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The Uncanny Valley Vortex [podcast]

 

UncannyValleyChart

 

The Uncanny Valley is a strong factor as to why we feel apprehensive to advancing robots. Somewhere between faceless machines and humanoids, lies the uncanny valley.
Japanese robotisict Masahiro Mori, proposed that as more robots became human-like, the more acceptable and appealing they would become than their mechanical undertones. Until they became
too close to human, that people developed a sense of unease and discomfort (Lay 2015). The similarities become too unsettling, and cause negative reactions. 

 

Continue reading “The Uncanny Valley Vortex [podcast]”

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The Replicant Variation [podcast]

Since being filmed in 1986, the film Blade Runner itself has become a replicant, and replicated seven times over. Countless versions exist with insertions, deletions and reimagings, so it’s hard to follow continuity within it. But its notions and theme exist on throughout every replicant version of the film, hence why Blade Runner is a lasting classic, and poignant in speaking of human anxiety about androids and robots altering the human condition. Hence why we are all forced to study it through high school.

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DIGC335

I’ve seen things…you people wouldn’t believe

 

Even though the more I’ve researched about the things that could go wrong with advancing robots, as unlikely the dystopic future we envision in sci-fi is to come to fruition; the thread of fearing the inhuman persists. Perhaps it is an extension of humans needing to apply the ‘us’ and ‘them’ hostility to anything that doesn’t belong in their belief system, or the fact that immortal machines, wearing our faces and speaking our words, only reminds us of our own mortality (MacDorman 2005).

For Cybercultures, I have been generating a podcast series that revolves around an exploration of case studies into robots in films and television; and how they exemplify our fear of what robots will become. I aimed with this artefact, to use these robot characters in media to showcase key concepts and revelations I came to during my research. We have a strong fascination with robots that borders on paranoia, we are sprinting head first into the technology to make them as sophisticated as possible to better our lives, but imagine the worst case scenario of the future we are heading to. Robots as the “Big Bad” is an easy trope to buy into, as it so easily plays on what we are already thinking.

Films and TV shows have been a great way for us to pose an idea or notion of the future, or even a parallel present, though they might not always be scientifically accurate or possible, they do still have their role in the future of robots we are heading towards. These ideas and notions will shape what robots in our society will actually be like, and also educate us in how we feel about them. Why do we imagine human replacements like synths, is it because we seek to rid ourselves of human imperfections? Why do we think robots will take all our jobs, because they can do them more efficiently?

All these fictional depictions feed into our apprehension of giving robots artificial intelligence or greater autonomy in their decision making processes. When you compare most depictions of robots-and though not technically robots and under my purview, anything inhuman but still classifiable within the Uncanny Valley- most are depicted as malice and anti-humans. When, as I learnt through my research, real life robots have really done very little to warrant this fictional hatred. Just as I’m sure, people once feared radios or televisions, we will eventually adjust to a changing reality and the role technologies have within it. I plan to do an entire podcast devoted to Uncanny Valley, as it was a very interesting contribution to why we fear robots, most likely through examining the Synths of Humans (2015), a remake of Being Human (2012).

I have plotted to make 10 podcasts all together, each one I focus on a particular concept I have picked from fear of robots, and then applying them to a robot in film or tv to further draw on the topic. My second podcast, will explore the rebelling creators face from their creations, what will really classify as human in these future worlds when something so sophisticated as a Replicant can be just as human as its maker, if not more for understanding the fragility and treasure of existence and wanting more time.

 

References.

MacDorman, K 2005 ‘Androids as an Experimental Apparatus: Why is there an Uncanny Valley and Can We Exploit It?’
http://www.androidscience.com/proceedings2005/MacDormanCogSci2005AS.pdf

DIGC335

The Ultron Complex [Podcast]

Cyberculture, cyberpunk and Sci-Fi have always been rich grounds for us to explore and imagine a different life, and the different things in it. Perhaps only changing tiny aspects of our current reality, or creating whole new societies, worlds and galaxies; they speak volumes about how we envision the future and our place in it. There’s importance in the power of our imagination, and we are already living in a world where almost anything is an invention or scientific discovery away. Would we call it a coincidence the iPad appeared in Star Trek and was subsequently invented? Or on some level did it become reality because we imagined it. If so, we might need to imagine the hoverboard a bit harder because so far our Back to the Future II prediction is way off.

Robots have had their role in this from the very beginning, from Rossum’s Universal Robots, to Metropolis, Bladerunner and Wall-E, we have had a vast imagination on the place robots will have in our future lives. We have been paranoid of advancing technology ‘taking over control’ (Edwards 2015). In most all depictions, robots are something we fear and despise. They become the necessary evil humans must defeat or destroy in order to regain their humanity and power.

For this series of podcasts, I am going to draw on key concepts I uncovered in my research of our fear of robots, and apply them to specific case studies of robots in films. For this research topic this semester, I wanted to un-demonise the way we think of robots in our future. The prevailing argument is that robots will overthrow us, be our ultimate slaves, or become so similar to the human existence, humans might as well not exist anymore. There is this negative connotation with robots that is impossible to shake. To lessen fear of something, in my opinion, helps to learn more about it, and why we are afraid.

Each robot I investigate will be the exemplar for that particular topic of each podcast, in how it succeeds or fails. As either a cautionary tale, or perhaps to argue their point of view. Maybe they didn’t mean to destroy the earth, maybe it was just a miscommunication…

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The Robot Workforce Cometh

2008
via GraceMarketData

Robots in our workforce is nothing new, industrial robots have been at the forefront of assembly lines for years now- automotive being the most common. Robots in engineering and construction, robots in medicine, a robot is the jack of all trades! We are starting to see a huge increase in robots, and robots + AI,  as key componments in the technological industry and the global economy.

We are entering a period of change and upgrading the way our work industry operates, and it is not a one, way flowing stream. Mercendes Benz is removing robots and introducing more people in their production lines to “save money and safeguard our future.Drones replacing crewed aircraft, robotic submarines replacing the need for 20 men crew and oxygen. “Soft-robotic rovers” by NASA to go exploring the solar system where no man could ever go. Even proposed autonomous greenhouses and fisheries, that will cultivate and grow our food without us even having to be there to pilot the barge. There are many, many more, some removing us from the occupation, some putting us back in, others entering a domain we couldn’t even go!

The growing concern, is seeing one possible implication of introducing more and more robots to do jobs for us, they will replace us. Perhaps not a large percentage, but enough to worry those in that area. What is the need for concierge or butlers, when Robo-Butler will bring you your food right to your door and eliminate the need to awkward small talk? (On the plus side one has no need to tip a Botler). Though Botler seems to have a handle on this, perhaps it’s counterpart waiters need a few tips in basic customer service.  I suppose we won’t need Uber or Taxi’s anymore, now that there will be self-driving cars around every corner. George RR Martin won’t have to worry about finishing A Song Of Ice and Fire, this robot can probably do it for him.

We often see conversation of these robots replacing humans in the ‘dirty’ work we don’t want to undertake for ourselves, and immediately see it at as a threat to those in those markets, from journalist to marine farmer to uber driver.  We are concerned, because a lot will change. It wise to keep in mind, nothing will happen overnight. We won’t wake up and suddenly your local barista will be a robot or your hairdresser a synthetic human. Revolutions aren’t instantaneous, and like I said, robots in workforces are already quite commonplace. It seems more likely of a shift, not a removal of the human in the workplace. Instead of the mechanic fixing the machine, the mechanic will fix the robot when it breaks. There will be more of a similar style like Mercedes Benz in robots and humans working harmoniously, increasing productivity off one another.

Unfortunately, it won’t likely be the case of Wall-E where robots do everything for us, despite robot’s proven repertoire humans will still be a part of this future. Even with robots in the ‘dirty’ workforce, it is the utopic-view that it will free up humanity for more productive and creative endevours.

Like watching Cat Videos on Youtube for 3 hours straight.

 

 

 

 

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The Three Laws of Robotics, And It’s The Humans Breaking Them All

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via Twitter

The very foundation of robotics and their ethical operations with humans were founded on the three Laws of Robotics, set forth and carved into stone by the wise and trusted Isaac Asimov. They were simple enough, and I thought it was imperative to touch on them in my research. These are the codes of conduct all robots must pass in order to validate their existence and enact their function. Unfortunately, some don’t follow the code. Including humans.

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Automatonophobia, The Future of Robots and Artificial Intelligences. I, for one, accept our new robot overlords.

http://player.cnbc.com/p/gZWlPC/cnbc_global?playertype=synd&byGuid=3000502094&size=530_298

Automatonophobia is the fear of anything that falsely represents having sentience, the autonomy to act out of human control. Typical humans, afraid of what they can’t control or manipulate.

Continue reading “Automatonophobia, The Future of Robots and Artificial Intelligences. I, for one, accept our new robot overlords.”