Working Definition(s)*: Politics, Ethics, Power

The signifier is not enough.

POLITICS = Ethics + Power. Or, if you like, Power + Ethics = Politics.

Ethics is that field of activity that is delineated by the “should.” It has to do with the future. It has to do with *other* people. What we should do to get to a form of life that is better than this one.

Don’t push my buttons.

Power has to do with relations between people and/or things. It is characterized by a differential: one has more than the other. It is made known by the acts and the effects of the acts that the former is able to deploy upon the other.

Politics is the field of activity in which every action that is carried out towards a form of life that is better than this one is unable to be carried out outside of the considerations and the realities of being enmeshed within a vast network of power relations.

Duh Factor: All ethical acts are political acts. There is no such thing as a *merely* ethical act.

Future: How much does strategy have to do with the (*merely*) ethical (And how do we avoid some sort of gross pragmatic utilitarianism?)?

In order to make a simple ethical decision, must I appeal to the broadest commonalities of my constituency?

* Something “that is chosen for an occasion and may not fully conform with established or authoritative definitions,” or as “Equipment[:] conceptual in design and formulation, []pragmatic in use. Defined abstractly, equipment is a set of truth claims, affects, and ethical orientations, designed and composed into a practice. Equipment, which has historically taken different forms, enables practical responses to changing conditions brought about by specific problems, events, and general reconfigurations.”




Whore of Babylon Metropolis
The infamous she-bot of Fritz Lang’s 1926 classic “Metropolis,” the veneer of her metaphor torn away to reveal her true form: the Whore of Babylon.


There are no fewer than ten quotes from various real-life characters of various levels of authority on a number of topics related to artificial intelligence interspersed throughout the latest trailer for the movie “Ex Machina,” which opens tonight. Below you will find said quotes alongside twelve of my tweets, each of which comprise a minor rant re my reaction to said trailer. Composed into a litany of sorts, they were never meant to be a one-to-one response to each quote, but I a) wanted to write something but was too lazy, and b) was fascinated at the idea of curating these texts in this manner (I literally lifted them and copy-pasted them in order), and wanted to see if they formed anything coherent. I’m not sure if they did or not.

I’m pretty excited about @ExMachinaMovie, even thought it’s doing what they’re all doing: deifying tech-development (even as it warns us).

“AI would be the biggest event in human history. Unfortunately, it might also be the last.” – Elon Musk

But I have to say: it’s laying on the #judgementday rhetoric pretty thick. RE all the quotes at the beginning of the new trailer. #ExMachina

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” – Stephen Hawking

So: be afraid of the machines rising up and killing us. Sure. But why would they want to?

“Google will complete its mission only when its search engine is AI-complete.” – Larry Page, CEO and co-founder of Google

If a “machine” is going to wake up, it’s going to be the internet (and if it’s going to wake up, it probably already has) #ExMachina

“If you invent Artificial Intelligence, that’s the last invention you’ll ever have to invent.” – D. Scott Phoenix, co-founder of Vicarious

Now if anything could destroy us, it’d be the internet. But why would it?

“If a super-intelligent machine decided to get rid of us, I think it would do so pretty efficiently.” – Shane Legg, co-founder of Google DeepMind

We’re presupposing that its consciousness will be singular. #ExMachina

“Artificial Intelligence, which humans are creating, could soon become unstoppable.” – Nick Bilton, New York Times

Why would we suppose something as total and rhizomatic as the internet would have anything like a human consciousness? #ExMachina

“The best film about consciousness ever made.” – Vaughn Bell, MindHacks

Secondly, why would it destroy the set of conditions that brought it into being, and that maintains its hardware? #ExMachina

“An unnerving meditation on the ethics of artificial intelligence. Oh baby you have no idea.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

It wouldn’t have to enslave us – it already has. Or we’ve simply established a co-parasitic sort of relationship #ExMachina

“Ex Machina feels like an idea Tim Cook might reveal during the next iPhone conference.” – Ian Phillips, Business Insider

I assume that “full AI” means cognition + affect, so it probably feels. It would def have to feel to be pissed enough to destroy us.


Y do we assume that it’d be unsatisfied with human “nature” or “history?” R we projecting our disappointment of the death of God? #ExMachina


Why wouldn’t the woke up #ExMachina full AI internet decide to SAVE us instead of KILL us? If it could, why wouldn’t it?

ROBOTS” – Steven Rosenbaum, Forbes

Y wouldn’t it create the optimum set of conditions for its continued existence, and why wouldn’t “we” be included in that schema? #ExMachina

“I don’t understand why some people are not concerned.” – Bill Gates

Sure, it might get fascist: it might think “O get rid of all *these* assholes, put these good 1s over here” etc. But Y would it hazard that?