Remixing the “Machines with Various Disabilities”

With society progressing at the exponential rate it has over the last century, it is not surprising to see how much we increasingly have come to rely on the support of artificial intelligence to facilitate all manners of everyday life. With this increased dependency on technology has come the need to have machines with computing capacity extensive enough to analyze the complex algorithms we input and to be able to act on those algorithms and respond in real time. Actions that one generation previously thought impossible for computers to achieve are now not only possibilities in our modern digital landscape, but have in many ways come to be expected by our technocratic society. But in spite of all that has been accomplished to give artificial intelligence greater capability as well as to generate a more humanistic interface, the debate is still heard to this day that constitutes the following sentiment: “I grant you that you can make machines do all the things you have mentioned, but you will never be able to make one to do ‘x.'” This declaration is the statement that Alan Turing uses to refute the argument for “machines with various disabilities,” wherein many people posit that although history has proven time and again that we are still only uncovering the surface of what these machines can do, there remains an explicit certainty in their conviction that there are specific operations which are forever out of reach for an operating system to execute.

While Turing makes no direct claim that the ensuing disabilities in his argument could indeed be overcome or not, his rationale dictates that he believes achieving these results are entirely plausible once the processing power of machines improves (practically a forgone conclusion when taking Moore’s Law into consideration). Our group’s argument will be to uphold the views put forth by Turing, while simultaneously examining and critiquing the modern conventions in which Hollywood movies try to either discredit or deny that these various disabilities exist. We will determine to analyze the unrealistic expectations the film industry has in presenting these futuristic models, as well as showing how this world of fantasy contradicts itself against the real-life expectation the layman has that these various disabilities are insurmountable impediments. Our “genre” of remix will comply with the basic format of a video essay, which we feel is perhaps the most appropriate medium to be able to convey the information in our argument in a concise and delineative style.

This video is indicative of the style we wish to emulate in our remix project, due primarily to its effectiveness in showing how machines are systematically replacing the human workforce and performing many other menial tasks previously not thought possible by artificial intelligence. Its narrative style and display of referential material are in keeping with what we hope to accomplish in our project.

Wikipedia and the Chicago Bulls

When people need a quick synopsis of a subject, the website “Wikipedia” is exactly the place to go. Wikipedia is a free, online encyclopedia that can be accessed and edited by almost any user. Wikipedia is one of the most widely used sites on the Internet, and there are both positives and negatives with the site. Henry Jenkins states that, “Whereas Wikipedia is extraordinarily convenient and, for some general purposes, extremely useful, it nonetheless suffers inevitably from inaccuracies deriving in large measure from its unique manner of compilation” (Jenkins).

Chicago Bulls Page

I decided to look at the Wikipedia page for my hometown NBA team, the Chicago Bulls. The page gives a great synopsis on the history of the Bulls and because the facts are well-documented across websites such as ESPN and NBA.com, the page is very accurate. This standard is also upheld due to the abundance of editors from different locations for the page that make sure all of the facts are reliable, all while withholding bias or opinions in the text. Whenever a biased or untrue statement is made, editors discuss this on the “Talk” tab and make sure to edit it promptly and to link outside references to confirm these facts.

Links to other sites help confirm facts.

Links to other sites help confirm facts.

While the facts about certain players, coaches, and records are extremely reliable, other facts on this page are hindered due to Wikipedia’s encyclopedia format. Wikipedia is known for its quick synopses of information, and when these facts do not have references to go along with them, it is difficult to determine if a statement is extrapolated or if it is reliable. Under the “Uniforms” section, information regarding jerseys is mentioned.

Information in this section may or may not be reliable without references, and users can be blind to this.

Information in this section may or may not be reliable without references, and users can be blind to this.

Because the uniforms are not as discussed as players and records, facts are more difficult to find. Without links to references in this section, it can be easy for an editor to extrapolate on information that is not entirely correct. Viewers need to rely on Jenkins’ skills of “judgment” and “networking” to evaluate reliability and to search for correct information (Jenkins).

Editors can use this page to pool knowledge to maintain a reliable article.

Editors can use this page to pool knowledge to maintain a reliable article.

On the “Talk” page, lengthy discussions are held about points on the page, pooling the “collective intelligence” of fans onto this one page (Jenkins). These editors discuss information such as former guard Ben Gordon’s nationality, biased opinions about Michael Jordon and Scottie Pippen, and small facts like playing “Another One Bites the Dust” at home games during the mid-1990s dynasty.

The "Talk" page will include discussions about various information regarding the team, such as a player's nationality or, at the time, Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame "certainty."

The “Talk” page will include discussions about various information regarding the team, such as a player’s nationality or, at the time, Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame “certainty.”

Edits for the page are listed here, and the list extends much past the red arrow.

Edits for the page are listed here, and the list extends much past the red arrow.

As editors discuss information, they edit the page accordingly to sustain truth regarding the Bulls. On the “View history” tab, edits from just minutes ago all the way to 2004 are logged with information regarding to what was edited. This maintains the reliability of the page, allowing a user to view what was edited and by whom.

The Chicago Bulls have been highly discussed throughout NBA history, and Wikipedia’s various tabs on this page are evident of this. Thankfully, the collective intelligence of users maintains a standard of accuracy that can be difficult to attain on the site.

Work cited:

Jenkins, Henry. “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About the New Media Literacies (Part One).” Confessions of an AcaFan. N.p., 26 June 2007. Web. 05 Mar. 2015. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/06/what_wikipedia_can_teach_us_ab.html&gt;.

Jenkins, Henry. “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About the New Media Literacies (Part Two).” Confessions of an AcaFan. N.p., 27 June 2007. Web. 05 Mar. 2015. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/06/what_wikipedia_can_teach_us_ab.html&gt;.

The Walking Dead Universe: Webisodes

Transmedia storytelling is one of the most prominent examples of how technology is shaping mutlimedia. One of the biggest users of transmedia storytelling is the television show The Walking Dead. Originally a comic series, The Walking Dead has created a popular television series, video game spinoffs, websites devoted to the series, and more. A major transmedia example from the television show is the websiode series. Taking place in the same universe, these webisodes follow different characters’ stories in surviving the zombie apocalypse. The universal problems are all the same as the comics and television show, but the webisodes add a different dimension through new characters and conflicts to create an extension of the series online.

All of the webisodes are available at AMC's website for the show.

All of the webisodes are available at AMC’s website for the show.

One major aspect that draws viewers into the webisodes of The Walking Dead is the idea of worldbuilding. According to Henry Jenkins, worldbuilding creates for the viewer “complex fictional worlds which can sustain multiple interrelated characters and their stories… We are drawn to master what can be known about a world which always expands beyond our grasp” (“Transmedia Storytelling 101”).  Viewers of The Walking Dead use worldbuilding to follow the narrative and its characters in a fantasy world and create ideas of how others in this world are living. As I watch, I always wonder what is going on with other people in different locations of the show’s world. Are people in this world going through similar problems to Rick’s group? Can their location and situation play a role in how they survive? With webisodes, viewers can get answers to these questions. They allow people to expand the view of what this apocalyptic world looks like and how those in the show are dealing with the problems. In essence, worldbuilding allows fans to create their own interpretation of what is happening outside the realm of the show, and the webisodes help give answers to the viewer’s questions.

Who are this people? Where are they? The webisodes answer these questions and expose viewers to new situations within the show's universe.

Who are these people? Where are they? The webisodes answer these questions and expose viewers to new situations within the show’s universe.

The webisodes allow fans to get a glimpse of conflicts from new characters not on the show.

The webisodes allow fans to get a glimpse of conflicts from new characters not on the show.

Similarly, negative capability, which builds strategic gaps in a narrative that help infuse a mystery, makes viewers curious about certain events that require more information or raise questions that are not immediately answered (Murray). In the television series’ first episode, there is a moment where Rick comes across who is now known popularly as “bicycle girl.” The girl, now a walker, is seen near a bicycle that Rick steals in order to get around town. When viewers see this girl who Rick comes back to, they ask questions about who this girl is and why the episode focuses on her so much. These questions are later answered in the webisodes on AMC’s website, where viewers learn the identity of bicycle girl. The idea that questions from a television show can be answered through a medium online allows viewers to learn more about the fictional world while gaining answers to these mysteries. The Walking Dead does a great job of incorporating different storytelling elements that leave the viewer wanting more, and gives the viewer the opportunity to have these questions answered through transmedia forms.

The famous "Bicycle Girl"

The famous “Bicycle Girl.”

Jenkins, Henry. “Transmedia Storytelling 101.” Confessions of an Aca-Fan. Henry Jenkins, 22 Mar. 2007. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html>.

Murray, Janet H. Hamlet on the Holodeck. New York City: The Free Press, A Division of Simon and Schuster Inc., 1997. PDF.

“Time is a flat circle. Everything we’ve ever done or will do, we’re gonna do over and over and over again…” Like using GIFs!

The most common version of the GIF, which has been around since 1987, is the “reaction GIF,” where a user creates or links a GIF and describes their feelings from it (“The History of GIFs”). These are used due to the ease of accessibility of reactions as there are literally millions from which to choose. This allows users to choose a GIF that conveys their emotions, and even when they cannot put to words how they feel, a GIF can do the job.

My reaction when Rust says something stupid again...

My reaction when Rust says something stupid again…

True Detective’s quality of acting and the artistic value makes it a great show for GIFs. It contains many moments I relate to and is also a very semiotic show; one person may react differently than I do. With my GIF, those who watch the show understand the relationship between Rust and Marty. They know that the reaction GIF of Marty I created is somewhat of a common, almost everyday response to Rust’s antics and his philosophies on life.

How I feel when I solve a murder case after a decade... (original author: http://finlandias.tumblr.com/post/92457746867)

How I feel when I solve a murder case after a decade… (Credit: http://finlandias.tumblr.com/post/92457746867)

The Social Presence Theory “focuses on the perception of others as real and present,” while the Media Richness Theory “focuses directly on the medium” (Baym 53). Regarding Social Presence, GIFs can range in intimacy depending on the person who uses the GIF, what the GIF is about, and the context regarding the GIF. If I linked a GIF to describe how I feel, that person would understand it better if they understood the context. Without it, reaction GIFs do not deliver as well. For Media Richness, GIFs fall under this category perfectly. They are instantly available, they communicate multiple cues, they describe natural language through computerized numbers, and they can convey an endless range of emotions. The GIF I created is non-verbal, and the viewer must rely on the facial cues of Marty alone. Viewers will notice his facial expression and head movements, and thus will coordinate a specific view on how the GIF is relevant. The majority of reaction GIFs rely on viewers to understand certain features about the situation, and are useless without these non-verbal cues.

When somebody's annoying the hell outta you... (Credit: http://mrhankey.tumblr.com/post/79373992109)

When somebody’s annoying the hell outta you… (Credit: http://mrhankey.tumblr.com/post/79373992109)

Richard Dawkins’ three properties of memes discuss that memes spread if they incorporate longevity, fecundity, and copy fidelity (Dawkins). A True Detective GIF will be around for as long as the show is, and as long as the GIFs maintain relevancy to a topic. In essence, the more relevant a GIF, the longer it exists. Similarly, if a GIF is popular, it will have a greater fecundity. GIFs gain popularity depending on social situations, and if more situations occur, the GIF will be viewed more. As for copy fidelity, GIFs are extremely easy to create (as I discovered in last week’s lab). Anybody with access to PhotoShop or a GIF-creating website will have no problem copying GIFs. With these three factors, the lifespan of a GIF can be extremely short or as long as the Internet exists. Regardless, GIFs have played an important role in the digital media age and will continue to do so for decades.

Citations:

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

Buck, Stephanie. “The History of GIFs.” Mashable. N.p., 19 Oct. 2012. Web. 06 Feb. 2015. http://mashable.com/2012/10/19/animated-gif-history/.

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

GIF citations are located within the description.