Monday, November 08, 2004

"Putting a face on Big Brother"

I came across an article that outlines a computer simulation of basic visual human reactions to visual stimuli. The interesting thing is there is actually no artificial intellgience involved.

Personally, I don't want a virtual being turning on the lights for me at 3 in the morning when I go to get a snack or whatever. Anyone seen 2001: A Space Odyssey? This kind of reminds me of HAL, which isn't good. Of course, that would require the involvement of AI rather than just programmed reactions.


Blogger Warren said...

I wonder why they made Jeremiah “very childlike”? Children are innocent. People also get a sense of comfort from believing they are innocent.

"You might even be able to tell your home surveillance system that you will be going away on holiday [to the moon], and ask if it could make sure that the house is secure [from terrorists] once you have left."

"But when Jeremiah's camera went in, nobody minded, because although it's still watching them, they could see what it was watching."

Well, well, well. Of course they could see what it was watching. It was watching them. They are them. Isn't there something discomforting about the idea of being comfortable with something just because you can see yourself in it?

That is like saying I am comfortable with my country bombing the crap out of anyone they want because I am patriotic and therefore see my face on my country's flag, which is plastered on my country's tank. If a self-image is the only thing we need to justify something as being inherently safe or good, I think we have a small problem.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Andrew Chen said...

"If a self-image is the only thing we need to justify something as being inherently safe or good, I think we have a small problem."

I think we've had a not-so-small problem for a very long time.

But I really would want something to turn on the lights for me at such an hour. Have you ever stubbed your toe at night? Or fell while fumbling for the light switch? Or jumped up to answer the phone when it rung in the middle of the night, only to realize, once having answered the phone, that all your limbs are still asleep and that you have that pins-and-needles sensation all over? Times like that, you really appreciate things working automatically for you, and well. Also, times like that, a smile really helps make your day a bit better.

If Big Brother is my buddy, I don't think I'll have a problem with him, right?

8:05 PM  
Blogger Dustin said...

Brave New World kind of implies that inconvenience, struggle, and yes, even pain, are nessecary for healthy human beings. I agree with that. A house governed by an artificial being that looks after ever single convenience for you, I think, will cause some problems. A lot of technological innovations are based on convenience, and they've brought us a long way. For example, commercial airlines make it possible to visit areas of the world that would have taken years and years to get to otherwise, and you don't have to be (ridiculously) rich to do so. On the other hand, I can't see what's so appealing about a vision of the future where you never have to even press a button with your own hand. Isn't laziness already a rampant problem in our society? Why increase it?

This doesn't even begin to touch on the potential security hazards of having a centralized computer operating system running everyone's home. Someone hacks your PC and suddenly your basement is flooding.

9:18 PM  
Blogger Meshon said...

If I could hack someone's house, I would make them some nice lemon tea.

Jer sounds very benevolent. I wouldn't mind him watching. I could probably get him to glare if I was supposed to be working on a paper and I started playing Halo 2 instead. The problem would be, of course, that I would spend hours trying to surprise him, just to see that look on his face! But then we would be friends again.

The place where dystopia emerges is the point when people forget, not just how to turn on the lights, but that they even can.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Warren said...

Isn't that one of the beautiful things about being human? Having a body and mind that interact to tell us what is going on. I think that is one of the big problems with anti-depressant abuse - smoothing everyone out so that they are on a level playing surface all the time. Aren't the ups and downs there to tell us something, like:

My best friend dies. Therefore I should feel shitty because it is really quite a shitty thing.

Medicating this experience is like trying to deny that it happened (which is probably a natural reaction and not a bad thing) BUT, I would argue that the motives behind the current mass overuse of anti-depressants lies in a want for the elimination of even the smallest ups and downs; not to feel the "ouch" when you stub your toe in those wee hours of the night. This form of technology appears to be another form of self-medication and ultimately dehumanization. Personally, I want myself to tell myself that something is wrong so that I can change it, not medicate it. I have seen the vicious circle that can sometime arouse. Not fun.

1:46 PM  

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