Thoughts of arbitrary operations were a fair bit on my mind recently.
It suddenly occurred to me that perhaps the interval between arbitrary as power’s whimsical operations, and arbitrary as done via a process that negotiates elements is not very time consuming..
The question seemed interesting because I think it is noticeable how power tends to place itself as a negotiator, a social mediator, an arbitrar for society. To operate as an arbitrar, power has to be seen as legitimate to mediate. To be in between and above social elements that might rival one another and require the arbitration for the greater social benefit. Since power can not do that, can not be other than part of social forces themselves, we tend to resort to other elements that can be presented as “fair” mediators. eg, god, laws, and more recently – algorithms.
For example, bitcoin communities have this thing referred to as “trustless”. You can not trust politicians and banks to run the monetary exchange – because their decisions are arbitrary in the whimsical power hungry sense, rather than the mediative fair one..
Nor can trust be placed on other people.. In bitcoin type networks, trustless is the placing of full trust in the algorithms. In that sense, the algorithm in digital trustless networks is the arbitrary arbitrar. The algorithms operate as fulfilling certain social function – eg encryption and maintenance of trustlessness among network nodes – which justifies/legitimises their power and arbitrary lives.
In that sense, perhaps it can be argued that algorithms’ arbitrary lives are like meridian lines, there had to be a central 0 line – might as well be one that goes via Greenwich. Or like the arbitrary year count that refers to some religious chronology that means nothing for most people. We had to have a certain time for year 0 – it might as well be 2014 years ago..
However, I think that on a close inspection, just like the meridian line and the christian leaning time count has cultural, social as well as power-political effects – so are algorithms that foster particular views, perceptions, operations and prejudices that are all from certain kind of imagination. For example, in bitcoin, the notion of exchanges having to be numerical..
More over, by being operated as trusted arbitrars, it seems to me that the various possibilities for Not trusting algorithms’ arbitration abilities and fairness, is being obscured if not hashed and hidden..
(this does not denote intent to hash, but simply pointing at a common perception that tends to accept the non human element of algorithms as automatic/instant qualification for arbitration..)
However, as elemnts that live, as operating sequences, as rhythms, as evolving strands that move in time-space as desire to search from as point of space-time we are at, there is a need for mediation.. At times personal, between and among few elements, and at times perhaps more global, among clusters and networks..
I don’t know if this arbitration process has to be another element introduced into the mix, a priest-like, a judge-like, that suppose to be above this all, or that can be made through the collision of the elements themselves.. A linking element that is intrinsic – rather than whimsical and capricious – in relation to the elements that require a mediative link among them?
Post post though perhaps relevant – not postistic – thought
Maybe this critical feeling about algorithms and such, actually refers to operations, movements of criticality, rather than a beleif in objects such as algorithms. True, algorithms operate as well, however their operations are mainly – or tend to be – generative, developmental, rather than evolutionary. It can also be argued that so called evolutionary alorithms are to mimic rather than Be evolutionary..
However, perhaps the above is a distraction, the idea that seems to come in mind is that in fact, critical anarchic processes/operations, might do for arbitration of the whimsical arbitrary. This on the level of exchange rather than activities.
Say I did something No-One whats to exchange with – this in itself critique my possibly arbitrary activities – but does Not put me in death danger.
In a sense this is the point, many people’s violently whimsical arbitrary activities are linked to the social and cultural whimsicality of survival. If no one gives a shit about my life, at some level, even the most peaceful person, has to consider their need for power to just survive. However, if I knew that society is not arbitrary and whimsical toward me – or others – I could afford being more mediative arbitrary with people around me.
No one wants the poison I have just made. Noone want to exchange, hence I might dig having less – but knowing no one will let me starve or die, nor for my kin – I might not feel the urge to press my poison upon them by any means necessary.. (eg poison gas, petrol engines, etc..)
Suppose there was an exchange for my poison. This could come as a critical operation that is negotiated among the people involved. This means there is no one system to trust but disstrust operations and disstrusting sequences that could evolve, mixed, combined and used as and when nodes desire. It can allow for algorithmic distrust to live with personal dynamic one, as well as political one. The political distrust might be when the algorithms, and other operators are distrusted and being put through equality questions, etc..
One rule – no rules..?