Digital Art and Philosophy #5


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In this original Digital Art and Philosophy class, we will become familiar with different forms of digital art and related philosophical issues. Digital art is anything related to computers and art such as using a computer to create art or an art display that is digitized. Philosophical aspects arise regarding art, identity, performance, interactivity, and the process of creation. Students may respond to the material in essay, performance, or digital art work (optional). Instructor: Melanie Swan. Syllabus:

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Digital Art and Philosophy #5

  1. 1. Image: Emese Szorenyi Digital Art and Philosophy #5Portable ArtTech: Wearable Electronics, Identity, the Future. Melanie Swan University of the Commons and the Emerald Tablet Gallery Syllabus:
  2. 2. Digital Art is anything involving computers and art 2
  3. 3. Sub-categories of Digital Art Information Visualization Play, Performance, Virtual RealityNatural Aesthetics: BioArt, Generative Art Identity, the Future 3
  4. 4. Review: Philosophy of Digital Art1. Introduction: Interactivity gives more direct access to perception2. Information Visualization: representing the unrepresented3. Play, Performance & Virtual Reality: existence of virtual reality artworks4. Natural Aesthetics: – Hard to tell what kind of ‘real’ – Interdisciplinarity: artists -> biology, engineers -> biology, programmers -> art – Placeness, spatiality, dwelling; homelessness and nihilism in new contexts virtually – Dwelling – extending ourselves meaningfully, rechecking group values 4
  5. 5. Agenda and Topic ClustersPortable ArtTech: Wearable Electronics, Identity, the Future Wearable Electronics Synthetic Biology (de novo creation) Exosenses Philosophy of Technology Cyborg Culture and CrowdArt Transhumanism Philosophy of Creativity 5
  6. 6. Sensor Mania! Wearable Electronics Smart Gadgetry Creates Continuous Personal Information Climate Smartphone, Fitbit, Smartwatch (Pebble), Electronic T-shirt (Carre) Smartring (ElectricFoxy), Electronic tattoos (mc10), $1 blood API (Sano Intelligence), Continuous Monitors (Medtronic)Source: Swan, M. Sensor Mania! The Internet of Things, Objective Metrics, and the Quantified Self 2.0.J Sens Actuator Netw 2012. 6
  7. 7. Electronic and Chemical BioSensor Aesthetics “Hi-Tech Tattoos: When Artists and Engineers Work Together” • Wearable explosive detection devices disguised by temporary transfer tattoos • Electrochemical sensors applied directly to skin or sewn into clothing • Detect vapors (external) – Chemical constituents of explosives Electronic – Environmental toxins • Detect vital signs (internal) 7
  8. 8. Augmenting the Brain 24/7 Consumer EEG, Eye-tracking, Emotion-Mapping, Augmented Reality Glasses Consumer EEG Rigs Augmented Reality Glasses 1.02.0Source: Swan, M. Sensor Mania! The Internet of Things, Objective Metrics, and the Quantified Self 2.0.J Sens Actuator Netw 2012. 8
  9. 9. Building Exosenses Extending our senses in new ways to perceive data as sensationMagnetic Sense: Finger and Arm MagnetsEric Boyd – Heart Spark Nancy Dougherty – Serendipitous Joy Smile-triggered EMG muscle sensor withThe North Paw- A Haptic Compass Anklet an LED headband display 9
  10. 10. World of Smart Matter The Internet of Things • Internet of Things: making objects readable, recognizable, locatable, addressable, and controllable wirelessly via the Internet1 • Usual gadgetry (e.g.; smartphones, tablets) and everyday objects: cars, food, clothing, appliances, materials, parts, buildings, roads • 5% of human-constructed objects have embedded microprocessors (2012)21U.S. 1991 National Intelligence Council. The “Internet of Things,” 2008., V. Who’s Afraid of First Movers? The Singularity Summit 2012. 10
  11. 11. Continuous Information Climate Fourth-person Perspective• Immersed in infinite data flow: We give off bits of information that are sent to the data flow, the data flow responds by sending information to us 11
  12. 12. Data as Artistic Medium Data as Culture (Stanza 2012) Data as a raw material for artists 12
  13. 13. Fashion 13
  14. 14. Fashion as Practical Commentary Consumer Strikes Back • Drone-proof anti-surveillance Burqas from Stealth Wear – Response to surveillance drones in domestic airspace – Wearers invisible to infrared surveillance cameras • Neural Data Privacy Rights – Personal Faraday cage • Behavioral conventions – ‘Off-Glass’ conversationsBurqa: 14
  15. 15. What is Transhumanism?• Transhumanism (H+) (Wikipedia) – Social movement that affirms the possibility and desirability of fundamentally transforming the human condition – by developing and making widely available technologies – to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities• Transhuman (transitionary human), a greatly enhanced human on the way to the Posthuman, a radically different being, enhanced to the moment of speciation 15
  16. 16. Transhumanist Values • Transhumanism is a dynamic philosophy – Intended to evolve as new information becomes available – A questioning attitude and a willingness to revise beliefs and assumptions • Transhumanism’s objective is to be inclusive – Emphasis on individual freedom and individual choice in the area of enhancement technologies – Right to choose • Live longer and healthier lives • Enhance memory and other intellectual faculties • Refine emotional experiences and subjective sense of well-being • Achieve a greater degree of control over lifeSource: Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University 16
  17. 17. Roots of Transhumanism: Cybernetics• Cybernetics: The science of communications and automatic control systems in both machines and living things• Notion of feedback loops (Cybernetics, Norbert Wiener 1948)• “I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess” (A Cyborg Manifesto, Donna Haraway 1985)• Human beings are observed and observing systems (We Have Never Been Modern, Bruno Latour 1997)• 10% already cyborgs (Andy Clark, Natural-born Cyborgs 2003, Supersizing the Mind 2008) 17
  18. 18. Reading: Nietzsche, the Overhuman, and Transhumanism (Stefan Sorgner, 2009)Nietzsche as grounds for transhumanism1. Concept: Übermensch (overman; overhuman) – Nietzsche: Overman overcomes the herd mentality and is capable of creating a new perspective – Bostrom: Transhuman (transitionary human) with extended capabilities, and speciated Posthuman2. Support of science and enhancement – Nietzsche: the future age will be governed by a scientific spirit; human beings grow stronger (through education) and have developed a scientific spirit (e.g.; obtained objective information) – Bostrom: Wide availability of intellectual, physical, and psychological enhancement technologies 18
  19. 19. Reading: Nietzsche, the Overhuman, and Transhumanism (Stefan Sorgner, 2009)3. Dynamic nature and evolution inhuman nature and values; humannature as a work-in-progress – Nietzsche: Concept of overcoming: constantly refining ourselves and broadening our intellectual horizons to become the overman – Bostrom: Notion of cultivating a questioning and analytical attitude to enhancement adoption/non-adoption – Counter to Plato’s immutable forms 19
  20. 20. Nietzsche gets a Modem: Transhumanism and the Technological Sublime (Elaine Graham, 2002)• Tradition of philosophic contemplation of the posthuman condition (Lyotard, etc.) – Malleable boundaries between humans, animals, and machines – Humans are a mix of machine and organism• Nietzsche already had a modem – Transhumanism is fatally flawed – Still has the ‘religion of humanity’ – Must dissolve current notions of value, hope, and meaning• Posthuman Representational Accuracy – Representing what does not yet exist to create it – Incorrect: normative visions of humanism, fears and fantasies of technoscience 20
  21. 21. Existential Risk: Threats to Humanity’s Survival• Existential Risk: risk that threatens the entire future of humanity (difficult to assess; high stakes)• Existential Risk Institutes – Oxford Future of Humanity Institute, – Cambridge Project for Existential Risk, Bostrom N. Existential Risks: Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazards. 2002. 21
  22. 22. Risk Extinction Estimates (2008) Existential Risk At least 1 At least 1 Human mn dead bn dead extinction Molecular nanotechnology weapons 25% 10% 5% Superintelligent AI 10% 5% 5% All wars (including civil wars) 98% 30% 4% Single biggest engineered pandemic 30% 10% 2% All nuclear wars 30% 10% 1% Single biggest nanotechnology accident 5% 1% 0.5% Single biggest natural pandemic 60% 5% 0.05% All acts of nuclear terrorism 15% 1% 0.03% Overall risk of extinction prior to 2100 n/a n/a 19%Bostrom N and Sandberg A. Global Catastrophic Risks Survey. 2008. 22
  23. 23. Existential Risk Mitigation • Friendly superintelligence – Singularity Institute: design ‘friendly’ utility functions – Hall (Beyond AI 2007): AI likely to be more humane • Nanofactory restrictions (grey goo) • Surveillance/sousveillance balance • Alternative habitats (‘backup’) – Space habitats – Ocean habitats (seasteading) – Mine shaft habitats – Antarctic habitats 23
  24. 24. • Text 24
  25. 25. Need for Posthuman Philosophies Eras of Philosophy Ancient Modern Posthuman• Need for prescriptive support about future possibilities (visionary), not descriptive philosophy (documenting)• Potential difference in nearly all topics of philosophy – The nature of Reality – Subject/object, subjective/objective experience – The self, individual/society – Instancing, copies, self, other, alterity – Language, signifier, label, trace – Death, time, spatiality, contingency – Meaning-making, aesthetics, ethics 25
  26. 26. Contemporary Innovation in Biology1. Regenerative Medicine: Tissue Engineering, Stem Cell Therapies, 3D BioPrinting (Focus: replacement)2. Synthetic Biology (Focus: enhancement & de novo genesis)3. Genetic Engineering: RNAi, Zinc Finger Nucleases, histone remodeling4. Nanomedicine, Targeted Nanoparticles5. Era of Big Health Data: Omics6. Personalized Medicine and Crowdsourced health7. Biomolecular Interface: organic/inorganic hybrids 26
  27. 27. Philosophical Issues related to Innovation in Biology • Is it okay to interfere with natural processes? – Have always been manipulating (e.g.; plant and animal breeding), this is just a better way – Nodes: crop-breeding, GMO1, SynBio – What constitutes a qualitative change? Is a qualitative change relevant? How should we think about ‘order of magnitude’ change? • Is there a different set of concerns with de novo generation?1Genetically-modified organism 27
  28. 28. Synthetic Biology “This century’s transistor” • Definition: Synthetic biology (synbio) is – Design and construction of new biological entities such as enzymes, genetic circuits, and cells, – Redesign of existing biological systems • Biology as an engineering medium – Engineering principles applied to harness the fundamental components of biology • Main approaches – Metabolic engineering (bacteria produce diesel) – Extending E. coli capacity (yeast produces medicine) – Biomimicry (replicate biological function in synthetic systems) – de novo Synthesis (create new functionality)Source: Swan, M. Synbio Revolution: Biology is the Engineering Medium, 6/26/11 28
  29. 29. Philosophical Issues related to Synthetic Biology (Metaphysics) • Nature of reality and existence – Definition of ‘What is life?’ – How much DNA change is required for a sub-species or ‘different’ organism? Constellations of related organisms – What are living machines, synbio products in themselves? • Ontological classifications – Organizing, naming, classifying modified and de novo plants and organisms – Develop an ontology of the products of synthetic biology using philosophy of language (e.g. theory of conceptual metaphors) – Redefining existing ontologies structured around outdated paradigms: living/non-living, organic/non-organicSource: Philosophy and Synthetic Biology: Philosophical Problems and Concerns in Working WithLiving Organisms 29
  30. 30. Philosophical Issues related to Synthetic Biology (Other) • Ethics – Safety, accountability, responsibilities, unintended consequences, right to do this work (playing God?), dual-use debate – Standard risk models appropriate? • Epistemology – How do I know that my methods are safe, etc.? – Limits on knowledge-seeking and dissemination? • Axiology (values, valorisation) – Synthetic biology product ownership, patentingSource: Philosophy and Synthetic Biology: Philosophical Problems and Concerns in Working WithLiving Organisms 30
  31. 31. Aristotle: Approaches to Knowledge I know how • Epistêmê: Scientific knowledge, theory. to do it Universal, invariable, context-independent theoretically • Technê: Craft art, practice, technique. I know how Pragmatic, variable, context-dependent, to do it oriented toward production, doing practically • Phronesis: Ethics. Deliberation about I know when values with reference to praxis (the to do it appropriate application of a skill) • Poiesis Taking Action. To make, transform, do, produce, bring-forth (Heidegger: I do it aletheia/truth/unconcealment, revealing)Source: The Nicomachean Ethics (Aristotle 1st c BC) 31
  32. 32. de novo Generators Developing Code of Responsibilities • Contemplated knowledge-based action-taking1 – What are we actually doing? – What are living machines good for? – What are they in themselves? Artificial ligase enzyme • Practice standards – Signing, documenting work • Goal – Deliver function, safety, and beauty Mycoplasma laboratorium1Source: Boldt J, Living Machines, Metaphors, and Functional Explanations: Towards an Epistemological Foundationof Synthetic Biology, 2012 32
  33. 33. Current Opinion in Chemical Biology Mechanisms • Aesthetics • Molecular imaging December 2012 Volume 16 Issues 5–6 Pages 461-622 33
  34. 34. Synthetic Aesthetics How would you design nature? • Connecting synthetic biology, social science, and art and design1 – Teams: Bioengineers and Synbio Designers • Molecular Design Aesthetics – When we make new molecules should they be beautiful? Are naturally occurring molecules beautiful? What is an ugly protein? – Is ‘form follows function’ relevant? Can function be beautiful? – What aesthetic criteria to apply? Aesthetics of chirality1 and 34
  35. 35. What is Technology?• Technology: the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, and techniques in order to solve a problem or achieve a goal (Wikipedia)• Technological Eras – Is there anything fundamentally different about the current era of technology? – How do we know? – What would constitute a fundamental change in technology? 35
  36. 36. History of the Philosophy of Technology• Greeks on technology – Democritus: technology learns from or imitates nature “house-building and weaving were first invented by imitating swallows and spiders building their nests and nets” (D154) – Aristotle: “generally art in some cases completes what nature cannot bring to a finish, and in others imitates nature” (Physics II.8, 199a15) 36
  37. 37. Narrowband Approaches to Thinking about Technology• Similar to Ethical Models progression – Act-based -> Actor-based -> Situation-based• Binary Model: tech-positivist or tech-negativist – Technology is dehumanizing or emancipating• Adopt/Non-Adopt Model – Luddite (categorical non-adopt) – Fatalist (categorical must adopt) – Impossibility of conceiving it (can’t intelligently adopt) • Vinge: Greater than human level artificial intelligence (technological singularity) • Graham, Bostrom (posthuman) • Wolfram (computer programs) • Yudkowsky (possibility space of all intelligence) 37
  38. 38. Heidegger: The Right Relation to Technology• Two Ways to See Technology: Means (enslaving) and Enablement (freeing) – “Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology, whether we passionately affirm or deny it. Technology is a means to an end [enslaving]. – But technology is no mere means [there is a right relationship]. There is an aspect of bringing-forth which brings out of concealment into unconcealment. Technology is a way of revealing truth. – It is as revealing, not as manufacturing, that technology is a bringing-forth *freeing+.”• Summary – Technology [and art] are a way of revealing (truth) – If we use our questioning way and see technology as an enabler and not as a means to an end, then we will maintain a free relationship with technology 38
  39. 39. Digital Art and Culture• The enabling relationship with technology and art is both individual and societal• Worldwide cultural impact of digital art• Binkley reading connects digital art to culture more broadly – Production of culture – Broadening of participation – Future of creativity 39
  40. 40. Reading: Vitality of Digital Creation (Timothy Binkley, 1997)• “Digital images are at first glance improbable players in the drama of culture since numbers (abstract concept) and pictures (visible objects) are diametric opposites”• “The consequences of digitizing our discourses encompass not only expanded creative phenomena, but also extended interconnections between art and the rest of culture as we interact more frequently and more fully with each other across geographic, political, and cultural boundaries”• “Visual data are paramount in shaping the interface as well as supplying the content for this network”• Conclusion: Network fabric continually being created for global connectivity and creativity including interfaces for participatory digital art 40
  41. 41. CrowdArtEric Whitacres Virtual Choir 3, Water Night (2012) 41
  42. 42. CrowdArtVirtual Choir - Lux Aurumque (Eric Whitacre 2010) 42
  43. 43. CrowdArt• Art created by groups of people participating simultaneously• Crowd collaboration - exquisite corpse model of the surrealists• Crowdsourced art (user-contributed sites Flickr, Photobucket)• Art mobs – Community-created art – Art produced en masse – Art quality voted up/down 43
  44. 44. Pervasiveness of Crowd Models• Crowdsourcing: coordination of large numbers of individuals (the crowd) through an open call on the Internet in the conduct of some sort of activity – Economics: crowdsourced labor marketplaces, crowdfunding, grouppurchasing, rhythm-based service economy (Easter in Spain vizualization) – Politics: flashmobs, online organizing, opinion-shifting, data-mining – Social: blogs, social networks, meetup, online dating – Art & Entertainment: virtual reality, multiplayer games – Education: MOOCs (massively open online courses) – Health: health social networks, digital health experimentation communities, quantified self – Digital public goods: Wikipedia, online health databanks, data commons resources, crowdscience competitions 44
  45. 45. The Crowd as a Collective Intelligence Computing Network • Crowd computation network as a new flavor of artificial intelligence – Crowd as a computing model: Collective intelligence community computing – The computing community is a living organism of individual nodes and mass collaboration • Humans and groups are computation nodes – Involuntary (shedding data, online sociality) – Voluntary (create, analyze, comment, upload) • Each node adds data to the network and conducts computation on existing flows to make them more meaningfulSwan, M. DIYgenomics citizen science health research studies: personal wellness and preventive medicine throughcollective intelligence. AAAI Symposium on Self-Tracking and Collective Intelligence for Personal Wellness 2012 45
  46. 46. Philosophical Issues in Crowd ModelsMassive Access to Creative Production Scribe Printing Press Blogger, Twitter, Flickr Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest Orchestra Midi Keyboard Garage Band, Soundcloud Animation Computer-generated Spore Imagery (CGI) Creature Creator 46
  47. 47. What is Creativity?• Creativity: The ability to make or bring something new into existence (Webster)• Growing field of multi-disciplinary study – Biology: natural selection, genomics, neurology – Psychology: how the imagination works, cognitive processes employed in creativity 47
  48. 48. 5 Steps in the Creative Process 1. Preparation: Becoming immersed in the area 2. Incubation: Allowing the ideas to turn around unconsciously 3. Insight: the “Aha!” moment when things start to make sense 4. Evaluation: Deciding whether to pursue the insight 5. Elaboration: Translating the insight into its final formCsikszentmihalyi , Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, 1996 48
  49. 49. Philosophy of Creativity• Metaphysics, Ontology (existence) – Pervasive, important, praise• Philosophy of mind – Consciousness and Intentionality 2010• Ethics – Is creativity valuable for its own sake apart from what it produces? – Is creativity a virtue?• Aesthetics – The work is evaluated – The reaction to the work is evaluated – (New) The process of the producer’s production of the work is evaluated 49
  50. 50. Book: The Creation of Art : New Essays inPhilosophical Aesthetics (Berys Gaut 2003)• Creativity is associated with art, but yet is pervasive in all settings• Creativity as a form of problem-solving (a task that presents difficulty) – Art-making is the problem of expression – Creative actions may have some goal or directionality• Resistance from artists and philosophers – Creativity as pure spontaneity 50
  51. 51. What are the next media for art?• Any prominent societal ‘currency’ is taken up by artists (and technologists and engineers) as an experimental medium• Technology, biology, data, ??• What are upcoming societal currencies? – 3D printing feedstock – Pink goo: more flavors of synbio – Personal Analytics and the Quantified Self – Health 51
  52. 52. Summary of Philosophical Issues in Wearable Electronics, Identity, the Future • Portable ArtTech changing perspectives of reality and blurring subject/object distinctions – Wearable computing, IOT sensors, exosenses – Continuous information climate • Transhumanist as enhanced transitionary human on the way to the speciated Posthuman • Representation accuracy and authenticity – InfoViz: representing the unrepresented – Creating the unrepresented which does not exist • SynBio de novo creation • Posthuman (Nietzsche already had a modem; eliminate normative notions of humanity) • Enablement relationship to technology and art • ‘Orders of magnitude’ change • Democratized access to the tools of creativity 52
  53. 53. Feedback:Thank you! Image: Emese Szorenyi Digital Art and Philosophy Melanie Swan University of the Commons and the Emerald Tablet Gallery