Saturday, May 5, 2012

We are Informational Patterns....(Cheers)

For the record, the next number of blogs are going to be well out of order. I got behind and it gets harder and harder to play catch up (as obvious) especially if you try to keep things in order. So, I'm going out of order. Enjoy: Andy Clark, in Natural Born Cyborgs often surprised me. For the most part, I really enjoyed his writing. In a lot of way, it left me questioning some of my fundamental assumptions about what a cyborg really is. The most interesting part for me however, was to extend these ideas into what I think about videogames. You see, I tend to think about videogames through their interface. This includes looking at the controllers yes, but often goes quite a bit deeper than that. In videogames, the interface can account for everything from the controller, to the console, and into the software, where things like little red orbs can indicate health, and an idealized human figure can represent the player’s interaction with the game. In Clark’s ideas, he brings up the idea that “what is special about human brains, and what best explains the distinctive features of human intelligence, is precisely their ability to enter into deep and complex relationships with nonbiological constructs, props, and aids” (Clark 13). Human intelligence can be seen as an informational pattern, much the way that most programs in a computer are informational patterns. Mind you, the human intelligence is an extremely complicated informational pattern, but nonetheless, the fact that they are a pattern doesn’t change. Similarly, most software, hell, most objects, are also informational patterns. At foundational levels, they are patterns of molecules, shaped into things exist because of these very patterns. However, the patterns that we, as humans, use to define things go even further than that. The patterns of human society are usually written onto the objects around us, we literally write objects in order to influence or control their relationship to us. We apply this to rocks (which become stones for throwing, minerals for harvesting, etc.) and trees (look…wood!) and even other people (you are my friend, my lover, etc.). What is interesting about relationships is that, in each of them, we are never as fully in control as we think we are. While we believe that we are in control of the tool that we are using, the shovel, the computer, etc. is in service to us, when it can actually be looked at in a very different way. The tool can be an outside informational pattern that interfaces with us, using us to complete tasks that it could not complete on its own, and therefore extending its use. Most of the time these patterns are based on human designs, so when the computer is computing it uses humans to figure out what it is going to compute. Similarly, the shovel uses the human so that it can dig, and so it can figure out where to dig. Humans interactions with tools is in fact extending our patterns of action into them, and having their patterns of interaction extending into us. This is kinda an extension of a point I saw with Heidegger much earlier in the semester, but with less of a scary tone to it. We are part of a system, and in fact we are almost always extending our system to include the objects around us. We are informational patterns within larger informational patterns, interacting in ways that we can never really fully know. In this way, we are just like the tool, not so different in forms of being than they are, and therefore interesting in that way as well.

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