The reading assignment for this week was to read 1/3 of the canonical text. The text I am reading is called How We Became Post-Human: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics by N. Katherine Hailes.
While researching the Turing Test, I found a couple of other interesting related articles, specifically related to Siri and the Apple iPhone. I suppose one reason why the Turing Test jumped out at me is because I am an ESL teacher, and I recently heard one of my students make a comment that said, "Siri is the best 'conversation partner' ever!" The first question that came to my mind was, "Talking to Siri is better than talking to a real live American human being?!" The next questions were related to the authenticity of responses - are they accurate? Are they meaningful? Does Siri respond to questions in the same way a human would? Does is matter? I found a couple of articles (among many) that address some of these questions: Apple iPhone, Turing Test and Siri and the Turing Test.
The point that jumped out at me in the Prologue was related to gender identity and artificial intelligence (pgs. xii-xiii). I found it so interesting that issues of sexuality and gender came into play - I suppose I had never thought of it before, but apparently, this is a hot topic (no pun intended). When I did a Google Image search using the terms "sexy cyborg," there were 750,000 hits!
Finally, the concept of "embodiment" was introduced (pg. xiv). The importance of this concept is reiterated throughoug the book. Essentially, the concept of "embodiment" is the belief that "intelligence requires a body." On February 6, 2012, MIT published an article in its online journal that essentially stated that the definition of embodiment in this sense is too limited, and that we must consider a "broader view of computation" when considering the "notion of intelligence." I also found another paper that explores issues related to embodiment by aruging for "interaction, participation, and adaptation" in addition to the traditional view of the "intelligent robot" in the physical sense.
|"Beam me up, Scotty!"|
My China Connection
- Informational pattern is more important than the embodiment of information.
- Consciousness is not as important as we have traditionally thought.
- "The body is a prosthesis."
- "The human being can be articulated through intelligent machines."
|Photo from the 10th Annual Macy Conference on Cybernetics|
Chapter 2 was called "Virtual Bodies and Flickering Signifier," and it primarily discussed informatics, and how there is a trend toward considering information in terms of pattern/randomness, as opposed to presence/absence, as well as considering its patterns of transfer. Flickering signifiers were described by Lacan as being created by information technologies and characterized "by their tendency toward unexpected metamorphoses, attenuations, and dispersions (pg 30)." The author goes on to say that "flickering signification brings together language with a psychodynamics based on the symbolic moment when the human confronts the posthuman." To be honest, I am a little bit confused about what exactly a "flickering signifier" is and what it means, so I need to look into this a little further.
Hailes, N. Katherine. How We Became Post-Human: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1999. Print.