do anthropologists dream of electronic savages?

anthropology, technology, and new worlds The ‘↑Ethnologische Salon‘ in January ↑Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde München—Foyer Friday, 27 January 2012, 19:00h —‘Do Anthropologists Dream of Electronic Savages?’ lecture by Alexander Knorr, lavishly illustrated by projections —‘Man and Machine’ Reading from the book ‘↑Cyberanthropology‘ by Alexander Knorr. Read by Karin Sommer and Stefan Eisenhofer —Independent Short Films: ‘↑World Builder‘ by ↑Bruce Branit (USA 2007) ‘↑Fragile Machine‘ by ↑Ben Steele (USA 2005/2007) … Continue reading

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the machine stops

  ‘↓The Machine Stops‘ is a science fiction short story or novella by ↑E. M. Forster, first published in 1909. Here is the story’s setting as ↑Wikipedia’s plot summary has it: The story describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard ‘cell’, with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine. Travel is permitted but unpopular and rarely necessary. Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine called the … Continue reading

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beyond westworld

Yul Brynner always has been one of my all-time favourite actors. So it is hardly surprising that his impersonation of the Gunslinger in ‘↑Westworld‘ (Crichton 1973) is one of my favourite robots. Marking the naturalistic android to be artificial only by way of the metallic eyes—see above—was a stroke of genius. The sequel ‘↑Futureworld‘ (Heffron 1976) followed. Unfortunately Brynner returned just for a short dream sequence. Both movies I saw as a kid on television and have them on DVD since long. Just recently I got to know that a television series was produced, set out to carry the story … Continue reading

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cyberpunkish artefacts listings

In the navigation menu above ↵cyberpunk has appeared as a new element. Here is what the new element and its dropdown menu are all about:     On the pages assembled in this menu I am collecting ↵motion pictures, ↵literature, ↵comics, and ↵computer games which can be called cyberpunk or cyberpunkish. A cultural artefact out of this categories qualifies, and is added to the respective list, if it comprises a sufficiently critical mass composed of peculiar core themes, æsthetics, settings, and protagonists.     At the thematic core there are the reciprocal effects between state-of-the-art technology and culture, society, the … Continue reading

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billion dollar brain

“↑Billion Dollar Brain” (Russell 1967) is a cold war spy thriller movie based on the ↑novel of the same name by British writer ↑Len Deighton (1966). Said novel is one of a series starring an unnamed secret agent, working for British intelligence, as the central protagonist. During the 1960s three movies were made, based on three novels of the series. In the movies the protagonist has a name, ↑Harry Palmer, and is played by ↑Michael Caine.     Both, the novels and the movies, somewhat counter ↑Ian Fleming‘s urbane character ↑James Bond and his glitzy high society universe. Deighton renders … Continue reading

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cyberanthropology

My new book ‘↑Cyberanthropology‘ has been published. You absolutely are invited to order it online ↑via amazon [I have absolutely nothing against you clicking the like-button there] or ↑via Peter Hammer Verlag. Offline every decent bookshop can get it for you, too. As the book is in German, here is my description of its contents in German: In “Cyberanthropology” geht es um moderne Technik und den Menschen, um Computer und Internet, um Computerspiele, aber auch um GPS, Automobile, Roboter …     Was vor nicht allzu langer Zeit Science Fiction war, ist Lebenswirklichkeit geworden. Die vielfältigen Erscheinungsformen digitaler Elektronik und … Continue reading

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guy headroom

The screenshot above I grabbed from ‘↑A Message from Anonymous—12/16/2010‘ on YouTube. No, I won’t really comment on ↑Anonymous for now—my esteemed colleague ↑Biella Coleman already covers it nicely from an anthropological vantage point: ‘↑Anonymous: From the Lulz to Collective Action.’ What I am driving at are the remix-æsthetics of the video, and the sources it draws on, which stem from 1980s British cyberpunk.     The ↑Guy Fawkes mask is part of Anonymous’ corporate identity from the beginning on. Of course they had the idea from a motion picture produced by the ↑Wachowski brothers of ↑Matrix-fame: ‘V for Vendetta’ … Continue reading

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we, robot

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 … Continue reading

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watson

More water on my mills, this time from an Op-Ed out of yesterday’s New York Times on Watson, IBM’s AI which will compete in Jeopardy! on Valentine’s day: It’s remarkable how much of the digital revolution has been driven by games and entertainment. (Powers 2011: WK 10)     The machine’s one great edge: Watson has no idea that he should be panicking. (Powers 2011: WK 10)     This raises the question of whether Watson is really answering questions at all or is just noticing statistical correlations in vast amounts of data. But the mere act of building has … Continue reading

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robots and suicide bombing

a bizarre relationship in a decidedly cyberpunked world On Monday, 4 February 2008 in a shopping mall in Dimona, southern Israel, a “woman has been killed in a suicide bombing […], the first such attack by Palestinian militants in over a year,” ↑reported the BBC. Very sad and tragical (absolutely no irony or cynicism here), as the most of what I heard from the Middle East via the traditional mass media as far as my memory reaches back. The relationship between robots and human beings has become an issue spawning quite some media attention recently. In Japan robots are used … Continue reading

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