Monday, October 15, 2018

Complexity is not a condition to be tamed, but a lesson to be learned.

--- Artist James Bridle, quoted in NewScientist issue 3189, August 2018, in a review by Pat Kane of his book New Dark Age.

In context:

Bridle expresses moral distaste at the excesses and cruelties of digital culture, with its devastating access to our rawest selves, and its historical links to war and imperialism.

But he also possesses a near-Buddhist acceptance of how inescapably we are caught up in it. Perhaps this is why he writes so approvingly of initiatives like “centaur” chess, in which humans team up with AIs so that together they can beat the most advanced programmes.

The “darkness” in Bridle’s title is generated by the unthinkable density of our information worlds, and the growing inscrutability of the machine intelligences that tend them. We can’t afford to be overwhelmed by all this, he says. Global warming’s knowledge explosion, for example, compels all good citizens to be amateur statisticians. But we should understand the scale and intractability of the problem: “Complexity is not a condition to be tamed,” Bridle cautions, “but a lesson to be learned.”