’s gotta start somewhere right?), however, nature seems to be structured randomly (heh isn’t that funny) yet still manages to work just fine. I think a good way to look at it is how we learn things via trial and error; answers are not given and we need to actively seek them out, by working around existing knowledges as well as trying to break new ground with experimentation. When we try to learn about something we don’t know, we engage with a certain kind of infiniteness to the possible approaches; we can use existing knowledges, but if the knowledge turns out to not necessarily be the best option, it is explored nonetheless to be fully excluded from from any contingency and/or an entirely new approach must be taken, and when exploring ideas outside of existing knowledge, new knowledges or technologies need to be constructed to adapt accordingly to the situation (experimentation).
I think its possible that the inherent randomness of a nature-type system is both random in itsinfinite possibility of executions but not so in its reason(s) for executing them. That kinda makes it sound like conscious thing that makes decisions, but I don’t see why that is unreasonable, if you look at nature as a system, it constitutes living things that need to constantly call the shots.
The internet as a network also constitutes living things (hoomanz), has no center, yet still functions, and is constantly evolving. I think that is because the internet as a whole IS a center more than anything else – but to what end? lulcatz? A collective intelligence? – just because something is a center doesn’t mean its not complex. Our minds are the center of our sentience and its one of the most complex things out there (in there – whatever) , all focused into a single blob of goo, that moderates consciously as well as subconsciously; I feel, in a similar fashion that protocols moderate the interwebz. According to Galloway a protocol is/was a (1) set of rules and recommendations that outline specific technical standards, and (2) refers to any type of correct or proper behavior within a specific system of conventions, (3) introductory paper summarizing the key points of a diplomatic agreement or treaty and (4) standards governing the implementation of specific technologies. Some of it constant stuff and some of it stuff that changes accordingly. He goes on to use the analogy of a highway system to better define protocol as a technique for achieving voluntary regulation within a contingent environment. (else we’d still be a bunch of crazy baboons or more likely extinct by now I imagine)
I took away from this that a protocol is a form of governing something in a place where anything is possible(I mean that in the best sense); which I think suits just fine with the brain as a center, having its own version/types of protocol, as they have been mirrored in the developing internet, possibly by accident, but probably not. I’m not exactly a specialist when it comes to how the brain works though [and that sucks because I really want to be able to elaborate more how Galloway’s descriptions of protocol could be better linked to the brain] so this whole argument is probably invalid just on that basis, but I would like to look into it more to see if the internet really is sort of structured similarly to the human mind.
I like how Holly used a mosh pit to help describe a distributed network. Conversely I went for the Lamb of God/Meshuggah show last week and it was my first actual proper encounter with a mosh pit. I’ve been a big fan of metal since I was 10 but Malaysia was never very receptive to metal, in fact Lamb of God was supposed to play there this week as well but they got banned at the 11th hour [heh] for being Satanic or some dumb shit like that. I was even in a metal band for a while and they’re still doing great back home under the name Sacwrath (rock on brothers!), but I never actually got to be in the mosh pit and part of that audience. It’s something I had always wanted to do, but never comprehended either.. it just didn’t register in my head why people would gather in a pile and just go into a total rampage on each other. I’ve been to lots of raves and electronic music festivals before and some of the meat piles I’ve ended up in were insane, but every time I knocked into someone I would get disconcerting stares and threatening looks; even though everyone piled up together, I never felt a togetherness, people were pretty much there for themselves. When I was waiting for Meshuggah to come on stage I was seriously nervous, I looked at the guy next to me and told him I’d never done this before, and asked him if I was going to die, he just laughed and reassured me that everything would be fine, and it just so happened that a whole group of guys heard that conversation and greeted me and started telling me about mosh etiquette but most importantly to make sure if anybody fell down to pick them up right away because “you don’t wanna be that guy”, and to look out for each other – one guy pointed at me and said “especially this guy.” I was there pretty early so I had a decent spot near the front and center of the stage, and when the band came on it just took a few moments before the pit started to form, I didn’t think about it I just ran straight into the madness.
I felt like a human pinball being bounced around and shoved left, right, front, back, diagonally, it was just insane, eventually I got pushed hard enough that I fell backwards, but before I knew what was happening I was back on my feet being thrown forwards, and that was so confusing, I had no idea who that kind samaritan was that picked me up but I’m eternally grateful because I thought I really was going to get trampled, but after that somehow I just knew I was going to be safe here, I felt safer there than I had anywhere else in a long time. I only fell another time after that but I was picked up no problemo, I even got to help a few people up myself, and that really was awesome. I’ve never experienced that kind of connection with so many strangers before, didn’t matter who you were, you looked out for everyone there and they looked out for you. That NEVER happens at electronic music festivals, in fact you’re more likely going to hate the people around you for shoving around so much and not keeping to themselves and I suppose that’s really because the mindset going into them isn’t about the connection you have with the other people as much as it is at a metal concert – metal-heads are fucking awesome people \m/ – but as a distributed network it works with a collective, active and voluntary participation from parties involved.
EDIT: Don’t get me wrong, Flume is flippin awesome too!
Holly also mentioned that the idea of distributed networks appealed to her sense of democracy and/or possibly socialism, but as Eric Hall puts it, “IP uses an anarchic and highly distributed model, with every device being an equal peer to every other device on the global Internet.” and I believe this is more accurately representative of what the internet and distributed network are/have the potential to be, but also kind of like what I ascribed the brain is to hoomanz.