The Past, Present, and Future of Cybernetic Thinking in Latin America

Javier Blanco & María Luz Ruffini (Universidad Nacional de Córdoba)

One of the more interesting features of science is the ability to construct models of reality, which can represent relations in the world and can give rise to artificial processes which mimic or simulate other processes. Models allow their users--human or otherwise--to grasp the properties of some primary processes and partially predict their behaviors. The introduction of computers enabled the execution of formal linguistic models, dramatically expanding their usefulness.

In Latin America, mainly during the 1970s, there were profuse--although fragmentary--developments of computational models of society. The works of Oscar Varsavsky on numerical models of society, the Bariloche model of economic growth, and especially the Cybersyn viable model of political and economic administration developed during the Allende administration in Chile, are paradigmatic examples of a prolific local branch of cybernetic thinking, although not always under this name.

Although already present since the beginnings of the idea of computation in 1936, the twenty-first century brought the revolutionary possibility of using computational technologies for the construction and transformation of the very models themselves on a massive scale. Indeed, the technologies of machine learning and their derivatives involve a first stage when the development of the model itself is the result of the execution of a training program. Whereas these technologies are rather elementary, being mostly based on functions minimization in an ambiguously defined vector space, they are very effective, and have major consequences in social and political life. Understanding the scope and limits of current computational technologies as ubiquitous mediations and conditions for processes of subjectivation, assessing their risks but also their potentials, is undoubtedly one of the main challenges of the present.

Science Fiction in the Individuation from the Use of Blockchain in the Neurobiological Identity

Samuel Toro Contreras (Universidad de Valparaíso)

The hypothesis of my presentation is based on questions that link the topics of thought, mind, creativity, identity, law, tokenization, information, individuation, and nature. I will discuss these issues in connection with natural and artificial ecosystems in Chile, exploring the enactment of the law on neuro-rights, in particular. In the political field, this law is believed to be a prospective advance of what will happen in the world in relation to the violation of individual identities, which are taken as natural objects and not as informative constructions, crucial in the simondonian individuation posed by Hui. Some of the questions are: What is identity from information theory? Should thoughts have property rights? Can we speak of a human nature in the different territories of the world when the technical-cultural devices have a space-time mismatch in the social application? And, if we think that the "materialization" of thought (ideas, creations) is possible to understand it as information, then will it be possible to tokenize the genetic codes, from base synapses, of an individual?

I will ponder these questions in view of the aforementioned law, which invites the problematization of what concerns identity from contemporary technological devices and those to come, their relationship with the question of "human nature" or multiple of them from the consideration of identity as a cultural prosthesis. In this sense, the industrialization of memories (to which Stiegler refers) would have to be questioned in one territory (Europe) and another (Latin America). Finally, if all the above is answered, and if it is possible to inform (in Flusser's sense) the activity of thought--as neurobiology--and give it traceability, in the understanding of property rights, I will try to theorize around to the strange possibility of the foundations of blockchain technology for the future tokenization of brain activity. If the latter is answered, I will propose a contribution to the brain / machine / nature individuation, with the distinctions that are given according to the different material realities of one territory or another.

Toward a "Rhetoric of Dreams": A Media-Theoretical Discussion on Some Cybernetic Prospects of Project Cybersyn

Diego Gomez-Venegas (Humboldt University Berlin)

In a final comment to Lawrence S. Kubie's lecture on symbolic functions in language and in neurosis at the 1950 edition of the Macy Conferences, Walter Pitts insisted on the necessity of developing a "rhetoric of dreams" (Pias, 2003/2016, pp. 307-25). This signals a somewhat veiled aspect at the core of the program of cybernetics, which, in turn, connects, perhaps still silently, with much later developments in the fields of media theories and philosophy of technology: namely, the modes through which the emergence of a technological processing of symbols may have yielded to the constitution of a machinic conscious/unconscious complex. Such developments, which are evident in both Friedrich Kittler's World of the Symbolic (1997 [1993]) and Bernard Stiegler's Organology of Dreams (2018 [2012]), may lead to draw a diagrammatic method, which connected to the aforementioned cybernetic aspect, can allow us to trace elements of project Cybersyn that could have potentially brought about, or rather facilitated the configuration of, a new phase of individuation (Simondon, 2917 [1958]; 2020 [1958]).

If project Cybersyn--the network of telecommunications and the computational system for data processing designed and implemented by Stafford Beer and his team in Chile in the early 1970s (Beer 1972/1981, pp. 241-395)--was a political emancipatory "dream" for the unfolding of a cybernetic type of socialism, it could be argued that an assessment of the impact that such a "dream" may have had on the processes of individual and collective becoming, and moreover on the constitution of a individual and collective machinic consciousness/unconsciousness, is also needed. Hence, this presentation aims to sketch a diagrammatic analytic device that by connecting three techno-epistemological moments (the US program of Cybernetics from the 1940s and 1950s, European media theories and philosophies from the turn of the twenty-first century, and the early 1970s Chilean application of cybernetic principles into political economy), allows me to problematize project Cybersyn as a hub to understand the contemporary deployment of a techno-politics that just as it is cybernetic and oneiric, it is transindividual.

Digital The "Neoquipucamayoc Manifesto": Reformulating Ontologies Related to Technology, Nature and the Human Experience from an Andean Perspective

Paola Torres Núñez del Prado

Starting the process of distancing from nature since the mind believed itself to be separated from the body, it is the tool that initiates and / or ends up cutting the link between what we believe to be and the environment that surrounds us, once we become aware that we can re-sculpt that natural world.

The "Neoquipucamayoc Manifesto from the Tecnokhipumancy" is a text that proposes a new ontological hierarchy where references to Andean thought and its technology takes a leading role. This would be imperative given that the original populations of South America have been silenced and kept aside from the main scientific and artistic history, while civilizations from the area were characterized precisely by developing architectures, designs and techniques that took as a starting point the harmonious relationship with the Natural World, complex societies that are seen as tribal from the cultural hegemony.

Based on this important fact, and using as an example an architecture and a technology that always took integration with its surroundings as its starting point, the text proposes the reconsideration of the design of contemporary technologies taking into account this ancestral Andean wisdom of a profoundly ecological nature, which it is also an expression of an intricate science which we do not fully understand, as in the case of Quipu itself, the nowadays popular fiber-notation device by the use of knots, which is constantly referenced.

The Manifesto is meant to represent a group of artists, researchers, and creative technologists that are rethinking the concept of tool to think of it as an interface, starting by assuming that human cognition would not be what it is without the ability to develop them, that is, without technology, now taken as the other layer of mediation between human experience and reality.

They all share the view that the rethinking of going beyond body/mind dualism must start from human culture itself, understood now as inseparable from technology. Therefore, in these times of climate crisis, it would be imperative not only to question the materials used or their energy consumption, but also their design to go beyond the epistemic duality of control / freedom (understood as will or power) that technological ontologies usually imply, so to talking about cohesion, assistance, integration and harmony, and to design technology designed for these characteristics.
The Manifesto will serve as an introduction to present a group of artists defined as Neoquipucamayocs/Khipumancers (explaining the reasons for this terminology) and define the presence of the Quipus, a device of prehispanic origin that served to store data by the tying of knots in ropes, throught the history of the arts in South America since the early twentieth century, particularly in the recent branch of the arts & sciences in the twenty-first century.

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