DIGITAL MACHINES INTEREST ME


(For Philippe)


Humans act.

Some of their actions – like talking, singing, dancing, etc. – leave no material artifact behind.

Some of their actions shape atoms to bring into existence things of beauty.

Some of their actions shape atoms to bring into existence things that assist humans in their relationship with the spiritual domain.

Some of their actions shape atoms to bring into existence useful things.

Among the useful things are digital machines.

Digital machines are increasingly involved both in the non-artifact producing actions of humans and in the human actions that bring into existence the beautiful, the spiritual and the useful things.

Digital machines are more and more embedded in beautiful, spiritual and useful things, hybridizing them, tranforming them into cyborg-things.

Digital machines are more and more physically attached to the bodies of humans, monitoring their organic state and the environment in which they are immersed, influencing human behavior.

Digital machines shape – like other technologies in the past, but arguably with more pervasiveness and more intimacy – what humans sense, think and feel.

Digital machines are more and more intermediating the relationship between each human and the rest of the world.

Digital machines are, for the most part, not collectively governed: most humans, in fact, just use (and are used) by machines designed and controlled by a few.
The very same few who own and use the most powerful digital machines on Earth.
The very same few who use, and often own, the data produced by the many.

How digital machines come into existence interests me. Who decides to produce them, who designs them, what elements are involved in the production, who produces such elements and in which conditions, who physically builds, ships, sells and repairs digital machines, and in which conditions, interest me.

What happens to digital machines when they stop being useful interests me.

What digital machines do interests me. What they do – but also: how, why, at what cost, for whom, against whom digital machines do what they do interests me.

What humans do with digital machines interests me. Why, how, under which conditions, with what consequences humans do what they do interests me. What humans would like to do with digital machines - but physically cannot do - is of particular interest to me.

What digital machines could do interests me perhaps even more. What digital machines could do differently – or not at all. What digital machines never did but could – in principle – do for humanity and the planet.