by Aleš Čermák
This text served as the inspiration for short film The Other Half of the World
Guide: Crisis. Conflict opens up possibilities for liberation. At the beginning of the 21st century. Bordering on the virtual, the digital, the real.
In the new terrain of excessive hypercomplexity and intensity. Yes or no. No nuances, no ambiguity. Each question only has one answer. Yes or no. Dilemma casts a shadow. Communication channels swirling around us augment the means of production. Constant exhibition of horrors deactivates our ethical sensibilities, and thus the neuroplasticity of neural organs may serve as a prerequisite for the reactivation of empathy. We oscillate between agendas of fear and hope presupposing an increasing amount of repression and commodification. We think of building barricades to cover ourselves and to prevent the juxtaposition of fear and hope. The barricades are already built.
Guide: Deep Knowledge Ventures (DKV) press release, May 13, 2014. An Intelligent Risk Capital Hedge Fund was founded in Hong Kong on that day, specializing in biotechnology, A.I., drug addiction, aging and other regenerative medicine projects. DKV is an entrepreneurial incubator operating on the basis of mutual synergy and integrated ecosystem. The system is to combine its analyses with the investment system of an artificial intelligence called VITAL (Validating Investment Tool for Advancing Life Sciences), which is the clearest mind in the world. VITAL was a product of Aging Analytics UK, market research provider in the areas of health services, retirement funds, insurance companies and governments. VITAL 1.0 was a “basic algorithm” whose aim was to create software through repeated updating which would be capable of making autonomous investment decisions. In 2008, the state-of-the-art computer networks brought the world economy to the brink of collapse. Some business areas suffered an economic decline, others stagnated, but profits still grew faster and faster than ever before, albeit causing an increased social polarization. – The DKV press release… – …was considered a huge sensation. Because the future we all dream about. Turned out to be a point existing right now.
Guide: The most valued activity in IT is the people. The human body consists of elements which can easily be transformed. We can add to it, pull it, move it, set it, change it, and it will still keep its functions. Each change could solve a problem which may benefit our health. Prolong our life. Or increase our resistance and social mobility.
Guide: On that same day 301 workers died in a massive explosion in the Soma mine in Turkey. The disaster was caused by neglecting the safety measures due to the cuts in the workforce. The charred bodies of miners were pulled to the surface from the depth of more than three kilometers. These bodies will never need regenerative medicine to which they would never have had access anyway. The Turkish unions went on one-day general strike. Around the same time, street protests broke out in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, and other cities all over Turkey. Students with helmets on their heads, demonstrating their solidarity with the miners, appeal to the government to step down. These protests were but a continuation of social turmoil on and off engulfing the nation from the beginning of the occupation of the Gaza Park located in the middle of the Taksim Square in Istanbul in 2013.
Coincidentally, both news reports were shown on the same day. First, we can see the contrast of coexistence between advanced technologies and workers who live and die in cruel conditions. This coexistence is also their connection. Mines and artificial intelligence seem to be elements from different worlds. The basic energy source on which all digital technologies are dependent is electricity. Birth of new technologies is inseparable from the birth of new conflicts. Other mines from around the world offer other materials necessary for production. The whole world is a process of planetary urbanization.
Physician: Diagrams on the surface. New landscapes of knowledge. Something growing in strength, and something circulating. Numbers turned to space and created new topologies. Digital matrix eventually morphed into the world of curves and waves. Vectors of tendencies and clusters of social patterns.
Guide: Computers are used to create artificial supervision aiming to decrease work expenses. Automatization of hard and risky work proceeds with the use of drones. Deep underground. Without truck drivers. Connection deepening the pool in which people drown who are no longer needed by the digital capital. This concerns not only workers but also students who put on helmets in support of the Soma community. These students may one day work as A.I. designers or new pharmaceuticals researchers.
Physician: Let me ask you again. Why?
Patient: All subjects are timid, loner octopuses. In order to prove the hypocrisy they use ink to defend themselves. In one moment all I can see are pieces of hyperobjects. Even though the reasons are clear, things exist to secure us, just to be sure. Not because of doomsday metaphors. It is obvious that the planet is not going to explode. We ought to feel anxious, but anxiety alone is not enough. Far away from it all. The end has already come, multiple times actually.
Physician: Why, though? Just so you can observe the trajectories of vectors and lines of movement? But for that you need to see where the ideas are coming from. Ideally before they crack open somebody’s skull.
Patient: It all began with a blank stare. The earth was covered in sand. Imbalance. Somewhere on the way, oil under feet. A flock of birds remain on the surface of the lake for a suspiciously long time. Have you noticed? A flock of birds is a remarkable thing. A look inside, a crack, an intersection into other worlds.
Physician: Management of knowledge is considered to be the main point of network denial. Networks only represent opportunities for quantity anyway. Fatal trajectories of vectors of movement suddenly cross paths. Suicidal leaps of employees as well as political suicides, taking place regularly from 2008, are dragged into this vortex.
Patient: A moving contradiction. All the hard things are melting into air, dissolving in the vortex, the storm, the hurricane, the tornado.
Guide: Vortexes do not necessarily need to move in circles only. They also have a vertical dimension. In nature, vorticular phenomena are omnipresent. For instance submicroscopic vortexes in liquid helium belong to this wide spectrum of vortexes. Or vortexes generated by insect. Vortexes of dust in the street. Vortexes caused by sea tides. Volcanic eruptions are also vortexes, and the same goes for high and low pressure waves. The great red spot on Jupiter is also a vortex. Rings of Saturn and sunspots too. Rotations inside stars and the movement of galaxies which can be counted in light years. Vortexes which attract our attention the most are storms and tornadoes. Those are sought by storm hunters using satellites flying 32,000 kilometers above the surface of the earth. Huge tornadoes seem hostile. Alien. Completely out of the sphere of human power.
Physician: Panic is not connected to sclerosis, to forgetting, to the burying of this world. Earthquakes are caused by scared people from the past. Tsunami is the revenge of the infuriated god Kami.
Patient: Give me a sponge so I can wipe out the entire horizon. The universe is but a figment of our imagination. It pervades us completely. We must be inside of something at all times. We need limits. All has to do with displacement. We cannot escape from the universe. It does not have edges. Emulsion of empty nothingness. Miniature particles are fascinating, they are frighteningly strong. In that moment we can spot the first flashes of an iceberg hidden in thick fog.
Guide: The turbulence is chaotic but in reality it is just incredibly complex. Do you think of capital as you would of a very strong storm which has influence on global warming, changes the system dynamics, but gradually detaches from all human measures and human purpose itself? That is good. Production is the funnel of the storm. Circulation is its rotational movement. The vortex mobilizes human work but also destroys it.
Physician: A flash of lightning starts a forest fire. Rain leads to floods. Wind wrecks cities. Streams inside a vortex can cause the whole storm to collapse. Collapse is an integral part of the storm.
Patient: New lands or a new sky. Light lines moved in space like clusters or constellations of data. Curved spaces of the collective mind. The new space emerges as an extension of current institutions of knowledge and power.
Physician: Seemingly pointless data which eventually turn into an image. Endless points appearing in the background, as we all somehow learned to call them. In reality, waves represent a cluster of all sorts of social patterns and anomalies.
Patient: New paranoia is born of previously sensible patterns with insensible data. On the hot surface.
Physician: Conflicts born out of random meeting. Diagrams on the surface, new landscapes of knowledge. A staggering world perspective. The eye of the algorithm or algorithmic vision.
Patient: A black hole has an immediate influence on my consciousness. The object in the mirror is closer than it appears. While my body is lying on a bench someone else is feeling pins and needles intensively at the very same time. This is our home. In biosphere. Everything is alive and painful. And then the wave came that washed away the self-portrait of a person in the sand.
Physician: The vector of revision. Yes, just like when you draw a school of salmon with a pencil. I watch the cruelty of daylight with my eyes closed a little. Because of that some objects appear sharp while others seem fuzzy. One variable accedes the sharp definition at the expense of others.
Patient: Perhaps if you stare into an abyss for a long time, the abyss also starts watching you. Energy which absorbs data like a cyclone and sucks water out of oceans. We watched plants for a while but plants have pilfered our sight a long time ago. We won’t see anything noteworthy with sober eyes. The real environment is too big, too complex, and too evanescent to be known directly. We are not equipped to deal with so many details, with such diversity, with such a number of combinations.
Everything crumbled into pieces. The pieces crumbled into smaller ones. Words flowed around me, thickened into eyes, those eyes stared at me and I had to stare at them. They are vortexes giving me vertigo whenever I gaze into them.
Translated by David Koranda