The Limits of Automation

If automation is only limited by the boundaries of what we can describe, are we actually capable of describing those entities, processes, objects and systems of non-trivially sophisticated complexity with which we all must eventually and inevitably engage ? What are the logical, mathematical and epistemological boundaries of our collective efforts to compress, optimise and accelerate technological, administrative and organisational systems ? Are we unable to automate much broader organisational or technical systems because beyond a certain threshold of descriptive complexity, uncertainty and entropy becomes fundamentally unmanageable ? Is it an irreducible problem-space because the logic required to describe globally-considered, emergent webs of complex systems interconnection and interdependence (far beyond relatively simple tasks and processes) is not amenable to concise or linear algorithmic representation ?

If we can not agree on a (shared, or ideologically agnostic) big-picture description of purpose and technological or organisational teleology, how can we ever hope to optimise and automate information processing systems beyond the most trivial or isolated of programmable processes, entities and objects ?

Art without an Artist ?

Context: Portrait by AI program sells for $432,000

Art without an artist: is this the beginning of a total dissolution of the myth of creative genius, or a pure art-market fetishism of technological and algorithmic novelty ? A bit of both, perhaps.

Despite that in many ways the procedurally recursive and recombinatory creative aggregation of style, method and idiom is what art is (and what artists do), this all begins to seem like a free-floating system in which human agency and subjective experience are no longer the epistemological anchors, boundaries or arbiters of value. Virtual currencies, distributed systems, remote presence – altogether, a curious inversion of the focal point of subjective individuality which arises (mischievously) as a technological consequence of the accelerating process of symbolic refinement and specialisation that initially generated to support and validate that nodal pivot of individual and cultural self.

At the heights of technological sophistication, do we effectively write ourselves out of our own story ?

Cognitive and Technological Hyper-extension: Why Worry ?

While the notional use of a(ny) technology might be for the benefit of its users, it seems in quite some number of ways that the balance has reoriented itself to the primary benefit of technology itself over and above the benefit of the users; while technology and automation successfully gather data about you, it is still fundamentally you that must learn how to navigate, negotiate and harness the tools and methods which are shifting sands under our feet even as we seek to find stability and leverage. While we harness automation, we are simultaneously being exploited by those self-propagating patterns and organisational, cognitive, cultural and economic systems; we (and all of our data and informational, productive utility) are now effectively the main course at a banquet we thought we were hosting. As technologies and hybrid technology-and-human systems continuously insert themselves into our workflows and thought patterns, we become progressively and perhaps irreversibly beholden to them more than they could ever remain subject to us. This has been happening largely by stealth.

On Technology, Culture and Sleepwalking into Non-existence

We are really not for the most part noticing the depth and extent of the ongoing procedural acquisition of all of our cognitive, interpersonal and administrative (or more broadly speaking – organisational) processes and behavioural patterns by technology, even while it is occurring incessantly all around us (and reflexively, fundamentally – through us). Technological indebtedness, responsibilities and (literal) interdictions of various kinds are saturating our workplaces, shared spaces and personal lives in many overt and subtle ways. A tidal surge of digital-technological assumption-to-primacy is occurring through processes and activities that are themselves masked by various pretensions and superficial ascriptions to diversity of self-expression and amplification of economic (or social and cultural) productivity; the range and expanding perimeter of both technologically-mediated self-identity and economic or cultural complexity are of such great utility and benefit that we are bound (and very likely – obligated) to double-down on our cognitive hyper-extension, over-dependence and a generalised technological gambit.