Allopoiesis / Autopoiesis
in A Networked Self: Human Augmentics, Artificial Intelligence, Sentience
2018







Illustrations commissioned for the essay Human-Bot Ecologies, written by Douglas Guilbeault and Joel Finkelstein. 1

1, 2 & 3: Guilbeault, Douglas & Joel Finkelstein. 2018. Human-bot Ecologies. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self: Human Augmentics, Artificial Intelligence, Sentience. Routledge

Allopoiesis and Autopoiesis depict the authors’ use of neurons and glia, components of the human brain, as analogical tools for thinking through the relationships between human internet users and internet bots. Allopoiesis depicts the bot as parasitic agent, masking its intentions through manipulative tactics. Autopoiesis depicts the bot as a “social glia,” facilitating and soothing connection between humans; an analogous role to that of the glia in the human brain, which assists in constructing and maintaining connections amongst neurons.

Through the use of a flatbed scanner, hands, faces, and hair become neurons; tomato seeds become bots. 



ALLOPOIESIS

Non-sustainable systems are allopoietic. The totality of the system is organized to transform resources in to different material until the exhaustion of the initial resource...

In the case of viral parasitism, a classic example of an allopoietic process, a system can transform and repurpose itself into the blind production of non-renewable and pathological output.2  




AUTOPOIESIS

Autopoiesis, by contrast, concerns systems that construct and regulate a bounded order in symmetrical, mutualistic, and homeostatic ways....

These processes are “true” to themselves in the sense that they generate self-sufficiency. They renew themselves over and over again. 3