The concept of entropy has been applied to life and, in Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen’s bioeconomics of exosomatization, to human life. These accounts of “negentropy” must be reinterpreted in the age of the data economy, however, from a perspective that starts from the technological or exosomatic condition of all knowledge. This can be opened up from a reconsideration of Kant’s account of intuition, understanding, and reason that must also be a critique of the absence of the technological in Kant’s account of the schematism. Armed with this critique, we can understand the data economy as the use of powerful, probabilistic algorithms premised on reducing the “given” to calculable “data,” a reduction in turn founded on and bringing about the reduction of knowledge to information. The entropic character of the data economy can then be conceived as the elimination of the incalculable and unexpected elements at the root of all knowledge. It is this elimination that suggests to Chris Anderson the idea of the end of theory; in other words, it is what prevents “bifurcations,” that is, the prospect that new knowledge will open futures that would be not just negentropic but “neganthropological.” In the Anthropocene, which is now leading to a state of absolute nonknowledge while producing massively entropic biospherical effects, it is crucial to transform data architectures and the faculties of knowledge in ways that not only undo the reduction of knowledge to information but do so starting from the neganthropological functions of knowledge, systems open to the improbable that would also amount to quasi-causal cosmologies.
The New Conflict of the Faculties and Functions: Quasi-Causality and Serendipity in the Anthropocene
bernard stiegler is a French philosopher who has published over thirty books and taught at many leading universities. He is president of the association Ars Industrialis and director of the Institut de Recherche et d’Innovation, which he founded at the Centre Georges Pompidou. He is visiting professor at the Humboldt University of Berlin, distinguished professor at Nanjing University, and associate professor at the Université de Technologie de Compiègne. He created and runs pharmakon.fr, an online philosophy school.