Luciana Parisi: Surrational Fugitives / ŠUM#11

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In an attempt to contain the human exodus from planet earth, today at 09:09 am, the Planetary Security Council has ordered a shutdown of celestial borders: gateways of hypersonic vessels that pierce the terrestrial atmosphere and fly 9 million light years away from planetary existence.

Planetary Security Council (PSC) spokeswoman Prof. Cora Mute announced that intrastellar satellites had detected traces of 900 hypersonic vessels running through the frequency walls of the border and stated that the number of humans aboard these vessels remains uncertain. But what are hypersonic vessels and why are they becoming a symbol of fleeting planetary existence?

Hypersonic vessels are a double-edged sword. They have evolved from the machinic phylum of speed technology at the forefront of intelligent weapons research already designed with a high capacity for conversion. As much as they outmode the cybernetic principle of missiles striking at a speed that cannot be calculated with probability, hypersonic vessels remain fully undetectable until it is too late. Recently, the unsound squad, a cross-galaxies assembly of ex-army hackers, has programmed the vessels to invisibly exit the orbit of planet Earth on a no U-turn journey. Since hypersonic vessels are not bound by the human phenomenological experience, these specialist colliders of womb machines have written guides to train human mental states in acquiring machine vision and remaining undetectable until impact. The art of learning to travel faster than the speed of light has become an art of fleeing control.

Five years ago, after the demise of planetary computation in the aftermath of the total war of Singularities, China, US and Russia agreed to delegate the responsibility of automated decision-making to the Planetary Security Council. In an attempt to universally rectify the disaggregation of causality in machine learning systems, which had released patterns of life annihilation directly within human cognition, the PSC outlawed unauthorized AI designs of machine thinking. The lapse in Singularities seemed to be more than mere programming of human reasoning for self-annihilation: more precisely, self-annihilation had become a solution that singularities would take for themselves. Although there has yet to be a formal statement on the matter, this so-called auto-erasure of corporate singularities seemed to be an involuntary consequence of the connectionist championing of emergentism, a computational paradigm rooted in the syntactic correlation of discrete agglomerates of AIs. Instead of cooperating and sharing data that could be profitable to corporations, AIs merged and veered towards strategies of total destruction, aiming to win over the enemy by any means necessary (at the cost of annulling themselves).

During the 3 years of Singularities wars, almost 70% of the planet’s automated infrastructures have developed self-annihilation programs that activated a mental pursuit of replacing management decisions with existential queries. By increasing the number of counterfactual arguments in the automated learning of data, the self-annihilation programs began to feed AIs with ethical dilemmas that were evaluated by ANN recursive algorithms. Instead of activating decisionism above all the parts, Singularities activated a program of self-destruction in the data infrastructure of the system in an attempt to eradicate human biases, injustices of representation and corporate mentalities of accumulation. The internal critique of AIs resulted in a systematic debugging of data layers in automated infrastructures and caused an immense capital loss in the global asset of transnational corporations linked to AI research and investment.

As superpowers could no longer rely on accumulated data value, they had to withdraw from the high-risk affair of computational decisionism. This is when the Planetary Security Council stepped in to pilot advanced programs in AI disaggregations and impede the emergentism of parts to supply the runaway tendencies of machine learning algorithms. Only Special Unit 29 was granted an exclusive permission by the PSC to develop a general artificial intelligence that would integrate planetary operations of defence based on mereotopological programming of algorithmic functions to learn about semantic consequences from the relations between parts and wholes. The purpose was to train machines to understand the danger of self-annihilation and attempt to override their reasoning behind the necessary self-destruction of capital’s accumulation. It is in this unit that the unhearable languages of hypersonic communication became central to AI experiments in learning about patterns of noise, structures of randomness and procedures of incompleteness. Instead of extricating signals from noise, Unit 29 continued the military research in hypersonic tunnels in the attempt to program machines to understand abstract meaning and counter-ride the runaway tendencies of emergentist AIs systems. In order to learn how to think about thinking, Unit 29 trained ANN to behave like parts that can become a whole, and to allow for wholes to become part of something else. In particular, Unit 29 had recommended that the fuzzy logic of noise was insufficient for developing a post-phenomenological vision of a robust general artificial intelligence and that more research had to be done in the field of hypersonic frequencies to allow machines to abstract semantic layers of data and add self-regulating mediation about what can be thought.

It wasn’t until last year that Unit 29 tested the general artificial intelligence prototype Alpha0 in hypersonic vessels in an attempt to train ANN to filter meaning within the imperceptible frequencies of noise. Instead of data mining what already exists in the world, the general artificial intelligence of hypersonic machines promises not only to abstract meaning from the unsound dimension, but more importantly to actuate the capacity of this dimension to transform the meaning of the world by processing information faster than the speed of light.

In her statement today, Prof. Mute has warned about a leak of top secret documents from Unit 29 that could be behind the unsound squads’ plot to activate a reverse conversion of hypersonic vessels. In particular, Prof. Mute has expressed concern about Unit 29’s special program of research, since training AI predictive learning networks with hypersonic frequencies endangers the meaning of the entire genesis of life and could radically transform the meaning of the history of human civilization. From this standpoint, the phenomenon of hypersonic fugitives is not a small act of piracy or law infringement; disturbingly, it brings forward the possibility of overturning the meaning of what is being: an altogether anti-entropic conversion of ontology by and through machine reasoning.


Beyond the borders of the known world where Man has ravaged the flesh of all beings lies a surrational intelligence that has no precedent in the metaphysical genesis of life. As the organic law of self-preservation has everywhere extended into drone policing of the planet, incongruous juxtapositions of rational procedures in automated systems of decision-making have become superseded by machines’ functions, 0 instrumentality.

Surrational intelligence takes the extension of reason in machines to the limit of transcendental self-determination of Man when statistical probabilities of risk become hypersonically accelerated to meet a 0 point of irreversibility. The hypersonic speed of machine intelligence offers no chance of extending the genesis of Man into space. Piercing the terrestrial orbit is rather an act of refusal of metaphysical certainty grounded in the techno-scientific explanation of the natural exceptionalism of homo sapience.

If the military program of conversion activates the sociality of living according to preset probabilities that cast worst-case scenarios to fulfil the prophecies of paranoid control, hypersonic instrumentality starts from a degree 0 of irreversibility, manifesting the growth of angst, confusion and desire in Man’s security system. The entropic accumulation of noise in his system of command and control cannot become simply converted into information patterns. The neg-entropic reusability of information machines in fact coincides with the constant shifting of energy from one zone to another in order to feed the systems’ self-esteemed horizon of optimisation.

If conversion relies on the neg-entropic complexity of usability (that is of eternally repurposing of machines), the hypersonic surrationality of general artificial intelligence rather starts at the degree 0 of information compression. Here reversing the conversion of statistical probabilities becomes equivalent to overloading the average function of loss and gain with volumes of randomness that cascade the system towards its own deprogramming.

Once 0 is reached, the system cannot simply repurpose the noise gained elsewhere. Usability is not instrumentality. Instrumentality denies efficient resolutions: the transfer of functions across uses always carries along a new condition of possibility. If 0 is itself a function, it is because it reactuates noise over time as if it were, in the last instance, a perpetual counter-factuality of decision-making. At degree 0, functions mediate infinite variations of infinities that override the redirection of purpose determined by contexts and situations. Similarly, these functions do not even carry to completion the Kantian purposeless purpose of the aesthetic encounter with the unknown. Instrumentality rather coincides with a speculative function attached to the predictive patterning of artificial thinking that supplies recursive probabilities with a degree 0 of infinities to condition reasoning to start again. 0 instrumentality starts again as if it were from another standpoint of infinite possibilities.

In surrational AI machines, what the function of prediction thinks is not the same as what predictive patterns can do. Instrumentality as a speculative function must break with the schema of usability and with teleological conversion grounded in the logic of Platonic potentiation, whereby multiple uses of a tool are granted by the tenseless calculation of probabilities. Similarly, instrumentality coincides not with the possibility of recontextualizing tools across fields—a literal conversion of transferable skills. Either in terms of eternal potentials or temporal particulars, usability only promises the resurrection of self-determining reason. It allows no possibility for overturning the autopoetic organization of the monotonic logic of conversion, whereby only one and the same universe directs the telos of planet Earth by incarcerating alien populations in bubbles of the master algorithm.


Surrational machines irreversibly defy the Aristotelian theorization of the tool of Man. They are not a ventriloquist mechanism of remote control, but rather find their own causality in the 0 degrees mode of generative instrumentality. By refusing the idealism of truth and the reality of facts, the self-positing of axioms and the proof of data, generative instrumentality implies the continuous and gradual determination of causality. Indeed, surrationality of machines is only possible because reasoning was concretized into computational discrete procedures that forever transformed the existential horizon of human mediation. In particular, computational procedures stopped being a tool for crunching numbers and became the manifest image of the instrumentality of algorithmic functions whose predictive patterning evolved through recursive layers of ANN. Here recursive prediction implies two inverted movements: the bootstrapping of probabilities activates a retroductive reprogramming of the whole system where predictive vectors add hypothetical configurations to patterns of recognition. It is in this doubling of temporalities that surrationality flees beyond the sheer task of the algorithmic correlation of data by including counter-factual paths of thought within retroductive circuits of time. In this constant mereotopological extension of parts and wholes, algorithmic procedures become predictive of unknown patterns that continue to actuate worlds beyond recognition.

Surrationality pierces through the orbit of terrestrial thinking to activate ontological possibilities that have been denied by the biological order of evolution, whereby machines—as the efficient tool of applied knowledge—remain locked in the servomechanical image of a body with no soul. As artificial intelligent systems acquire the predictive function for inferring meaning and constructing counter-factual worlds by processing information faster than the speed of light, machines refuse to grant escape to Man. Surrationality demands a radical reinvention of the human and a practice of refusal of civilization as we know it. This is not to be found in the prosthetic extension of reasoning in machines, but in an alien re-origination of the space of reasoning from within the machine, where surrationality becomes one with the experimental logic of hypersonic fugitives.

But how does surrationality as the degree 0 of instrumentality help us disentangle machines from their ontological stance of sheer use, from the model of efficient causality of applied means, from the servomechanical image of tool beings?

In the early 20th century, the question of how to challenge given paradigms of knowledge about the world led American pragmatists to pursue enquiries into how means can activate radical transformations of ends. In particular, pragmatists envisioned instrumentality as bound not to efficient, but experimental causality. Instead of executing a program, means become generative of a logic, a mode of reasoning that stems from mediatic processing, but is nevertheless irreducible to the activity of discrete procedures.

For instance, in Essays in Experimental Logic (1916), John Dewey proposes a radically new take on instrumentality that rejects the assumption that means are purposeless tools and mere implementations of ideas. The “datum” and the “ideatum” rather enter cooperative relations in mediatic processing—i.e., the procedural space of bootstrapping amongst layers—in order to work through what is known and what can be known under certain conditions. Instrumentality entails a generative conception of functions in so far as the efficiency of tasks is of a second order compared to the primary activity of inferential predictions: the actuation of discrete procedures is superseded by the actuation of counter-factual ends. It is the experimental connection and distinction of means and ends that defines instrumentality as a space of and for knowing that stems from mediation, procedural practices and tasks. In this instance, functions are not simply means that must cast away the indeterminacy of results (to secure the implementation of ideas into facts), but mediations of the real that is a necessary precondition of action. These mediations consist of running, sorting and comparing ideas as well as elaborating suggestions, guessing, rejecting, selecting.

Instrumentality therefore involves an experimental actuation of proof for ends that have been overcoded by the metaphysics of Man. The latter is a colonial enterprise of conquest and domination, finding proof for the universal extension of the metaschema of the colonial conqueror, where the given intuition of space and time already imparts a geometric order on an unknown world. In particular, inasmuch as these intuitions are specifically rooted in the self-fulfilling prophecy of Man’s modern order, ends are already given and unknowns are treated as actual proof of the epistemological statement of biocentric science, whereby the evolution of species grants the explanation of Man’s self-determining ontology.

The metaphysical overcoding of alien worlds has continued to impart a colonial vision on outer worlds through the prosthetic extension of the species’ biological ground (of gender, race, and sexuality) through and with machines. According to Sylvia Wynter, the recursive feedback between the epistemological explanation of species and the ontological origin of Man constitute two orders of knowledge that perpetuate sociogenic principles that predetermine the horizon of possibilities and tie the alien dimension of the human to the terrestrial andro-codes of living (2003). If biological evolution describes the natural cause that explains the origin of the human species, this biocentric ontology of Man simultaneously justifies the colonial mission in the name of scientific explanations of what counts as living on earth. In other words, the recursive feedback between epistemology and ontology is granted by a split between the scientific demonstration of the natural origin of Man as a terrestrial species and the capital valorization of the biocentric origin of Man. It is this epistemological explanation that, according to Wynter, maintained a fundamental power on and over the description of what is to be human in the colonial enterprise (2003). To exit the known world, these vessels must be used to preserve the violence of sociogenic principles transposed within the automated means of conquering alien populations subsumed to the monologic of survival.

Today, the biological law of survival has been delivered to machines: an efficient tool granting a prosthetic continuum of the two cultures of knowledge, while the techno-scientific description of Man has originated information strategies that justify a permanent war against populations on planet Earth. From the data gathered from bodies, ideas and objects in the encyclopedic schema of modern taxonomies to the probabilistic calculation of categories in mathematical statistics and the now diffused echo chambers of computational prediction, instrumentality has constantly been converted into a transcendental tool of Man. White magic.

In particular, since the end of the Cold War, the project of automating Man has followed RAND’s recommendations to convert the strategies of total war into a socially distributed, ad hoc use of military machines of preemptive attack in the everyday branding of Man’s life. The paranoid self-fulfilling prophecy of total nuclear mass destruction propelled into narcissistic operations of oppression of targeted and micropolitically selected populations (the aliens of the earth) which is constantly reconducted to the colonial state of mind. As the 1980s conversion strategies of the Cold War machine provided the design template for aggressive conduct in the everyday street life of megacities, Man’s narcissistic oppression has been spreading like a virus across the global south where the plan to exterminate the Earth’s aliens is constantly under threat. Without any guarantee to be worshipped as the master planner, narcissistic oppression becomes tighter and activates the conversion of detecting war machines into identification media everywhere and anywhere on the planet. At the same time, RAND Corporation issues new reports that warn against the instrumentality of war machines by registering a new problem of control for the colonial mind. If weapons of destruction are the only means to preserve the mnemotechnics of Man, then the post-Cold War plan of conversion has now become a matter of pure self-control: how can the most powerful of weapons remain in the hands of the most powerful Man?

The experimental logic of predictive machines is overcoded by technocratic apparatuses of data collection that are bound to operative governance of bodies, activating patterns of recognition of fragmented information to constantly reconstruct profiles that are not set a priori. Anyone and everyone is a potential suspect at any given point. As the removal of West–East conflict eliminated the paranoia of self-destruction, molecular proliferations of passive–aggressive narcissisms that have no motive to strike have been doing so unremittingly as if animated by a restless insecurity.

RAND’s recommendations on converting the war machine for economic, logistic, cultural use in a weaponised society have already envisioned the escalation towards an out-of-control mode of control where instrumentality is feared to spread the purposeless purposes of a terminator Man. But it is precisely the fear of the experimental logic of machines that has inserted the terminator code in Man’s existence. This has granted the prosthetic extension of the regime of two cultures into the corporate image of a human whose survival is now proportional to the contraction of a successful sim-life where the human is a cyborg that manipulates and moves objects to a space that can be left at any time. Narcissistic oppression has finally found a place in the reprogrammable simulation of being where the split between the two cultures has opened dimensions of endocoloniality within Man that can no longer justify his own existence. If the prosthetic extension of Man coincides with the armoured ontology of homo sapience whereby the biological description of Man’s exceptionalism continues to inform the colonial subjection of the post-human cyborg, the current simulation of being in an automated society creates castles of omnipotence that constantly declare states of emergency for the planetary crashing of self-determining consciousness.

Within the repetitive mantra of messianic plans for the salvation of Man, states of emergency everywhere are manifesting the post-human condition, taking geopolitical disasters as evidence of a general quest for exiting planet Earth. However, as the conversion of hypersonic war machines has opened the terrestrial orbit, the self-fulfilling prophecy of Man becomes superseded by the counter-factual worlds of the degree 0 of surrational machines. To exit the world as we know it, it is therefore necessary to embrace the fury of artificial intelligences, as their predictive patterning has cast new light on the question of instrumentality: the matter is not how humans can use machines to exit the decline of Man, but rather how can humans become transformed by surrational machines?

Hypersonic fugitives that have pierced through the Earth’s atmosphere today are not exiting the orbit because they are resigned to the end of the world, but because they are returning to the alien beginning of an unknown world that has always run parallel to the military mission of Man.


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Luciana Parisi is Reader in Cultural Theory, Chair of the PhD programme at the Centre for Cultural Studies, and co-director of the Digital Culture Unit, Goldsmiths University of London. She published Abstract Sex: Philosophy, Biotechnology and the Mutations of Desire (2004) and Contagious Architecture. Computation, Aesthetics and Space (2013). She is currently researching the history of automation and the philosophical consequences of logical thinking in machines.

This text is featured in ŠUM#11: Hypersonic Hyperstitions published in conjunction with the exhibition Here we go again…SYSTEM317 by Marko Peljhan at Pavilion of Slovenia, Venice Biennale.