[-empyre-] Machine Dreams
markcmarino at gmail.com
Tue May 23 15:53:42 AEST 2017
Machine Dreams reignited my passion for chatbots -- or coming to understand
our relationships to our own identities through reflections on the way we
create and treat conversation agents. Think about how we talk to Siri and
(Amazon) Alexa. (Or perhaps think about how we talk to the copy machine
when it is not cooperating.) Actually, my wife believes I have an abusive
relationship with our Alexa. I think she (Alexa) just doesn't understand
what I want, what I need. (My wife, an electrical engineer, rolls her
During Machine Dreams, I drew from this paper on the Racial Formation of
which grew out of my dissertation work.
In that paper, I comment on the way chatbot makers construct the race and
gender of their bots, offering a few examples. While researching chatbots,
a while back, I had noticed a tendency for creators/designers in North
America, when fashioning bots with visual representations, to construct
chatbots with non-white identities. These bots also frequently presented
themselves in a servile position -- to deliver information or to at least
respond to every verbal solicitation.
I should note, my observations were based on the convenience sampling I
encountered in my research -- and more importantly, I was drawn (as a
researcher, not a lover, I think) to bots of this kind. Nonetheless, given
the foundational legacy of enslavement in America, it was alternatively
troubling and fascinating to see this American history repeat itself in the
world of chatbots. The bots varied from culturally appropriated
imaginaries to exoticized and fetishized others. (SCi-Fi movie goers will
not be surprised by any of this, I suspect.)
And here I think of your poem: :Trace
Race is not programmed yet....
in which the robot lover, the radio heart, in this state of innocence or
ignorance of racial constructions, seems to be fascinated by the human's
face, arguably the center of racial identification/formation, the profile
for profiling. In the case of chatbots, I'm not sure there is this
pre-racial moment, constructed as they are from language and from visual
representations, race and gender and socioeconomic status are imprinted on
the nuts and bolts we use to build them.
I'll save some further thoughts on gender and bots for a future post.
On Mon, May 22, 2017 at 9:55 PM, Margaret J Rhee <mrhee at uoregon.edu> wrote:
> I'd love to continue this wonderful thread that Mark started, and for any
> thoughts Saba may have on the symposium space. In particular, I'm really
> interested in the two innovative works you both presented, Mark you gave a
> talk on chatbots and intersectionality, and Saba, you focused more
> specifically on cyborgian poetry. I'm wishing I had your talks right in
> front of me, and glad we do have the google link for the gathering! If you
> could share a bit on the works, and how it has developed since the
> gathering, that would be wonderful to hear.
> Again, Mark, thank you for being such a vital guidance for the gathering,
> and excited you can participate here. I know you were the Keynote speaker
> for the offshoot conference two attendees organized at CSU, would love to
> hear how that space went?
> Saba, you published In the Crocodile Gardens after Machine Dreams, did the
> symposium shape the manuscript in anyway?
> Also, have you both ever written poetry, or creative writing after a
> symposium as we did?
> More soon, as Ana will join us later on in the week, but excited to
> continue the conversation here, and reflect together.
> On 2017-05-22 21:06, Margaret J Rhee wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Dear Mark,
>> I am also so excited for this week's discussion, and gathering again
>> together! I will send a "formal announcement" shortly to introduce
>> this exciting week.
>> The Machine Dreams gathering was incredibly special, in part because
>> of your guidance, and mentorship to the space! It was a gathering of
>> really inspiring scholars and artists, and created such a generative
>> space of engagement. I am so glad the space was also special to you,
>> and others, especially because it was made so special by way of your
>> contributions, guidance, and others who joined us there.
>> I am struck by your moving words,
>> "Why are we so drawn to the machines of our machine dreams, as people,
>> as artists, as dreamers? I'm starting to think that it is not their
>> inability to be completely human but instead their ability to fully
>> embody one part of the human attributes without manifesting the full
>> meat sack of messy, squishy embodied being. In other words, they allow
>> us to imagine intensely our humanity in part."
>> I want to stay with your words above, because perhaps that is what
>> characterizes the gathering, and what I am curious about as well. "Why
>> are we so drawn to the machine of our machine dreams," and how robots
>> and machines "allow us to imagine intensely our humanity in part."
>> machine dreams, and the ties forged and soldered through. more soon.
>> On 2017-05-22 08:45, Mark Marino wrote:
>>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>>> Hi, Machine Dreamers,
>>> I'm so excited for this week's discussion. Our Machine Dreams
>>> encounter was one I will not forget. For those of you who missed it,
>>> you can watch a somewhat pixelated version here.
>>> As I read over our publication from Machine Dreams, flip through the
>>> pages of Radio heart, or think about our time together, I'm struck by
>>> the shear humanity of the whirls with robots. Or rather, I'm struck
>>> by the parts of humanity that emerge from the whirls.
>>> Why are we so drawn to the machines of our machine dreams, as people,
>>> as artists, as dreamers? I'm starting to think that it is not their
>>> inability to be completely human but instead their ability to fully
>>> embody one part of the human attributes without manifesting the full
>>> meat sack of messy, squishy embodied being. In other words, they allow
>>> us to imagine intensely our humanity in part. Not metonymic but in
>>> An emotion. A logical flow. A sense of consideration without
>>> empathy. Knowledge without understanding.
>>> But our intense encounter with even that part of humanity -- that part
>>> of humanity isolated from the whole -- is transformative.
>>> "I still hear you radio heart beating
>>> Inside the meat of mine."
>>> And of course, no doubt this partiality is part and parcel of our
>>> experience of one another.
>>> That is my first thought. Looking forward to our conversation.
>>> Mark Marino
>>> empyre forum
>>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> Margaret Rhee, Ph.D.
>> Visiting Assistant Professor
>> Women's and Gender Studies
>> University of Oregon
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> Margaret Rhee, Ph.D.
> Visiting Assistant Professor
> Women's and Gender Studies
> University of Oregon
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