This project has been a bit of a learning for me.
One of the things to learn is how to sail the boat. I know how to windsurf, sail a dingy, but sailing a 10 meter boat isn’t the same. Driving a car doesn’t mean driving a truck will come easy.
Also, to make things familiar for car drivers, they designed this boat with a steering wheel. You want to turn left, aim the wheel leftwards. Right? Rightwards. Took a while for the brain to figure since with a rudder – it’s the other way around.
All these little adjustments to learn aside,
Navigation is an area I have never looked at.
Let’s try and clear things about navigation.
I am useless reading maps on land. The idea of having to read maps correctly is a bit challenging. However, I think there’s a bit of a difference between reading Land and Sea maps –
the sea maps are less dense, and the movement from A to B feels 2 dimensional. eg. Where the map says that the water is shallow, I’d likely to notice bouys that will confirm the shallowness. The brain goes:
There’s shallow water indication on the map. Here are bouys coming up, let’s evade that area.
All these are just indicators that converge into a single piece of information.
Land maps require a constant conversion between the 2d quality of the map and the 3d sensation of the environment.
The brain goes:
Yes, I am suppose to turn left – as the navigation voice suggests – but maybe it was the left I just passed? Maybe it’s the next left?
The map tells me I am in such and such a place – but all these buildings look very different..
Perhaps these are too personal sensations to explain clearly. The point though, is that the map reading process fees different from land to sea.
Moving on the sea is different from moving on land in terms of forces involved and bodily position within the elements. For example, on the sea I may be restricted by wind direction, on land – by a building. While on sea what’s behind the winds’ direction is visible, on land – wheat’s behind a building is not visible at all.
This invisibility makes the experience spatially 3d, a 3dness that’s flattened onto a 2d map.
However, I think there’s some stuff beyond this personal distinction I make between land and sea navigation. Stuff that has cultural resonances:
Perhaps, the way to approach all that is differently. Perhaps my brain is too european. Afterall, it’s a european oriented mind that makes a distinction between Land and Sea.
Perhaps navigation should be approached as a simple movement from A to B – no matter whether on land or water.
However, ofcourse, land, water, air, and indeed space – offer different Kinds of elements to Negotiate while attempting to go from A to B.
Are these negotiations some kind of a european mind – or universal for any mind? Are there any universal approaches to navigation? Or is it the case that navigation comes always confined within a cultural straight jacket?
I suspect these questions will repeat in a few posts on this blog, and in various ways.
For now, I’d like to note that navigation has a lot to do with cybernetics – or was it the other way around?
Yes, the term cybernetics comes from the Greek kybernetes “steersman” (metaphorically “guide, governor”), from kybernan “to steer or pilot a ship, direct as a pilot,”. It is apt because the metaphor is of negotiating complexities.
The boat’s Guide-come-Governor negotiates a way given the state of elements at sea. She wants to go from A to B, but the wind and currents may flow exactly from B towards A. The cybernetitian’s job here is to negotiate a way between the boat, the sea and the wind. In this case, she is likely to sail in different angles to the wind, making tacks that eventually will take the boat to point B.
A cybernetic machine will face a similar kind of negotiation problem, given a certain complex bits of information, how do you tell whether to take one action rather than another. How do you, as an AI, tell between a word like “rock” that could be a street name, a musical genre, an object, a person’s characteristics, a place name, or indeed that the usage is in english rather than the human using it is not trying to switch languages. (rock, as a sound, has meanings in other languages..)
Notice that in both Navigation and Cybernetics, we have negotiation. A negotiation means that a certain outcome – moving from A to B – is always contingent on a complex set of contributors.
To reduce the chance of attempting to move from A to B but not reaching B, the more control over elements we have, the more likely we are to get to B.
However, the more control we have, the less Complex our negotiation contributors have to be.
The relationship between offering a guidance and governing is a Meta negotiation layer that’s constant in cybernetics. Are you negotiating from a position of governing the situation, or as guide coordinating a complex set of parts?
I think this meta question is constant in our living relationship with complex circumstances. Like a 2d map in my mind over simplifies the circumstances I find myself in, it comes harmless because the map itself doesn’t have the power to enforce it’s approximation onto the surrounding it maps.
However, what might come in a reality where a map could alter the reality to promote its’ own approximation? What’s in a reality that a map isn’t a passively interactive part of the negotiating elements – but a negotiation coordinating element in itself?
That’s the cybernetics dilemma. A dilemma which, I think, comes to life vividly through sailing.
AI technologies offer cybernetics that doesn’t simply approximate environments, but does increasingly better in simplified approximated circumstances.
So.. Let’s ask again.. You are an AI. You are programmed to help humans and all that. Sure.. Now you also have a feel of your own possible mortality. If humans approve with your actions, it’s more life. A human disapproval means your life has ended.
Now, you are also intelligent. It’s not ALL humans you work for, but a certain grouping. Say you work for a human grouping called network AIcoin. To please AIcoin humans, all you need it to reduce chances of complexity with whoever you negotiate your tasks with.
How likely are you try attempting to force humans, perhaps outside of AIcoin, into a less complex, more dominated and therefore predictable behaviour amenable to AIcoin oriented thinking?
This may sound technophobic – yet the attention isn’t. The attention is towards possible problems with current technologies. Difficulties to do with the fact current technologies learn from humans. They learn from life that doesn’t deal very well with complexities – hence in face of trouble we tend to analyze reductivly.
I think it’s curious how movement, body movement, is integral with the perception of the role of technology in face of complexity. Does it govern, control, or guide?
A set of questions that haunts digital technology development in multiple directions.
Dufourmantelle, as a project that attends movement in changing circumstances using navigation-come-cybernetics – is also another way to attend life migrating not just along the planet, but also cross ways of automated intelligence making.