H+ and Gods

At first glance,  the ideas of religion and transhumanism oppose each other – the rejection of the forms given to us by God, etc., etc. Some transhumanists argue that transhumanism replaces religion and requires no gods – it allows humans to assume godlike roles in controlling our being and destiny. In a survey conducted by the World Transhumanist Association, most transhumanists were atheists or otherwise secular.

But there are many in the h+ community who choose to hold their transhumanism and their religion together.

The Christian Transhumanist Association recently published their Affirmation, detailing that;

1. We believe that God’s mission involves the transformation and renewal of creation, including humanity, and that we are called by Christ to participate in that mission: working against illness, hunger, oppression, injustice, and death.

3. We recognize science and technology as tangible expressions of our God-given impulse to explore and discover, and as a natural outgrowth of being created in the image of God.

In this way we are Christian Transhumanists.

The  CTA has put their money where their mouth is, funding projects to curb infant  mortality rates. They put forward that technology like this – man-made technology that enhances the human condition – enacts Christian values of valuing human life. Some argue that cryonics may allow a future Noah to save God’s creations as was done in Genesis. The basic principle of Christian Transhumanists is that the values of love, sacrifice and compassion are what will prevent the techno-apocalypse presented in the media.

The Mormon Transhumanist Association draws strong parallels between  the ideas of transfiguration in the Mormon faith and the desire for transhumanists to ascend beyond their human form. Both aim to move beyond the limitations of the human body to achieve a higher form, and Mormonism adds a spiritual level to the transcendence of physical contraints – an aim of transhumanism – by linking it to religious beliefs that this overcoming of the physical allows one to commune with God.

Buddhist transhumanism holds that the implementation of technologies to relieve suffering, material confinement, stress, negativity and ill-will creates a confluence between h+ and Buddhism. An ability to control of physical function may also allow us to control our vices and failings.

“Then it might be possible to use future neurotechnologies to systematically make ourselves more truthful or compassionate. The use of neurotechnologies to consistently avoid vices and practice virtues would be useful in cleansing the mind of klesas or mental impurities.” (Hughes, 2013, p30)

In essence, these groups agree largely that religion and H+ are compatible, joining in the idea of ethical and mindful use of technologies. While these are minorities within their larger religious structures, we can accept that the fundamental principles outlined above may indeed have a positive influence on the future of transhumanism. Moreover, they provide an interesting framework for considering how H+ can work to increase happiness.

Sources

Hughes, J 2013, ‘Using Neurotechnologies to Develop Virtues: A Buddhist Approach to Cognitive Enhancement’, Accountability in Research: Policies & Quality Assurance, vol. 20, no. 1, pp. 27-41

See hyperlinks.

Every day transhumanists

Transhumanism as a movement is interested in enhancing the human condition and the lives of humans with man-made technologies. In previous posts, I discussed some radical examples.LED  lights under the skin, RFID chips – one artist even had a camera attached to his head to turn colours into sounds.Technologies like these make transhumanism seem scary and confronting to others.

But transhumanism covers so much more than just implanted cameras and creepy glasses. That cup of coffee or can of energy drink you grab in the morning, the prescription medication you take with breakfast, even the clothes on your back are all examples of man-made technologies that improve human life and allow us to operate on a higher level, live longer than imagined by societies of the past.

In my last blog, I said I wanted to understand the day-to-day of transhumanism. It was this article that made me realise I am living the experience every day, alongside most of the women I know. A while ago, I was implanted with a tiny piece of technology that allows me to control my biological functions to improve my life – an IUD. Whether it’s the pill, the Implanon or an IUD, most girls I know have been hacking their bodies since their teens. My brother, who has a Ritalin prescription for ADHD, has been hacking his body since he was a child.

Transhumanism aims to improve the human condition through “genetic engineering, psychopharmacology, anti-aging therapies, neural interfaces, advanced information management tools, memory enhancing drugs, wearable computers, and cognitive techniques” (Bostrom, 2003, 2)

h+ collage

Most people are already living the H+ lifestyle. In fact, we couldn’t imagine our lives without some technologies. The idea of creating solutions to the inefficiencies of the human experience is as old as the wheel, and transhumanism is here. The future approaches, and the biggest decision we have to make is how much we want to freak out about it.

 

Sources

Bostrom, N. 2003. The Transhumanist FAQ, v. 2.1. Oxford: World Transhumanist Association

Cochlear image

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Blausen_0244_CochlearImplant_01.png

Metformin image

By User:Ash (Own work) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMetformin_500mg_Tablets.jpg

ns.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=488192

Gene therapy image

Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=488192

IUD image

Fitbit image

http://www.fitbit.com/au/home

Coffee image

https://pixabay.com/en/a-cup-of-coffee-coffee-beans-coffee-399480/

 

Feminist, Artificial and Intelligent

Since its modern iterations, artificial intelligence (AI) has been – unfortunately and possibly mistakenly – linked to gender. Even though AI has been theorised about since the Ancient Greeks (you can find a timeline of AI here), it was Alan Turing’s conceptualisation of a test to ascertain a machine’s intelligence (now known as the Turing test) that may have caused this (Halberstam 1991). To conduct the Turing test, a judge communicates with a man and a machine via written means and without ever coming into contact with either subject. The machine should be indiscernible from the man. The issue with this test is that Turing uses a male and a female as the control for the test, erroneously believing gender is an intrinsic value in a human (based on anatomy alone).

In our postfeminist context, we know that gender is a complex spectrum amounting from a combination of brain structure, genetics, sex hormones, genitals and most importantly societal conditioning. “Turing does not stress the obvious connection between gender and computer intelligence: both are in fact imitative systems” (Halberstam 1991). We know now that gender is constructed and reconstructed over time. If gender should apply to AI, it would present itself as a product of the AI’s programmer/s individual gender practice rather than something innate to the machine.

gender
visualisation of the contributing factors to human gender

Instances of AI in everyday life already surround us, the most easily recognisable of which are the personal assistant softwares in smartphones, tablets and computers (Siri, Cortana, and now Google Assistant). Each of these have female voices as a default setting. In a discussion of the many feminine-named assistants, Dennis Mortensen, founder of x.ai, has said that we take orders better from a female rather than a male. This is trend continues in Microsoft’s endeavors to create AI bots on Twitter, most namely the “teen girl” conversation bot, Tay.

Bots and smartphone apps are both examples of weak AI – AI that simulates human intelligence by executing the simplest version of a task. In this podcast about Tay’s rapid corruption into racist Tweets, Alex Hern refers Microsoft’s previous app Fetch!, which identifies dog breeds from pictures – any picture, it need not include an actual dog. Based on this understanding of weak AI, I can only assume female voices are programmed in order to make the apps and bots more palatable and appealing. However this can only be described as “machines in drag“, with very little positive effect on intersectional feminism in society today (Robbins 2016).

Due to the close association of the machine with military intelligence (one of the first iterations of computer was developed by Turing in WWII in response to the Nazi’s Enigma after all), “computer technology is in many ways the progeny of war in the modern age” (Halbersham 1991). The probability of weaponised autonomous AI becoming a threat led to a gendering of the technology as female. Feminist theory sees the female as Other by comparison to the male in the same way that, even in the Turing test, technology is also othered. Andreas Huyssen identifies writers at the heart of this imagining of technology as female harbingers of destruction (cited in Halberstam 1991).

 

References

Halberstam, J 1991, ‘Automating Gender: Postmodern Feminism in the Age of the Intelligent Machine’, in Feminist Studies, vol. 17, no. 3, pp439-460.

Haraway, D 1991. ‘A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, technology and socialist-feminism in the late twentieth century’, in Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, Free Association, London.

Robbins, M 2016, ‘Is BB-8 a Woman: why are we so determined to assign gender to AI?’, The Guardian, 12 February, viewed 6 April, <https://www.theguardian.com/science/the-lay-scientist/2016/feb/12/is-bb-8-a-woman-artificial-intelligence-gender-identity>.

A 3-in-1 Special: Augmented Reality in Interior Design

So I went to work on this but completely went AWOL on the blog posts. Choice? no.

Regardless of the matter – you are lucky enough to be reading a 3-in-1 special blog post, so count yourself lucky whoever you are out there!

So why did I start my project and how did I get the idea? well…

 

It All Started With A Job Application:

I’ve recently moved into a new role in my career and it’s safe to say I am COMPLETELY IN LOVE with the role! I have noticed a bunch of elements in the digital space of the business that I am challenging myself to take on and update, resolve or completely replace. This particular part of the business is a rather important element which allows users to “try before they buy”, and this is all to gain a strong understanding that a consumer is engaged and has a motive to install our product. To cut to the chase and not head into complete specifics, (sensitive business content) this part of the website attracts almost 20,000+ visitors and 17,000+ of these visitors are unique, (meaning they have come across this part of the website for the first time) which are some pretty amazing numbers.

However, conversion rates of this area are quite distorted, not accounting for any sales or follow through with a customer.

The system is quite expensive to produce and is almost well behind trend and technology – so the aim is to produce something of a higher quality, which can be easily accessible by any smart device in the most innovative and intuitive way I can possibly think of.

Now…

 

Visualise your newly furnished home through Augmented Reality:

Imagine holding your own smart device so flippantly in front of you, pursuing to use it as a gateway into another realm, modifying & altering anything and everything!

Behind the screen you are consistently playing the game of “God”, a creator of a world – almost The Sims-like, where you are able to rotate, build and place any object or “virtually physical” in the space within the screen

My journey into the realm of Augmented Reality has been one of many obstacles including:

  • Using the many iOS apps available on the market
  • Clearly identifying their similar traits
  • Understanding which apps represent Augmented Reality better than others
  • Understanding how they work & what they need in-order to function
  • Understanding the many barriers in planning to develop an app like this

I have come up with a range of various apps that work, similarly to the way I desire the Visualiser app to operate.

1. Villeroy & Boch & Ikea Augmented Reality: Both equally amazing apps which uses the simple, “marker hologram/feature content market” placed on a flat surface, to allow the smart device to summon the visual object in a 3D Augmented Reality. The application takes product visualisation to new heights, allowing the smart device to view the object up close, from afar, various angles almost urging the user to begin washing their hands in sink within the screen.

However, as we all understand, applications will always have a limited ability, and don’t always allow what we want them to do – Adrian Mackenzie classes this as ‘margin of inter-determinacy’, where technology neither belongs solely to human life nor belongs to some intrinsic dynamism of technology – Chesher relates this to the constraints in the domains of possibility. The keyboard only offers a limited number of characters, but this still leaves open an enormous set of things that may be typed – however an application is much more complex than a keyboard, it opens a world of imagination; a world where BETA testing, continuous updates and wandering minds who WANT MORE are prevalent.

This is is where Villeroy & Boch & Ikea’s application “semi-fail” – the user is bound to the screen, and not able to do anything beyond their means in order to modify or alter the application in anyway they seem fit. Rather the application itself has been under review and stress from users, that the application developers tend to iron out all the kinks gradually, and always strive to be further ahead of the users intuitive and challenging mind.

Ikea 2016 Catalogue: Augemented Reality

 

The Ultimate Interior Design Application:

Homestyler Interior Designer by Autodesk: Allowing users to take photos of their own spaces and modify them accordingly. You are able to remove your current furniture with the app, and set it as a blank room with blank walls. The application allows you to set the height of your room, and automatically determines the depth and width, based on the markers you place within the app. This allows any additional furniture you place into the room to be placed, sized and rotated in a 1:1 scale. The massive downside to this application is it only works on a Single Capture Image, and not a video or Live Augmented Reality – therefore, the Augmented Reality is surface layer and does not delve deeper into the user playing in a “God” like manner – moving, altering & modifying the space in real-time.

 

 

The aim of my app development is to create the guidelines that surround combining all three applications into one, creating the Ultimate Interior Design Application, allowing the user to ‘modifying, design, and alter their own homes in real-time through augmented reality’. The task seems fairly straightforward from a surface – simply use these existing systems, only altering their code and abilities to work with one another. However, it is a large challenge.

The aim for my major task is to create a Digital Artefact, which will be a Developers Guidelines of the Visualiser Application. The Developers Guidelines will include the Graphical User Interface, key functions, UX Design, & basic knowledge how the application should work from a logistical sense, rather than a coded knowledge.

Really hoping to finish off the final section of the Developers Guidelines within the week, however it is continually becoming a lot more difficult to take a visual, logistic common sense approach to the applications functions, and then relating to a coded knowledge for the developer. Will have to iron out these issues and speak with a developer to overcome any barriers I may have.

Overall this experience has been enlightening, and I am really hoping we can get an amazing prototype to function within the next couple of months.

Stay tuned!

  • Dan

 

Sources:

Cvet_Dan_Page_12

eSports Betting

For an event to be legally allowed to be bet on it must consist of the three following things:
Risk: Wager
Reward: Return on wager
Randomness: Chance
It can be said that professional gaming meet all three of these criteria’s and should therefore be a legitimate events that can have bets placed on.

For any emerging industry, the facts that determine its viability or market potential tend to be who invests and how much. Yet when a growing industry is centered around competition, as is the case with eSports, investors and sponsors are a nice indication the industry is moving in the right direction.

However, the strongest indicator tends to be whether or not people gamble on it, and when you analyze the numerous sites set up to take bets on professional matches it’s clear gambling is well established within the gaming community.

In the United States, gambling of any kind is heavily regulated and in some states highly illegal. UMG Gaming, however, offers a platform in which gamers can take part in peer-to-peer wager matches in which money can be won.This skirts the Federal gambling laws by essentially falling under the category of state gambling laws, which varies widely by state. While there is a ton of gray area and loose legal wording, the overarching theme seems to be whether a state defines social gambling by chance or skill.

UMG Gaming run tournaments where many of the prizes for placing in the event come in the form of cash.. UMG tournaments allow users to turn credits into money purely on the fact that most states don’t consider betting on yourself in a skill-based competition a form of gambling. UMG describes it as follows: “Cash Out matches are completely legal and are not considered online gambling. This is because you are betting on your own skill in the game and not basing a bet on luck.”

For further information regarding UMG Gaming and their tournaments can be found at the following link, http://www.umggaming.com

 

 

 

 

 

The Most Merciful Thing

> The Plan

This prezi maps the different stories that will become part of a larger transmedia work. The information present is still a work in progress and will shift as other things are added, rethought, and repositioned.

This project has grown to involve the game I’ve designed from DIGC310.

> The Scientist

I constructed this atmospheric piece using the free audio editing software Audacity, effects from freesound, music from Free Music Archive, a quote from Lovecraft’s Call of Cthulhu.

This is part one of the audio portion of this transmedia project. The context of the character isn’t clear through this alone. However, the machine-oriented environment is implied through the background sound, and the word “facility” raises questions about the type of research being undertaken. This storyline will be expanded on in future recordings. If you looked at the Prezi, you’ll notice that “The Scientist” leads into “The Object,” which in turn leads into “The Madman” (these are working titles). This podcast will refer to the creation and growth of the mysterious, questionably sentient object that is used to solve puzzles in a related game. The mysterious nature of the object means it requires the same depth of description as Lovecraft’s more unknowable creatures – with attention paid to its overall feel and to the things it does, rather than the way it looks or any other concrete information that could be used to identify it.

To synthesize this with the very visible and tangible object of the game, the object in the podcast will be “boxed” by the end. The casing will need to be something that implicitly draws attention to its contents through its form – like a treasure chest or a book. This is what the player character will interact with.

Original post on Data Eater: The Most Merciful Thing

Gambling: 24/7

As I studied the culture and behaviours surrounding fantasy sports, the more I learnt that gambling seemed to go hand in hand with this online activity. This behaviour is particularly prevalent in the United States.

Comments on my previous blog post and a podcast that Chris sent through to me, got me thinking of the idea of online gambling. I’m sure at some point in outlives we have witnessed the adverse effects of gambling, be that through someone we know or just witnessing the damage at our local pub.

Online gambling, allows the ‘punter’ to place bets on any sport event, at any time, any where in the world. Pretty scary thought when you think about how enticing it could be to win a lot of money from the comfort of your bed.

To my surprise, the incidence of problem gambling is significantly lower for online gambling in comparison to other forms of gambling with the Productivity Commission estimating that 75 – 80% of problem gambling is directly related to the use of poker machines. (Australian Productivity Commission Report on Gambling 2010).

The same Productivity Report found that online gambling in Australia is an industry to worth around $800 million. One of the main reasons that online betting is so popular, besides its accessibility,  is that most sites will offer special promotions, better odds and a wider range of markets for their members.

There are 400,000 problem gamblers, and many more affected by those addicted to gambling. For many of us, gambling is social past time, that is nothing more than some harmless fun. However for those how can’t control their betting, their big and regular loses is what the gambling industry continues to survive on.

There are many ways to regulate gambling. Restrict the advertisement hours, no bets to be taken from credit cards and players to nominate a line of credit they’re willing to loose before they’re allowed to play.

Should online gambling be regulated further, with companies such as TAB and SportsBet taking ownership for these addictions, or do the players need to take ownership of their behaviour and loses?
http://www.smh.com.au/comment/smh-editorial/tighter-regulation-needed-for-online-gambling-industry-20160126-gmeeps.html#ixzz4948Za1yk