An Ontology of Machines and Media

Book review: Onto-Cartography –an Ontology of Machines and Media. Author: Levi R. Bryant

It has been several years, I intended reading more about the philosophy-trend object oriented ontology. Finally, I found this book An Ontology of Machines and Media in the Denver library. L.R. Bryant is one of the known philosophers of the OOO-society: a constructed philosophical niche, where everything is a machine.

I always thought that 000 stands for: Electrical devices and machines being extensions of human being’s actions and through content and appearance in the machine world, also spiritually extensions, since we exist in the realm of virtual reality; the internet.

That is not what this philosophy represents. I took a peek in Bryant’s book ‘An Ontology of Machines and Media’ and saw that everything is a machine. Humans are machines, animals, plants, everything is a machine. He distinguishes between different types of machines, but in general our universe is a machine. He believes, he found a thinking path to set an end the loop of 400 years of philosophical discourse around the object and subject conception. In his view, there are no subjects there are only objects everything is an object – a machine.

I find the book wordy, (bear with me for the conclusion) so I did not read it entirely. I peeked into some chapters. In Chapter 1 he describes the different types of machines: Discursive, physical, organic, technological, and not organic. Chapter 2 develops the general ontology of machines. He argues: “that machines ought to be understood in terms of their operations, transforming inputs that flow through them, producing a variety of different types of outputs. In so far as machines operate on flows, they are to be understood as “trans-corporeal” or interactively relate to other machines through flows of information, matter, and material that they receive from other entities”. Chapter 3 He argues: “that we must engage in alien-phenomenology to understand how machines interact with other entities in the world about them, and observe how another entity of service or interacts with the world about it. He calls for a topological conception of space, composed of paths themselves, composed of machines between machines that determine what is related to what and the vector along which an entity must move to reach a particular destination”. In chapters 7 he refers to the “way in which semiotic and physical machines curve the space time of other entities as gravity should be replaced by power”. This book talks about “the pan ecological machine oriented ontology”. He is strongly influenced by thinkers like Manuel DeLada, Gilles Deleuze, Diamond and Braudel and with this constructed philosophical niche he incorporates and quotes philosophers from the past such as Leibnitz, Heidegger and what they said about machines.

The wordiness and quotes from Heidegger and Sartre did not convince my mind. Interesting enough is, that he incorporates the communist Karl Marx (a machine), who was the main theoretical conductor for the human-labor machines at the beginning of the industrialization in Europa. In Marx’s view, somebody who closes the gates at a railway station (in those times manually), is as much worth as somebody who is a doctor and might save human lives. Bryant makes this to: a doctor machine engages into a not functioning human machine, as well as the gate closer does. No difference between a doctor and a gate closer. A human machine is not any better than a machine machine, there aren’t any differences.“This is this framework that onto-cartography attempts to provide”.

It is everywhere prevalent what impact this mind construction has on Hollywood movies, social behavior, human interaction and perception. One thing that has changed since 1988, when Onto-Cartography – an Ontology of Machines and Media was published; machines – artificial intelligence- took over the calculation of all the complicated math constructions and formulas humans need to organize life, because not a single human mathematician can actually proof calculate such highly complicated math. We trust another computer, e.g. in India to proof read the calculations. Surprising? No! What is surprising, is; are all machines equal?

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