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Efim Ostrovsky

President of the The Piatigorsky Foundation, RIAC Member

Intelligence has always been artificial. However, during the past millennia it was an operating system installed on protein hardware, if I may be so bold to say so. For this system, a hierarchy of platforms and applications in different languages — from cultural, social, national, and international institutions to law, medicine, politics — was created.

Popular reading was exactly that: a wide-spread and available way to cultivate protein hardware, protein firmware, so that the protein was capable of supporting subtle intelligent patterns on its tissue of neuron pathways.

This whole class of objects of our individual and collective consciousness—theories, practices, and institutions—has been undergoing transfer onto a silicon platform: they are migrating from protein to silicon: “from flesh to sand”.

When an intellectual function migrates from flesh to sand, it is eventually lost to humans or to a person. Whether a simple skill like recalling phone numbers or sophisticated procedure like mental arithmetic or map reading, once a function becomes remote, it is, if I may say so, removed.

Intellectual functions are removed from a given person. We are witnesses to the birth of the Remote Access Intelligence phenomenon—the RAI veiled by a meaningless and false concept of AI, or Artificial Intelligence.


A certain period of political thought came to an end in the 20th century. Its basic concepts, such as ʻabsolute power,ʼ ʻabsolute state,ʼ ʻabsolute revolution,ʼ and 'absolute war' had already petered out a few decades ago. We believe that the world is entering a new phase of political reflection marked by a different understanding of time <...> If you view political space only through the political situation that you are part of, you not only obfuscate but often prevent the very possibility to think politically. This is the first observation. Only someone who self-reflects, while acting within a political situation, is able to create, maintain and change it. This is the second observation.

A. Piatigorsky, O. Alekseev, Thinking about politics

Multiplicity and partial connection. There is no gold standard. No single reality. Realities may be made and remade. They are made and remade. This is a version of ontological politics. (…) Big and painful changes, for sure, which will lead to a world of less certainty. But a world in which the politics of ontology is no longer practiced by stealth.

John Law, After Method

The artificial intelligence problem has firmly settled itself on the global policy horizon after Henry Kissinger's statement of May 2018. However, as I join the discussion, it is hard to rid oneself of the feeling that the problem itself is false—because there never was a natural intelligence — this formulation is not the product of any malicious intent, but rather that of banality.

Seemingly, there is nothing new about this banality. However, we keep hearing it again and again: the AI problem, the problem of artificial intelligence—but has anyone ever seen a natural one?! We keep hearing it not only from the kind of opinion makers in the media whom a discerning reader knows to be less than great thinkers, but rather, to echo Andrew Keen, tycoon newsmakers who have privatized the World Wide Web and are now anxious to acquire a good reputation [1].

Therefore, I believe that it is time to describe several observations available to anyone willing to look at things through the optics I offer.

Intelligence is Migrating from Protein to Silicon (Flesh to Sand)

To begin with, intelligence has always been artificial. However, during the past millennia it was an operating system installed on protein hardware, if I may be so bold to say so. For this system, a hierarchy of platforms and applications in different languages — from cultural, social, national, and international institutions to law, medicine, politics — was created.

In the course of history, intelligence was a technology always in extremely short supply, and mass implementation of complex intelligence forms only became possible after the invention of mechanical movable type printing and related popular reading technology [2].

Widespread reading was exactly that: an already readily-available way to cultivate protein hardware, protein firmware, so that the protein was capable of supporting subtle intelligent patterns on its tissue of neuron pathways.

This whole class of objects of our individual and collective consciousness — theories, practices, and institutions — has been undergoing a transfer onto a silicon platform: it is migrating from protein to silicon: “from flesh to sand”.

Remoteness Removes. RAI

When an intellectual function migrates from flesh to sand, it is eventually lost to humans or to a person. Whether a simple skill like recalling phone numbers or sophisticated procedure like mental arithmetic or map reading, once a function becomes remote, it is, if I may say so, removed. Once car-as-a-service is available, why own a car? Once intelligence-as-a-service is there, why own an intelligence?

Intellectual functions are removed from a given person. We are witnesses to the birth of the Remote Access Intelligence phenomenon—the RAI veiled by a meaningless and false concept of AI, or Artificial Intelligence.

Here, it is important to keep track of three important observations:

  1. RAI , to take up Herbert Marshall McLuhan’s idea, is not only represented through specific approximation functions sold to the general public under the brands of ‘neural networks’ and ‘machine learning’, but all software (!);
  2. RAI is an extension of man, a transfer of human capacity to perform intellectual operations beyond personality;
  3. 3. RAI, as it develops, relieves the ruling forces, whatever we believe them to be – state, capital, family or personal will, of the operational need to further develop protein hardware, i.e. its firmware and the tissue of neuron pathways, to make it capable of supporting complex syntax and semantics.

What Does Remote Access to Intelligence Remove?

Now, in a reverse countdown — three, two, one — let us consider the implications of each observation:

Three: Remoteness relieves of power (remoteness removes power).

The young—and the not-so-young—no longer read, for they can watch videos quite effortlessly and do not really need imagination. The value of comprehensive education has gone down (But, Mooom! I am never going to need that, ever!), and nobody remembers names or stories from literature or science (But, Mooom! I can look it up on the Web any time!). As a result, people are incapable of reading and understanding relatively large texts, have poor memory, and are unable to keep track of a complex chain of reasoning. All this leads to speedy loss of logical and semantic systems underlying ‘work ethics’, ‘work discipline’, ‘industrial standards’, and other indispensable institutional platforms.

Corporations are facing an immediate choice to continue investing in education or moving on to automated processes. The general perception that robots are a lot more expensive than people may seem true now, but, given the decline of human resources described above, the day when they rush to purchase automated solutions could not come too soon.

As for modern nation-states… I could rationalize national strategies as well; however, I just want to point out that, firstly, the state has long been in the dark about anything at all and, secondly, has itself already been automated to a great extent.

Two: Remoteness relieves of property (remoteness removes property).

Intellectual extensions of man—platforms, units and components of complex institutional mechanisms—move beyond personality and are aggregated on external media. As a result, they will inevitably be privatized, overtly or not, which implies that all operations on both collective and individual consciousness will be privatized. In the long term, after a series of mergers and acquisitions, there looms the figure of the Global Pharaoh.

However, while the Pharaoh will have no need for people, many of the people themselves will not be too concerned about the power of the Pharaoh: Remotely Accessible Intelligence will turn them into happy consumers with a regular and secure income.

What is the difference between a pre-Neolithic gatherer who takes an apple from a tree from a post-industrial consumer who takes an apple from their fridge? Both the apple and the fridge are connected to IoT and paid for out of UBI.

One: This has been going on for years: RAI is already here.

Remotely Accessible Intelligence is all instances of programming in the broad sense of the word, including mass-media and social programming. Emotional intelligence has long been made remote by the mass-media-marketing complex: “sand” has long secured its place in the world of “flesh”. This is an irreversible scenario. It is not future; it is present continuous. It is not a futuristic forecast; it is a description of our present reality. The future contained in this reality is contingent on ontological policies of its stakeholders.

Three, two, one.

The World of Remotely Accessible Intelligence: Cum Grano Salis

Now, let us take a look at the world of RAI with all seriousness and attempt to view it without prejudice.

Firstly, the transition to this kind of world is, undoubtedly, going to be dramatic. However, the life in this new world will not be better or worse than in any of the worlds that came before.

This world is conventionally termed post-industrial. This label seems negative; however, it is quite the opposite. It is just like the one before the industrial world, only it comes after: just as comfortable as the pre-industrial life that did not revolve around a factory siren.

Naturally, the recursive loop that we set here does not only cover the industrial era, but the whole post-Neolithic time. The world in question is not really post-industrial, but rather post-Neolithic, but few will notice. The water boils very slowly, and the frog—and not just the frog—fails to notice the protein gradually coagulating.

What will people do? Will they go back to work the land, move into game worlds or lose themselves in (safe) sex, drugs and rock-n-roll? — It does not matter that much. Presumably, all three paths will be available, as well as a fourth one and many more.

People will lose — or make remote — the greater part of intelligence. Today, however, they are akin to a pre-Neolithic gatherer in the world of a global concrete jungle: the City, which, by definition, is the foundation of civilization, is already gone from the world of concrete jungle and global village.

All in all, humanity is currently finalizing the process of securing the autonomy of the Second Nature life platform that has been long described in great detail by Marcus Tullius Cicero, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling, and José Ortega y Gasset.

Its automation will make the laws of the industrial cycle as ruthless as the laws of nature. The second nature will merge with with the first one.

As mentioned above, today, we are very much living in this world. Its dawn is past and the storm is about to come before noon.

What then? Eternal noon?

Remotely Accessible Intelligence: The Near Future for Our World

This scenario leads us to a number of important conclusions that imply a radical change to the way we look at these issues.

  1. Inertia- and response-driven actions on the part of states are factors that are quite insignificant. None of it is important any more, although the public will remain concerned and enthralled by them for a while. However, in actual reality, states will, most likely, be privatized in some way, as all of the above implies.
  2. At this stage, Russia has two resources of utmost significance:
  3. a vast geographical area where ‘deurbanization’, to use an inertial term, or ‘deconcretization’, to follow the proposed narrative, can be implemented.

    It also has a peculiar work ethic, best described by a popular Russian saying ‘The tractor’s made of metal: let it be the one doing the work.’ Combined with an abundance of natural resources and with a number of factors at play, it may lay the foundation for fast robotization of the economy.

  4. The change in international relations will depend on the change to the concept of ‘nation’ in the world to come. Can we foresee ‘private nations’? We can—in every possible aspect of the word ‘private’.
  5. Social relations will be social no more: both theories and models for the new interpersonal relations are yet to find their reporters and architects (software architects).
  6. The rate of change in the inertial narrative may vary.

RAI and Ourselves. Prolegomena

All observations above are a subject for a research program, a public discussion, and careful elaboration.

The world — or worlds, a world of worlds — that is in store for all of us will be complex. It will be a world of complexity, to use the concept coined by Le Groupe des Dis, elaborated by Edgar Morin, and introduced to Russia by Vladimir Arshinov and Helena Knyazeva.

We need to revise the concept of information, which has long become part of vulgar ideology and got stuck somewhere at the definition provided by Claude Shannon.

However, noise-free signal is a nonsensical idea for today’s thought. The so-called noise is ground in the figure-ground perception or context absolutely required to read a symbol.

Information, according to Edgar Morin, becomes a void concept if it is considered outside of its connection to organization and entropic/negentropic relationship.

We need to abandon the ontology ascribed to machines in cybernetics as well as the juxtaposition of the machine and the living organism and turn to the opposition of the machine and the automaton instead.

The machine itself is the living organism. It is the fabric of life.

The idea of multiple poles needs to be replaced by that of multiple platforms because it is the technological platforms that secure an authentic potential for multitude.

IT-platforms are not a result of the limited nature of ‘natural sciences’. Information technology is human/complexity technology.

The multitude of platforms can only arise on a foundation of ontological multitude, methodological plurality, and a multiverse of realities.

1. Cf. for example: “Just as the end of the Cold War led to the scramble by Russian financial oligarchs to buy up state-owned assets, so the privatization of the Internet at the end of the Cold War triggered the rush by a new class of technological oligarchs in the United States to acquire prime online real estate.” Andrew Keen, Internet is not the answer, London: Atlantic Books, 2015.

2. It is worthy of note that it was quite recently, in terms of historical processes, that texts were recited out loud the way we now play music, although music can be read, too.


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