Print

Print


Hi,

Apologies that I am entering this discussion rather late – I was away and
out of easy access to email until now. I'm scanning the previous posts
rather quickly, but I would just like to return to two emotive and
interconnected questions that are raised by Kristina's mail about her work –
one is the dualistic idea of mind/body and the other is whether the machine
metaphor is appropriate to humans or not. George has discursively addressed
these questions already using some interesting and specific examples, but I
would also like to add my bit as these are questions that have preoccupied
me too during the production of interactive works such as:

www.alteregoinstallation.co.uk
www.ucl.ac.uk/conversation-piece

It is also interesting that Simon has introduced the self/other binary as
well as this is obviously another important boundary that (my) interactive
works play with. 

I am writing rather quickly here, so excuse the generalizations… 

Firstly, in the mind/body debate I think it is important to look beyond our
somewhat narrow western definitions and to look at conceptions of ourselves
as humans that acknowledge the absolute interconnectedness of body, identity
and being-in-the-world  - as Merleau Ponty says: ' far from my body's being
for me no more than a fragment of space, there would be no space at all for
me if I had no body'. 

Actually reading through the debate I am smiling – there is, perhaps
predictably, a gender divide in attitudes towards the mind/body and
human/machine questions…?

Something I have found interesting in research around affective computing is
that historically the machine metaphor has been used for humans and has been
particularly exploited in sports and in medicine for example, but more
recently with the developments in affective computing it seems that the goal
is to create machines that are 'like humans' on an emotional level.  After
all, the definition of what it is to be human is based on whether a person
has the ability to empathise with others – it seems that the fashionable
task is now to create machines that are capable of these human feelings (or
of convincingly emulating them at least).  Taking into account the questions
that have been circulating regarding what is meant by 'machine' – I think
there has been a change in recent years from using the machine (in this case
I mean a computer) (dictionary definition of machine: a device used to
perform a task) as a model for the human to the inverse – it seems that
people want machines that can empathise, talk to us, understand us…