Glass Bead: seminar #1
Monday September 29th 2014, 7 pm

Andrée C. Ehresmann (with Mathias Béjean)
: The Glass Bead Game revisited: Weaving emergent dynamics with the MES methodology

In Hermann Hesse's book, the Glass Bead Game constructs "a kind of universal language" based on interrelations between different disciplines, the aim being a synthesis of all the arts and sciences. The game is not entirely, nor even consistently, described, thus opening to several interpretations: is it reduced to an intricate combinatory game searching for interactions between beads of established knowledge, or could it be extended for leading to innovative interdisciplinary research? It is the question we are going to examine. To this end, we will consider the 25 years development of the MES methodology (cf. Memory Evolutive Systems, A. Ehresmann and J.-P. Vanbremeersch, 2007) to try to play a revisited "glass bead game" aiming at synthesizing the main characteristics of living systems, be they biological, cognitive, social or cultural. Based on a 'dynamic' category theory, MES models autonomous multi-scale evolutionary systems which evolve through successive complexification processes -- adding, suppressing or binding components. The global dynamic weaves local operative dynamics, whose interactions are mediated by a flexible and plastic central memory developing over time. One main result (Emergence Theorem) shows that the existence of multifaceted components ("Multiplicity Principle") is a necessary condition for the emergence of components of increasing complexity orders, whose interrelations ("complex links") are not reducible to a simple combination of links between their components. Applied to MENS (a MES representing the neural-mental-cognitive system), it explains the emergence of higher cognitive processes up to anticipation and creativity through the development of a higher Archetypal Core. Recently this has been extended to collective action, in particular to innovative design.
As long as the Glass Bead Game is played with rigid glass beads representing invariant structures or pieces of knowledge, it cannot deal with “becoming”, thus at most allowing for “combinatory” and “exploratory” creativity in Boden’s sense. To model “transformational” creativity - e.g. understanding how properly new rules (complex links) could emerge - the beads should be multifaceted, presenting different facets depending on context. These beads should have some plasticity and eventually disappear over time (e.g. to account for evolving knowledge).

Olivia Lucca Fraser: Artificial Intelligence in the Age of Sexual Reproduction: Some Sketches for Xenofeminsm

The notion of artificial general intelligence has taken on an almost mythic significance in accelerationist discourse, both left and right. I will try to analyse and plot this notion's political coordinates, in a space that has, with somewhat different and sometimes conflicting ends, been mapped out by cyberfeminist research (by Alison Adam and Sarah Kember, for instance). The idea that artificial intelligence seems to crystallize, for many accelerationists, is something like an "emancipation of intelligence", as Nick Land once put it. The forking of accelerationism into the left and right spectra can be seen as so many ways of articulating this idea and forging it into a programme: whether in the form of a neoreactionary demand for private exit (AGI as a line of flight), or the form of a cybersocialist push towards the rational social cognition (AGI as Geist).
The question for today, though, is: what should this idea – an emancipation of intelligence as crystallized in the notion of AGI – mean for feminism? How should feminism orient itself with respect to this idea? Cyberfeminism's exploratory critiques of AI research and development (Alison Adam, Sarah Kember) are crucial in helping us get our bearings here, but the long game, the end we have in sight, is the one set in Shulamith Firestone's searing manifesto of 1970, The Dialectic of Sex. There, she draws the skeleton of an uncompromisingly promethean feminism, which hinges on a strict normative antinaturalism: "Nature" shall no longer be a refuge of injustice, or a basis for any political justification whatsoever.
The emancipation of intelligence, for Xenofeminism, is continuous with the project of the enlightenment, understood as a thoroughgoing desacralization of nature, which itself is inseparable from a long-term project of gender abolitionism: the destruction of sexual difference's political significance. This is the endgame xenofeminism has in sight, and the keystone joining cyberfeminist and transfeminist concerns with Firestone's unrelenting radicalism. This presentation will try to lay some of the groundwork for these interconnected projects.

Free entrance on reservation at and +33 153 561 590

Monday, September 29, 7pm
Seminar #1: Andrée C. Ehresmann (mathematician), The Glass Bead Game revisited: weaving emergent dynamics with the Memory Evolutive Systems methodology and Olivia Lucca Fraser (philosopher), Artificial Intelligence in the age of sexual reproduction: sketches for xenofeminism.
Wednesday, October 1, 7pm
Seminar #2: Martin Holbraad (anthropologist), Anthropology, metaphysics, art: ethnographic aporia at the limit and Franck Jedrzejewski (philosopher, mathematician, musicologist), Ontological fields: a categorification of space.
Friday, October 3, 7pm
Seminar #3: Frederik Stjernfelt (philosopher), Diagrammatical reasoning and natural propositions and Giuseppe Longo (mathematician, logician, epistemologist), The constitution of meaning: from mathematical structures to organisms (e ritorno).