What is Human in the Human
This is the full talk as prepared by S Santos for the talk in Newcastle upon Tyne (June 2018).
Only a part was spoken.
Thank you for inviting me to a debate that might, as I will explain, otherwise not open up to debate.
I am aware that, as a speaker, and having people listening to me in silence, you have allowed me some form of power over your minds and thoughts already, and I thank you for the trust.
I would be very grateful to you now to let me speak what is on my mind rather than what perhaps you think I ought to say. I am asking you to grant me in this way, freedom.
I will start with a poem from Hölderlin where its meaning, in relation to this topic, will be clarified in what follows:
“Every person is a sign to be read”
I also give you one of my sentences:
“There is an infinite amount of reality in all beings”
So human beings are not reducible to logic. Human beings are a sign of their own and a sign for “others-to-read” that becomes “what-others-read” from someone.
The topic that concerns us however relates to robots and their relations to humans. Robots and the relation to humans might be readily discussed by confronting them in terms of where they differ.
Humans are the rational being that speaks. Yet we do not know how we do it and have to learn about what it means before we can teach robots. I will state this again with emphasis:
How can the rational being that speaks need to learn what speaking means?
That humans speak but do not know how might already give us to think about. We speak by paying attention to what is to be said. We point towards it, and then say it. Logic in this way comes only after we are already pointing at what comes.
“I have a friend that is a very poor man”. Pointing and paying attention at the poverty in him leads me to speak “truth” and “logic”. He can’t afford a car, his own house or expensive clothes and restaurants. These are the logic that stem from my pointing. That is, I have my arguments “for it”. I read “him” and I “saw-him”.
Because I am a human, not a robot, I can now point my mind to something else so I can be conscious of it.
I could also say: “my friend is the richest man I know”. Wakes up when he wants, lives as he wishes and has everything he needs at hand. These are the logic that stem from my pointing. That is, I have my arguments “for it”. I read “him” and I “saw-him”.
So now this is the key of the full speech:
“How can a poor man be the richest?”
If we asked this to a robot, the robot might be confronted by the paradox of such logic. There is as much “truth” and “reality”, if any, in any saying as far as “the-other” sees. This is the riddle of language that only humans can understand, not robots, let alone any logic. I am claiming now that humans use logic to tyrannise and dominate each other, thus reducing the human to the machine. I thus ask you to pay attention to the speeches here so when you see logic thrown onto the other, you can listen to what the speaker paid attention to, because that’s where their logic came from. That is what the speaker “saw in the other”. Seeing in the other entangles one with the other so seeing in the other “talks” as much of “one” as of the “other”.
We may now read the poem again, if we want, by referring to the poor man who is the richest:
“Every person is a sign to be read”
“There is an infinite amount of reality in all beings”
I have thought carefully about the subject matter that concerns us. I thought of whether I should discuss the future of sex, what I have made or other. The possibility of this talk however opened to a direction that I consider most genuine in that it frames the debate and delimits it.
I took the decision to allow, for once, a starting position of neutrality, not an apologetic or defensive one, but such decision implies directly avoiding the debate that was proposed. So I want to clarify that I did not come here to apologize but to clarify and point out.
Speaking first (eventually I spoke last), I will try and clarify the limits at once and assert:
“This debate concerns power and domination over the weak in two ways.”
I will proceed now with three claims, the first of which concerns AI and consciousness:
“Humans are experts at understanding more from the unsaid than the spoken. Hence the trouble with AI.”
My second assertion is that the centering question today should be:
“What is the future of sexuality and how does sexuality relate to the human of the future”
My third assertion is that the former will be relegated by the power of what will be unsaid:
“The spoken words today will hide the unsaid. The unsaid will relate to a form of domination and act as an apparent foundation of the spoken through the words humanity, compassion, empathy and understanding”
In this way, the word compassion will be uncompassionate, the word empathy will be spoken with none and the word domination will be employed to exert power with violence.
In order to understand such meaning we will have to pay attention to what machines cannot, i.e. the unsaid. In this way we can try to circumvent and avoid any metaphysical words that are unclear. Hence, In this way, I am appealing to your humanity to hear the unspoken in the way I saw it.
Next, I proceed to clarify the three assertions.
Today, society and social media exploit the sentence that adjudges. By starting a debate with a sentence that adjudges we declare the beginning to be an end. In this way, the speaker starts by positioning themselves in a situation of privilege and undertaking where the genuine question does not appear. The sentence is already at hand.
The speech or debate that truly and genuinely opens itself as a debate, proposes a debatable question, pointing at it in the beginning and placing it in the front and center thus paying attention to it. For example: what is the place of robots in modern society? Or what is sexuality in modern society with the coming of the robot? And all the other questions that I mentioned above. These are Socratic questions and an ontological form of questioning that opens itself as a debate that can be unfolded in its order. That is:
1) questions are placed to reach all the possibilities they can reach
2) arguments are given in relation to the possibilities
3) opinions are formed that can lead to decisions and a closing
An example of a closing question is one that does not even place itself as a question, because in itself, it says nothing. For example, a tautological question such as “tomorrow it will either rain or not rain”, or, more aggressively “you are evil by being evil”.
While a tautological sentence tells us nothing in terms of what it says in its saying, it might otherwise and still reveal something. This is the way of language, it might more genuinely say more with what it does not say than by its saying or lack thereof. We can understand the unsaid by listening to what we point at with what is said but says nothing.
My assertion now is that had I paid attention to other than the unsaid, the only debate today would center on the saying:
“evil is evil”
Listening to the above by pointing not at the words, but to what they might reveal I assert that:
“There is a will in the speaker to dominate by saying nothing while directing the speech to their imposing”
It further reveals:
“The will of closing a debate in its opening that now centers or places the person that attempts debating as the center of what’s questioned.”
I consciously declare now that I have done the above myself by avoiding the actual debate.
We can now explain why this debate deals with domination twice. First it pretends to defend the ones being dominated and second it does that with the purpose of domination. The explanation follows.
Let us first center the actual saying that opens by closing:
“Domination of the weak by the powerful is evil”.
These words say nothing to a 21st century western audience.
The unsaid in its revealed form however might otherwise say something. I propose that the unsaid says:
“Other than what I sentence, is the evil”
The now less tautological form of saying in its revealed or authentic form has something to say. I will summarize it in two steps:
“First, the opening and closing of the speech has placed the other in a position of the one that has already lost before starting. One that is now under control and submitted. One that is taken to the position of that they cannot say.”
“Second, any attempt of saying will only confront one with the riddle of the tautology: “how can the evil not be evil? Such question has been placed onto us without permission, without care, violently and with the will to dominate.”
I expect the audience to be wondering why I never talked of the sex robot. The answer is in what I said and it might say more about the sex robot without mentioning it than otherwise.
I decided to ask the question of what the next speaker wants to say without saying it. The decision was not made lightly. The decision was made after listening to the speaker speak in many talks. After seeing the speaker speak with others that I would otherwise consider more reasonable while otherwise seeing them all lose from the beginning. All the arguments were futile, and the conversation directed only in a way of self-defense or apology of the beaten.
Finally, and as a summary:
“Any question on the modern meaning of sexuality should be posed as a genuine question that asks for the unconcealment of what such question conceals and hides and asks to be revealed. Let that be something good for society, or something bad”.
Such question is never the center of any debate today and it is, therefore, relegated to a title that otherwise says nothing about it.
Thank you for inviting me to this undebatable debate.