I blog because, basically, I’m an ambulance chaser for the #singularity. Technologically driven global culture has emerged just in time to ignite the biggest crucible of social upheaval since, you know, ever. And I can’t wait to see what happens.
Train wreck? Transcendent transformation into immortal, mostly-machine superbeings? Or just anxious, multitasking, marketing-soaked, rapidly evolving humans whose bodies rebel against “knowledge work” by seizing up with carpal tunnel (hopefully on camera)?
Posthuman forms like the effervescent, holographic Hatsune Miku—a vocaloid (vocal+android) who just happens to be a giant Japanese pop star—are starting to join us regular folks, at least at sold-out arenas. Prepare yourself for a glimpse of the future. The crowd & backup band at this performance are totally biological; the star of the show, not at all.
Is this, you know, the direction we want to go with humanity?
If we set the bar for female roles at “impossible exaggeration”, like “we” did in fashion and porn, we alienate real women.
/ˈeɪlyəˌneɪt, ˈeɪliə-/ –verb (used with object)
1.to make indifferent or hostile.
2. to turn away.
If that doesn’t sound like a problem to you…insert snark here. Q’s Jian Ghomeshi attempted to broach this subject with interviewee and futurist blogger Aaron Saenz, but Aaron only considered the sinister aspect of fabricated women from a “Will this result in a pop star work shortage?” perspective.
Had Miku been designed as a realistic woman, like Britney Spears*, she would no doubt still be an unattainable ideal for lots of girls, but infantilized anime schoolchildren are especially dismaying as a role model.
Miku is getting bona fide media coverage and playing festivals. But I’m not seeing a lot of comment-thread critique—and don’t get me wrong**, I have no qualms about humans interfacing with, being moved by, or paying good money to see an avatar (movies are digital representations of people too. It’s ok). It’s the kind of media idols we make that we need to think about.
1. any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion.
2. a mere image or semblance of something, visible but without substance, as a phantom.
3. a figment of the mind; fantasy.
4. a false conception or notion; fallacy.
In his humanist manifesto You Are Not A Gadget, virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier wrote about the subtle psychological effects of software design.
The most important thing to ask about any technology is how it changes people…Different media designs stimulate different potentials in human nature. (Technology) can change how you conceive of yourself and the world.
(Lanier, 2010: 5, 6, 36)
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Crypton Future Media, Miku’s virtual dad/pimp, says she’s 16 years old and 92 pounds. Discuss.
** I’d feel very cool & futuristic if I got to see Hatsune Miku live!