Stop The A.I. Hate – Group B1 Remix Plan

We “propose to consider the question, ‘Can machines think?’” (Turing, 433).

Artificial Intelligence has been largely criminalized and criticized throughout history because society has bound machines to the same standards as humans, rather than treating them as an entirely different entity. They are accused of not being able to think, and because of that cannot create anything new or achieve human-level intelligence. In response to these objections, Turing poses the question “may not machines carry out something which ought to be described as thinking but is very different from what a man does?” (Turing, 435). Because machines are not human, they should not be held to the same standards of “thinking”. They can compute and produce responses that are just as valid as human answers; they are simply inherently different because they are done through entirely different processes. Because, for example, “we do not wish to penalise the machine for its inability to shine in beauty competitions, nor to penalise a man for losing in a race against an aeroplane,” we need to treat each being in its proper context. Haraway further explains this difference between A.I.’s and humans with “the concept of ‘species’,” through “which she locates the cyborg as a ‘junior sibling’” among human companion species, much like a dog (Hayes).  Turing agrees with this idea, stating the difference between man and machine is like the difference “between man and the other animals,” (Turing, 443). Because of this, A.I.’s must be recognized for what they are and not thought of as sub-par mechanical humans. Our project to support this argument will be done through a parody remix video in which we highlight the importance of treating A.I.’s as machines, not humans.

Remix, according to Virginia Kuhn, is “a scholarly pursuit: it cites, synthesizes, and juxtaposes its sources,” in order to make an argument (Kuhn). “When one rips, edits, and renders video, one is transformed into a speaker of that discourse who can intervene and contest its truth claims,” creating a new argument out of existing ideas (Kuhn). We plan to do exactly this through parody remix in order to support out A.I. argument. Using the template of SPCA Sarah McLachlan commercials, we will make a parallel between the proposed companion species (dogs and A.I.’s) as well as use the empathetic tone of the video to illustrate the misunderstanding of machines’ potential. This will also argue that, like the treatment of animals, humans directly control the treatment of A.I.’s and the discourses surrounding them. We hope this will encourage viewers to think of A.I.’s in a different light and realize that machines can think in their own way, and that this thought is just as valid and important as human thought. This Redhead PSA parody captures the idea of our proposed video, serving to both satirize current ways of thinking as well as promote new ways: This video is successful in using the music to set the sympathetic tone, the genre to give it structure and context, and foster a sense of empathy (though sarcastic in this case) about the cause they are raising awareness about. It is also entertaining because it is parodying a popular commercial and using remix to clearly engage multiple stereotypes associated with redheads and satirically attempt to dispel them. We plan to make a similar case for machines with our video.


Works Cited

“ASPCA Parody – American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Redheads.” YouTube. YouTube, 14 Aug. 2015. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.

Haraway, Donna. “A Manifesto for Cyborgs: Science, Technology, and Socialist Feminism in the 1980s.” Australian Feminist Studies 2.4 (1987): 1-42. Web.

Hayles, N. K. “Unfinished Work: From Cyborg to Cognisphere.” Theory, Culture & Society 23.7-8 (2006): 159-66. Web.

Kuhn, Virginia. “Transformative Works and Cultures.” The Rhetoric of Remix. Transformative Works and Cultures, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.

Turing, A. M. “I.—Computing Machinery And Intelligence.” Mind LIX.236 (1950): 433-60. Web.

Multiform Magic: The Harry Potter Universe

PottermoreJK

J.K. Rowling and the “Pottermore” logo

Harry Potter is arguably the greatest narrative of this generation. The books, movies, spin-off texts, theme parks, merchandise, and website weave a complex transmedia story that has captivated fans world-wide. This is an example of a multiform story, a “narrative that presents a single situation or plotline in multiple versions,” as explained by author Janet H. Murray (Murray, 30). The most revolutionary of these extensions is J.K. Rowling’s website “Pottermore,” which, as the name implies, is everything fans love about Harry Potter and more. I believe the most interactive and engaging aspects of “Pottermore” are its world-building and additive comprehension components.

"Pottermore" Home Page

“Pottermore” Home Page

The fictional Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a complex, evolved society consisting of a government, history, schooling system, rules and regulations, numerous species, and limitless secrets. According to media scholar Henry Jenkins, this “encourages an encyclopedic impulse in both readers and writers” because “we are drawn to master what can be known about a world which always expands beyond our grasp” (Jenkins). There is history to study, creatures to discover, places to explore, and characters to connect with. “Pottermore” increasingly adds to this experience by taking pieces from Rowling’s writing and placing into the context to digital media. There are links and features to discover everything you can about these creatures hidden in various nooks and crannies of the website, urging fans to actively discover the secrets of the Wizarding World in a more personal manner than before.This world-building is an exceptionally brilliant way to engage both creators and audiences and is arguably the most engaging aspect of the Harry Potter series.

Another evocative aspect of this website is the additive comprehension, or new perspectives that change the comprehension of the story as a whole, gained through the online experience.  Rowling, since the release of “Pottermore,” has written a number of short stories and biographies that flesh out certain aspects of characters not explained in the original text and changes the way the readers view the characters. According to media scholar Henry Jenkins, this “create[s] a more expansive and immersive story than would have been possible otherwise” (Jenkins).  For example, Rowling released a story through “Pottermore” about Delores Umbridge (arguably the most unanimously hated villain of the series) that provides biographical elements never before shared with fans, altering their previous judgement. She does similar things the interactive portion as well, providing links through the online text, allowing fans to gain additional information on places, characters, and events and providing them with a greater depth and understanding of the story as a whole.

HogwartsHome

Harry Potter is a brilliant, well planned, and exceptionally complex multiform story made even richer through Rowling’s interactive website “Pottermore.” This transmedia extension allows fans to gain a greater knowledge of the fantastic Wizarding World and increases the interactive capability of the narrative. And, as J.K. Rowling says, “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen” – or by transmedia extensions – “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”


WORKS CITED:

Henry, Jenkins. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Web log post. Confessions of an Aca-Fan. Henry Jenkins, 22 Mar. 2007.        Web. 19 Feb. 2015. Blog / Podcast
Murray, Janet Horowitz. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. New York: Free, 1997. Print.

Satire and GIFs

 The use of GIFs in a social, an even culturally relevant, contexts has become a phenomenon. GIFs are appearing in social media everywhere and are seemingly escapable. According to Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene, the three defining properties of successful memes, or pieces of Internet culture, are longevity (how long a meme is relevant), fecundity (how translatable a meme is), and fidelity (how good a meme is). Given these three characteristics, it is easy to understand the success of GIFs, particularly the success of GIFs from the popularanimated television series South Park.

South Park has thrived since its creation in 1997 as a satiric adult sitcom featuring dark, surreal humor and valid social criticism. Its outrageous and inappropriate episodes are perfect to GIF since they are both visually and textually interesting. Other than for the sake of humor and/or insult, South Park GIFs often serve a more ironically dignified purpose than simply being reactions; they also work as important social cues and are “rich” media. In Personal Connections in the Digital Age, Nancy K. Baym argues “people show feeling and immediacy, have fun, and build and reinforce social structures even in the leanest of text-only media…leaving no question that we can do it with additional cues such as video,

images, and voice,” (Baym 59-60). GIFs take this kind of social cueing to another, more rich communicative level. That being said, while some South Park GIFs have valid reactionary purpose, I would argue a majority of them are serve as a kind anti-social cue.

The point of South Park is to satirize everyday life and express ideas and feelings we cannot in appropriate social settings.  Most of the time, saying “Screw you guys, I’m going home!” has major negative social consequences; but in the fictional context of South Park, you have a means of poking fun at society in a constructive and humorous way. While South Park may not always be the most meaningful of GIFs, it lets people express that little socially inappropriate side in all of us without misunderstanding. And even for people who aren’t as familiar with South Park as most, there will always be something funny about eternal fourth-graders from the 90’s cursing and crapping on their teacher’s desk.

CartmanCraps

Self-created South Park GIF of Eric Cartman (Because who hasn’t felt this way before)

Works Cited

Baym, Nancy K. Personal Connections in the Digital Age. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010. Print.

Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1976. Print.

Handheld Uncanniness

In 1989, Nintendo revolutionized gaming by releasing an innovative new system that would take the industry by storm – the handheld Game Boy. Although the Game Boy played many of the same games as the original Nintendo Home Entertainment System and was not the first of its kind, this familiarity combined with the novelty of portability induced an unparalleled gaming phenomenon. This is what University of Chicago professor Tom Gunning in his essay Re-Newing Old Technologies calls “the uncanny” (Gunning 46). The uncanny “comes from a flowering sense of unfamiliarity in the midst of the apparently familiar,” explaining the Game Boy’s ability to emerge as a marvel amidst a sea of similar technologies (Gunning 48). While there was nothing uniquely new about the separate components of the Game Boy itself, the new combination of interchangeable game cards, handheld technology, and the Nintendo game universe was enough to render it an uncanny phenomena.

The Game Boy took the gaming industry by storm upon its 1989 release. Before the Game Boy, handheld gaming was limited to low quality, single game devices with relatively little battery life and virtually no potential for long term entertainment. High quality multigame playing was possible with home entertainment systems from companies like Nintendo and Atari, but lacked convenience and portability. Consumers simply craved more out of their gaming experience. Because of this, the release of the Game Boy, according to Douglas C. McGill, created “a mainstream addiction, doing for games and puzzles what the Sony Walkman did for music” (McGill). The design of the Game Boy was simple, familiar, and user-friendly, but it was also a radically different experience from previous gaming devices. But it was not the system itself that made Nintendo a marvel – what really “sets Nintendo apart from the rest…is its games” (McGill). The popularity of Nintendo games (such as Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong Legend of Zelda) were uncommonly universal and still induce a sense of childlike wonder in all who play them.

Gunning claims that “new technologies evoke…a short-lived wonder based on unfamiliarity which greater and constant exposure will overcome,” but this is not universally true (Gunning 47). While the newness of handheld devices has lost its sense of wonder, the original Game Boy continues to excite and amaze those who come across it. The childlike novelty of the Game Boy continues to endure due to classic game design and entertainment. Gunning concedes that the uncanny “involve[s] magical operations which greater familiarity or habituation might come over, but not totally destroy;” the uncanny “crouches there beneath a rational cover, ready to spring out again” (Gunning 47). The Game Boy in this sense is uniquely uncanny, continuing to entertain and amaze despite twenty-five years of gaming innovation and experimentation. While the idea of interchangeable handheld gaming is no longer new and exciting, the novelty of the original Game Boy and the legacy of classic Nintendo game play is continually loved  by fans young and old and will be for years to come.

Game Boy Poster

A hypothetical poster for the release of the Game Boy in 1989.


Works Cited

“Display Ad 434 — no Title.” Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Sep 21 1989: 1. ProQuest. 1 Feb. 2015 .

Gunning, Tom. “Re-Newing Old Technologies: Astonishment, Second Nature and the Uncanny in Technology from the Previous Turn-of-the-Century.”Rethinking Media Change: The Aesthetics of Transition. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT, 2003. 39-60. Print.

McGill, Douglas C. “Nintendo Scores Big.” The New York Times 4 Dec. 1988: n. pag. The New York Times. The New York Times. Web. 29 Jan. 2015.

McGill, Douglas C. “Now, Video Game Players Can Take Show on the Road.”The New York Times 5 June 1989: n. pag. The New York Times. The New York Times. Web. 31 Jan. 2015.