we, robot

A sexy robot/android/gynoid/cyborg by Hajime Sorayama
About Mark Stephen Meadows I first heard when I still was deep into Second Life (SL). His book ‘I, avatar’ (2008) is outstandingly designed—Meadows is a portrait artist and author by profession—and from all physical books on the topic does by far the most justice to SL in terms of visual representation. In terms of content, it until today is the best I read on the issue of ‘the avatar,’ which Meadows does not restrict to the graphical representation of the user-controlled agent in SL. He understands it as a term for all kinds of online manifestation of a human individual’s personality. For example, in his book he also deals with interaction at YouTube—absolutely enlightening. The book as a whole qualifies as ‘experimental ethnography,’ a genre so much asked for since the times of ‘Writing culture’ (1986).
    Now he seems to have done it again, I just heard—here’s the official description of his ‘We, robot’ (2010):

How close to becoming reality are our favorite science fiction robots? And what might be the real-life consequences of their existence? Robotics and artificial intelligence expert (and science fiction fan) Mark Stephen Meadows answers that question with an irresistible blend of hard science, futurist imagination, solid statistics, pop culture, and plenty of humor.
    What exists now? Robots strikingly similar to those in The Terminator, The Jetsons, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Meadows reveals robots that hunt humans, walk your dog, tidy up the house, invest your money, and campaign for your favorite political candidate. What will we see in the coming decade? Robots just like the ones in Iron Man, Blade Runner, and Neuromancer. Readers will learn about the near-future robots who dodge bullets, love you, and get hurt when you don’t love them back. What about twenty, thirty, even fifty years from now? Creations like those from Star Wars, The Jetsons, Battlestar Galactica, and Avatar. Prepare your kids and grandkids for robots that have animal brains or animal bodies, rule the world, govern your city, and demand equal rights.
    Including full-color illustrations of famous science fiction robots, photos of current real robots, and more, We, Robot is a must for fans of both science fiction and science fact, as well as anyone with a touch (or more) of geekiness in their past or their present.

I do not have the book yet, but R. U. Sirius has done a review/interview with Mark Stephen Meadows, and judging from its contents, it goes well with e.g. my thoughts on robots and suicide bombing,’ and might serve as a counterweight to Cosima Wagner’s scholarly, fieldwork-based robotopia nipponica.’ And there is one more plus: The cover is by Japanese airbrush artist Hajime Sorayama, at least since his ‘Sexy robot’ (1983) a legend.

CLIFFORD, JAMES, AND GEORGE E. MARCUS (eds.). 1986. Writing culture: The poetics and politics of ethnography. Experiments in Contemporary Anthropology: A school of American research Advanced Seminar. Los Angeles, Berkeley: University of California Press.
MEADOWS, MARK STEPHEN. 2008. I, avatar: The culture and consequences of having a second life. Berkeley: New Riders.
MEADOWS, MARK STEPHEN. 2010. We, robot: Skywalker’s hand, Blade Runners, Iron Man, slutbots, and how fiction became fact. Guilford: Lyons Press.
SORAYAMA, HAJIME. 1983. Sexy robot. Tokyo: Genko-Sha.
via entry at Bruce Sterling’s beyond the beyond
Share