Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Doctor Who Attack of the Cybermen DVD to include special appearance by Cyborg Kevin Warwick

Doctor Who Restoration

Since 1992, BBC Archives and BBC Video have been funding the restoration Dr Who episodes for transmission and video release.

The Attack of the Cybermen DVD to be released this March includes a bounty of extra commentary, including an interview with cyborg Kevin Warwick. From the Doctor Who Restoration Team Website, DVD extras include:

  • Commentary with actors Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Terry Molloy and Sarah Berger.

  • The Cold War (dur. 27' 26") - cast and crew look back at the making of the story in this documentary from John Kelly. With actors Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Terry Molloy and Sarah Berger, writer Eric Saward, director Matthew Robinson, continuity advisor Ian Levine and film cameraman Godfrey Johnson. Narrated by Stephen Greif.

  • The Cyber Story (dur. 22' 49") - Brendan Sheppard gives us a brief history of the Cybermen in the classic series. With director Morris Barry, writer Eric Saward, costume designers Sandra Reid and Dinah Collins, Cyberman actor Mark Hardy, voice artiste Roy Skelton and Professor Kevin 'Human Cyborg' Warwick.

  • Human Cyborg (dur. 8' 07") - an interview with Professor Kevin Warwick, who has used himself as a human guinea pig for cybernetic implant experimentation.

  • The Cyber-Generations (dur. 7' 48") - a gallery of Cyberman through the history of the series, set to music from their stories.

  • Trails and Continuity (dur. 3' 09") - BBC1 trails and continuity announcements from the story's first transmission.

  • Isolated Score - option to view the episodes with isolated music soundtrack.

  • PDF Material - Radio Times listings for 'Attack of the Cybermen' and 'The Invasion' (previously missed from that story's DVD release), plus a 1969 article from 'The Listener' magazine by Cyberman co-creator Kit Pedler in Adobe pdf format for viewing on PC or Mac.

  • Plus of course the usual Programme Subtitles, Subtitle Production Notes and Photo Gallery.

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Cyborgs can have religious experiences

Dreaming Cyborg Dreams: Virtual Identity and Religious Experience | Media/Culture | ReligionDispatches

Rachel Wagner, Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Ithaca College, has written an interesting article on how "The fantasy realms of online gaming become even more surreal when religion enters the scene; imagine Batman going on pilgrimage to Mecca, or a virtual crucifixion, or massive Bibles, raining from the sky":

If it is true that, as theorist Sherry Turkle has claimed, that in our increasingly mediated world "we are all dreaming cyborg dreams," it is certainly safe to say that at least some of these dreams are religious ones.

In this essay, I look at four types of immersive new media that address the issue of religious identity: Waco Resurrection, a religiously-inspired first-person shooter, Noah’s Ark, a religious online reality show; Roma Victor, a massive multiplayer online role-playing game, and religious experiences in the online world of Second Life.

In each of these examples, the level of immersion in online identity plays a very powerful role in shaping the authenticity of religious experience, as channeled through those digital representations of self that virtual natives call their avatars.

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HOMO EVOLUTIS - Suomi24 Keskustelu

Via Boing Boing: Juan Enriquez was one of the featured speakers at TED 2009 ("The Great Unveiling") at the beginning of the month. Enriquez's article on "Homo Evolutis" suggests human speciation is just around the corner:
As we regrow or engineer more body parts we will likely significantly increase average life span and run into a third track of speciation. Those with access to Google already have an extraordinary evolutionary advantage over the digitally illiterate. Next decade we will be able to store everything we see, read, and hear in our lifetime. The question is can we re-upload and upgrade this data as the basic storage organ deteriorates? And can we enhance this organ's cognitive capacity internally and externally? MIT has already brought together many of those interested in cognition—neuroscientists, surgeons, radiologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, computer scientists—to begin to understand this black box. But rebooting other body parts will likely be easier than rebooting the brain, so this will likely be the slowest track but, over the long term, the one with the greatest speciation impact.

From the OED: Speciation "is the formation of new and distinct species in the course of evolution," and "involves the splitting of a single evolutionary lineage into two or more genetically independent ones" (Nature 21 Sept. 255/1). The question I always have about these predictions of the technologically-induced evolution of humankind, which have been ongoing since the sixties, is how the modification of individuals—whether the recipients of tendons grown in the lab through new processes of tissue engineering, to note one of Enriquez's examples, or even genetic manipulation, can possibly be seen as species evolution? These are not inherited traits of an entire population; they're body modifications of insignificant individuals (by which I mean they will have no significant influence on genetics of the population).

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Military cyborg beetles

Pentagon's Cyborg Beetle Spies Take Off

Every few weeks or so this story rears its head: for the record, cyborgs on the ground had better watch out for eavesdropping remote-controlled cyborg beetles flying around invading our privacy. Actually, Wired sets the record straight a bit.

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