life, thought and computation.

The modern OS only has 2 metaphors: file & application.

Apps should collaboratively extend common metaphores, not incompatible recreate the same objects over and over.

The iPhone, one of the smartest devices in the world, doesn't comprehend that a phone number and a snapchat account could represent the same person. Contacts should be a metaphor for other tools and services to extend, not an app.

Tools and Builders should be able to work with extendable metaphors to the OS. web3 is looking at this.

One uses messenger to send messages to people.

moment in time when digital life > physical life

Every aspect of life is going digital. Not overnights, gradual for the last 20yrs

  • Work (factories → laptops)
  • Friends, games

Our attention is being directed into the digital world

  • We used to focus 100% in the physical world
  • TV dropped that to 85%
  • Computers to 70%
  • Phones to 50%

In the same ways cars became an universal technology, phones will too. When cars became an universal technology, people started to question what it meant for everyone to have a car.

  • American cities destroyed themselves ∴ European cities avoided cars.

Phones and computers will soon become an universal technology. What does it mean that everyone has a computer?

  • AR/VR → ≈90% ∴ virtual world > real world: Metaverse will start then, everything will happen in our digital life
  • not good nor bad, just a thing. A very different thing.

After 5000+ yrs of phonetic and picture writing,

writing is thinking and thinking is writing.

You cannot do anything with a computer except to write, and computers are the today's most expressive writing technology.

⤷ AI is the search to evolve writing again.

  • ∴ computing relates to the mind (?)
  • Is intelligence just a mechanism of symbol manipulation? (≈ elaborate writing)
  • ⤷ it cannot work otherwise (?)

Information lives in space and time. Digital revolution → information is global ∴ information lives in + space but - time.


early IBM computer, ~1938







quantum computer, 2023
handles 100-200 qubits, aims to handle 1m by 2028


steve jobs, feb 1984


note mentions

  • the beginning of infinity

    notes on david deutsch's (fascinating) the beginning of infinity (2011), about infinity & universality, memetics and philosophy of science.


    Sep 22, 2021 → Jan 16, 2022

    • "we do not know why the laws of physics seem fine-tuned, why various forms of universality exist, or why the world is explicable. but eventually we shall. And when we do, there will be infinitely more left to explain."
    • "if the question is interesting, the problem is soluble."

    ⠀ ⠀


    curiosity: thinking existing explanations don't fully capture the ideas behind them, being unsatisfied with current stories.

    • guessing is ∴ the single process thought which all knowledge originates: wonder → guessing → conjecture → speculation, which is vital for discovery.
    • when stories/explanations can't be changed anymore, we have understood objective truth, and, like magic, what we understand we then control.
    • the only path for knowledge creation is then error-correcting → finding good explanations (conjecture+criticism+experiment) = progress.
    • there can ∴ be no aspects of reality beyond our brain's capacity: if (brain capacity==computational speed + memory) we can use the computer, just like we have used pen and paper to understand the world for centuries.

    ⠀ ⠀

    creativity: ability to create and replicate ideas to increase the amount of usable knowledge.

    • parrots copy sounds, apes copy movements, but humans create: it's (conjecture+criticism+experiment) to form good explanations of other's behaviour and the world → this is creativity.
    • must be an evolutionary process within brains since it depends on conjecture (variation) and criticism (selection).
    • human brains are physical objects that evolved to replicate ideas (Blackmore). thoughts are computations permitted under the laws of nature.

    ⠀ ⠀

    ideas: information that can be stored in human brains and affects behaviour.

    • knowledge is created by human thought, preserved and transmitted by human culture (not genetically, which is why some humans are able to survive in jungle and others in the arctic)
    • abstract language, explanations, wealth above subsistence and long-range trade gave power to ideas. by the time history began to be recorded, it was the history of ideas.

    ⠀ ⠀

    culture: set of ideas that cause holders to behave alike.

    • ideas are rarely expressed with the same words and can vary in both written and spoken language. yet, they stay the same idea.
    • if a parrot repeats Aristotle, sound is there but knowledge (replicator) isn't → replicators of ideas are abstract, they're the knowledge itself.
    • reach of ideas in world of abstraction is a property of knowledge they contain. theory can have infinite reach even if person is unaware.
    • for centuries, people have tried to explain the mind in mechanical terms, using metaphors based on the most complex machines of the day (complicated set of gears, hydraulic pipes, steam engines, telephone exchanges, and now, the computer.)
    • but "brain=engine" ≠ "brain=computer": computers are universal simulators. expecting them to behave like neurones is not a metaphor, it's a known proven property of physics and computers

    ⠀ ⠀


    some aspects of nature (night sky, waterfalls, sunsets) seem to be beautiful to humans but show no signs of being designed with this intention. However, flowers do seem to have an apparent design for beauty.

    • flowers need insects to bring them pollen and insects need flowers to get. how these 2 wildly distinct species evolve to communicate this?
    • flower evolved genes to make their shape attractive to insects, which bring pollen. insects evolved genes that attract them to flowers with the best nectar (most beautiful ones)
    • nature seems to have used beauty to allow these 2 wildly distinct species to communicate.

    humans recognizing that flowers are beautiful even though they evolved this way for unrelated purposes is evidence that some beauty is objective: it can be found in all places from the flower's genome to human minds.

    • flowers have to create objective beauty and insects have to recognize objective beauty.
    • beauty then must exist in 2 kinds: subjective(local to species/culture/individuals, parochial) and objective(universal).
    • ⤷ local and subjective/parochial criteria of beauty evolved within a species to produce something that looks beautiful to us.

    • if beauty can be objective like the laws of nature and mathematical theorems, then new works of art must add new knowledge to the world just like scientific theories do.

    ⠀ ⠀


    optimism: all failures are due to insufficient knowledge.

    • optimism in civilizations has led to mini-enlightenments, traditions of criticisms that lead to patterns of human progress: art, philosophy, science, technology and open institutions.
    • Athen's Golden Age (V. bc): one of firsts democracies. home to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the playwrights Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides and Sophocles, and the historians Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon.
    • democratic tradition dated back to Thales (6th C. BCE) and Xenophanes (570-480 BCE). Pericles argued (Funeral Oration, 431 BCE) it existed not because people should rule but because it promotes wise action (continual discussion, necessary condition for discovery and progress)
    • Florentine's believe of improving ancient knowledge. began in art, then philosophy, science and technology. led to humanism (knowledge > dogma, intellectual independence, curiosity, taste)
    • progress implies discoveries are inconceivable. dynamic societies are those that expect their knowledge to grow unpredictably.
    • Popper's criterion is met by societies that expect their knowledge to grow unpredictably ∴ he's an optimist, progress implies discoveries are inconceivable.

    enlightenment: 1688 (English Enlightenment), inconceivable a century earlier.

    • success at making scientific discoveries implies commitment to values of progress: truth, good explanations, open to ideas and change, tolerance, integrity, openness of debate.
    • necessary condition for progress: change meant new authorities replaced old ones, so tradition of criticism was needed to sustain rapid growth of knowledge.
    • Universal theories of justices, legitimacy and morality began to take place alongside universal theories of matter and motion as philosophers set out to free institutions from arbitrary rules. (Locke→political) universality was now a desirable feature.
    • emergence of methodical rule that scientific theories must be testable, rebellion against authority of knowledge. "problems as soluble and inevitable, progress is attainable and desirable."

    static societies: people could expect to die under the same values, lifestyles, technology and patterns of economic production.

    • universality needs appreciation of abstract knowledge for its own/to yield unforeseeable benefits. unnatural in static societies.
    • small populations + parochial knowledge → big ideas are set millennia apart.
    • if way of life leads to more efficient methods of living (farming, medicine...) it is not sustainable → population grows, fewer workers are needed ∴ live the solution and set about solving the new problems it creates. only progress is sustainable.

    humans alone are authors of explanatory knowledge, the human behaviour called history.

    • Knowledge alone converts landscapes into resources or prevents improvements (≠Marx, Engels). ideas and not biogeographical explanations account for events: can't explain the fall of the USSR with climate, minerals or flora/fauna.
    • Marx's theory of history was evolutionary and described a progression though historical stages, determined by economic "laws of motion". He used Darwin's theory as a basis for the historical class struggle (biological species ≈ socio-economic classes). Facsist groups use this and other misinterpretations of evolution to justify violence.
    • (presence of gene is always explained as being caused by more replications than rival genes. competition in biological evolution is between variant of genes within a species: can produce violence or cooperation.)

    ⠀ ⠀


    nature of science can be understood with theories=misconceptions

    • Einstein doesn't correct Newton but is radically different (gravitational force, uniform flow of time in respect to motion). same with Kepler and Newton. each ignores and denies its predecessors' basic means of explaining reality.
    • explanations were never true ∴ successive explanations ≠ growth of knowledge about reality.
    • Einstein's misconception of Gravity was an improvement on Newton's misconception, which was an improvement on Kepler's. neo-Darwinian evolution is an improvement on Darwin's misconception, and his on Lamarck's. No infallibility nor finality.

    scientific method: increasingly difficult to ignore philosophical implications of the fact that nature had been understood in unprecedented depth, and of the methods of science and reason by which it was done.

    • perhaps it started with Galileo and became irreversible with newton. (his laws replicated themselves as rational ideas and fidelity was very high as they were so useful)
    • no way of missing rapid that progress was underway after newton. (some like Rousseau tried by arguing reason as harmful, civilization as bad and primitive live as happy).
    • No process can reveal the content and consequences of a discovery before it is made. scientific discovery is ∴ unpredictable but determined by the laws of physics

    evolution: optimizes neither good of species or individual, but the relative ability of surviving variants to spread through population. it favours only genes that spread best.

    • peacock's colourful tail: diminishes viability and harder to evade predators but prominent mating ∴ offspring has more prominent tails, ↻.

    genetic code as language for organisms has shown phenomenal reach.

    • genes replicate themselves by an indirect chemical route, being templates for similar molecules. evolved to specify organisms without having a nervous system, organs, senses, ability to exert force or move.
    • knowledge embodied in genes describes how to get replicated and functionality is achieved by encoding regularities in environments. complexity ≠ evolutionary adaptation. Darwin crystallized this: random mutations are discarded by natural selection.
    • might not be universal since it relies on specific chemicals (proteins) but could be universal constructor (created from inorganic materials like calcium phosphate in bones, programs organisms to construct outside their bodies: nests, dams, houses...)
    • RNA acts as the program which directs the synthesis of enzymes (catalysts, promotes change to other chemicals while remaining unchanged itself) catalysts control all chemical production and regulatory functions of an organism ∴ ≔ organism itself.

    evolution of biological adaptations and creation of human knowledge are similar (ideas and genes are replicators, knowledge and adaptation hard to vary) yet distinct (human knowledge as explanatory and with reach, contrary to adaptations.)

    ⠀ ⠀

    quantum physics

    quantum theory discovered independently by Heisenberg and Schrödinger between 1935 and 1927.

    • Heisenberg: physical variables of a particle are matrices, not values. we now know multiplicity of information is due because a variable has different values for different instances of the object in the multiverse.
    • Heisenberg uncertainty principle: for any fungible collection of instances of a physical object, some of their attributes must be diverse.
    • Schrödinger: mathematical equations that describes a single wave moving in a higher-dimensional space, when applied to an individual particle.
    • Bohr: Copenhagen interpretation, quantum theory as the complete description of reality and only outcomes of observations count as phenomena, they can't exist objectively.
      • proposed the principle of complementarity: phenomena can only be stated in classical language, anthropocentric language, meaning that the transition is caused by human consciousness ∴ acting at a fundamental level in physics.
      • Nothing is ever derived from observation: Mach (positivist), influenced Einstein to eliminate untested assumption from physics, including Newton's idea the time flows at the same rate for all observers.
      • Einstein soon rejected positivism in favour of realism, which explains why he never accepted the Copenhagen interpretation.

    issue: not consistent when applied to the case of an observer performing quantum measurements on another observer.

    • classical physics measures change in quantifiable quantities, quantum physics measures change in discrete variables and their proportions.
    • new type of motion, information flow and structure of the physical world: all objects contain information about which instances of it can interact with instances of other objects and different times are special cases of different universes → time is an entanglement phenomenon which places all equal clock readings into the same history.

    ⠀ ⠀

    history of computers

    • → calculations used to be done by clerks called "computers".

    computational universality should have happened with Babbage's Difference Engine (1820s), which had rules of arithmetic built into hardware to to automate log, cos, sin (used in navigation and engineering).

    • Lovelace argued that The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. can follow analysis but no power of anticipating any analytical truths. Alan Turing called this mistake ‘Lady Lovelace’s objection’. Lovelace failed to appreciate not computational universality, but the universality of the laws of physics.
    • addition of memory and control over which cards to read next (Analytical Engine) → jump to universality.

    193# electrical relays for the analytical engine were just being used for the first applications of electromagnetism and were about to be mass produced for the telegraphy revolution.

    Turing Test: The general-purpose sense of Intelligence that Turing meant (constellation of attributes of the human mind) puzzled philosophers for a millennia. (others are consciousness, free will and meaning).

    • requiring a program to pretend to be human is biased and not relevant to know whether it can think, but it is easy to identify it as a computer if it doesn't.
    • if it can be programmed, it has nothing to do with intelligence –in Turing's sense (can't program it → haven't understood it.)
    • 1936: Turing develops his definitive theory of universal classical computer. His intention is to use the theory to study the nature of mathematical proof, not universality. The development of the first universal computers was for wartime applications.
    • Colossus (🇬🇧, Turing): code breaking → dismantled.
    • ENIAC (🇺🇸): equations -> universality (weather, h-bomb forecast)
    • the early telegraph system, even before the computer, did create an internet-like phenomenon among the operators, with ‘hackers, on-line romances and weddings, chat-rooms, flame wars... and so on’. fft
    • 1970s: Electronic technology has been miniaturized since WW2, this led to a jump to universality with silicon chips.
    • From then on, designers start with a microprocessor and program it to do specific tasks: washing machines are controlled by a computer that could be programmed to do astrophysics or word processing with enough memory.

    Quantum computation: Computation in which the flow of information is not confined to a single history.

    beginning of infinity

    • optimism in civilizations has led to mini-enlightenments, traditions of criticisms that lead to patterns of human progress: art, philosophy, science, technology and open institutions.
    • Florentine's believe of improving ancient knowledge. began in art, then philosophy, science and technology. led to humanism (knowledge > dogma, intellectual independence, curiosity, taste)
    • 1970s: Electronic technology has been miniaturized since WW2, this led to a jump to universality with silicon chips.
  • the discrete image

    stiegler agrees with derrida's critique of the opposition of the signifier and the signified, which proposes that language is always already writing, and in order for language to be written, it must already be a writing, a system of traces, a grammatic of discrete elements.

    image mental ∄ → image mental ≔ image object

    • ∄ image-object sans image mental,
    • ∄ image-mental sans image object.
    • image-object lasts, image-mental ephemeral.
    • ∄ image → ∄ imagination sans memoire ∴ question de l'image porte sur traces et inscriptions, ≈ écriture.


    • barthes proposes that photography is ēpokhē to time, memory and death.
    • manipulation is the rule of the digital photo, contrary to the essence
    • one cannot confirm if what I see in a digital photo exists or not ∴ analogico-digital breaks with bazin's objectivité de l'objectif, l'intentionalité (phenomenology)
    • distinguish true and falls is harder, exploited and generalized w/mass media, dangerous panic decomposing social bond.
    • digital technology allows us to manipulate and transform information unlike analog technology.
    • infinitively manipulable but still a photo, it keeps something from the this was.
      • This was but there is something that isn't quite right. this is because analog photo is a technical synthesis.

    3 main types of reproducibility have constituted and overdetermined great epochs of memory and the relations to time in the west. (letter, analog, digital)

    • reproducibility of the letter (written → printed)
    • analog reproducibility (cine, photo → walter benjamin)
    • digital reproducibility
    • analogico-digital image combines 2 reproducibilities (digital, analog) ∴ shows they are not opposed and need to be overcome.
    • the analog image is ∴ always discrete since its reality effects are determined by the photographic (framing, dof) and literal context in which it is inserted. seems continuous but is discrete.

    director/editor's job is to hide the discontinuity by playing with it (analysis), continuity then comes from spectatorial synthesis (done by good artists)

    • animated image ≔ plurality of discontinuous images sequentially connected
    • spectatorial synthesis: the belief that this was is. made by audience (retinal) persistance and expectations of sequential connections
    • discontinuity dissolves all the more effectively the more cleverly it is orchestrated
    • production/realization.

    discretization opens new artistic, theoretical and scientific knowledges of the image.

    • digitization allows the this was to be decomposed analytically by discretizatizing the continuous.
    • barthes's photographic reality effect has now been integrated into all techniques of digital treatment simulation.
    • spectator's relation to the image is ∴ an analytic relation as well.
      • ⤷ the question is the relation between synthesis and analysis.

    3 kinds of images (analog, digital, analogico-digital) → 3 kinds of intuitive technical knowledges (conditions of image production) → 3 different kinds of belief.

    • the visual image is synthetic in 2 ways: synthesis as belief, the this was effect, is a combination of 2 syntheses (spectator and camera). spectator is affected in the way he synthesizes the image.
      • This requires an image-object ∴ technology.
      • synthesis from the subject comes from its knowledge of the technical conditions of an image-object's production.
    • each image, either analog or digital, contains both knowledge and gaps in knowledge. This new awareness leads to a different form of understanding and knowledge.
      • analogico-digital technology of images opens an epoch of analytic apprehension of the image-object.
        • since synthesis is double, new analytic capacities → new synthetic capacities.
        • this discretization breaks up a continuity ∴ changes the way the observer's viewing. (discretization concernant regard est transformé)
    • since greece we live in an era of the relation to language, shaped by the generalization of alphabetic writing on numbers that gave rise to logic, philosophy and science. the analogico-digital is of the same order.
    • the adoption of alphabetic writing made analysis and synthesis of language much easier. generalization → discretization.
    • relation to the analog image is going to be very discretized as digitazion techniques of animated images become widespread. this will open a critical access to the image and a chance to develop a culture of reception.

    now there's two syntheses (spectator + camera): evolution of technical synthesis → evolution of spectatorial synthesis.

    • new image-objects will create new mental images and another intelligence of movement (not knowledge of the image but a new techno-intuitive knowledge). this will be influenced by other knowledges which opens up "la chance"
    • technology gives us the chance to look at cinema in a different way. analysis (production) and synthesis (consumption) are more connected, making cinema similar to literature.
      • alphabetic writing reveals the discrete characters of language
      • reading and writing (can't do one without the other)
      • implies the rethink of hollywood's schema of analysis/production - synthesis/consumption.
    • technology will make it possible to watch a movie analytically, making text and tv closer than now.
      • we will be able to navigate though the flow of images in a nonlinear way, with toc and indexes (like books), true hypermedia?
    • technological synthesis is not a replica nor double, like writing is not a replication of speech.
    • life (anima, mental image) is always already cinema (animation, image object).

    discrete image

    • technology gives us the chance to look at cinema in a different way. analysis (production) and synthesis (consumption) are more connected, making cinema similar to literature.
    • technology will make it possible to watch a movie analytically, making text and tv closer than now.
  • homo deus


    Yuval Noah Harari, 2016
    Feb 20, 2020 → Jun 20, 2020

    ⠀ ⠀

    History is often shaped by small groups of forward-looking innovators rather than by the backward-looking masses.

    • what happens to marriage after life expectancy reaches 150?
    • Premodern games (chess) assumed a stagnant economy → you never finish a game with more than you started, no thinking about investment. Modern board/computer games revolve around growth.
    • "Enshrined in celluloid, prose or poetry, the feelings of the ordinary grunt have become the ultimate authority on war, which everyone has learned to respect."


    • Famine+malnutrition cause ≈ 1m deaths, Obesity = 3m.
    • Material-based Economy → Knowledge-based Economy.
      • Profitability of war declined and became restricted to parts of the world where economies are still material-based.
    • mexico population in 1520: 22m, in 1580 <2m
    • 10,000yrs ago, when most people were hunter-gatherers, the future belonged to a few farming pioneers in the Middle East.
      • In 1850, >90% of humans were peasants peasants unaware of the Industrial Revolution being shaped by a handful of engineers, politicians and financiers in Manchester and Birmingham.
      • Steam engines, railroads and telegraphs transformed the production of food, textiles, vehicles and weapons. Industrial powers got a decisive edge over traditional agricultural societies.


    • How is it, then, that when billions of electric signals move around in my brain, a mind emerges that feels ‘I am furious!’? As of 2016, we have absolutely no idea.
      • Consciousness may be a kind of mental pollution produced by the firing of complex neural networks.
      • It doesn’t do anything. It is just there.
      • If this is true, it implies that all the pain and pleasure experienced by billions of creatures for millions of years is just mental pollution.
    • Evolution theory says all animal choices (food, mates) reflect their genetic code, but if an animal chooses freely, natural selection has nowhere to go.
    • If I am indeed the master of my thoughts/decisions, can I decide not to think about anything for the next 60s?
    • Sapiens can cooperate in very flexible ways with countless numbers of strangers. This concrete capability explains our mastery of planet Earth. (>soul, consciousness)


    • immense advance in computing power over the last decades, but zero advance in computer consciousness.
    • Intelligence was linked with consciousness until recently and debating their relative value was just a pastime for philosophers, but this is now becoming an urgent political and economic issue.
    • This trend is fueled more by biologists than engineers.
      • Once they concluded organisms==algorithms, they wall of organic/inorganic fell and authority shifted from individual humans to networked algorithms.
    • Non-conscious algorithms are now beating human consciousness at tasks like chess, driving, or diagnosing diseases, which are based on pattern recognition.
    • A sobering first answer (for armies and corporations): intelligence is mandatory, consciousness is optional.
    • intelligence is decoupling from consciousness and non-conscious intelligence is developing at breakneck speed ∴ humans must actively upgrade their minds if they want to stay in the game.
    • Cognitive revolution transformed the mind of an ape into the ruler of the world (sapiens) by giving access to the intersubjective realm (allowed for gods, corporations, cities, empires, writing, money, split the atom and reach the moon.) Second cognitive revolution?
    • Dramatic improvements in conditions translate into greater expectations rather than greater contentment.
    • Relatively small changes in genes, hormones and neurons were enough to transform Homo Erectus –who could produce nothing more impressive than flint knives– into Homo Sapiens, who produces spaceships and the computer. What’s next?
    • Homo sapiens is likely to upgrade itself step by step, merging with the computer until our descendants will look back and realize that they are no longer the kind of animal that wrote the Bible...
    • Once technology enables us to re-engineer human minds, Homo sapiens will disappear.


    • technology, biotechnology and algorithms > steam, telegraphy
    • main products will not be food/textiles/vehicles/weapons but bodies/brains/minds.
    • bigger gap than Dickens' Britain and Mahdi's Sudan, Sapiens and Neanderthals.
    • The electromagnetic spectrum in its entirety is about 10 trillion times larger than that of human-visible light. Might the mental spectrum be equally vast?


    • "So even while saying that I believe in God, the truth is I have a much stronger belief in my own inner voice." –Nietzsche
    • Humankind explored Liberalism in the 20th Century, gaining antibiotics, nuclear energy, computer, feminism, de-colonialism and free sex.
    • Liberalism has adopted ideas and institutions from socialism and fascism, notably providing the public with education, health and welfare. It still considers individual liberties > all and has a firm belief in the voter and consumer.
    • 2 practical threats: humans will lose their individual value AND authority completely, managed by external algorithms. The system will know you better and make choices for you, and you will be happy. It's not necessarily bad, but post-liberal world.


    Most people are happy to acknowledge that ancient Greek gods exist only in the imagination. Yet we don’t want to accept that our God, our nation or our values are mere fictions, because these are the things that give meaning to our lives.

    • ∴ We want to believe that our lives have some objective meaning, and that our sacrifices matter to something beyond the stories in our head.
    • Yet in truth the lives of most people have meaning only within the network of stories they tell one another.

    Catholic Church was responsible for important economic/technological innovations

    • Established medical Eurpoe's administrative system and pioneered the use of archives, catalogues, timetables and techniques of data processing. Vatican was the closest thing to SV in 12th C. Europe.
    • Established Europe's first economic corporations: monasteries, which introduced advanced agricultural/administrative methods and clocks. Helped found many of Europe's first universities (Bologna, Oxford, Salamanca). (→ tiempo)
    • Catholicism and other theist religions have turned from a creative to a reactive force, agonizing instead of pioneering novel technologies: Contraceptive pill, Internet, Feminism.

    In the 18th century, humanism sidelined God by shifting from a deo-centric to a homo-centric world view. In the 21st century, Dataism may sideline humans by shifting from a homo-centric to a data-centric world view (idea that 'organisms are algorithms').

    • All truly important revolutions are practical: The humanist idea that ‘humans invented God’ was significant because it had far-reaching practical implications.
    • Ideas change the world only when they change our behaviour.
    • The shift from a homo-centric to a data-centric world view is practical and significant due to its day-to-day practical consequences.

    science needs religious assistance to create viable human institutions: it describes facts but lacks ethical guidance.

    homo deus

    • Once technology enables us to re-engineer human minds, Homo sapiens will disappear.
    • technology, biotechnology and algorithms > steam, telegraphy
  • how the enlightenment ends

    • "the enlightenment started with philosophical insights spread by a new technology. our period has generated a novel technology in search of a guiding philosophy."
    • Heretofore, the technological advance that most altered the course of modern history was the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, which allowed the search for empirical knowledge to supplant liturgical doctrine, and the Age of Reason to gradually supersede the Age of Religion. Individual insight and scientific knowledge replaced faith as the principal criterion of human consciousness. Information was stored and systematized in expanding libraries. The Age of Reason originated the thoughts and actions that shaped the contemporary world order.
    • Users of the internet emphasize retrieving and manipulating information over contextualizing or conceptualizing its meaning. They rarely interrogate history or philosophy; as a rule, they demand information relevant to their immediate practical needs.
      • In the process, search-engine algorithms acquire the capacity to predict the preferences of individual clients, enabling the algorithms to personalize results and make them available to other parties for political or commercial purposes. Truth becomes relative. Information threatens to overwhelm wisdom.
    • in truth many technophiles use the internet to avoid the solitude they dread. All of these pressures weaken the fortitude required to develop and sustain convictions that can be implemented only by traveling a lonely road, which is the essence of creativity.
      • The digital world's emphasis on speed inhibits reflection; its incentive empowers the radical over the thoughtful; its values are shaped by subgroup consensus, not by introspection.
      • A growing percentage of human activity will, within a measurable time period, be driven by AI algorithms. But these algorithms, being mathematical interpretations of observed data, do not explain the underlying reality that produces them.
    • will AI, left to its own devices, inevitably develop slight deviations that could, over time, cascade into catastrophic departures?
    • that in achieving intended goals, AI may change human thought processes and human values.
      • A player sought not only to win, but also to learn new strategies potentially applicable to other of life's dimensions. For its part, by contrast, AI knows only one purpose: to win. It "learns" not conceptually but mathematically, by marginal adjustments to its algorithms. So in learning to win Go by playing it differently than humans do, AI has changed both the game's nature and its impact.
    • Through all human history, civilizations have created ways to explain the world around them--in the Middle Ages, religion; in the Enlightenment, reason; in the 19th century, history; in the 20th century, ideology. The most difficult yet important question about the world into which we are headed is this: What will become of human consciousness if its own explanatory power is surpassed by AI, and societies are no longer able to interpret the world they inhabit in terms that are meaningful to them?
    • How is consciousness to be defined in a world of machines that reduce human experience to mathematical data, interpreted by their own memories these questions are left to technologists and to the intelligentsia of related scientific fields.
      • Philosophers and others in the field of the humanities who helped shape previous concepts of world order tend to be disadvantaged, lacking knowledge of AI's mechanisms or being overawed by its capacities.
      • In contrast, the scientific world is impelled to explore the technical possibilities of its achievements, and the technological world is preoccupied with commercial vistas of fabulous scale. The incentive of both these worlds is to push the limits of discoveries rather than to comprehend them.
      • And governance, insofar as it deals with the subject, is more likely to investigate AI's applications for security and intelligence than to explore the transformation of the human condition that it has begun to produce.
    • The Enlightenment started with essentially philosophical insights spread by a new technology. Our period is moving in the opposite direction. It has generated a potentially dominating technology in search of a guiding philosophy.

    how the enlightment ends

    • "the enlightenment started with philosophical insights spread by a new technology. our period has generated a novel technology in search of a guiding philosophy."
  • on-cinema-noframe

    what is happening to cinema?

    eduardo gonzalez, Oct 2022


    DVDs' disappearance → films mainly profit from ticket sales

    • maximizing profits ≔ maximizing audiences.
    • simple style, easy plots, few cultural references = universal accessibility
    • ∴ repetitive, successful formula > than unique creative input.
    • → market saturated with similar-feeling movies.

    Streaming now an accessible alternative, but profits = time spent on service

    • → films become ambient content for passive consumption.
    • globalization strengthened the film industry, auteur cinema lost economic and cultural influence.
      • Sequels, remakes, existing material-based movies capture most profits and influence.
      • only 3 of top 50 grossing films of 2010s were original stories
      • Oscar viewership and revenue from Best Picture winners has declined.
      • → Cinema ≠ dominant form of artistic expression in 21st century?

    New consumption patterns and movie-making techniques are at heart of the shift.

    internet speed and phone camera improvements → global increase in social media's influence

    • online media evolved from text to photos to video.
    • engagement tracking as likes in 2009, retweets in 2010.
    • rise of photo-sharing services → everyday people ∈ authors of online media. (see people aren't meant to talk this much)

    ≈ 2014: platforms shifted to algorithm-based content presentation → birth of viralization.

    • TikTok's success ≈ adaptation to new dynamics.
    • app design allows personalized content curation with every interaction.
    • viral reach from algorithm selection → no need for status, fame, followers or friends.

    cinema's transformation in the face of changing media landscape.

    • on-demand → loss of continuousness.
    • availability on personal devices → collectiveness.
    • phones & computer as primary screens → cinema lost the big screen.
    • Cinema lost grandeur and became content.
    • ∴ Cinema risk of losing position as primary storytelling medium.
    • cinema ≠ dying, movies are evolving
    • personalized entertainment, global audiences, collective auteurism as new driving forces in media landscape.
    • algorithm-chosen popular culture ≔ average taste of global audience.
    • la chance to adapt cinema into new dynamics
    • Internet and smartphones' global presence ≈ cars' transformation effect → ubiquity of a technology reshapes society and industries
    • TikTok's success → Short-form portrait video as one potential evolution.
    • if further evolution, will it still be cinema or something new? what comes after cinema?

    full article

    Recent trends describe the current state of cinema as fragile and in decline. Industry figures have expressed this opinion, notably Martin Scorsese who in 2019 wrote an essay arguing that "the situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art." Many of these statements blame franchise films and the modern way of producing them as the main drivers behind cinema becoming increasingly homogeneous and formatted, resulting in a market saturated with movies that look and feel the same. ⠀

    Studios today have the option to release a movie in cinemas, but since the disappearance of DVDs, movies have lost most of their ability to make money after leaving theaters. Revenue now comes almost entirely from the number of tickets sold, which means that maximizing profits now means maximizing audiences. A movie is more accessible across cultures if it has a simple style, an easy-to-follow plot and few cultural or ideological references. This explains why many studios now consider following a repetitive (but successful) formula as more important when making a movie than the individual creative talent behind it.

    Streaming releases have become an alternative to theatrical ones now that every major studio has launched its own platform. This is not always a bad option since it allows smaller movies and filmmakers to instantly reach an audience of millions without having to worry about selling tickets. But streaming platforms need users to consume as much content as possible to be profitable, and since hours spent on the service justify subscription prices, many of their productions are designed to be consumed passively, while users cook, clean, or browse their phone. These movies are not cinematic experiences but rather ambient ones, where results are "as negligible as they are interesting," as Brian Eno wrote when defining ambient music in 1978.

    These two recent tendencies have helped studios and the film industry grow, but sequels, remakes, and movies based on existing material now capture most of Cinema's profits. Only 3 of the top 50 highest-grossing worldwide films of the 2010s were original stories.¹ Additionally, "good" (or at least recognized) Cinema is still struggling. The Oscars, arguably still today's biggest event and celebration of popular cinema, have seen their viewership steadily decline for decades. 55 million people watched the awards in 1998, compared to 41 million people in 2010 and just 10 million in 2021. Recent Academy Award winners have also grossed less money as time goes by. The combined Best Picture winners from the 1990s made around $5 billion worldwide, while combined winners of the 2000s made $3.4 billion and those of the 2010s, $2 billion.

    This is the main idea behind recent statements and opinions on cinema: While globalization has strengthened the film industry, movies have lost economic and cultural influence. Cinema now risks not being the most popular form of storytelling in the 21st century, and newer forms of artistic expression could take its place.


    DC Comic's Black Adam (2022) being reviewed before its release in a small TV screen, by businesspeople in a business room.

    Even if the modern way of making movies is partly responsible, it would seem that new consumption patterns are also at the heart of this situation. Internet speeds started to increase globally in the early 2010s and the primary way people express themselves online evolved from text and photos to eventually, video. As phone cameras got better, photo-sharing services like Instagram started pushing ordinary people to take and share pictures, not only professional photographers. Snapchat pushed this even further by making the camera, not content, be the first thing users see when opening the app.

    A collective of ordinary people became the main authors of mass amounts of content and media that started to be uploaded, shared, and consumed online. Social media companies soon needed to show posts based on popularity to keep users longer on their apps and make their platforms more attractive. This began in 2009 with the introduction of likes and retweets as tools for finding the most engaging posts, but rapidly escalated. By 2014, most social media platforms showed content based on their engagement, not in chronological order. This marked the first time that algorithms chose what people saw and the beginning of viralization, which allowed content from anyone on earth to reach an audience of millions (now billions) of people.

    Recent companies like TikTok have thrived by taking these new dynamics even further. Since the only way to browse content is by swiping up or down, TikTok's algorithm can learn about users' interests with every single interaction they make –if something's not interesting, the user will swipe quicker. Combined with its near-infinite supply of videos from all cultures and languages, only a couple of minutes are needed to learn and personalize content for anyone on earth. Since algorithms are also set as the main referees of what people see, TikTok helps people go viral without the need for network effects. Any user can reach millions of views without fame, status, followers, or even friends on the app. The implementation of these dynamics into the design and mechanics of the app is partly responsible for TikTok's huge success. The company seems to also understand their impact, stating in April 2022 that they didn't see themselves as a social media platform, but rather an "entertainment company."

    Cinema then found itself in the middle of this new changing world, but failed to adapt. It soon started to be consumed like every other form of online media, getting transformed in the way: as movies became available anytime and could be paused, they lost some of Cinema's continuousness. Since movies also became available anywhere, people started watching them alone or with few others, which broke Cinema's locality and collectiveness. And as phones and computer screens become the primary ones for most people, Cinema lost the big screen.

    This is where Cinema lost its grandeur and got transformed into simple content. Without these qualities, movies risk not being the primary storytelling vehicle for the 21st century. But I don't think this means cinema is dying, but rather that it is evolving. There is an old saying that "the first 50 years of the car industry were about creating and selling cars, but the second 50 years were about what happened once everyone had a car." After a majority of people owned one, they transformed businesses, suburbs, cities, people, and culture. Access to the internet is on track to become a human right, and the number of smartphone users is rising rapidly, with 83% of the world population owning one in 2022 (!).

    As these technologies become universal like cars before them and algorithms determine more and more of popular culture, it seems like we're entering a democratization of media creation that allows anyone's voice to reach a global audience. But content chosen by algorithms only represents the average of everyone's tastes and interests. This is where filmmakers have the opportunity to think about how they could play with these new formats and adapt the cinematic experience. To do so, Cinema might need to move away from some of its traditional characteristics and embrace other new dynamics.

    In this sense, TikTok's success could mean that short-form portrait video is an initial evolution and answer to the question "what happens to Cinema when everyone has a phone and Internet?" But as movies, technology, and people keep changing, short-form video might evolve even more and resemble Cinema even less. At that point, will it still be cinema, or something new? What comes after cinema?


    ¹ Frozen (2013), Zootopia (2016), Secret Life of Pets (2016).

    on cinema

    • Internet and smartphones' global presence ≈ cars' transformation effect → ubiquity of a technology reshapes society and industries
  • people aren't meant to talk this much

    • Your social life has a biological limit: 150 (number proposed by Robin Dunbar) people with whom you can have meaningful relationships.
      • We can reasonably expect to develop up to 150 productive bonds, but we have our most intimate, and therefore most connected, relationships with only about five to 15 closest friends. We can maintain much larger networks, but only by compromising the quality or sincerity of those connections; most people operate in much smaller social circles.
    • Online media gives the everyperson access to channels of communication previously reserved for Big Business. Starting with the world wide web in the 1990s and continuing into user-generated content of the aughts and social media of the 2010s, control over public discourse has moved from media organizations, governments, and corporations to average citizens. (see: on cinema)
    • The capacity to reach an audience some of the time became contorted into the right to reach every audience all of the time.
    • First, the platforms invented metrics to encourage engagement, such as like and share counts. Popularity and reach, of obvious value to the platforms, became social values too.
    • To constrain the frequency of speech, the size or composition of an audience, the spread of any single speech act, or the life span of such posts is entirely accordant with the creative and technical underpinning of computational media.
      • companies have long embraced constraints. Tweets can be 280 characters and no more. YouTube videos for most users cannot exceed 15 minutes--before 2010, the limit was 10.
      • Later, Vine pushed brevity to its logical extreme, limiting videos to six seconds in length. Snapchat bet its success on ephemerality, with posts that vanish after a brief period rather than persist forever.
      • On LinkedIn, your profile stops counting after 500 contacts, which purportedly nudges users to focus on the quality and use of their contacts rather than their number.
      • It should be shocking that you pay no mind to recomposing an idea so it fits in 280 characters, but that you'd never accept that the resulting message might be limited to 280 readers or 280 minutes. And yet, nothing about the latter is fundamentally different from the former.
    • technology companies would surely fight any effort to reduce growth or engagement. Private citizens would bristle at new and unfamiliar limitations. But the alternative, living amid the ever-rising waste spewed by megascale, is unsustainable.

    people aren't meant to talk this much

    • technology companies would surely fight any effort to reduce growth or engagement. Private citizens would bristle at new and unfamiliar limitations. But the alternative, living amid the ever-rising waste spewed by megascale, is unsustainable.
  • ride of a lifetime

    bob iger's 2019 memoir of +15 years as Disney's CEO.


    May 28, 2020 → Jun 20, 2020


    Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs, Bob Iger, John Lassater
    Jan 24, 2006

    • Shanghai Disneyland cost about $6 billion to build. It is 963 acres, about eleven times the size of Disneyland. At various stages of its construction, as many as fourteen thousand workers lived on the property. We held casting calls in six cities in China to discover the thousand singers, dancers, and actors who perform in our stage and street shows. Over the eighteen years it took to complete the park, I met with three presidents of China, five mayors of Shanghai, and more party secretaries.
    • Stu could dissect a script so quickly—“His motivations aren’t clear at the top of Act 2…”—and I’d look back through the pages on my lap, thinking, Wait, Act 2? When did Act 1 end? Based on a literal back-of-a-napkin pitch at a restaurant in Hollywood, ABC’s head of drama had given the go-ahead to a pilot from David Lynch, by then famous for his cult films Eraserhead and Blue Velvet, and the screenwriter and novelist Mark Frost. It was a surreal, meandering drama about the murder of a prom queen, Laura Palmer, in the fictional Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks. David directed the two-hour pilot, which I vividly remember watching for the first time and thinking, This is unlike anything I’ve ever seen and we have to do this.
    • I had an idea unrelated to Pixar, though, that I thought might interest him. I told him I was a huge music lover and that I had all of my music stored on my iPod, which I used constantly. I’d been thinking about the future of television, and it occurred to me that it was only a matter of time before we would be accessing TV shows and movies on our computers. I didn’t know how fast mobile technology was going to evolve (the iPhone was still two years away), so what I was imagining was an iTunes platform for television. “Imagine having access to all of television history on your computer,” I said. If you wanted to watch last week’s episode of Lost, or something from the first season of I Love Lucy, there it would be. “Imagine being able to watch all of Twilight Zone again whenever you wanted to!” It was coming, I was certain of that, and I wanted Disney to be in front of the wave. I figured the best way to do that was to convince Steve of the inevitability of this idea, “iTV,” as I described it to him.
    • After the cinema, I received more calls and notes than I’d ever received about anything I’d been associated with in my career. Spike Lee and Denzel Washington and Gayle King reached out. I’d had a production assistant deliver a copy of the film to President Obama, and when I spoke with him after, he told me how important he believed the film was. Oprah sent a note calling it “a phenomenon in every way” and adding, “It makes me tear up to think that little black children will grow up with that forever.” There may be no product we’ve created that I’m more proud of than Black Panther.

    • After the funeral, Laurene came up to me and said, “I’ve never told my side of that story.” She described Steve coming home that night. “We had dinner, and then the kids left the dinner table, and I said to Steve, ‘So, did you tell him?’ ‘I told him.’ And I said, ‘Can we trust him?’ ” We were standing there with Steve’s grave behind us, and Laurene, who’d just buried her husband, gave me a gift that I’ve thought about nearly every day since. I’ve certainly thought of Steve every day. “I asked him if we could trust you,” Laurene said. “And Steve said, ‘I love that guy.’ “

    ride of a lifetime

    • I had an idea unrelated to Pixar, though, that I thought might interest him. I told him I was a huge music lover and that I had all of my music stored on my iPod, which I used constantly. I’d been thinking about the future of television, and it occurred to me that it was only a matter of time before we would be accessing TV shows and movies on our computers. I didn’t know how fast mobile technology was going to evolve (the iPhone was still two years away), so what I was imagining was an iTunes platform for television. “Imagine having access to all of television history on your computer,” I said. If you wanted to watch last week’s episode of Lost, or something from the first season of I Love Lucy, there it would be. “Imagine being able to watch all of Twilight Zone again whenever you wanted to!” It was coming, I was certain of that, and I wanted Disney to be in front of the wave. I figured the best way to do that was to convince Steve of the inevitability of this idea, “iTV,” as I described it to him.