Ghost in the Machine Juxtapositions

For some reason I’ve encountered the Ghost in the Machine idea quite a lot this week. The “Ghost in the Machine idea,” to me at least, is that in a given process there’s something other than the process’s parts that create the end effect of that process.

A process, of course, is something along the lines of “all the things and events that create a cause (‘result’) or effect.” (Never mind what “cause or effect” means, that’s a never ending spiral of inquiry.)
To put it another way, there’s some un-seeable, almost unknowable thing that uses otherwise “dead” parts to get some seeable result or effect: the ghost in the machine.

From “Response and Reconciliation” by Octavio Paz. In the Nov. 2002 Harper’s:

The depths, the transparencies
where it floats or sinks: not life, its idea.
It is always on the other side and is always other,
has a thousand bodies and none,
never moves and never stops,
it is born to die, and is born at death.

From Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs ,
ch. 1

We are about to study the idea of a computational process. Computational processes are abstract beings that inhabit computers. As they evolve, processes manipulate other abstract things called data. The evolution of a process is directed by a pattern of rules called a program. People create programs to direct processes. In effect, we conjure the spirits of the computer [processes] with our spells [programs].

You think the “process” being talked about here is the program, but then we find that programs guide the process. The ghost in the machine here, then, is the thing that draws all those lines of code together into something. Its the answer to the flashing prompt that asks “now what do I do?”

From “Loving the Ghost in the Machine”:

The interesting thing is that every new medium seems to open up a new kind of outside, every new mode of perception leaving out, or even creating, something imperceptible, and on the other hand bringing out something previously out of reach.

. . .

[A]ll creative activity, whether it’s art, philosophy or science, has to approach the outside of thought. To be able to create new ways to feel the world, new percepts and affects, one has to court the chaos and worship the glitch.

This is, in essence, De Bono’s, well, “ghost in the machine” for forcing creativity: expose a “glitch” that shifts they way you think about something, and then move onto creating new things from there.

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