This entry looks at the week 3 videos from EDCMOOC, E-learning and digital cultures MOOC and more on what it means to be humans in an ever more virtual world.
The Toyota ad looks at a virtual world and being a virtual player in it. Everything is fake (think The Matrix,
brain in a vat or demon argument from Descartes. The world is dystopic
in that everything is artificial and any experience otherwise is
forbidden. Enter the raw power, speed and control of a car (itself
technology but without what they call gimmicks) and a violent escape,
smashing out of the confines of what is deemed acceptable into the real
world of real experience.
what has been covered so far, Lowell Monke shows how abstract and
sterile technologically related learning can be, not permitting the
making of real connections and the formation of wisdom, truth,
character, etc. He suggests that technology does not come value neutral
but that it will always amplify and amputate, and not provide the full
balance of ideas, explanations and reasons for why things happen (for
example a game simulation of the American Frontier - itself a very
problematic term in a post-colonial world - ends up missing out on the
character, courage, etc of the pioneers in favour of strategy, rational
decision making, etc).
also makes me think of the Corning ad, where a trip to visit a redwood
forest is technologically mediated. The recreation of the dinosaurs is
interesting and exciting, but misses things like the actual forest, the
connection the dinosaurs have and how that connection was reconstructed.
live in a real, embodied world as real, embodied people. Unless one is
obsessed with the singularity, a secular eschatology or heaven (see
Margaret Werthheim’s book on the subject, The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace),
then we need to learn how to live in that real world. When technology
mediates that to such a degree as to retard that learning - in the
holisitc sense of knowledge, wisdom and character - then it needs to be
quietly set aside. This is all the most important for young children.
BT add picks up on similar ideas. The land-line does not have texting
abilities and so the contact is voice to voice. This has a richer
ability to communicate meaning, emotion, etc and is used as a vehicle to
promote actual face to face contact. Even an ad promoting telephones
doesn’t suggest that voice only is the end of the story - especially
given the very physical nature of the issue illustrated at the end of
the ad. Kolowich’s The Human Element speaks of the illusion of non-mediation,
where seeing an instructor’s face promotes trust. Some aspects of that
are present in this ad in that audio communication is able to
communicate emotion better than texting and therefore there is a greater
connection, but it is still mediated by a phone line when real presence
builder is a somewhat enigmatic piece that looks at the role of
simulation and virtual reality. it is not entirely clear in the end
whether or not the main character’s wife (ok I’m making that assumption)
actually enters into the simulation or if it was entirely for his
benefit? The lack of interaction between the two makes it unclear. Does
he create this world for someone in a coma, or to see an illusion of his
wife alive and well? The interactivity of the interface used to create
this virtual world is almost besides the point (although it is quite
breathtaking). The fact that one section not properly filled in makes
the whole thing unstable points to the vaguely dystopic nature of such
technology, or perhaps simply to the fact that a simulation is simply
that - and ephemeral. No computer simulation, no matter how realistic,
is a replacement for real people, real life, even if the emotions
invoked are real enough. In this movie it only serves to heighten the
tension and tragedy.
made out of meat seems to me to be the Descartian problem of
reductionism without the dualistic solution. We are made out of meat.
Weinberg’s nothing but.
Meat thinks, speaks, communicates, eats other meat and reproduces (the
kissing couple outside) - but it is just meat. I’m not sure what the
aliens are made of that enables them to be so repelled by this vision.
In a quirky sense, this movie goes to the heart of the question of what
it means to be human, how we have (in some people’s minds at least) been
deconstructed biologically to just meat. From a purely secular point of
view, Stuart Kauffman’s Reinventing the Sacred
tries to rescue us from being more than meat. This issue of what
constitutes being human ties in with ideas of cybernetics, transhumanism
and the singularity as meat and metal merge.