Which are we: Process or Product?
I was watching a video of a robotic arm spewing toothpaste-consistency clay from its endpoint nozzle onto a non-revolving turn-table. (Similar to a 3-D printer circling a center point.)
As the robotic arm repeatedly circled the table, revolution by revolution, the clay emitted in the process slowly began to form a tube circle, then build circle upon successive circle until it became vessel-like in appearance.
After the clay tubing grew to about a foot tall, the engineers must have gotten programming-creative and began to do odd loops and tweaks in the circling process until the vase formed some loopy design anomalies that were pretty interesting. This was the artistic part of the robotic forming process—artistry through coded engineering.
The end product in this clay extrusion process was the completed vase that was actually quite interesting and ingenious in its own right, but at the same time left me a little unenthusiastic about creating art objects in this manner because it took the potter’s hands out of the process (and I really enjoyed hand-thrown pottery class).
Artificial and engineered-robotic intelligence can create amazing objects, and yes, a programmer had to input the initial coding to make it all happen—that is true. But watching this clay vessel being formed which was meant more for aesthetic appreciation rather than function—created without a human’s personal touch—felt not only impersonal to me; it felt pointless in some ways.
Robotic or engineered processes are meant for duplication ease and consistency in creating multiples of a product or the components of that product. That is why it was introduced into industrial settings—to eliminate the human factor and all the financial/actuarial detritus because of that.
But when it comes to considering the ART value of the robotic-product that is created, is it a human-generated, unique artifact reflective of the culture that created it or a mass-produced lump of hardened clay devoid of aspirational intentions other than to make more money? Maybe that is best determined by the ‘creator’ of the product.
So then I thought about the old, Isaac Asimov short-story called “The Last Question” where all of life has long ago passed away leaving only an omniscient AI computer that recreates the basis for restarting the entire LIFE process again with the simple statement to itself of “Let there be light!”
This leads me to another thought that perhaps we are not so much a product of life as we are more of a continuing life process, along with the popular mythology image playing in my mind of God creating the first human from a lump of clay and breathing LIFE into it. Did S/He do it through a clay-extrusion tube?
For us as humans, our life process is imperfect and constantly changing, but we are still yearning for our own, as well as our species, continuation on this planet.
But to follow up on that thought, if we are instead life products, then there are billions of us on this earth doing what we do in our own good interests and bad. And we are fast filling up our earth’s warehouse with human vessels—some of which are more functional than others.
However, if we are life processes and all billions of us are in motion toward change of some sort—then we represent LIFE itself in process as an evolution of intentions and cause/effect actions taken toward both short-term goals and long-term results, personally and as a collective consciousness.
The true intention of our origins is a puzzle we haven’t yet solved, even though we frequently speculate on origin possibilities.
For the most part, I know we tend to think of ourselves as the creator and determiner of our own fates and destinies, but are we really in charge of our lives here or are we just mass-produced products of some AI-designed extrusion process that “peoples” this particular planet for some enigmatic reason?
I don’t really know which we are, but if we are created by an omniscient AI, perhaps it is time for a program change to a smarter, less self-destructive vessel.
Just a suggestion.