Debating the Existence of Cyberpunk Today

ermahblurg

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The last two weeks I have been conducting a literature review to see what I could find about the existence of cyberpunk today. My first research objectives was to get a clear definition of what cyberpunk is, so I could create some sort of criteria for examining modern texts.

I came to the consensus that cyberpunk can be defined as the intersection between science fiction and postmodernism. It is a type of science fiction that deals with real world technologies and near futures and sets them against a cyber-fantasy backdrop.

“Cyberpunk is the integration of technology and literature in a world where the gap between science fiction and reality is rapidly closing” (Guven 1995).

From my research of the themes found in the cyberpunk genre and through my understanding of cyberpunk in the films I watch, I made this checklist …

High tech – Low Life

Futuristic Dystopian…

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Structuring Refugees & Cyberculture

intersectional alien

Ok, so I have developed the idea for my research project, now to assemble it! I have decided to divide the project into 5 parts (five focus points).

Parts 1 & 2 will be on how refugees engage with cyberculture. Part 1 will focus on how refugees map & document their experiences. Example cases I will be researching: refugees paving the way for other refugees by sharing photos/GPS locations of their migration path on social media and Google Maps censoring access to viewing refugee housing centres.

Part 2 will be a focus on how refugees interact with cyberculture to share their experiences within institutions/controlled environments (i.e. detention centres, camps and island resettlements). Examples: Free the children NAURU and footage released of a hunger strike from within Manus Island detention centre.

Image from Free the children NAURU Facebook page, uploaded 20th March 2016 Image from Free the children NAURU Facebook page, uploaded 20th March 2016

Part 3 will be a focus on those participating in cyberculture to help refugees…

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A Cyber-punk Storefront

For the first time in my university life I think I have found an idea I genuinely like and have it rather organised before week 6. As an update, my digital artefact for DIGC335 will be an in-depth look at several major imagined objects from Cyber-punk texts. This will include a description of the object and its uses within their respective text, and then the historical and social contexts of which these objects and devices have derived from. Furthermore, I will be exploring how such objects are a reaction to real world fears and concerns portrayed through the Cyber-punk genre, or alternatively, how this article explains, that dystopic Sci-fi could be generating fears towards future technologies.

I have narrowed down the formats which I am considering using to two possibilities (at the moment). Firstly, and simply I can’t go past the idea of a simple ‘imgur’ album with descriptions. This format will be easy to create and easy to navigate, but because of this simplicity it may be boring and dull to view. Which brings me to the second possibility, which wasn’t entirely my idea but I do really like it. Angus suggested in our tutorial of creating a virtual storefront where my objects could be displayed. This would certainly create an interesting aesthetic for viewing the objects and could possibly allow for a more holistic experience with each object. This ‘experience’ would be created through a series of images for each object, with descriptions and annotations, overall providing, I feel, a cleaner format. Nevertheless, I have time to continue developing these ideas.4ff54bb1f8e6045336d11414443864e0

In the meantime, I have begun researching my first two objects, The Voight Kampff tester from ‘Bladerunner’ and The Dominator from ‘Psycho-pass’. Both are proving to be quite interesting to research, not only their uses and context but the ideologies behind such objects. Both of these objects revolve around power, control and the search for truth.

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The search for more interesting items within Cyberpunk continues. I’m looking to possibly do a virtual reality system, be it also from ‘Psycho-Pass’, ‘Sword-Art Online’ or ‘Neuromancer’. I’m also leaning towards exploring the Neuralyzer from Men In Black. Although this might be stretching the genre of Cyber-punk a little too far…

Either way, the search continues and any pointers would be much appreciated!

Ethical Associations With Robotics and Income

Building upon the concept of how religious or cultural principles impact the economic and social constructs relative to robotics, we must study how varying cultural ethics influence the divergence, and that of a capitalist society. Ultimately for my research project the distinction of religious and cultural ethics on robotics, the impact on the international economy, basic income and how such effects the current capitalist community will be the central focus.

Kitano (2015) argues that the cultural divergence of automation is relative to ethics. With ‘Rinri’ the term for ethics in Japanese associated with the harmonisation of society, with each individual forming a responsibility and accountability to that community. Moreover robots identify with their proprietor, and through such responsibility are just as accountable for the harmonisation of Japanese society. However the rapid development of Japan’s economy following World War II, with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of Japan stating the robotics industry as one of the most critical in the modern economy, has ultimately failed to provide the platform for conversation regarding human-robotic interaction.

Western ethics consists of varying subjectivities contrast to Japan’s, we can convey the Western dissonance to robotics beyond idolatry with that of the ‘protestant work ethic,’ in which discipline, prudence and effort are the effect of an individual’s confidence in Protestant commitment (Westby, D. 1997). Additionally ‘protestant work ethic’ has been correlated to that of ‘spirit of capitalism’ (Westby, D. 1997), thus through such beliefs development of robotic industries has become of major economic concern to some, challenging that of a capitalist society and application of the notion of universal income (Forrest, A. 2015).

Through the developing automation industry the concept of universal basic income has become an increasing debate. The ‘protestant work ethic,’ central to that of capitalism, may be the hurdle of such income generated from robotics. Wells (2014) argues that this is due to our social systems, such as education, have been constructed to complement the labor market relative to economic productivity. However such work ethic would be irrelevant with considerable absence of jobs.

Reference:

Forrest, A. (2015) What happens when robots take our jobs? The Big Issue, viewed 21.03.16 < http://www.bigissue.com/features/columnists/5970/what-happens-when-robots-take-our-jobs>

Kitano, N. (2015) Animism, Rinri, Modernization; the Base of Japanese Robotics, School of Social Sciences, Waseda University, viewed 21.03.15 <http://documents.mx/documents/kitano-animism-rinri-modernization-the-base-of-japanese-robots.html >

Wesby, D. (1997) Protestant Ethic, viewed 22.03.16<http://mb-soft.com/believe/txn/protesta.htm>

Wells, T. (2014) The Robot Economy and the Crisis of Capitalism: Why We Need Universal Basic Income, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, viewed 04-03-16 <http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/07/17/4048180.htm>  

Music: The Fire of the Party?

So as you can see the trend of my project is leaning towards the Audio tangent.                     The direction I want to take is still to be confirmed… I’m almost there!

Little background story – For the past 5 years I have been a DJ – in a Cybercultures world, I would be called a number of things: Just another DJ, Fuqboi, The Guy who presses Play, and a person who hears the most common question phrase and question of all – “Can I request a song?”

“If I had a dollar for everyti…    nevermind.”

Seriously, being a DJ is not easy by any means. It is not as simple as,  “you are being paid, to do your job, which is being a DJ – How hard is that?” There are varying factors to being a DJ and being a great DJ – a DJ plays what is known on the radio, plays music that everyone would expect and mixes from track to track like an iTunes Playlist on Shuffle mode. A great DJ on the other hand,  builds from track to track.

Analogy Breakdown: Picture a scene, with your mates out camping, where you decide its probably a good time to start a fire because its freezing outside. The fire starts with a small amount of starters and some kindling; from here the fire starts to radiate, and you decide to place larger sticks over the pit to increase the intensity a little more. From here you are building on a fire which blazes very quickly in the beginning, but now it is your job to maintain that fire and heat throughout the night.

Therefore, if you can start a fire you have just completed “How to be a DJ 101.”

The reasoning behind the fire analogy is based on my recent finding of an application that allows anybody at a party, event or gathering to be the life of the party with just an iPhone, Spotify and this wonderful app called Serato Pyro.

It is the answer to all my questions in most cases because:

  1. I can now DJ with just my iPhone and a set of really good Hi-Fi Speakers
  2. I don’t have to be the awkward guy in the corner
  3. I can socialise, dance and let Serato Pyro do the work for me
  4. I don’t have to set-up or pack-up anything

I’d like to unpack this app, as a result of technology being completely efficient to our lives in any way, shape or form.

I’d still like to relate some of it to music and how we engage with music in different environments – but of course it’s still yet to be confirmed.

– Dan

Sentient Functioning

Shenae's Paige

Pepper robot pcmag.com

To begin my research I am going to compare A.I. “Sentient” robots, what functions they do and don’t have, what are the benefits, what works, the downsides. The aim is to see what could be applicable to applying these sentient factors and essential factors to developing an emotional relationship with your phone. The robots I will be looking at are (but not limited to):

  1. Neo
  2. Pepper
  3. QRIO
  4. AIBO
  5. iCat

I will also look at fiction robots such as CP30 and R2D2 from Star Wars, Hal 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey, Holly and Kryten from Red Dwarf , the Terminator, to analyse functions that are missing in real life.

I have already began building a list of functions that could apply to my sentient phone, what would improve the sentience of the relationship, positives and negatives.

The aspect of privacy is a huge deal, the phone would essentially be…

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Cyberethics: Something to consider

Media Tear

Through new technologies, society develops new capabilities – some potential capabilities considered questionable and raise the concern of liability. Consider the moral dilemmas of Google’s self-driving car in terms of responsibility, liability, legalities, harm selection and minimisation.

(Source: Technology Review)

These questions and possibilities lead toward the notion of Cyber-Ethics: the study of societal principles of what is considered appropriate and “moral” in the use of technologies.  Ethical standards may lead to legal, programming and personal constraints that will reflect on the capabilities given to machinery and software. Cyber-ethics is an interesting study, considering its distance and complexity from legal frameworks and the common viewpoint of cyberspace being outside of state “borders”.

Hayles article connected human’s to the term “organic machines” encouraging the discussion of what separates our species from robots and machinery. The development of robots and cybernetics leads to more ethical discussions in their treatment, rights…

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Outmoded Technologies

JESS MUSCAT

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I think the generation I was born in is one of the last to know what it’s like to have a childhood without a phone in our hands and apps for anything and everything. During my primary school years, I would only ever use our household computer to print off information for homework research tasks. Nowadays, kids are mastering iPads before they even start pre-school.

I stumbled across this video at the start of the semester and it kickstarted a whole train of thought of outmoded technologies. I was so dumbfounded while watching this video- a majority of the kids didn’t even know how to turn on the computer! Do most people own laptops these days? I just didn’t understand the initial confusion. Don’t PCs still have to be turned on that way? Even though this video is about an operating system, I couldn’t help but think about the devices…

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Economics, Religion and Why We (The West) Don’t Want Robots

Computerisation, automation and interconnected networks have allowed for certain social conditions and convictions to arise. Such social constructs help form an ambiguous ‘cyberculture,’ associated with automation and assembly. Economics and cultural assumptions of capitalism, that of a ‘postcapitalist’ society and ultimately religion lie within the centre of arguments relative to robotics (Wohlsen, M. 2014).   

Mercedes-Benz demonstrates the integration of automation and human resources through introduction of ‘robot farming’ (Gibbs, S. 2016).  However, the language used by Benz delivers the assumption that this is a present consideration until technology overcomes that of human capital. Santini (2016) builds upon this illustrating that robotics will eventually outpace human development. Demonstrating an attitude towards human capacity decreasing to the point of mass unemployment.

Such rhetoric and expression of fear associated with employment and automation can be considered unwarranted, with Wells (2014) attributing through automation our socio-economic principles may change to the point of universal basic income, a form social security in which unconditional income is received on individual basis (BIEN, 2015). Additionally the relationship between religious credence and automation, employment and ultimately intelligent AI can be related to the display of societal fear. To illustrate such the segment of Shinto faith that is Animism, illustrates the belief that all entities, even those constructed by humans have a spiritual essence. Idolatry, the creation of life through assuming the position of a ‘false god,’ in Western religion is considered sinful (Mims, C. 2010). Thus the negative associations of automation in the West can correlate to that of humanity as creators, and contrast to that of Asian doctrine holding spiritual significance to that of robotics.

Reference:

Gibbs, S. (2016) Mercedes-Benz swaps robots for people on its assembly line, The Guardian, viewed 05-03-16 <http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/26/mercedes-benz-robots-people-assembly-lines>

Santini, J. L. (2016) Intelligent robots threaten millions of jobs, Technology, phys.org, viewed 07-03-16 <http://phys.org/news/2016-02-intelligent-robots-threaten-millions-jobs.html>

Wells, T. (2014) The Robot Economy and the Crisis of Capitalism: Why We Need Universal Basic Income, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, viewed 04-03-16 <http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/07/17/4048180.htm>  

Wholsen, M. (2014) When Robots Take All Work, What Will Be Left For Us To Do? Business, Wired.com, viewed 04-03-16 <http://www.wired.com/2014/08/when-robots-take-all-the-work-whatll-be-left-for-us-to-do/>

Mims, C. (2010) Why Japanese Love Robots (And Americans Fear Them), MIT Technoloy Review, viewed 04-03-16 <https://www.technologyreview.com/s/421187/why-japanese-love-robots-and-americans-fear-them />

Unknown Author, (2015) What is basic income? BEIN, Basic Income Earth Network, viewed 04-03-16 <http://www.basicincome.org/basic-income/#history>

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.

A common theme of cyberculture, and a running trope in media & film, is the fear and demonisation of robots. More so are we fearing the robots, but what they are capable of, and will be capable of the farther technology advances. It’s seen time and time again, from Ultron to Ava, that we create these fictional stories of doomed robots and their flawed understanding of humanity (a reflection on our own humanity they tell us), will ultimately doom us.

ex ultron 2

Robotics have come a long way in a very short amount of time, and companies like Hanson Robotics have their eyes firmly set on creating lifelike, animatronic-androids designed solely for human interaction. To be more human than human. Sophia, is the real-life Ava of Ex Machina. Creator Dr David Hanson’s goal is to make robots “as conscious, creative and capable as any human” and eventually, to one day “be indistinguishable from humans”. He envisions a world of robots not dehumanising us, but reminding us of our humanity.

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Via Facebook

But more on that later, essentially, I wish to say, robots are not evil. They are not Ultron because they were programmed by Tony Stark’s (our) flaws and faults. They do not become Ava because their intelligence is so far more superior that it uses our own humanity against us. They are what we make them to be. Cyberculture, society, or whoever, needs something to fear that we think is threatening what makes us human.

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comments on ‘Sophia’

What I will be talking about instead, is the path of robotics or humanbotics and where its heading. Starting with the history of robots and how we came to fear them, I wish to track through media the villain label we have come to attach to robots and offer a more friendlier take on robots and us. How many innocent robots have succumbed to human hands in films and television? How do the news and internet react to the human like animatronics? Do we really even need to fear the power of robots? Will they actually take over the world?

Nobody puts Robot in the corner.