Post-Piano

by Misha Lepetic “The piano ain’t got no wrong notes.”  ~ Thelonious Monk It’s with a certain pleasure that I can recall the exact moment I was seduced by the musical avant-garde. It was in the fourth grade, in a public elementary school somewhere in New Jersey. Our music teacher, Mrs. Jones, would visit the…

Procedural Thriller

by Misha Lepetic "The edge of the unnavigable, the region of no information." ~ Pynchon, Bleeding Edge Last month I ended with a question: If art is partly about eliciting a diversity of reactions that come from a shared experience of a single object, gesture or construct, then how do the potential meanings of art…

Scheming Like A State

by Misha Lepetic "A grandes problemas, ¡grandes soluciones!" ~ Nicolás Maduro One area where proponents of technology customarily get trounced concerns the consideration of unintended consequences. (This is also regrettably true for most commentators.) It's not that people don't take them into account, but rather that when they do, those consequences are extrapolated out to…

Under The Radar, Part 2

by Misha Lepetic "Machines…quell the revolt of specialized labor." ~ Marx In my previous post, I wrote about alternative ways of viewing the encroaching effects of automation on employment. I suggested that, instead of viewing it as a zero-sum game, with industry hell-bent on automating everyone's jobs out of existence, that it is rather a…

Under The Radar, Part 1

by Misha Lepetic "In economics, the majority is always wrong." ~ JK Galbraith One of the unfortunate gifts of the current, star-crossed administration is that there's something for everyone that will get their knickers in a twist. If immigration or climate change isn't your thing, just wait a few days, and some administration official will…

Mixed Metaphors

by Misha Lepetic There's a certain kind of conversation in which I find myself every so often, which can roughly be summarized as "What's the big deal about DJing"? As someone who was a quasi-professional DJ in a former life, and is currently what one friend terms a 'monastic DJ', I've sensed a substantial gap…

The Hit Aesthetic

by Misha Lepetic "Wonder was the grace of the country." ~ George W.S. Trow At a recent cocktail party, the conversation turned to conspiracy theorists and how to engage them. I offered a strategy that has served me fairly well in the past: I like to ask my interlocutor what information they would need to…

Indifference Engine

by Misha Lepetic “On the way from mythology to logistics… machinery disables men even as it nurtures them.”~ Adorno & Horkheimer A few years ago I heard the Seattle Symphony play Carnegie Hall here in New York. There were three pieces on the program. The first two – Claude Debussy's La Mer and John Luther…

No Can Go

by Misha Lepetic The Spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.~ Debord Now that Pokémon Go has had a few weeks to work its way through our collective psychosocial digestive tract, we can begin considering the effects of this latest, and by far most successful, manifestation…

Kind Of Like A Metaphor

by Misha Lepetic “I got my own pure little bangtail mind and the confines of its binding please me yet.”~ Neal Cassady, letter to Jack Kerouac One of the curious phenomena that computing in general, and artificial intelligence in particular, has emphasized is our inevitable commitment to metaphor as a way of understanding the world.…

Welcome To Alphaville

by Misha Lepetic “The secret of my influence has always been that it remained secret.” ~ Salvador Dalí Last month I looked at the short and ignominious career of @TayandYou, Microsoft's attempt to introduce an artificial intelligence agent to the spider's parlor otherwise known as Twitter. Hovering over this event is the larger question of…

Godwin’s Bot

by Misha Lepetic “She was Dolores on the dotted line.”~ Nabokov Artificial intelligence – or rather the phenomena that are being shoved under the ever-widening rubric of AI – has had an interesting few weeks. On the one hand, Google's DeepMind division staged a veritable coup when its AlphaGo AI soundly thrashed the world #1…

The Penal Colony

by Misha Lepetic “Facts all come with points of view/ Facts don't do what I want them to.”~ Talking Heads What is it with Silicon Valley and the “disruption” of education? Is it just another sector of public life that is moribund and therefore in need of a serious intervention, as if it were ‘that…

Cui Bono

by Misha Lepetic “No sooner does man discover intelligence than he tries to involve it in his own stupidity.” ~ Jacques Yves Cousteau Over the course of my last few posts I have been groping towards some kind of meeting point between, on the one hand, the current wave of information technologies, as represented by…