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As the body is made of autonomous cells and supporting molecular machinery, so too is society fabricated from the interactions arranged by autonomous people and their machines.


Transcendence is the rearrangement of what exists, spurred on by the imagination. Imagine a personal automation, amplifying the autonomic system and extending it into the environment with technology.

The word automation is rooted in the greek autos meaning self and maten meaning moved. Automation is commonly associated with the use of automatic equipment in a system of manufacturing or other production process. Automatic equipment works by itself with little or no direct human control. Human beings can act automatically as well. When they do, that action is called autonomic. It means to be done or occurring involuntarily, without conscious thought or intention.

Biologically speaking, an autonomic system in the body is highly desirable. It wouldn't be easy to go about my daily affairs if I were required to be conscious of every breath, every heartbeat, and every blink of my eyes. It is amusing to think too, how I would drive my car while consciously coordinating all of my bodily functions. Imagine the strategic planning and coordination that would be involved if my immune system were comprised of defensive military assets at human scale. It would be an an army 35 billion strong under sustained assault on a battlefield roughly the size of the solar system. This ability my body has to coordinate this vast complexity is possible because it is arranged as a system of autonomous components. A swarm of cells each supported internally and externally by a swarm of autonomous biomolecular machinery. From this unfolding situation, my intelligence, my consciousness emerges and seeks its own autonomous purpose.

Automation, and by association autonomy, are highly desirable attributes of complex systems. They are greatly valued in manufacturing settings as well. Using simple mechanics to advanced robotics producers are churning out goods with minimal defects around the clock with a predictable regularity.

Autonomy too is a word associated with personal freedom. As such it is asserted in the fomentation of counter-productive "revolution” by the memeplex from time to time. Perhaps this occurs repeatedly because this aspect of autonomy I am considering is not well-defined. As such, the variety between each individual’s imagined route to autonomy is so great that it cannot adhere to a cohesive social structure.

Maybe the autonomy of personal freedom has proven to be nothing more than a vaguely imagined desire. If so, then it is something difficult to express with words alone, it requires a precise vocabulary of engineering and formulaic representations or working examples to be communicated properly, and stick.

Could it be that autonomy is an evolutionary instinct to be free of coercion, self sufficient and self determined? So, it is to be expected that some lucky generation will eventually converge on an authentic autonomy socially as well. What if autonomy is expressed in our behaviors because it is a defining feature of our underlying biology? Then autonomy was selected for and contributes to the viability of the species.

Perhaps it can be argued too that authentic autonomy has already been achieved to some extent. That some have obtained it completely, others only partially, and still more have not obtained it at all because the tools to achieve it are as of yet unsophisticated. Obtaining an authentic autonomy is a technological problem that benefits from agents operating on your behalf that can draw inferences, make decisions, accomplish work units and achieve goals within a production process. A primitive way to solve this technical problem is through the conscription of individuals into a hierarchy of responsibilities within a production process, and to then own those means of production. This hierarchy has, however, trapped imaginations. As hierarchy is not only a tool used for organizing the distribution of labor, it is a model of the organization and distributions of labor as they have historically existed. It then becomes very difficult to imagine outside of it.

To see autonomy as something more than baser instinct though, something more than a vaguely imagined situation, it must be connected with working examples, something tangible. Right now, automation is understood to be a tangible application of technology to develop machines that replace human laborers. This kind of automation is abundant today and makes a great many people very uneasy. The unease stems from the fear of job loss. I posit that fear is rooted in a lack of imagination with respect to how our time on Earth can be productively spent.

From one generation to the next, humanity evolves socially in little ways. Children of today daily contemplate and deal with real scenarios I would not have been able to imagine in my own youth. Try and imagine with me, then: a ubiquitous automation. Because automation by machine, though it displaces jobs, does indisputably reduce the cost of production. Could it be the case then, that when scaled down and repurposed for the home, automated production attenuates the cost of living and thereby amplifies autonomy?

Imagine outside of the traditional hierarchy for a moment. Start by rejecting a worldview consisting of a top-down extract-and-discard mass-production economy owned by a few and automated by robots. Imagine instead, a distributed ecosystem of production in the hands of every individual. Imagine that access to the wonders of automation were not only accessible to those who own the means of mass production. Imagine everyone could access a sophisticated system of automated production as well. In “the cloud”, in the community and privately at home. This is personal automation, the technological extension of the autonomic system into the environment, and the means to do it already exist.

Automation is not something that is built, it is something to build with. Quite simply, it is a methodology of harnessing the dispositional forces of nature to steer or guide the inexorable rearrangement. By constructing configurations of matter, embodied as machines that capture and direct those relentless forces. Do not imagine that the purpose in constructing these machines is to be automated or enslaved by them. Imagine that by harnessing automation — the inexorable rearrangement of dispositional forces in the universe — by these machines we transcend our limitations and steer those forces toward a greater purpose. To become autonomous ourselves. They are are not for manufacturing an abundance of goods and services, that has been done already without them. They are for manufacturing an abundance of free time.

For those that own the means of production, nothing is forfeited by exchanging human labor for machine labor. Production accomplished by human or machine makes no difference. Either way, from their perspective, work is done automatically. That is, the work is accomplished on their behalf and they enjoy authentic autonomy in a greater abundance.