Adventures in E-Learning and Digital Culture

Week 4 Video Reviews – Robbie the Manipulator et al… #edcmooc February 22, 2013

The videos this week were highlighted to evoke forms of transhumanism however in yesterday’s blog I outlined that I am not a convert of the movement.  My video reviews reflect that.

Robbie the Manipulator

Throughout the video I kept being reminded about how we attribute human emotions to our pets.  Design a robot, albeit a highly complex one, give it a kind, trembling, dying voice to manipulate the heartstrings and voila you have half the viewer’s raging about the injustice of what has happened to him.  Hey.. he’s not real!!  To be honest I felt the same yuck about  ET (he wasn’t a robot but creepily non-human).  Call me pragmatic but I cannot believe a robot will ever have the same attributes as a human.  We program, they respond.  When it changes they can come after me.

Gimme Gumdrops

I want one (as long as I can change her accent and mute her from time to time)… but I don’t believe in her as anything more than a complex, well designed robot with advanced levels of interaction. (I don’t believe in her at the moment because she doesn’t exist).


True Skin

Horrible, dystopic view of a life with the wrong body part, us and them, surveillance, grey and seedy city life and the Cyborg.  Realistically people do opt to enhance what they perceive as their quality of life.  We see that with choices eg, when they are sick or want to improve their appearance, or stay young – some choices are life-threatening, unsafe and unproven but they persevere because of their own personal drivers.

On the other hand hip replacements, heart pacemakers, and the like, wonderfully improve quality of life now.  My young friend, off to do Megatronics at University this year, tells me about exciting technology that replaces limbs, maybe bionic eyes.. all good and all useful human endeavour (let’s just hope everyone can afford it?)

I watched a Ted-X talk (a headset that reads your brainwaves) – a chap could think/control a simple computer task with brain responses and a fancy hair net.  Brilliant.  This is wonderful technology with potential BUT THE DEVICE OPERATES  ON HUMAN RESPONSES not on its own.



Truly sad to me who gets immense pleasure from the real world but for those who do not have choices about the colourless world’s they inhabit an Avatar could provide an escape .  Here, when the players are in character, they are unique, complex and important.   (And I learnt today if you are good at this particular game you get paid well).

One of the players on the video did sound like a joyful killer. From Gabe Zichermann’s Ted talk (reference in last blog below) research shows that people with violent personalities become more violent when gaming.  Other research talks about people with addictive personalities becoming game addicts.  (Interesting – current research says the problems start with the people not the technology –– not technology determining the bad behaviour.. just enhancing it).

Research shows some games do help us multi-task, problem solve quickly, drive better … but an excess is problematic.  Disruptions to circadian sleep rhythms are not uncommon and can present as psychoses to doctors.   I have seen teenagers (not mine) in this state due to heavy gaming and it is disturbing.

“Sleep researcher Yaron Dagan states that “[t]hese disorders can lead to harmful psychological and functional difficulties and are often misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated due to the fact that doctors are unaware of their existence.”[1]


I enjoyed the quality of the videos this week and appreciated the connection to the subject matter.  I am just not of the transhuman persuasion so they didn’t have huge resonance.