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Santillán, Oscar

Santillán, Oscar



Research Question

What conceptual and technological interfaces can enable the encounter of biological, artificial, and indigenous notions of intelligence?

Project Description

In the 1960’s cybernetician Stafford Beer attempted to create what he called a ‘biological computer’. His prototype began with a pond inhabited by daphnia (water fleas); the plan consisted of ‘recruiting’ these miniscule creatures to become computational agents. However, the ‘transspecies computer’ failed. My suspicion is that inadvertently the cybernetician had been trying to communicate with an ‘Earthbeing’.

In Andean cosmologies the term ‘Earthbeing’ (‘Tirakuna’ in Quechua) identifies aspects of ecosystems capable of generating their own subjectivity. Therefore an ‘Earthbeing’ (i.e. a mountain, a lake, a pond) is simultaneously an ecological environment, a sacred place, and, as just mentioned, a subjectivity source capable of communicating with other selves, such as human animals, otherthan-human animals, or even artificial entities.

Although the initial drive for ‘DAPHNIA’ is shaped by Beer’s cybernetic experiment, I would like to consider contemporary adaptations for my own radical transspecies computer. In other words, I aim to continue the cybernetician’s enterprise by re-understanding it and expanding its philosophical and technological possibilities.


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