It’s like iRobot as imagined by David Lynch. Almost supernaturally creepy… and I’m sure this isn’t deliberate… and I still can’t quite put my finger on what the psychological origins of this creepiness is. I mean the Alien off Alien was made up of about 5 well-known human phobias rolled into one… but this? Don’t know. There’s something clingy and parasitic about it. Weird.
Who’s actually a bit creepy tbh,in spite of the kindly old Boomer vibe. Looks a bit like this guy:
I think they want to do anthropomorphising – but you don’t do it like that. If it’s too close to an actual human, then a different set of circuits kicks in, and you get something closer to xenophobia.
It’s the Scary Clown factor. Having the back of his head missing with loads of wires visible doesn’t help – he needs some sort of comb-over. Or a hat. Or just a back of a head. Would it really have been that hard? Give the guy a head-back. It’s inhumane.
It’s almost like our brains have to know that they’re “filling the gaps”… to know that it’s just playing. It’s non-verbal communication coming in via eyes I think. That’s where it goes wrong. Maybe they should give him some sunglasses.
Anthropomorphism is highly reflexive/instinctive I think, but if something is too close to “life” then I think instincts that are to do with revulsion to dead-things starts creeping in.
This is supposed to encourage people to have kids – rather than be absolutely terrified of weird, dependent, parasitic robots that sit there dribbling etc.
I mean I’m all for tamagotchification… but… I think there needs to be a bigger gap between the object and the thing that you’re trying to tamagotchify… because otherwise it starts looking like some sort of substitute – which has this whole emotionally damaged vibe.
In fact I don’t think you can tamagotchify people at all – only yourself. Tamagotchifying other people has this weirdly psychopathic vibe that lives somewhere between Freud, and idolatry.
… but that’s not them, although it could be. They remind me of one of the very first Arduino Art Projects… wigs that sing when you brush them…
See… these people have natural harmony and rhythm and whatnot. Unlike the dancing robot that from a recent dancing robot competition…
Which for reasons unknown, they’ve dressed up as a schoolgirl – at a single stroke, transforming it from “probably quite impressive” to “actually, slightly weird”.
Speaking of which, we saw that Surrogates with Bruce Willis in it recently – in which people “live” through robots… they don’t actually leave the house themselves, but instead remotely control robotic versions of themselves that have a similar type of dress-sense/polish etc to C-Grade American soap-operas from the 80s. Like everyone has suddently decided to become a Stepford Wife of some sort.
The hell with that – I can’t imagine anyone living through a robotic device without immediately going for the “can fly” option. If I was Bruce Willis I’d have been a bird. That would be cool. I’d be a Bruce Willis bird, and I’d crap on cars. I’d crap on cars a lot.
Speaking of which – I see they just google-street-viewed Pompeii…
Which is quite fantastic… but a bit boring because that particular bit of Pompeii is a bit fucked really, on account of that volcano in the background blowing up a couple of thousand years ago and trashing it. I actually find the “living” Pompeii a lot more interesting, though perhaps a little less poetically resonant. The new one has Pizzarias and proper Italians and things.
Still… It does conjure (to me at least) this vision I have of UAV tourism… where you hire a little copter type thing that you can “see through” and control over the web from your PC (or phone or whatever) at home – preferably with some of those 3D goggles and a smellovision plugin.
From there it’s a short (cognitive) leap to doing a whole augmented reality number on it… so instead of flying around in 2010, you’re flying around in sometime in 79AD. Mind you, if you were going to do that, you might as well not actually fly a real thing about – you might as well just do the whole thing in simulation… like the thing you’re looking at above. There’s a fine line between photograph and simulation anyway. One so very quickly becomes the other. The moment is everything.
And that’s the thing about augmented reality. You don’t actually need the reality.
Still that aside… I stare at these things and wonder what it is exactly I’m looking at here. Is this the future? Because to me it’s very clearly just an interim phase… if that. A machine-generation in a succession of accelerating machine-generations.
I wonder how many of their own parts they could make. Given the right tools etc.
It looks like it’s doing that Japanese Opera thing… all stylised moves and bows and whatnot. And then when you’re not looking it will eviscerate you with a razor-tipped fan. They can move really fast these things. They’re deceptive.
I mean obviously the first thing you think of when anything new turns up is “Wow, I wonder how we could use that for porn?” but I think this is a little too weird even for that. I mean latex that “feels just like the real thing”, keeps a safe, sanitary distance from the real thing… but (in a reflection of one of my favourite subjects… Androidal Xenophobia) if you get too close to “the real thing” without actually BEING the real thing, the outcome is generally creepy.
Still, full marks for surprising me. What John Peel used to refer to as the “Fuck Me” factor… at least that’s what I think he meant… “fuck me” meaning “good golly, miss molly, I am truly astonished”.
As far as I can gather it’s an augmented reality game that you play with your phone. You wander around with an eyeball on your arm (a bit like the thing Molari had on Babylon 5) and it spots invisible monsters… that you too can see if you look at them through your phone. That’s the augmented bit. Then you shake the phone and they go away.
If you gave the eyeball wheels of it’s own, and the ability to carry and shake a phone, you could dispense with your own body completely. I see dead people etc. They don’t know they’re dead… and they only see what they want to see.
It is quite weird though, how easy it is to make something seem alive. All it needs is an eye, and the ability to direct attention.
A new Warbot, which obviously (because they always do) also has “search and rescue” potential… because you’ve got to pretend that it’s good for something other than spending trillions of dollars killing people who aren’t posing any threat to us whatsoever – or if they are, because we won’t leave them the fuck alone.
And of course they’re not the first (as is claimed in the headline), because Bjork did this (in a virtual sort of way) years ago.
AND managed to make them not scary. Well, not as scary.
Make Love not War etc. Whatever… layers of Virtuality. None of it’s real until someone dies, or someone gets pregnant. It’s not a jungle out there, it’s a circus. The jungle is all to do with inner-space. So we build threat-bots. Fuckoffandleavemealonebots.
Large wooden clubs are extensions of our fists, clothes are extensions of our skin… cameras extensions of our eyes? Memories? Jim Morrisson once said that a sniper’s rifle is an extension of his eye; he kills with injurious vision. So now a revolution in sensors/communication/processing etc etc is allowing us to create creatures that are extensions of…
… everything. Every human faculty and more besides… but looking at the things I can’t help but feel that they’re extensions of our neurosis. We’re making gods in our own image, and what curious mangled little creatures they are.