We, humans, are beings that react to beauty, yet to uglyness just as well.
Initially the title read ‘Beauty sensing machines’ referring to us, humans, yet I object the word machines. Machines we are not. This is what Francis Bacon set us to be in the dawn of empirism and renaissance. This is what Descartes proclaimed when he uttered: cogito ergo sum. It all led us towards a thinking period in which we built a beautiful body of science, technology and progress, which enabled many miracles to become commonalities.
Yet, the period reached its zenith in 1930’s already and is now coming to an end. It is being closed, just as we think there is still a long road ahead of us. See, earlier periods have had this kinds of endings, now it’s our turn. Take the Roman Empire for example. In its dusk the citizens or Rome, primarily its long distance provinces developed the steam engine, the train, and the computer, yet the moment just wasn’t ripe, the history decided it didn’t need those inventions at that time. Check Kevin Kelly’s Technium blog to see what I am talking about. KK is not a nobody if being an ex-editor-in-chief of Wired magazine is enough for you.
Cogito ergo sum postulates the primacy of thoughts. Which would be all fine and jolly good if it didn’t also presuppose the primacy of intelligence. Just as we were geocentric before
Copernicus and Galileo, and just as we were homocentric before Darwin, we still keep the sapienocentrism instilled into us by Aristotle, Plato and Socrates, and further solidified by Descartes, Bacon and Spinoza.
I believe in something else. I believe that intelligence is not a human quality per se. I believe intelligence is not even a memory prediction framework, as was brilliantly described by the inventor of the original Palmpilot, Jeff Hawkins. I believe the brain, and not just the brain, but the whole human being is a mirror that can sense beauty, or uglyness.
We are like violins. Violins don’t need to be played in order to give a voice. Their voice is heard when a resonant tune hits them. Take two violins. Play ’E’ on one, and listen to the other one. You’ll hear an ‘E’ coming from the second violin too. The beauty of violins is that there are many resonances built into them, at least four of them being the basic notes of the four strings. There are many more resonant frequencies to each violin. But that is not the point of this writing.
The point of this writing is that we, humans, mirror reality. We react to it. Reality is intelligent. Intelligence is not an accident, nor is it independent from us, the mirrors. The better one can mirror reality, the stronges he is. The stronger he is, the more dangerous it becomes for him. The stronger reactions of the people around him, and the stronger the reactions of everything around him.
There is a schism between matter and thought at play here. A schism of us versus them. A schism of beliefs that disunites us. Yet also a unity of goodness that connects. Divide and conquer. Unite and resolve.
Which of the sides of reality do you refer to better? And if you do refer to it better, why do you recect the other? Why do I do the same?