Author: Connor Lennon's Wordpress

3rd-year Communication and Media studies Student, at the University of Wollongong.

Love and Sex With Robots/AI: Furthered

In my previous post, I put forward the idea of having a loving relationship or physical relationship with artificial technology/robots. This whole culture is fascinating to me, purely because of how divisive it is. There is an attitude surrounding this culture that is you either accept it or you don’t, and that’s what I find the most interesting.

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When I began investigating this culture I  mused over how within autoethnography Ellis et al (2011) states researchers build off past experiences or potentially moments that cause an epiphany however in this realm of society it is hard to step your foot into without seeming like you are apart of it. I possess an outside looking in perspective like any autoethnography however investigating the sexual or loving relationships of individuals is quite difficult.  My experience is through the created content of two different strains of thought.

  1. The individuals that hate the industry
  2. The Industries that are selling it

As touched on in the previous post about The Uncanny Valley Theory which suggests that humanoid objects which virtually resemble an authentic human but not quite, create uncanny, strangely recognisable feelings of distaste or creepiness to the individual. (Mori, M. 1970), individuals who dislike the culture tend to put forward content that paints the individuals who partake in this culture in a bad light, highlighting their difference and quirkiness to social norms, with little understanding of personal experiences. One of the main experiences I had was the impact of religion on my study. Not that I am personally religious at all, but it deeply affects opinions upon this culture. Perkowitz outlines that “Western religion is hostile to artificial beings, the creation of which is seen as impious or worse” (2004, 215-216). Perkowitz details the western religious aspect to this topic noting the origins of its displeasure towards non-human romantic interaction.

On the other side of the coin is the people that are selling the product and promoting the industry. This is where it becomes a debate that differs from Asian, predominantly Japan to Western cultures. The Azuma Gatebox technology which I mentioned in the previous post is the best example of this type of technology being wholeheartedly accepted and sold in a culture, as there is little to no backlash towards the product.

The Ellis reading puts forward the idea that when researchers conduct ethnography they study a culture’s relational practices, common values and beliefs and shared experiences to help better understand or accept the practice. This method has greatly assisted my research into this field in the way Japan culturally hold an inherent adoration towards technology combining this, there is cultural acceptance towards the anthropomorphising of technology. One of the main theories put forward for this overarching acceptance of robots is the nation’s Shinto religion. Scholars note that Shinto and Buddhism do not create black and white distinctions between animate and inanimate entities, there is no resistance but rather peaceful acceptance. Robots have functioned as officiants in weddings or even been married to one another.

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Perkowitz, S. (2004). Digital People: From Bionic Humans to Androids. Washington D.C.: Joseph Henry Press

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

Mori , M. 1970 . Bukimi no tani: The uncanny valley , trans. K. F. MacDorman and T. Minato . Energy 7( 4 ): 33 – 35 .

Loving AI and Sex with Robots

Would you ever have a physical relationship with a robot?
Could you ever fall in love with artificial intelligence?

The idea of a future that allows individuals sole reliance upon technology and artificial programs to achieve emotional and physical pleasure is a certain future with successful business ventures throughout the globe. Scholars predict this to culminate our society by 2050.

A common response from Western Culture

This inherent fear or disgust towards this type technology has been noted to stem from The Uncanny Valley Theory which suggests that humanoid objects which virtually resemble an authentic human but not quite, create uncanny, strangely recognisable feelings of distaste or creepiness to the individual. (Mori, M. 1970),

The notion of a robotic lover is divisive as it opposes societal normalities. The reception of this technological movement contrasts immensely across cultures. The fact that I had the audacity to ask you that question may cause offence within some individuals however this topic is something that has been readily accepted within Asian cultures, specifically Japan.

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At the beginning of my research into this area of society, I was shocked and at the popularity and overall acceptance of this technology within Asian society as it does challenge my personal moral values of what genuine human relationships are.

It is important to understand the schools of thought when it comes to researching this topic. The idea of utilising robotic technologies for sexual pleasure, emotional attachment to an artificial technology and finally a combination of both within advanced technology.

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Dr David Levy, A British academic published a book called ‘Love + Sex with Robots’ indicated reasons for why people would want a robotic lover. He investigated the notion of technophilia, preferring a robot purely on the basis it is a robot and finally because of the idea individuals can feel publically isolated which in turn leading to a robot being the ideal option to that of a human. (Levy 2007, 127 – 159). Levy also makes the point of we already pay for sexual pleasures through prostitution, therefore “This indicates that those who consider having sex with robots should have no qualms on the basis of the robot’s presumed lack of affection for them” (Levy 2007).

Researchers and roboticists have come up with many implementations of robot companions like sex robots, emotional robots, humanoid robots, and artificial intelligence systems that can simulate human emotions. Boden notes a range of technologies and artificial companions available or are being developed, Boden notes the most significant is “the realistic simulation of emotion by an artificial system” (Boden 2006,1094). An example of this type of technology, is Azuma Hikari, an artificial system developed by Japanese company Gatebox. Azuma is a holographic projected within a cylindrical tube and is programmed to be a replicate to that of a wife, possessing the role of an intimate companion. Through communication with the user, Hikari learns and tailors her responses to create the desired experience for the user.

Boden , M. A. 2006 . Mind as Machine: A History of Cognitive Science . Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press .

Mori , M. 1970 . Bukimi no tani: The uncanny valley , trans. K. F. MacDorman and T. Minato . Energy 7( 4 ): 33 – 35 .

Wandering Earth (2019)

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The Best Film you have never heard of!

A movie that was wild from start to finish and I am having immense troubles trying to find something to speak about other than how astonished I am by this film. I walked away from this film and tried to explain to my housemate what the movie was about, I have never witnessed a more puzzled and confused man when I say
“Picture this, what do you get when you combine the films Armageddon, 2012, 2001: A Space Oddysey and its all a Chinese Production” I felt I had left him speechless other than a loud “WHAT!?”.

Set in the future the post-apocalyptic sci-fi film poses truly important questions about what the world is going to do about the detriments of climate change and the measures the human race will go to save our planet. I have always enjoyed a good disaster movie growing up it was something my family would rent from Blockbuster almost as often as a Friday night comedy movie, my step-dad would always remind us of the importance of a movie like this as they are a “pinnacle of cinema history” in which my mother would laugh at him. Carolyn Ellis outlines the importance of epiphanies in writing autoethnography as it is “perceived to have impacted the trajectory of a person’s life” (BOCHNER & ELLIS, 1992; COUSER, 1997; DENZIN, 1989). These experiences shape our understanding and influence the path we take much similar and simply to the viewing of a film when you are a child.

The film begins peacefully and I am 100% sure it is only one of the two times “Wandering Earth” experiences any peaceful scenes, the other being the end. Due to this, the film is non-stop action maybe to a point that you almost feel sorry for the characters because nothing seems to be going right as death constantly hides behind a corner.

Interestingly, the international representation sent an unusual message about Australia, with a character stating he was half-Australian and remained to be one of the most useless and annoying characters throughout the film. It is hard to complain about something like this when I believe it may be the first time it has ever been done but felt strange nonetheless, could possibly be a message about how close Australia is with the US as they featured little to know mention throughout the film.

If you are big on character development and connection a film like this is probably not for you as I believe its main goal is to send a bigger message. A message about the issues of climate change and what parties are taking an active role in changing the course of history.

China now sits at the forefront of being one of the major players in tackling climate change which is a major positive step towards a brighter future.

The real reason for China’s U-turn on climate change

 

Akira (1988)

Japanese Anime holds a profound position within my life. I have always found it interesting but would only ever find myself being invested in the genre if it was dubbed into English or maybe I wasn’t even aware it was Japanese Anime in the first place as the Western domination had removed any idea that it was.

My ethnographical approach to this screening stems from Ellis et al’s Autoethnography: An Overview described as “An approach to research and writing that seeks to describe and systematically analyse (Graphy) personal experience (auto) in order to understand cultural experience (Ethno).

The Screening of Akira was quite shocking, to be honest, the seminars ethnographical approach was hindered with the use of dubbing however it still allowed the ability to experience a film like nothing I had seen before.

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One thing I found quite confronting about this film was the fact the film showed a major lack of respect towards women. Even the so-called heroes of the film such as Kaneda blatantly disrespectful and this is seen as the norm across this film. Christian Alsop notes the idea of the foreign as ” amorphous and unstructured. It does not allow for anticipation because we cannot read it, cannot interpret what is possible or impossible, attractive or repulsive.” (Alsop, Christian K. 2002)

Connor Lennon@ConnorLennon13

interesting to focus on a supreme lack of respect towards women let alone authority..

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In my investigation into this genre, I discovered anime and Manga was born out of tragedy, specifically two events that changed modern history. The dropping of the Atomic Bombs, Little Boy and Fat Boy. The deep influence of the A-bomb on anime and mangaMany works that pull from the collective memory and trauma of the bombings are seen as part of a “victim’s history” narrative which works to promote sympathy from the viewer on behalf of the children they so often depict. This idea of depicting children within narratives is present in Akira as it creates relation within their audience. This idea of building on tragedy intrigued me immensely as it would hardly be noticed until one considers every anime you have ever seen. Great tragedy unfolds within the stories commonly associated with immense destruction of the setting. Depictions of the idea Neo Tokyo “New Tokyo” is a common name for a fictional futuristic version of Tokyo.

Overall I found this movie confronting and confusing however it has sparked an interest in the genre I had not shared previously that may in-turn trigger further viewing of this media.

Akira: An Analysis of the A-Bomb and Japanese Animation

The Cultural Significance of Manga and Anime

Alsop, Christiane K. (2002) Home and Away: Self Reflexive Auto-/Ethnography’, Forum Qualitative Social Research 3:3.

PTSD from “The Host”

Live-tweeting continues, delving into a far different realm of thought within Asian culture and media. This seminar poses the question of “how to we experience cultures other than our own” and what better way to contrast cultures than to compare my experience with outlandish Asian Media.

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The first screening took us down the path of South Korean Horror with Bong Joon-ho’s The Host (2006). This film was wild, to say the least, offering a plethora of emotive responses within the audience mostly comedic value which I am still unaware if this was the intended goal. My knowledge of this genre was limited which is something I understand will be common throughout this semester as I personally have lived a sheltered life when it comes to Asian media. I have an understanding of the existence of this market but had never been drawn to it wholeheartedly which I believe stems from personal ignorance and the grasp that Hollywood and American media holds upon Australian lifestyle.

The Host was excessive from start to finish wasting no time introducing the ravenous monster into the film which is an interesting manner to conduct a film. Contrasting directly with your average horror/monster such as Steven Spielberg’s Jaws in which utilise the feeling of suspense creating fear within the audience. This tactic was interesting however it never made the film seem at all spine-chilling

Tweeting was a vastly different experience when compared to previous live-tweeting, primarily at the hands of following a movie in a different language with subtitles was stressful,  but combined with a plot that gradually became more ridiculous as the film went on was something I had never experienced before. Similarly, the characters presented relatable characteristics such as being blatantly hopeless within extreme situations which different immensely to the standard leading role of this genre of film.

In my research into the boom of the Korean film industry, I wanted to understand why Australia hasn’t fully adopted the idea of it into our lives. It doesn’t help that Sydney Morning Herald begins articles about the genre with South Korean cinema is not just unusual. It is downright odd, in both its content and the freakish rise of the K-film industry in the last 15 years.

Reflecting on the first seminar I am curious to learn more about this aspect of media as it something I have found to be quite distant from however I am aware of its immense scale within the overall market, therefore, learning more about it offers numerous benefits to my degree.