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.

DIP’s Dispatches from the Imagination Age

A link sent to me by a colleague in architecture points to an excellent news resource for all things virtual. See DIP’s Dispatches from the Imagination Age.

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.

Virtual PA

A link through to a brief report on a NZ project to create a virtual personal assistant for controlling your environment. See Meet Nicole, the virtual PA –

More detailed information at: Massey University – School of Engineering and Advanced Technology – Unravelling the mystery of mechatronics and YouTube – Massey University Engineering Smart House.

Related link: Greenflame · Guess who’s coming to (virtual) dinner?

Virtual Archaeology

A recent article on the Reuters web site Ancient Rome comes back to life in virtual model reports on the University of Virginia’s RomeReborn1.0 project, which attempts to recreate a virtual reality model of the entirety of Rome circa 320AD. (That’d be good to splice into a computer simulation game)

Reminded me of the ARCHEOGUIDE project that was promoted before the 2004 Athens Olympics. This was an augmented reality project that allowed people physically exploring the site of ancient Olympia to have virtual constructs of the “unruined” structures superimposed upon the landscape to give impressions of their size and relationship to other structures. More in the paper Cultivate Interactive Issue 9: Augmented Reality Touring of Archaeological Sites with the ARCHEOGUIDE System.

Also there is an exploration of the ruins of the bronze age palace at Knosós on the island of Crete available at British School at Athens: Knosós. (Uses Quicktime VR)

Three different approaches – virtual reality, augmented reality and web-based media.

VR you can touch

This looks promising. Touch is much harder to simulate in VR than sound and vision. This development seems to bring it a bit close. See Haptic glove to touch on virtual fabrics – tech – 13 February 2007 – New Scientist.

Are virtual worlds inhibiting real social progress?

Simon Smith (who runs the web site) pauses to think about the effects of living in “eschatological” hope – in this case, waiting for some sort of techno-rapture. See Simon : Are virtual worlds inhibiting real social progress?.

But I would argue that, thanks to their sheer immersiveness, virtual worlds are qualitatively different from previous escapes, and getting more sophisticated all the time. My concern is what happens to the world while we’re waiting to upload into our digital utopias. The more realistic and appealing our virtual worlds, the more I fear people will avoid dealing with real problems. It’s certainly possible that virtual worlds will have a positive societal influence, with people trying to replicate some of their virtual experiences in real life. But I think it’s far more likely that people will increasingly seek to escape a world with poverty, sickness, social strife and other ills for one where such suffering is not only eliminated, but simply not represented because those who suffer can’t afford the cost of entry.

Related link – Greenflame: By their eschatology you shall know them.

Robot and Animal Ethics

A couple of links relating to ethical considerations of emerging technologies.

No sex please, robot, just clean the floor – Sunday Times – Times Online notes the call by some for ethical guidelines to be developed with respect to robot/AI research. Ethical guidelines for both developers and users. : An uplifting evening with James Hughes. Simon Smith ponders whether you should make your pet (or other animals) more intelligent if you had the power to do so. Again some interesting reflections here (though Deep Blue Sea did come to mind seeing as dogs and cats are carnivores).

Anyone for Tennis?

This is funky. Playing virtual tennis in real space with your cell phone. I love augmented reality technologies (see Greenflame: Augmented Reality, Children’s Books and Ritual), and the video clips at the HITL (NZ) web site have some interesting demos. (Just wish they were in Quicktime or MPEG formats – never know how WMV is going to perform on the old iBook)

See: Wired News: Next Game Controller: Your Phone and Human Interface Technology New Zealand (Videos).

How Virtual Worlds Mirror Our Own

3quarksdaily: Poison in the Ink: How Virtual Worlds Mirror Our Own is an article picking up on the popularity of the large-scale online multi-player gaming systems.

See also: Greenflame: UN uses video game as educational tool