Transhuman Films

The blog’s been pretty quiet while I’ve been concentrating on other things. One of those other things is a research project looking at post- and transhumanism in popular culture, and particularly in film.

One of those projects has been the development of a couple of blogs to track that. The first of these is underway now and can be found at:

Screenshot 2015-09-11 21.38.44

So far I’ve added two films in the last couple of days, but will be adding to that as write up films I’ve already watched, and get around to watching some more.

Are Robots Threatening Your Immortal Soul?

A while ago, in the late 1990s and early 2000s, theology and robots was a topic that generated a number of books and publications including the ones below:

“God In the Machine: What Robots Teach Us About Humanity and God” (Anne Foerst)

“God and the Mind Machine: Artificial Intelligence” (John C. Puddefoot)

Now it looks like that discussion is getting a new lease of life: See Apocalypse NAO: Are Robots Threatening Your Immortal Soul? | Popular Science

“When the time comes for including or incorporating humanoid robots into society, the prospect of a knee-jerk kind of reaction from the religious community is fairly likely, unless there’s some dialogue that starts happening, and we start examining the issue more closely,” says Kevin Staley, an associate professor of theology at SES. Staley pushed for the purchase of the bot, and plans to use it for courses at the college, as well as in presentations around the country. The specific reaction Staley is worried about is a more extreme version of the standard, secular creep factor associated with many robots.

“From a religious perspective, it could be more along the lines of seeing human beings as made in God’s image,” says Staley. “And now that we’re relating to a humanoid robot, possibly perceiving it as evil, because of its attempt to mimic something that ought not to be mimicked.”

Thanks to Nanogirl (@medickinson) (Passionate scientist/engineer/kitesurfer & regular @firstlineNZ science TV slot. Run a nano mechanical lab. My TEDx talk: for the link.

Robot babies

IEEE Spectrum has a new chart up of different robots the mimic human babies and children in various ways (on capabilities vs. appearance axes). See IEEE Spectrum: Invasion of the Robot Babies (Infographic) for that and some other interesting links on humanoid robotics.

Of course, if you have time and access to the DVD, a good robot baby movies can be found in Robot Stories. Trailer below

Portraits In Posthumanity: Claudia Mitchell

From the io9 posthuman newsfeed is a brief article looking a this form of muscle/nerve prosthetic. I’m constantly amazed by this kind of thing, and can’t imagine what it will look like in 10-15 years time. See Portraits In Posthumanity: Claudia Mitchell – Posthumanity – io9

Robot Ethics?

A couple of related articles about encoding ethics into software:

Robots Teach Korean Students English

Interesting article over at Robots Teach Korean Students English – Robots – io9 on the deployment of 1000s of robot language teachers to assist in the learning of English in South Korean schools and pre-schools.

I’m wondering why they’ve embedded this approach in a humanoid form, rather than through an animated avatar on the cellphone for example. Perhaps the physical presence of the robot creates a kind of relationality (e.g. authority figure) that a computer application couldn’t do?

Robot to work at rest home

You see this sort of thing in the overseas press from time to time (after all it seems to be obligatory to run a robot story every week or so), but it’s not often you see a robot healthcare story in the NZ context. See Robot to work at rest home.

World Builder – short film

I thought this was very good – a virtual reality love story.

See YouTube – World Builder

See also YouTube – World Builder (high quality)

Similar in some ways to Grek Pak’s Robot Stories.