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Curtin University
Collaborative Research in Art, Science and Humanity

 

Julian portrait

Bryan J Mather

Bryan is a polymath with two specific fields of expertise; Information Technology and Fine Art. Since 1981 he has had twin careers, and alternates between periods of IT consulting and working as an artist

Research Title

The effect of computer algorithms on digital reality

Abstract

My research will address the question: what is effect of the digital simulacrum within which we ever increasingly exist? The topic is based in the algorithms we use to describe and create the technology universe. Extending the ideas that we are constrained to a reality that exists in language, this thesis proposes the digital reality we create is also constrained by the computer languages we use to speak it into existence. My research will focus on the influence of computer algorithms on the continuous process of translation and interpretation by algorithms of physical reality into a new digital reality; we are creating a parallel world composed of electronic ones and zeros that exists without place, intangible and abstract. With algorithmic human-machine interfaces, our sensory experiences and thoughts are translated into digital text, digital photographs, TV and video. The computer’s machine language reinterpretation of history, whether its past years, past minutes or the microsecond delay of “live” telecasts, becomes our present.

Bryan J Mather research

This central hypothesis is that we have the first generation living a mass uncontrolled experiment involving fundamental changes to human cognition, behaviour and communication. Using language as the common thread, a parallel will be drawn between mind and intelligent behaviour in humans, and computer language and intelligent behaviour by computers. Accepting there is counter argument, this research proposes, constrained by computer language, computers are incapable of intelligence or consciousness; a conclusion in agreement with the arguments proposed by Searle. It is not intended to extend this hypothesis further as its unprovable; it could only be disproved through be the creation of a sentient, conscious and intelligent computer. Instead, this research explores many themes of one central idea; human language gives us our world, computer language give us digital reality. Themes such as, if there is no valid parallel between computer language and human language, what is the construct of the computer language we have created, and what is the effect of this construct on digital medium? Why do we relate to digital reality as a valid interpretation of reality, and what is effect of this misinterpretation? Although a computer algorithm is incapable of acquiring mind, knowledge or consciousness, why do humans relate to computers as if they are both intelligent and benign?