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11-02-2022 image

computers and gods

In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. Jorge Luis Borges - On Exactitude in Science

Sometimes I close my eyes in an attempt to comprehend what computers are. I think of how they are made from materials dug up from below in places all over the world before they are brought together, processed, synthesised into something which can carry currents and data at unimaginable scales.

I try and think of the networks of cables suspended above sea floors — linking continents and enabling networking at incomprehensible speeds.

But most of all I think of the computer as a complex compound of culture, power, and history. A radical technology which, like many other technologies before it, remade humans understandings of each other and the world in which they find themselves.

What computes are at their core, like much other technology, is contested. Most agree on the fact that this technology is of immense transformative power. Yet, what is the nature and source of this power and how does it interface with other historical and spiritual structures which mediate power?

This essay is an attempt at considering not just the mechanical essence of what computers are, but the its current and future potential as a cultural and perhaps spiritual entity. It is written in the belief that computing must break free of its military-modernist origin-story to become something which is truly intimate and emancipatory for communities in different places.

The hybris of leveraging the digital to try grasp all of the analogue world

In the context of the military-modernist origin-story the desire to grasp the whole world, like the hand of god, is a given. Within this context it is common to see the future as something that has already been determined. The narrative goes something like this — we are part of a march towards a world where the digital and the physical collapse onto each other as a result of an ever deeper embrace of computational sensing. The philosopher Yuk Hui likens this teleological view of computation to the desire to become god.

technological historical time synchronized and converged towards one end point which we have called before technological singularity, or if you prefer you can also call it the apocryps or homologues, the becoming of god. Yuk Hui - From the universality of progress to cosmotechnics

Why? Why did you die? — — — God is here. Serial Experiments LAIN

We’re not living in an algorithmic culture so much as a computational theocracy. Ian Bogost - The Cathedral of Computation

There are many cathedrals in existence. Meta is the missionary church.

Ontologies of Computers and Gods
computers are gods computers are created by god
”Unlike today’s virtual assistants, the gods of KamiOS are not all-knowing or all-powerful. They are limited, fallible, and have different agendas and loyalties.” Keiichi Matsuda - GODS ”Since computers are a part of the creation, and God commanded ourancestors to exercise dominion over the creation (Genesis 1:28), then the proper relationship between people and computers is for people to exercise dominion over computers.” Joel Adams - A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE ON COMPUTING

Another kind of computation

The sailing/computing duo Hundred Rabbits are pilgrim-poets of permacomputing. Robin Sloan - The slab and the permacomputer

Seeking new computational ontologies by computing where it is rarely done by moving off land entirely. travelling cathedral builder

What is the nature of the universes which rise out of the digital?

It feels obscene to think of computer programmers as creators of new universes. Yet, what is it that programmers are creating?

I always imagine that each man-made object is surrounded by a ‘Magical Circle’, just like those radiant Circles in Japanese Magical girl anime. Imagine a stool silently unfolds its ‘Magical Circle’, urging people nearby to sit in it. Weiyi Li - Function as Narrative

KamiOS is different. It is based in pagan animism, where there are many thousands of gods, who live in everything Keiichi Matsuda - GODS