"Computational processes are abstract beings that inhabit computers. As they evolve, processes manipulate other abstract things called data. The evolution of a process is directed by a pattern of rules called a program. People create programs to direct processes. In effect, we conjure the spirits of the computer with our spells.
A computational process is indeed much like a sorcerer’s idea of a spirit. It cannot be seen or touched. It is not composed of matter at all. However, it is very real. It can perform intellectual work. It can answer questions. It can affect the world by disbursing money at a bank or by controlling a robot arm in a factory. The programs we use to conjure processes are like a sorcerer’s spells. They are carefully composed from symbolic expressions in arcane and esoteric programming languages that prescribe the tasks we want our processes to perform."
~ Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman, & Julie Sussman (https://sarabander.github.io/sicp/html/Chapter-1.xhtml#Chapter-1)
"The explosion of the personality into multiple internet selves has opened up many people, including myself, to a lot of heartache. Self-dissipation becomes self-dissatisfaction. I spent years scattering myself into personality fragments on many different websites until I couldn't locate my whole self anywhere. These personality fragments became deeply embedded into distant servers. I felt that my persona had expanded out beyond my reach or control. The internet can contain that expanded personality, but that personality belongs to the internet and is not a part of your own body. You cannot possibly be ready to back up who you are on the internet with your own body because that internet self is not your body - its the internet's body. It takes work to accept that your personality is actually your own body. It takes language, all your senses, the repeated use of conceptual tools, teachers, rituals, failures, and some serious discipline to grow the self that is limited to your body. With any growth comes the possibility of dysfunction through dissipation. Our challenge today is to gather up those internet fragments and align them into a whole individual."
~ Kev Bewersdorf (http://extinct.ly/participants/#kev-bewersdorf)
So yes let’s think about the agency of horses and forests and planets. Let’s think about the agency of the elements: earth, air, fire, water. Let’s stop surrendering to an apocalypse we secretly desire. That’s the easy way out. Repair and composition are harder – especially because we are broken ourselves. We’ve created a system that keeps breaking people, that thrives on breaking humans and worlds, that wounds in mind and body those who live with us now and those yet to come. Fixing what we keep breaking is surely the antidote to melancholia, the best way to live with rather than be consumed by fire and ice. And maybe we would feel more compelled to repair rather than consign if we saw better the agency and power of the nonhuman.