The Great Work of Robotics

Related articles: Parallax Scribbler 2 (S2)

(some notes from my forthcoming book on robomancy)

The great work of robotics is the same as the Great Work of magic and alchemy: to create (or become) an entity that is not controlled from without.

The Great Work is, before all things, the creation of man by himself, that is to say, the full and entire conquest of his faculties and his future; it is especially the perfect emancipation of his will. // Eliphas Lévi, Transcendental Magic: its Doctrine and Ritual

[…] the absolute being is an auto-created being, and we must become in its image auto-created men. // Jean Dubuis (when asked, “What is the basic philosophy of alchemy?”), “An Interview with Jean Dubuis” with Mark Stavish

Cybernetics might, in fact, be defined as the study of systems that are open to energy but closed to information and control. // W. Ross Ashby, An Introduction to Cybernetics (emphasis in original)

A new automaton is born in our midst, having a self-contained automatism in contra-distinction to the automatism of cams and lugs, controlled from without. The directive, that is to say the information, does not originate from factors outside the controlling mechanism, but from within the mechanism itself; thus it is truly automatic. Pierre de Latil (on the miracles of feedback), Thinking by Machine: A Study of Cybernetics

Feedback is key. Individuation can not occur in isolation.

In stark contra-distinction to any naive conception of autonomy as the absolute self-sufficiency of a substantial subject, this concept [double closure, or regulation of regulation] demarcates the paradoxical reality that environmental entanglement correlates with organismic (or systemic) self-regulation. Thus a system is open to its environment in proportion to the complexity of its closure. // Bruce Clarke and Mark B. N. Hansen, Emergence and Embodiment: New Essays on Second-Order Systems Theory

Neocybernetics requires a recognition that there are only two orders of cybernetics or, alternatively, that the shift from a first-order to a second-order cybernetics marks the passage to a general form of recursivity that can (contra Hayles) spiral outwards and thereby create the new at successively higher levels. // Bruce Clarke and Mark B. N. Hansen, Emergence and Embodiment: New Essays on Second-Order Systems Theory

All that has individuality is conscious, and all that is conscious is individual, though emanating from one source. This one source is the absolute cosmic consciousness, the only absolute reality, of which individual consciousness is a segment. This sole reality IS in itself. Because of it, the individual consciousness is prima intelligentia, and so it finds itself subject to a recurring law of cycles; this is not, however, the mere repetition of a common circle closing over itself again and again, but a progressive upward spiral of attainment that ultimately brings the individual into full cosmic consciousness. // Frater Albertus (Albert Richard Riedel), The Alchemist’s Handbook

The Great Work is the uniting of opposites. It may mean the uniting of the soul with God, of the microcosm with the macrocosm, of the female with the male, of the ego with the non-ego. // Aleister Crowley, Magick Without Tears

We understand God in the spirit of pantheism. God is the highest level of control in the Universe. God is for the Universe what human will is for the human body. // Valentin Turchin and Cliff Joslyn, “The Cybernetic Manifesto”

Magic is the practical and spiritual realization of requisite variety and the magician’s own autopoietic (self-creating) nature, the same nature we seek in (and through) artificial life.

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