More from Stiegler’s seminar, from 22’30 » to 28’14 »:
« Those were some generalities that I wanted to go over to introduce this year’s seminar. Now I want to go back to what was said in last year’s seminar and in the seminar of the year before that, to introduce the questions for today, for this class. During the first seminar of 2 years ago I introduced the context of these questions by asking what Google does to the question of philosophy. I said that Google is a machine for posing questions that is absolutely stupid. There is nothing dumber than Google, the way it functions is absolutely stupid. It is a series of automatisms, it is a set of automats that are applied and that treat digital tertiary retentions, billions of them in a second. And what permits this, what permits us to address queries to this machine for asking questions, is the speed of light. What makes it function is is that it functions at the speed of light. It is writing at the speed of light, writing and reading at the speed of light, which is produced via algorithms that exploit this potential of the speed of light, and that exploit a lot of other things too. But what is very special about this particular tertiary retention is its speed. Not just that, but first of all that.
If there was not that speed, nothing would work. And that is very, very important. You will see, perhaps towards the end this year’s seminar, or otherwise next year, that at the level of the brain the speed of circulation of electrical influxes between neurons is an absolutely capital question. You must be aware that a precursor of neurology, called Helmholtz, who is a very famous physiologist, established that the speed of circulation of the electric flux in the nerves is extremely slow. I think it is about 20m/s, very slow. Your nervous reflexes are a lot slower than Google’s reflexes. It is incomparable. Google is extremy rapid, it goes at the speed of light. You go at 20m/s, which means, I don’t really know, perhaps a million times slower. I may be wrong, I haven’t calculated it. But you see what I mean, they are scales or factors of difference that are incredible. It is in this context that one must pose the problem of contemporary automatisation.
So, during last year’s seminar, which was constructed on the basis of my reading of Nicholas Carr’s book THE SHALLOWS, Is Internet making us stupid?, we broached the question of the neurosciences, which I just discussed in relation to Helmholtz. On this subject I will send you tomorrow some bibliographical references to supplement those I have already given you. Some texts that I find very interesting on this question of the neurosciences. So last year we broached the question of the neurosciences, but in a very special context, which is that of neuro-marketing. I spoke about this in the Summer Academy at Epineuil in August last year. And also in the context of the neuro-economy, which is not at all the same thing as neuro-marketing. Neuro-economy is an economic theory based on on cognitivist theory, neuro-marketing is a marketing technique inspired by neuro-economy, but is not itself a theory.
I tried to show last year, I think at the Summer Academy, that neuro-marketing is a technique that aims at short-circuiting the organological circuits of interiorisation of the neo-cortex. And to accede directly to the deep circuits of the mesencephalon (midbrain), ie the reflex sytems that are very close to the animal instincts. What neuro-marketing exploits is the automatic character of the survival behaviours that are inscribed in the brain. And it shortcircuits the systems of inscription of education in the neocortex. That is grosso modo how it works, according to me. By the way I will be going soon to the German part of Switzerland to the University of St. Gallen, which is the largest business school in Switzerland, and which forms the specialists of the financial industry, and I will be participating in a round table discussion about neuro-marketing with one of the professors of that university who is a specialist in neuro-marketing. It should be quite interesting.
This year, on the basis of what I have just summarised of the first and second seminar, I would like to describe the current context, which is evolving extremely quickly, and that is another problem the rapidity of the speed of light that I mentioned makes those industrial, social, and psychic structures that are taken up in these networked digital retentional set ups themselves evolve extemely rapidly ».