Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Thursday, March 14, 2013

For Robot Cultists Heaven Is Being A Cartoon In An Ad for Crap That Never Ends

According to the Robot Cultist David J. Hill over at Singularity Hub, Audrey Hepburn has been "brought back to life through technology," in this ad:

Hill hyperventilates:
Each time another deceased famous person is suddenly appearing in commercials, the digitalization of the self seems to be a big step closer. There is no doubt a long way to go yet before we could have a truly realistic version of a famous person on our computers. But multiple technologies are coming together to deliver all the components necessary to construct a digital person. In fact [!], in time there will likely be services that help capture as many physical nuances about a person before they die so that future generations can see that person as an avatar -- or at least their great children. In it’s [sic] own way, it is a means of cheating death.
As usual, this techno-immortalist conceit seems willing to pretend that successfully fooling an audience as to the reality of an effect ("a truly realistic version") is the same thing as making something really real. On this logic, a murderer who successfully impersonates his victim hasn't done anything wrong, or done anything at all. On this logic, magicians really saw ladies in half and then harmlessly reconnect them. On this logic, futurological fraudsters who manage to convince credulous technoscientific illiterates that they are experts really deserve to be paid attention and sometimes even real money for saying the idiotic things they incessantly say (j'accuse!).

The company that created the ad aggregated material from Hepburn's film catalogue to generate this CG animation. Needless to say, if this thoroughly weird result counts as bringing Audrey Hepburn to life one assumes that a comparable animation generated from a still-living actor's film catalogue would count as giving that person a twin. Needless to say, nobody thinks this is so, and it isn't so.

That this ad does not actually bring Audrey Hepburn back to life at all is one thing, but the suggestion that it -- or some process like it, only, you know, more EXTREME! in THE FUTURE! -- will not only bring folks back to life, but somehow immortalize them ("cheating death"!) is quite another thing. One is tempted to remind Mr. Hill that cyberspace is not a heavenly realm populated by immaterial immortal cyberangels, but a (dirty) fuel-driven, (toxic) materially instantiated, (wage-slave) physically maintained constellation of artifacts and institutions and norms and practices in the real world, playing out in real history. Not only is the cyberspatial not eternal, but it is buggy, brittle, and evanescent. Not only will we not actually be immortalized by our computers, but we mortals already routinely outlive our actual computers (though of course they poisonously live on in our landfills, not that Robot Cultists give two shits about such realities, any more than any of the other common or garden variety gizmo-fetishizing hyper-consuming tragicomic-fashionista types they ultimately amount to being do).

When one declares Audrey Hepburn to have been "immortalized" by her iconic film career, it is understood (one presumes) that the phrase is intended figuratively. Leave it to Robot Cultists to think literal immortality might be accomplished through the re-arrangement of that same film catalogue by untalented coder drones in their corporate veal fattening pens who can't tell the difference between science and science-fiction.

You boys do realize that Audrey Hepburn isn't actually the same as the characters she played in her movies, don't you? You boys do realize that you are not a picture of you, don't you? Don't you?


Raymond Johnson said...

These boys either read too much Baudrillard ...or perhaps too little?

Dale Carrico said...

It's impossible to read too little Baudrillard in my view (his early Death and Symbolic Exchange isn't bad, but hardly indispensable), but I doubt these guys can even pronounce "Baudrillard" so your point remains apt.

Raymond Johnson said...

I just watched ep. 1 of season 2 of "Black Mirror" titled "Be Right Back" - and it was about this very concept of re-animating an android from its internet habits, etc. It did not end well, needless to say for the android or the grieving widow. A Ray Bradbury kind of story but darker and porn-ier than he made his 'electric grandmother' story.

Black guy from the future past said...

Did anybody else stare at Hepburn's face throughout the entire vid? Her face is so fake. I mean they used the pinnacle of graphics technology to simulate her appearance and it's STILL lacking. These techno-utopians are clearly delusional, in how they fiercely deny THE FACT, that reality cannot be simulated. I don't know how these techno geeks aka transhumanists are taken seriously. Most of them don't even create technology that is useful or even affordable for that matter, most of them babble on on some great beyond called "the future". It's reprehensible and irresponsible and all in all, quite dumb.