How much analytical work can be done with the short circuit model of dysfunction in complex intelligent systems, exemplified by the Alexander’s Wirehead-AI model? This blog is betting: a lot.
Shelving the AI question, for the moment, how can it be applied to social-civilizational systems? (This is a scratch-pad post on some suggestive topical territories.)
(1) Macroeconomics. Fiat currency short-circuits the monetary function by directly hacking the financial sign. Rather than receiving money feedback for productive performance, currency is reconceived as a political-economic drug, for employment in technocratic-managerial social therapeutics. The concept of ‘money illusion’ (among many others) captures this new dispensation with acute cynicism. Operate directly upon public ‘economic sentiment’ through money manipulation, rather than tolerating the spontaneous control of money by industrial production — and risking depression. The whole of what is still — comically — called ‘capitalism’ is clogged up to its eyeballs with Keynesian Prozac.
(2) Drugs. Macroeconomics is already such a perfect neuro-pharmaceutical analog there’s scarcely any point treating this as a separate category.
(3) Signalling (all of it). Directly hack the signal, while abandoning to atrophy all those things the signal originally indicated. Isn’t the Cathedral, fundamentally, a machine to do this? Split off holiness signals, and hystericize them, in complete remove from any actual performance that might once have grounded them. That is our culture. It’s a semiotic technology that, once learnt, is immediately irresistibly addictive, and self-reinforcing. The entire escalation of ‘Ultra-Calvinism’ is inextricable from this process, as sublimed signals of the goodthink true faith cast off the last ballast of ‘works’, in order to become liberated academic-media functions. ‘Goodness’ is now sheer cosmetics.
(4) Fertility. Who needs grandchildren, when they can play the immersive happy grandparent game? (Get caught up in the web-porn intermediate stages, if that seems more convincing.) All the Darwinian guidance signals have been hacked to hell.
(5) Social media. Short-circuit social feedback, stripped-down semiotic ‘performance’, increasingly theatrical ‘identities’, addiction … it’s all there.
A restoration would require something like a Confucian ‘rectification of names’ — a reality-based re-validation of signs. How popular is that going to be, when the alternative, continuing semiotic short-circuit, is pure dope?
ADDED: Also this (prompt via).