The Image in the Mirror is the (Intelligent) Machine

We build machines to define ourselves but in neither do we find the certainty or the completeness we seek.

All of our striving to create technologies of intelligence and control, of automation and – eventually – of sentience as Artificial General Intelligence, these are all the complex and convoluted developmental procedures and unfolding evolution of our own intelligence, our own self-definition. We are not copying ourselves so much as we are inventing ourselves. An act of defining intelligence, of modelling and simulating experience and the self-awareness of sentience – this is a fundamental self-definition and reflexively self-validating construction of our own interior surfaces, our own subjectivity and intelligence.

We are only overtly seeking to create intelligence and sentient awareness. The subliminal narrative here is that of seeking some certainty or symbolic and abstract certainty beyond ourselves upon which we might anchor our own cognitive methods, thus generating a refined truth that casts our own self as complete and whole.

See how the research and development, the applications of putatively autonomous technologies – they are all recreating a definition of intelligence in and through the cognitive extension of technology. This collective endeavour is seeking to retrospectively backfill the existential emptiness behind the mask(s) of Self by projecting it externally and from there asserting control and knowledge which might aspirationally transfer to the inner vacuum of uncertainty.

The deep enigma and irony here us not that in defining and mirroring ourselves, our experience and our sentience we are actually and constitutively redefining and creating or inventing them. The central mystery and discontinuous twist here is that we are eternally unable to capture the emergent complexity and momentum of authentic and autonomously self-propagating intelligence and self-awareness in mechanical logic. There is a deep and unsettling logical vacuum and indefinitely-extensible systemic self-inflection at the center of sentience that, were we able to successfully emulate would utterly dissassemble the naive narcissism around which our psychological fantasies of power, knowledge and (self-)control are constructed.

To find ourselves, we must lose ourselves and even if the apparent cost is in surrendering something which never actually existed, few of us are particularly comfortable with this notion. So we keep chasing our tails, Ourobouros-like, down the fractal rabbit-holes, recursive iterations and algorithmic threads of (our own) self-inflating intelligence. One day I expect we will all arrive at this abstract emptiness and logical void as a heuristic method, technological model and explanatory tool but it seems we are destined to take scenic route to get there.

2 replies on “The Image in the Mirror is the (Intelligent) Machine”

Yes. Also – resonance and reverberating interference patterns across the whole complex system of interacting entities and systems also generates its own self-representations. We all copy, mirror and reproduce ourselves but in the overall form and flow of all these diverse, interdependent entities materially and symbolically recreating or inventing themselves – the whole system reproduces itself.
In regards to mechanistic thinking, rationalism and the deep rabbit (or is that worm?) holes of intelligence and artificial intelligence, there is quite a lot more to say about the ways that psychological bias reproduces and validates itself in self-replicating iterations; an aspirational reproduction of intelligence is also the active definition of intelligence but there are deep discontinuities that provide momentum to all of this. Sentience is a similar issues but is necessarily a little more subtle and complex. To be continued…

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