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In social and cultural theory, topology has been used to articulate changes in structures and spaces of power. In this introduction, we argue that culture itself is becoming topological. In particular, this ‘becoming topological’ can be identified in the significance of a new order of spatio-temporal continuity for forms of economic, political and cultural life today. This ordering emerges, sometimes without explicit coordination, in practices of sorting, naming, numbering, comparing, listing, and calculating. We show that the effect of these practices (...) is both to introduce new continuities into a discontinuous world by establishing equivalences or similitudes, and to make and mark discontinuities through repeated contrasts. In this multiplication of relations, topological change is established as being constant, normal and immanent, rather than being an exceptional form, which is externally produced; that is, forms of economic, political and cultural life are identified and made legible in terms of their capacities for continuous change. Outlining the contributions to this Special Issue, the introduction discusses the meaning of topological culture and provides an analytic framework through which to understand its implications. (shrink)
The standard view of classical cognitive science stated that cognition consists in the manipulation of language-like structures according to formal rules. Since cognition is ‘linguistic’ in itself, according to this view language is just a complex communication system and does not influence cognitive processes in any substantial way. This view has been criticized from several perspectives and a new framework (Embodied Cognition) has emerged that considers cognitive processes as non-symbolic and heavily dependent on the dynamical interactions between the cognitive system (...) and its environment. But notwithstanding the successes of the embodied cognitive science in explaining low-level cognitive behaviors, it is still not clear whether and how it can scale up for explaining high-level cognition. In this paper we argue that this can be done by considering the role of language as a cognitive tool: i.e. how language transforms basic cognitive functions in the high-level functions that are characteristic of human cognition. In order to do that, we review some computational models that substantiate this view with respect to categorization and memory. Since these models are based on a very rudimentary form of non-syntactic ‘language’ we argue that the use of language as a cognitive tool might have been an early discovery in hominid evolution, and might have played a substantial role in the evolution of language itself. (shrink)
Why have theories of evolution become now a matter of concern for critically rethinking sex and sexual difference? Why after years of deconstructing the ontologies of sex rooted in biological discourses and metaphysics of identity has critical thought turned to biology, physics, and mathematics? One way to tackle this new turn toward scientific thought may be derived from the reaction against an overused method of textual critique, which has come short of engaging with the reality of matter. If sexuality and (...) sex are material forms of irreducible difference, then one needs a window into the material processes that lead to such forms. (shrink)
At the turn of the 21st century, topology, the mathematical study of spatial properties that remain the same under the continuous deformation of objects, has come to invest all fields of aesthetics and culture. In particular, the algebraic topology of continuity has added to the digital realm of binary information, the on and off states of 0s and 1s, an invariant property , which now governs the relation between different forms of data. As this invariant function of continual transformation has (...) entered the field of automated computation, the culture of binary digits has shifted towards a new level of calculation derived from the introduction of temporal quantities into finite sets of algorithmic instructions and parameters. This new level of topological computation, it will be argued, defines new operative procedures of control, constantly adding axioms at the limit of calculation through an invariant function that establishes a smooth or uninterrupted connectivity between distinct data. The establishment of a continual function between distinct forms of data is based on homeomorphism or topological isomorphism between data objects, of which parametricism, as the new global style for architecture and design, is a perfect example. (shrink)
Simulations with neural networks living in a virtual environment can be used to explore and test hypotheses concerning concepts and language. The advantages that result from this approach include (1) the notion that a concept can be precisely defined and examined, (2) that concepts can be studied in both nonverbal and verbal artificial organisms, and (3) concepts have properties that depend on the environment as well as on the organism's adaptive behavior in response to the environment.
This article tackles an old, classical problem, which is acquiring a new epochal relevance with the techno-aesthetic processing of form and substance, expression and content. The field of digital architecture is embarked in the ancient controversy between the line and the curve, binary communication and fuzzy logic. Since the 1990s, the speculative qualities of digital architecture have exposed spatial design to the qualities of growing or breeding, rather than planning. However, such qualities still deploy the tension between discrete spaces and (...) continual curving. In this context, the article suggests the computational coexistence of discrete coding with continual morphing, defying any easy resolution for an aesthetic of continuity or discontinuity, the superiority of the analog or the meta-logic of the digital. The metaphysical dimension of such coexistence needs to include the abstract capacities of experiencing the transition from one state to another as the registering of algorithmic processing. Computation is intrinsic to microperceptions, incomputable quantities deploying the infectious property of the digital code. The article draws on the digital architecture of Greg Lynn to explore whether the computational nature of the digital calculus has the potential to challenge the bifurcation between the biological and the mathematical, the physical and the mental. (shrink)
The article examines the question of how learning multiple tasks interacts with neural architectures and the flow of information through those architectures. It approaches the question by using the idealization of an artificial neural network where it is possible to ask more precise questions about the effects of modular versus nonmodular architectures as well as the effects of sequential versus simultaneous learning of tasks. A prior work has demonstrated a clear advantage of modular architectures when the two tasks must be (...) learned at the same time from the start, but this advantage may disappear when one task is first learned to a criterion before the second task is undertaken. Indeed, in some cases of sequential learning, nonmodular networks achieve success levels comparable to those of modular networks. In particular, if a nonmodular network is to learn two tasks of different difficulty and the more difficult task is presented first and learned to a criterion, then the network will learn the second, easier one without permanent degradation of the first one. In contrast, if the easier task is learned first, a nonmodular task may perform significantly less well than a modular one. It seems that the reason for this difference has to do with the fact that the sequential presentation of the more difficult task first minimizes interference between the two tasks. More broadly, the studies summarized in this article seem to imply that no single learning architecture is optimal for all situations. (shrink)
El populismo debe ser rescatado del espacio de despección en que se lo puso desde sus inicios; por ej. en la interpretación que G. Germani hacía del peronismo como "imposibilidad de sectores rurales emigrados a la ciudad para adaptarse a los patterns de modernización social". Los actuales "populismo..
In this article we propose to overlap aesthetic experience with medial experience, starting from the assumption that every aesthetic experience is always a medial experience. Adopting a naturalistic approach, in which we explain what we mean with the term naturalization, we suggest a partial review of the issue. First, we state that human natural language is a kind of technology, made possible by certain physical, cognitive and social features; this sort of biological technology must be considered as an underlying condition (...) for aesthetic experience. Secondly, we suggest the importance of social relationships among various species, demonstrating the role played by this relationships in natural selection: a new perspective will emerge. Thirdly, we explain in more detail why aesthetic experience can be likened to medial experience; in doing so, we offer an epistemological comparison between evolutionary theory and Marshall McLuhan’s approach to media studies. Resulting comparison will offer an original definition of aesthetic experience which rises through the interaction engaged by our natural technologies interacting prosthetically with environment. (shrink)
Mirror neurons may play a role in representing not only signs but also their meaning. Because actions are the only aspect of behavior that are inter-individually accessible, interpreting meanings in terms of actions might explain how meanings can be shared. Behavioral evidence and artificial life simulations suggest that seeing objects or processing words referring to objects automatically activates motor actions.
This article aims at contributing to the discussion about the relationships between ICT, computer science and policy-making by focusing on agent-based social simulation. Enabled, from a technical point of view, by the developments of Distributed Artificial Intelligence in the 1990s and by the features of the object-oriented programming paradigm, agent-based social simulations are a tool for the analysis of social dynamics that can be used also to support the design and the evaluation of public policies. After a brief description of (...) social simulation paradigm and of its impact on social sciences, the paper presents a simple agent-based model devised to analyze, even if in a very abstract way, a phenomenon that can rouse the interest of legal scientists: the interplay between damaging behaviors, punishment and social mechanisms of learning and imitation. Our goal is to show how agent-based simulation can be used not only to illuminate basic mechanisms underlying social phenomena but also to reflect, in an innovative way, on how society can deal with them. (shrink)
Human beings possess external stores in which they put all sorts of goods to use them at some later time. In this paper we investigate this typically human adaptation using agent-based simulations. We show that the use of external stores explains many aspects of human life, allowing the agents to reduce their dependence on both the environment and the current state of their body and to be more efficient in extracting the energy contained in the environment. We analyse the spatial (...) behaviour of agents with external stores located in specific positions of the environment and we find that these agents tend to develop a sedentary life. We discuss how stores can be at the origin of many human mental and social phenomena such as the acquisition of a more extended temporal perspective, specialisation in producing different types of goods, and exchange of goods. (shrink)