Why is that us, humans, want to get close/er to the machines?

Last Wednesday we had the first lecture of our series on Applied Cybernetics. There, Dr. Stefan Höltgen gave a talk on the Actualization of Cybernetic Learning, through which he presented the work he and his team did restoring the MORE computer; a device they got as part of the collection inherited from the old Institute of Cybernetics at Paderborn, Germany.

While listening Dr. Höltgen —my still limited German skills sometimes pushed me to some general reflections—, I begun thinking of the question that I have posed above. And even if I don’t have a complete and totally clear answer to that now, I felt the pressure to write it down somewhere.

I’ll come back to this later, with the hope of developing something more substantial. However, for now, let me leave two possible threads:

  • First, there was labor. Humans experience their work through machines, and, of course, this goes way beyond a mere utilitarian relation. In more than one sense, I think, this relate to Foucault when he refers to Labor, Life, and Language. Certainly, this also take us to Marx, but the question here is, still, which Marx? [I’m tempted to say the one of the Grundrisse] Thus, it might be helpful to invite our Accelerationist friends to the discussion too.
  • Second, there was desire. This of course could be connected to the previous, and to many other layers. Is this, perhaps, the middle point of humanity? We know that others have pointed to this space, but at this stage, I don’t want to discuss desiring-machines —that [for me, now] can wait—. Alternatively, I seek to inquire into how we humans relate to machines in a way that is, somehow, driven by desire. Is this equivalent to the former? If it isn’t, it is because I’m trying to be more Kittlerian than Deleuzian here. That’s the path I plan to unfold in this point.

The subtitle of our lecture series is On the frictions concerning the mate[real]ization of cybernetic systems. I think that when it comes to discuss those frictions, right besides the mate[real]ization, topics as those sketched above must be on the table.

[Update: September 2020]

It is of course possible, and perhaps necessary, to tackle the question of couplings paying attention to Simondon’s work; particularly to The Modes of Existence of Technical Objects. From there we can jump, as we know, to Stiegler’s organology, and more particularly on my view, to his Organology of Dreams and his arche-cinema. —in effect, this technical and human individual complex would thus relate to Simondon’s transindividuation—.

But coming back to desire, I should call Kittler again. As we know, he based part of his theoretical work on Lacan, and thus, perhaps, this search could connect and potentially benefit itself from the moments in which he, Kittler, linked, although subtly, his developments to the notion of jouissance (Kittler 1997, p. 137). What I would like to sketch here, for now, is that if we connect the Kittler-Lacan triad to Stiegler’s retentional model, perhaps we could see a path to understand the human-machine coupling in particular, via Simondon and some threads of psychoanalysis or psychophysics, as connected, somehow, to desire, or at least to pleasure.

That’s all for now. I’m sure there is much more I haven’t yet seen in those corners.