luck is green "Long before Wiener gave them a name, it was clear that cybernetic systems
could run into 'several possible sorts of behavior considered undesirable by
those in search of equilibrium. Some machines went into runaway,
exponentially maximizing their until they broke or slowing down until they
stopped. Others oscillated and seemed unable to settle to any mean.
Others -- still worse -- embarked on sequences of behaviour in which the
amplitude of their oscillation would itself oscillate or would become
greater and greater,' turning themselves into systems with 'positive gain,
variously called _escalating_ or _vicious_ circles.' Unlike the negative
feedback loop which turns everything to the advantage of the security of the
whole, these runaway, schismogenetic processes take off on their own to the
detriment of the stability of the whole.

"Undermining distinctions between human, animal, and machine, Wierner also
challenged orthodox conceptions of life, death, and the boundary between the
two. Were self_governing machines alive? If not, why not? After all, they
were certainly not dead matter, impassive and inert. And, since many
life_forms were less sophisticated than automatic machines, the status of
being alive could not simply be a matter of complexity.

"Only by reverting to some notion of essences was it possible to distinguish
between the liveliness of an organism and that of a machine. In principle,
neither was more or less dead than the other. Life and death were no longer
absolute conditions, but interactive tendencies and processes, both of which
are at work in both automatic machines and organisms. Regardless of their
scale, size, complexity, or material composition, things that work do so
because they are both living and dying, organizing and disintegrating,
growing and decaying, speeding up and slowing down. 'Every intensity
controls within its own life the experience of death, and envelops it.'
Either extreme can be fatal, and in this sense systems do die in a final and
absolute and final sense. 'Death, then, does actually happen.' But it is not
confined to the great event at the end of life. This is a death which is
also 'felt in every feeling,' a death which 'never ceases and never finishes
happening in every becoming.' All living systems are dying: this is the
definition of life. Something that lives is something that will die, which
is why 'the hint of death is present in every biological circuit.'" -- Sadie
Plant, _Zeroes and Ones_ (interpolated quotes, third paragraph, from Deleuze
and Guattari's _Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia_)
MisterFunkadelic ...up 010805
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