Algorithmic Control of Movement in Time: Abolishing even our selves ourselves

Session 2 (Friday) (Fri, 2022-10-07, 13:00-15:30)
  • Speakers: Michael Eldred
  • Language: English
  • Abstract: Today we live increasingly dependent upon an artificial, engineered world controlled by algorithms that may be called the /cyberworld/. The exposure to and immersion in this cyberworld is a major issue, especially for the nascent generation of children and adolescents. How is it shaping and mis-shaping their minds? This question is addressed only obliquely in the present paper. It seeks to go back to first principles, that is, to the very /idea /of the cyberworld. Algorithms are able to automatically control movement in the artificial cyberworld and hence mediately in the world itself. With his famous 1936 paper on computable numbers and the Entscheidungsproblem in mathematical logic, for which he invented the idea of the Universal Turing Machine, Alan Turing can be said to have tacitly laid down the ontological blueprint for today’s algorithmically controlled cyberworld. The ontology of movement of a Turing machine is a variant of the venerable ontology of efficient, productive movement inherited from Aristotle. Since any computation a real computer can perform can be performed in principle also by an ideal Universal Turing Machine, it maintains its place at the core of computer theory to the present day. The cyberworld, in fact, can be conceived as a virtually endless concatenation of Turing machines in interplay with one another, sometimes precariously and nefariously. The question whether Artificial Intelligence is genuinely intelligent can be led back to asking whether a simple, primitive Turing machine is intelligent. I endeavour to show that the intelligent human mind needs to be conceived as embedded in the openness of genuinely three-dimensional time. The same cannot be said of a Turing machine, which is necessarily lacking the temporal dimension of the future. Since the artificial neural networks employed by Artificial Intelligence can be simulated by a Turing machine, one can say that, in the strict sense, Artificial Intelligence, too, has no future and is therefore unfree. And so it goes that the more we come to understand ourselves in terms of neuroscience, the more we are abolishing our selves ourselves.
  • Location:

    Neuer Senatssaal

    University of Cologne


    50923 Cologne