Author: emmajsloane

My name is Emma Sloane and I am a student in my third year of studying a Bachelor of Communications and Media (Dean's Scholar) at the University of Wollongong, Australia.

Does a simulated conversation constitute a social transaction in digital Asia?

Emma Sloane

Source: Header Image

In my previous blog post “Hikikomori, AI Girlfriends, and VR Porn Booths. Why is one of the most digitally connected countries also the most socially isolated?” I drew on some examples that point to Japan being a socially isolated population, despite being one of the most digitally connected. 

In this blog post, I will delve into this topic further by discussing the popularity of dating simulators and consider if these simulated conversations equate to a social transaction in the digital sphere.

Athique discusses the commodification of communication through the digital economy, stating that“the larger implication is that, within a platform economy, all communicative actions be regarded as social transactions.”(Athique, 2019.)

Athique also states that“It is this orchestrated commercialization of sociability itself that constitutes the signal achievement: an expansive marketization that establishes a new tidemark for the commodification process,”(Athique, 2019.) If we look at…

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Hikikomori, AI Girlfriends, and VR Porn Booths. Why is one of the most digitally connected countries also the most socially isolated?

Emma Sloane

Source: Header Image

Throughout my studies of Digital Asia this semester I have learned that“the number of internet users in Asia is now equivalent to those in the rest of the world combined,”(Athique, 2019.)Looking specifically at Japan we see that“93% of the population uses the internet today which equates to more than 117 million people,”(Kemp, 2021.)Despite being one of the most digitally connected countries in the world, there are many emerging digital practices that indicate a society that struggles with real-life connections.

These unique digital spaces in Japan are likely a result of certain socio-cultural practices and principles. I personally believe that many of these spaces are rooted in the rise of modern-day hermits known as hikikomori.“Hikikomori is currently viewed as a sociocultural mental health phenomenon, rather than a distinct mental illness,”(Ketchell, 2020.)It is a phenomenon that is currently affecting half…

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Alpha Gough – Can Artificial Intelligence Gain Artistic Human Qualities?

Emma Sloane

AI image courtesy of Ahmed Elgammal

‘AlphaGo,’ (Greg Kohs, 2017) is a documentary that follows a Go tournament between DeepMind’s AI program AlphaGo and Go champion Lee Sudol. In this documentary, we witness AlphaGo defeat Lee Sudol 4-1 much to the surprise of the people of Korea.

At first, this surprise shocked me, as we know that computers can be programmed to learn patterns and process them much faster than us. However, what I did not know was that Go is a very intuitive game, and by AlphaGo being able to defeat a human means that “its developers have figured out a way of bottling that intuitive sense.”(Nielsen, 2016.) In fact, throughout the documentary, we even see some of AlphaGo’s moves being described as beautiful and creative. 

The discovery of robotic intuition lead me to do some research, where I discovered the ‘black box’ issue of deep learning AI.

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Analysing ‘The People’s Republic of Desire.’ Are Human Idols Needed for the Future of Live-streaming? – Digital Asia Week 1

Emma Sloane

Image: CHINA’S HOTTEST NEW LIVE-STREAMERS ARE VIRTUAL

The People’s Republic of Desire (Hao Wu, 2018) is a documentary that follows live-streaming idols and competitions on the Chinese platform YY. To understand the social and financial transactions within ‘The People’s Republic of Desire,’ it is important to focus on one keyword, ‘desire.’

Fuelling the audiences to spend copious amounts of time and money on these platforms is their desire for the idols. Whether it be, the desire to look like these idols, to date these idols, or to be rich, and famous, and well-liked as the idols are.

“I feel like live-streaming is a mirror to a lot of people desires that are unmet in real life,’ Wu says.“A lot of the poor diaosi, they have no status in real life… If they are willing to spend just a little bit of money people will notice them. The live-streamers…

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