Artificial Intelligence

The Beauty and Danger of Using My Camera as a Calculator of Geometric Mathematics

There is great beauty in the way the processor of my camera seeks out fractal patterns in information and remembers the image through a series of mathematical repetitions, rather than a laying down of light as it would be received by a human eye. Check it out messing with the background behind this red osier dogwood.

Yeah, it’s a pain, I know, to have a visual world translated into a mathematical one. You can see it using the leaf image in the image below as a repetitive anchor. It’s odd, like looking into a pool of oil.

But if you think that’s wild, look what it does below!

Crazy! And yet, isn’t it wonderful, in a way, to have such a small, portable device that can pull out patterns that would be invisible to human cognition, which doesn’t see the world “as it is” either, but processes it to fit into human narratives, even before it leaves the eye for the brain. Look at how the camera uses the grass below to make a smudgy image of background grass. Although it’s a deceitful image, nonetheless, like the ones above, it shows relationships that would otherwise be difficult to spot. Why, it’s like a calculator for geometry and 3-D relationships.

One can see space this way, as a series of relationships, and matter as both responding to space and taking form from it.

Of course, in the world, all of these different focus points are simultaneous, because that’s the nature of light: all at once.

Still, the camera is a good tool for reminding me of it by registering something completely different than light and image at all, and using my visual field to get it into my head. I wonder what else the darned thing is up to! Well, colour, for one. It is also a calculator of colour differences. I mean, the world doesn’t look like this…

… or this …

… or this …

… but the isolation of colour from context is illuminating in its own way, like reducing mint to oil, or something like that. In “life”, the colours above are in the context of hidden colours in the background, and take their colour from context. The colours are, in other words, a relationship. Through the human eye, this relationship becomes a narrative. Through the camera, it becomes an artifice, a mathematics. Each represents the medium that engendered it: a relationship for the sun; a narrative for humans; and a mathematics for a machine. When a human such as myself reads the mathematics through the eye, it comes out as the illusion of a world, but it’s not. It’s a careful, and brilliant, record of statistically significant mathematical approximations that can be used to guide machine behaviour and, in turn, seduce humans. Cognitively, we would call this fuzzy thinking. It is a great tool, but let’s not make the mistake that this is what we, as humans, see, or are capable of seeing. It’s beautiful, though.

Like music.

4 replies »

    • The patterning is gorgeous. The camera is great at identifying them. I’m curious about adding a dimension to this story. Goethe tried and failed. It’s a great challenge to try again, and succeed, of course. Well, maybe. Perhaps the effort is enough.


      Liked by 2 people

  1. Like music indeed! And that last image in particular is beautiful. This was fun…a different way to think about the camera. Of course the camera is processing the world to fit human narratives because humans designed it…can’t get away from that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely! (And glad you liked the last image.) The cool thing about that inbuilt human design is that there are other human narratives it doesn’t record. Wouldn’t it be a cool to have a camera that recorded different stuff. The Goethe Camera. The Steiner Camera. The Autistic Camera!


      Liked by 1 person

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