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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Staring Down the Future

I’m committed to my sonic stare-downs with robocalls. These are the steps:

  1. Pick up the phone.
  2. Say nothing.
  3. Listen intently to the call’s background static for the ghost in the machine, for some sense, some signal, of the system on the other end as it cogitates its next move.
  4. Rejoice when it almost inevitably hangs up.
  5. Put another notch in belt.
  6. Sometimes ponder if this is a Roko’s basilisk scenario.
  7. Sometimes ponder if there is a correlation between which particular textures of background static trigger Roko-anxiety, and if that’s some sort of ESP equivalent of a Turing test.

We’re so conscious of self-learning algorithms and of nascent digital sentience these days, I do wonder if the phrase “ghost in the machine” has much traction any longer, or if the phrase is shifting to mean something slightly different from what it once did.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tag: / Comment: 1 ]

One Comment

  1. Darwin Grosse
    [ Posted June 29, 2019, at 8:01 pm ]

    I use random words – responding at the appropriate time with nonsensical words. “French Bread”, “Incarceration” and “expandable” are complex enough that it will take the robots to weird places, and any person into apoplexia.

    My goal is simple: if I was stupid enough to pick up the phone, I want to waste as much of the caller system’s time as possible – thereby changing, even by a few seconds, the time before its next call. They don’t have infinite phone lines, so I might delay them just long enough for the next person to have just left the house, turned off their ringer or forgotten to pay the phone bill.

    Of course, my real goal is to never pick up the damned call – but I screw up sometimes…

    [ddg]

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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