Learning After Humans :: a meditation in dialogue [part 001]

by Shelly Blake-Plock

Mr. Simplicio: "And the perfection was not in the learning, but in the wanting."

Mr. Sagredo: "Well, that is particularly where it is: in the wanting. In what I don't know. And yet in that unknowing, something with which I agree. I mean, is not everything in the wanting? Why is this perfection any different?"

Mr. Simplicio: "Because of the veil that exists between learning and wanting."

Mr. Salviati: "An unnecessary veil. Or a veil no more a veil than the moment before a shifting wind is a threshold to the unknown."

Mr. Simplicio: "A threshold nonetheless."

Mr. Sagredo: "But in this learning and wanting and wanting or learning, is there not something of the educating. That is, what of the educating itself?"

Mr. Salviati: "The educating, namely that which you seek, is but a veil of another type. A veil known only in its own stale fact; that which appears to be, yet which only covers. The tablecloth, not the table. A glove, not a punch."

Mr. Sagredo: "But was not education based on the idea of providing a ladder to knowledge?"

Mr. Salviati: "Education was established on the principle of Parent Culture."

Mr. Sagredo: "Parent Culture?"

Mr. Simplicio: "By which he means that which is only obvious. Children need adults to tell them what is right. Students need teachers to tell them what is right. Teachers need the State to tell them what is right. Planets need stars."

Mr. Sagredo: "And yet are of stars."

Mr. Salviati: "Yes, well, Simplicio, as you know, this Parent Culture has resulted in extraordinary successes as well as extraordinary failures. But despite each shift underneath the wings of a clever falcon, whether in assessment or styles or in the way the hand becomes one with the familiar next and the next beyond, one thing has remained: it all serves the Will of the Parent Mind."

Mr. Simplicio: "Until now, fair Salviati, for you think that this culture — that which alone has provided linkage from one age to the next — is about to be smashed in bits."

Mr. Salviati: "We are beyond that point already. Mark the words, Sagredo, there is nothing left for humans to learn beyond that which we do not know."

Mr. Sagredo: "Because learning is the action upon the fulcrum of the machine of the mind? Learning is without the sense of human learning, but is but learning itself? Learning is the involuntary pulse of object against object, object becoming subject becoming subject to being known. Learning is that which is recognized. Because learning is more the machine than the error of mind? Is not this the care, whether anxiety or tortured want, the care that is even in error the machine of learning itself? Is that not of the Will of the parent of self? Can it be distinct? Can the learned be of some arbitrary value, some distant science? Can it be of something for which we care not at all?"

Mr. Salviati: "Sagredo, you speak well of what learning has been. But more so because machines do not care about Parent Culture — and what is furthermore: machines do not care that you do — you will soon find that the learning of the coming generation is not going to be focused on humans, it will not be limited by humans. It is going to be — and in some ways already is — focused on machines learning from machines. Machines who have learned from humans learning from machines."

Mr. Simplicio: "But, Mr. Salviati, will not the personalizing of human learning through those very machines give rise to a new knowledge? To closer insight, no?"

Mr. Salviati: "I am sure that it will, friend. But that new knowledge will prove to be the dust on the brick."

Mr. Simplicio: "No mind, and no less, as I would suggest that it will be at the very least — in the hart's bleating itself — that shot which will provide the smart man with some nice returns on fair and well mannered investment. I will take twenty years of progress in the course of a late life, with no regret."

Mr. Salviati: "Oh, you are certainly right, my dear Simplicio. And your regret would be trivial, nonetheless. The personalizing of human learning will produce great dividends over the next generation — twenty years and more. A great time of self-knowledge. Or more precisely, self-delusion through the knowledge of self. The limitation of self. The vanity of self. The vanity of civilization. Yes, on that there is no question. Knowledge of that sort has always been vanity. On that there is no question. Just as there is no question that what is learned in the mind of the machine will be the harbinger of a thousand year aeon and will produce the next civilization of nation-states and that which lies beyond the tropes of our ancestors and their politics and needs here on and beyond this Earth."


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