The cueball-sized eyes have it

typed for your pleasure on 6 May 2011, at 3.51 pm

Sdtrk: ‘…da beißt ein Goldfisch an’ by Brigitt Petry

So I’d recently come to this shocking revelation:

You have singer-songwriter Kate Micucci:

And here’s silicone sexpot Miss January:

Hmm. And has anyone ever seen them in the same room together? Hmmm.
The plot thickens (not really)

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typed for your pleasure on 28 April 2011, at 1.44 am

Sdtrk: ‘Foehn winds’ by Horrid red

I feel I must offer you all this gaily-coloured basket of cheese wheels apologies, for my reduced lack of posts lately. (Haven’t I said this before? Don’t answer that) For one, I blame Twitter, as its siren song of only 140 characters provides a swift immediacy that a lazy fucker like myself often finds hard to resist. Another, the Missus and I have been busy. Not gettin’ busy — although I’d be a liar if I said we weren’t up that type of activity — but we had a twin media salvo take place on the week-end of the 16th and 17th of this month, the report of which I’ve been steadily working on, and which will be posted before the sun burns out.
But the biggest reason for this current slowdown — and if you follow my Twitter feed, you already know — would be that I was fired from my recent job on the 7th of April. Which was inevitable, I suppose. They cited it as a combination of my number of transfers dropping, which I credit due to the fact that the decent leads we were getting were growing more scarce, plus I ‘just didn’t seem like [you] wanted to be here anymore’. Well, when you have a schedule that’s constantly changing for the worse, reduced hours, reduced pay, and having your health benefits (and free bagels on Monday) being taken away from you, it’s a little hard to remain upbeat about things, job-wise. So I’ve signed on the dole again, and I’m trying to drag myself out of my complacency. WOO YAY

Anyway! What else has been conspiring round Deafening silence Plus, you ask? Do you recall how some poor misguided soul under the employ of ‘Dr’ Phil had asked if I’d wanted to make an appearance on their show, because they apparently weren’t privy to the fact that they’d already previously enquired? Ah heh heh.

from: “Mason, Keya”
to: pulsedemon [at] gmail.com
date: Mon, Apr 18, 2011 at 7:24 PM
subject: Ask Oprah’s All Stars

Hi Dave,

We spoke a few months ago about making an appearance on Dr. Phil which you were not interested in. I am now working on another show called Ask Oprah’s All Stars. It’s Oprah’s new show on OWN. I would love to get in touch with you to tell you a little more about it and see if you would be interested in participating. It is a much lighter and fun show. Give me a call so I can tell you more about it.

You can reach me at [phone number]

Keya Mason
Ask Oprah’s All Stars – Associate Producer
Mae West Building
5555 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038

Curiously enough, she’d also CC’d her Email to ‘davecat@davecat.com’ and ‘davecat469@gmail.com’, whoever those poor unfortunates are.
I’ve always viewed Oprah through ambivalence-tinted glasses: I’m not keen on her, but I don’t hate her. Someone’s got to entertain daytime television watchers, and all told, she’s the least poisonous of that crowd. The Onion always manages to get good material out of her, but they get good material out of everything. I was aware that Oprah’s show is (currently?) in its final season, but I had no idea she was extending her reign with this network and another show called ‘Ask Oprah’s All Stars’, for crying out loud. Again, hey, if people dig that sort of thing, fine. But once again, daytime telly = not the best place to discuss the ideals of the iDollator community, Synthetik developments and rights, etc etc. So days later, I Emailed Keya back:

from: pulsedemon [at] gmail.com
to: “Mason, Keya”
date: Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 9:16 PM
subject: Re: Ask Oprah’s All Stars

Hello again Keya —

Thanks for contacting me! Sorry it’s taken a bit for me to get back to you, but I was made redundant by my job earlier this month, so I’m signing on for unemployment, as well as looking for work, and playing catch-up with everything else as well…

At any rate, thank you for the offer! However, what with my recent unemployment busyness, as well as a cluster of other scheduled appearances that Sidore and I will be participating in this Summer, I honestly don’t think we’ll have the time to take part in your programme. These days, I’m trying to get the interviews we take part in to not focus so much on the Missus and I, but of Synthetik humans in general, so we have to pick and choose, as you can imagine. Sorry!

Again, thanks for the offer, and take care!

Cheers,
Davecat, with valued assistance from Sidore

Maybe I was exaggerating a wee bit with the line about the other appearances Shi-chan and I will be making, but we’re not halfway through the year yet, so anything can happen. Or nothing, for that matter! If I could see into the future, I’d be at the racetrack more often.
Did that put our Keya off? Not in the slightest:

from: “Mason, Keya”
to: pulsedemon [at] gmail.com
date: Mon, Apr 25, 2011 at 9:21 PM
subject: RE: Ask Oprah’s All Stars

Well if possible I’d like to talk to you about the possibility of the show. Perhaps you have a simple question you could ask Dr. Phil, Suze Orman, or Dr. Oz via webcam or video. There are many ways to possibly work an appearance into the show.

Let me know. Give me a call at [phone number]

Thanks
Keya Mason
Ask Oprah’s All Stars – Associate Producer
Mae West Building
5555 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038

You have to admire her dogged tenacity, if nothing else. And I just now noticed that they’re located in the Mae West building! When did she get a building? Is it a ribald, bawdy structure?
I responded thus:

from: pulsedemon [at] gmail.com
to: “Mason, Keya”
date: Tue, Apr 26, 2011 at 12:59 PM
subject: Re: Ask Oprah’s All Stars

Hey Keya —

But I don’t really have any questions for any of those people! Furthermore, I had to look up who Dr Oz and Suze Orman are, as I haven’t watched broadcast television in years. And being honest, I’m not all that keen on Dr Phil, as he tends to be one of the many medical ‘experts’ who choose to pathologise eccentricity and individuality, for the sake of making an attention-grabbing show. Being on a show such as this would be, frankly, a pointless exercise for myself and the Missus at best, and a losing battle for the iDollator community at worst.

Again, I’d like to thank you for the enquiry, and have an excellent day!

Cheers,
Davecat

I mean, really. A question that I could ask them?? First off, I genuinely had to look these humans up: Suze Orman is some sort of finance expert, and Dr Oz is a health expert, and not an Eighties hair metal band from California, as I’d previously assumed. Under normal circumstances, I’d assumed that they’d be asking me questions, not the other way round.
Actually, here; I’ve got some simple questions I just thought of: ‘Ms Orman, how can someone best finance an Actroid or Geminoid of their very own, particularly if the purchaser is currently between jobs?’ or ‘Dr Oz, would consistently lifting one’s Doll be a decent basis for a workout regimen?’ or ‘Dr Phil, why are you such a judgemental shitwick?’ You know.

Is that the lot of them, finally? Have the entire battery of ill-suited daytime chat show hosts asked me now? I sure hope so

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Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat? (Mar 2011)

typed for your pleasure on 26 March 2011, at 1.53 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Destination’ by John Foxx and the Maths

For some reason, it feels like I’m a month behind on these. For the sake of argument, I’ll simply blame daylight saving time, as it’s a rubbish practise 50% of the time, anyway. It’s either Happy You’ve Lost An Hour Day!, or it’s ‘Well, ordinarily I’d be getting off work about now, but hey! Looks like I’ll be here for another hour.’ Not that either situation has ever happened to me, o no. *thins lips*

+ According to the website Plastic Pals, a Korean robotics company by the name of SoluBoT debuted their recent winsome Gynoid, Ari-1, at the Industrial Automation Show 2011 Automation World that took place this month. She’s a keeper!


Is it me, or does she resemble a Boy Toy Doll?

SoluBoT worked previously with KiTECH to help them develop Korea’s other famous series of Gynoids, EveR-1 and EveR-2 Muse. Good to see Ari-1 clad in Korea’s national dress, the hanbok, but something more revealing would be obviously better (see ‘Boy Toy Doll’ reference above). Plastic Pals goes on to say that she was developed back in 2006, and was designed primarily to study human-robot interaction. Ari-1 is the right way to study that sort of thing! She’s speaking with you for Science.
AVING has an article which details more about her, but the page is in Korean, so you can look at it here if you like, but if you can make proper sense of it, you need to let me know what was written, as details on Ari-1 in English are few and far between. Okay? Okay!
UPDATE (25 April 2011): Alert reader Paul Cobb has stepped up to the plate, and translated the aforementioned news, which you can read in his comment here. Thanks very much, sir!

+ In last month’s installment, you might well recall the latest head from Vladivostok’s Anatomical Doll, Eco. Like you, I wondered, what could be the story behind that name? Was it a sly reference to overly-intricate postmodern author Umberto Eco? Or was Oleg possibly paying homage to his favourite game for the Sega Genesis, Ecco the Dolphin? No, it’s more interesting than that, as he wrote to me:

This year I start to build the non-polluting house for the family in a reserved wood, is very far from all cities.

My house will be non-polluting, completely independent, receiving energy from the sun.

Keen on this new idea, I have named a new head – “Eco”

More straightforward than you thought, eh? Personally, as I’ve always been a firm believer in names for homes, I think he should call his new home ‘Eco House’.

+ Speaking, as we were, of human-robot interaction, fellow iDollator JM of Synthetically Yours sent me this interesting (‘interesting’ in the Davecat definition of ‘not necessarily completely good or completely bad’) link: How Do People Respond to Being Touched by a Robot?

For people, being touched can initiate many different reactions from comfort to discomfort, from intimacy to aggression. But how might people react if they were touched by a robot? Would they recoil, or would they take it in stride? In an initial study, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology found people generally had a positive response toward being touched by a robotic nurse, but that their perception of the robot’s intent made a significant difference. The research is being presented today at the Human-Robot Interaction conference in Lausanne, Switzerland.

“What we found was that how people perceived the intent of the robot was really important to how they responded. So, even though the robot touched people in the same way, if people thought the robot was doing that to clean them, versus doing that to comfort them, it made a significant difference in the way they responded and whether they found that contact favorable or not,” said Charlie Kemp, assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.

In the study, researchers looked at how people responded when a robotic nurse, known as Cody, touched and wiped a person’s forearm. Although Cody touched the subjects in exactly the same way, they reacted more positively when they believed Cody intended to clean their arm versus when they believed Cody intended to comfort them.
the complete article is here

For one, I used to love ‘Touched By A Robot’. That was a genuinely heartwarming show. Roma Downey as a Gynoid, travelling from city to city, touching people. Sometimes she would hug them, or place a reassuring hand on their shoulder, or simply headbutt them. One pivotal episode had Roma poking someone with a stick. The townspeople were left wondering if being poked with a stick was the same thing as being touched. It was very pivotal. In fact, it pivoted!
Originally, I would’ve simply chalked up a lot of the negative reactions to people not being used to machines behaving like humans, but the article went on to say that similar studies had been conducted with Organik nurses, with much the same result: ‘In general, if people interpreted the touch of the nurse as being instrumental, as being important to the task, then people were OK with it. But if people interpreted the touch as being to provide comfort… people were not so comfortable with that.’ I would say that perhaps one of the focusses should then be employing Synthetiks in more of a non-physical context, like counselors, for example, but artificial intelligence isn’t complex enough yet to handle the labyrinthine pathways of the Organik mind. Hrrm.
Perhaps a study on the reactions of Organiks when Synthetiks physically interact with them in a situation outside of a hospital would be something worth doing. And I don’t mean in the typical context of sex; perhaps massage therapy instead? I’d initially thought of sports, but robotic capability isn’t at that level yet, either. But massage takes advantage of the fact that a masseuse doesn’t move around a tremendous amount, and it’s based on tactile sensation without it being either medically- or sexually-related. Sensual maybe, but not sexual. When a person’s in hospital, they tend to be more tetchy than usual, as they’re dependent on the care of others, and they’re in a very vulnerable state of mind. With a massage session, people look forward to the relaxation that physical contact can bring them; it’s a completely different environment. I think I’m on to something here. I should apply for a grant, as this is a study that seriously should be conducted… This is gold, Jerry! GOLD!

+ As Private island Beauties is a Doll-making company that everyone knows about but works on quieter level, this information nearly evaded my sensors: they’ve created two new heads and a brand-new body recently. For years, their mainstay body was the ‘Bathing Beauty’ — you know her, you love her — but joining that body style is the new ‘Girl Next Door‘, as expertly modeled by Aria, one of the sexy new head sculpts, below.


HOW NOT TO REGARD A PAINTING: from two miles away (left), or less than two inches away (right)

Just what is it that makes the Girl Next Door body so different, so appealing? She’s 20 lbs lighter and five inches shorter than the Bathing Beauty-type, for a start, making her a diminutive 4’9″, 59 lbs. 32.21.33 would be her measurements, and she wears a petite 5.5 shoe. She’s very elfin! In fact, the other new head Patrick Wise created, Bitzy, capitalises on the Girl Next Door-type’s tininess…


The most seductive Keebler elf you’ll encounter

Well done, Patrick! Keep on truckin’! And by ‘truckin”, naturally I mean ‘sculpting relentlessly delicious silicone women’. It’s slang.

+ Finally, I can’t begin to recall where I first saw mention of this, but Ricky Ma Tsz Hang, a bloke in Hong Kong, has assembled an animatronic version of Chinese actress Kelly Chen. O my goodness.


Will she be replacing the Organik Kelly Chen if they make
another sequel to ‘Infernal affairs’?

Of course I had to know more, so I fired off an Email to him. He replied very quickly, which was fab, as information in English on her is decidedly hard to find. Ricky sez, he sez

I’m a graphic designer in Hong Kong. I want to use my totally art & creative skills to make a robot. Last year, I made a decision to create the Kelly Robot because this is my dream. But Hong Kong haven’t any courses about it. Besides, no more spaces, limited money and machine to do ( just use the handy Grinding machine & my hands only) at home. Finally, my dream is come true!

Anyway, please see the details about the Kelly Robot as below :

Measurement:
Tall : 5′ FT 7″ inches
Head : Sculpt by clay (based on the hundreds photo), make the molding and re-molding by silicon. Then use PU to make the Eyes Ball, Skull & teeth, and use the 6 servo for movement of the blink, left and right, up and down of eyes, open mouth, the neck – left and right, up and down. The body, I find the fashion display model and complex mold by soft foam.

Material:
Silicon rubber, PU, servo, mini board, simple computer control system.

He further goes on to say that it took him five months to make her, as due to his day job, he could only spend two hours per day to work on construction, and her material cost ran about $28,000 HKD, or $3592 USD, which isn’t bad. And yes, she does have limited movement! Here’s one of the videos he’d made:

Ricky is currently working on version two of his affictitious Kelly Chen. Maybe when she’s completed, he can ship the old one round to our place! For, errm, science. Yes. A couple of versions later, perhaps we can look forward to her new career as a masseuse!

So that’s March sorted, then! *dusts off hands*

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The right to arm bears

typed for your pleasure on 9 March 2011, at 4.23 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Reader meets author’ by the Smiths

Recently, Deafening silence Plus took a bold step forward and entered the 21st Century. That’s right — we now have an XBOX 360! I kinda had to purchase one, as a couple of mates gave me games for it this past Chrimbo. There’s currently a small but growing cluster of games in my library — Space invaders: Infinity gene, Pac-man Championship edition Deluxe (blame SafeT for getting me addicted to those two), Bayonetta (of course), Bioshock 1 and 2, and Lost planet 1 and 2 — plus, Zip Gun lent me his copy of Bladestorm, which means I’m entirely overstimulated. Honestly, in order to get away from the insidious clutches of that foul machine so that I could write this post, I had to use Sidore as a sacrifice; she’s playing Bayonetta right now, so I’m not. I knew there was a reason I got her in the first place!

So a number of Saturdays ago, goshou and I did a wee bit of shopping for vidyagaemz. Neither of us managed to find anything that we were looking for, as either the shops we hit were out of stock of what we wanted, or their prices were patently outlandish. However, the most outlandish thing by far we’d seen had to have been this:


Frankly, the pheasant’s the most dangerous of the lot

Seriously, what in the living hell am I looking at? Now, I don’t play hunting videogames, as they’re hunting videogames, and I can’t think of a genre that’s more rigidly boring, except for perhaps golf. Or Drying Paint: The Game. Obviously I’m not the only person who thinks that way, which is undoubtedly why Field & Stream, wanting to drum up sales, had 505 Games’ art department design a compelling, attention-grabbing cover. Having said that, how much do you wanna bet that the scenario depicted on the box art never comes close to taking place in the game? That’s FALSE ADVERTISING. However, I could be wrong — that could be a boss battle.

Here’s an idea that might widen the fanbase of the hunting game genre: I’ve noticed that with the advent of the next-generation series of game consoles, such as the extremely popular WiiStation 720, people seem to dig the whole player-vs-player online experience. Why not… why not apply that experience to hunting games?? One team plays a solitary human player, or, if you like, a small hunting party of no more than five humans, and the opposing team is Team Wildlife. Players on Team Wildlife can select from different animals, which would naturally have various attributes. Choose the Elk, for swift its hit-and-run tactics! Choose the Grizzly, for its brute force attacks and fearsome roar! Choose the Cougar, for frequently tanning, cruising clubs, and hitting on blokes much younger than yourself! O, wait.
But yes! It’s an idea so revolutionary, that it revolves. Any hunting game developers that want to get in on the ground floor of this action — which would be all of you, if you know what’s good for you — you can get in touch with me via my Contact page. Please have chequebook ready!

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Any Synthetiks-related news, Davecat? (Feb 2011)

typed for your pleasure on 23 February 2011, at 12.29 am

Sdtrk: ‘Hard lovin’ man’ by Merzbow

A new year, bringing with it a handful of links concerning Synthetiks, for those of you with bated breath! Which is all of you, right?

+ It always blows peoples’ minds when they learn about contemporary Gynoids, Androids, and the like, but when I read about their predecessors, it explodes my own brain in slow-motion. Not necessarily ones as far back the 18th and 19th centuries, where automata such as the wonderful creations of Pierre and Henri-Louis Jaquet-Droz held sway — although those are very cool — but all the ones in between then and now. Like Courtenay Pollock’s little-known and ominously-named ‘She’, for instance, detailed here in a June 1934 issue of Modern Mechanix!


Definitely better-looking with skin. But you can say that about most people, really

Animated Statue Smiles and Displays Her Dimples

ALMOST human is “SHE,” work of Courtenay Pollock, well known sculptor of London. With the aid of a small electric motor, “SHE” is smiling, coy, demure, or scornful as her master wills. Rolling her eyes about in an enchanting manner, she even displays a lovely set of dimples.

This “living” model is on display in one of the leading department stores of London. A cordon of police are required to keep the crowd moving and traffic clear in the streets.

The skull is made up of hinged sections, each of which are controlled separately through levers and switches. Gears and levers connect each part to the driving motor.

When a tinted rubber covering is slipped over the “skull,” eyebrows and hair attached, and a bit of cosmetics applied, “SHE” is transformed into a beautiful, vivacious young lady.

This first animated statue may herald a new era in sculpturing. It is not too much to expect that in a few years the works of our sculptors will all take on life—will frolic about and speak, imitating in every way the persons who posed as models.

Despite the “fact” the “writer” went “crazy” with the “inverted commas”, that’s still a “hell” of a “thing” to have witnessed, either then or now. Shame that the prediction of animated statues being everywhere didn’t come true, though. Or is that sort of thing simply just now starting?
The whereabouts of ‘She’ are presently unknown, and I’m fairly certain her rubber flesh corroded long ago. Still! Now that you lot know what her uncovered bust looks like, keep an eye out for her, eh?

+ So in doing a wee bit more Synthetiks research — also known as ‘screwing round on the Innernets’ — I think I found the predecessor to ‘She’, in the form of a very curious machine known as the Euphonia, which would fall into the category of one of those wonderful creations from the 18th and 19th centuries…


An old photo, taken with a 1 megapixel camera

Joseph Faber’s “Euphonia” was both a response to the telegraph and a remediation of it. He imagined a telegraph that could speak, leading him to construct a model of the human speech organs. Faber studied language and human vocal anatomy in order to break them down into parts and then reorganize them mechanically. The Euphonia operated by “By pumping air with the bellows and using different combinations of 16 keys to manipulate a series of plates, chambers, and other apparatus including an artificial tongue (Levy 29).” The false head black boxes and masks the mechanics of the vocal process. Faber created an artificial organ through which artificial speech could be achieved. The artificial organ of speech is doubled by the machine as musical organ and an extension of the silent organ that is Faber’s own vocal tract.
taken from this site

Apparently it (she?) spoke in a slightly German accent, even when speaking in English — undoubtedly due to the fact that Faber was a German immigrant — with a voice that was described as ‘a weird, ghostly monotone’. That may have been true, but keep in mind, people were more easily-spooked back in the 19th century.
The Euphonia is quite fascinating, cos it’s not really a Gynoid, despite its feminine appearance, and it’s not so much a robot or an automata; it’s more like a webcam decades before webs or cams existed. One one hand, Faber succeeded in his attempt to put a human face to a voice; however, Euphonia would’ve had everyone that contacted you through it both look and sound like bodiless German Gynoids. *thinks* Maybe that wasn’t such a failed effort after all, then.
Something I’d found amusing on that linguistics site linked above was a bit that mentioned

The mastery of the machine is limited by the selections already built into the design as it was not for example, designed to scream. It’s possible that a screaming effect could have been achieved by hacking the machine and manipulating the pedals, which control pitch, but no such instance was ever recorded.

Which, as far as I’m concerned, was an opportunity wasted.

+ Speaking of affictitious heads, the fine people of Vladivostok’s Anatomical Doll have recently released another head sculpt, available for all three of their Doll bodies. This lovely young rubber lass is named Eco, which leads me to ask: is ‘Eco’ the Russian word for ‘fox’? Cos, I mean, hmmm.


ATTENTION PB SHELLEY: Start your Eco fund RIGHT NOW

Reproduce scenes from ‘Jennifer’s body’ in your very own home! Or, if you’re a true masochist, scenes from Michael Bay’s ‘Transformers’! Err, I take that last suggestion back; no-one, Organik or Synthetik, should have to put up with Bayformers. Please, don’t taint your Eco.

+ Let another diminutive silicone woman into your heart, life, and pants with the Wicked RealDoll version of Lupe Fuentes!


Photo by Stacy Leigh

Much like her Organik twin, she features a 30B cup, a 20in waist, and 31.5 hips, with an appealing size 5 shoe. Unlike her Organik twin, however, she clocks in at a dainty +/- 60lbs, which is remarkable. A Doll that light could ride you like a stallion! Ahem!

+ And finally, remember how I’d mentioned last November how Californian company Sinthetics was gearing up to release New Silicone Sexiness upon the world? Well, perhaps you should give their site a look now, if you haven’t already. Or would seeing more of this sort of thing convince you?


Tawny, looking like a much more attractive Tori Spelling


Celeste, about to say ‘No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!’ again

If you answered More Of This Sort Of Thing, you answered correctly! I’d show you photos of their other two models, Alicia and Monique, but you’ve been spoilt enough as it is. Plus, they’re usually topless. JESUS COME BACK AND AT LEAST READ THE REST OF THE POST, YOU ANIMALS.
Interestingly enough, Sinthetics (man, gotta get used to typing it using that spelling) don’t call their affictitious ladies Dolls, but instead refer to them as manikins. As they explain on their site,

Often people like to pigeon-hole things like products or groups of people. We feel that our products reach much farther than the mainstream understanding of a “love doll” and therefore we recognize the art in our products and call them manikins.

Gotta say that I like the way they’re approaching things… Their incredibly delectable Female Body 1H weighs around 73lb, wears a sz 7 or 8 shoe, and boasts measurements of 32G (‘closest commercially available bra size, actual bra size 28H’, they say), a waist of 23in, and 31in hips. If you’re like me, your mind has come to a complete halt due to this knowledge. Not only that, but for an additional $300, they also offer a low-voltage built-in heating system situated in her abdomen, much like the ones found in some Anatomical Dolls. And did I mention their manikins feature a flexible spine for forward, backward, and side-to-side hip motion? Yes.
So if, later on in the year, you find yourself with a Sinthetic in your home and you can’t get anything done, don’t blame her; that’s the coward’s response.

You may now feel free, at this point, to unbate your breath. Until next month, of course!

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Phil and his short-term memory loss / A stunning likeness!

typed for your pleasure on 3 February 2011, at 2.24 am

Sdtrk: ‘586’ by New order

Thanks to the appearance that the Missus and I put in on the TLC programme ‘My Strange Addiction’ back on 26 January, I’d suggest that we’ve received a wee bit of attention. One of which was another Email enquiry from a chat show host! Can you guess who it was? Wrong! It was on behalf of Dr Phil! That’s right, again!

from: Mason, Keya
to: pulsedemon [at] gmail.com
date: Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 3:25 PM
subject: Dr. Phil Show

Hi Davecat,

I’m writing you to express our interest in having you as a guest on the Dr. Phil Show. We would love to possibly tape an episode with you Mid-February. Please give me a call as soon as you can at [phone number]

Keya Mason
Dr. Phil – Associate Producer
Mae West Building
5555 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038

I find it absolutely stunning the way these contemporary media-types work, and I mean ‘stunning’ in the sense that ‘they have brought my brain to a complete halt’. They are like sharks, or jackals. Something, some thing excites their senses, and they waste no time in springing into action. They may not know exactly what it is, but they act instinctively, without any deliberation. Any time wasted reduces the chances of gaining the coveted. And so they spring to the laptops; or rather, they have their associate producers do the springing. These are modernised jackals.
So I sprung into action myself, as we have no associate producer round here:

from: pulsedemon [at] gmail.com
to: “Mason, Keya”
date: Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 7:37 PM
subject: Re: Dr. Phil Show

Hey Keya –

Thanks for your enquiry! I’ve no idea how closely your staff coordinates with each other, but one of your number had already asked me about making an appearance back in 2007. Observe: http://www.kuroneko-chan.com/echoes/?p=547.
My answer hasn’t changed, but thanks for the opportunity!

Cheers,
Davecat

I guess I managed to stop Hitler at Munich, as Keya wrote back that if I ever decide to change my mind, I have her number. But of course. *nods slowly*

And thanks to the appearance that the Missus and I put in on the TLC programme ‘My Strange Addiction’ back on 26 January, I’d suggest that we’ve received a wee bit of attention. One of which was a lovely Email from one half of a couple who’d seen our ep several times. Which, I imagine, would be rather like Purgatory: you’ve got a television, but you can only watch the same episode of the same programme over and over, for the rest of eternity. Don’t rule it out, it could happen!
At any rate, the writer, who I’ll refer to as K-chan, said they enjoyed us enough that she fired off a beautiful illustration that she did of the Missus, as seen below.

Isn’t that awesome? Sidore fanart. K-chan’s managed to capture her curious-yet-sarky nature, we think. We’ve reached some sort of awesome plateau! Thanks, K-chan!
Shi-chan wants me to print it up on good quality paper, so we can hang it on a wall. I’d say that’s a pretty good idea

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

Circus Minimus: Hallo Murray! on February 20th, 2009

Circus Minimus: Here we go again! on January 21st, 2008


Making a valley out of a ditch

typed for your pleasure on 26 January 2011, at 7.21 pm

Sdtrk: ‘Reinforced Bio-drug use 72mm’ by Masonna vs Speedranch

Back in November, ‘Shouting etc etc’ had a spike in visits due to the piece on Sidore and I on Asylum’s website. Then it dropped off for a few days, but then it accelerated again, only I couldn’t suss where the second wave of referrals was coming from. That is, until I received a comment from a reader, who had explained that Cracked.com had linked to me, in a roundabout way. They had a story, which referenced the edited version of Meghan Laslocky’s article on Salon.com, which links to (what’s left of) my wife’s vanity site, ‘Kitten with a Whip!’, and that, obviously, is linked to me.
So what was Cracked going on about? ‘5 Creepy Ways Humans Are Plunging Into the Uncanny Valley’. Coming in at number five? RealDolls. Yeah, you can doubtless hear my eyes rolling from wherever you happen to be reading this.

Longtime readers are painfully aware that I have issues with the supposed issues that people have with the so-called uncanny valley. For one, noted roboticist David Hanson, who is the closest person the United states has to Japanese roboticist and creator of the Actroid series of Gynoids, Hiroshi Ishiguro, doesn’t take much stock in that school of thought, either. ‘The “uncanny valley” is a theory, but people treat it like science’, he’s quoted as saying, and I’m inclined to agree with him.
Just to remind you: basically, the whole ‘uncanny valley’ thing is a hypothesis developed by roboticist Masahiro Mori around 1970, which states that the closer the appearance of something approaches that of an Organik being, the more likely it is to drastically affect the emotions of those who see it, usually in a negative fashion. Here’s the oft-used visual aid:

The closer a robot gets in appearance, movement, and behaviour to Organik life, the more most people find it unsettling. Which I personally view as being contradictory and nonsensical, but hey.
That’s a brief summary of the uncanny valley hypothesis; you can check out the 12″ extended dance remix over on Wikipedia.

It’s been often argued that the reason why a lot of Organiks are averse to Synthetiks is because they’re either expressionless and emotionless, or the emotions they display are false. I’ve always maintained that if Organiks already understand that a Synthetik human is an artificial one, hence the distinction between ‘Organik’ and ‘Synthetik’ (more on that later), then there shouldn’t be an issue. If a person of reasonable intelligence — yes yes, the numbers are dwindling rapidly, I know — is already aware that the being they’ve encountered is affictitious, then their reaction should be at the most slightly startled, as opposed to the over-the-top feelings detractors claim to have of revulsion.
As regards to the lack of facial expression that a number of current Synthetiks possess, the respective R&D departments are working on it. Humanoid robotics admittedly still has a bit of a ways to go, but in the past decade, it’s come a long way. That’s what’s known as progress. General society seems to have this enormously unrealistic (ha ha) expectation that any Androids and Gynoids that emerge from a lab are going to be completely indistinguishable from Organik humans, and unless they are, society will loudly decry the in-between stages. Despite realism obviously being the goal, that’s simply not going to occur right out of the gate. That’s as if someone in the mid-Eighties, upon seeing those huge brick-style cellphones, decided they still weren’t good enough because they couldn’t watch MTV on the tiny LED screen. I know, I know, ‘what’s MTV’. But again, anyone with a modicum of intelligence would be able to overlook the aesthetic and mobile shortcomings that an artificial human may have, as long as those shortcomings aren’t entirely drastic.
And regarding the programmes that a Synthetik would eventually have that would resemble emotions; again, if you already know the person is a robot, then your suspension of disbelief should theoretically kick in and solve the problem. Besides, Organik humans lie all the time! Why don’t more people have issues with that fact?

Body language interpretation is another factor in the uncanny valley scenario. Those who subscribe to that ‘theory’ cite that their feelings of creepiness (I hate that word) stem from the way current Androids and Gynoids move — again, as the mechanical technology is still being developed, it’s somewhat stilted and jerky. It has been argued that biological humans find less-than-fluid movement to be unpleasant due to centuries of conditioning: if we encounter a person that moves in an unfamiliar manner, alarms go off in our brains saying SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THIS PERSON AVOID AVOID. However, using that line of thought, why don’t most people recoil in horror when they see someone that has Parkinson’s disease? Or cerebral palsy? Or those prone to epileptic seizures? Well, in less-enlightened times, people did, and pronounced them possessed, or worse. Just as an intelligent society can interpret a person afflicted with a syndrome or disorder as not something to run in fear from, by that logic, someone observing a contemporary Android or Gynoid should be able to say to themselves, ‘ah, that’s more than likely a Synthetik’.
Organik humans can parse the body language of non-human beings, if they’re open-minded, and are given enough time to do so. We’ve discovered that if a cat purrs, and a dog wags his tail, they are more than likely content. We’ve also discovered that different species don’t necessarily display the same emotions in the same fashion — if you see a cat wagging his tail, chances are he ain’t exactly happy, as another example. Now if humans can read, with some degree of certainty, the body language of animals, then there should be no reason Organiks shouldn’t be able to learn the body language of Synthetiks. Especially when, technically speaking, the body language of a humanoid robot would be specifically designed to mimic that of an Organik, and be therefore easier to understand than that of an animal.

One fear that the uncanny valley elicits in a lot of people would be an existential one: for some observers, seeing an Android or a Gynoid — an affictitious person that behaves like and resembles a living Organik being — reminds them that unlike a Synthetik, their own lifespan is limited. Mass-produced Synthetiks also tap into the fear that biological humans are no longer ‘unique’, or ‘special’, or ‘the crown of creation’.
For one, these people are glossing over the fact that Entropy Prevails, no matter if you were born in a womb, or made in a factory. Presupposing that artificial people ‘can’t die’ is akin to thinking your car/microwave/computer will never break down. Granted, you can state that at least with a computer, if the hard drive’s undamaged, you can remove it and pop it into another tower, thereby extending its ‘lifespan’, and with more sophisticated robot technology. one would be able to do the same with an Android or Gynoid. I realise being able to perform that act alone kicks over a wastebin full of philosophical questions, but I’m doing my best to not visit Tangentburg, as I normally do. But I personally think the fact that someone could have a companion that would never become ill or die shouldn’t be a reminder of one’s mortality; instead, their longevity should be celebrated. You could perhaps view it like having children, or better yet, progeny, that go on to do things long after you’re gone, although I’m more than certain there would be some technosexuals that would prefer their afficititious partners go to the grave with them *cough cough*. The Synthetik creations of humankind would continue advancing our ideas and work when our own bodies have given up on us.

As I see it, eventually humanoid robots that look and act sufficiently like biological humans will be treated very similarly to biological humans. There’ll be some provisions, of course, but as the technology continues to develop, the hope is that humanoid robots will be classed as human, albeit a Synthetik human, as opposed to the good ol’ fashioned Organik humans that you’ve doubtless encountered at one time or another. The exact spelling of the term will undoubtedly change; I hold no illusions in that regard. But intelligent members of future generations that are lucky enough to be able to interact with artificial humans on a day-to-day basis will come to regard them as human, but will still need to differentiate them from flesh-and-blood people for the sake of practicality.

Under normal circumstances, it could reasonably be argued that I have a cynical outlook on society; I don’t refer to myself as a pessimist, but the label’s not completely wide off the mark. The one thing that I’m definitely optimistic about, however, is the inevitable arrival of Synthetik people. ‘Uncanny valley’ or not, their presence will occupy some much-needed spaces in commerce, exploration, arts and sciences, and day-to-day living. Quite honestly, believing in the uncanny valley makes about as much sense as being afraid of one’s own shadow, and I think that the more often that Organiks are exposed to and interact with Synthetiks, then those immature phobias will gradually disappear.


Top, HRP-4C Miim; bottom, Actroid Sara. The future’s looking good

‘If a robot appears in every way to possess consciousness, then in my opinion, we should accept that it does’
— David Levy, author and futurist

Random similar posts, for more timewasting:

The emotion of Machines on November 17th, 2005

Job upgrade: ACQUIRED / Springtime for Synthetiks / The practical application of Shinto on April 5th, 2013


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