Category Archives: robots to puppets

a return to Turing ::..

Pilot-Ace1

i just took a look back at my very first post to this blog, and there are some rather interesting aspects to it that seem to hit right at the core of what i’m most concerned about as a transitional

looks like i wrote it at the very beginning of my graduate research and work through Dynamic Media Institute @ Massachusetts College of Art — it must’ve been one of the first weeks of class and we were looking at The Turing Test as part of our weekly readings and in-class discussions

Wikipedia describes Alan Mathison Turing as:

a British mathematician, logiciancryptanalyst, philosopher, computer scientist, mathematical biologist, and marathon and ultra distance runner

and as one of the founding fathers of computer science he seemed to be a natural-born philosopher, intrigued with not only the vast power and potentials our computing machines would afford to all of humanity, but also, interestingly enough, really beautifully aware of the intrinsic ethical matters embedded directly in the extra-human capabilities of these wonderous new machines

alan turing

With his test, Turing asks us:

Can we create a machine with interaction capabilities that would trick us into thinking it is, in fact, human?

And a means to see if it were, in fact, possible to trick us, Alan set up a little trick through simulation — a psychological experiment, if you will, whereby he simulated a conversational machine vis-à-vis a bit of theatric and nearly-prankish Allen Funtery

i’m not going to get into providing a full description of the actual Turing Test here in this blogPost, feel free to read some surface material about the test on Wikipedia — for me, the most important challenge i would like to present is the fundamental modernday irrelevance of The Turing Test

i’ve conducted a LOT of experiments over the years that implemented technology and even, more often than not, simulated technologies that i am simply not expert enough to program at this point in my coding abilities, and i can confidently report that the truth of the matter is that people are rather easy to trick — and they are not at all fascinated by what it might mean to be human anymore, which is a bit unfortunate and disappointing — but, instead, they are fascinated, almost mesmerized, by what we can accomplish with our technologies and they are willing to believe that even the most absurdly superhuman, unprogrammable interactions and intelligences can actually be designed, developed and embedded in the digital-machine experiences we create

now these are very vast and general oversimplified conclusions derived from some rather silly, gallery-based prototypes and experiments i’ve set up over the course of my curatorial career while working through DMI — but i’ve seen the dynamics between some very smart people and some very dumb prototypes and i seemed to always come away surprised, delighted and simultaneously disappointed in how easy it was to simulate and trick a gallerygoing audience into believing what they experienced was actually a computer application built on database, algorithm, interface, interaction, sensors and, ultimately, the magic of human ingenuity through programming

at this point i suggest we take a look at the flip-paradigm of The Turing Test, following the good example presented in this quote from a very famous, if not infamous, psychologist:

“The real problem is not whether machines think
but whether men do.”
B.F. Skinner

Hey, keep your hands off my chicken!

i don’t think we should care about tricking each other so much anymore — like i said, i think that’s rather easy to do most of the time — the biggest, best example of how easy it is to trick and even fully-influence people can be witnessed on a daily basis by simply turning on a television or listening to the radio and then witnessing how much personal opinion is shaped, formed and twisted by these outdated, mass media propaganda machines — even the internet, with all of its freer access to a broader set of information and opinions, tends to still feel a bit of information steering from the topics that come up on the first screen prior to driving the second screen in the modern American living room

i do not think that the original measures for the success of The Turing Trick still apply in this day and age — a recent report from The LA Times claims that a computer program actually did pass The Turing Test:

For the first time, a computer program has officially passed the Turing Test, which measures a machine’s ability to think for itself 

of course, the headline for this article indicates a bit of a trick behind the trick itself, right? the Times article, entitled, ‘Bot passes Turing Test; judges think it’s a 13-year-old boy,’ seems to vastly reduce the age of dialogic return in the simulated conversation to re-contextualize the ‘human’ aspect of the interaction — and so, at least from my perspective, the simulation need not feel as sophisticated and human as we once thought machine intelligence should be — in fact, the human age of the computer-conversant is now a teen that probably misspells words, if even using words in the English language at all, right? LOL … aight, TTYL ;]

but reducing the intelligence of the machine simulation of a human, this modern twist on The Turing Test seems to have increased the key performance indicator measures of success for the test itself

this raises some rather important and interesting questions

first off — what are we actually trying to test here? are we testing people? machines? our ability to program machines? our ability to trick people and their perceptions and beliefs about our intelligent machines?

second off — if we actually achieve the goals of the test — that is, if we can trick a person into thinking an interactive experience with a machine feels human { whatever that is } — what does that actually prove? how does that benefit actual people? or is that simply an implicit goal of computer scientists? to somehow trick people?

third off — isn’t it counterproductive to humanity and to human intelligence to have one of the ongoing side-project goals of computer science be based on a trick? as our machine intelligence supposedly grows, expands and extends on an exponential basis according to Moore’s Law, does it not somehow continue to sabotage and weaken actual, wetware, human intelligence?

 

UniversalTuringMachine7-4Rules_900

coming to theatre near you — The Nigerian Frequency

‘in a world where people and machines live in perfect harmony side by side, and where virtual ‘friendles’ help guide us through our experiences in the world to help optimize the quality of our human life … one man faces an extraordinary challenge … ‘

postcard_NF

but seriously folks — just dropping you this friendly blogPost about a movie made by some dear friends of mine out in the remote nether regions of Chelmsford, Massachusetts

over the last year Matt and Zachary Scott, Pat Snow, and Christopher Borden diligently squeezed in bursts of productive writing and fieldwork filming with an extensive and complicated cast of virtual and real actors to bring you a tale filled with dark humor commentary about our dystopian near-future humanity as effected by cryptically-dysfunctional and subversive social media technologies 

written and directed by Matt ScottThe Nigerian Frequency explores the psychoSocial tension that could actually foretell the unfortunate post-humanic fate for our future-state humanity

read this official press release to get the official low down on The Nigerian Frequency

see the official Nigerian Frequency film trailer up on Vimeo

The Nigerian Frequency will premier at 7pm out at The Somerville Theatre as the official kick-off feature-length film for The 39th Boston Sci-Fi Film Festivalgo to this Eventbrite link to get tickets to The Nigerian Frequency or head on over to this Eventbrite page to get more info and ticket packages for more lengthy fun at The Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival

after the premier of The Nigerian Frequency, the writer and director Matt Scott and a small, select portion of the production team and crew will linger for an official question and answer panel to reflect on the themes of the film and the processes of making The Nigerian Frequency, so please come on out and join in on the intellectually absurdist science fiction fun on February 7th

we hope to see you there

1526126_10152245734003534_910288218_n

you mean, there’s another blog?

large-young-frankenstein-blu-ray1-e1339521893297

look what i got fer Christmas!

theTV_app

hey y’All — guess what?

yep, that’s right! i GOT it! i fuckin’ got it! its finally outta Beta and totally ready for Prime Time

Prime Time TV that is

i’ve been waiting for this one for like a decade now — like, ever since the advent of the first frikkin’ smartphone

now millions upon millions of smartphone users need never suffer through the slings and arrows of outrages television torture no more, thanks entirely to the Television App

that’s right all y’Allz, ‘ats what i said — the Television App!

tired of all of those stupid sitcoms? are like a gazillion shows about hard-boiled cops on the forensic investigative beat wearin’ you down? need a break from all the reality out there?

then you’re probably down with the A-P-P for your T-V

yeeeeeeah, you know me ;]

just download the TV App from The App Store or Google Play today — available as a native mobile app for your iPhone or Android device — and let your smartphone do the watching

just turn on your TV, set up your smartphone and tap that app to get that TV App fired up an’ watching hours and hours of completely incoherent and untalented shit for you — there’s even an M2M audio connection to hook your widescreen up to your second screen and completely remove that annoying audio noise TV show accompaniment from the room for you and anyone else hangin’ at yer place for the evening

and then, know what chew kin do?

put on some frikkin’ music again or something — or talk to each other — maybe even draw or write down your unfettered and newly re-focused thoughts down in a notebook with an actual pencil or pen

i’m tellin’ ya — its like that y’All!

now that your 2 most brain-defyin’ devicez are busy in that infinite loopin’ circuit a cybernetic fun, you got some life ta do again, an’ now you can get that shit DONE!

there’s like SO much more quality shizZzat done fo realz y’alL — shits not been that good fo like yeeeeazZz, ya know?

hell, you might even be able to get back to focusin’ on yer inner self, all y’All, ya know?

the Television App — new, from the Bureau of cyberSurreal investigation — we’re turnin’ this shit around now, fo’ sho’

Nam-June-Paik

stay thirsty, my friends

1474561_774394172578069_1590889438_n

don’t forget

medium-is-the-massage

the wheel
is an extension of the foot
the book
is an extension of the eye
clothing, an extension of the skin,
electric circuitry,
an extension of
the
central
nervous
system

The Medium is The Massage, Marshall McLuhan

i think we can all interpret these effects, as McLuhan calls them, in various extremes, dimensions, and ways

one way i interpret some of our extensions as influenced by books like The Body has a Mind of Its Own and The Moving Body: Teaching Creative Theatre is that in some way, the tools we use become a part of us, and likewise the other way, too — we become part of the tools we use

i specifically think of the performance art and new media works of the Australian artist Stelarc — in his piece called Muscle Memory { seen in the image included in this post, below }, the artist installs himself into a robotic, spider-like structure that augments and extends his physical abilities as a human being through this strange, science fiction-like machine contraption

003_mm_stelarc

a question i think about a LOT recently is — well, what’s so controversial and different about this performance and the gadgetry involved and, let’s say, the average commuter driving to work at 6:34 AM?

in the case of Stelarc’s Muscle Memory, the artist demonstrates the sheer power and new capabilities afforded the machine operator to an audience in a gallerySpace — its a performance and a demonstration, and its very future-forward and cyberSurreal and interesting in a way that might inform the audience in both a positive and negative way — we might be able to very obviously see how Stelarc, now living and breathing within the confines of this ginormous metal robot, might start to behave, well, like a ginormous metal robot — he, in many ways, becomes the machine, and he learns and adapts and adjusts to both the new things he can do with it while simultaneously sacrificing his own human experience along the way — or, maybe i’m thinking far too much like a transitional, if that’s even a term — i’m not sure that he evolves in any literal way by using the robotic equipment as part of his Muscle Memory performance piece, but his discussions on the topic of this Singularity between man and machine, the combination of the biological and the technological extensions of the previously nearly-pure physical human form, put us in the typical uncanny valley of confrontational wonderment — what does this all mean for us as human beings — will we all need to put on a robotic suit in the near future to perform our on-the-job tasks and assignments? or are our human capabilities ‘man’ enough to get the job done? perhaps it depends upon the line of work you’re in, not sure though, but i’m sure we’ll find out in 10 to 15 years

now let’s take the case of driving to work in the morning — i embed myself into my maroon Honda Accord every morning and drive from Boxford to Waltham every day and i would like to argue that while i am in the car i actually become the car — i adopt the personality, the feelings and the mentality of driving to work, at least for 40 minutes to an hour, twice a day — and, depending on traffic and the flow of traffic and other automobiles on the highway as i drive down Route 95 South, and depending on my mood as a human being now living and breathing as a wetware organ beating inside the machine like a nearly obsolete heart of meat, i act quite differently than i normally do when we talk face-to-face in the office or when i’m at home playing with my son or my grandchildren on the floor — i really think i can become the car in a very literal way, at least if you let yourself follow the subconscious flow of desire that stands in front of you like the temptress you know she is

let’s say you’re in a hurry and you know that if you stay in your conscious state as a person sitting at the wheel that you’ll get to work in about an hour and 15 minutes — not bad, not bad

but why not trust you’re own muscle memory as a driver, as a commuter that’s gotta get shit done, as a worker bee that’s gotta shake the tree and make the magic happen today, ya know? that care now becomes far more than a mere vehicle for rapid movement across a peripherally streaked landscape of trees and jersey barriers and guardrails flying by at 80 miles an hour

that’s right, think about it

from a human-centered perspective, you’re not really moving at all — in fact, you may move here and there, adjust the ball of your foot to move from brake to gas, click the direction into the left position to send a signal to the 20 people behind you as you course like blood through the body that is the highway, but for the most part you’re parked solid and still on your ass, sunk into a quite comfortable chair that let’s you command your magic journey some 30 to 50 miles away from where you live

if you let go a bit and begin to think and behave like the car, you start to decipher new rules of the road that can be leveraged to your advantage — little openings in the flow of traffic beckon you to quickly shift lanes and push ahead of the losers driving slowly in the passing lane to the left — sure, they’re supposed to pass you, but for whatever reason the first and second lanes are wide open and you can make better progress by ignoring the implicit rules of the road — let’s get moving, right? and so on, and so forth

your a little less human when you drive, and more like the pilot of a zombie robot that’s bolting to the office, zipping in and out of the lanes that help you make it all happen

the wheel is an extension of the foot is what McLuhan said in the original quote from The Media is the Massage, but i beg to differ

with our newly adapted and evolved modern lives and our commonplace daily use of machines and devices like cars and trains and other vehicles, the person becomes and extension of the automobile — we become the force that operates a vehicle such as a car, a forklift or an airplane — we become a reverse-extension of it, or them, and we do all the adjusting and discover the new terrains now opened up by our technological progress

i’m not sure where that leaves us as human beings

but i think we should all exercise, at times, a little more conscious awareness and control over our newly-extended selves

cyberSurrealism is about looking at the self by psychoanalyzing the human element through our cybernetic machine influence back on the wetware components of our society — how do our machines change our behavior? how do they then influence: our culture; our interactions with each other as people; and our capabilities on a more holistic scale? as certain capabilities improve, is it inevitable for us to lose other very valuable skills and qualities as human beings? and, in all of this, these thoughts and experiments and explorations through progress and innovation, do we still have any control whatsoever over the evolution and invention of the tools we create and use? or do these things almost subconsciously invent themselves now? how do we keep focusing on the valuable potentials of these human ingenuities and foster more humanly helpful technologies and progress? and most importantly, what the fuck does 4G mean? 

what meat desires

46841460-meatDesires

by now we all know exactly what meat desires