Comment on Posthuman Indie Landfill Music – The Sound of Cybernetic Logic by Cybernetic Maracatu | Daniel’s EDC blog

[…] This music is enabled by digital technology. I would not have found out how to play my approximation of maracatu without youtube, the practice could not have been documented and shared without cheap MP3 recorders and sound cloud. This kind of usage of digital technology stands in contrast to the more restrictive possibilities of the “band in a box” guitar pedal I posted about previously here. […]

from Comments for Daniel’s EDC blog

Comment from Helen


I love your reference to Wayne and his words resonates with my ongoing exploration of the body and technology. Although, I have struggled to answer your question as I seem to have taken an anthropocentric stance.

Linzi x

from Comments for Helen’s EDC blog

Comments from Linzi

[…] will they have a lack of empathy and physical connection with other? Over the years there has been discussion over the increased interaction with technology and if the exposure will change the way children […]

from Comments for Linzi’s EDC blog

Can robots learn the cognitive meanings underlying learned behavior?

What I mean by this is can robots or cyborgs discern the underlying meaning behind certain learned behaviors?  My case in point is this clip I offer from the film I, Robot.  Here, we see Will Smith’s character explaining the meaning of an intentional wink to the robot, “Sonny”.  Later, “Sonny” uses an intentional wink to save Smith and the scientist who helped create “Sonny” from harm.

Now, a wink is a physical gesture humans do thousands of times every day, both voluntarily and involuntarily.  “Sonny” learned one of the intentional meanings of a wink, when connected with certain other behaviors, is a subtle form of signaling to another person or, in this case, a robot to a human.  This had not been programmed into “Sonny” per se, but he (it) learned this wink’s meaning through observation and cognitive reasoning.  Hence, my initial question.  But perhaps another question will be if robots or cyborgs can successfully develop not only deductive reasoning skills, but deeper cognitive skills as well, does that put them closer to meaningful sentience and therefore allow them to be considered new life forms?  And when is it acceptable to refer to “Sonny” as “he” instead of “it”?  (This last question presented itself in a Star Trek:  The Nest Generation episode, but that will have to wait for later.)



From “Frankenstein” to “Robocop” and Beyond


Our discussion of The Cyborg Manifesto this morning got me thinking of Frankenstein’s Monster.  I had made the comment in the group that Frankenstein created his monster within the social and cultural paradigms of the day.  The Monster sought self-realization and self-fulfillment by operating, albeit in a crazy and psychopathic manner, within those parameters. Actually, if you read the book, and then watch Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein, The Monster does not act so far out of bounds of reality that many in our world do today.  He, like many others, has no sense of self-control, no patience, is totally amoral and apathetic to the feelings of others. His sole focus is eliminating his own loneliness and meeting his own desires.  This central theme in his life is the result of a previous life of crime and brutality, which has irreparably defined him.  I think what may be unnerving to us is our realization of how close we may be to feeling each of those emotions within ourselves at one point or another.  But fortunately, unlike The Monster, we don’t manifest them all at once.

Cyborgs on the other hand, as described in The Cyborg Manifesto, have no social or cultural paradigms to operate within.  They are seeking, through whatever convention is most efficient, their own sense of realization or fulfillment.  This may come via prior programming or subsequent programming based upon learning experiences.  The development of “Data”, in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series, and “Sonny” from I, Robot, may be a good examples of this.

For us, looking at cyborgs from our own human perspectives, see these created “beings” as cold, heartless, and at times cruel.  But is that really accurate?  To label cyborgs like that may assume we believe them capable of being the opposite, an assumption which may not in fact be true.  And if we mix cyborg technology with our own natural system, we get something akin to Robocop, which spends a good amount of time fighting the memories of the past with new urges and desires more attuned to cybernetic tendencies.  The end result, at least according to Hollywood is a reconciling of man of machine into a functional unit capable of feelings yet able to put them aside, at least temporarily, in favor of the sterile performance of programmed tasks.

In any case, I was left this morning with a good supply of philosophy to think about over the weekend.