Friday, January 16, 2009

You Can Always Tell the Artists from the Scientists

Artist: Let's imagine that the fantastic Gulliver iconography with its cohabitation of tiny and giant people could also have some visionnary quality. Let's think that the 1957 film The Incredible Shrinking Man can be more than science fiction and let's imagine a worldwide collective decision to genetically miniaturize the future generations in order to reduce the human needs and increase space and ressources on the blue planet.

There would be a strange Gulliver-like period of transition where giants would still live with the next smaller generations, but on a longer run, the planet might look very different and the change of scale in relation to animals, plants, lanscapes could generate completely new ideas perceptions, representations and ideas.
Artist; Paris, France; Tate Museum

Scientist: Sociable technologies came onstage as toys, but in the future, they will be presented as potential nannies, teachers, therapists, life coaches, and caretakers for the elderly. First, they will be put forward as "better than nothing." (It is better to have a robot as a diet coach than just to read a diet book. If your mother is in a nursing home, it is better to leave her interacting with a robot that knows her habits and interests than staring at a television screen.) But over time, robots will be presented as "better than something," that is, preferable to an available human being, or in some cases, to a living pet. They will be promoted as having powers – of memory, attention, and patience – that people lack. Even now, when people learn that I work with robots, they tell me stories of human disappointment: they talk of cheating husbands, wives who fake orgasms, children who take drugs. They despair about human opacity: "We never know how another person really feels; people put on a good face. Robots would be safer." As much as a story of clever engineering, our evolving attachments to technology speaks to feelings of unrequited love.
-Sherry Turkle
Psychologist, MIT; author, Evocative Objects

Listen, I'm not saying scaling us down is a completely awful idea. I'm just saying its a completely made up, plucked from nothing idea.

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