index2019-04-07

week 10: capitalistic instruments of war

Intrigued by the military roots of randomness. I’ve been thinking a lot about the military roots of ubiquitous computing technologies like the computer mouse and was glad to read in the 10 PRINT CHR $(205.5+ RND (1));: GOTO 10 of the origins of random number generators and pseudorandomness as connected to violence and speed. I’ve been thinking about how certain types of violence require a particular type of relationship between human and computer and time and distance. For example, drone technology requires digital control in one place and physical performance of that control in another place. Is the dichotomy between physical and digital required by the kind of violence that a drone produces? What does the compression of time in this case do? It is also interesting to me that randomness requires rigidity. That computational art relies so heavily on the rigidity of the computer. That even paintings like the ones that Jackson Pollock made rely heavily on the rigid edges of a rectangle.

I’m not convinced that the “puzzle” of deterministic computers not necessarily needing a random number generators yet almost all programming languages have them baked in. If randomness is required by rigidity then it makes perfect sense. If art made by Marcel Dochamp could only be made in response to the “logical reality” then the RND function could only be made in response to the determinism and rigid structure of computing.

If computers are only getting more powerful, and random numbers need to become more random, does that mean violence has to become more violent and speed has to increase and time has to further collapse?