Spectacle and AI

Posted on May 26, 2023

Going back to Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle, first aphorism, we read:

In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.

Contrast this with Dawkins and the following quote (from A Devil’s Chaplain):

Science boosts its claim to truth by its spectacular ability to make matter and energy jump through hoops on command, and to predict what will happen and when

Notice the massive gap; Dawkins assumes we are who we are because we can predict and control the future, while Debord makes the core characteristic of our civilisation the capacity to come up with culture, propaganda, media and the like. AI successes fall more often under the “tools for propaganda” sphere – no matter or energy is controlled (that’s good old factory automation), but rather language and images are manipulated to dream stuff.

Thus, no self-driving cars, no cleaning robots, no robotic maids, but acting as if they where real. Not ability to predict or make the feature, but acting as if it’s about to be with us any-minute-now. No effort to upgrade our lives to the standard of the The culture, as in:

Manufacturing and maintenance were completely automated. “Work” and “labour” existed only as vehicles for personal fulfilment and enjoyment, and were more akin to hobbies.

…but lot’s of books about how great and/or frightening the future is going to be (rather than a repeat of the past).