WHAT DO WE TAKE? … C) from Marx

KarlMarx

FROM MARX:

We get the idea that capitalism is concealment: hiding its exploitation well.

It conceals through seduction: the enamoured victim of the seducer is always blind to the depths of the one-sidedness of their relationship.

“… things do not always immediately appear as they are. The divorce between reality and the way it appears is a central aspect of Marx’s dialectical thought.”[i]

What we learn from Marx is the need to be critical and vigilant of appearances. In fact, it is precisely when everything looks quite rosy that we must be especially on our guard.

Marx argued that in communist societies technological development would seek to eliminate repetitive, physically demanding, unsafe and unhealthy tasks; reduce overall labour time, satisfy basic needs and develop human potential.[ii] The failure of communism is usually estimated by its inability to achieve, or even successfully approach the achievement of these goals.

However, in assessing this failure, it is also true that the communist states were set up at times when technologies were not advanced enough to make this forward-moving cultural-leap possible. Very many of the technologies capable of transforming our lives were developed in the capitalist, not the communist world, and the great spike in technological development that we are experiencing now came after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In a sense, it could be affirmed that communism arose as a political alternative before its time. Ironically, the application of Marx’s Utopian dream is far easier to envisage now. Whilst, a development of our current AI and robotics technologies offers an alternative to human labour that could give us the means to nurture our potential, the pressing needs for systemic change that are demanded by the ecological crisis give us a sound reason for wanting to make such a revolutionary change as well.

One of the goals of all human societies, if they are truly human, should be to get humans out of the psychologically and physically tedious work spaces, and into environments where human potential can be focussed on tasks related to the full development of our human, homo sapiens, potentials. Technology is now our greatest hope, and the more utopian are our hopes for the technological world, the better. Nevertheless, it is also true, and it should always be uppermost in any technological thrust forward, that a Utopia will only ever be built once research and the production of new technologies are liberated from the profit-making obligations of the market place. (Capitalism + Technology = Dystopia) is the true equation behind the façade of the current System, but it is this same monstrous equation that has to be avoided at all costs.

One of the ways to achieve the liberation from tedious, repetitive work that offers no spiritual reward for the labourer, would lie through a complete automation of production – a process which is taking place, but which is unpopular because it produces unemployment, which produces, in our capitalist-monetary system, misery and poverty. What this implies, therefore, is another Marxist or neo-Marxist goal: the deconstruction of the idea of unemployment allowing for a conception of society to be formed in which being without a wage-earning occupation never has to be a problem.

[i] From Ben Fine and Alfredo Saad, MARX’S CAPITAL, Routledge, p.4

 

[ii] Ibid, p.8

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, SAPIENS, AND TALKING TO THE ANIMALS

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The idea of a World Will as a Will-to-be-Known has become a pivot around which our positive philosophy of real necessity is concerned. Through it we hope to find the human-motivator, inspiring a positive impulse for a development of intelligence as a creative movement away from our system of vulgar competitiveness and its anti-human economy of alienation and differentiation.

Let’s sum up our main point of departure: a thorough revaluation is necessary. This needs to be anchored in necessity in order to redirect progress away from the current juggernaut, all-consuming destruction of the biosphere and ecosystem. Now, up to now we have assumed that this revaluation could only come about through a humanity made up of intellectually and morally advanced Sapiens societies, and because of this our philosophy is a new positivism, or positive humanism. Nevertheless, this same positive end may very well be achieved via less human-positive means. The acquisition and perpetuation of knowledge may well be far better ensured not by our Sapiens’ carbon-based minds, but by silicon-brain intelligences created by us. It may well be that the evolution of the homo sapiens will be into this silicon form, fixed in more durable and resilient bodies that can survive in even the most adverse climatic conditions allowing for space exploration and even the survival of intelligence in a post–apocalyptic lifeless-earth scenario.

If real Being in the universe is to come about by the universe itself being known absolutely and perpetually, then humanity, as we now understand it, falls short of guaranteeing such a portentous destiny. However, even if we are too fail as survivors in the universe, perhaps we might be capable of creating the real Sapiens and intelligence and knowing will find its ultimate realisation not through a final evolutionary leap, but rather through a development of our present technological know-how and the creation of an intelligence far superior to our own.

The idea of humanity being superseded by intelligent, self-reproducing machines of its own creation is a common nightmare of science-fiction narratives. From the internecine struggles between machines and humans in the Terminator or Matrix sagas to the madness of HAL in the Space Odyssey or the complex android psychologies in Ridley Scott’s creations, the idea of a collaboration with a robot that has superior intelligence is a deeply disturbing one. And yet, in all futurology it seems that the presence of the super-intelligent robot is essential. We cannot imagine progress, even if that progress is a suicidal one, without it. In fact, the dawning of the nightmare is already upon us and anthropomimetic robots that can think more or less like a human child have already been created.

Yet twenty years ago scientists like Roger Penrose were proclaiming Artifical Intelligence to be an impossibility.[i] Twenty years ago researchers were stumbling through an erroneous association between intelligence and logic, believing that decision making was a logical process. In reality cybernetics tells us quite the opposite. The binary algorithmic brain, whilst being very good at making calculations and winning chess games, can only go so far in answering meaningful questions. Human reason is more poetical than logical and the anthropomimetic work taking place in robotology demonstrates a link between the human corporal reality and our intelligence, or our form of intelligence. In order to construct a silicon brain that can communicate effectively with humans that brain will have to be inserted into a humanoid-type body, with human-type sensors. In other words, if a manufacturing leap into a more than human body is to take place, it will have to to be created out of our own image. We might be able to build robot octopi or robot insects, but we will not be able to communicate with them on any deep meaningful level for even an octopus machine fitted with a cyber-capacity for self-learning would need to teach itself a language appropriate to its own unique perception of the world. A perception that would be incommunicable to humans, or at least at first.

Perhaps the most profound discovery being uncovered by research into Artificial Intelligence will be a mechanism allowing us to interpret the languages of different kinds of animals. Research is being carried out to find ways of communicating with apes and dolphins, but no great in-roads will be made until we decipher how the corporal experience of different species and their very non-human sensory perceptions create their own knowledge of the world around them. A knowledge which we should not underestimate. A true Sapiens will not only benefit from communication on a complete human level, but from an even greater communication with diversity itself. True wisdom may only start once we can talk to the animals.

In this sense the creation of insect-like or octopus-like robots may have an interesting Sapiens purpose. Perhaps such robots could be designed to act as translators, allowing us to have conversations with ants and birds and elephants and dogs. But for we will ever be able to ever do that we have to firstly learn how to communicate properly with our neighbours.

[i] See Roger Penrose, THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES

THE END OF WORK AND THE DEATH OF MONEY

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Marx estimated that the introduction of power-looms into England reduced the labour required and subsequently labour costs by a half. Technology as it now stands has reduced labour costs in factories and warehouses to minimal levels – in many cases the only costs are those of the energy consumption of the machines and that of human maintenance of machines. It would not be science fiction to imagine that in the near future machines will be designed and programmed to maintain and reproduce themselves and that renewable energy technology will be developed providing a much cheaper, or even free, power source for machines, eliminating the human labour force in manufacturing completely.

Presently the human labour force is being shifted away from manufacturing into services and sales, design, programming, and maintenance. But with the development of robotics there may also be an immanent invasion of android workers coming. Once dexterity issues are overcome, these humanoid-machines, with more efficient information systems that have been programmed so that they work untiringly on specific tasks, could easily also begin to operate on a wide-scale in services, sales, programming and maintenance, and why not even design.

The immediate problem arising from this would be the realisation that human labour could become unnecessary. In a system like ours, in which all reward and satisfaction, even the idea of fulfilment itself, is subject to the individual’s sacrifices in the labour market, the logical evolution of technology towards the abolishing of labour must be impossible. We are faced with a paradoxical situation: we live in an advanced technological society, but the purpose of technology, which is to substitute the tedium of human labour and create a better world, is not allowed to fulfil itself because such a fulfilment would destroy the system of exchange and rewards for labour sacrifice that are the fundamental basis of our money-making system.

Here is the real essence of the System’s crisis. The relationship between production commodities and labour is one in which the latter is constantly shrinking whilst the former is rapidly growing. Eventually this relationship, which is already impossible through its inbuilt contradiction, will become absolutely unbearable. Full employment in modern capitalist society is impossible without making human labour cheaper and more efficient than machine labour. The current system of exchange – of sacrifice and reward via the concept of the production and purchase of commodities and services – is already obsolete. Unemployment is not the result of bad economics and political management, it is a necessary part of the exchange system as we have it.

The only way to remedy our economic absurdity and all the serious problems it creates is by removing one of the conflicting elements in the contradiction. Either technology has to be frozen or the exchange/reward system has to be radically rethought. Of course the most radical way of rethinking the latter would be to ask ourselves how a human society might exist without any exchange system at all, or how a complex technological society might function without money.