Tag Archives: posthumanity

Biological Leakage, 2.0: #Japan ‘Leads the Way to Our Posthuman Future’!

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Political Science

‘RoboCop’, 2.0: The Electronic Employment Revolution That Can Annihilate Your Job Tomorrow

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 20.03.40

In the last year or so there has been a deluge of journalistic output on robots – to be precise, on the potential impact of these previously innocuous electronic aides on the global job market. As robots become ever-more obviously dextrous, intelligent and humanoid, this is a theme which warrants serious analysis.

It was therefore with some surprise that we at Mediolana came across one of the more questionable evaluations of this dynamic and emerging sector by none other than a genuine expert in the field: Tony Prescott, director of the Sheffield Robotics laboratory and a professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of Sheffield. Speaking in the Guardian (Caress me, I’m an iCub, 21st May 2015 in print edition) about the likelihood of a new wave of robo-labour invading the workplace and displacing humans, Prescott conceded that this was a possibility, but added: ‘…it will be the dirty and dangerous jobs, letting us focus on the things we are better at. And we’ll be wealthier, giving us the time to do what we want to do.’

Prescott’s reassurances sound ameliorative – until one actually examines their substantive content. The troubling reality is that the first statement is already demonstrably false: as discussed on this very blog, the multilingual Nano robot is being rolled out across SoftBank branches in Japan not as a mere replacement teller, but as a customer service agent capable of giving advice in no less than nineteen languages; in the same country, a hotel almost entirely staffed by non-humans has been inaugurated. Safe and even desirable middle-class jobs – as well as decidedly less glamorous occupations – are squarely in the firing line of the roboklasse – not in some hypothetical future scenario, but presently.

As to Prescott’s second contention, the idea that ‘we’ will be wealthier in the future is rather contingent on what position one occupies in the ‘new’ society, but many students at his institution and throughout the (post-)developed world are not merely incomparably more indebted than their parents, but face an unforgiving job market: youth unemployment rates are north of 50% in numerous jurisdictions, and even many of those with jobs are not earning enough to trigger the commencement of student loan repayments.

Put bluntly: there is no guaranteed happy ending to the story of advancing robotics in the workplace. Those without the qualifications and uniqueness to ride out the robo-revolution risk finding themselves not merely outsourced, but ‘outperformed’ by an electronic rival which requires no salary or social security. No one who reads this blog can say that they were not forewarned.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 20.04.07

Leave a comment

Filed under Economics, Technology, Urban Life

Our Posthuman Future? New #Study Claims Sex ‘Heading for the History Books’!

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Economics, Education

From Roxanne to Roxxxy: Our Posthuman Future is Closer than you Think

In his slow-burning 2002 classic Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution, the fabled Francis Fukuyama qualified his much-derided (but rarely closely read) ‘End of History’ thesis in one important respect: as long as ‘science’ (as conventionally understood) continued to advance, the ultimate endpoint of liberal democratic capitalism was not as fixed as he had first thought. In an age of cheap, advanced biotechnology, there appears to be little in theory to stop some humans conferring on both themselves and their offspring enormous genetic and other advantages – a few billion extra brain cells here, Herculean muscle strength there – with potentially alarming consequences for, amongst other things, political order.

However, with the advent of Roxxxy, the human species may well be taking giant strides into posthumanity far before the plumpest fruits of the biotechnological era ripen. A sex robot manufactured by New Jersey corporation TrueCompanion and priced at under US$10,000.00 (not including additional subscription fees), Roxxxy – a 170cm, 54kg doll whose name ironically echoes the classic Police ballad Roxanne – is said to have been based on a fine arts undergraduate, though many of her features – including hair colour, eye colour and skin colour – may be customised according to individual preference. Roxxxy’s personality and vocabulary can be augmented via Internet updates; she can even talk about football if so desired.

In some ways, the Eastern Seaboard e-Barbarella is still fairly primitive – she does not yet have the ability to move her limbs independently – but Roxxxy points to a trend which is clear: in the not-too-distant future, at least some human beings – particularly men – will have the option of conversing and copulating with ever-more realistic facsimiles.

This trend prompts Mediolana’s chief blogger to recall a conversation that he was privy to a few years ago: a well-off businessman was boasting about the virtues of his new wife. A recent immigrant from the former Eastern Bloc, there was nothing this young lady could not do: she prepared meals like a Michelin-starred chef, evoked the Kama Sutra in the bedroom and was competence itself at every task that she engaged in. There was just one small problem: she was being referred to in the same way that one talks about a marvellous new electrical appliance.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Spirituality, Technology