Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat? (Nov 2010)

typed for your pleasure on 23 November 2010, at 5.10 am

Sdtrk: ‘Sun demon’ by Stereolab

+ First, some music. I’ll let my mate Wolfgang, of ‘Far Away and Close to Home‘, explain this:

In 1986, Neil Young (yes, THAT Neil Young) got himself a load of synths, sequencers, effects racks and a vocoder and started going nuts. (If I was a lame Rolling Stone writer I’d say something like “Neil Young traded in his heart of gold for a heart of silicon”, but of course I don’t suck like them). The album Trans was the result, and includes this song about loving a gynoid.

I’m not gonna lie and say that I’m a fan of Neil Young, but I do respect him. The man likes feedback, and any guitarist that can appreciate a good squealing amp is all right in my book. And now that I’ve learned that he’d made an electronic-based album with a song about a Synthetik, he’s gone up a couple of notches, there!

+ Thanks to [INTERNET PIRATES], my friends and I regularly enjoy many films and television programmes from far-off, distant lands; usually the United Kingdom and Japan, mostly. Maybe Korea sometimes, it depends on what they’ve got to offer. At any rate, fellow iDollator bloke Euchre brought a new telly show, currently airing on NTV, to my attention, by the name of ‘Q10‘.


She’s apparently using some pretty hardcore hairgel

One day, while under the influence of alcohol, Kishimoto Jiro, the principal of Shikahamabashi High School picks up a “girl” from the garbage. The next morning, that girl is sleeping in the school premises when she is found by Fukai Heita. The robot girl suddenly comes alive and Heita names her ‘Q10′. ‘Q10′ starts to adore Heita, its godparent, and Heita, who has not been popular with girls all the while, is bewildered. The robot ‘Q10′ is taught by Heita about humans and begins to learn …
taken from this site

‘While under the influence of alcohol’, geez. Is the writer an Amish?
The show sounds like an amusing lark, but it’s so niche that it’s guaranteed not to have an official release outside of Japan. Hell, even trying to find fansubbing groups that carry it is rather like searching for a needle on Planet Haystack. It’s properly classified as dorama (that’s drama to all y’all gaijins), and as such, it’s essentially a soap aimed at teens. Obviously the only factor capturing my interest is the Synthetik angle, and even then, it’s kinda tenuous, thanks to the series’ PG nature…
Interestingly enough, referring to the shows my mates and I watch, we’re quite keen on the Kamen rider series/franchise; we’ve been watching them consistently since Kamen rider Kiva debuted back in 2008. The series prior to that was the insanely popular Kamen rider Den-O, starring Takeru Satō as the protagonist Ryotaro. He also happens to be the bloke in the photo above, portraying Heita. The plot thickens! Actually, no it doesn’t; that’s a lie.

Would you like a compilation of scenes of Q10, acting like a stereotypical Gynoid? Sure, why not?

+ Interesting reading here, by philosophy student Ryan Rafferty, entitled ‘Monozukuri, Kaizen, Karakuri Ningyo. Why Roboethics is Really Psychoanalysis…

Feeling sentiment for objects is hardly a Japanese phenomenon, it’s a common trait of human culture to anthropomorphize things. Our natural tendency to anthropomorphize allows us to intuitively and naturally connect with objects on an emotional (and comprehensible) level through the projection of one’s personality into the thing. This tendency seems to be closely connected to, or perhaps a byproduct of our abilities to empathize. Human beings are capable of empathizing with one another, and even with nonhuman animals— in evolutionary theory, the ability to empathize has served an advantage that has been reinforced through group selection over time, through perhaps an increase in hunting ability, or increased chances in group survival.

Our feelings towards robots and other anthropomorphized machines, such as the mechanical doll [i.e. karakuri ningyo], are more a question of psychoanalysis– the question should not be centred around how we should treat robots, but rather why we create emotional attachments to them– making this an ethically prudential question, rather than something requiring a morally-universal insight.
the entire article is here

As I’d said, it’s interesting reading. There’s a bit of an anti-roboethics skewer at the end of it, but it’s food for thought nonetheless…

+ Further proof that 4woods are toiling 28 hours a day to produce endless variations of rubbery ladies: they’ve not only released yet another stunning new head in the form of Hatsuki, but they’ve also upgraded their already-popular A.I.NEO line to what’s now known as A.I.NEO im. That’s pronounced ‘im‘, as in ‘I’m going to need a second job just so I can purchase more of these Dolls, cos frankly, this is getting out of hand’.


‘And when I woke up, my pillow really was gone’

What makes this sexy silicone sexpot sexier than their last sexy silicone sexpot? Err, in a nutshell: more detailed body design, better hip joints, expanded range of motion, finger articulation, seven different nipple colours, and three different areola sizes. Not only that, the new body can use pretty much all the heads they sell, and the Hatsuki head can use all four bodies. Now, more than ever, you are spoilt for choice.
O, and what’s that whole ‘im’ bit about, you axe? According to their site, “im” means “impact”, “imagination” “impression” and “impulse”. Sure, why not?

+ And finally, remember how last month it was my sad duty to report that Lovable Dolls are no more? Well, it appears that they’re back — in pog form!! No wait, that’s not right. A fledgling company is now utilising Matt Krivicke’s sculpting talents, bearing a name that Sidore and I definitely approve of — Sinthetics.


Nice day for being affictitious

As this news is roughly a day old, it technically qualifies as a ‘scoop’, but they knew I’d get the word out. ‘Extry extry’, etc. As a consquence, that’s really all the details on the company I can provide, but as I’m prone to say, when I know more, you lot will as well, so try to restrain yourselves until further notice. I mean, I’m doing what I can. *grinds teeth* I should mention that one of their Dolls made her debut on the ‘Josie is a Doll‘ episode of the latest cable reality (in quotes) show, ‘Married to Rock‘ this past Sunday, and she looked very appealing…
In the meantime, why not keep an eye on their site, which is now linked in the usual place in ‘Shouting etc etc’s sidebar?

Now you are informed! And I managed to post this before the end of November! And on the 23rd, yet! Everyone’s a winner

Technorati tags: Synthetiks, iDollators, Neil Young, Trans, Q10, Kamen Rider, Roboethics, Android, Gynoid, robot, 4woods, A.I.NEO im, Lovable Dolls, Sinthetics, Married to Rock

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7 have spoken to “Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat? (Nov 2010)”

  1. Yuna writes:

    Hey Davecat! I’m one of the site’s stalkers – always watching, never commenting – which I’ve been doing for a while now. It was only recently – as in, five minutes ago! – that another site I follow, Cracked.com (which is, in fact, a comedy site and not about drugs, or plumbers) mentioned you. I had a suspicion it would, as the title of the article was “5 Creepy Ways Humans Are Plunging Into the Uncanny Valley”. What’s #5? Lovely Synthetiks of course. They go a step further and mention you by link, if not by name.

    I’d love to know your thoughts on that, or in general about the whole article. 🙂 More blog to read is always a good thing!

  2. Davecat writes:

    Hey Yuna –
    Thanks for dropping a line! And thanks also for letting me know where all these recent hits were stemming from cos it was driving me mental. Cracked have linked to Meghan Laslocky’s abbreviated article on Salon.com, which has a link to Shi-chan’s site — as it was made before ‘Shouting etc etc’ — and it’s yet another sordid reminder that I really need to rework her site. She’s still a wee bit cranky about it; it’s a touchy subject.

    I remember reading Cracked back in the Seventies and Eighties! Back then it was an imitation of Mad magazine, as opposed to the FHM imitation it seems to be now. Being fair, there was a story they had once about strange and unexplained historical artefacts that I thought was pretty fab, but that’s about as far as I’ve looked into the site.

    Well, I started to answer your question, but then THE RAMBLING BEGAN ANEW, and now it’s spinning out into an actual post. So you’ve inspired a post! It might be a bit before it gets published, so don’t get too happy. 😉

    Lurk less! Comments, as you well know, are always welcome!

  3. Everhard writes:

    The article about robotic humanoids in Japan states:
    “…in evolutionary theory, the ability to empathize has served an advantage that has been reinforced through group selection over time, through perhaps an increase in hunting ability, or increased chances in group survival.”

    There is simply no such thing as ‘group selection’. This is the problem when people write from ill thought out starting positions. They then get everything else wrong. ‘Group selection’ was an idea brought about by religious folk who wanted to be seen to accommodate the theory of natural selection into a theory of morality.

    To be fair, the evolution of morality is a tough one if you stick to studying non-human animals and ‘group selection’ is a handy way round it: Behave in a way detrimental to yourself, but helpful to society at large, and ‘group selection’ perpetuates those genes. So if the chicks in the nest would just quiet down their screaming for food; competing with each other… That is the problem: The chick with the softest voice starves and so those genes are wiped out long before any ‘group selection’ could take effect.

    Anyway, I dimly perceive I am ranting…

  4. Paul Cobb writes:

    Hello! I’m one of the people who’s been giving you hits lately. Was checking out a Gorgeous face i observed at Ruby 13 & trying to find out about her and i bounced off here to get there multiple times.
    Didn’t think I was being crazymaking– now have their site. Thought I’d let you know. Anyway, Now I’ve written, I’ll be back.

  5. Davecat writes:

    Everhard –
    You also have to consider the whole extravert mindset, which considers little else but other extraverts, because they make the most noise. The whole ‘I HAVE TO CONSTANTLY REMIND EVERYONE THAT I EXIST’ mentality.
    Group selection was arguably a good thing back when humantity existed in tribes that had to stick together and depend on each other for survival, but although we’ve evolved past that necessity in a technological sense, most people haven’t on a mental level. Anyone who is an outsider, especially by their own admission, is seen as weird, or a threat, or worse. Back then, loners/introverts/what-have-you had to either grit their teeth and join the herd to live, or basically live on their own terms, and possibly die trying. It’s easier for introverts to not absolutely have to join in, but we still get looks of disdain, which is ridiculous.

    And now I’m ranting! And don’t get me started on the whole ‘religion / morality’ collision!…

    Paul Cobb –
    Nice to put a name with a face! Well, a name with a statistic. 🙂

    Yeah, Ruby 13… admittedly I don’t write about them enough. I’ve had the pleasure to see a handful of their Dolls (as well as grab one of their Doll’s handfuls ;-)) when I hit AVN back in January, and I was surprised how more attractive they are in real life. And light as well! They’re an under-the-radar kinda manufacturer, as compared to the big guns in the States, but they’re definitely worth investigating further.

    Glad to hear that ‘Shouting etc etc’ could be of some use to you! Additional comments are, of course, always welcome. Do have a seat!

  6. Wolfgang writes:

    Hey Davecat- Glad you could use my Neil Young submission. It was actually 1982 when the album was released. Apologies for getting the date wrong.
    Young is one of my faves, because of stuff like this… most folks think of him as a Canadian country-rocker, when over half his output has been wildly experimental. Even his “country rock” stuff has a lot of really cool goodies in it (try “Prairie Wind” from 2005). He does what he likes and likes what he does.
    Sort of re. Q10- Seeing as how I’m living among the Japanese now, I’m going to go off on them a little bit and offer a bit of a downer opinion. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- the Japanese fascination with robotics and gynoids frightens me- not the fact of the matter itself, but WHY they are fascinated. Japan’s population is crashing, for various reasons. 35% of the population are senior citizens (in the town where I live, it’s 42%) Think about that for a minute. 42 out of every hundred people are over the age of 65. One of the junior high schools where I teach was designed for 500 students and currently holds 71. In five years, it will have 35 students.
    By 2030, Japan will have a shortfall of 25 to 30 million skilled workers, which they will need merely to maintain the same standard of living they have now, to say nothing of actually growing the economy. The solution is simple, of course- bring in immigrants and let them join the ranks of Japanese society. But that’s not what’s happening- immigration restrictions in Japan are growing tighter, not looser. The government even has a program that essentially bribes foreign workers (including naturalized citizens of foreign ancestry) to leave the country and never come back.
    What the Japanese are trying to do instead is make their own workforce- replace the human shortfall with robots to work service jobs (like elderly care). Some out there might still be saying “cool!”, but I ask those people to consider the implications of a society so profoundly paranoid of outside influence that they’re willing to wall themselves off behind robots. Readers of Asimov’s Elijah Baley / R. Daneel Olivaw novels (especially Robots of Dawn, which is highly recommended) might find themselves amazed at the similarities between the sickness of the Spacer societies Asimov warned about and the path modern Japan appears determined to tread.

  7. Davecat writes:

    WG —
    You got the date on ‘Trans’ wrong?? NOOOOOO etc
    Neil Young’s kinda neat in his own way. I’d read an interview with him years ago in Q or MOJO, one of those British music mags, and he was interviewed in conjunction with Sonic youth, another group I haven’t heard enough of. He was setting up his guitar amp, and it began squealing, as they do. He stopped to fix it, remarking, ‘Man, I hate feedback,’ then adding moments later, ‘Wait a minute — I love feedback!’ At least, that’s how I remember the anecdote, and I’m sticking to it. 🙂

    Re: modren Japan: I’d read something to that effect, with the example of more than a few families and households would rather have and use a robot housekeeper, than employ a foreigner. Whenever I explain to people who aren’t as savvy about (humanoid) robotics why Japan is leading the way, I point out that it’s partly because the generation gap is growing. But I didn’t know it had gotten to the point that there’s a government-sponsored expedition programme. Wow.

    It’s a double-edged sword — I’m extremely pro-robot, but I’m completely anti-xenophobia. Didn’t they learn anything from the positive results of Admiral Perry’s Black Ships?
    As usual, when Japan isn’t making me smile, it’s making me fold my arms in disappointment.

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