On Autonomic Computation, Writing, and Plato

The widely discussed objections that Plato brings to bear on writing can be read in a different way, in terms of machine learning. As such his statements would indict writing qua external memory, hence qua machine, because of its inability to adapt itself to the changes in its environment. The latter, in case of writing, usually involves a “conversation,” the questions different readers/users might put to the text/machine in different times. The meaning-machine of writing is not capable of learning: however the Derridean school might attempt to present it otherwise, writing, like all pre-cybernetic technics, like the Turing Machine, is unable to engage with and learn from its environment. As externalized memory, writing remains a static memory, unable to update itself, to extend and grow through experience. Plato would have to wait until after the Second World-War to see the upgraded dynamic memory emerging first and essentially in the feed-back mechanisms of cybernetic prostheses.

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