Chpt 1: Nonconscious Cognitions: Humans and Others

  • “nonconscious cognition”: cognition that we can engage when we delink consciousness and cognition; so it follows, what is consciousness? what is cognition? Deeply bio-psych approach to consciousness: the biological processes that constitute an awareness of the self (10).
  • “In contrast, nonconscious cognition operates at a level of neuronal processing inaccessible to the modes of awareness but nevertheless performing functions essential to consciousness,” like organizing somatic markers into self-awareness, processing info faster than consciousness, recognizing complex and subtle patterns, and so forth (10).
  • Though it is frequently compared, we cannot analogize technical cognition to consciousness. Cognitive abilities are indeed “exteriorized,” and we must see these consciousnesses in parallel but distinct.
  • “As a whole, my project aims to chart the transformative perspectives that emerge when nonconscious cognitions are taken fully into account as essential human experience, biological life, and technical systems.” (12).
  • “cognitivism”: a framework equating the work of the human mind with computation. By design these systems may not be isometric; what Hayles tries to develop is the idea that they function similiarly as functions and within systems.
  • Generalizing cognition an embodied knowledge; hence even unicellular organisms and plants have some facets of cognition (15).
  • Let’s go ahead and plop this link in here
  • Hayles draws a distinction between being “fully alive” and “fully cognitive”: while an artificial intelligence can never exist fully separate from its means of production, it can still operate with cognition. Hence her definition: “Cognition is a process that interprets information within contexts that connect it with meaning” (22). This is a definition from Shannon and Weaver that she developed in her “RFID” essay.
  • (Parenthetically though, I wonder what is substantially different between her “lightning bolt” realization from Fredkin [“The meaning of information is given by the processes that interpret it”] and straightforward McLuhan.)
  • Simondon enters the field as well: “. . . information in this view is not a statistical distribution of messages elements but the result of embodied processes emerging from an organism’s embeddedness within an environment” (24). Transfer of potential energies.
  • “It is fashionable nowadays to talk about a human/nonhuman binary, often in discourses that want to emphasize the agency and importance of nonhuman species and material forces (Bennett 2010; Grosz 2011; Braidotti 2013). To my mind, there is something weird about this binary. On one side are some seven billion individuals, members of the Homo sapiens species; on the other side sits everything else on the planet, including all the other species in the world, and all the objects ranging from rocks to clouds. This binary, despite the intentions of those who use it, inadvertently reinstalls human privilege in the vastly disproportionate weight it gives to humans. Some theorists in the ecological movement are developing a vocabulary that partially corrects this distortion by referring to the ‘more-than-human’ (Smith 2011), but the implicit equivalence of the human world to everything else still lingers.” (30)
  • Instead, we have cognizers vs. noncognizers, roughly bio-technical systems and material processes / inanimate objects (30). The form are actors (with choice); the latter agents (31).

Chpt 5: Cognitive Assemblages

  • “Why choose assemblages rather than networks, the obvious alternative? The question is especially pertinent, since ‘network’ is usually favored by Latour (witness ANT), although he tends at times to use ‘assemblage’ as a synonym (Latour 2007). Networks are typically considered to consist of edges and nodes analyzed through graph theory, conveying a sense of sparse, clean materiality (Galloway and Thacker 2007). Assemblages, by contrast, allow for contiguity in a fleshly sense, touching, incorporating, repelling, mutating. When analyzed as dynamic systems, networks are like assemblages in that they function as sites of exchange, transformation, and dissemination, but they lack the sense of those interactions occurring across complex three-dimensional topologies, whereas assemblages include information transactions across convoluted and involuted surfaces, with multiple volumetric entities interacting with many conspecifics simultaneously” (118)
  • This chapter is useful for thinking through the kinds of designed objects and infrastructures that we use and that use us within cognitive assemblages.

Chpt 6: Derivatives and High-Frequency Trading

  • The financial derivative as a kind of Borgesian Aleph: do we get past the messiness and the ooziness?