6 Jan 2009

Deleuze and Posthumanism Paper, Part 6: Conclusion and Bibliography, of "Do Posthumanists Dream of Pixelated Sheep?"

by Corry Shores
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"Do Posthumanists Dream of Pixelated Sheep?

Mental Uploading under Deleuzean Critique"

Part 6: Conclusion and Bibliography

Deleuze's notion of a discordantly-mixed analogical and digital communication has consequences on his theories of thought and self-hood. From his new perspective, we obtain a critique of mental uploading that goes beyond the artificial intelligence theory that calls-for a complementary mixture of analogical and digital types of computational operations. Deleuze claims that there is more to thought than computation; and, the ‘adaptation’ – that artificial intelligence theories attribute to analogical operations – for Deleuze would not result from an orderly adjustment to the environment, but rather from a confused discordant tension with it.

According to these artificial intelligence theories, our brains adapt to new situations by making use of analogical operations in concord with the digital ones. Deleuze's sort of dynamic thinking results from the facultative discord produced by the violent mixture of digital and analogical modes of communication. When instead the faculties recognize an object, they work together harmoniously.[i] Yet Deleuze wonders, does the cow think when it recognizes the grass it is about to eat? Or does not thinking occur when something perplexes and confuses us, and we are forced to puzzle through a problem in effort to figure it out?

As Deleuze explains, what “forces thought is thus the coexistence of contraries,” which propel thought into a ‘mad-becoming’ that is interrupted as soon as we recognize a coherent representation for what was previously paradoxical.[ii] These forces that provoke thought (the body, passions, and sensuous interests) are in fact foreign and opposed to the thinking they induce; and, no pre-given method exists to recognize the object and bring order to the disorganized faculties.[iii] Hence, intelligent computers cannot have this sort of creative thought, because they lack body, passion, and sensuous interest; and also, they always process information by means of pre-set programs, which would function as (rigid or flexible) methods lacking a sort of innovative thinking that goes beyond mere adaptation. This disordered thinking is raw original human creation: “to think is to create – there is no other creation.”[iv]

Moreover, creative thought is not the only outcome of internal disorder: our selfhoods result as well. If we are not in a state of becoming, then how would we exist? Perhaps we would amount to little more than Moravec’s computer simulation in which our personalities are sheltered from random exterior forces that influence alterations in our selfhood. Would we exist as ourselves if we were not changing in unpredictable ways? Deleuze proposes the notion of the ‘fractured I,’ the desubjectifying subjectivity. Yet, it is not a self without subjectivity, but one whose internal chaos allows for maximal growth and change. In these states of disorder, we are incapable of producing representations or significations. We cannot ourselves be unified under some concept encapsulating our essence; nor can any name designate us as an abstract determination.[v] Hence according to Deleuze, as soon as our selfhoods are stabilized and symbolized by digital coding, we cease being ourselves; for, as codified abstractions, we are no longer becoming ourselves.

Thus, because human beings are always changing unpredictably, mental uploads could not bear our selfhoods, even if they are functionally isomorphic to our brains. (If we create a self-replication that, like us, is at liberty to change and is continually under constraints to do so, would it not become something unlike ourselves?) Hence, copies that replicate all our essential features would still behave differently from us, if truly they bore our own properties of unique individuality and unforeseeable creative alteration. But of course then, such a functionally non-isomorphic rendition of our mind would have an identity all its own. Thus from a Deleuzean perspective, mental uploading is an impossibility no matter how advanced the technology, because if it perfectly copies our selfhood, the simulation would become someone else; and, if the copy is inaccurate, it never would have been us in the first place. And therefore, adopting an emergentist theory of mind still will not support mental uploading, because a functionally isomorphic copy of our emergent minds would not have the ‘libertarian free will’ to develop an independent identity. So, although mental uploading may have seemed trivial at first, we found that by offering a thorough critique, we can uncover some of humanity’s essential and irreducible properties.

[i] Gilles Deleuze, Difference & Repetition, Transl. Paul Patton, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1994), p.133.

[ii] Difference & Repetition , p.141.

[iii] Nietzsche & Philosophy, p.103.

[iv] Difference & Repetition, p.147.

[v] Difference & Repetition, p.152-153. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, (London: Continuum, 1987), p.177.


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