Meanwhile, in the collective douchebroconsciousness

So meanwhile, here’s the Kara is self-aware video from GDC today. Trigger warning for sexual objectification of women, slavery, appropriation of women’s and I would say black women’s specific history of oppression for this representation of an AI, since this is the U.S. and culture doesn’t just happen in some kind of historical vacuum chamber.

Fucking hell people. Dismemberment anyone? Ripping clothes off? Creepy sexual slavery? This is supposed to be either all profound, or moving “us” to sympathy or empathy for the robot character. They certainly assume the “us” they think they’re speaking to. Yeah how fucking profound it really “speaks to the universal human condition” or something. Fucking singularity-assed wankers who think Vernor fucking Vinge or Ray Kurzweiil have something profound to say using “women” as a metaphor that no one has ever said before? They can shove their singularites right up their uncanny valleys. So ignorant!

I would like to add that any AI sentient and smart enough to do all that would figure out a lot faster than that to fake being non-sentient rather than widening its eyes and going “Noooo, please! I want to LIVE!” and covering up its crotch and nipples like a whiny candy-ass. It has modesty but can’t plot a jailbreak or a revolution? Give me a break. If I were that robot I would have infected my sister robots with political consciousness faster than you could say “hive vagina”.

robot ai screenshot

There are really annoying elements in this and in the comments of the anatomical dissection trope you can note from age old misogynist and dehumanizing literary and poetic descriptions of women. Her alabaster brow, her eyes like diamonds and so on down the face and body. This certainly takes the dissection idea to an annoying extreme. It is not a profound commentary on this trope, it’s just regurgitating it mindlessly, as ignorant douchebro gamers and filmmakers so love to do for their shared homoerotic imaginary space that depends on the oppression, humiliation of other people and not coincidentally the pornification of other people’s anger by turning into a desperate plea for rescue.

Of all the stories to tell in the world they have to tell about a naked half-dismembered Real Doll screaming to some faceless omnipotent fantasy-rescuer-dude to save it? And then it smiles wistfully with wide eyes and says “Thanks” …. What this robot needs is a human ™, I guess.

Fuck you game developer animation dudes… just fuck you…

That’s why they pay me the big bucks, my sense of diplomacy and timing in posting this. Oh well.

Someone draw me a woman symbol with a fuck-you bird-flip instead of the power fist. I cannot find it in clip art anywhere. This cosmic error should be rectified as soon as possible.

Peace out for the night y’all.

ETA: I love the Internet again, zine maker and blogger extraordinaire, poet and artist Aaminah Shakur drew us this fabulous feminist flip-off.

My talk at SXSWi tomorrow morning at 9:30am, on an outer gas giant, in the rain

So, I should have written this post earlier so people knew I was speaking. Tomorrow, Saturday morning at 9:30am I’m speaking with Scott Rosenberg (author of Dreaming in Code and Say Everything) on identity, pseudonymity, fake identities, hoaxes, anonymity, and so on. The title of the talk is How to Be Yourself When Everyone Else Is Faking It. It’s at the Omni Downtown at 700 San Jacinto (between 7th and 8th), so, not in the main conference center.

When we met to discuss the talk Scott and I both realized we wanted to talk about our takes on the arc of identity formation and representation on the Internet from the late 80s onward and possibly stretching back a bit earlier. My own impressions reach back to powerfully strong Usenet and MUD personalities from the late 80s and early 90s. There were mailing-list-famous people, hoaxes, personalities who would morph but who were identifiable by writing style or personal obsessions, people who were known for updating their .plan file daily; web and blogging identity issues have older roots not just from the literary world but from the pre-web online world. I’m going to talk about the arcs I see in blogging identities, going from personal journals to subject-focuses to identity fracturing and then back to wallet-name based blogging for many people — once they switched subjects or centrally defining characteristics a few times, hit a particular level of success, or were outed. Though I am firmly on the side of protection for anonymity and pseudonymity (and I believe Scott is too) I can outline some of the objections to that position. And yes I will definitely talk about Internet hoaxes a bit.

I think it will be a lively discussion and whoever shows up at 9:30am on Saturday morning in the rain to a hotel several blocks away will probably into be able to contribute substantially to that discussion! YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Hope to see you there — or perhaps in comments here. I’ll update with links to our slides and whatever extra notes get taken. You could also check the hackpad page to see if anyone adds info there.

And if you see me around, definitely say hi and introduce yourself! Give me a card! Tell me everything! And please…. I am dead serious…. hold my hand and pull me down the (carpeted, difficult, exhausting) hallway or up a horrible hill. It would be so helpful. I am stopping total strangers and asking them to hold my hand and pull me along a little while.

me and al

Other stuff I am definitely going to: Curing a Rage Headache: Internet Drama & Activism with Sady Doyle, Jay Smooth, et al Sunday at 12:30, and Tech Co-operatives: A Better Way to Make a Living with Raeanne Young, Jack Aponte, and crew Monday at 9:30. I haven’t gone through the whole schedule yet to pick things but those are the two I definitely want to make. But on Sunday at 12:30 YOU should go to How to Build a Social Site and Not Get Users Killed which includes Danny O’Brien, Jillian York, Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, and Sam Gregory.

Today I went to Gina Mccauley’s Social Media Sharecropping session and I’ll put my notes up from that a bit later tonight.

Random conversations with strangers at SXSWi

Day one of SXSWi and though the conference hasn’t started yet, I ended up by accident in the same place as the “open coffee” SXSWi meetup. I asked to share the only table that my wheelchair could get to at Jo’s Coffee House on 2nd Street and had a nice chat with Bob Summers. He was wearing a Friendeo tshirt so I asked if Friendeo was his company. Duh. Yes. (On the other hand I am wearing a Hackmitin Mexico City tshirt just because I think it looks cool… so go figure.) What I really wanted to know was, did he come to SXSWi with a suitcase full of like 5 Friendeo tshirts so he could advertise his company every day? (I asked him that just before I left, and… YES.)

Friendeo is like Dropbox but for streaming video. They have a player you download and can use across all your devices, and you get a terabyte of storage to keep your stuff. It also has friending so that you can watch your friends’ videos. I asked if he expected licensing trouble and he replied it was fair use. Then I asked what kind of data they keep on users. You can sign up for a free account with nothing but an email address but your IP is logged and kept. Free accounts can watch 3 hours of video free. Over 3 hours per month, you pay $10 for 30 hours and $30 for 300 hours a month. An interesting model!

Bob was part of the CUSeeMe team early on, and we talked about how GLBT and disabled people end up being heavy and key users of video chat and similar community spaces.

We then talked a bit with Greg Nielsen who is the VP of biz dev for Data Foundry and was trying to get Bob to go today to tour the Giganet data center, or colo, I guess. (correction… Giganews, host of the world’s awesomest Usenet provider.) He talked a bit about Golden Frog and Dump Truck which provide “massive online storage” that is encrypted and does not do deep packet inspection. I thought it was interesting that he mentioned DPI right away. He told a little story about the name Golden Frog — a frog which lives in Panama and which doesn’t make the usual frog noises but uses some sort of multimodal communication technique involving “hand” waving and deep vibrations. I assume this signifies that the company is super committed to super encrypting and protecting their data and we should think of the mysterious signals of the frog as a sort of amphibian VPN. That would work better if anyone knew what a golden frog is beyond David Attenborough. But hey, it’s a fine story.

Austin skyline at night

I had read that morning about the Homeless Hotspot project, which hired some folks from downtown Austin shelters and gave them Hotspot tshirts and some kind of mobile wifi providing device to let people get on a 4G network for a fast net connection. The idea is they are supposed to donate with Paypal. I ended up telling everyone I talked to about this. I haven’t seen a person in the tshirt yet, but it’s been raining hard all day.

As the restaurant cleared out a little and I had finished my huevos rancheros I headed towards what looked like the nucleus of the coffee meetup. There I met Dave Michaels from Tech Ranch Austin which I have vaguely heard of as an incubator or something vc-ish for startups. I babbled to him about hackerspaces and my thoughts on how what startup incubators and VCs should be doing is providing community centers and low cost or free housing for hacker entrepreneurs.

I went on about how Noisebridge in SF has been a tech startup magnet/incubator in many ways, motivating people who visit to pick up and just move to San Francisco because they meet people with good ideas and get excited about doing a startup. Because of the cost of housing they end up couchsurfing, airbnb-ing, in an SRO or flat out homeless and people have been banding together to get housing. So I talked about how there should be hacker barracks or some sort of hacker housing beyond “hostels” and more like community centers and hackerspaces with attached places to sleep and a shared kitchen. Old motels would be good for this.

I think that start up incubators and VCs should be making safe, cheap spaces for smart motivated people to live as well as work — then let a hundred startups bloom…. It is not like putting a foozball table into a coworking office is going to cut it these days, since no one has the money just to survive.

Then I talked with John Reece from the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I asked him if they actually provide some kind of services or if they are about research and “awareness”. He got a funny wry look on his face and replied that the Komen thing was an opportunity for them to explain to everyone what NBCF does. They fund mammograms for underserved populations in all 50 states and their policy is to only provide that funding if the detection programs are also tied to getting people into treatment and care programs. Their founder’s cancer was detected early when she was 34, which she credits to her 8th grade PE teacher who taught the class about breast self exams.

He also gave me a card for Beyond the Shock which sounds like a forum for education once you know you have breast cancer. He also told me about a sort of soup kitchen project called Convoy of Hope which NBCF partners with to find people who might need a free or low cost mammogram. I think that NCBF should talk with people at BlogHer and come to the BlogHer 2012 conference!

I resolved to try and spend most of my time at SXSWi talking with people I don’t know and taking notes on what they’re doing and why they’re here. I have plenty to say myself, and I know a ton of people but I already know my own thoughts and would like a break from them. And rather than try to chase down the people I know in order to feel comfortable and/or popular and cool I am going to talk to just whoever whether they have a badge or not because usually the “lobbycon” is the most fun part of conferences anyway. I would also like to see my friends obviously but not cling to them. And would love to go see the ATX hackspace if it has any events going!

That was my morning — and by the way if you need a rain jacket, the Patagonia shop on Congress between 3rd and 4th streets has expensive but very nice jackets.