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Machine Learning From Las Vegas

Article · September 2016

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Pierre Cutellic
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Volume 49 The Rational City  4

THEORIES
M. Christine Boyer
Editorial  2

Out of the Loop  7

HELLO
WORLD!



Doug Spencer

On Automation in The Stack 


Benjamin H. Bratton
11

Architecture After the Event Horizon  15


Kazys Varnelis

Demo Life  17
HISTORIES THE ANTHROPOCENE
Orit Halpern TELLS US THAT OUR
TECHNOLOGIES
Hausbaumaschine  22
ARE CHANGING THE
PLANET; BUT WHAT
Nader Vossoughian ARE THEY DOING
TO US?
The Ultimate Industrial Revolution  27
W J McKee

Welcome to FutureLand  33
Victor M. Sanz

Animated Aberrations, Rebellious Objects  39


Shannon Mattern

Robots on Screen  44
Volume
STRATEGIES

The Smart City of Gaza  81


Francesco Sebregondi

We, Robots  85
Kas Oosterhuis
In Loving Support  49
Insert Social Physics and Democratic Suprematism  89
Philippe Morel

The Promethean Gift Economy  92


Troy Conrad Therrien

Machine Learning from Las Vegas  98


Pierre Cutellic
TACTICS

Machinic Apprenticeship  102


Sara Dean and Etienne Turpin

Domestic Machines  108


Nicholas Korody

Drive  111
Carla Leitão and Ed Keller

Here and Anywhere in the World  117


Volume 49

Valle Medina and Benjamin Reynolds


Colophon  128
Where the City Can’t See  121
Tim Maughan and Liam Young
1

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PIERRE CUTELLIC

THE DATA-SATURATED
ENVIRONMENT WE LIVE IN TODAY
WAS ALREADY THERE ALMOST
HALF A CENTURY AGO; IT’S JUST
THAT THE NATURE OF DATA HAS
CHANGED. DATA USED TO BE
MUCH MORE SPATIAL, MORE
ARCHITECTONIC, AND THE MEANS
OF LOCATING ONESELF IN, AND
NAVIGATING THROUGH, SUCH A
SPACE COULD BE REVEALED BY
ARCHITECTURAL THEORY AND
CRITIQUE. WITH DATA ONLY
PENETRATING DEEPER INTO OUR
COGNITIVE REALM BY THE DAY,
WHAT IS THERE FOR
he relevant revolution today is the current
T ARCHITECTURE TO SAY?
by the developments of neural nets, for example,
electronic one. Architecturally, the symbol was abruptly interrupted by Marvin Minsky and
systems that electronics purveys so well are Seymour Papert’s 1969 book Perceptrons, which
STRATEGIES

MACHINE
LEARNING
FROM
LAS VEGAS
more important than its engineering content. revealed important limitations on what and how
The most urgent technological problem facing a machine, as one could be conceived at the time,
us is the humane meshing of advanced scien­ could actually learn.2 Most of the barriers encoun­
tific and technical systems with our imperfect tered were directly related to the challenge of pro­
and exploited human systems, a problem cessing vast quantities of data. Problems such
worthy of the best attention of architecture’s as memory or processing speed and the necessity
scientific ideologues and visionaries. of having datasets to learn from were all linked
Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, Steven Izenour,
0Learning from Las Vegas
to the same issue of acquiring and processing
a constantly increasing amount of data. Most of
those issues were overcome in the 1980s by new
It is almost always relevant to put the emer­ generations of computers, models and methods
gence of significant architectural discourses for neural nets such as the Neocognitron and Back­
in perspective of other contemporary societal propagation,3 but these developments remained
events, particularly since the latter tend to become intimately linked and limited by the ability to pro­
a pre-text of the former. But what happens if such cess and evaluate increasingly larger datasets.
events fail to meet their own expectations? We A symptomatic form of this phenomena can be seen
might then find ourselves in front of a sign of the in the overwhelming communication system
times yet to come, or a Zeitgeist in the making. described by Venturi, Scott Brown and Izenour
In parallel to the release of Robert Venturi, as Las Vegas’ architecture and urbanism:
Denise Scott Brown and Steven Izenour’s revelation
of the Information Age’s consequences on both “It is an architecture of communication over
the built environment and modern ideologies, the space; communication dominates space
then-promising field of artificial intelligence (AI) fell as an element in the architecture and in the
into an ice age for almost a decade.1 Research­ers landscape.”
Volume 49

were facing the very problem of not being able


to realize their own ambitions, both conceptually It is very rare that architectural thinking finds
and technically. The great initial excitement of both itself ahead of its own time. But with regards to the
researchers and financial backers brought about “humane meshing of technological and human 98

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systems” they were clearly addressing the tip published: Joseph Weizenbaum’s Computer Power
of a crisis we have come to face only now. The then- and Human Reason: From Judgment To Calculation.6
symbolic crisis they addressed was one of the This influential work was the first to propose a com­
earliest symptoms of a general crisis of knowl­ prehensive ethical differentiation between decision-
edge impairment. Las Vegas served as a tangible making and choice – with the former defined
proof that, with the evolution of human activities, as the product of computational activity and the
communication would come to dominate space latter of human judgment – and would eventually
in an ambient manner, conveying increasingly vast pave the way for the evolution of artificial knowl­
quantities of data from which the production edge. But this very discrimination, which is still
of knowledge would become increasingly difficult. operative today, remains an obstacle to truly envi­
Machine learning – the mechanization of knowl­edge sion a positive outcome of integral mechanization,
acquisition from experience – has come to act as as human cognition and knowledge production
a response to this issue, but rather than considering remain separated from each other and mediated
a “humane meshing”, tends to work as a substitution by artificial knowledge.
for human cognition. Total knowledge – how to do, In 1965, scientists discovered peculiar types
to live and think – has nowadays fully achieved of neurosignals involved in the process of decision-
its mechanization.4 And such an integral mechani­ making.7 Then, at the beginning of the 1970s, novel
zation has also generated a progressive dependency methods to monitor the electrical activity of the
towards technology as well as a general inca­pacity brain like ElectroEncephaloGrams (EEGs) became
to understand technological environments. The more portable, allowing them to expand from the
Las Vegas citizen’s car became essential to navi­ fields of psychiatric and medical research and
gate through the symbolic and sign systems made eventually deliver the first brain-computer inter­
for high-speed recognition, and both rendered faces, paving the way for neuroprosthetics.8 With
the unmediated person impaired to experience the invention of brain-computer interfaces, electric
and understand his immediate surroundings. Spatial signals could convey information between biologi­
alienation due to lack of mediation became the cal and mechanical material, constituting a symbiotic
pervasive architectural paradox of Las Vegas, and technium in favor of human re-capacitation.
eventually, our daily lives. Such foresight was Neuroscience and neurotechnology could then
already manifest of a new kind of knowledge impair­ combine human and mechanized cognitions

SEIGETARTS
ment, one that is conveyed through the mechani­ to reproduce an interface necessary for a body
zation of acquisition and production of information. to interact with its environment, acquire information
But could this substitution mechanism be and produce knowledge. Here, one can realize
approached from a new angle, this condition that within the field of neuroscience the develop­
of impairment seen in a new light? ments of cognitive science and artificial intelli­
Delays in AI-related technological develop­ gence are deeply linked. But aside from medical
ments offered a time window for the development applications, where disabilities tend to be immedi­
of an extended architectural thinking of such pro­ ately observable, not a single positive integrative
gressing events. Nicholas Negroponte, founder approach has emerged from new technological
of the Architecture Machine Group at MIT, published developments to propose a solution to general
two books at around the same time as Venturi, knowledge impairment. Rather, the most effective
Scott Brown and Izenour’s study of Las Vegas: applications have been for military or marketing
The Architecture Machine in 1970, and Soft Archi­ purposes.9 But just like how the mechanization
tecture Machines in 1975.5 Negroponte laid out of labor in the automotive and airspace industries
an anticipatory plan to technological advance­ served as productive models for the development
ments and a synthetic approach for architecture. of modern architecture, perhaps the medical indus­
One of the many critical aspects of this work has try can now serve as a model for the cognition
been to highlight the ethical and ontological issues of architecture: a heuristic graft for new values of
faced by AI research: the discrimination between knowledge (as is the function of neuro­prosthesis).10
artificial and natural cognition. “To the first machine In the medical realm one can observe people
that can appreciate the gesture”, Negroponte subject to such successful surgical operations
autographed the first book. Within these two books regain lost control of their motor skills and psyche.
is a progressive roadmap for a collaborative envi­ Scientific research has developed applications
ronment between humans and machines, where capable of returning haptic control to those who
Volume 49

one cognitive system does not necessarily discrimi­ had lost it, not just with bionic devices but also
nate against or substitute the other. by assisting in the progressive reconstruction
At around the same time, in 1976, one of the of motor nerves and the deceleration of neuro­
99 first significant pieces of writing on AI ethics was degen­erative diseases.11 Human re-capacitation

V49_BW_26AUG16_V8-TO DK.indd 99 30/08/16 12:27


ASPEN MOVIE MAP APPLICATION AND INTERFACE,
Architecture Machine Group, MIT, 1978.
STRATEGIES

Volume 49

A QUADRIPLEGIC WOMAN CONTROLLING A ROBOTIC ARM in three dimensions


through a BCI, UPMC, 2012. 100 1

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is a process of re-valuing knowledge of the human evolution of architecture lies in tangible artifacts
body and the way it interacts with and controls its or extremely simulated environments, the next
environment. Augmented by the computational steps of extended, augmented cognition should
powers of AI and other artifacts of integral mechani­ be integrated with human cognition, as in neuro­
zation, the re-capacitation of human knowledge technologies, in such ways that maintaining
seems approachable, now more than ever. And a humane meshing along with technological
such a graft, previously applied to bodies only shifts would allow for the construction of novel
clinically diagnosed as disabled, should be con­ types of knowledge and development of new
sidered in general more seriously. crea­tive processes. From the Miocene to the
One peculiar justification for cognitive com­ Anthropocene, the human brain, along with the
puting today is to propose an extension to human human body and its sensory organs, has had
cognition.12 But the current state of scientific about eight million years to evolve. Elements
research rather tends to develop applications of that process of evolution, such as visual cog­
of the opposite scenario, where human cognition nition, which serves as a mentoring model for
helps and extends the artificial one (such as in the machine vision and data compression, are being
case of ‘attribute learning’, where attributing values factored in to the development of artificial intel­
to symbolic systems still remains as a highly ligence.13 When thinking about the future of knowl­
demanding and complicated task for cognitive edge and the evolution of architecture we should
machines). The curiosity of such a common state­ learn to see ourselves as a more integral part
ment cannot be undermined while human cognition of the machine learning agenda and consider
is just about to reveal an extraordinary potential factoring it into human evolution with greater
to positively relink with automation. Whether the care and creativity.

SEIGETARTS
1 Robert Venturi, Denise Scott 4 Bernard Stiegler, La Société cation’, Annual Review of Bio­ Proceedings of the 34th Annual
Brown and Steven Izenour, Automatique 1, Le Futur du Travail physics and Bioengineering, 1973. Conference of the Association
Learning From Las Vegas (Paris: Fayard, 2015). 9 For an example of DARPA for Computer Aided Design
(Cambridge (MA)/London: MIT 5 Nicholas Negroponte, The military applications of Brain- in Architecture (ACADIA),
Press, 1972). Architecture Machine: Toward a Computer-Interfaces see: Robbin 23–25 October, 2014, pp. 473-478.
2 Marvin Minsky and Seymour More Human Environment A. Miranda et al, ‘DARPA-funded 11 José del R. Millán et al,
Papert, Perceptrons: An Intro­ (Cambridge (MA/London: MIT efforts in the development of ‘Combining Brain–Computer
duc­tion to Computational Press, 1970). Nicholas Negroponte, novel brain–computer interface Interfaces and Assistive Tech­
Geometry (Cambridge (MA)/ Soft Architecture Machines technologies’, Journal of Neuro­ nologies: State-Of-The-Art and
London: MIT Press, 1969). (Cambridge (MA)/London: MIT science Methods 244, 2015, Challenges’, Frontiers in Neuro­
3 Kunihiko Fukushima, ‘Neo­ Press, 1975). pp 52–67. As for the field of science, 4, 2010, pp. 161.
cognitron: A self-organizing 6 JosephWeizenbaum, Neuro­marketing, one can trace 12 John E. Kelly III, ‘Computing,
neural network model for a Computer Power and Human the mechanization of human Cognition, and the Future of Knowing,
mechanism of pattern Reason: From Judgement To consumer behaviors to the How Humans and Machines are
recognition unaffected by shift in Calculation (San Francisco: H. theoretical model from which it Forging a New Age of Under­
position’, Biological Cybernetics, Freeman & Company, 1976). derives: Gerald Zaltman’s standing’, IBM Research, 2015.
36(4), 1980, pp. 93–202. Ravid E. 7 Steven J. Luck, An Introduc­ Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation 13 David Marr, Vision
Volume 49

Rumelhart, Geoffrey E. Hinton tion to the Event Related Technique (ZMET©). (Cambridge (MA)/London: MIT
and Ronald J. Williams, ‘Learning Potential Technique, (Cambridge 10 Pierre Cutellic, Le Cube Press, 1982). James V. Stone,
representations by back- (MA)/London: MIT Press, 2005). d’Après, Integrated Cognition for Vision and Brain: How We
propagating errors’, Nature 323, 8 Jacques J. Vidal, ‘Toward Iterative and generative Designs’, Perceive the World (Cambridge
0 101 Oct. 1986, pp. 533–536. direct brain-computer communi­ ACADIA 14: Design Agency, (MA)/London: MIT Press, 2012).

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